Is Buying a House Backed up to an Elementary School a Great Choice?

Updated on September 12, 2016
K.C. asks from Kennewick, WA
26 answers

Hi, I am thinking of choosing the lot that is backed up to the elementary school for the fact that I don't like having neighbors behind me, especially a two story neighbor since I will have a one level home. I think I would have more privacy being backed up to an elementary school vs a two story home behind my back yard. Do you think it would be a good choice for re-sale in 5 years? Would you buy a house backed up to an elementary school? Or would you rather have a house that is backed up to another house? The backyard of the home is backed up to the playground behind the school so there would not be any traffic issues or kids being dropped off/picked up. The only issue would be the school bell noise and kids playing noise. The school is a K-3 and in a very small town of 3500 people. The house is expensive for the town, since there isn't land for a horse to go with it. It is just a nice quality home with nice finishes and all the neighbors homes are that way too. It is a new development. I have a 4 year old daughter that will be going to that school next year. Instead of choosing that lot, I could choose the lot across the street but I don't think it would be much more quiet. Thank you for all the tips!

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T.D.

answers from Springfield on

i would not. ny kids school has a bell ringing that can be heard outside, the announcements are blared on speakers outside, pick up and dropoff are nutty and traffic is a nightmare. kids everywhere, and when you have a kid in that schoo ALL their friends are gonna wanna come over all the time.

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K.C.

answers from Anchorage on

I lived across the street from a school once. I'd never do it again. The noise alone was enough to drive me batty. Not to mention the traffic at drop off and pick up time. I personally would advise against it.

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B.C.

answers from Norfolk on

It's not a bad choice!
Field Day might bring you more noise than usual but that's only once per year.
Living near a high school football field - that will be having events all through the year - would be much worse traffic/parking and noise wise.

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D..

answers from Miami on

What's back there? How far away is it? Is it far enough away from your yard that kids wouldn't be coming back there?

Is there an easement of any sort? If there is, you need to understand it completely.

You should tell your realtor that you want to be in the backyard early in the morning and late in the afternoon so you can observe school activity. Now's a good time because the kids are probably outside a lot.

I absolutely agree with the poster who mentions not liking living across the street from a school. Having to share the road with the comings and goings of car drop-offs/pick-ups and school buses would be awful. Being behind the school may be completely different...

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O.H.

answers from Phoenix on

I would NEVER buy a house that backed up to anything other than another home. I HATE the thought of random people being able to jump my fence at any time day or night. Or walking by or anything else.

I also know schools have a lot of activity and I would not want to hear the kids playing or a football game or anything else if I were home during the day, especially if I was sick and trying to sleep,.

Just my opinion but I don't mind have a 2 story behind me. As much as you think everyone is standing at their window looking down on you, it isn't the case. LOL Good luck.

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G.♣.

answers from Springfield on

I'm thinking specifically of my kids school. The houses that back into it, actually back into the playground and field. They also all have privacy fences. They have an entirely different street, and it is not very easy to get to from the school ... you'd have to take main road to a side road and then weave around. There's also no easy way to walk to the school from their street. As far as I know, all of those privacy fences have a gate so that those families can go out the gate to walk to the school. So my guess is that any event at the school would not mean that people were parking on their street or walking through their yards.

I'm also thinking of the grade school I attended. It was on a main road with streets on all sides. No houses backed into it. Rather, the nearest houses were across the street. So I would imagine parking would be a serious annoyance.

I agree with the poster who suggested you observe during busy times to get a better idea. I think a lot of it depends on how things are arranged.

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M.R.

answers from Washington DC on

Lots of positives here as some note.

I would do the following before choosing this house:

Check local police records to see if there have been incidents on school grounds. Unfortunately, sometimes people use isolated areas behind or on the fringes of schools to do drugs or drink or hang out (trespassing) at night or on weekends. I'm just saying to be realistic and do "due diligence" checking with police. A realtor or owner is not going to disclose to you if there is any trouble outside school hours.

Ask neighbors if they find the playground noise, bells etc to be loud.

Find out the school's schedule. Maybe the first bell is early (some schools near us have very early start times now) and that's an issue -- or no problem at all for your own habits and schedule.

Check with the school to see if sports leagues use the playing fields nights or weekends. If the school has fields with lighting and/or artificial turf (though l doubt most elementaries do) -- well, around us those features mean a field gets heavy use by the community and you do not want to back up to those fields! It's a moot point if this is a small elementary with no fields. But if it's got baseball field also check if Little League or adult ball leagues use it on weekend days.

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T.S.

answers from San Francisco on

Sure I would, I actually wanted to at one point but the husband said no.
We ended up close by, I loved the sound of the school bell and hearing the kids at recess. I'm probably biased because I had three kids go to that school and I worked and volunteered there for many years so these were happy sounds to me.
I think the only "annoyance" would be the few times a year when activities (like back to school night, open house, school carnival, etc) you'd have people parking all around but that never would have bothered me. I probably would have been the mom out front saying hello and offering parents to stop by for a coffee or glass of wine.
Sad, sad comments below. I actually LIKED having kids at my house, as most of the people I know do. And sure we knew how to say no or send them home when we had other things to do. I feel sorry for you people, you must live in very negative, unfriendly communities.

