Moving to Atlanta
Archived Q&A and Reviews
- Would LGBT couple with brown child be happy in Atlanta?
- Living in Atlanta
- Possibly Moving to Atlanta-Never Been, Please Help
- Moving to the suburbs of Atlanta
- Got a job offer in Atlanta
- Enlightened area of Atlanta, not too expensive?
What would it be like to move to Atlanta? The thought of moving to the south scares me but do I have an unfairly closed mind? I worry about being around a lot of racist conservatives but is that just a stereotype?
We are an LGBT married couple with an adopted son in elementary school. We really enjoy being close to the ocean and the mountains. I am an avid skier. We like going out to eat at ethnic restaurants. We love going to music festivals and camping and partying. We vote democrat although we're not that impressed with either party and would consider voting republican if they weren't aligned with the religious right. We do not go to church and have a hard time relating to people who are really into church. We really wouldn't want to be the only family at school not going to a particular church.
Do you think that we would be happy in Atlanta or would we stick out like sore thumbs? Would our son do okay in public school. He's part Hispanic, would he be discriminated for being light brown? Assuming you think that we would like Atlanta, in what area would you recommend that we live? For the same price that we're looking at here, we could get a 3,000 square foot house on an acre there. But is it worth it? Considering our options
Atlanta is great! It's a pearl in a sea of grits!! We lived there for six years and can't wait to go back. There are some great intown neighborhoods that offer lots to do, it's diverse and has a vibrant LGBT community (depending on where in the atlanta area). The key to happiness is finding the right neighborhood to avoid a soul-crushing commute. Based on what you describe, I'd go for candler park, Inman park, Decatur, Virginia highlands, midtown. There's a great food scene, lots of fun outdoor stuff in the north ga mountains (1-2 hr drive), you can get to the coast in 4-6 hrs by car. There are definitely places to avoid in the metro atlanta area, because the sprawl is epic, but don't let that discourage you. You will encounter some things that may justify some of the southern stereotypes you have, but many people there are transplants from all over the place, so you will find like minded people. The lack of good public transit is a huge problem, but that was really my only complaint. Mary Lin elementary is supposed to be pretty good. Email me if you'd like to chat. Elizabeth
I'm not an expert on the Atlanta LGBT scene but here is my experience there. In 2000, before I was a parent, I spent a few days there visiting a dear college friend, who is gay. At the time he had a crush on a guy who was a dad to a baby, co-parenting with a lesbian couple. We were supposed to hang out with crush-dad and baby while the moms attended a meeting, but dad came down with a bad cold and my friend and I babysat. Stress and hilarity ensued as we didn't know what we were doing but of course we got through it. FWIW, the moms lived in Decatur. Alright by Atlanta
I lived in Atlanta for 28 years, raised my kids there, just returned to the Bay Area a few years ago. If you choose the right neighborhoods (eg Decatur, Little Five Points, Pine Lake, Morningside, Mid-town) there is a diversity of all sorts, including political--our Congressman was John Lewis. On the other hand, there are suburban neighborhoods who elect representatives like Newt Gingrich. Bottom line-- be very careful about where you live. Atlanta is not really the traditional South--in many ways, it's the place people went to escape from the traditional-- huge black middle and upper class, large refugee/immigrant populations, large and active gay community. Schools are a mixed bag--some public schools are great, but not all. Again- -area specific research needed. I missed the ocean--the Georgia Coast and the Florida panhandle can be wonderful but are 4 to 5 hours away. World class white water rafting in the mountains ( an hour or two north) and the Okeefenokee Swamp--also world class. The weather can be a challenge too... Atlanta non-native
Atlanta will definitely be a big change from the Bay. While the South in general is much more conservative, Atlanta itself tends to be fairly liberal. I went to college (Emory) there so this is based on my experiences there a decade ago, and some dear friends who still live there. Atlanta went through a lot of reconstruction post Civil War; there are definitely some economic and racial splits across certain roads and neighborhoods partly because of this. Can't say it's much different than Oakland in that regard however.
The traffic is also pretty bad, and MARTA is only great to get certain places (namely downtown). But the traffic's bad here too so...
