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Old 02-07-2013, 01:24 AM
 
Location: Greenville, SC
15 posts, read 24,941 times
Reputation: 29

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Okay, this is my first post and I'll try to make it brief. My husband and I (66 & 54) and two (large) dogs are thinking about a move from the rural, northern CA coastal community where we have lived for 16 years to somewhere in northern GA/metro Atlanta. We have weathered some major health issues over the last decade that have left us not as financially secure as we would have liked to be at this stage in our lives, at least by California standards. We're not whining about this, we just need to adjust our plans. We're looking to lose the house payment and have a lower cost of living than what we currently must endure in this area.

We have lived in CA for much of our adult lives, but we are not native Californians. Between the two of us we have lived in lots of places, from the Midwest to the Northeast, to the Appalachian region of VA to the Puget Sound to Phoenix. We are very politically conservative (again, by California standards) but not bigots, and we don't mind living in a diverse neighborhood, as long as it's fairly quiet and people take pride in their properties. We know Atlanta will be a big change from what we've been used to (where we live now is about 75 minutes from the nearest stoplight), but we think we are ready for a change. For some reason the Atlanta area keeps calling to us, and we're excited about the prospect of doing something totally new.

Having built one house and remodeled another, we do have a penchant for interesting architecture, and we are quite drawn to the mid-century modern houses we see listed in the Northcrest area. Since our budget is in the range of $300K, these homes seem to be right in the ballpark of what we're looking for.

We don't have kids, so schools are not an issue, but if we end up needing to move to assisted care sometime in the future, we need to be in an area that has some resale value. We have been active in a particular cancer support network that has two chapters in Atlanta, one at St. Joseph Hospital and one at Emory. Not sure how far this neighborhood is from those two facilities.

We'd also like fairly easy access to areas where we can walk safely with our two dogs (roads, sidewalks, trails, parks, etc.) Our dogs are used to walking (on leash) on trails and rural roads, but are not very well socialized so aren't exactly dog park candidates. In fact, one of our dogs is a rescue with pronounced noise phobia issues, and we're concerned that being this close in to highways and airports might be too much for him. This may sound like a weird question, but just how noisy is this area?

Access to a public pool would be good as I am a lap swimmer. I know Northcrest has a pool for the summer season, but I'd like to continue swimming year round, so would like an alternative for winter months as well.

Other than that, we're pretty flexible and easy to please. I know we need to visit and spend some time scoping out this and many other possible areas for consideration, but any thoughts you might contribute about Doraville in advance of our first trip will be VERY much appreciated! TIA...
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Old 02-07-2013, 06:03 AM
 
Location: Atlanta and St Simons Island, GA
20,893 posts, read 32,892,157 times
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Northcrest is unique in that its one of the very few neighborhoods in the metro that has a large inventory of mid-century modern homes. For this reason, it has what you would call a 'local following'. The immediate area is quite suburban and you're a short drive from Embry Hills Shopping Center where you'll find most any amenity you need. The area north of Northcrest is very industrial, so you do have quite a bit of traffic running up and down Northcrest Rd. I'm pretty sure that its a different situation than what you're used to.
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Old 02-07-2013, 06:09 AM
 
3,966 posts, read 10,798,205 times
Reputation: 1427
Quote:
Originally Posted by TeamCanine View Post
Okay, this is my first post and I'll try to make it brief. My husband and I (66 & 54) and two (large) dogs are thinking about a move from the rural, northern CA coastal community where we have lived for 16 years to somewhere in northern GA/metro Atlanta. We have weathered some major health issues over the last decade that have left us not as financially secure as we would have liked to be at this stage in our lives, at least by California standards. We're not whining about this, we just need to adjust our plans. We're looking to lose the house payment and have a lower cost of living than what we currently must endure in this area.

We have lived in CA for much of our adult lives, but we are not native Californians. Between the two of us we have lived in lots of places, from the Midwest to the Northeast, to the Appalachian region of VA to the Puget Sound to Phoenix. We are very politically conservative (again, by California standards) but not bigots, and we don't mind living in a diverse neighborhood, as long as it's fairly quiet and people take pride in their properties. We know Atlanta will be a big change from what we've been used to (where we live now is about 75 minutes from the nearest stoplight), but we think we are ready for a change. For some reason the Atlanta area keeps calling to us, and we're excited about the prospect of doing something totally new.

Having built one house and remodeled another, we do have a penchant for interesting architecture, and we are quite drawn to the mid-century modern houses we see listed in the Northcrest area. Since our budget is in the range of $300K, these homes seem to be right in the ballpark of what we're looking for.

