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I’m planning to move my family from New Jersey to the South. What decision comes first — the school district or the house?


Dear MarketWatch,

We are thinking of moving from New Jersey to somewhere in the south, such as Florida or North Carolina. I’m 45 years old, and I have kids who will be going to school for another 10 to 15 years. We also want to live in warmer weather.

One drawback is that New Jersey schools are great, and moving to Florida will require me to put them in private schools. But I don’t know whether to choose a place where there are good school districts, or good private-school options. 

We were also thinking about investing up to $1 million in a home, maybe a multi-family unit, to get a return of at least 6% to 8% in rent. My goal is to maximize returns with the least amount of effort — I am sure there will be some management fees to be paid, which I am fine with.

But we’re not sure how to start. What should we do?

Ready for a Change 

The Big Move’ is a MarketWatch column looking at the ins and outs of real estate, from navigating the search for a new home to applying for a mortgage. Do you have a question about buying or selling a home? Do you want to know where your next move should be? Email Aarthi Swaminathan at [email protected].

Dear Ready,

Your first step needs to be a trip to major cities in both states, such as Charlotte, Raleigh, and Miami, to meet with a couple of real-estate agents to identify what your options are. 

Your real-estate agent will also have an idea of good school districts, or advise you on where people are sending their kids if private schools are better in a given area. Many wealthy families are actually putting their kids in private schools in South Florida, so you may also have to contend with competition and possibly wait lists. 

Since your kids are still in school for a while, and it is a priority for your kids to go to a great school since you are making that trip from New Jersey to the south, you will have to isolate, with your real-estate agent, a couple of options during this field trip.

After you’ve identified the schools you perhaps want your kids to attend, you can look for homes in the area.

Talk to a broker about your financing options, and see what $1 million would get you. Some agents specialize in selling multi-family units, so reach out to a couple of brokers to see what they have in terms of inventory. They will also be able to advise you on how much return you can possibly see if you rent out the property in that specific locality.

Now one big piece of good news is that you’re likely to see your income taxes fall, should you choose to move from New Jersey to Florida. Keep that in mind when trying to make sense of your finances. 

But to balance that, the U.S. housing market is facing a major supply crunch. There aren’t enough homes on the market for sale. Mortgage rates are also very high, at 7% for a 30-year loan. So if you’re not seeing an opportunity, don’t feel forced to make a decision.

Plus, consider the impact of changing schools on your kids. Growing up, I moved schools often, and it was always a struggle to start over and make new friends. Only after I stayed in a school for a few years did I form meaningful friendships that last until today. So consider their perspective before you pull them out of a good school in New Jersey.

And if you’re still keen on attempting the move, take multiple trips to make sure you’re making a fully informed, and well-researched decision. 

And, assuming it happens, good luck with your move. Just remember: It’s always OK to change your mind, if you feel like it.

By emailing your questions, you agree to having them published anonymously on MarketWatch. By submitting your story to Dow Jones & Company, the publisher of MarketWatch, you understand and agree that we may use your story, or versions of it, in all media and platforms, including via third parties.



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