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Tell me about Athens. Georgia, that is.
March 27, 2011 9:44 AM   Subscribe

What can you tell me about Athens, GA?

As part of my ongoing search for the perfect place to settle down, I've been thinking about this charming college town that I passed through once.

Here's what I know about the place:
REM
Elephant 6
UGA

What else is there? What neighborhoods are cool? Would a early thirty-something who knows nobody be able to find a good life there?

I'm currently in Baltimore, MD which I love for a few reasons, but don't see myself staying here once I tire of the bar and party scene. Here's a related question that I asked that explains what I like.
posted by youcancallmeal to Travel & Transportation around Athens, GA (28 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Athens is nice for some things, but if you're not interested in "the bar and party scene", it may not be for you. It's a pure college town, and so many of the local attractions involve alcohol or football. Per your previous question, it's not really a liberal enclave, either.

If you're considering the south, Asheville NC is a great place, but I'd also consider Decatur. It's part of Atlanta and lacks a bit in the natural beauty department, but it's got a distinct culture from the rest of the city. It's very walkable and has lots of good interesting cafes and bars, including the best beer bar in the South, plus it's only a short train ride away from the city proper. It's also relatively close to the mountains for when you need to get away.
posted by tau_ceti at 9:53 AM on March 27, 2011


a non-frozen state budget (i'll be looking for jobs as a high school teacher with social studies, spanish and theatre endorsements.)

If you're looking for a non frozen state budget don't move to Georgia right now. Education's getting slashed like a promiscuous teen in a Friday the 13th sequel.
posted by dortmunder at 9:55 AM on March 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


once I tire of the bar and party scene.

Athens is purely bar-and-party-scene. Besides the college, there's only farmland and a huge outlet mall down the road (Commerce, GA). I'd agree with tau_centi, Decatur is a charming suburb of Atlanta that's still within the perimeters of 285, but also allows you to easily escape the city if needed.
posted by itchie at 9:58 AM on March 27, 2011


Ah, scratch the teacher thing. That no longer applies.
posted by youcancallmeal at 9:59 AM on March 27, 2011


FYI, Georgia has the complete opposite of mild summers, if that's still a requirement for you.
posted by litnerd at 10:02 AM on March 27, 2011


Nthing Decatur, cool place nut our summers are total Hell, really bad,
posted by pearlybob at 10:10 AM on March 27, 2011


It's awesome! There are like 100 bars downtown, there is good longboard skateboarding there, and there are TONS of drunk college kids, especially on game days. The music scene is phenomenal. All-in-all a winner if you're into any of those things. But yeah, no mild summers in GA.
posted by jitterbug perfume at 10:12 AM on March 27, 2011


Hmmm, I hadn't considered Decatur. Interesting. And by bad summers... I'm from Texas. How bad could it be?
posted by youcancallmeal at 10:21 AM on March 27, 2011


I've never experienced a Texas summer, but Georgia summers can and will be not only oppressively hot, but will reach levels of humidity one could describe as "saturating." As a friend once described it, it feels as if you've been hosed down with butter.

The heat is part of the charm though, and when it breaks our autumns here are really quite something.

I will second the things others have said about Athens. My friends who live there and really like it are across the board musicians. It is a small town in the middle of nowhere which has its specific charms. Namely record stores and music venues. And it turns into a ghost town in the summers.

Summer in Decatur, on the other hand, is when the town really comes alive. Beer and wine festivals, outdoor farmers markets, one of the biggest book festivals in the country. The demographics are diverse, and there is plenty to do and opportunities to find your community. You may want to take a look at one of the many Decatur-centric blogs, Decatur Metro to get a look at some of the day-to-day civic concerns and the attitude of the place.

There is a lot of recommend about the place. I've been living here for about five years now and really love it (if you can't tell).
posted by Maaik at 10:57 AM on March 27, 2011


Blech, *a lot to recommend about the place.
posted by Maaik at 11:00 AM on March 27, 2011


Here's what I know about the place:
REM
Elephant 6
UGA


And the B-52s.
posted by rokusan at 11:04 AM on March 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the Flagpole Guide to Athens is a great reource that shows that Athens has a lot to offer besides the bar scene. Check it out: http://flagpole.com/Guide
posted by spynotebook at 11:28 AM on March 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Have you considered Chattanooga? Awesome mountains, real seasons, farmer's market, etc.
posted by mareli at 11:36 AM on March 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I really liked Chattanooga, if it means anything.
posted by parmanparman at 11:47 AM on March 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


youcancallmeal: "Hmmm, I hadn't considered Decatur. Interesting. And by bad summers... I'm from Texas. How bad could it be?"

