Special Report

10 Most Affordable Neighborhoods With the Best Schools

4. Homestead Elementary School
> House payment pct. median income: 11.96%
> City: Aurora, IL
> Zip code: 60503
> Pct. above state test score avg.: 35%
> Avg. home price: $172,723

An average priced home in Aurora, Illinois, cost less than 12% of the area’s household median income. While the average price over the 12 months prior to this October was $172,723 — one of the higher figures — a typical household in the area earns an estimated $109,717, well more than the vast majority of Americans. Like most areas with both affordable housing and good schools, Homestead Elementary’s local community had one of the lowest poverty rates in the country between 2008 and 2012, at just 3.4%. Many residents likely work in nearby Chicago, commuting on average nearly 40 minutes, the longest time among areas reviewed. Adults living in the area were also very well educated. More than 55% had completed at least a bachelor’s degree, considerably higher than the national rate of 28.5%.

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3. Lakeview Fundamental Elementary
> House payment pct. median income: 10.82%
> City: St. Petersburg, FL
> Zip code: 33712
> Pct. above state test score avg.: 40%
> Avg. home price: $56,163

Students attending Lakeview Fundamental Elementary scored roughly 40% higher on standardized tests than their peers statewide. Area residents are quite poor, however, with an estimated median household income of only $39,421, among the lowest figures nationwide. Just 10.82% of a typical income, however, was required to afford the area’s homes, which averaged $56,163 over the 12 months before mid-October. While primary school students at Lakeview are likely receiving a decent education, more than one in five area residents were living in poverty over the five years prior to 2012, an exceptionally high rate when compared to other areas on this list.

2. Oakridge Elementary School
> House payment pct. median income: 10.40%
> City: Oklahoma City, OK
> Zip code: 73115
> Pct. above state test score avg.: 34%
> Avg. home price: $61,246

Oakridge students, whose scores on standardized tests were more than one-third higher than their peers statewide have excelled in the wake of citywide drops in reading scores. One city official associated the decline with the lack of a 90-minute minimum reading instruction time, a flaw in the curriculum in place until only recently. While most areas with top schools and affordable housing were also home to well-educated adults, less than 12% of adults in Oklahoma City had attained at least a bachelor’s degree, considerably lower than the national rate of 28.5%. Also, 16% of people lived in poverty between 2008 and 2012, one of the higher rates. The area’s unemployment rate, however, was just 4.5% as of this past September.

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1. Trenton Elementary School
> House payment pct. median income: 9.10%
> City: Trenton, IL
> Zip code: 62293
> Pct. above state test score avg.: 39%
> Avg. home price: $97,480

Trenton Elementary School students scored 39% higher than the statewide average on Illinois’ standardized tests. And with less than 10% of the area’s estimated median income was required to make payments on a house, Trenton is the most affordable city with such high-performing schools. The average home price in the area was under $100,000 over the 12 months prior to mid-October, and a typical household earns an estimated $81,386. Additionally, while Trenton is relatively far — about 30 miles — from St. Louis, the major city within its metro area, it is much closer to Scott Air Force Base. The base is among the largest employers in the St. Louis metro area, perhaps contributing to the exceptionally low unemployment rate of less than 5%.