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Do you have to be bilingual? and other San Antonio topics March 22, 2010

Posted by Neal Snyder in Relocation, San Antonio life.
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We have some more serious topics in the oven, but to keep things cooking, here’s a forum discussion covering a topic in the “embarrassed to worry about, but I have to ask” category:

Do you have to be bilingual in SA? courtesy City-Data Forum.

The short answer is no … but it helps to pick up a few phrases, such as por favor (please) and gracias (thank you).

Check the rest of the City Data forum for San Antonio for local opinions on other topics: restaurants, churches, attractions, schools. 

Also visit the main City-Data page for San Antonio. It lives up to its name.

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Open House March 15, 2010

Posted by Neal Snyder in Tools.
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Been to the IMCOM BRAC and Relocation page recently? We’re in the process of moving the furniture, cleaning the windows and pitching the clutter to make your visit a better experience. The page has always been full of good information, but finding it has always been … an issue. It’s getting easier. Check the right column – the “Total PCS Manual” gives you a timeline for your move from the East Coast to San Antonio.

Here’s the link

School surfing March 12, 2010

Posted by Neal Snyder in Real Estate, Relocation, San Antonio life.
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Got kids?  Want ’em to larn reel good?

In other words, how do you find the best public schools before you take that househunting trip?

San Antonio doesn’t make it easy. With 19 different school districts in Bexar County, quality necessarily varies. Finding the right situation takes a little research. Here’s one method:

  • Get familiar with the workings of a school evaluation service like Great Schools (http://www.greatschools.org/). This site takes test scores and parent input to rate schools on a 1-10 scale. One can find ratings by school, and learn what schools are close to a particular location.  One of the many demographic maps on Cyberhomes (http://www.cyberhomes.com/maps.aspx) uses Great Schools data to match school ratings with ZIP Codes, helping you visualize where the good schools are — click on Neighborhood Characteristics, select school ratings, then zoom in on San Antonio.
  • Determine how much weight you want to give school quality against other factors, such as commute, house size, or crime characteristics. Cyberhomes has maps for those.
  • Get to know the names of the schools within the ZIP codes you are interested in, and double-check them on the school rating site. Keep in mind, the post office doesn’t usually talk to the committee drawing the school boundaries.
  • After selecting a house, but before making an offer, check the school boundaries one more time – is the school correct? Frequently, the school on the real estate listing does not correlate with school system information. Most district Web sites offer ways to pinpoint the school serving a particular street or address (here’s a list of San Antonio district sites). For instance, the North East Independent School District offers this service, where users can enter the street of a prospective residence and get the names of the relevant elementary, middle and high schools. It might be smart to check this information and correlate it with Great Schools before committing to a residence.

In San Antonio, if you do your research, it’s easy to find an affordable home where schools are well above average not only for Texas, but for the country.

Ratings are not the only indicators of school quality, and education is not the only factor in choosing where to live. Note also. boundaries, teachers and administrators change.  But when schools are a consideration, and you can’t audit the classse in person, knowing the rating removes a measure of anxiety as you relocate your family.

*Mention of commercial Web sites does not constitute endorsement by the DoD. All opinions are strictly personal and do not reflect the position of IMCOM, the Army or the Department of Defense.