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Finding the right school can be really hard and frustrating as a parent.  I imagine that’s where you’re feeling the most stress right now, so I sympathize with you.

On one hand, you want to get it right the first time, because you don’t want to have to move your kids to ANOTHER school if the fit isn’t right.

On the other hand, what if the neighborhood isn’t right that you settle into?  Are you buying a house in a part of town where you won’t feel comfortable in, just to make sure your kids are at a great school?

I don’t have a good answer for you.  My gut tells me that you should figure out a couple neighborhoods you’re interested in (my handy neighborhood quiz can help you there) and come on a scouting trip to Austin. When you’re here, find a spot in that ‘hood that moms might congregate at, like a coffee shop, local park, or a grocery store.  Be polite (this is the South afterall; we expect manners!), explain that you’re thinking of moving to that neighborhood and ask them for their opinion of the schools.

You could use the online guides that rate schools, but I tend to believe that that attracts only the pissed of parents and the parents that were coerced into commenting.  In other words, not a good sample.

Be sure to check out all the resources I have on this site, including a neighborhood school overview, and maps of all the elementary, middle and high schools in the area.