We don't have kids, so schools are not an issue, but if we end up needing to move to assisted care sometime in the future, we need to be in an area that has some resale value. We have been active in a particular cancer support network that has two chapters in Atlanta, one at St. Joseph Hospital and one at Emory. Not sure how far this neighborhood is from those two facilities.

We'd also like fairly easy access to areas where we can walk safely with our two dogs (roads, sidewalks, trails, parks, etc.) Our dogs are used to walking (on leash) on trails and rural roads, but are not very well socialized so aren't exactly dog park candidates. In fact, one of our dogs is a rescue with pronounced noise phobia issues, and we're concerned that being this close in to highways and airports might be too much for him. This may sound like a weird question, but just how noisy is this area?

Access to a public pool would be good as I am a lap swimmer. I know Northcrest has a pool for the summer season, but I'd like to continue swimming year round, so would like an alternative for winter months as well.

Other than that, we're pretty flexible and easy to please. I know we need to visit and spend some time scoping out this and many other possible areas for consideration, but any thoughts you might contribute about Doraville in advance of our first trip will be VERY much appreciated! TIA...
Good Morning.

DeKalb County, where Doraville is located, is a holy mess right now. The County and the school system are in bad shape, and while being in Doraville protects you a bit, Doraville's is kind of a mess as well. The challenge for Doraville is a lack of commercial property that generates income for the city. (Google DeKalb County CEO and DeKalb county schools for more.)

You will pay more property taxes in Doraville and DeKalb than most other counties in metro Atlanta. And, with the exception of sanitation service, you might get fewer services. For example, Gwinnett County, just to the north, has fabulous parks and recreation including some great indoor pools. DeKalb not so much.

Are you open to other areas to consider?
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Old 02-07-2013, 06:51 AM
 
7,687 posts, read 9,530,024 times
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I was going to keep my mouth shut because opinions are like....well, you know what.

But I know people in Northcrest. I know people across the street in Rose Arbor.

If my parents told me they had a budget of $300,000 and wanted to buy in Northcrest, I'd make them go to Florida so I could Baker Act them (google it).

Unless you have some kind of bizarre fetish for these homes, you're out of your mind. This is probably one of the least desireable suburbs (if you can even call it a suburb, it's more like an industrial zone) in metro Atlanta. Sure, this is a neighborhood full of the houses you like. Just this weekend I was at a house around there and stopped to get some chicken at the Kroger. When I brought it to my friend's house and we opened it, I complained that it was dry and horrible. His 14 year old daughter said, "What do you expect, you got it at the ghetto Kroger. That place gets held up all the time."

Yeah, it's that bad. I mean, you'll be able to tell immediately when you visit it. And visit it you should, but please don't have your heart set on this area. Have several back ups! You're going to realize in less than 5 minutes that dropping $300k here is one of the dumbest investments you could make.

Sorry, I don't mince words. I've visited this area, I've lived in this area, and I couldn't wait to get out. I always make fun of my friend for living there because it's so horrible.....but luckily, his daughter got into an excellent charter school, so she is fine, but this area offers absolutely nothing aside from decent convenience to Atlanta and to Gwinnett county. And it will never ever change because it is such a huge industrial zone and that is not going to change.

I only lived there because I made $22,000 a year and couldn't afford anywhere else. As soon as I could afford better, I ran. It boggles my mind why anyone who could afford better would purposely choose this area. I know it's hard to know that from afar, but now you know.
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Old 02-07-2013, 08:48 AM
 
Location: Kirkwood
22,147 posts, read 16,147,338 times
Reputation: 4894
Quote:
DeKalb County, where Doraville is located, is a holy mess right now. The County and the school system are in bad shape,
Don't really think they care about schools at their age.
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Old 02-07-2013, 08:52 AM
 
7,687 posts, read 9,530,024 times
Reputation: 5657
They care about resale value.

So they de facto care about schools.
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Old 02-07-2013, 09:18 AM
 
616 posts, read 877,690 times
Reputation: 378
I can only speak for myself, but rural coastal California >>>>>>>>>> Atlanta.