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M.G.

answers from Portland on

Me personally - I'd rather back on to a house.

We lived near a school before. And it was noisy, traffic was really busy twice a day, and while it was nice for my kids to have a playground nearby, I was glad we weren't directly next to it.

Kids sometimes venture into yards (unless it's fenced) and I know police do regular sweeps behind schools for kids drinking, etc. (or they did here).

So they are used even when school is out. Sometimes our local soccer team would meet there for practice, and people used the fields to run their dogs - so it was just busy traffic for that whole area - not necessarily just during school hours.

We have friends who back on to one - they can hear the bell at the back of their house. Sometimes the bell goes on the weekend (not so nice if they are trying to sleep in).

I found it made it unsafe for my kids to walk to school un-escorted because of all the cars so we ended up having to take them (after they were old enough to walk themselves).

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W.W.

answers from Washington DC on

welcome to mamapedia!!

My family once owned a house that backed up to an elementary school and there was a viaduct between our back yard and the school. We never had a problem.

If you hate noise? It might be a problem during recess...but otherwise? Nope.

If the school has soccer and baseball games on their fields on the weekends - that might be taken into consideration for parking and noise, but overall? No problems.

Would I buy a home backed up to an elementary school? Yes.

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T.F.

answers from Dallas on

The main issue that would hold me back would be the daily traffic jams for drop off/pick up and event nights which would result in lots of parked cars possibly blocking your access to your property.

It never bothered me when children would come home with my daughter or drop in to play. I welcomed the children and it made for great memories for our family. I saw it as a compliment that they wanted to be at my house. My daughter is still friends with neighborhood children she would hang out with.

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M.D.

answers from Pittsburgh on

I think it depends on your family and the school. My kids' elem has the playground on one side, a football field on the second side, a baseball field on the third side, parking on the fourth side. The school facilities are used year round by the community.

If your family is active and would use the fields and playground, it would be a great place to live. Or if you are at work during the day when most of the activities happen, it would be fine because most of the school sports practices end around 5 pm here. If you want peace and quiet during the daytime, it would be a frustrating place to live.

ETA: I agree with those who mention the traffic. At our school, the houses that back the fields/playgrounds have wide buffers with trees in between, so I would think those would be pretty nice most of the time, as long as you don't mind a little daytime noise from kids sports practices. The streets in those neighborhoods don't connect with the school, so they don't get any traffic. However, there is a little conflict ongoing right now with the people on the side of the school with the drop-off lane, because they have trouble getting in and out of their driveways during dropoff and pickup times. For us, that's a 15 min window at ~9:00AM and again ~4:00PM. So if you work a 9-5 job, where you leave at 8:30 and don't get home until 5:30, it still wouldn't be an issue. But I can see that it would be annoying if your departure/arrival times overlapped with pickup/dropoff because of the traffic.

However, I personally spend so much time and energy getting my kids to and from that school for school and other various activities, at this stage of my life, having my house back to the school would be great.

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D.D.

answers from Boston on

My property backs to a public park with a walking trail that goes right behind my house. I don't mind the park noise or the people. They rent out the structures in the park for parties almost every weekend spring summer and fall so there is music that goes pretty late into the evening at times. If it gets too loud I just call the non emergency number and the police wander over and shut it down since honestly they are suppose to be out of the park by 8 pm.

As others have mentioned find out school times and the drop off and pick up patterns. See where the play area is because you could end up with stuff in your yard and/or children coming over to get it. If there are playing fields find out of town sponsored teams use them after school hours. There are a lot of clubs and groups that use schools for meetings after school hours. Those should be mostly inside and fairly quiet but that will still add to activity you'll see going on behind your house.

Because the schools tend to have open spaces around there could also be an issue with people setting off home made rockets or fireworks at times.It happens at the park although the town bars it so I've had rockets in my yard. I've also had kites in my trees and lots of balls in my yard.

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K.A.

answers from San Diego on

Speaking from experience. We thought it wouldn't be an issue. A huge school yard separating us from the actual school. We made a terrible mistake! Every time those kids are on the school yard it sounds like they are getting murdered. We do not walk out of our house unless we have no choice while the kids are out because there are always the horrible kids who hang out at the fence line. There is nothing like getting heckled by a bunch of punk kids while going out to get the mail! No matter how many times the school is called they keep at it. It'll stop for maybe a week after a call and begin again. Our school sets up a PA system on the school yard for special assemblies on a regular basis so we have to listen to gawds awful pop songs for hours sometimes. Although last school year they changed to Disney songs and that was an improvement. Our house doesn't back it proper, we're around a cul-du-sac slightly from an area of fence with nothing against it. My neighbor's house backs the fence directly. The punk kids torment her dog to the point that they have to make sure the dog is indoors when the kids are out. They also throw things into her yard. She's called just as many on the street have. Again, it stops for a little bit and then starts up again.
The neighbor's houses being closer is a lot better than that school yard in my opinion.