I don't think your family would stick out within the city. The smaller towns beyond may be less accepting, though the countryside around there is quite beautiful. My good friend lives there with his fiance and can't imagine living elsewhere (tho note, they're not allowed to adopt in Georgia - as mentioned the state as a whole is conservative).
Decatur is a cute little town inside Atlanta, more of a small town feel and with a large lesbian population. Should you move, I'd personally avoid the suburbs unless you'll be working in them. Atlanta itself sprawls enough. Try Druid Hills, Decatur, Virginia Highlands, Candler or Inman Park, etc. Many more would be great too but I'm not as familiar.
As far as music, there is a TON! Great venues, Music Midtown each year and lots of free concerts in Centennial Park. You won't be missing out on music at all. The mountains aren't too far of a drive, and the ocean isn't terribly far either.
Honestly I loved Atlanta and in some ways wouldn't mind living there. The South is its own charming and frustrating beast like most places but I'd definitely plan a trip there to see how you feel about it. Oh and it gets hot and humid in the summer of course. I got used to it and liked it (yay thunder storms!) and it does snow almost every winter now. I appreciated having seasons. L
I lived in Atlanta for 2 years as a student about 10 years ago. I don't think your sexual orientation and family situation will be as big of an issue as you fear. Atlanta is a mecca for LGBTs in the South and there seemed to be a lot of acceptance when I was there. However, you should get to know the city and culture there because it is very different from the Bay Area. The pace is much slower for one thing. And the traffic is terrible and you have to drive everywhere. The best thing to do in my opinion is to spend some time there and see how it feels to you. Although if you are looking to be close to the oceans and mountains there are much better options. Neither are very close there. If you feel at home in the Bay I doubt that Atlanta will suit you, but if you're looking for a change it could be it. Leon
Hi, I grew up in Atlanta, and based on your family's description, I think you would fit right in!
I have lived in the Bay Area for 10 years now, but I spent the first 18 years of my life in Atlanta before going to college in New York. (I left the South merely because I craved something different, and wanted to be in Manhattan). I still love Atlanta and miss many aspects of living there.
It is located in the red conservative south, yes, but the perimeter of Atlanta is a little microcosm of diversity. I grew up with exposure to arts and culture, and Atlanta has a foodie community that could rival San Francisco. It also has a LGBT community that could rival SF. There are a lot of gay bars in Midtown, lesbian bars in Decatur and people who are very open minded all over the city. (The first bars I ever snuck into were gay bars!) The annual Atlanta Pride Parade is huge. I never encountered overly religious people while I lived in Atlanta, although I'm sure they exist somewhere. People ask me all the time why I don't have a southern accent- yes, I've been away from the south for a long time, but even when I first went away to college I didn't have one. It's basically like any big city- just has a southern 'flair' to it. Georgia is also a very beautiful state. The city of Atlanta is incredibly lush and green, and the fall season is incredibly gorgeous. Up north you have the Blue Ridge mountains and the beginning of the Applachian Trail. You are land-locked however; so beach trips are a long drive. (There are plenty of nearby lakes to visit though!) The east coast beach trips are worth it though- you can sunbathe on the beach without freezing and the ocean feels like bath water! You will need to travel to ski, however, as the east coast skiing is terrible. My parents and I are skiers and we would take trips to Colorado or Utah whenever possible.
Here are some cons about Atlanta: 1) The HEAT. I loved it, but I'm from that inferno of a city so I guess I was used to it. It's high 90s-100s with 99% humidity in July-August. You basically get inside as quickly as possible, and bring a sweater because all establishments try to freeze you to death with AC. The plus side is that it's actually pleasant when the sun goes down and you can have countless dinners outside without needing a hoodie. 2) The bugs. With heat, comes insects. There are mosquitoes. And roaches. (The big kind. That sometimes fly.) But I do miss the beautiful sound of crickets and cicadas all summer long. 3) The traffic. Everyone drives everywhere. MARTA (the public transportation system) is a joke. You absolutely have to drive a car in that city. 4) The public schools are pretty bad. (Not they are any better here, mind you!) Your son won't feel out of place with brown skin, however, as most of the kids in ATL public schools are African American. I am white and experienced reverse racism as a child.