Atlanta only appears cheap statistically. When you get here in person you'll realize that you get what you pay for. And the nice areas of Atlanta are NOT cheap.
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Old 02-07-2013, 09:57 AM
 
Location: ATL
4,688 posts, read 6,403,041 times
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Try extreme North Metro Atlanta (Cumming, Lake Lanier, North Ga Mountains area) Doraville is not a good fit for you
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Old 02-07-2013, 01:31 PM
 
119 posts, read 255,756 times
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In the 1990s I lived for a couple of years in the specific Northcrest neighborhood you are interested in. I still have family members that have been there for over 20 years, and I have more family that has lived elsewhere off Northcrest Road for over 40 years. So I'm very familiar with the history of that little area and its ups and downs.

First off, home values in that Northcrest community have gone up over the past 20 years. Back then it was easy to find a run-down home or foreclosure for under $100,000. In the last 10 years or so there has been a resurgence of sorts as many of the homes have been fixed up. Now, with the attraction some people have to mid-century modern (thanks to Mad Men) many remodeled homes sell for over $200,000. A few years ago some were even going for $300,000+. Not everything looks great, but it's a lot better than it used to be.

Many parts of the Atlanta area were hit hard by the drop in home values associated with the recession. However, values in that Northcrest community retained more of their value than the average home in the area. People, such as yourselves, still desire those homes, and the neighborhood has very nice, mature, green tree canopy and landscaping. If you had bought something 5-7 years ago at the peak, you would probably sell at a loss today; however, buying something now is not as risky.

Someone mentioned property taxes. Unlike other metro counties, DeKalb has a one-penny sales tax that goes toward a tax exemption for owner-occupied homes. Meaning if you live in your home you pay less in property taxes. For example, the family I have that still lives in Northcrest has a home that is valued by the county at just under $200,000. Their tax bill is $3,800. However the sales tax reduces that amount by $800. The other statwide homstead exemption takes off another $500. So they wound up paying only $2,500 last year. Whereas, someone I know in Gwinnett County has a home valued by their county at a little over $200,000, yet they paid $3,000 total.

As people have aleady mentioned, the DeKalb public school system has a great many problems. And, yes, that could affect your future resale value. Although it's interesting to note that in the past decade or so I have observed more singles, younger couples without children, and retired couples moving into Northcrest. So there is still a market for those homes, albeit not the stereotypical suburban market of a young family with kids.

I would say Northcrest is "fairly quiet and people take pride in the properties." Twenty years ago it was almost all white. Today it is probably two-thirds to three-fourths white. Outside that immediate neighborhood there has been a much greater increase in the black, asian, and hispanic populations. The apartments all along Pleasantdale Road generally have a bad reputation, with drugs and violent crime being more common. Even though Northcrest is in a Doraville zip code it is not in the city of Doraville, which many people consider to be generally more run-down and incredibly diverse with asians and hispanic being dominant.

There is an occasional theft, burglary or car break-in in the neighborhood. No home invasions, robberies or murders that I'm aware of. There is above average crime around the nearby Embry Hills shopping center. However, most of the robberies that occur are at the several banks there. Embry Hills and North Hills are right at the confluence of two major interstates 85 and 285, so petty crime and sometimes violent crime is more common, especially late at night. However, Embry Hills shopping center is doing much better than 10 or 20 years ago. Back then there was a huge nightclub that drew hundreds of people on the weekends, with all sorts of accompanying problems. There was a strip club. And the hotel there used to be a frequent haunt for drug dealers and prostitutes. That is all gone now.

St. Joseph Hospital and Emory Hospital are both 30 minutes or less away, outside of rush hour traffic. You can take the interstates most of the way or use side streets if you prefer slower speeds.

You could certainly walk your non-phobic dog around the neighborhood. There are some sidewalks but mostly you'd have a two-lane street. Actual car traffic is usually light, outside of people leaving and returning for work. Regalwoods and Summitridge are the main roads with the heaviest (if you could call it that) traffic. The biggest traffic generator is the elementary school in one corner of the neighborhood. It's mostly school bus traffic. The school is going to be rebuilt in the next few years so there will be construction there, too. But you could live in another part of Northcrest and probably hear next to nothing. I don't recall airplane noise being a problem. The runways at the Atlanta airport, south of town, are all east/west, so while you may here the occasional plane, you would in no way be in a major flight path. Road noise from Northcrest or Interstate 85 is absent in most parts of the neighborhood.

Henderson Park off Henderson Road would be a good spot for your dogs. Also nearby, and with usually no one around is an over one mile long, hilly trail at Mercer University. There are other parks around, depending how far you want to drive.

I'm not aware of a public pool that is open in the winter. Nearby Gwinnett County has indoor aquatic centers for their residents. Mercer University also has a pool open to the public for a small fee. And there are large gyms, like LA Fitness, that have pools.