Summers in the southeast are like summers in east Texas (Houston and Dallas are what I'm thinking of). Not the least bit dry except perhaps for a couple of days a year where the stars align and it's just hot instead of hot and humid.

Personally, I think the bar/party scene is one of the worst things to base your choice on. Every college town and city of more than 50,000 people (not a hard and fast rule, just a number pulled out of my behind) has a bar/party scene. The key is to not pick a place that's in a dry county. They will still have "private clubs" that serve alcohol, but the drinking scene tends to be backwoodsy and not in a good way.

I'm partial to Fayetteville, Arkansas, but that's just because I lived there for ten years and so prefer the climate to most other places. (the oppressive heat usually only lasts a couple of weeks up there in the "mountains", and it doesn't get the terrible cold/wind mix that the plains get)
posted by wierdo at 11:53 AM on March 27, 2011


Oh, and Fayetteville is the definition of liberal enclave. ;)
posted by wierdo at 11:54 AM on March 27, 2011


If you look at the average annual temps and humidity during the summer, Austin and Athens are pretty in line with each other. Avg highs in the upper 80s-low 90s and humidity in the upper 80s-lower 90s from June-August. Austin is a bit hotter; Athens is a bit more humid.

Austin temps humidity
Athens temps humidity
posted by clerestory at 11:54 AM on March 27, 2011


Have any of you actually lived there? It was my home for over 10 years and I can assure you there is much more to it than just college football and bars.

There's actually a thriving and varied music scene that includes a number of independant record companies, and a few annual festivals: Athfest, Athens Human Rights Festival, BreastFest, the North Georgia Folk Festival, and the Boybutante Ball.
They have multiple networks for farmer's markets and local produce.
Not just one but two local breweries.
Not just one but two different Montessori schools, an active homeschool network, and an UnSchool.
There's also the Twilight Criterium, an annual bike race that is part of the USA CRITS Championship Series.
The Four Coursemen are based in Athens.
Athens has a bunch of parks and nature centers including the State Botanical Gardens and eight different dog parks.
There are a number of historic sites in Athens, including several on the National Register of Historic places.
The health care industry employs more people than any other. [pdf of employment profile for Clarke county] The largest single employer is the University of Georgia.
They have Roller Derby, at least six tattoo studios, poetry slams, an actually useful functional town center.
I know you don't care as much about these, but in case others do:
There's an actual Visual Art scene that has seen the installation of not just one, but two city-wide cooperative public art projects.
A whole bunch of performing arts (note that UGA groups make up only a small part of that list), including one of only a handful of aerial arts studios in the country.
I spent my last 4 years there without a car.

Yes, there are 3 colleges but it is entirely possible to live a full and active life without ever stepping foot inside Sanford Stadium. The summers can be unbearably hot and humid, but you may be used to that. Much of the student population leaves town for the summer, which means you can get a table at 5 Star for lunch and find a place to park downtown on an evening.
posted by Eumachia L F at 12:14 PM on March 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


Dag, yo. Way to be a booster. Kudos.
posted by Maaik at 12:19 PM on March 27, 2011


Have you thought of Savannah? That place is south like sherman's march to the sea(history there...).

Also, the restaurant variety is great in Athens! What is the name of that pita place?
posted by hal_c_on at 12:20 PM on March 27, 2011


Those of you who dig Chattanooga: why? Can you give me specific things that are awesome about it (ex: Eumanchia LF's answer up there. Thanks!) I've been to Knoxville and liked that a lot if that helps.... nice town center, pretty hills, etc.
posted by youcancallmeal at 12:23 PM on March 27, 2011


As long as we're talking about Athens restaurants, I wanted to share this awesome commercial that a friend of mine made for a place that has since changed names and moved.

