Moving to Atlanta. Advice and recos?
July 2, 2015 10:26 PM   Subscribe

There is a possibility I may be getting a job that would require a relocation to Atlanta. Can you help recommend a community or neighborhood? Details inside.

Currently, my wife and toddler and I live in Southern Oregon, four hours south of Portland. We moved out here for work less than two years ago, but circumstances are now forcing us to relocate again.

Next week, I am flying out to Atlanta for a final interview with a large corporation. I am also taking two days to house hunt and check out the area. The problem is that neither my wife nor I have ever been to Atlanta. I'm hoping the Green can help us out.

One quick note for context: prior to moving out to Southern Oregon, we lived in the west suburbs of Chicago. Moving to the "big city" won't be quite as big of a culture shock since we haven't lived our whole lives in this rural, agricultural community.

So ... If I get hired, where should we be looking to live in the Atlanta area?

Here's what we're looking for:

• Communities where the houses don't all look exactly the same.

• Good schools (our son is 2.5, so we're looking ahead)

• Walkable "mini-downtowns" that function as a community hub where you can walk around, get an ice cream, enjoy a nice summer night out and about.

• Family-friendly activities.

• Culture (art, theatre, music, museums).

• We like live music, but do not go to bars or clubs to hear it.

• Small shops and independents.

• Communities and neighborhoods where every restaurant or business is not a big box retailer or national chain.

• Diversity. We would like our son to hear different languages and/or see faces that don't all look like us (we're white).

• Acceptance (we're an interfaith family and politically liberal).

Tall order? :)

So what do you think of Atlanta? Thoughts? Ideas? Recommendations?
posted by zooropa to Society & Culture (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I think downtown Decatur fits your requirements really well (except I don't know about the schools). However, it depends on where you'll be working as Atlanta traffic, especially on I-285 (the perimeter) is soul-crushing so you'll want to factor in your commute to the decision.
posted by hazyjane at 10:51 PM on July 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Decatur and Midtown both fit your criteria. Virginia--Highland almost does, but it's less diverse.
posted by Violet Hour at 12:29 AM on July 3, 2015

Lots of neighborhoods in Atlanta will fit your criteria, especially on the East Side. I used to live in Grant Park, near the zoo. It was almost 15 years ago now (!) but there were lots of pretty houses, lots of trees, and it was walkable to lots of different shops and restaurants. I always loved the Lake Claire neigborhood as well and thought that if I were to raise a family in Atlanta that's where I'd want to be.

I think the most important thing to do for your sanity and family life, however, would be to negotiate for home working. A lot of it. Or to find a place near your office, or, if your office is downtown, find a place an easy walk from one of the MARTA stations, maybe Decatur (also really nice) or East Lake. You want to stay off the road as much as possible.
posted by cilantro at 2:58 AM on July 3, 2015

Yay!! Welcome y'all!! The above suggestions are great. Definitely Decatur, it's wonderful!! The Virginia Highlands/ Morningside area is my neighborhood and it ticks all your boxes. I love it! My kids are thriving here, wouldn't change a thing. We moved here from the Atlanta suburbs and have a MUCH more, small town feeling, seeing people you know everyday, the folks at the stores know us, etc. living where we do in midtown than we did in the real small town. The traffic advice above is on point, traffic is horrendous so consider that carefully. What may look on a map like a 15 minute drive will take 60+. Be mindful of your commutes and you'll be ok. Me mail me if you have other questions... Glad to help out.
posted by pearlybob at 5:02 AM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Decatur is probably your best fit, but may not be a good commute. You didn't mention where your job was, but Decatur is not really near any interstate. Do not underestimate your commute - Atlanta is a city where it can easily take 90 minutes to drive 6 miles. Study this shit hard before you choose your neighborhood. Don't believe anything the realtor tells you about commute - test it for yourself.

Some other great neighborhoods to look at: Grant Park, Inman Park, Lake Clair, Virginia Highlands, Midtown.
posted by spilon at 6:10 AM on July 3, 2015

This question from May is similar enough to your question that you'll get some good information by taking a look - it covers many of the same neighborhoods linked upthread.

