A reporter working on a story recently contacted me and wanted me to give my opinion on the “BEST” neighborhoods for a given type of buyer in a given price range. Unfortunately, I can’t know that without knowing the buyer. Not only WHO you are (first time homebuyer, young family, aging empty nester), but also your personality. Your personal traits and also your architectural personality. Do you like historic bungalows, sleek modern houses, or traditional homes with gorgeous molding and impeccable finishes? With any personality and price range, there are numerous neighborhoods which might fit the bill. What you need is the Realtor who will get to know YOU and help you find the right house in the right neighborhood at the right price. I’m going to share with you some insights I recently gave to a writer for Atlanta magazine who asked me to GENERALIZE on the best neighborhoods for a given demographic in a given price range… but keep in mind that it ALL DEPENDS ON THE BUYER.
SOME RECOMMENDED NEIGHBORHOODS for price points/demographics:
I’ll start with another disclaimer: SO MUCH depends upon where the buyer and family members WORK. Traffic in Atlanta just gets worse and worse – and commute time is precious time away from the family. So NO neighborhood is a good neighborhood for you if your commute time is more than an hour, I’d say! And we have good neighborhoods all around – so I usually start by asking the homebuyer, WHERE DO YOU WORK? And then WHERE DO YOU LIKE TO PLAY/where are your friends? And gauge the “right” neighborhood accordingly. Another important factor is the homebuyers’ PERSONALITY. One may HAVE to live in a walkable neighborhood while another would prefer a newer swim/tennis community. But I will do my best giving you in a general sense some of the best neighborhoods that I think exist for each price range….
1. Under 200k: For a young family under $200,000, believe it or not there are several very good options not too far out! I love Doraville/Chamblee. Montgomery Elementary School is a favorite. If they don’t mind living farther out and commute is not an issue, $200,000 will buy you a nice home in far East Cobb. I usually recommend that the family VISIT the school personally where their child will go. Some schools that don’t have great scores “on paper” are well loved by some of their constituents, and if there’s an IB (international baccalaureate program), a gifted child can have a great experience even at a not as great school.
2. 200-350k: Closer in East Cobb for the schools. While the Sope Creek district is outside the range, there are a number of other great schools just a little farther out with houses in this price range.
3. 350-500k: Oakhurst, fun, diverse, walkable, family friendly. There are also great options in Ashford Park/Drew Valley/Brookhaven Heights. These are neighborhoods across Peachtree to the east of Historic Brookhaven. Ashford Park Elementary is well thought of and it’s a very central location, close to I-85 and to 400. Dunwoody is always a favorite – close in, family friendly.
4. 500k+: I can’t say enough about Decatur, as long as your work commute isn’t terrible from there. Everyone loves City of Decatur schools, the walkability and the city services. A lot here depends on the personality of the family! Inman Park history might be perfect for some (with great Mary Lin Elementary), Druid Hills serenity and history (Fernbank Elementary), or for the rising corporate executive perhaps Buckhead (although homes in 30327 are generally a young family’s “second” home).
1. Under 200k: A 20 something could go for a small condo just about anywhere they want to be. There are even cool places in this range in the heart of Virginia Highland, in Midtown, and in Buckhead. But if investment is also a consideration, I’d go for Doraville/Chamblee area. With The Assembly (mixed use) development going in where the old GM Plant was, there’s a whole lot happening in this part of town. Another great place for investment would be the historic West End – anywhere near where the Beltline WILL be going in the coming years. There’s some awesome housing stock – great historic bungalows! And soon enough this will be the new “hip” area of town.
2. 200-350k: Ormewood Park, Reynoldstown, Kirkwood – these are the cool areas of town near the Beltline that are still affordable. I also like SMYRNA near the Smyrna Market Village. With the Braves Stadium moving to Cobb County, Smyrna is far enough away to avoid traffic (and you’re able to get south without getting on I-75 from there) but close enough to benefit from the development.
3. 350-500k: If they are the Buckhead type, a cool sleek condo walkable to Buckhead action!
4. 500k+: Virginia Highland, Old Fourth Ward, Inman Park, anywhere near the Beltline!
1. Under 200k: On the north end of town, Kennesaw is a good option and Kennesaw Mountain is a great place to hike and to take the grandkids. On the east side of town, Stone Mountain has some great solid one level ranch housing that might also be perfect.
2. 200-350k: In this range, a good option might be a one level ranch close to where the kids live (if the kids are in Atlanta) or close to the neighborhood they are downsizing from (to stay in touch with friends). Lots of great neighborhoods in Tucker and nearby; Tucker has a great small town feel but is so close in, and very warm and welcoming.
3. 350-500k: I find many empty nesters in this price range love the ACTIVE ADULT communities a little farther out of town. These generally are designed in a 4-pod pattern; basically 4 houses joined together, each all one level with a garage. There’s a central clubhouse and pool and the exterior maintenance is generally covered by the homeowners association. Jim Chapman is one of the prominent builders of these communities. They are generally pretty far outside the Perimeter – there’s one near Serenbe and several which are past Alpharetta.
4. 500k+: The place historically we see empty nesters in this price category purchase is in VININGS, because taxes in Cobb County are much lower for senior citizens (the county takes off the “school” portion of the tax). Many empty nesters end up in one of the beautiful highrises like One Vinings Mountain and The Aberdeen or buy a Weiland townhome at Paces View with an elevator. An added bonus is that those properties are within walking distance to the Vinings Jubilee and to many awesome restaurants.
Mary Anne Walser is a licensed attorney and full-time REALTOR, serving buyers and sellers in all areas of Metro Atlanta. Her knowledge of residential real estate and her legal expertise allow her to offer great value to her clients. Mary Anne serves on the Committee that drafts and reviews the contracts utilized by all REALTORS in the State of Georgia. In addition, she is a member of the Atlanta Board of Realtors, the Georgia Association of Realtors, the State Bar of Georgia and the Georgia Association of Women Lawyers. Contact Mary Anne at 404-277-3527, or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.