After 13 years in the Washington, DC area, homemaker Sherri Carmichael and her business consultant husband, Lawson, had had enough of the stress and traffic.
They decided to move: somewhere with good economic prospects that was vibrant, yet small - and had good schools for their daughters, then three and six.
They settled on Chapel Hill, a town of 58,000 with an abundance of universities, a highly educated demographic and a school district consistently ranked among the top in the region.
Said Ms Carmichael, 45, who moved with her family in 2005:
"We looked at other places but the schools weren't that good."
Like her, marketing consultant Holly Lewis, 48, sold "a far nicer" home in Durham to move a few kilometres to Chapel Hill in search of a good school fit. She said: "We spared no effort to make sure the children had the best educational experience."
The vast majority of children in the United States attend public schools which are geographically zoned for enrolment, so families often choose communities in which to live for their schools.
With states responsible for public schools - paid for through a mix of state funds and local taxes - there are huge variations in levels of funding and performance throughout the country. Good school districts tend to be a magnet, drawing more affluent families who place a premium on education and are willing to pay higher taxes to ensure better quality.