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Who is moving to (and out of) the Heights?


jmontrose

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What other inner loop neighborhood would have a good mix of around 11 year old kids? I would think that anywhere inside the more expensive areas of the loops there is always going to be a smaller density of kids than you would find in a suburban neighborhood.  But if I had to guess what inner loop neighborhood had the most kids per capita it would be the Heights. I would also say to me it feels safe for a 11 year old to be roaming the neighborhood (my nieces are allowed to). 

 

...so who is starting the build a pool club Kickstarter? 

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Here's what I was trying to find out.  If I move to the Heights, and my 11 year old son is a private school outside the loop, are there likely to be other boys around for him to play with informally, now and for next few years, within walking distance of my house  (and is it safe for an 11 year old to walk three blocks without crossing a major street?).

 

Here is what I have concluded from the evidence so far: from this post, a post to Heights Moms, and a post to Next Door Heights, and to various people in the Heights.  

 

[...]

 

But the combination of rapid price appreciation combined with a drop-off public school desirability will, on average, mean that there will be fewer and fewer kids my son's age for the next 6 years...  

 

I haven't ruled it out, lots to love about the Heights.   But all these new houses being built are not a sign that a lot more boys his age would be moving in.

 

 

 

I think this is an accurate reflection of reality. 

 

Like a lot of Heights parents, we have an acceptable elementary school situation, but face a difficult decision in a few years when our son enters middle school. My guess is that more middle-school age boys leave the Heights than move in.

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Diversity ha, I really enjoy reading the entries for anything concerning the Heights especially since I am probably one of the very few who actually lived in the old Heights before it magically became fashionable.  Spending a fortune on something that was old in the 50s is just bad math no matter how bad you really wish it weren't.  One day the winds will shift and you will find yourselves wondering what happened.  I once sit in a classroom there at Eugene Fields and would fall asleep from the nice fresh smell of Magnolia, drag papers to the paper drive on Tuesdays and hide that nickel from the big guys so I would be able to buy that snow cone on wednesday afternoon.  Not much of a neighborhood when you can't send your kids to the schools.   

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Diversity ha, I really enjoy reading the entries for anything concerning the Heights especially since I am probably one of the very few who actually lived in the old Heights before it magically became fashionable.  Spending a fortune on something that was old in the 50s is just bad math no matter how bad you really wish it weren't.  One day the winds will shift and you will find yourselves wondering what happened.  I once sit in a classroom there at Eugene Fields and would fall asleep from the nice fresh smell of Magnolia, drag papers to the paper drive on Tuesdays and hide that nickel from the big guys so I would be able to buy that snow cone on wednesday afternoon.  Not much of a neighborhood when you can't send your kids to the schools.   

 

So, I guess you are saying that everyone should let the neighborhood rot and make the white flight of the 60s and 70s permanent?  The Heights isn't perfect.  And gentrification/redevelopment is a difficult process.  But there is currently good momentum behind getting the elementary schools in shape.  I moved into the neighborhood too soon for Love to be an option.  But in a few years, things may be very different at that school.  But if no one moves into the neighborhood until the schools are better, the schools will never get better because there won't be any kids in the neighborhood. 

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So, I guess you are saying that everyone should let the neighborhood rot and make the white flight of the 60s and 70s permanent?  The Heights isn't perfect.  And gentrification/redevelopment is a difficult process.  But there is currently good momentum behind getting the elementary schools in shape.  I moved into the neighborhood too soon for Love to be an option.  But in a few years, things may be very different at that school.  But if no one moves into the neighborhood until the schools are better, the schools will never get better because there won't be any kids in the neighborhood. 

 

demotivational-posters-rich-people-probl

 

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So, I guess you are saying that everyone should let the neighborhood rot and make the white flight of the 60s and 70s permanent?  The Heights isn't perfect.  And gentrification/redevelopment is a difficult process.  But there is currently good momentum behind getting the elementary schools in shape.  I moved into the neighborhood too soon for Love to be an option.  But in a few years, things may be very different at that school.  But if no one moves into the neighborhood until the schools are better, the schools will never get better because there won't be any kids in the neighborhood. 

