Hertfordshire parents following ‘moving for schools’ trend

Parents are pulling out all the stops to secure their preferred school place

Parents are pulling out all the stops to secure their preferred school place - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Nearly a quarter of parents have moved house to secure a place for their child in a particular school catchment, it has been revealed.

According to research from Santander Mortgages, 24 per cent of parents of school age children have bought or rented a property because of its proximity to a specific school.

And families are prepared to pay a 12 per cent premium – an average of £26,800 in the current market – to make their move.

The study also found that a fifth of parents had to change jobs to get their children into their desired school, 20 per cent were forced to downsize and 19 per cent settled in an area where they felt unsafe.

One in four admitted that they had overstretched themselves to make the move, paying more than they could afford.

Only a quarter (26 per cent) of families who moved for this reason plan to continue living in the area once their child leaves school – and 44 per cent will move on as soon as their child’s place is secured. This figure stands at 66 per cent for parents in London.

51 per cent moved after selling their previous property and purchasing a new one within their desired catchment, while 30 per cent bought a second home and 19 per cent opted to rent.

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There’s no sign of this trend abating, with 40 per cent of parents saying they expect to move before their children finish school, and catchment will be the key factor in where they decide to buy.

Not surprisingly, London dwellers pay the highest schools premium at 17 per cent (£81,800) while in the East of England the figure stands at 10 per cent (£28,700).

Nick Ingle, head of Savills, Harpenden, confirms that school catchment is a huge factor in local moves.

He says: “Proximity to the local schools, such as Sir John Laws and St George’s, is a major factor in many people’s property search.

“The properties in the areas surrounding the best schools absolutely command a premium but it is hard to put an exact percentage on this as they are also bolstered by other factors. This could be the immediacy to the town centre and the train station, or the fact that many of the best schools in the area tend to be in some of the most desirable addresses.

“However, it is fair to say that prices tend to go up more closer to government funded schools where the catchment area is so specific.”

Nick adds: “The majority of our schools-based buyers come from London or the rural areas surrounding Harpenden.

“Some families begin their search one or two years in advance, to ensure they find a property in the area that they need and tend to stay there once their children have finished their education. However, at this stage they often look to downsize and don’t necessarily place such an emphasis on being close to the town centre.”