Anyway, I suggest you check it out, ideally with a local friend or contact who can show you the hidden gems and neighborhoods. (Not World Of Coke, which I've actually never been to!)
As far as neighborhoods go, just avoid Buckhead. Unless you relate to jocks, yuppies and sparkly blondes with plastic surgery. (Sorry to anyone out there who loves Buckhead!) Nostalgic for ATL
My husband and I lived in Atlanta for ten years before moving to Dallas (talk about a conservative place) then making our way to the East Bay.
Atlanta is not like other Southern cities, but it is not perfect. It has is good (rich arts and culture scene, Civil rights history, excellent dining) and its bad (traffic--cannot exaggerate that, urban sprawl, struggling public schools).
I won't gloss over the Atlanta's racial history. Integration drove large numbers of whites to the suburbs back in the 60s and 70s. But Atlanta power players realized that institutional racism would hamper the city's growth so they forged a social contract decades ago called the Atlanta Compromise. Read up on it. As a result, Atlanta is a diverse city where multiple races are represented in politics, business, community organizing, etc...
This is not to say that there are not racial tensions. Atlanta (run largely by black leaders) and the State Capitol that sits in the city (made up of mostly white, males) are always at odds. The people who live in Atlanta though make an effort to get along.
Some areas are more inclusive than others. Inman Park has a large LGBT population. I remember rainbow flags proudly displayed in front of several homes. Midtown and Ansley Park are other areas that comes to mind. These neighborhoods however are in the city, not suburbs or one of the surrounding counties. I can't think of any areas in the city where you can get an acre, except Buckhead but this is a more conservative area. I can't speak for the rest of Metro Atlanta because I only lived in the city. I hear the further out you go, the more homogenous the communities become.
Atlanta is landlocked but there are lots of outdoor excursions within short driving distance. To name a few: Highlands, TN. Ravenscliff Falls. Skiing in NC. Savannah and Jekyll Island. Lake Lanier. Tybee Island. The North Georgia Mountains.
I hope this gives you some idea of what Atlanta is like. It's not everyone's cup of tea but people who choose to live there, love it.
Feel free to email me if you have additional questions. Teresha
In short? It's complicated.
I left Atlanta and have never looked back. I don't want to talk it down too much, as it is painful to hear people trash a city I once loved. But, as I said, it's complicated. Inside city limits is a whole different picture from the suburbs and from the rest of the state.
It's a city with a lot of strengths. It's got an old-school progressive side, building on its civil rights history. Strong community oriented neighborhoods (Decatur, Candler Park, Midtown, Westside, Inman Park, Old Fourth Ward, Cabbagetown). Very diverse city -- both in race and sexual orientation for sure. Wonderful food and dining. Up and coming arts scene. Good local music. Near the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains.
I like that Atlanta is a bit less polished than other cities, one of those 'scratch under the surface' cities that make it a not great city to visit but a good city to live in. Its reputation is not high in other parts of the country, but it's beloved in the southeast.
The city has low cost of living: it's quite cheap compared to the Bay Area. Lots of loft spaces and beautiful craftsman houses with gorgeous wrap-around porches and massive yards. There's the terrific airport which makes coming back here easy. I really like the small towns nearby: Chattanooga, Asheville, Charlestown, and Savannah. All only a few hours away and lots of fun. Beach and mountains nearby, which is nice.
HOWEVER. Atlanta is so very very car-focused. There's a public train system that works well, but it's constantly in danger of losing funding and it only goes in two lines. Most of the places you want to go are on those lines, but annoying nonetheless.
ATL is not a thriving metropolitan town. It has lots of cool parts of it, but overall, it's not a particularly progressive place to live. The values are very different from the Bay Area.
The weather is intense. From May through Sept it hovers just below 100 degrees. The year round sun is great, but you get it pretty hot and heavy in the summer.
