When I found out we were moving to Atlanta, Georgia, I started perusing the internet trying to figure out what area we should make our home. My husband had only been in the Atlanta airport, and I hadn’t been to Atlanta since I was in high school. We were pretty clueless and needed advice on where to live.
As we made our decision, these are some of the things we considered–
1. Why Atlanta?
There is so much to LOVE about Atlanta: Coca-Cola, pandas, nature, MARTA, the Olympics, and the list goes on and on…but what brings people to Atlanta to live? For a friend of ours, it was a change in pace. So, she wanted to be in the city. For another friend, she moved to be near her family. For us, it was my husband’s job. So we needed to be near his work.
2. What are our proximity priorities?
Unfortunately, you can’t have it all in a big city, so it’s important to narrow down your family priorities. For us it came down to three things: travel, community, and adventure.
With a majority of our family living in the Midwest, we fly A LOT, and we are hoping that our family will come see us as well. So, we wanted to be somewhat close to the airport.
Secondly, community. Because we don’t have family in the area, it was important that we found a community of people and activities. For us, the easiest way to connect is by attending a local church. And, although my son isn’t in school yet, we know that communities usually have strong ties with their local schools. So, whenever we found a house we liked, we would also look up what schools and churches were in the area and tried to get a sense of what they valued.
The last thing on our list of priorities was adventure. As a family, we like to explore culture, enjoy nature, and eat new things. Atlanta and its surrounding areas have so much to offer! We didn’t want to be too far from downtown Atlanta, but we also wanted to be in an area that offered their own unique experiences.
3. What’s traffic like?
This was a big consideration for us. We knew you couldn’t just google two locations and expect the distance to equate drive time. Since we are new to Atlanta, we depended on others to help explain traffic. Since my husband will be doing a lot of driving with his work, we wanted to position ourselves in an area where he could take back roads and hop on to major roads when needed.
4. What can we afford?
Our budget. The dreaded words. If my husband was solely in charge, we would throw out the budget completely. If I was left in charge, we would be so far under the budget we wouldn’t be able to see it. Fortunately, when we both come together, we end up somewhere in the middle, closer to what we can afford without breaking our backs. There are several websites that will help you calculate your finances. The general rule is to spend no more than 30 percent of your gross monthly income. Since we were buying a home, there was also added costs to consider. Is it move-in ready or will there need to be immediate updates? Do we need different furniture? How much will it cost to clean and move? These are all things we added into our budget.
5. Will it resell?
Since we never know when we will be asked to relocate again, we wanted to buy a home in an area that would easily resell. This is where a good realtor is imperative. Realtors understand the property market trends and will be able to give good advice.
So, where did we choose?
There were so many areas that really piqued our interest. Douglasville, Kennesaw, and Decatur were high on our list. We loved the Roswell area, and East Atlanta seemed like a fun place. We even looked in Jackson, because we loved their historic homes. But, after looking online at hundreds of homes across the city and visiting more than 20 houses in person (within 3 days), we decided on a home (drumroll, please) in McDonough! McDonough is close to my husband’s work, about 30 minutes from the airport, has lots of churches and great schools, and is about 40 minutes from downtown Atlanta. I’m especially looking forward to exploring McDonough Square and attending annual festivals.
When you have kids school choice should be in the top 3, especially in Atlanta. I’m surprised that isn’t included.
You’re right! Schools are an important choice! (I hid school choice in #2 proximity priorities along with community). But it also came into play with our decision in #5 resell. Our realtor knew a lot about the desired school districts and pointed us toward those neighborhoods.
We live in the East Cobb area of Marietta & love it. My main focus for choosing a place to live was the quality of schools and then everything else came after that.
Like you said, there are so many great neighborhoods around Atlanta with awesome schools, activities, and places for families to get to know each other! It’s really an amazing city!
I’ve heard so many wonderful things about Marietta! I’m glad you enjoy it!
great post 🙂
School quality was the top factor that we considered for our recent change of Atlanta neighborhoods, followed by getting a good value on our home purchase. What I wish we had had a better understanding of before even moving to Atlanta from Nevada…traffic at a whole new level. We figured there would be commute traffic and traffic going ITP…but the truth is that there is traffic everywhere, all the time. Now that we have a better grip on that fact of ATL life, I’ve found it influences a lot of our other family decisions.
Yes! Traffic! If only there was a handbook specifically for traffic when moving to a new city! That’s the one thing I always dread when learning a new area. I’ve only been in this area for about a week now, but I may or may not have gone down a one-way street. Oops! I have LOTS to learn with this one!
From one newbie to another: WELCOME!! I could relate to so very much of this. We weren’t able to commit before actually arriving so we’re renting for now. We’ll be revisiting all of these things in the near future as we look to settle down and buy a house. It is *such* a process!
I wish we could have had more time when deciding. It is a process! Best wishes as you search for your new home!
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