Back to school: Homeowners pay one way or another

Trulia compares costs of public and private schools

The sun is rapidly setting on summer break, and kids will once again fill rows and rows of desks across America, whether it's in private schools or public schools.

School systems, public and private, play a pivotal role in people’s decision to move. According to a new report from Trulia’s Chief Economist, Jed Kolko, more than two-thirds of adults with children under 12 say that the neighborhood school district is among the most important considerations when choosing a home. Currently, 10% of school kids grades 1-12 attend private schools.

But regardless if a parent chooses a location based on a top-rated private school or a great school system, Trulia found that both will require a significant amount on money.

Trulia noted three facts about private schools:

  • Just 20% of private school students attend non-sectarian schools
  • On average, tuition is almost $11,000, not counting discounts or scholarships
  • Education level, race, and ethnicity matter too. Even adjusting for income, kids whose parents have a college or graduate degree are much more likely to go to private school. Furthermore, non-Hispanic Whites are more likely to attend private school than African-Americans, Asian-Americans, or Hispanics with the same household income and parental education level

In addition to those three factors, public school quality is also important.

“In ZIP codes in top-rated school districts (those with GreatSchools ratings of 9 or 10 on a 1-to-10 scale), just 4% of kids go to private school, after adjusting for neighborhood demographics, versus 18% of kids in districts rated 1 or 2,” Kolko stated.

“Just so that’s completely clear: Private school enrollment in the lowest-rated school districts is more than four times as high as private school enrollment in the highest-rated school districts after adjusting for neighborhood demographic differences,” he continued.

(Source Trulia: click for larger image)


While parents in top public school systems might not pay expensive private school fees, it doesn't mean they aren’t paying for it elsewhere.

After Trulia crunched some numbers, Kolko found that in the top 10 upscale neighborhoods where kids go to public school, housing costs are above the national average of $136 per square foot, with some twice as much as the national average.

(Source Trulia: click for larger image)


“Details aside, the fundamental point is that either private schools or great public schools can drive the math of housing costs. And even if you’re not able to or interested in sending your child to private school, the level of private school enrollment among your neighbors might affect your kid’s public school experience,” Kolko said. 

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