It would be hard to move to Atlanta from here, and I suggest going to visit at least once or twice before you move there. Former Atlantan
You got a lot of great feedback. I think one of the great things about living in Atlanta is getting over the idea that liberal, foodie, outdoor, gay folks must ONLY live in the bay area and a few other select spots. You realize that folks like that are making authentic lives all over and in concentration in lots of places, including some fantastic Atlanta neighborhoods. It's not quite the epic, international scale of the bay area, and that helps it be a bit more mellow, gentler and more affordable. I truly miss the ocean. TRULY. You'll absolutely get more for your money in Atlanta but with the more desirable neighborhoods you'l pay a premium, so as you look at real estate know that location does truly matter so pick your right comparisons. transplant
The southeast is very different from the Bay Area (obviously!). I don't know the Research Triangle very well but I can tell you more about Atlanta, where I spent the last 5 years. ATL is the hub of the southeast with lots to offer the person who lives here, but little to offer the visitor (in my opinion). Cost of living is low, but more to it than that: a fabulous dining scene (as shown by the # of James Beard awarded restaurants, top chefs, etc), cute neighborhoods, fascinating history (civil rights movement!), an up and coming arts scene (read up on Living Walls), lots of music ongoings, decent public transit (at least there's a heavyrail system, not all major metro areas have 'em), great airport, wonderful year-round farmers markets, and my favorite: endless outdoor opportunities about 90 minutes (plus) north of town. Northern GA and Western NC are some of the most beautiful places in the US, the Blue Ridge mountains teem with gorgeous lakes and rivers, swimming holes, beautiful mountain tops, and gorgeous flowers. Atlanta is a very green city--literally. Lots and lots of trees everywhere--a city that blooms like crazy in the spring and has a special colorful fall. But most trees are on private lots, there aren't too many public parks to speak of. Life in ATL is definitely easy (especially if you don't drive--bike/walk/MARTA) and enjoyable. There are lots of creative, smart, and passionate people here who I have been so sad to leave. There is a strong sense of pride and community here. Lots of progressive people, too. It's a blue city in a very red state. That, to be honest, has been hard for me.
One thing I will miss a lot is the great neighborhood feel to it. I love exploring all the wonderful 'hoods of ATL, including Decatur, Kirkwood, Sweet Auburun, Grant Park, Midtown, etc. The downtown area is dead at night but starting to be revived (see: Sweet Auburn Curb Market). Alternative transit is not a priority but some advocacy groups hold down the fort (see: ATL Bicycle Coalition). Don't listen to those who complain about the traffic too much, if you work in the city, make sure you live somewhere you can either walk/bike/MARTA to work. I use those options and love them.
I left Atlanta for the Bay Area because I wanted to try out a 'better' place, but I know I will miss ATL very much. The Bay Area and the high cost of living are worth it to me for now, but ATL does have some great offerings too. The areas are so very different, but I always encourage people not to dismiss Atlanta outright--it is a great city in many ways, but it has to be said: it some major weaknesses. Former Atlantan turned Bay Arean
Hello! So, my husband has been offered a good job in Atlanta that we're finding hard to turn down. We really love our life here, but the work piece, which is a big one, isn't working out so well as of late. My husband has traveled to Atlanta on business, but doesn't know it at all and I have never been before. So, we're really anxious about what life will be like there and whether we'll like it. We currently live in Rockridge and our kids go to public school. We love that we're in walking distance to College Ave and all that it offers, that we're surrounded by interesting, dynamic and liberal-minded people and that we have such great access to nature. I would love to hear from people who have made a similar move- either from here to there or the other way around- and what you found the biggest pros and cons to be. Also, if you can recommend neighborhoods to check out that have the same flavor as Rockridge where there are hopefully good schools, that would be most appreciated as well. Thanks in advance for any info you can provide. Losing Sleep
We moved from SF to Decatur Ga in the Atlanta area five years ago. While we miss the bay area and our friends there a great deal, we have a wonderful life in Decatur. Commutes here can be a bear so you don't mention where the job would be. Where you live is very important. You can find wonderful pockets of liberal (making some assumptions about you here) folks, great food, nice schools, walkable (ish) communities. But you can find much of the opposite too. You should email me directly and I can tell you much more if I knew your specifics. margaretm
Hi there, I grew up in Atlanta, but have lived out here for the last 15 years. Atlanta is very beautiful, has tons of family-oriented activities and great restaurants. Suggesting a place to live there really depends on where your husbands' job will be located. Atlanta's traffic can be really awful, so I'd suggest looking into areas that are fairly close to where your husband will work (unless he's working from home). The area most like Rockridge is probably Little Five Points/Virginia Highlands - homes are similar to Rockridge and there are great restaurants and cute shops. Also, my brother is a real estate broker in Atlanta and can point you towards the better neighborhoods and schools. If you'd like to connect, email me. Sue
Is there anyone who can give me advice about the suburbs of Atlanta? My husband just got a job in Sandy Springs and we are considering relocating - however I'm a California girl, all my kids were born in the bay area (ages 3, 5 & 7) and we don't know a soul over there. It seems as the quality of life would be quite good, housing prices excellent, but other than that I'm clueless about what to expect, and where to buy a house w/best schools relatively close to husband's work. We are a chinese-american family, Cal grads, and have been in the bay area since 1990. Considering a southern life
First comment: Atlanta is not real 'South' (except in weather...)--it is full of transplants and refugees from the real South...
