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Some things are more important than a school district’s rank

Ask the Expert Buying
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Part of education-themed coverage …

Most young buyers I meet feel they need to choose their new home based on the school system’s rank. Some of these buyers don’t even have children yet, but still they struggle with this decision. Choosing your community based on the school system is fine, but only if you can afford to do so.

I spoke with Jane Tremblay, superintendent of Lynnfield schools, to get her opinion on this subject. “This is a hot topic,’’ Tremblay said. “Family is number one. Choosing a town by ranking, if you cannot afford to do so, can be extremely stressful on the family.

“When couples buy a house they can’t afford, they are always trying to live up to the standards of the town to make ends meet. Instead, they should do everything they can to be involved with the educational process, working with their children and participating in the schools.’’

Tremblay said there are talented and dedicated educators in every community. “There is a notion that because a school is not ranked as one of the best in the state, that the educators are poor, and that is simply not the case,’’ Tremblay said. “Just because you cannot afford to go to an Ivy League school, does not mean you will not get a great education. You get out of it what you put in.’’

To help buyers sort through their options, I always ask them to consider other important factors, such as their commute to work. Maybe it’s my age, but spending an inordinate amount of time in a car every morning and evening can not only zap your energy, but affect your quality of life.

Think about your support system. The location of your day care is a huge factor. Do your parents watch your children a few days a week? Where do they live? How close are they to the community you are considering?

I had one buyer who was newly divorced with two young children who thought she had to live in Winchester because of the school system’s rank. When we discussed her day care, friendship circle, support system, and job location, she realized that not only would she be isolated from her friends, but she’d have a very long commute from her day care. This would have created a tremendous amount of undue stress for her, so she chose another town.

Do not sacrifice your family or quality of life for a school system.

“Know that there are plenty of good school systems in Massachusetts and more than one reason to choose a town,’’ Tremblay said. “Look at different communities, the town culture, and think if those values match yours. Live within your means and do your homework on everything the town has to offer.’’

Remember, you can always move as your children get older and you have more money to invest in a home. Or maybe you’ll find you made the right choice from the start.

Marjorie Youngren is a broker at Century 21 Commonwealth in Lynnfield. E-mail your questions to marjorie.youngren@commonmoves.com. Follow her on Twitter @MarjorieTeamC21.