Xue Qu Fang

Xue Qu Fang
A Chinese term for a home inside a good school district – literally, “school area house.”

Reporting on the fierce competition for school places in Shanghai, Tan Weiyun wrote in The Shanghai Daily:

Getting their only child – the bearer of family aspirations – into the right schools is all-important for many young parents. It’s so important that pregnant women are commonly told it’s already time to start planning the right kindergarten, three or four years in advance.
Don’t lose at the starting gate,” is a common saying. Pressure on children and parents is enormous. …
According to Weiyun, many parents resort to buying property near the best schools:
These can be little more than four walls and a roof, but they’re prized as “elite school properties or xue qu fang (school area house).” And prices are sky high, often 1,000-2,000 yuan ($146–293) more per square meter than for housing further from plum schools, according to parents who are home shopping.
Weiyun noted that living within a school’s district does not guarantee you a place, especially as boundaries change year to year; and, for high school, places are contingent upon grades and exam scores. Despite this, xue qu fang located in Shanghai proved impervious to last year’s dip in property prices. And, one real estate agent told Weiyun: “Now housing prices are rising again and those flats near top schools are even hotter.” Some housing agents advertise xue qu fang with signs that read “Let your kid win at the starting gate.”
(In Britain, where competition for places at good schools is equally fierce, it is not unheard of for parents to rent property within a school’s “catchment area” during the application process – often identifying qualifying properties with the aid of Google Maps. In 2008, one local council, suspicious that a family had been cheating the system, took advantage of counter-terrorist laws to place the family under surveillance and ascertain exactly where they lived.)

Dictionary of unconsidered lexicographical trifles. 2014.

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