Want an affordable neighbourhood with top Schools? Head for the ‘Burbs

By Penelope Graham, Zoocasa

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

The mantra for real estate shoppers is typically “location, location, location” – but for those with kids in tow, it might as well be “schools, schools, schools.”

For parents, whether or not a home is close to a highly-ranked educational institution is a top consideration, alongside affordability, number of bedrooms, and parking.

In fact, living within a certain school catchment can significantly impact one’s home value: even homes located across the street from one another that are in different school zones may see that difference reflected on their home listing prices.

EQAO school ranking and home price are especially correlated in high-demand urban centres, such as the City of Toronto, where home buyers pay a premium of hundreds of thousands of dollars to live within their coveted catchment.

For example, in Etobicoke, where the top EQAO-ranked school of Lambton Kingsway Junior Middle School boasts a score of 3.2 (out of 4), home buyers would pay a premium of $821,580 to dwell nearby. In York, that premium is $689,178 to live near Humbercrest Public School (3.1), and $444,183 to be close to CD Farquharson Junior Public School in Scarborough (3.3).

Exploring affordability in the Greater Golden Horseshoe

However, those who wish to live close to a top-ranked school at a more affordable price are wise to head to the suburbs: according to recent data compiled by Zoocasa, the correlation between school ranking and average home price isn’t as strong in surrounding Greater Golden Horseshoe markets.

Consider the city of Hamilton, located just west of Toronto along the shores of Lake Ontario. Also known as “Steeltown” or the “Hammer” for its roots as a steel manufacturing centre, it’s now highly sought for its growing “eds and meds” industry; and the fact that detached Hamilton houses with large lots are relatively inexpensive.

Those looking to live close to the best schools have many options in Hamilton; for example, one of the top-ranked schools, Sacred Heart Separate School (2.9) is located in East Hamilton, where the average home price clocks in at $396,964. In upscale Ancaster, where the average home sells for $838,337, is the similarly-ranked Immaculate Conception Elementary School, illustrating similar education standards are available for buyers regardless of home budget.

Mississauga schools among the best

The City of Mississauga is also a great example of a municipality where good schools and real estate affordability go hand in hand. Known for its close proximity to Toronto, thriving business and retail centres, and historic character neighbourhoods, Mississauga has long been a popular buying destination in the GGH. As well, the average price for Mississauga houses for saleis quite comparable to those in the 416.

It’s also home to one of the largest suburban populations in North America, and boasts over 100 school boundaries. According to Zoocasa’s research, the top two highest-ranked schools – St. Rose of Lima Separate School and John of the Cross School, each with an EQAO ranking of 3.3, respectively, are located in neighbourhoods with the average home price of $1,115,000 and $330,119 – a significant difference in affordability. And, while the most expensive school catchment in Mississauga is home to a top-rated school – Kenollie Public School, at 3.2, and the nearby average home price of $2,425,000, that’s not the case for the remained of the top five, as illustrated in the infographic at the top of this blog.

Penelope Graham is the Managing Editor of Zoocasa.com, a leading real estate resource that uses full brokerage service and online tools to empower Canadians to buy or sell their home faster, easier, and more successfully.

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