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Top school districts to purchase an affordable home

A look at America's best school districts with the least expensive homes.

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When settling down and starting a family, one of the major questions people ask themselves before buying a home is, “How are the schools in the area?” For many, this consideration is just as important as the home and its price.

To help navigate the murky waters between finding a good school district and finding a home for the right price, Finder analyzed 13,506 school districts and filtered those rated the top score of “A+” on Niche.com’s list of the 2021 Best School Districts in America.

Where are the best school districts?

The Northeast is home to the majority of excellent school districts, with 183 of the top 360 (50.83%) top-rated school districts being located there. Interestingly, the further west you head, the fewer good school districts. The Midwest is home to 90 of the top-rated (25%) schools, the South has 48 (13.33%) and the West holds just 39 (10.83%) of the best school districts.

Where are the best school districts in the most affordable areas?

While the Northeast takes the podium for its overall number of excellent school districts, the South takes home the gold in terms of affordability — a whopping 9 out of the top 10 school districts are located there.

Specifically, three of the best school districts in the nation are located in Alabama, two in Kentucky and one each in Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and South Carolina. The non-Southern school district can be found in New York.

At the other end of the spectrum comes the West, which is home to all of the most expensive school districts to buy a home. In fact, California is home to 9 out of the 10 most expensive school districts to buy a home, with Colorado being home to the other.

The top 10 best and most affordable school districts

1. Greeneville City School District — Greenville, TN

  • Greeneville City School District in Greeneville, TN serves 2,908 students.
  • The average housing costs in the district are $128,100, or 3.73 times the annual household income in the district.
  • The median annual household income in the district is $34,307 and the average annual real estate tax paid in the district is $1,129.

2. Saraland City School District — Saraland, AL

  • Saraland City School District in Saraland, AL serves 3,114 students.
  • The average housing costs in the district are $138,800, or 2.21 times the annual household income in the district.
  • The median annual household income in the district is $62,776 and the average annual real estate tax paid in the district is $709.

3. Murray Independent School District — Murray, KY

  • Murray Independent School District in Murray, KY serves 1,736 students.
  • The average housing costs in the district are $141,216, or 3.52 times the annual household income in the district.
  • The median annual household income in the district is $40,119 and the average annual real estate tax paid in the district is $1,271.

4. Muscle Shoals City School District — Muscle Shoals, AL

  • Muscle Shoals City School District in Muscle Shoals, AL serves 2,812 students.
  • The average housing costs in the district are $143,100, or 2.55 times the annual household income in the district.
  • The median annual household income in the district is $56,210 and the average annual real estate tax paid in the district is $542.

5. Greenwood School District — Greenwood, AR

  • Greenwood School District in Greenwood, AR serves 3,858 students.
  • The average housing costs in the district are $149,800, or 2.52 times the annual household income in the district.
  • The median annual household income in the district is $59,472 and the average annual real estate tax paid in the district is $1,017.

6. Petal School District — Petal, MS

  • Petal School District in Petal, MS serves 4,137 students.
  • The average housing costs in the district are $150,500, or 2.62 times the annual household income in the district.
  • The median annual household income in the district is $57,436 and the average annual real estate tax paid in the district is $1,305.

7. Boyle County School District — Danville, KY

  • Boyle County School District in Danville, KY serves 2,736 students.
  • The average housing costs in the district are $150,600, or 2.82 times the annual household income in the district.
  • The median annual household income in the district is $53,376 and the average annual real estate tax paid in the district is $1,247.

8. Hartselle City School District — Hartselle, AL

  • Hartselle City School District in Hartselle, AL serves 3,469 students.
  • The average housing costs in the district are $156,933, or 2.65 times the annual household income in the district.
  • The median annual household income in the district is $59,309 and the average annual real estate tax paid in the district is $512.

9. New Hartford Central School District — New Hartford, NY

  • New Hartford Central School District in New Hartford, NY serves 2,586 students.
  • The average housing costs in the district are $171,200, or 2.28 times the annual household income in the district.
  • The median annual household income in the district is $75,102 and the average annual real estate tax paid in the district is $4,105.

10. Lexington School District 5 — Irmo, SC

  • Lexington School District 5 in Irmo, SC serves 17,409 students.
  • The average housing costs in the district are $184,594, or 2.49 times the annual household income in the district.
  • The median annual household income in the district is $74,065 and the average annual real estate tax paid in the district is $1,129.

Top 10 most affordable school districts

NCES District IDRankSchool districtLocationNumber of studentsMedian annual household incomeReal estate taxes paidHousing value (max between Census and ZHVI)
47015001Greeneville City School DistrictGreeneville, TN2908$34,307$1,129$128,100
01001852Saraland City School DistrictSaraland, AL3114$62,776$709$138,800
21043803Murray Independent School DistrictMurray, KY1736$40,119$1,271$141,216
01025204Muscle Shoals City School DistrictMuscle Shoals, AL2812$56,210$542$143,100
05069905Greenwood School DistrictGreenwood, AR3858$59,472$1,017$149,800
28035306Petal School DistrictPetal, MS4137$57,436$1,305$150,500
21006307Boyle County School DistrictDanville, KY2736$53,376$1,247$150,600
01017308Hartselle City School DistrictHartselle, AL3469$59,309$512$156,933
36203709New Hartford Central School DistrictNew Hartford, NY2586$75,102$4,105$171,200
450282010Lexington School District 5Irmo, SC17409$74,065$1,129$184,594

2020 list of best school districts ranked by housing price

Here’s the complete list of cities included in the study. Use the search below to find your school district.

