Top 10 most attractive school districts

  • (MoneyWatch) Where are the hottest places to live if you have a child in elementary school?

    Parents are flocking to 10 small towns around the country, all located on the outer rings of larger cities, to raise their children. But it's not the low crime rates, big backyards and white picket fences that bring them here, it's the schools.

    Parents want to raise their children in these school districts, as evidenced by the high proportion of school-age kids to pre-school age kids.

    In areas where schools are less attractive, there tends to be more pre-school children then school-age children. For example, half as many school-age kids as preschool kids live in Hoboken, N.J., according to data compiled by real estate site Trulia. Compare that figure to the top town in this list, which has more than two school-age kids to every one preschooler.

    In areas that have more preschoolers than school-age kids, parents are moving out of the area when it comes time to send their kids to school. That kind of trend is typically seen in more urban areas, where parents are comfortable toting around toddlers but may not trust the public schools.

    "There are many reasons why they might leave, but school quality definitely matters," said Jed Kolko, chief economist at Trulia.

    After establishing the places where parents are moving in droves, Trulia compared the data to the school ratings on, a national school resource site where parents can read about and rate local schools.

    Trulia found that the places on this list coincidentally have nearly perfect ratings at, which rates schools by how well their students perform on standardized tests. Hoboken's schools, on the other hand, average only a 2 or 3 on the site.

    In addition to all of these places having high-quality schools, they shared other attributes, Kolko said.

    "People look for more spread-out, not-as-dense areas," Kolko said. "People also look for more affordable neighborhoods, where they can get their own yard and their kids can have their own bedroom."

    That's not to say these places are cheap, but they are places where your dollar stretches farther.

    "Generally speaking, more attractive districts are more expensive; less expensive ones involve a longer commute," Kolko said. "For some parents, in a bigger city, it boils down to a choice between their kids' school and their commute."

    The parents in these communities seem to be picking schools over commute--the suburbs average 40 miles outside the closest urban center.

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    Ilyce R. Glink is an award-winning, nationally-syndicated columnist, best-selling book author and founder of Best Money Moves, an employee benefit program that helps reduce financial stress. She also owns, where readers can find real estate and personal finance resources.