Here is an excerpt of what I replied to another thread...
The closest city/town with good public schools is Warner Robins, Georgia.
People from all over the state move there because of their schools and many have been voted at the top of Georgia's Schools of Excellence. Nearby, you have Macon, which is a commercial mecca for all of Central Georgia.
The largest mall outside of Atlanta is located there. Eisenhower Crossing is a humongous shopping center that is relatively new that contains a Home Depot, Target, Best Buy, Dick' Sporting Goods, A Tuxedo Shop, Shoe Carnival, TJ Maxx, Kroger, and many more stores along with restaurants and cafes sprinkled in. These include a deli, Mexican restaurant, a Thai/Japanese restaurant, and Ryan's Steakhouse and Buffet.
Just down the road, say 100 feet is another area of great restaurants including a new Chinese buffet that has hundred's of selections and amazing Chinese decor including a large fountain. There's also an Indian restaurant, Mexican grocery, McDonald's, Subway, and a Wal Mart Supercenter.
At the beginning of Eisenhower Parkway, which is one of Macon's main commercial roads, there is a Media Play [electronics, cd's, etc] Store, a new Academy Sport's Store, Petsmart, Burlington Coat Factory, Krispy Kream Donuts, and much more.
That was just 1/3 of the story. You still have Macon's downtown with family owned boutiques, gift stores, and other interesting joints, and also North Macon, including Riverside Drive with hotels, hundreds of restaurants, hundreds of stores including Books-A-Million/Starbucks, Kroger's, Papouli's Grecian Foods, Chili's, Cici's Pizza, Stevi B's Pizza Buffet, Golden Dragon Chinese Buffet, and much more.
Did I mention the all new Bass Pro Shops which just opened in northern Macon on Bass Road?!?!? It is said to be the largest in the Southeast! It also has a catalog and Distribution Center which brought alot of jobs and there is going to be many new shopping centers surrounding the Bass Pro Shops. Also, there is plans for a second mall in Macon. It is still in the planning but it is said to be built in North Macon where it can get attract some people from the Southern Atlanta suburbs.
Warner Robins' has as much if not more choices of restaurants than Macon now. It is growing in leaps and bounds. The county that Warner Robins is in is the fastest growing outside of Atlanta.
The two counties combined [Bibb County and Macon + Houston County and Warner Robins] is 278,000 without factoring in the other surrounding counties which would add 50,000 to 278,000.
If you want a city life with thriving arts nearby and a great museum district nearby, choose one of the surrounding areas of Macon for example Dublin, Georgia. It has a wonderful downtown, great children's sports programs, some shopping centers, etc. Definately a great small town feel + wonderful schools/Home prics + Close proximity to Warner Robins and Macon!!!!
AND MORE.... It is in easy reach of Augusta, Savannah, and the Georgia Sea Coast. Atlanta is about 2 Hr's and a half from Dublin.
Other great towns with great schools in the area include Perry [has the state agricenter and hosts the Georgia State Fair every October], Forsyth, Gray, Cochran, Eastman, Byron, Fort Valley, Abbeville, and Centerville.
Try and avoid Jeffersonville, Vienna, Unadilla, Cordele, and Roberta.
They are deteriorating towns, although nice with less than mediocre schools.
[Jeffersonville recently got some good news though, with Academy Sports building a distribution center there.] Hopefully it will reverse the downward trend in that town and county.
Friendly people, great schools, great location, amazing home prices, diverse food choices, wonderful shopping, festivals all year round, small towns everywhere, lakes, forests, great fishing, great history with extraordinary museums,