 

I didnt get that at all after reading that post. :/

 

I kind of agree with his/her post. I was here too before it became fashionable. Yeah, there were some shady areas but it wasnt as bad as I've heard. LOL

I've heard some stories from newer neighbors and its no wonder why theyre scared to send their kids to local schools. Build more bars and icehouses before worrying about local schools. SMH.

Edited by BullMan008
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I moved into the Heights in 2006....we moved out of the Heights in August of 2012....during that time we had 2 kids....we now have 3. 

 

We moved to the Heights b/c it was close to my wife's job, and lots of places to go out and eat/drink...it was a great place to be during that 6 year time frame....much better before we had kids.  

 

What motivated me to leave the Heights was schools and tremendous levels of petty crime.  I was zoned to LOVE, it was and remains very bad...its pretty darn hard to find a bad elementary schools, but there sits Love...a bad elementary school.....As to the crime it got VERY old to have double and triple check that the gates were locked, nothing could be seen in your car EVER even if your car was in your driveway behind a gate, that your garage was closed, that your alarm was set, that your patio furniture and plants were locked to the porch with a security chain, etc....We got our detached garage broken into and I lost a mess of tools, and that was the last straw.  During the time I lived in the Heights my truck was broken into twice - both times NOTHING was visible...they went straight to my console...one time they stole my kids cooler which contained breast milk.  While there was not much violent crime, the petty crime is and remains a HUGE issue.  I still maintain a rental home in the Heights, and a nextdoor account, so I know nothing crime wise has improved.

 

We considered moving within the Heights to a house zoned to Harvard, but why would anyone do that?  You get a few years there while your first kid is in elementary then you have to sell again and pull number 2 to a different school....HCAD also gets to tax you for full value b/c you have moved and then you are still looking for a middle school and private school....all the while the rest of Houston has appreciated as well making it more difficult to afford a new house somewhere the schools are not awful.

 

The cost of private school allows you with 2 children to spend nearly $800,000 more on a house over the course of 12 years if you move(interest expense only)...that is with 2 kids....if you bump it up to 3, its well over $1,000,000 more you can invest in a house.  Consider your typical house in the Heights now is approaching, if not exceeding $650,000 and you can see why moving makes sense....we moved from a 2300sqft house on a 6600 sqft lot, to a 6600sqft house on a 43,000sqft lot, with virtually no crime and excellent schools.  My kids are surrounded by competitive children who are well ahead of virtually all their peirs, instead of kids still learning to speak english, write their name or identify letters....Cost difference was more than the Heights, but will be recouped over the 12 years we stay there....heck in just 3 years its appreciated over 40%   

 

Also the Heights is not actually very diverse...it may be ethnically diverse, but politically and economically, not so much.  Most families moving in are dual income with no kids, or with young kids.  An overwhelming majority of them are professionals (attorneys, CPA, etc) extremely liberal, and predominately white.  These people are anti-everything....neighborhood changes, house changes, guns, you name it....they are basically your salon.com readers....that does not fit my political views, nor is it how desire my kids to be raised so, the move was simple....spend the money now, get the BEST for my kids, recoup when we downsize after they leave.  

 

Not everyone has the means to spend twice as much on their home, but about half of the new coming Heights residents do.  They are choosing the Heights either b/c its cool, its close to work, or because they want to be surrounded by other white liberals who hate change.

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I

What motivated me to leave the Heights was schools and tremendous levels of petty crime.  I was zoned to LOVE, it was and remains very bad...its pretty darn hard to find a bad elementary schools, but there sits Love...a bad elementary school.....

 

And you are basing this on what? Did you go to Love and talk to the principal and teachers? Did you observe any classes? Or, did you just look at the school profile and think that a school with a lot of kids from poor homes has to be awful? We moved our kid from Love to Harvard 5 years ago., due to the IB program and the STEM magnet, we were otherwise very happy with Love. In hindsight, he would have been just as well off staying at Love. The teacher he had at Love was excellent, and the poor kids were motivated to learn, since many of them are transfers from other schools whose parents wanted them to get a better deal, and have a chance at a better education.

 

As for Middle School, the Learn Local group seems to be doing a bang up job improving Hogg.

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mark, as a Heights resident and home owner both long before you got there and now long after you left, I, too, take issue with your generalizations and stereotyping.  If anything, it is our newer neighbors who tend to have more of the R flavored yard signs come election time.

