Conventional wisdom has it that raising children in a big city is rarely a good idea. Tiny urban apartments have no room for piles of baby stuff, playgrounds are coated in grime, and getting a stroller down the stairs to the subway can be a nightmare. In spite of it all, many devoted urbanites vow to find a way to make it work after having their first kid. But baby No. 2 can be a game changer. After all, public schools in the city are chaotic and underfunded, while private schools are expensive.
But it turns out families don’t necessarily have to move to the burbs to ensure their kids go to a top school. They may just have to switch cities—to Phoenix, for example.
Phoenix’s Ahwatukee Foothills Village neighborhood, in ZIP code 85048, had 11 top-performing schools, according to a recent RENTCafe.com report. That’s the most of any other urban ZIP code in the 30 largest cities the report looked at, representing 92% of the schools there.
To come up with its findings, the rental site looked at public and charter elementary and junior high schools in those 30 cities. Schools that received a rating of 8, 9, or 10 on GreatSchools.org were considered top-rated. High schools were not included. Overall, just 16% of elementary and middle schools in these 30 cities were considered top-rated.
The median home list price in Ahwatukee Foothills Village was $416,175—significantly higher than the median $339,950 for all of Phoenix, according to the most recent realtor.com® data available. Meanwhile, the average rent there was $1,219 for apartments of all sizes as of April 1, according to RENTCafe.com.
“Prices are not always heavily influenced by the quality of the schools,” says the author of the report, Sanziana Bona, a real estate writer at RENTCafe.com. But “single-family homes tend to dominate in the areas with a lot of top-quality schools.”
The urban neighborhoods with the most top schools
But parents can expect to pay a pretty penny for those good schools. The median home prices in those communities are $803,325 and $1,389,050, respectively. Rents are $2,316 and $2,867.
Rounding out the top five were Ballantyne in Charlotte, NC (ZIP 28277), and the Upper West Side in New York City’s Manhattan (ZIP 10024). Median home prices there are $439,700 and $2,474,550, with median rents $1,322 and $3,854.
Where to find affordable real estate and great schools
Those seeking good educational opportunities and affordably priced real estate may want to consider Queens. Five neighborhoods in the New York City borough with top-performing schools offered cheaper rents than those without stellar schools.
“For those that are already living in Queens, moving to those top-rated school ZIP codes can mean paying less in rent,” Bona says. That’s “a good deal for renting families with kids.”
President Donald Trump grew up in Jamaica Estates, a tony neighborhood made up of more upscale, single-family homes. And while the median home price in Jamaica Estates of $775,050 is nowhere near cheap, it’s not nearly as expensive as many of the other neighborhoods in the city.
New York City was the big city with the most top-ranked schools, at 239 in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. (There were none on Staten Island or in the Bronx.) The fact that it’s also the nation’s largest city, with roughly 8.4 million residents, is probably also a factor.
San Diego had the second most, at 88. The city was followed by Houston, which had 76.