There are advantages and disadvantages of living near a school, and it’s not just for those homebuyers with children. From our own experience we can tell you that it’s important to be aware of what it means to live close to a school.
Firstly, the advantages of buying a property close to a school include:
- Property values: Since these homes are in demand, your property will retain its value more effectively.
- School run: There’s no need to get stuck in traffic when you can walk your children (and they can walk home safely as well).
- Catchment area: An important issue if you want your children to go to a particular establishment.
However, there are also several disadvantages, including:
- Traffic and parking: School rush hours are notorious for lots of parents driving to pick up children and creating traffic jams and parking issues.
- Noise: Lots of children and parents means lots of chatter, not always done quietly.
- Litter: a particular issue for those children, particularly at secondary school, who opt to eat breakfast ‘on the hoof’ and throw away wrappings.
- Playgrounds: Homebuyers need to appreciate that the noise is not restricted to the beginning and end of the day; break times and lunchtimes can also mean a noisy playground.
The list of disadvantages is longer than for the advantages but for those with children of the right age who want to be close to their school, then the premium that comes with buying a property close to a school will be worth the price.
Our experience of living near a school
For us, one of the biggest disadvantages of living near a school was the traffic and the inconsiderate parking in the morning and afternoon.
Because the school didn’t have any parking space, parents would just drive on the street. Unfortunately, they didn’t bother whether they parked in front of driveways.
It happened almost every day that we had cars blocking our driveway. As I was working from home at the time, I was blocked in several times by parked cars during the school run, which meant I had to wait until I could go out.
We had to get used to planning our lives in a way so that we didn’t have to go out or come back during the school run, which was quite disruptive.
Because the school did also hold events on weekends, the inconveniently parked cars could appear without warning. While this only happened on occasions, it did get quite tiresome.
This is definitely a disadvantage of living near a school that you should take into account before buying a house, in our experience.
Property values near schools
Since the demand for properties near schools is high, the property values will carry a premium for the privilege. Also, the better the education offered, the higher this premium will be.
One Department for Education report highlights that to buy close to a good quality primary school could mean paying an 8% premium on the property’s average price. That could amount to a hefty sum.
We used to live a few houses away from a good primary school. When we came to sell the house, we had a lot of interest, especially from young couples and parents with toddlers.
The proximity to the school was mentioned a few times during viewings, so clearly, the school was a draw. We sold the house within a weekend for the asking price. This shows that in terms of house value, living close to a school can be advantageous.
And if you are wanting to know about property values near secondary schools, the same report highlights that the premium could be 7% for living close to a quality secondary.
In addition to paying a premium, if you want your child to attend a particular establishment, then you may effectively be investing in this opportunity to live within a particular catchment area.
For some parents, the ideal tactic may be to buy close to a quality primary school that is in the catchment area of the secondary school you would like your child to attend.
Competition for quality secondary schools is intense, so having the advantage of living close by should work – but it’s no guarantee of entry, as many parents will attest to.
Living near a secondary school
While most homebuyers will appreciate that living close to a primary school has obvious advantages, the same issues may not be applicable when it comes to living near a secondary school.
Although you may succeed in buying a property that’s in the catchment area, you may be on a route that sees lots of pupils passing your property.
Along with the litter they will generate, there’s also the prospect of vandalism and arguments between pupils, as well as heavy traffic and parking issues when pupils are being dropped off and picked up.
Even though we lived near a primary school, not a secondary school, the amount of litter that would float into our front garden was frustrating.
Sweet wrappers, crisp packets and empty juice bottles would greet us regularly when we came back home or went out. Given that there was a bin not far from our house, this was especially annoying.
And it wasn’t just our front garden either. The street in general suffered from the litter dropped by school children. We can only imagine how bad the litter problem is near a secondary school.
You will need to thoroughly research where you want to buy when it comes to living close to a secondary school, but you will also need to appreciate that demand for these properties is high in addition to paying a premium.
Essentially, you’ll need to act quickly if you find a home and beat other potential buyers.
Impact on school entry dates
For those who are wanting to buy in a particular catchment area, then you need to appreciate that the conveyancing process can vary enormously – which can have an impact on entry dates.
If there is no chain and everything is straightforward, then you could complete a house purchase in the catchment area within six weeks. However, you should really plan for up to 12 weeks.
Should there be complications, then this may extend to six months and may derail any plans you have for meeting the application process.
Living opposite a school playground
As mentioned earlier, one of the issues of living close to a primary school is that of noise, particularly during playtime and lunch.
For many people and parents, particularly, a noisy playground is something to be enjoyed as children play away from the studies.
However, for some people, this noise can be an issue since they are already being disturbed by the youngsters being taken to and from the building and then having noisy break times. This is one of the distinct disadvantages of living near a school.
When we lived near a primary school, which had a playground, we did hear quite a bit of noise during the day. However, this will only impact you if you are actually at home on weekdays during the day.
I was working from home at that time, and the noise of the school children did get tiresome and distracting sometimes. One thing I did notice was the noise during nicer weather, when I was trying to enjoy my lunch in the garden.
So we would recommend that you take this into consideration when planning to buy a property near a school and if you will be at home during school hours.
Indeed, newspapers tend to highlight those homeowners who may complain about playground noise since those making the complaint may appear to be churlish, but some playgrounds can be very noisy indeed.
In addition to living opposite a school playground, you’ll have to deal with heavy traffic, thoughtless parking, litter and noise.
Does living near a school increase property value?
If you want to know whether living near a school increases property values, then the answer is almost certainly, ‘Yes’.
While most parents will be looking to buy close to quality primary and secondary schools, other parents will like the convenience of living close to any education facility, regardless of its Ofsted rating.
This means that demand for property is high, which tends to push up values since they may not have to worry about how their child gets to and from class. Plus they will also be close to their friends.
If you would like to know how much the properties in a particular area are being sold for, then you could use the figures from the Government’s Land Registry website.
As with any house purchase, it’s important that you make a list of pros and cons beforehand, so you understand what the disadvantages of living near a school might be.
You also need to appreciate that a house investment is for the long-term.
Disadvantages of living near a school
Other issues we haven’t tackled when it comes to the disadvantages of living near a school include:
- Struggle to sell: The pool of interested buyers may be limited to those who have children. Others may be wary.
- Loitering: You may find pupils hang around for much longer than you anticipate, particularly for secondary schools
- Buses: Be prepared for more buses dropping off pupils, but they will also turn up in good time for pupils finishing. If there is no adequate parking, then they will be blocking the road.
- Events: While it may be open for half a year, there will be various events including weekends and evenings that may impact on your patience.
Essentially, the disadvantages are more about personal inconvenience, but financially there’s little that can go wrong when investing in a home that is near to a good school that is in demand.