 

Nevertheless, I'm glad to hear that you have found a happy place among your own kind - which is apparently Lake Wobegon since your kids are now "surrounded by competitive children who are well ahead of virtually all their peirs peers." (FIFY)  :mellow: 

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And you are basing this on what? Did you go to Love and talk to the principal and teachers? Did you observe any classes? Or, did you just look at the school profile and think that a school with a lot of kids from poor homes has to be awful? We moved our kid from Love to Harvard 5 years ago., due to the IB program and the STEM magnet, we were otherwise very happy with Love. In hindsight, he would have been just as well off staying at Love. The teacher he had at Love was excellent, and the poor kids were motivated to learn, since many of them are transfers from other schools whose parents wanted them to get a better deal, and have a chance at a better education.

 

As for Middle School, the Learn Local group seems to be doing a bang up job improving Hogg.

 

We talked to other parents who we knew had kids in Love.  We only knew about 5 or 6 of them, but none of them chose to return after their first year.  Complaints ranged from minor issues like the facility was old, teachers had too many kids, their children did not make friends b/c english was not primary language for much of the class to other more significant complaints such as other kids in West U, River Oaks & Memorial, were getting assignments that were significantly more advanced than their own kids were, resources such as Bob Books and other materials were not available..issues that pop up based upon resources which are clearly economic in nature. 

 

I did not take tour the school b/c I respected these opinions.  Im not saying anyone was wrong, but the parents I knew who tried all quit, and I share a great deal in common with them and it was enough for me to make the decision.

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6,600 sqft house and acre lot must be pretty far out. I am sure it is nice but taken the size of the house plus the additional hours in commuting I wonder how much time you get to spend actually seeing your family. Would be awesome for someone who works at home and doesn't care about the typical amenities that living in a big city provides.

 

Also the amount of crime in an area is typically related to population density. If everyone in the neighborhood has acre+ lots, one crime there is worth 7+ in the Heights. Maybe more like 10+ once you factor in the additional retail.

 

If I had that kind of money I would buy a house half that size and then another on a beach or ski mountain. Although maybe you have both lol!

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I have no desire to live in a house over 4000 sqft regardless of where it is. 600 sqft per person is plenty for us with a family of four and the occasional guest. Everything else is money better spent elsewhere. Not dogging the poster, I just couldn't imagine maintaining and paying the bills on 6600 sqft.

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6,600 sqft house and acre lot must be pretty far out. I am sure it is nice but taken the size of the house plus the additional hours in commuting I wonder how much time you get to spend actually seeing your family. Would be awesome for someone who works at home and doesn't care about the typical amenities that living in a big city provides.

 

Also the amount of crime in an area is typically related to population density. If everyone in the neighborhood has acre+ lots, one crime there is worth 7+ in the Heights. Maybe more like 10+ once you factor in the additional retail.

 

If I had that kind of money I would buy a house half that size and then another on a beach or ski mountain. Although maybe you have both lol!

 

The house is in Memorial, the proximity of I-10 and Bunker Hill....,my commute for me is actually shorter since I work in Pearland and can just take the beltway around now...My wife's commute went from 15 minutes to between 23 and 35 depending on how bad the traffic is...

 

The crime is substantially different due to the substantially larger police presence over a very small area.  I have also been a firm believer that the Heights crime is driven in large part by the street grid (which makes traffic in the Heights a breeze)...it makes it SO easy for a criminal to get in/out of the heights using back roads.  Also the proximity to I10, 610, and 45 make a freeway exit quick and easy.  

 

In regards to a 2nd house, I do not have one, but I also do not have the need for one....Between my wife's family and my own, we  have multiple places we can go to get-away....but traveling with 3 young kids is still a lot of work, so presently we dont venture must past the ranch, or the in laws beach house.

 

Finally, as to the other poster who does not want to pay the bills/upkeep on a larger house - We are a family of 5 with 3 kids under 5 plus 2 big dogs, with frequent guests (in laws come at least 1x/week from out of town) The additional space does not need to be cleaned as frequently since its not as heavily used as when we were in a 2300 sqft house... about 700 sqft is a home office, which my wife utilizes to cut down on commuting...so the space is very well utilized.  It is a  new house - LEED construction so the bills on this house are actually less than my home in the Heights...My highest summer bill was $300 (Highest in Heights was $390), highest winter bill (gas) was $90....average is about $150/month, so its not really that bad, and it is tremendously more comfortable for a host of reasons.  Taxes are much worse, but that is expected.  The only thing that takes more time is the yard, but I do my own yard, so I do not mind...I would rather do my own yard than goto a gym, so I use the yard as my weekend exercise.

