Would You Rather?

In NYC, sometimes parents have to choose between school district and apartment quality


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It's back to school time, kids! For school-aged children (and their parents), this time of year means school supplies, school clothes, and getting reacclimated to the daily school run. But just how much of a “run” is reasonable? And how to weigh that against the quality of space and location?

We asked five New York parents: Would you rather live in a great school district, in a less-than-ideal apartment, or in an apartment that's great for your family, but requires a bus ride for your kids? 

  • Sun and space I live in a sun-filled, spacious three-bedroom, three-bath home located in a full-service co-op in Murray Hill and my children took school buses to another neighborhood. The Upper East Side would have been preferable, but there were no viable options within my budget that offered the quality or space that I own in the East 30's. —Julie, Murray Hill (pictured below)

  • Family first, always My daughter goes to a school nearby. It’s a charter school and we were lucky that it worked out that way. If we didn’t have that possibility, yes, we may consider living elsewhere. Maybe. We’d rather not have to, of course. But you have to think about all your options and how to strike the balance. On the other hand, we also want another child and would I have the school district dictate if I have space for another child? —Sandra, Hamilton Heights
  • Work with the system I own a three-family home in Cobble Hill. P.S. 29 is a huge draw for the neighborhood and adds a strong community component. But I know many rent, get their kids into to P.S. 29, and then buy in Bed-Stuy or similar once the kids are grandfathered in as Cobble Hill just too expensive for most. But I guess I’d rather live in a great school district, personally. —Dena, Cobble Hill  (pictured below)

  • Carefree commuting kids My twins and I commute to their school on the Upper West Side, outside our district. I bought my apartment before they were a twinkle in my eye, but this is a great neighborhood and I couldn’t afford to live in many other places. The commute is not a sacrifice, it’s even fun! It’s just part of New York city living. I can’t imagine giving up this space just to be closer to school. I’m in a two-bedroom, and have a boy and girl, so we’ll have to rethink this space soon enough as it is once they have to be in separate rooms. —Elisa, Hamilton Heights
  • Perks of the job We always knew the schooling of our child—who’s not old enough just yet but soon!—wouldn’t be tied to where we live, so that wasn’t a huge consideration. It’s expensive, but my company will pay for a German school and this is important to us, so the bus is fine. So it’s really more tied to finances, or my job. I wouldn’t let the school district dictate too much where we live. —Marcus, Upper West Side

Verdict: Commuting isn't all that bad after all.