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Hi
my husband has been offered a role at Microsoft and I would be grateful for any advice on schools and recommendations on good family areas & equally any to avoid..
We have two boys (13 & 14) and will be visiting in the next month to explore areas. I have looked at several school guide sites, but any personal recommendations would be really helpful.
Initially we will rent and are budgeting c2-3k per month and need 4 beds. Ideally within half an hour commute from Microsoft campus. It would be great to be within a walkable distance to restaurants/shops but not crucial. The main starting point is schooling, so any help would be appreciated, many thanks :)
 

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Microsoft' relocation department may be able to direct your search.

4 br is an unusual size for rentals. A quick Google search of currently available rentals (apartment/house) - you may have to adjust your budget.
 

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4 br is an unusual size for rentals.
True, but fortunately somewhat less unusual nowadays, nationally, in the wake of the financial crisis.

As a bit of advice, I wouldn't rule out 3 bedroom homes. There may be homes advertised as "3 bedrooms" that have a den, library, sewing room, sitting room, rec room, etc. that could double as a guest bedroom. It's also quite common to place a sofa bed in a common area such as a living room or home office space, available for temporary guests. (Though bear in mind that if you use a home office space for non-work purposes, such as temporary lodging, you cannot take advantage of a particular U.S. tax break potentially available to offset partially the costs of a home office.) And of course there are hotels, motels, B&Bs, etc., so your guests need not be homeless even if you don't have a dedicated, empty bedroom for them.
 

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For schools in combination with your house search, you can use either Trulia or Zillow website/app. Works like a charm. Trulia also provides crime maps or the area. For actual housing I relied more on Craigslist as it's fast updated. All have decent search functions.
 
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