RankSchool districtLocationNumber of studentsMedian annual household incomeReal estate taxes paidHousing value (max between Census and ZHVI)
1Greeneville City School DistrictGreeneville, TN2908$34,3071,129$128,100
2Saraland City School DistrictSaraland, AL3114$62,776709$138,800
3Murray Independent School DistrictMurray, KY1736$40,1191,271$141,216
4Muscle Shoals City School DistrictMuscle Shoals, AL2812$56,210542$143,100
5Greenwood School DistrictGreenwood, AR3858$59,4721,017$149,800
6Petal School DistrictPetal, MS4137$57,4361,305$150,500
7Boyle County School DistrictDanville, KY2736$53,3761,247$150,600
8Hartselle City School DistrictHartselle, AL3469$59,309512$156,933
9New Hartford Central School DistrictNew Hartford, NY2586$75,1024,105$171,200
10Lexington School District 5Irmo, SC17409$74,0651,129$184,594
11MOC-Floyd Valley Community School DistrictOrange City, IA1533$68,6541,559$185,521
12Kimberly Area School DistrictCombined Locks, WI5190$74,7123,492$188,900
13Jackson Local School DistrictMassillon, OH5889$74,4333,205$193,300
14Brighton Central School DistrictRochester, NY3657$81,0126,354$194,594
15St. Joseph Public SchoolsSaint Joseph, MI3002$69,4782,780$195,200
16Midway Independent School District (McLennan County)Woodway, TX8302$72,0853,674$207,408
17Jamesville-DeWitt Central School DistrictDewitt, NY2739$84,4115,993$207,500
18Minster Local School DistrictMinster, OH846$78,3702,171$207,595
19Northwest Allen County SchoolsFort Wayne, IN7722$87,4181,808$207,698
20Plainfield Community School CorporationPlainfield, IN5715$64,6501,473$208,864
21Blue Springs R-IV School DistrictBlue Springs, MO14533$74,1462,571$209,273
22Penfield Central School DistrictPenfield, NY4609$80,1575,995$209,437
23Fairview School DistrictFairview, PA1750$95,1113,791$210,600
24Lewisburg Area School DistrictLewisburg, PA1991$60,0063,532$212,500
25Southwest Allen County Metropolitan School DistrictFort Wayne, IN7471$85,5961,861$212,623
26Zachary Community School DistrictZachary, LA5551$74,5131,478$217,800
27Wall Independent School DistrictWall, TX1179$74,4322,304$217,926
28Maryville City School DistrictMaryville, TN5364$59,2452,024$218,549
29Centerville City School DistrictCenterville, OH8364$81,2444,689$223,796
30Perrysburg Exempted Village School DistrictPerrysburg, OH5411$90,9063,806$224,772
31Anthony Wayne Local School DistrictWhitehouse, OH4282$86,8633,805$227,200
32Fort Thomas Independent School DistrictFort Thomas, KY3129$81,2063,102$229,100
33Bentonville Public SchoolsBentonville, AR17225$78,2861,568$229,174
34Kohler School DistrictKohler, WI703$86,7864,196$229,400
35Okemos Public SchoolsOkemos, MI4546$82,4184,714$229,600
36College Station Independent School DistrictCollege Station, TX13540$45,0584,430$231,100
37Brownsburg Community School CorporationBrownsburg, IN9296$84,4541,881$233,572
38Jenks Public SchoolsJenks, OK12465$73,2022,903$233,900
39Munster School TownMunster, IN4133$81,2342,995$234,233
40Oakwood City School DistrictDayton, OH2056$102,1596,317$239,600
41Trussville City School DistrictTrussville, AL4693$88,5041,299$241,500
42Fayetteville-Manlius Central School DistrictManlius, NY4226$96,9307,741$241,895
43West Lafayette Community School CorporationWest Lafayette, IN2411$32,1622,141$242,738
44South Fayette Township School DistrictMcdonald, PA3368$83,2675,908$242,992
45Rocky River City School DistrictRocky River, OH2718$68,2605,189$243,946
46Manheim Township School DistrictLancaster, PA5786$76,5403,814$244,752
47Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Central School DistrictBurnt Hills, NY3087$90,6174,971$245,172
48Lansing Central School DistrictLansing, NY1181$77,8925,356$246,936
49Greendale School DistrictGreendale, WI2698$71,3585,240$247,431
50Auburn City School DistrictAuburn, AL8738$44,6541,218$251,000
51Dunlap Community Unit School District 323Peoria, IL4492$94,3386,176$252,500
51Mt. Lebanon School DistrictPittsburgh, PA5521$95,1516,272$252,500
53Derry Township School DistrictHershey, PA3492$76,3304,095$256,045
54Slinger School DistrictSlinger, WI3368$81,1973,501$256,800
55Beechwood Independent School DistrictFort Mitchell, KY1423$88,5443,125$257,400
56Fairport Central School DistrictFairport, NY5836$82,5946,093$259,974
57Madison City School DistrictMadison, AL11290$89,5221,330$260,269
58Williamsville Central School DistrictEast Amherst, NY9950$87,6485,812$260,298
59Parkland School DistrictAllentown, PA9514$84,6464,286$265,400
