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MOVING TO ATLANTA – “The City in the Forest”

By Mary Anne Walser, Realtor & Attorney, 404-277-3527, maryannesellshomes@gmail.com

Ah, Atlanta, land of opportunity and of trees. Yes, trees! We are known as the “City in the Forest” and Atlanta takes great pride in its green canopy. It’s one of the first things you will notice about the city from the airplane or car – we’re one of the “greenest” cities around. (In the conventional sense, not necessarily in the LEED certified sense).

There are some great books about the city itself – including one I love to give to my relocation clients, Moving to Atlanta by Anne Wainscott-Sargent. And great websites – my favorite is curbed.com. You will also want to subscribe to Atlanta Magazine and to the Atlanta Business Chronicle for great information about the City in the Forest.  But before we begin delving into the specifics and legalities of purchasing property here, I would like to give you just a general view of my favorite city. After all, when you are moving, it’s important to know exactly where you are moving!

When folks say “Atlanta,” they may be referring to any number of cities within the Atlanta Metro Area. Once you live here, everyone knows that “Alpharetta” and “College Park” are on opposite ends of the Metro, but when I talk to relocation clients, they sometimes speak of them almost as if they are twin suburbs of Atlanta. I had a sweet couple relocating from North Carolina. On one of our initial phone calls, they told me that they wanted to live in either Alpharetta or Decatur. As I explained to them then, Alpharetta and Decatur are hours and hours apart during rush hour, traffic wise, and are worlds apart in other ways as well. The couple turned out moving to a city in-between the two, Tucker, and they are very very happy there.

That couple’s experience is instructive in many ways, but particularly in this one: in deciding between their initial two cities, Alpharetta and Decatur, I told them about Atlanta traffic and advised them to carefully consider their commute. The wife could work from home, but the husband’s new job was in Tucker. After considering my advice and seeing Atlanta traffic for themselves, they quickly decided to live as close to the husband’s job as possible. Since he works in Tucker, that’s where they moved. We visited and considered other cities, but the ultimate “win” for them was less time in Atlanta traffic. Traffic is a HUGE “driver” (if you’ll forgive the pun) for many moving into and within the Metro.

For each of us, the primary drivers of our decision about WHERE in Atlanta to move are different and personal. My husband and I love Atlanta’s trees. We love a green, verdant forest and we love to walk.  I spend all day every day in traffic (and as a real estate agent, I always will!), so I like to come home to peace and quiet. My husband is an architect in Midtown and wanted to live as close to work as possible, but in as green a place as possible. So we are inside the Perimeter, but right near the River. We can walk to the Chattahoochee River after work and watch the sunset.

Many of my clients, however, would rather be closer to where the action is. Walking distance to The Beltline, Piedmont Park or to the restaurants and shops of Virginia Highland, Kirkwood, Edgewood, Oakhurst, Ponce City Market, Glenwood Park, Morningside, or Buckhead. If you like a quaint and charming walkable downtown atmosphere, you may prefer Decatur, or outside the Perimeter: Marietta, Roswell, or Norcross. Old Fourth Ward (O4W in Atlanta parlance) or Little Five Points (L5P) are the edgy and hip walkable neighborhoods and those who work downtown can get to work in minutes.  The downtown and Midtown commutes are walkable from Ansley Park or Brookwood Hills, and those neighborhoods are more established and traditional. Ansley is nestled between the Botanical Gardens, the High Art Museum, and Woodruff Arts Center, so if you love culture, it’s a great place for you.  In short, there are MANY neighborhoods in Atlanta to consider, each of them special and wonderful in their own ways.

I spend every day, including weekends, introducing these areas to my clients. Each is perfect in its own way, and each is perfect for DIFFERENT clients. I cannot give you a list of the “best neighborhoods in Atlanta” without knowing YOU because each neighborhood is “best” for a different client. So find a real estate agent who knows the entire Metro and who will get to know you and what will make you happy.

Here are some of the major considerations for most clients, as a guide to you in what to consider. After traffic, first, of course, is price range. Ansley Park may be perfect for you in theory, but if you want a house (as opposed to a condo) and you can’t afford a $700,000 or more mortgage, it’s NOT perfect price wise. So that’s one of the first things we figure out – how much a buyer can and wants to pay for a house. In addition, if you have children or WILL have children and want to put them into public school, you will want to consider the school districts. East Cobb has long been the bastion of close-in good schools with affordable housing. Those who work farther out or who don’t mind a commute may consider Roswell, Johns Creek, or even farther out Forsyth County.

In sum: price range, traffic, school districts, walkability, safety, proximity to golf, swim tennis neighborhoods, playgrounds, proximity to the Chattahoochee, proximity to The Beltline, historical vs. newer neighborhoods are all things you may or may not wish to consider in your hunt for a home.  Let’s get started in the search!


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 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: maryannesellshomes@gmail.com.