The Northcrest neighborhood is a nice oasis. If you don't mind the hustle and bustle of metro Atlanta and want to be close to enjoy what the city has to offer, I think it could be a good fit for you.
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Old 02-07-2013, 06:13 PM
 
Location: Greenville, SC
15 posts, read 24,941 times
Reputation: 29
First: Eunomia, I composed the following after reading the initial replies to my original post. Now, ready to hit “send” I have read your thoughtful response and it gives further food for thought. Obviously, our first real visit to the area will help us sort this all out.

To the rest who have taken the time to respond:
Yeah… I was afraid I’d be hearing comments like this, and THANK YOU ALL!

From LovinDecatur’s subtle suggestion, “I’m pretty sure that it’s a different situation than what you’re used to,” to ATLTJL’s blunt statement, “Unless you have some kind of bizarre fetish for these homes, you’re out of your mind,” we really appreciate this kind of feedback. We certainly aren’t the kind to keep our opinions to ourselves and hearing yours is just what we needed… that, and a good slap upside the head!

We’ve never looked at our home as an “investment” but rather a place to live in a style that suits us, so we haven’t always made the best financial decisions when it comes to real estate. We like “nice” things and think we have a pretty good eye for design (which no one would ever believe from looking at the way we dress!)

Consequently, I must confess that for a couple of left-brained conservatives, we are rather impulsive and emotional when it comes to our living quarters. We’ve bought three homes over 25 years. Our first was the best house in a SF Bay Area “transitional” neighborhood that unfortunately reversed course and slid backward during the time we lived there. Second house we built from the ground up in a better location. Even so, we knew we’d never be able to sell it for what we put into it -- but then did when the market went crazy in 2005. Unfortunately we turned around and sunk all our “profits” (and more) into our current home, which we gutted and remodeled at precisely the wrong time.

It used to be okay to live this way because we always had more of our working life ahead of us to make up the losses. But then along comes cancer and a lousy economy that ground my husband’s business nearly to a halt, and for the last couple of years we’ve been dipping into our retirement savings to make house payments. We’ve always been active and pretty “young” for our age, but suddenly we’re feeling rather… old… and tired. We’re not exactly destitute, but we’re hardly a couple of “rich” (or superficial) Californians, either. It’s time to place more value on the things that are really important and get smarter about how we spend the rest of our lives and the dwindling funds in our IRA. There’s not too many years to go until “salivating” at the pretty home makeovers on HGTV becomes “drooling” on our bibs at the old folks’ home.


So yes, lastminutemom, we are extremely open to considering other areas. And yes, tonygeorgia, we have actually been thinking northwards, even as far as Dahlonega. We’re re a bit hesitant to go too “touristy” or “small town” or “HOA” as that is what we want to escape in this part of CA we’re leaving. And don’t even mention a “retirement” community; we’re not in to golf, horseshoes or needlework!

My husband, particularly, is very gregarious and we’d like to live in a place where people know and genuinely care for each other. But we are not socialites, nor are we churchgoers (although we probably are more “Christian” than most in this area). We have done a fair amount of hands-on volunteer work over the years and even though we’ll probably look for some part-time employment in our “new hometown” we will undoubtedly find volunteer opportunities wherever we land.

Oh, and btw, ATLTJ… we spent 10 years in EMS and we use the term "5150" for those we "Baker Act" but HIPPA law prevents me from discussing this in greater detail...

So there you have it. We’re a nice "older" couple (hard to believe we fit that description, but time does march on ) looking to buy a home for $300K max within 45 minutes or so of Atlanta. We’d rather have a smaller home with character than live in a cookie cutter subdivision. Remodeling something cheaper is okay (we have experience with that) but no money pits (we have experience with that, too). We’d like a big backyard with some grass and trees that is, or could be, fenced to keep our dogs in and the riff-raff out. We’d prefer a locale with lower property taxes, as our house will be our biggest asset and we’ll be living for the most part on a modest, fixed income. Nice neighbors of all ages, but not too nosy- yes I know this is the South! Pool/parks/trails/open space within, say, 20 minutes' drive.

We have been reading related City-data forum posts over the past six weeks… so many it makes our heads swim!

IF you have made it to the end of this very long message, we’d be grateful for any ideas you have. Or maybe I should start a new thread, without Doraville in the subject line?

Can you tell this is the first time I've ever used "smilies?" (I live a sheltered life!) Thanks again, everyone!
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