September 2018: A Big Apple for the Teacher

Now that the lazy days of summer have ended, you might find yourself wrapped up in the anxieties of a new school year — homework, admission tests, and school tours can drive even the most together New Yorker to distraction. And if you’re house hunting, navigating school zones will be at the top of your priority list, whether for the sake of your own children or simply in the name of resale value. But don’t stress, we’ve got you covered. Read on!


The Story: A Short Education on NYC Schools

The Jump Off

Maybe, where you grew up, there were a couple of elementary schools in your town. If you lived in the north end of town, you went to North Elementary. If you lived in the south end of town, you went to South Elementary. Simple, right? Well, New York is nothing like that. New York City school zones are a crazy map of oddly carved up neighborhoods — so crazy, in fact, that even the side of the street that you live on may affect where your kids go to kindergarten.

The Process

New York City public schools can be a bit hit or miss. Some have amazing administrations, plenty of funding and terrific programming that rival that of even the best private schools, while some other public schools are struggling (a visit to Inside Schools is a good place to start researching the differences among the schools in your target neighborhood). We’ve seen young would-be parents limit their search to a narrow five-block radius simply to ensure that their unborn children end up in a good kindergarten five years down the road! Especially now that the market has softened, buyers are thinking about the long term and schools are playing a big part. Even buyers who are not planning a family need to be conscious of what school their property is zoned for to understand the resale value later on. Homes in tony school zones automatically go for thousands more than comparable properties just across the street but in a less desirable zone since buyers in the latter category will have to account for private school tuition when calculating how much they can afford in a real estate investment.

The Wrap Up

If your child turns five in 2019, kindergarten applications are due this winter (stay tuned for the specific deadline). Be on alert that even if you are in the zone, some schools have extensive waitlists due to overcrowding. And zoning worries don’t end with kindergarten. Middle schools too are based on the geographic area you live in, although changes may happen in certain Manhattan and Brooklyn districts. For the moment, only high schools are run purely on admission tests, so the stress there is solely academic, not real estate based.


The Conversation Cheat Sheet: School’s in Session!

StreetEasy is already giving pop quizzes. If you find a home you like on their site, they now require phone screening to see if you’re worthy enough to make it to the next round. And, if you do get through, StreetEasy still won’t direct you to the actual listing agent but to a buyer’s agent who pays a fee to StreetEasy to get your business. Buyers and sellers alike are giving StreetEasy an F for effort thus far.

Next period, Home Ec! Decorating your locker takes on a very different meaning when you’re incorporating one into your home design. Want to take it a step further? See what it’s like living inside a school bus. And if you’re still trying to figure out where your kids will be doing their homework this year, here are some great desks for small spaces and other inspiring ways to decorate your kids’ room.


The Gabriele Moment: Our Trip to the Lake House

Back-to-school outfits? Check. School supplies? Check. The only thing left on our back-to-school list was a relaxing retreat upstate to enjoy the last sliver of summer. I have such fond memories of the summer homes in Denmark we visited when I was a child — going fishing with my dad, playing board games with my mom. Now, I relish the chance to give my city kids the same kind of old-school fun that I had growing up. My kids — fur baby Jadan included — had a great time at the lake house we rented, enjoying the fresh air and natural surrounds. We kayaked, built campfires, roasted marshmallows and hot dogs on sticks. It was exactly what we needed and the memories we cherish from that trip will definitely make us smile in the years to come.


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