RealtyTrac analyzed school test scores for nearly 25,000 elementary schools in more than 7,500 U.S. ZIP codes, along with home price affordability in those same zip codes to identify the top zip codes with the ideal combination of good schools and affordable home prices — and also with low unemployment rates below the national average. RealtyTrac also looked at zip codes with good schools and the least affordable home prices.
Markets with Good Schools and Affordable Homes
- There were 489 zip codes with elementary schools where 2013 test scores were at least one-third higher than their respective state average and where the average price of a residential property required one-third or less of the median household income. These zip codes also had a maximum unemployment rate of 5.9 percent in September.
- Cities with the most affordable zip codes with good schools were led by Orlando, Fla., (9), Raleigh, N.C. (8), Phoenix, Ariz., (6), followed by five cities each with five affordable zip codes with good schools: Chandler, Ariz., Colorado Springs, Colo., Grand Rapids, Mich., Lexington, Ky., and Wilmington, N.C.
- States with the most affordable zip codes with good schools were New York (105), North Carolina (66), Florida (62), Illinois (50), and Michigan (40).
- The average test score for the best elementary schools in these 359 zip codes was 49 percent higher than their state average.
Markets with Good Schools and Unaffordable Homes
- There were 127 zip codes with elementary schools where 2013 test scores were at least one-third higher than the state average and where the average price of a residential property required two-thirds or more of the median household income. These zip codes also had a maximum unemployment rate of 5.9 percent in September.
- Cities with the most unaffordable zip codes with good schools were New York, N.Y. (22), San Francisco, Calif., (8), Flushing, N.Y., (4), Newport Beach, Calif., (4) Oakland, Calif., (4), San Jose, Calif., (4), and Portland, Ore., (3).
- States with the most unaffordable zip codes with good schools were California (69) and New York (44). No other states had more than three unaffordable zip codes with good schools.
- The average test score in these 91 zip codes was 60 percent higher than their state average.
School data is from each states’ Department of Education. Test scores are based around the test average of each state with the state average being a score of 1. The higher above the state average the school is, the higher the grade.
Home prices are average home prices for single family homes and condos sold in the last 12 months (November 2013 through October 2014) in each zip code based on the sales price on the recorded sales deed. Non-disclosure states where the full sales price is not required to be included on the recorded deed were not included in the study: Alaska, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.
Annual median household income data came from the U.S. Census Bureau. Annual median household income for 2013 to 2014 was estimated based upon 2000-2012 numbers on a county basis and then adjusted for current market conditions. The increase/decrease in median household income by zip code is assumed to be the same as the projected increase/decrease in the respective county where the school is in.
In calculating average house payments, fixed 30 year mortgage rates were obtained from Freddie Mac for every month. It was assumed that the average borrower would make a 10% down payment (on a property that sold for the October 2014 TTM Average Home Price. The mortgage term would be 30 years, and insurance combined with property tax would be 1.39% of the value of the home. PMI would be required at 1% of the total loan amount.
September 2014 unemployment rate is reported on by the county level and is released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.