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If  the City of Houston had the same tax rates as the Villages, I'd wager that our police response times would get a lot shorter.

 

By the way, the Academically Acclaimed Spring Branch Independent School District ain't necessarily all that (said a Rummel Creek/Spring Forest/Westchester alum, from back when it was Super Bubble Land).  Believe me, those kids can come up with their own mayhem just as well as any kid from tha 'hood - detached parenting is detached parenting, regardless of the income level.

 

Edit:  For what it's worth, we all did just fine with Mom, Dad, six kids, and assorted pets and lingering relatives in 2,534 sq ft (per HCAD).  

Edited by mollusk
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If  the City of Houston had the same tax rates as the Villages, I'd wager that our police response times would get a lot shorter.

 

By the way, the Academically Acclaimed Spring Branch Independent School District ain't necessarily all that (said a Rummel Creek/Spring Forest/Westchester alum, from back when it was Super Bubble Land).  Believe me, those kids can come up with their own mayhem just as well as any kid from tha 'hood - detached parenting is detached parenting, regardless of the income level.

 

Edit:  For what it's worth, we all did just fine with Mom, Dad, six kids, and assorted pets and lingering relatives in 2,534 sq ft (per HCAD).  

 

The rates for the Villages are pretty much under half of Houston's rate. They do have a higher per property value, and have a much lower incidence of home grown crime. I would suspect the most common crime a Village resident commits is DUI.

 

A colleague bought a house zoned to Memorial HS, and her kids graduate from there. She said the biggest thing about MHS was the drugs were higher quality, and that her kids would have received an equivalent education at just about any HS.

 

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The rates for the Villages are pretty much under half of Houston's rate. They do have a higher per property value, and have a much lower incidence of home grown crime. I would suspect the most common crime a Village resident commits is DUI.

 

A colleague bought a house zoned to Memorial HS, and her kids graduate from there. She said the biggest thing about MHS was the drugs were higher quality, and that her kids would have received an equivalent education at just about any HS.

 

According to the police blotter that comes out weekly, the most common crime is identity theft...Followed by arrests for traffic stops with outstanding warrants, and then vehicles being broken into at church properties during drop off/pick up.  I do not see much on the DUI/DWI.

 

Memorial HS is not all that, but it is substantially better than all of the non-magent HISD schools...It does not have the problem with violent gangs and other issues that plague many other inner city schools...that alone makes it easier for kids to succeed, but it is not the sole issue....I completely agree 100% that education is heavily dependent on the parents and parental involvement.  However, I firmly believe that kids with involved parents will eventually search out, find, associate with others who are pushed/driven in the same way they are.  While not always the case, I think that if a parent pushes his/her child to do well and does not accept failure or poor results that the child will over time succeed....My younger brother is a great example...He is 14 years younger than I am, and my parents push hard about the importance of education.  Anything less than an A- is unacceptable to them....His core group of friends in Junior High (Friendswood) turned to partying and soft drugs and being cool, and stopped caring about school.  Because my parents stayed on him and forced him to succeed, he gradually moved to a different group of friends who were more in line with how he was being raised.  He remained friendly with the other kids, but they were not his primary group of friends any longer...Especially after they started getting arrested for drinking, weed, and breaking curfew.

 

My point of that seemingly random story, is that I do believe certain income levels, combined with heavy the heavy emphasis on education create opportunities for kids to succeed substantially more often than not.  Most kids will seek out friends who share the same common core values about education and drugs, etc...  It is not to say that people can be successful and achieve great things at any school...it is acknowledging the politically unpopular fact that income creates opportunity, and more income creates more opportunity.  Parents with the means to ensure their children's success are usually successful.  My own daughter is quite stubborn, so she could be the exception,but we will see.   