I'm also going to second everyone's comments about traffic. If you could share approximately where you'll be working, we'll be able to give you a better answer. If you think about Atlanta as being laid out like the face of a clock, with I-285 ("the perimeter") forming the round part of the clock face, all of the suggestions you are getting above are to live between 1:30pm and 3:00pm on the clock face, inside of 285. Those are all great neighborhoods (I live there myself), but if you are working in Alpharetta (12:00 on the dial, and way outside of 285), you are going to have a miserable two hours a day in the car.
posted by kovacs at 6:17 AM on July 3, 2015

Response by poster: Y'all are amazing! Thank you so much for all this terrific information.

To borrow kovacs's clock analogy, I will be working almost exactly at 12:00 inside 285 near Perimeter Mall.
posted by zooropa at 6:35 AM on July 3, 2015

If you are inside the perimeter, your commute options for all of those east Atlanta neighborhoods open up quite a bit. It will still be a little messy/long, but I think all of the suggestions upthread are viable. What you can't really see until you look on a map is that they all kind of blend together in one long corridor with Midtown anchoring down the middle of the clockface and Decatur the eastern end. Some of the other pocket neighborhoods not mentioned above that are "in-between" or adjacent include Ormewood Park (next to Grant Park); Kirkwood (S. of Inman Park/Lake Claire); Oakhurst (S. of Decatur). The ones that have little downtown areas or some other concept of a center are VaHi, Kirkwood, Oakhurst, Decatur.

From a schools point of view, Decatur is its own municipality and has its own school system while all of the other places we've mentioned are either in City of Atlanta (Fulton County) or in unincorporated Dekalb. I don't have kids and don't know much more than that, but my acquaintances and co-workers who aren't in Decatur seem to spend a lot of time angsting over how to get their kids into a charter school.

Prepare for some sticker shock on housing if you want to live in Decatur and within walking distance of the square. $500K will buy you a renovated 3bd/2ba 1930s bungalow with a driveway but no garage. The other areas mentioned aren't that far behind in pricing. I would actually suggest that you rent and get to know the area.

I will memail you a bunch of addresses or landmarks to go find these neighborhoods if you are driving around looking. Good luck and welcome to Atlanta!
posted by kovacs at 6:59 AM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

I came to suggest Decatur, too. It meets every one of your criteria, though it's definitely expensive.

I worked in DeKalb county schools until this past year and agree that you might want to look into charters if you end up in one of the counties. Alternatively, Forsyth county has been doing some really great stuff, but it would be quite a drive for you.
posted by a hat out of hell at 7:49 AM on July 3, 2015

Kirkwood and east lake are both good places to look intown. The school there would be Drew Charter and it's a good one. Otherwise, Decatur. JUST had this discussion w a coworker who relo'ed from LA.
posted by Medieval Maven at 11:04 AM on July 3, 2015

Decatur is getting quite pricey, and the taxes are the highest in the metro area, but it's still popular because the schools are so good. It's got a strong LGBT presence but otherwise seems to be getting less and less diverse as longtime residents get priced out. Infill mania!

Candler Park and Lake Claire are in City of Atlanta, and served by the excellent Mary Lin elementary school. The neighborhood is very walkable and has a little retail strip that is active with people and kiddos.

Commute to and from the top end perimeter will suck your soul out of your body. For Decatur and eastside neighborhoods like those above, note that heading IN in towards downtown and then up 400 may be faster than heading around 285. 285 is The Worst.
posted by intermod at 1:14 PM on July 3, 2015

nthing Decatur or Druid Hills
posted by LittleMy at 11:04 AM on July 4, 2015

If you are working in the Perimeter area, let me recommend Roswell. It's up 400 (just 2 exits!). Wonderful public schools and fabulous parks/rec. It's very family friendly and lots of restaurants and outdoor things to do.
posted by heathrowga at 6:07 PM on July 4, 2015

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