Families Who Relocate for Sports Prodigies


enty of parents drive kids to soccer tournaments, fork out fees for tennis lessons and travel to lacrosse camps. JoAnn and Ike Moradshahi have them all beat: The couple has moved across state lines three times in as many years so that their 16-year-old son Bryon can play ice hockey.

“I don’t exactly like packing and moving, but it’s part of the game,” said Ms. Moradshahi, who is 55.

Three years ago, Bryon made the top-tier 14-and-under team with the Arizona Bobcats, a youth hockey club that has developed a number of top college prospects and one NHL player. So Bryon’s parents sold their 8,300-square-foot “dream house” in Beaverton, Ore., for $800,000—at a $25,000 loss—and moved to Scottsdale, Ariz. There, they rented a two-bedroom apartment for $1,290 a month, Ms. Moradshahi said.The following year, Bryon was cut from the Bobcats but earned a spot on the San Jose Junior Sharks. So the family moved out of their Scottsdale place and bought a $772,000 house in Morgan Hill, Calif. Last year, the Bobcats wanted Bryon back, so the family leased the Morgan Hill house and returned to Scottsdale, where they currently rent a house for $2,100 a month. Meanwhile, Mr. Moradshahi, an engineer, was asked to return to his company’s home office in Oregon, so he moved into a $1,365-a-month one-bedroom apartment in Hillsboro, while the rest of his family stays in Scottsdale.

Bryon said he is sick of “packing and moving,” and that switching schools frequently has been “really hard.” But his goal since the second grade—playing Division 1 hockey for Boston College—“is a possibility” he said. “There is a lot of pressure. But I like what I do.”

Moving to advance a child’s future in sports can involve financial sacrifices. As a child gets picked for or cut from teams, parents may be forced to sell property at a loss or face penalties to break a lease. On the flip side, some sports parents are delighted with bargain real-estate prices in the locations they end up calling home, especially since they’re also paying substantial sums for school tuition, club teams, one-on-one instruction and gear.

Last year, Peter and Jackie Hunt moved to Bradenton, Fla., to enroll their two sons, Ethan, 13, and Conrad, 9, in IMG Academy, a sport-oriented boarding and day school where they play soccer. The school, formerly known as the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy, touts tennis stars Andre Agassi and Maria Sharapova as alumni. It has 16 soccer fields, four baseball diamonds, three football fields and 57 tennis courts. It costs roughly $50,000 a year for day students.

Mr. Hunt, a real-estate investor, was living with his family in the Bahamas for a few years abroad from their home in Weybridge, England, when friends told them about IMG. Mr. Hunt said specialty sports schools can provide a competitive edge.

“That could help you get into a better university than you would through your regular schooling,” said Mr. Hunt, 48.

IMG introduced the Hunts to Adam Cuffaro, a real-estate agent with Michael Saunders & Co., the school’s broker of choice, whose office is located on campus. Mr. Cuffaro helps IMG families rent or buy one of the 142 units on campus—where prices range from $300,000 to $1.2 million to buy a home, and from $3,000 and $5,000 to rent a furnished apartment. Mr. Cuffaro can also help families find off-campus properties.

The Hunts rented a large, four-bedroom apartment on campus for $9,000 a month. Delighted by how much less expensive Bradenton property is compared with the Bahamas and their hometown in England, they purchased a $310,000 house near campus in October. They are going to spend $300,000 to “completely gut” and rebuild it into a British West Indies-style house, said Mr. Hunt. They plan to stay there until their kids graduate from high school, he said.