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6600 sq ft on an acre lot in Memorial would go for $3.5 mil minimum unless a majority of the lot was unusable due to flood plain.  In fact, a 6600 sq ft house on an acre lot in Memorial might end up being a tear down as all the big lots are now getting filled up with 9-12,000 sq ft monsters.  Even with savings of $800k on private school, that kind of property is going to be financially inaccessible for the vast majority of people living in the Heights. 

 

I can see that there is an argument to be made about spending 900k for a typical high end house in the Heights v. $1.5 mil for a lower end of the market house in the Memorial area.  If you can afford the 1.5 mil house with the money you save on private school, you do get more house on a bigger lot in a quiet neighborhood with no petty crime.  And when the kids graduate, you can cash out and downsize.

 

I bought into the Heights for under $300k.  Most of the Memorial area is inaccessible to me financially.  In a few years, I could possibly be able to afford the bottom end of the market ranch houses north of I-10 and over between Beltway 8 and Gesner.  But most of those get sold off to builders as tear downs.  And any house that has been improved enough to not be a tear down, will still only be valued at lot value in the future when all the improvements become dated. 

 

I would much rather pay for private school if necessary and stay in the Heights than trying to squeeze into Memorial or end up out in the burbs.  I have always lived in big cities.  Dealing with the petty crime is second nature to me.  Having easy access to restaurants, the arts, the revitalized bayou and the museums is worth the extra cost.  HAHC may bug people, but I would never be able to deal with a HOA telling me that I cannot plant a fig tree in my front yard.  And private school is not money that is thrown away.  There are trade offs, but public school is going off a cliff with all the testing mania.  I have reservations even about the very good magnet my kids go to even though there is a lot of parental involvement in trying to keep the school from spending too much time on standardized test prep. 

 

I guess the bottom line is that you only live once.   I would rather spend 20+ years in a neighborhood where I am happy and not have as much money at the end of the day than to spend some of my best years living somewhere I did not like and having a few extra bucks when I retire.

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There is a lot of finger wagging going on, but I think sometimes choices are just driven by a family's personal preferences. We were fortunate to move into the area in the eighties so did not spend near as much as we would have on houses. Private school came down to a personal choice as #1 got into the Vanguard at Travis and we choose to go private. We were quite happy overall (no school is perfect) with where are kids went and how it turned out for them. One thing I learned in the private school arena is that one HS may be a good fit for one child but not the other. For us, our two ended up at two different private schools as suited each. Having that choice was great. Along with no teaching to the test which was one of my biggest gripes against public schools. I will probably get flack for this, but I firmly believe that the private schools generally function academically a year ahead of public schools. That is a broad statement across all schools, not an indictment of all public schools. We felt that this led to a smoother transition to college for our kids. 

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A lot of this is down to personal preference and a family's specific circumstances, but if private school is baked into your plan, trading that expense for a house in a better school district CAN work.

 

Let's say you bought a half-million dollar house a few years ago w/ 20% down and a 15-yr mortgage. Including appreciation and principal pay-down, you may now have $350-400k in equity. If you take your current PITI, add in $20k per year, per kid for private school and go to a 30-yr mortgage, you can probably get to $1.1M if you have one kid, $1.4M if you have two (maybe a little more depending on the tax implications: tuition is not deductible, mortgage interest is). That kind of money can get you into Memorial (just barely). That said, you still have to qualify for the mortgage.

 

However, if the unforeseen happens -- job loss plus a significant downturn in Houston home prices -- being underwater on a $1.4M house and a $7500 mortgage payment gives you a lot less flexibility than having significant positive equity and a $3500 mortgage payment plus private school tuition. 

 

 

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6600 sq ft on an acre lot in Memorial would go for $3.5 mil minimum unless a majority of the lot was unusable due to flood plain.  In fact, a 6600 sq ft house on an acre lot in Memorial might end up being a tear down as all the big lots are now getting filled up with 9-12,000 sq ft monsters.  Even with savings of $800k on private school, that kind of property is going to be financially inaccessible for the vast majority of people living in the Heights. 

 

I can see that there is an argument to be made about spending 900k for a typical high end house in the Heights v. $1.5 mil for a lower end of the market house in the Memorial area.  If you can afford the 1.5 mil house with the money you save on private school, you do get more house on a bigger lot in a quiet neighborhood with no petty crime.  And when the kids graduate, you can cash out and downsize.

