It's rural and southern. Many people are ignorant and racist. It basically sucks. Many people here are delusional about Atlanta but it's really just a mediocre small southern city. A lot more on par with Birmingham, Alabama or Jackson, Mississippi than LA, NYC, or even Seattle or Boston. Culturally it's super southern, physically it's rural, very spread out and so many trees. The leaders either want to keep it that way or are too inept to change it. Fact: Atlanta has a population of less than 500,000 and is half the size in population and area of Charlotte, NC. Anyone who calls Atlanta a major city is ignoring the facts, something that small town southerners are particularly good at.
I really wish I was warned about how terrible the drivers are here. I've lived in a bunch of different places but Atlanta by far has the worst drivers I've ever seen. Everyone is on their phone or not paying attention. Everyone is driving a rental because their car is in the shop or they've just duct taped their bumped (if they have one anymore) back to their car and hope it'll stick.
I've dodged tail pipes, tires, bikes falling from bike racks, and more. I've never been in a car accident in my entire life regardless of how big the city I lived in was and I've always been one to drive over public transport. I've been in so many near misses, close calls, and near fender benders that it has taken some years off my life.
I've seen people drift off and hop a curb and take out a parked car. I've seen people run red and plow into others. I've watched pedestrians play chicken as they try to make it across a CROSS WALK where the light giving them the right of way.
Traffic here sucks. Partly because there's TOO many people, and partly because someone had an accident on the road you're using to go somewhere and theyre trying to clear the road and it's causing a traffic jam.
Buy a hummer or an SUV, at least when other people hit you, you'll hurt them more than they'll hurt you.
Don't try to ride a bike as a primary form of transportation, even if there is a designated bike lane. You'll probably die early.
I loved living in Atlanta. I lived there from birth (1989) until I graduated college (2011).
I'll go ahead and mention some of the bad things about living there first:
- Poor Infrastructure - The city wasn't laid out very well and this causes myriad problems, namely increased traffic and poor road conditions. I-285 is seemingly perpetually under construction. This makes rush hour traffic even worse.
- MARTA - This has to be the most inefficient mass transit system for a major city. Delays, breakdowns, and employee apathy are some concerns among other more major problems like a lack of stations in much needed service areas.
- Crime - Atlanta has a problem with crime. It's no Detroit or Chicago, but you hear about murders and other violent crimes fairly often, with crimes like home robberies and breaking into cars being commonplace.
- Weather - This is relative as I realize that some people are more tolerant to warmer temperatures, but I can't stand Atlanta in the summer. It is pretty much always in the 90's all summer long. Then, to add insult to injury, the humidity is high and air quality, due to high levels of pollen and smog, is pretty dismal.
Now to the good stuff:
- Parks - For a big city, Atlanta is pretty green. There are lots of trees and grass around to complement the skyscrapers and highways. Piedmont Park is great (during the day; avoid at night) and is only one of many parks in the city.
- Diversity - one of the perks of living in a big city is the diversity. People, restaurants, businesses, schools. It's great.
- Waffle House, Coca-Cola, and Chick-Fil-A were all founded here. Need I say more?
- Location - Should you tire of the bright lights of the big city, you're only about an hour's drive away from being in the Appalachian Mountains where you can hike, climb, and bike to your heart's content. If you're more of a beach person, you can get to St. Simons in about 5 hours or, if lakes are more your thing, you can drive 45 minutes to Lake Lanier.
- Sports - Atlanta's professional sports teams are good; good enough to make the playoffs on a fairly consistent basis. You don't have to feel ashamed to be a fan. Go Falcons/Hawks/Braves!
I'm sure I'm missing a couple points but I hope this suffices for now.
Traffic. Oh god. Everything takes forever to get to. And then eventually, driving 45 minutes to get anywhere seems totally natural. Going north from ITP (in the perimeter) to OTP (outside of the perimeter), is absolutely a nightmare, as is eastbound.
You can't find decent Italian food anywhere.
It's air conditioning weather 8 months out of the year, and the other four months, if you're from the north/colder climates. It's almost shorts weather.
There's a large population of Chicagoans and New Yorkers who live here.
There's great, classic, architecture in Atlanta. From the houses, to the buildings, there's a lot of nice pretty things to look at.
Braves Baseball is a way of life down there.
The transit system is not very good, but it has the potential to be (if there's funding). Also bike riding ITP is easy, bike riding OTP can be really tough. Atlanta IS is the foothills, but itself is rather easy to get around in.
