What it costs to live near the top public elementary schools in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn

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June 20, 2019

> You’ll pay more than $2 million for a two-bedroom near a top public school in Manhattan, while in Queens it will cost just over $400,000

> A whopping 36% ($850,000) is the premium you’ll typically pay for a three-bedroom in Manhattan near a top rated school, compared with three-bedrooms near “average” schools in the borough

> In Brooklyn and Queens paying a premium for a home won’t necessarily get your kid a seat in a top school

Families looking to buy a home in New York City often assume that paying a premium for a family-sized home will grant them access to the best public schools.

While that holds true in Manhattan, families looking in Brooklyn and Queens should not make the same assumption, according to an analysis by Localize.city.

“Paying more for a family-sized home in Manhattan often gets you access to a better public school. In Brooklyn and Queens, writing a bigger check for a home doesn’t mean you’re getting a better school with it,” said Localize.city data scientist Noa Pasternak.

Home search platform Localize.city conducted a proprietary analysis of every public elementary school in New York City, allowing renters and buyers to search for homes based on school quality.

For this study, Localize.city used its analysis of public schools to examine the relationship between school quality and median asking price for family-sized homes for sale in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens near three categories of schools

  • “Average” (25th – 75th percentile citywide based on various Department of Education metrics)
  • “Good”  (10th – 25th percentile)
  • “Best” (top 10 percent)
Localize.city helps buyers and renters understand elementary school options nearby.

Avoiding a bad tradeoff

While finding a home near a great school is difficult, it’s usually just one of several requirements families struggle to balance. Localize.city is the only home search platform that allows buyers and renters to search for homes based on school quality. The platform’s powerful search tools even allow you to refine your search by setting multiple lifestyle requirements for your family’s competing needs: good schools for your kids, short commute for you, good dog parks for your pet and tranquil streets for everyone in the house.

In Queens, a family on a budget, with school quality as their primary concern, might assume that they have to look to the far reaches of the borough in places like Bayside, Oakland Gardens and Little Neck — giving up on good subway access and commute times. By using Localize.city’s search, those same people could make fewer tradeoffs.

By searching for homes near highly rated schools, in Queens, at or below $500,000, and sorting by subway commute time to Midtown, they will instantly be shown the few two-bedrooms for sale — about a dozen out of nearly 2,735 sales listings across Queens — which are within their budget, near top performing schools, and within a 35-minute commute to Midtown by subway.

Without the ability to search for a home based on school quality, it would be difficult for families looking for a two-bedroom in Brooklyn to find the 108 two-bedrooms near the borough’s most highly rated schools. Those 108 are truly needles in a big haystack: they represent only about 2% of over 5000 homes currently for sale in Brooklyn.

“We have studied every property in the five boroughs, so New Yorkers can make fewer tradeoffs, and when they do, they will be aware of them before making the biggest investment of their life,” said Steve Kalifowitz, President of Localize.city.

A closer look at what’s happening in Manhattan

Two-bedroom median asking price near a top rated school: $2.05 million
Three-bedroom median asking price near a top rated school: $3.2 million

You’ll pay a premium to live near a very highly rated school: It’s about 18 percent more expensive, or $315,000 more, for a two-bedroom near a top rated school compared to one that rates only average. For a three-bedroom, the premium is a lot more. It’s about 36 percent, or $850,000 more.  

That premium, however, is still less than private school. For a family debating between a top public school versus an elite private school, paying more for a home near a top public school could still be a relative bargain. With some private schools costing upwards of $50,000 a year, that’s $1.3 million for two kids from kindergarten through 12th grade — or $450,000 more than the average premium for a three-bedroom home near a top public school.

A closer look at what’s happening in Brooklyn

Two-bedroom median asking price near a top rated school: $1.13 million
Three-bedroom median asking price near a top rated school: $1.82 million

Paying a premium in Brooklyn will not necessarily give you access to top schools. Unlike Manhattan, where you pay a lot and get the full package, in Brooklyn, you might pay a lot but you’re likely to make costly tradeoffs. In neighborhoods like Williamsburg and Greenpoint, you’ll pay top dollar but your kids are unlikely to have a seat in a top rated public school.

A closer look at what’s happening in Queens

Two-bedroom median asking price near a top rated school: $416,500
Three-bedroom median asking price near a top rated school: $894,500

Paying a premium in Queens will not necessarily give you access to better schools. It’s actually a whole lot cheaper right now to buy a two-bedroom home near a very highly rated school compared to one near an average rated school: It’s $416,500 versus $598,500 That’s because of the pricey new two-bedroom homes in the hot neighborhood of Long Island City, where the schools are rated lower than their counterparts farther out in Queens.

The opposite dynamic is at play when it comes to three-bedrooms in the borough. You’ll likely pay nearly 28 percent more, or $195,500, to live near a very highly rated school compared to one with an average rating.

Methodology

Localize.city looked at median sales prices for homes on the market as of June 6, 2019 in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. The Bronx and Staten Island were not included because of too few for-sale listings to be statistically significant.

The schools taken into account when considering each home are those that are open for registration for this particular home. These include: the home’s zoned school or a nearby lottery school (traditional public or charter) that accepts children from this address. The analysis does not include zoned schools that might be near a particular address but does not include that address in its catchment area.

Public and charter elementary schools ratings were based on more than 20 Department of Education metrics, including student achievement data, ratings from observations conducted by outside educators and subjective responses on annual DOE parent and teacher surveys. For this report, we looked at “average” rated schools (which fell into the 25 – 75 percentile based on these metrics), “good” schools (10th – 25th percentile) and “best” schools (the top 10 percent).

Student achievement data, which accounted for half the score, incorporates DOE data on state test results (including student growth and performance), as well as how students performed on core courses and how prepared they are for middle school.

Another 25 percent of the score looked at school leadership and teaching (including whether parents and teachers feel their administrators are effective leaders, whether teachers would recommend the school to others and how the curriculum fares); the remaining 25 percent looks at the school environment (including whether parents and teachers feel like they’re partners at the school, whether students feel safe and supported and whether there’s a culture of trust and respect among the teachers, administrators and families). The data was from the 2016-2017 school year.

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