Abacus4The New York Times had two interesting articles recently about real estate and public schools.

Like most of my clients say, Parents’ Real Estate Strategy:  Schools Come First.  Author Christine Haughney writes of the central problem now facing many NYC parents:

Families like the Binstocks helped raise the tide of New York real estate prices in recent years by bypassing the suburbs and, instead, paying premium prices for apartments near high-performing public schools in places like TriBeCa and the Upper West Side in Manhattan, and Park Slope in Brooklyn. Developers, in turn, built costly family-size apartments near the same schools, knowing they would draw parents hoping to avoid the cost of a private education.

But there were never any guarantees. Schools fill up. Zones are altered by the Department of Education, which sometimes switches the blocks that each zone comprises. Children in New York City, after all, are guaranteed a public education, but not necessarily in the school that their parents want, or in the one that is closest.

Given this, what are families doing now?  Some are seeking private school even more intensely–my phone is ringing as people seek advice.  Others are evaluating moves to the ‘burbs.

Another Times article compares costs of living in NYC versus the suburbs.  In High Rise, or House with a Yard, the author, Tara Siegel Bernard, concludes that the city costs less, that is, if you have an income of about $175,000 a year and your kids go public.

If the city dwellers decide to send their children to private school — say when their children hit middle-school age — that expense would instantly make the suburbs a bargain.

If you are considering moving to the suburbs, I would do the calculations for yourself, using your own family income.  Not paying New York City income taxes and other significant expenses such as parking may save you quite a bit, even when you add in suburban property taxes.

I am an expert on Westchester and Connecticut living and often advise families on lifestyle and schools.  If you seek assistance, (212) 712-2228 or eglickman(at)abacusguide.com.