The Neighborhoods (all of them), have stuff going on all the time. Inman Park especially.
Living's cheap. Living close to where you work is almost always worth it.
It's diverse as hell, but still segregated as hell, although Atlanta, by percentage has a really strong black professional class, very similar to DC in that regard.
"Downtown" isn't really where it's at, ever. I mean, The Underground is 'cool', if people went there, and if things happened there (which is the other reason why I use the quotes). But it's fallen under hard-er times again. During the Olympics, it was the place to be. But when I lived in Atlanta (about 3 years ago), it was a ghost town most days. People tend to flock more to Atlantic Station or the near suburbs.
Did I mention the traffic is terrible?
Politics are also asinine, from the bottom to the top.
Schools are really strange, especially the Magnet programs in the area.
There's actually a lot of jobs around there, it's a growing city still, and being a Delta hub, means there's always flights going in and out all the time all over the place.
Atlanta, otherwise, is hours away from anything else though. Tampa's a good 5 hour drive, same with most anywhere in NC, TN, KY. Birmingham's close by (only about 2 hours), and same with Chattanooga. But, to visit other cities, you're usually driving a ton.
That said, there's some Georgia beaches that are pretty nice.
And a car with great gas mileage will pay dividends. I'm not joking. If you're a 2 car household, having 1 that gets at least 30+ mpg is a wallet-saver.
Pros: our amazing tree canopy, beautiful parks, pleasant intown neighborhoods, Buford Hwy and the array of ethnic food, the Beltline, PCM, a thriving art scene and phenomenal restaurants, a healthy business culture. Atlanta has turned a progressive corner in the past several years - particularly with the City Design and public/private investment in Downtown.
Cons: highways that have torn Atlanta apart and make connectivity difficult, regionalism that is often combative, competitive and unproductive, short-sighted development and the corruption that tends to hinder progress for the greater good.
On the positive side, I am in absolute love with Midtown/Downtown and many of the surrounding neighborhoods. We are seeing some nice dense developments, and a trend towards street-facing development (I'm looking at you, Peachtree Center). It's not terribly expensive to live here, and its possible to live daily life without car ownership.
Although I come from one of the semi-rural suburbs of Chattanooga. Over there, the closest place worth going to (the nearest middle/high school) was 2 miles from my house, so driving and car ownership were practically essential.
My biggest complaint with the city is our infrastructure. Driving sucks, and it's not just traffic. Many sections of roads are in dire need of a few cans of white/yellow paint and perhaps some fresh pavement, and some intersections just appear poorly thought out. MARTA is a decent system IMO. but service frequencies on the rail and many bus routes suck during weekends and nights (and some during the day). Although a lot has changed recently and is still changing. But even then, there are still a handful of accessibility issues that remain even if some are being addressed. Oh, and the way we handle sidewalks is pants-on-head retarded.
I just moved into a unit in Atlantic Station (just updated my flair so it's official), so its a bit of a change from a on-campus apartment along North Avenue, and it definitely beats being homeless.
PS: don't complain about the cost of rent.
Moved here last year from Orlando and absolutely love the city. I love the huge mix of cultures and the incredible food scene here. I live in Midtown and walk to work, so traffic has never been a problem. There's always something to do with all of the concerts, musicals, plays, operas, and art showcases in the city.
Things I don't like are the seemingly bad reputation that Atlanta has with gangs, violence that has been left over from the 90's-- it really isn't like that unless you're Southside. Even College Park and Bankhead are upcoming districts these days.
The traffic can be a headache, but that's like in any major city.
If you want to get the most of the city, live in Midtown, above 5th street. That's where all of the restaurants and walkable jobs are, it's very cosmopolitan here. Outside of that, Old Fourth Ward or Inman Park (and that general area), that way you are near the city still and can easily get in.
Once you start living in places like Buckhead, Dunwoody or Brookhaven or Decatur you start getting into places that get bad traffic, and even though you're just 15 minutes from Midtown the traffic can easily make it 40 minutes.
Sometimes it feels like there are two Atlantas being built: One that is bold, innovative, and authentic; the other a giant cash grab, filled with shitty "luxury" apartments, overpriced focus group-tested restaurants, and people who never lived in a city before.
Sure, the sweet tea abounds and it's common to hear the occasional "y'all" in casual conversation, but Atlanta has long been redefining prevailing perceptions of the South and its so-called Southern charm.
