The only problem is that really good school districts tend to get quite pricey. But in dicey economic times, there are values to be had, and ways to get into top school districts without paying top prices. To find these deals, you need deep knowledge of the area, a great agent who will let you know what you need to see and when to make an offer, financing lined up ahead of time, and a willingness to invest in your children's education rather than the size of your living room or backyard.
Here is a sample of what your hard-earned dollars will buy in four of the top school districts in America:
1) Parkland FL, Broward County School District.Broward County School District is the sixth largest and the largest fully accredited K-12 and adult school system in the country. In 2010, Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) again earned an 'A' grade from the state. BCPS has consistently earned an 'A' or 'B' grade since the grading process began.
In this area, $1.2 million will get you a six bedroom, four and a half bath one-story single family home with a home theater and self-cleaning salt water pool like this one in the BCPS school district.
Looking for something a little less pricey? For about half the price you can get a this five bedroom, four and a half bath two-story lakefront property with pool.
Still too rich for your blood? How about a four bedroom, two bath, 3000 sq. foot single family home, with pool for $284,000? Not too shabby.
2). Southlake, TX: Carrol Independent School DistrictCarrol Independent School District is the epitome of academic excellence. Carroll has received the Texas Education Agency's exemplary rating many times. More telling is that Carroll graduates receive millions of dollars in scholarships annually.
In Southlake, $1.2 million will get you a 5000 sq. ft. home with five bedrooms, six bathrooms, a three car garage and a pool.
For about half the money, you can get a four bedroom, three and a half bath, 4000 sq. ft. home with a three car garage in an area with a community pool for residents.
Another great deal in the area is a three bedroom, two bath, single family home with salt water pool for $330,000.
3) Severna Park, MD: Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS)Anne Arundel County Public Schools are located on the magnificent Chesapeake Bay, near the cities of Baltimore and Washington, D.C., and is home to the state capital, Annapolis, which has a rich historical past. The award winning AACPS school system is the 5th largest in Maryland, and among the 50 largest school systems in the country.
In Severna Park $1.2 million will buy you a one story, three bedroom, three bath house on the Magothy River built in 1967.
In the same area, you can buy a 3000 sq. ft. four bedroom, three bath home for $519,000. (No water access, unfortunately.)
4) Belmont, MA: Belmont School District
Belmont School District is a high-achieving school system, according to documented test scores, college acceptances, parent and community support, and other measures of performance and quality. The school system includes 17 Advanced Placement (AP) courses at Belmont High School, extensive community service programs at every level of the system, a wide array of athletic and extracurricular activities, nationally recognized music programs, and a high level of communication among students, parents, and teachers.
Though this house is on Cottage Road, cottage is not a word that would be used to describe this $1.2 million, three bedroom, three bath, 2700 sq. ft. home in Belmont.
For about half the price, this charming vintage 1915 four bedroom, two bath with a one car garage and fully rehabbed kitchen is available.
In the same area, $228,000 will get you into a two bedroom, one bath condo with a traditional Massachusetts screened in porch and a parking space.
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Ilyce R. Glink is the author of several books, including 100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask and Buy, Close, Move In!. She blogs about money and real estate at ThinkGlink.com and The Equifax Personal Finance Blog, and is Chief Content Strategist at RealtyJoin.com, a community for real estate investors.