Second comment: suburbs are suburbs--plus in Atlanta they tend to be more politically conservative (think Bob Barr and Newt Gingrich...). Sandy Springs per se is both suburban and expensive. Neighborhoods that are more Bay Area compatible are intown--such as Decatur, Druid Hills, Morningside--which might be a feasible commute, but you need to check that out at commute hours....
I enjoyed living in Atlanta, where we raised our children--and there are marvelous mountains, white water rafting, and beaches within a few hours drive..... Good luck! Atlanta fan
I grew up in the Sandy Springs/Dunwoody area. I should point out that although the 6th district is the home of Newt Gingrich, south Sandy Springs is in the 5th district and is represented by the progressive John Lewis. Were I to move back to the area, I would probably head for Decatur or one of the old 'intown' suburbs like Candler Park or Inman Park; a reverse commute to Sandy Springs from the Druid Hills or Brookhaven neighborhoods wouldn't be bad. These neighborhoods tend to be more diverse and also politically liberal/progressive, which I like - but also more expensive than the outer suburbs. If you're tired of all that and would like to meet some Evangelical Republicans and spend more time in your car, I would recommend some of the outer suburbs like Alpharetta, East Cobb, Kennesaw, or Roswell. Kevin
My husband recently got a job offer in Atlanta and we are considering moving. I checked the archives and didn't see much about Atlanta. Has anyone ever lived there? What neighborhoods would you recommend? Are people friendly and welcoming to newcomers? Would it be difficult for liberal democratic Jews to fit in there? Is the cost of living really much better? And (this might be getting too specific, but just in case...) does anyone know about the Jewish day schools there (reform to conservative)? I get the sense that the area around the Jewish schools and JCC (Dunwoody, Sandy Springs) is very ''suburban'' strip-mall-like. I was hoping to live in a more Berkeley-eclectic, coffee shops and bookstores sort of area. I am also little concerned about the whole ''Southern'' thing, although maybe that is just my own stereotyping! Any suggestions or thoughts would be greatly appreciated! Also- we are going to visit in a few weeks - any particular areas we should check out to get a real flavor of Atlanta?
Somewhat freaked about leaving the Bay Area
My Family (2 parents, 2 kids 5 and 2) moved to Atlanta from San Francisco in September following my Husband's new job. For context I had lived in SF for 8 years (after 12 years in Chicago) and grew up in Northern California.
Atlanta has a lot of great neighborhoods filled with great architecture, liberal attitudes, cute cafes, parks, stores. People are friendly. There are healthfood stores, Yoga classes. I see people from all over the world out and about. That said everything is on a smaller scale - fewer shops, less busy parks.
Neighborhoods: You don't want to commute so let job guide where you look. Morningside, Virginia Highlands, Grant Park, Midtown are popular neighborhoods. Also look at the city of Decatur just outside Atlanta. I personally would not live in Dunwoody area... bad traffic, too subdivision/strip mally, too wealthy. I live in Decatur and it is considered very liberal, has very good schools, and is a little bit less $$ for housing than some neighborhoods closer to downtown.
