Plan ahead to secure the best school catchment area

4 September 2017

As kids head off to their new primary or secondary schools this week, it’s a timely reminder for anyone who has kids who will be starting school next year to consider moving to the best catchment areas.

One in four (24%) parents with school age children have had to move house to be within their desired school catchment area, according to recent research by Santander Mortgages.

The bank also found that parents are prepared to spend a 12% premium to be in their desired catchment area – that’s an extra £26,800 based on latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) house price data. This works out only a little less than the average full-time salary in the UK, which is £28,213.

To move into a good catchment area, 51% had bought a new property, while 30% bought a second home and 19% rented a property.

A fifth of parents of who moved house to be close to their preferred school have had to change jobs, while a similar figure had to downsize and 19% moved to a neighbourhood where they don’t feel safe. One in four admitted paying more for their home than they could actually afford and 26% had to move away from friends and family.

Miguel Sard, of Santander UK, says: “Living within a certain school catchment area is top of the wishlist for many families, but often these addresses come at a premium. Our study highlights the significant financial and lifestyle sacrifices that parents are making to be within the catchment area of a desired school.”

Temporary move

For many, the move to a better school catchment area is seen as a temporary measure, with 44% of those polled admitting that they would leave as soon as their child has secured a place. In London, two thirds of parents don’t plan to stay near their chosen school.

Mr Sard adds: “Buyers need to do their research as properties in catchment areas often come with a hefty price tag, especially in London where competition for school places is fierce.”

Most improved secondary schools add value

In a separate study, the Homeowners Alliance reveals that it’s not just top schools that attract parents.

After analysing GCSE results in August 2013 and in December 2016, the consumer group found that property values in areas where secondary schools have much improved went up by an average of 28.1% as compared to a national average of 24.75%.

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