Among the nation's fastest-growing metro areas, the Georgia capital is attracting newcomers from around the country, and people are looking to this part of the country for culture and commerce like never before. If you learn about everything Atlanta has to offer, it's easy to see why. Atlanta features award-winning restaurants and chefs, iconic locales that rival any across the country – including the Tony Award-winning Alliance Theatre, the CNN Center and the Western hemisphere's largest indoor aquarium.
Although a sprawling, constantly developing area may mean construction sites at every turn, a dense tree canopy covers any unsightliness, and prompts Atlanta's reputation as the "city in a forest." The Chattahoochee River that traverses the metro area, and Stone Mountain, the world's largest chunk of exposed granite, located just northeast of the city proper, also offer a quick escape from any urban anxiety. And there's still a sense of that Southern charm that pervades the dynamic metropolis. "I'm not used to people holding the door open for me," transplants often say.
Great post. I moved to Atlanta last year and i have loved it. I had a hard time finding housing until i stumbled onto http://www.yellowpages.com/atlan.../mip/d-r-horton-478425538 then it was a breese. I really love it here and i enjoyed reading your post. great work.
It is very cheap to live in Georgia compared to most areas other than maybe Alabama.
Everything else varies from county to county. But in Atlanta there is a big divide betweeh what part of the Atl you are moving to. The northern part of the city is going to have better schools the further north you go into suburbs of Atlanta, especially to Roswell.
For churches there is one almost in every corner , every denominations from a large catholic catherdral and islamic mosque to mega baptist churches. Then there are churches in strip malls and warehouses.
In some ways very nice; in some ways not so much.
I love the diversity in our neighborhood and in my son’s school. In my neighborhood, we seem to be 1/3 each- black, white, brown - and we all get along just fine in the city. Additionally, any type of ethnic food and grocery is near in Smyrna (and I mean every kind of food almost like NY). My son is in public middle school, and we are quite happy with the school and the teachers.
I make decent money and do not have trouble paying bills, which is nice.I don’t make a ton of money as a nurse. I don’t think that would be the case in other cities like Boston or New York.
There is always something going on - festivals, concerts, and lectures - if you keep your eye out on the universities and on
The biggest thing I like about Atlanta is the water though. If you like to hike or kayak or paddleboard, there are actually many of places nearby to explore every weekend (I found a neat waterfall a few weeks ago). You have a few lakes to take your paddleboard: the Chattahoochee River in Sandy Springs, and Lakes Allatoona and Lanier are both roughly one hour away; there are 4 places within 2 hours from my house that I have personally rented a kayak (I don’t own one of those); not to mention that there are some incredible hiking trails just outside of the city (Silver Comet comes to mind), but the Appalachian Mountains (holy cow you wanna talk about hiking adventures!!) are within a 3.5 drive from the city so it makes for a really great weekend getaway.
So, believe it or not, if you know where to look, Atlanta has got a lot going for it if you like the outdoors.
I miss the laid back attitude of the west, and at least once a month I miss something due to traffic. Last month there was a Clint Eastwood festival downtown and I missed seeing the last showing of “Dirty Harry” on the big screen. That sucked. Later I realized I would have had to sit with a bunch of hipsters anyway so I guess it worked out for the best.
I love it here! But then again, I’ve loved everywhere I’ve lived. If you’re used to southern weather, it’s pretty much what you would expect. Random freezing days in the winter mixed in with random fairly warm days also in the winter. The occasional bout of snow and ice (which, yes, will often cause everything to shut down - much like other Southern cities that can’t justify keeping snow equipment and such on deck). Sweltering hot summer days. A touch of fall and spring. The people are diverse. You’ll find “cliques” like in any city. Down to earth people. “Pretentious” people as I’ve heard people in any city say about others. You’ll hear the entire range of comments on dating - great to horrible experiences. At the end of the day: Atlanta, like any other city, is exactly what you make it! Your perception and attitude is everything. If you choose to love it, you will. If you choose to hate it, you will. Personally, I love it all! I love Midtown, Little 5 Points, my church downtown, the bars and restaurant scene, the non-profits you can be a part of, the green spaces. Even the festivals and such - even though I’m kind of over doing mass crowds. Plenty of concerts but - if you’re like me and don’t like big crowds so much anymore - there are lots of small, intimate places to hear music like jazz and otherwise. I can tell you some great places to get a nice caipirinha (national drink of Brazil) as where to see a sabering event everyday at 6pm (where they lob off the top of a champagne bottle and pour champagne for everyone in attendance). There’s plenty of wonderful people, places and things to do here! Hope you love it too.