Religion: I feel Atlanta and the South is a very Christian place and it is palpable. You will want check out Jewish institutions when picking location. I don't know about any specifically. I have walked by a Jewish school in Morningside (google Atlanta JCC).
Cost of living: It is definitely less. That said living ''in town'' is not cheap, and I found my standards went up. I was living in a small house with an ancient kitchen in SF but coming here I wanted more. So while it is still a good chunk of money, for less money than my SF house I can get a very nice house here. Other things are cheaper too. I spend $250 to send my daughter to preschool 5 mornings a week and a well regarded program.
What I miss: Most of all people of course. But in terms of location I miss the dramatic vistas of the Bay Area and the ocean (we are land locked). The buzz/energy/snap crackle pop of the city...it is just more mellow here. I miss really good bread and knowing a million different places where I like to buy it.
I could give lots more advice. Please contact me and I am happy to talk/email more. Good luck! margaret
I grew up in a suburb of Atlanta, but it has been many years since I lived there. Atlanta is very suburban. Aside from right downtown, it is all suburb-like and does have strip malls. You don't really get a real neighborhood feel. I can't speak to whether or not you would fit in or what the Jewish dayschools are like, but I would say the people are very friendly. Atlanta is very urban and has a lot of people who moved in from other places and is not what people think of as ''the South''. Chris
I was born and raised in the south and moved to the bay area from Atlanta in 1997. Atlanta is a nice place to live and there are some very livable urbany intown neighborhoods. Most of the houses intown are similar to the homes in Berkeley and Oakland. I would not recommend living in the suburbs (Roswell, Alphretta, Sandy Springs, Smyrna, Norcross, etc.) if you have to commute downtown because the traffic has gotten horrendous. I lived in a neighborhood just 5 minutes from downtown called ''Midtown'' for many years. I loved it. Not as much to walk to as some of the other intown neighborhoods such as Virginia Highlands, Inman Park, Little Five Points, Candler Park. These areas will feel more like Berkeley to you, although not quite so ''Berkeley'' as Berkeley. Buckhead is a large area of town with great restaurants, shopping etc, but a pricier and more upscale. You might also look at the neighboring town of Decatur, which has a cute downtown and is a bit more affordable, while still being very close to Atlanta without feeling like a suburb. My sister and her husband have lived there for years and love it. I also hear that some neighborhoods that were less than desirable when I was there 9 years ago, have turned around, one such is Grant Park (beautiful big homes). You will be able to get more for your housing dollar than here, although I would assume some of the desirable intown neighborhoods are getting pretty pricy. You will more than likely get a much bigger yard than anything you would have here, which is nice.
I do not know much about the Jewish community other than it is fairly large and active. The main negatives to living in Atlanta are the summer weather (very hot and humid!) and the lack of access to outdoor activities. There are beautiful mountains in North GA but its quite a drive. And the coast is several hours away. Good luck! And feel free to email me if you have any more specific questions. mette
My husband and I have decided to escape the exhorbitant cost of living and move to Atlanta, GA (also, I have a brother there, whereas we have no family here). We would like to live in a relatively enlightened area, but one that isn't too expensive or crime ridden. Does anyone have any neighborhood recommendations, either pro or con? Atlanta is a huge area, so I'd like to know where to start. Thanks, returning to the South after 20 years Jennifer
Hi. I'm headed out to Atlanta myself. One of the things I've found useful is joining tribe.net. They have an Atlanta tribe and you can ask them all kinds of questions about Atlanta. They are a pretty friendly bunch.
5 points is pretty $$$, Decatur is more like Berkeley/Oakland (socially etc) and that's about all I know so far. I've been told by people that live in Atlanta to get the job first, then get the apartment, house based on how close it is to where you will be working.
Apparently, believe it or not, the traffic there is worse than here. How that's possible, I don't know. I've been looking at Craigslist in Atlanta at rentals to get an idea of how much things cost.
I was surprised that the rents weren't that much lower than here, but you get more bang for your buck there. For example the houses have dishwashers, or DSL is included, etc.
If you want more information about getting into the Atlanta tribe on Tribe.net, email me. beth