High percentage of parents pay tens of thousands more to move close to a good school

UK house prices could fall by almost 55%

One in four parents in the UK have moved house to be within a desired school catchment area and paid an average of 11% more for a home, new research shows.

Those who moved paid £23,707 for a school catchment address, an 11% premium on the average UK property price which rises to 15% or £71,539 for those living in London, according to the study from Santander Mortgages.

The research also found that almost a fifth of parents had to change jobs in order to get their children into the desired school, 15% settled in an area they didn’t like for the sake of a good school and more than a quarter of all families who move to be within a catchment area will leave as soon as a school place is secured.

Some 20% say they were forced to downsize to get a home in the desired area and 22% admit they overstretched themselves, paying more for the property than they could realistically afford and 21% moved to a location that was far away from family or friends.

Looking regionally, there are significant variations in the overall proportion of parents moving to be within a catchment area and also in their decision as to whether they buy, rent or look to secure a second property.

Overall London has the highest proportion of parents moving to secure an address within a specific catchment area at 46% while the East Midlands has the lowest at 11%.
The average premium paid by parents for a property in their desired school catchment area ranges from 7% in the South West to 15% in London. As a result of higher property prices, London also has the highest value premium at £71,539.

Santander’s study suggests that the moves made by many of these families are temporary, with only 29% planning to continue living in the area. Indeed, some 27% of those who moved to be within a particular catchment area said they had, or would, move out straight away once their child had secured a place.

Amongst families who have moved to be within their desired catchment area 49% said they had sold their previous property and purchased a new one within their chosen area, 25% said they purchased a second home in the catchment area and 26% secured their desired address by renting a property.

This trend looks set to continue as 58 of parents who expect to move house before their children leave school, say catchment areas will have an impact on where they choose to live.

‘School catchment areas remain a key discussion point for many parents. Our research shows that with competition for school places remaining high, parents are making significant financial and lifestyle sacrifices to be within the catchment area of desirable schools. Living within a certain school catchment area is a priority for many families but these premium addresses can come with a hefty price tag,’ said Miguel Sard, managing director of mortgages, Santander UK.

‘For those wanting to buy a new home, affordability is key so it’s important to look at incomings and outgoings carefully. Unfortunately this is likely to be harder to achieve for those wanting to buy in a specific school catchment area. We urge parents looking to move not to stretch themselves beyond their means – finding a mortgage provider that not only offers competitive rates and products but also has the expertise to ensure that the right deal is secured is fundamental to this,’ he added.