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Find out about schools before you move

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Thinking about moving? If you have kids, a big consideration will be the schools near your new potential home. This can unfortunately make a huge difference, as not all schools are equal. And getting a transfer to allow your child to attend a different school isn’t always easy. Read on for tips about how to find a good school.

School building in front of beautiful blue sky

Researching schools online

GreatSchools.org

GreatSchools.org provides some wonderful information about schools, including test scores and stats. It also looks at the environment, the staff, diversity, and several other measures. This helps you compare nearby local schools to find the best ones for your needs.

Screenshot from GreatSchools website showing school rankings

Another helpful feature is the user reviews. This is like hearing from parents in the area without having to seek them out, meet them and interview them. The review system asks parents about a number of things. This is helpful since not every parent will be looking for the same things from a school. You may be able to get a sense of whether, for example, the teachers handle bullying well. You may need to know if they have good resources for kids with learning issues. Or gifted kids. Does the school have a great music program? Basketball team? It all depends on what your kids need.

Keep in mind, of course, that some reviewers may be unfairly biased toward or against the school.

Once you find a school that looks good, you can even search for a home nearby. Just click the “homes for sale” button, highlighted below:

Another screenshot from GreatSchools website showing "homes for sale" button

National Center for Education Statistics

The National Center for Education Statistics has a search wizard that helps you look up what schools are in the area and find out some things about them. Such as the student/teacher ratio, how many kids are enrolled and what the racial breakdown of the student body is.

Talking to people

If you’re buying a home when you move, your realtor can be a great source of local knowledge/gossip about the schools. Keep in mind that a school’s local reputation can be unfounded. Locals may base their opinion on the state of the school twenty years ago when they attended, or on superficial things like how much they like the principal. But in many cases, the schools that are considered the “best” and “better” ones in the area have a basis for that reputation, and your realtor will know about it.

When you actually visit the town before moving there, ask all sorts of people about the schools. Ask the people who work at a hotel where you’re staying. Or the grocery clerk where you buy food. Ask your waiter at a restaurant. Try asking clerks at fast food restaurants and stores. Chances are they are parents with strong opinions about their kids’ school experiences. People are often thrilled at the chance to brag about their town, and the information they give you could be very helpful.

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