How Much Do Good Schools Cost?

Question: How much of a difference do schools make in the value of homes in Arlington?

Answer: Nothing drives home values like schools and for most buyers around here, that is determined by the 10-point scale ratings on the all-powerful Let me be clear, this article is not meant to validate or contest the quality of GreatSchools ratings, rather an acknowledgement of the weight the website’s school ratings have on home purchase decisions and therefore, home values.

Quick Tips for Using Schools in Your Home Search

  • Families define a “good school” differently. Whether that’s test scores, socioeconomic diversity, language instruction, athletics, or a STEM focus think about what matters most to you and target schools that fit your values.
  • GreatSchools offers more than just a single rating, they offer component data as well. Dig deeper and look at the components of a school’s rating and review them based on what you value.
  • I have spoken to parents who have had both excellent and terrible experiences at top and low rated schools alike.  The GreatSchools rating is not everything.
  • There are excellent public resources available for research including the Virginia Dept of Education’s School Quality Profiles and information nights for each school where you can see a school and interact with teachers first-hand
  • There are numerous message boards with loads of information about school operations from disability support, to college readiness, to athletics
  • There are other private ratings websites like and US News and World Report that offer different perspectives and ways of ranking schools
  • Arlington County ranks as the #2 school district in Virginia, just behind the City of Falls Church, with an overall A+ grade. Loudoun County ranks # 5 and Fairfax County ranks #6 in Virginia with an overall A grades.

How Much Does Each GreatSchools Point Cost?

If you want to buy a detached house or townhouse within a top-rated school boundary, you’re going to pay a lot. However, if school ratings and budget are your top focuses, you can use the table below to figure out what the most efficient use of your budget is to maximize your GreatSchools rating per dollar spent.

The table is sorted by the average cost per point of the rating (GS rates schools on a 1-10 point scale) for each neighborhood school in Arlington with the most “cost-efficient” schools to buy a home in listed first.

The data uses sales since January 1 2021 of detached and townhouse homes with at least three bedrooms. Net sold price is the sold price less any seller credits. Only the neighborhood schools are included in this analysis, not the magnet/option schools. Fleet and Arlington Science Elementary and Hamm Middle are not currently rated on

  • The most cost-efficient elementary schools are Tuckahoe (9), Ashlawn (7), and Glebe (8)
  • The most cost-efficient middle school is Swanson (7)
  • The most-cost efficient high school is Wakefield (4)
  • The most expensive school to buy housing in on a total cost basis is Jamestown Elementary (9), but the most expensive per bedroom and per square foot is Innovation Elementary (6)
  • The least expensive school to buy housing in on a total cost and price per bedroom basis is Abingdon Elementary (3) and the least expensive per square foot is Carlin Spring Elementary (2)
  • The most difficult school to find a 3BR+ detached/townhouse home is Hoffman-Boston (5)
  • Barrett Elementary (3) is the only North Arlington school with an average price under $1M and Oakridge Elementary (4) is the only South Arlington school with an average price over $1M 
  • A purchase of a 3BR+ detached or townhouse home in the top rated school pyramid of Jamestown Elementary (9), Williamsburg Middle (9), and Yorktown High (6) averages nearly $1.45M and an average of $332k per bedroom

If you’d like some more personalized data run for you using home sales and GreatSchools ratings, you’re welcome to reach out to me at I’m happy to help.’

If you’d like to discuss buying, selling, investing, or renting, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column or to discuss buying, selling, renting, or investing, please send an email to To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at Call me directly at (703) 539-2529.

Video summaries of some articles can be found on YouTube on the Eli Residential channel.

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland with RLAH @properties, 4040 N Fairfax Dr #10C Arlington VA 22203. (703) 390-9460.

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