60Pewaukee School DistrictPewaukee, WI2995$78,1254,091$269,200
61Niskayuna Central School DistrictSchenectady, NY4274$115,9007,089$271,000
62Spackenkill Union Free School DistrictPoughkeepsie, NY1526$86,2507,132$274,725
63Pittsford Central School DistrictPittsford, NY5738$120,4658,455$277,000
64Bethlehem Central School DistrictDelmar, NY4478$106,2636,527$277,100
65Grosse Pointe Public SchoolsGrosse Pointe, MI7630$101,4855,841$277,800
66Aurora City School DistrictAurora, OH2987$95,0443,986$279,636
67Pleasant Valley Community School DistrictBettendorf, IA5084$92,6714,179$280,100
68Buford City School DistrictBuford, GA4966$52,1491,489$280,807
69East Aurora Union Free School DistrictEast Aurora, NY1817$77,3775,035$281,174
70Fox Chapel Area School DistrictPittsburgh, PA4016$85,2534,763$281,610
71Tomball Independent School DistrictTomball, TX16962$102,1845,672$282,630
72Madeira City School DistrictCincinnati, OH1516$113,3425,578$282,900
73Skaneateles Central School DistrictSkaneateles, NY1337$92,9005,715$283,500
74Gilbert Community School DistrictGilbert, IA1574$99,8034,884$283,700
75Clarence Central School DistrictClarence, NY4371$93,4235,262$283,826
76State College Area School DistrictState College, PA6888$56,9963,614$284,410
77Bay Village City School DistrictBay Village, OH2502$102,9175,710$286,569
78Hampton Township School DistrictAllison Park, PA2798$85,3644,401$287,087
79Quaker Valley School DistrictLeetsdale, PA1935$84,3455,457$290,600
80Beachwood City School DistrictBeachwood, OH1615$89,7065,568$296,600
81Hamilton Southeastern SchoolsFishers, IN21599$99,4772,333$297,629
82Hoover City School DistrictHoover, AL13952$83,9421,815$298,181
83Kenston Local School DistrictChagrin Falls, OH2659$117,9095,618$298,600
84Ottawa Hills Local School DistrictToledo, OH973$134,1918,031$300,800
85Forest Hills Public SchoolsGrand Rapids, MI9772$104,7854,113$301,400
86Granville Exempted Village School DistrictGranville, OH2501$110,2615,564$303,100
87Cedarburg School DistrictCedarburg, WI3122$90,3154,738$306,800
88Mason City School DistrictMason, OH10421$103,3814,487$307,613
89Elmbrook School DistrictBrookfield, WI7334$103,5974,805$308,000
90Spring-Ford Area School DistrictRoyersford, PA7954$95,1734,547$309,978
91De Soto Unified School District 232De Soto, KS7422$113,6613,853$310,408
92Friendswood Independent School DistrictFriendswood, TX6070$124,4005,883$312,600
93Muskego-Norway School DistrictMuskego, WI4850$89,9564,202$313,127
94Elkhorn Public SchoolsElkhorn, NE9857$107,0766,558$313,508
95Wyoming City School DistrictWyoming, OH2000$121,1855,978$314,200
96Rockwood R-VI School DistrictEureka, MO21130$108,1334,172$314,400
97Sycamore Community City School DistrictBlue Ash, OH5498$92,6764,544$315,000
98Upper Saint Clair School DistrictPittsburgh, PA4055$125,3056,736$315,336
99Dublin City School DistrictDublin, OH16379$93,8146,647$320,869
100Rochester Community School DistrictRochester, MI15434$99,9034,133$320,900

Methodology

To determine which school districts were the best, we looked at which school districts were rated the top score of “A+” on Niche.com’s list of the 2021 Best School Districts in America. For each of those top-rated school districts, we looked at median annual household income, average real estate taxes paid, and the median income housing prices in the district to determine which of the best school districts were most affordable.

Median house price data was sourced from Zillow Home Value Index (ZHVI) by Zillow where Geography = “Zip Code” for all homes (seasonally adjusted) as of September 30, 2002.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)’s School District Geographic Relationship Files were used to determine which zip codes corresponded with each school district.

House prices by school district was calculated using the ZHVI prices by zip code, weighed by the number of housing units in each zip according to the 2018 American Community Survey (ACS) 5-year data, making sure that the housing prices were at least the median value of owner-occupied housing by school district.

Real estate tax, median household income, and the median value of owner-occupied housing by school district was sourced from the 2018 American Community Survey (ACS) 5-year data. Some school districts that were rated “A+” in Niche’s ranking but did not have available data in the ACS were excluded from our analysis.

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