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S.S.

answers from Evansville on

We had a house that backed up to school property. We loved it.

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C.C.

answers from New York on

I would be very concerned about traffic patterns at pick-up and drop-off times. (And doing a traffic analysis is not "negative and unfriendly", as one comment below seems to suggest.)

You mention "re-sale in 5 years"...I assume that the 5-year timeframe refers to your child attending that school for 5 years? I think it's a safe bet that any potential buyer would have to be someone with a child at that school...I just can't imagine too many people without children / without elementary aged children wanting to live backed up to an elementary school.

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N.B.

answers from Oklahoma City on

Well, many people with children want to be near the school and would have no problems with living where they can see their children outside at recess.

If the neighborhood was made up of older people and a young couple with children wouldn't want to move there then it might be harder to sell this house down the road.

If a spouse worked nights and needed to sleep during the day then living near a playground isn't going to work.

But for me, if I had to choose between a backyard neighbor and a school I would probably do the backyard neighbor because I have curtains and am not bothered by neighbors at all. I don't even know they're there because I have my curtains closed to keep out the heat or cold most of the time.

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S.G.

answers from Los Angeles on

Is it in one of those neighbourhoods where people drive their kids to school? If so, would you be in the line of traffic? If the school traffic came near my house I would not buy it. Are you bothered by the sounds of children playing, or are you even home during the day to hear it? Personally I would buy a house backing onto the school yard, as long as I didn't have the traffic problem. I would ideally have a gate in my fence so my kids could just cut through to get to school.

ETA: Having your kids friends come over all the time is a positive, not a negative!

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D.N.

answers from Chicago on

I think it would depend. Years ago we had looked at maybe buying a house across the street from the school my younger daughter goes to. One of the cons was that traffic in the morning and after school can be pretty bad--plus the parking at any after school events that would have started before I even got home. That was a bit of a deal breaker--plus the house needed work that we did not want to take on.

However, we know a family that backs up to a park. There is a small alleyway and a walking path. They love it. I would visit the school a couple of times during the morning and afternoon just to see what it is like. In my area, we don't really have to worry about kids deciding to jump a fence or anything like that.

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S.F.

answers from Phoenix on

We used to live a few houses down from an elementary school and I loved hearing the bells and kids playing at recess. It made me happy. Unless there were huge lights shining into my yard/house at night, I'd totally by your house. Traffic isn't an issue so it sounds great to me.

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S.T.

answers from Washington DC on

there are so many more factors to consider. like you, i'm not whoopie on having people super-close to me. but this would only work for me if i were backed up to the play field of the school, and not the parking lot.
when my kids were in elementary school they could walk through the neighborhood to get to school, and took an easement path through a friend's back yard to get to the school itself. the people who lived in that house were very friendly and warm and loved having the stream of little people twice a day, although there were sometimes naughty ones who did naughty things. there is also a nice stand of trees between the playing field and the house, so during the leafy months it's not glaringly visible. the short hike through the thick woods (maybe 30 feet) felt like an adventure to my boys.
but i wouldn't have wanted to have the house on either side of the school. one is right next to the parking lot, and it's jammed in the mornings and afternoons. ditto the houses right across the street, which have to deal with the traffic.
does this house back up to the school building, the parking area or the playground? are there screening trees? are there dusk to dawn lights, and if so, how do you feel about them (they're a deal-breaker for me.) are the athletic fields used year round? is there a fence?
khairete
S.

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J.C.

answers from New York on

If I were a stay at home mom, the children screaming on the playground would make me nuts. But that's me. Since I work and wouldn't have to hear it - I would consider it.

I think the resale value could be an issue. Your realtor and google could help you there.

And you never know who you get as a neighbor. So knowing a school is always behind you isn't so bad. You know what to expect (noise and traffic).

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M.J.

answers from Sacramento on

I lived across the street from a school in an apartment and urge you to consider the noise. If you're away at work all day it's fine, but any time I was home sick, I really regretted living there. You'll have the noise of kids out at recess, announcements over the outdoor speakers and the bells ringing throughout the day. The bells will continue ringing on holidays if they're on a weekday when school would normally be in session.

My answer would be heck no.

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S.L.

answers from Denver on

My husband had a house like that before we were married. It didn't bother him because he was at work when school was in session. There also wasn't street access to the school from his street, so cars couldn't park there (it was just his back yard that backed up to the school playground.)
As far as resale value, some people might like that because their kids could walk to school easily.

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C.B.

answers from San Francisco on

Our family home backed up to an elementary school. My mom lived there for over 50 years and loved it. She liked hearing the bells and the kids play, especially after my dad died.

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K.C.

answers from Richland on

I think I should be more clear. The backyard of the house would back up to the playground and back of the school. There would not be any traffic issues. The only issue would be the school bell noise and kids playing noise, but I don't think that would bother me. I am just concerned if buyers in the future would be turned off by it.

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