 

I bought into the Heights for under $300k.  Most of the Memorial area is inaccessible to me financially.  In a few years, I could possibly be able to afford the bottom end of the market ranch houses north of I-10 and over between Beltway 8 and Gesner.  But most of those get sold off to builders as tear downs.  And any house that has been improved enough to not be a tear down, will still only be valued at lot value in the future when all the improvements become dated. 

 

I would much rather pay for private school if necessary and stay in the Heights than trying to squeeze into Memorial or end up out in the burbs.  I have always lived in big cities.  Dealing with the petty crime is second nature to me.  Having easy access to restaurants, the arts, the revitalized bayou and the museums is worth the extra cost.  HAHC may bug people, but I would never be able to deal with a HOA telling me that I cannot plant a fig tree in my front yard.  And private school is not money that is thrown away.  There are trade offs, but public school is going off a cliff with all the testing mania.  I have reservations even about the very good magnet my kids go to even though there is a lot of parental involvement in trying to keep the school from spending too much time on standardized test prep. 

 

I guess the bottom line is that you only live once.   I would rather spend 20+ years in a neighborhood where I am happy and not have as much money at the end of the day than to spend some of my best years living somewhere I did not like and having a few extra bucks when I retire.

 

We bought a lot in 2011 when our daughter was 1.5 and our friends had begun complaining about Love elementary.  Previous owner had torn the house down....No part of the lot is in the flood plain and we got in just before prices skyrocketed...I could sell now and come very close to doubling my investment if I wanted...there is a new home on my street for sale more than 2.5x what I spent to build my own...We stayed in the Heights another 1.5 years after buying the lot saving up money to build the house.....While there are multiple 9-12,000 sqft houses, they are still genuinely the exception.  Most newer homes are in the 4800-6300sqft range. On my street of 20 homes, only 3 are over 7000 sqft, and 7 of the 20 are less than 5 years old.   I do agree with you on the HOA, but my small pocket neighborhood does not have a HOA, and has extremely lax deed restrictions.  For example, I am not permitted more than 2 goats, nor an outbuilding capable of holding more than 2 carriages and the accompanying horses required to pull it.... no cattle, and I must remove any horse droppings that fall on the shared street...also no flat roofs...my restrictions have not been updated since 1920 something, just renewed every 10 years or so to prevent people from subdividing the lots. 

 

I do not see much difference at all between the Heights and Memorial except for crime, schools, and the quantity of small one off restaurants....the thing I miss most about the Heights is Dry Creek...I loved that place, and I still go back.  Both neighborhoods have lots of folks walking, the parks are crowded with families, dogs all over the place, the people are friendly, there are lots of good places to eat, and shop, etc.  Really the independent restaurants is the only thing the Heights really has a strong advantage.  I guess the Heights is also closer to the museums, but I MAY goto a museum or to the theater once, maybe twice a year...that is very very very low on my priority list (I think its low on just about everyones), and even the additional 8 or 9 minute drive to those places is inconsequential.  It takes me longer to get all the kids in the car than it does to drive just about anywhere.

 

I do agree with public school testing stupidity, but from what I have seen the mentality of studying FOR the test is much less prevalent where the pass rate is naturally very high..

 

I loved the Heights, I enjoyed my time, I come back frequently, I still have a rental property there...my move was for schools and my lifestyle....I do not think your choice to stay and go magnets is a bad choice at all...My point in chiming in was to answer the OP's original question...who is moving in and who is moving out, and why....I think schools drive the majority of the folks who leave the Heights out, and also the smaller home sizes are not as easy to grow a family in....That does not mean it cant be done, or that it cant be done comfortably, it just means more work keeping organized and having a place for everything. 

 

I grew up in a large house, on acreage in the suburbs, my natural tendancy is to be more comfortable with more space....others grew up in small homes, or are compelled by the small house lifestyle...to each their own.  Neither is right or wrong.

 

And conclusion, I tend to agree that private schools are about 1 year ahead of public...you have to be in all PreAP public to keep up with the private schools, and those classes are alot to balance with athletics and other extra curriculars, especially when so many of your kids peers are not doing the extra work....I think private schools tend to prepare the children for college better than public, b/c the expectation of success is more constant, but the sheltering is a bit of an eye opener when they do finally get to college.

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