The best part is that if I remember correctly, he recorded the song on his own just because he liked the place so much. The commercial came later.
posted by Maaik at 12:44 PM on March 27, 2011


Achim's K-Bob was legend! And that pita place might be Gyro Wrap? Possible the Pita Pit?

The best part is that if I remember correctly, he recorded the song on his own just because he liked the place so much. The commercial came later.
This is Athens in a nutshell. Not only is it full of people who write songs about their favorite greasy food place, but said greasy food place will then USE the song in their ads. On TV. And then have him re-record the song with the new name. (I don't remember which name was first - does this mean it's now in it's 3rd iteration?)

MAN I miss Athens. So. Much.
posted by Eumachia L F at 1:07 PM on March 27, 2011


Athens is considerably more charming. Decatur is charming in the context of Atlanta, almost like a small collegiate town with a city nearby and that fantabulous World Market around, but its core has entirely too much concrete. Big condo buildings popped up around in the past 15 years or so and there are hardly any trees around. It's just plain fugly. What happened there? If you want more nature around and real southern charm, go with Athens. (The university, by the way, will provide many of the same cultural amenities that you can find in Atlanta, just not as steadily.)
posted by raysmj at 1:27 PM on March 27, 2011


You should hit up mefi user ewagoner. He lives there now, has done for a good long time, and is an adult with a normal job. Athens for college kids and Athens for grownups are not two mutually exclusive things, but they are two different things. He knows the differences and is awesome.
posted by Medieval Maven at 1:52 PM on March 27, 2011


Well, I may be biased, but I am currently sitting here in my house in the wilds of Jackson County, after a quick trip to Decatur for my produce fix and to the perimeter to Super H Mart for my pre-processed asian food fix and now I'm back here, where I can see stars and hear coyotes yip when I take my dog out for a walk in the failed subdivision adjacent to our neighborhood, but I think it's a nifty place to semi-retire (I still work as a bartender/server) from the bar and party scene.

Do note that, as always, your mileage my vary, and my neighborhood is not yours.

Looking at your previous list here are some cons:
• The mild summer is debatable. I come from Columbia, SC, so I think it's just fine here, other disagree. Me I live on a hilltop and with the exception of some gnarly winds last night, it's fine in the summer.
•Broadband can be hit or miss depending on how far out in the country you want to raise your chickens. I live in the unincorporated county and near a main road so I have DSL. I couldn't get cable here, however.
•There's a few Tea party stickers in my neighborhood, but it's also racially mixed and everyone gets along and my neighbors still let me borrow a shovel when I got snowed in. As long as I'm not an ass, no one cares about my oddball stickers and plates.
• This state isn't as fucked as the previous one I came from, but it's not exactly rolling in it either. Whatever.

Pros:
•Lots of brewers & brewpubs (including the one where I work) drop me a line and I can hook you up with like minded hop heads of all sorts.
•In the country, the whole world's a dog park. Most of the parks are very dog friendly if you're in town.
• I'm one hour from the perimeter, so an occasional night out (or weekend if I find a cheap hotel) allows for some of the culture that Athens may be missing.
•We have a three bedroom with one acre a full basement (unfinished) and two car garage for 850 a month. That's cheap enough for me. Couple that with a run into the aforementioned stores once a month and we get by pretty good.

So there, I can't help you out with specific neighborhoods to look at (I live in the sticks, as I said before, not Athens proper), but come and visit. See how it bounces off you.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 5:24 PM on March 27, 2011


Ah yeah, price is definitely something to consider. I'm not near ready to purchase, but I can tell you rent here can be relatively steep. Compared to the 3br 1f's paying 850 for, I'm in a 2br duplex for slightly less. BUT I live on a quiet street just a few minutes from downtown.

Eumachia, I am delighted to see that re-cut commercial! I only ever got to eat at Achim's once, before a show at Tasty World. Their curly fries were ohsoverygood.
posted by Maaik at 8:12 PM on March 27, 2011


If you wanted to "test drive" Athens for a week or so, do it soon. Summer begins mid May when UGA's regular spring semester ends. Summers are a little different here, as the population dwindles. Summer != regular time in Athens.

I am a grown-up and live in Athens and would be happy to answer and specific questions you have; send a MeFi mail.
posted by Classic Diner at 6:48 AM on March 28, 2011


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