More than a quarter of parents move to be in catchment area for a good school as premium for well-placed properties hits £32,000

2nd September 2015


Over a quarter (26%) of parents with children of a school age have either bought or rented a new property in order to secure an address within their desired school catchment area, new research suggests.

The study, by Santander Mortgages, also found that families are prepared to spend an 18% premium – which equates to £32,127 in the current property market – in order to move to their desired catchment area. This is significantly more than the average full-time salary in the UK, which currently stands at £27,1953.

The sacrifices parents make are not just financial, with almost a third (31%) having changed jobs as a result of the move. A quarter say they were forced to downsize whilst 31% moved to an area they did not like. A further 26% admit they overstretched themselves, paying more for the property than they could realistically afford and 33% moved to a location that was far away from family or friends.

Santander’s study suggests that the moves made by many of these families are only temporary, with less than a quarter (22%) planning to continue living in the area. Interestingly, 45% of those who moved to be within a particular catchment area said they had, or would, move straight back out once their child had secured a place, whilst a further 30% planned to wait until their child finished school.

Among families who have moved to be within their desired catchment area, 40% said they had sold their previous property and purchased a new one within their chosen area. 41% say they purchased a second home in the catchment area, while a fifth (20%) secured their desired address by renting a property.

This trend looks set to continue as almost two thirds (61%) of parents who expect to move home before their children leave school, say catchment areas will have an impact on where they choose to live.

Miguel Sard, managing director of mortgages at Santander UK, says: “With competition for school places fiercer than ever, parents are making significant financial and lifestyle sacrifices to be within the catchment area of desirable schools. All buyers will have a wish list of what they want their new home to have and being within a certain school catchment is increasingly common amongst young families – but can often come at a cost.

“Many of these sought-after areas command significant premiums, so it’s important that parents don’t stretch themselves beyond their means if they are looking to move.”

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 the North East and London have the highest proportion of parents moving to secure an address within a specific catchment area (46%), while Wales has the lowest (11%).

Proportion of parents with children aged 4 – 18 that have moved home in order to secure an address in their preferred school catchment area:

Region Sold old home and moved to a new home Purchased a second property Rented a property/second property Total %
North East 24% 12% 10% 46%
London 18% 17% 11% 46%
South East 6% 17% 6% 29%
Yorks & Humber 11% 8% 6% 25%
North West 13% 9% 3% 24%
East Midlands 12% 11% 1% 24%
West Midlands 9% 9% 4% 22%
South West 4% 9% 3% 16%
Scotland 7% 4% 3% 14%
East of England 3% 9% 2% 14%
Wales 5% 4% 2% 11


The average premium paid by parents for a property in their desired school catchment area ranges from 8% in Yorkshire and Humberside, to 21% in Scotland and the North East. As a result of higher property prices, London has the highest value premium at £77,113 (16%).

Breakdown of average property premiums:

Region Average premium paid (% of total property price) Average property price for that region* Average premium paid (£)
North East 21% £98,374 £21,086
Scotland 21% £179,790 £37,996
East Midlands 18% £135,033 £24,209
South West 17% £135,033 £22,506
East of England 17% £201,465 £33,242
London 16% £474,544 £77,113
South East 15% £135,033 £20,846
Wales 15% £117,032 £17,555
North West 15% £113,301 £16,612
West Midlands 13% £137,121 £17,277
Yorks & Humber 8% £123,471 £9,557


Younger parents are the most likely to purchase or rent a new property to be within a certain catchment area with 46% of those aged 18 – 34 having done so, compared to just 18% of 35 – 54 year-olds. The age of the child also appears to have an impact as a third (33%) of parents who have children aged between  four and 10 have moved to be within a specific catchment area compared to just 24% of parents with children aged 11 – 15 and 14% for those with children aged 16 – 18.

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