Finding a suitable property can be challenging, especially if a potential homeowner has specific criteria for what they look for in a home, neighborhood, or new city. Sometimes the best possibilities might be located near a school, which can be a boon for some—especially those with children or those attending college—and a deal-breaker for others. Here are some pros and cons of living next to a school.
Neighborhoods near schools and colleges—college towns in particular—tend to have a lower cost of living than other surrounding areas. This is largely because many properties are rented to students who attend class and might not have a lot of money. Choosing a home near a school/campus might be more affordable than another comparable home in a different neighborhood.
Con: Increased traffic
In a school zone, expect to see an influx in traffic at certain times of the day during drop-off and pick-up times. This goes double for elementary schools or schools without parking lots. Depending on the size of the school, heavy traffic could potentially lower nearby air quality and generate a lot of noise during the beginning and end of the school day.
Parking on days that school is in session can be near impossible. If there are events, it could be even worse with parents, friends, and family of the students going to the school to watch a sporting event or performance. If the school does not have enough parking for its staff, the overflow will park in the surrounding streets. Also, some parents may not follow traffic and parking laws, blocking or parking in driveways and double parking in the street.
Pro: Nearby playground
This is a plus for parents with younger children. Often, nearby schools will have a playground accessible to the community after school lets out. This means there is no need to pack everyone in the car for a trip to the park. Depending on the age of the children and if the yard has a fence, parents may feel safe letting them go out to play alone, which can help foster independence in them. There may also be basketball courts and other amenities.
If the school doesn’t have a playground on the property, there may be opportunities in the future to fundraise to have a professionally constructed playground installed at the school for the students to enjoy.
Con: Noisy neighbors
Any time a lot of kids gather in one area, it’s bound to cause noise. For those who prefer a quiet neighborhood, choosing a home near a school isn’t the best idea. During school hours, homes near schools can hear everything from students playing during recess to the bells marking the beginning and end of each class.
In general, these sounds will cease around the end of the school day, but neighbors may also have to contend with the sounds of after-school sporting events and other activities that can carry on long into the evening.
Pro: Increased property value
Homes located near schools—especially good schools—are often coveted by homebuyers. Many home shoppers willingly pay a premium to live near a good school for their children. One survey of potential homebuyers found 20% of them would pay up to 10% more than their budget for a home near a good school. And up to 10% were willing to increase their budget by 20%. Being near a good school can increase the value of a home, which is important for anyone looking to sell soon.
Con: Harder to sell
While the proximity to a school can increase a home’s value, it can also make it harder to sell. Living near a school is a good thing for many people, but other people would rather live in a box than buy a home near a school, so it shrinks the potential pool of home buyers.
If the selling point of the property is its proximity to the school, then the ability to sell the home will also depend on the quality of the school. Poorly rated schools—and this includes schools for all grade levels, including colleges—will make it harder to sell a home than schools with a high rating or are thought of highly.
Pro: Part-time neighbors
Most schools are in session for 180 days and will be empty during vacations and the summer. And for the most part, the school will be quiet during the afternoon hours, so living by a school is a great option for homeowners who prefer only having neighbors during half the year.
Con: School emergencies
School emergencies will affect the neighborhood around them. Even if there is no actual emergency, a pulled fire alarm means all students have to evacuate until the school can be checked by emergency services to ensure it’s safe for students to return.
Depending on the school’s layout, students could end up camping out in surrounding front yards or on the sidewalk in front of a neighboring house while they wait for the fire department.
During other emergencies like hurricanes, schools often become shelters for the local residents who need to evacuate from their homes, which leads to additional noise, traffic, and parking problems.
Pro: Kids can walk to school
Parents that live within walking distance of their child’s school can avoid the drop-off (and pick-up) rush, and there can even be an option for the kids to walk to school on their own. Not to mention the savings of not having to buy a bus pass for the student and, even better, not having to wake up as early to get to school on time.
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Con: Potential trespassing
If there is a middle school or high school nearby, there may be some privacy concerns since the teens may loiter, cut across yards, or trespass the property. If this is a concern, it will be better to find a property a couple of blocks away to still reap the benefits of living in the vicinity of a school without the possible issues.
Whether a property near a school is desirable or not totally depends on the home buyer or renter. There are pros and cons to consider for homes near a school, as we’ve just gone over. It is important to weigh those when deciding where to purchase a new home or sign a lease for a rental property.