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Old 02-28-2017, 07:20 PM
 
6 posts, read 3,152 times
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Hello,


We are looking at possibly relocating to the Atlanta area. I am considering a job in Dunwoody and my husband would be starting anew his business as a general contractor doing things like remodels. We also have a 10 year old son who will be entering 6th grade in the fall. Oh, and 2 cats will be following us:}


I am looking at the cost of living as well as schools in the Atlanta area to see if the move makes sense for us. We currently live in Richmond, VA where the cost of living isn't too bad and where we have excellent public schools here in the suburbs. Getting around the city isn't too crazy for my husband with doing his remodeling work. The move to Atlanta would be a good thing in terms of my career but I need to consider what's best for us all.


So...if anyone has any advice on:


- the cost of living in terms of taxes (especially on homes), gas, food, etc.


- the average cost of homes in the Dunwoody area (I've looked a bit and was disheartened at the prices) and what you get for your money.


- advice on any nearby areas that wouldn't involve a bad commute. I'd love to find something on a lake or some sort of water - and/or something with a little land.


- advice on how difficult it would be for my husband to get around in Atlanta traffic for his business traveling to various homes


- advice on public schools


- advice on private schools. I was likely going to put my little one in a private school this year here in VA just because I think middle school is a tough period and there are some great unique private schools here that are more non-traditional...ie, one that I really like is for boys only and involves a lot of letting boys be boys without a lot of sitting at the desk. I also dislike the whole teaching to the test thing, and so that's steering me toward private schools as well. It's the cost that's the hesitation.


- and then any advice on renting - cost, where, etc. as we would initially, hopefully, find a home to rent while getting to know the area, and then buy.


I think we would like the Atlanta area as we really enjoy things like museums, plays, the symphony and also some outdoor time. I do love the water and so would miss our easy access to the beach, but I can deal with that I suppose:}


I really appreciate any and all advice!!


Thanks in advance!
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Old 02-28-2017, 09:29 PM
 
Location: Georgia
4,562 posts, read 4,089,318 times
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Well, I grew up in Richmond and moved to Atlanta in 1989, so I think I can compare the two fairly accurately. (Are you in Chesterfield or Henrico?)

Taxes are both Dunwoody city and Dekalb County taxes. Here's a sample tax form, which is probably fairly accurate: http://dunwoodyga.gov/ckeditorfiles/...ill%202016.pdf There's a 40% homestead exemption -- so if you live in the home, you are tax on 40% of the assessed value of the house. They are higher than Chesterfield and Henrico -- not sure about City of Richmond.

Home costs: Dunwoody can range widely between high 200s in the far east side of Dunwoody to several million. Most of the area around Dunwoody Village tends to run in the $400-$600s, with homes around the Dunwoody Country Club reaching up from the $500-900s, depending on size. Most of the homes in Dunwoody were built in the late 60's to the 1980s, but there has been a LOT of renovation work going on in homes.

Norcross, lower East Cobb, Sandy Springs, Roswell, Chamblee and Brookhaven all have good housing options with easy access to Dunwoody. South Alpharetta/Johns Creek is starting to turn into a bit of commute because you are caught in traffic trying to reach downtown/Midtown.

There is so much renovation work available in all of the areas that I mentioned that I can't imagine that he'd have to travel too far. On the other hand, most of use learn not to drive unnecessarily between 7 am and 9:30 am, and to stay off I-75/I-85 and 285 between 3:30 and 6:30 pm unless we have to. Timing his work to take advantage of those times would be a good practice.

Public Schools: Dunwoody has three excellent elementary schools -- Vanderlyn, Austin and Dunwoody Elementary. They are very close together -- within a 2-3 mile radius. Peachtree Middle School is ok, and Dunwoody H.S. is generally not included in the highest rated high schools in the area. (Most of those are in North Fulton County and East Cobb counties).

Private Schools: There are many, many private school options for middle school, including Montessori schools, Wesleyan in Norcross, Mt. Vernon Presbyterian in Sandy Springs, Davis Academy (Jewish) in Dunwoody, St. Jude the Apostle (Catholic), Marist (Catholic), Holy Innocents (Episcopal), Holy Spirit (Catholic), Lovett, Westminster, Pace, Padeia, Trinity . . . the list goes on and on. I'm not aware of any all-boy schools in the area -- there's a special-needs all boys school in Alpharetta called Alexsander Academy for grades 5-9, and an all-boy yeshiva in Atlanta. (There is an Atlanta's Girls School). The costs can give a parent pause -- Wesleyan, Lovett and Westminster charge between $23,000 - $23,600 for a high school year (be sure you compare what is included in the tuition and what isn't -- sometimes the difference can be thousands extra that ends up not being able to be financed with a tuition loan, etc.) Every school has its own flavor, and you're encouraged to visit the schools. Almost all of the private schools are part of the Atlanta Independent School association and have similar application deadlines in January/early February, with all acceptances/decisions being mailed on the same day in April from all the schools -- so you know from all the schools you apply to at the same time, instead of being forced to make a decision without knowing another schools admittance decision.

There are limited rental options, unless you want to go the townhouse/condo route for a year -- there are lots of 3 BR apartments available in the Sandy Springs/Dunwoody/Perimeter Center area. The homes for rent are rarer, and tend to command comparatively higher prices, but are not impossible.

Not too many lakes to live on -- sorry. There's a few in Dunwoody, such as Silver Lake, up around the Lake Charles area in Roswell, and a few smaller ponds, etc -- but sales are rare. :-) To the north, you have Lake Lanier for water sports and camping, to the northwest, you have Lake Allatoona, and you have the Chattahoochee River Recreation Area, with miles and miles and miles of riverside and wooded trails, kayaking, floating, riverside parks, etc. There are several neighborhoods along the river, but the prices tend to be $600K and up (emphasis on the "up"). The beach is about 4-6 hours away, instead of 2 hours to Va. Beach. Lots of museums, activities for children, the Georgia Aquarium, theatres (including a well-supported neighborhood theatre in Dunwoody)

PM me if you have any questions -- we've been living here for almost 30 years, and love it.
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Old 02-28-2017, 10:11 PM
 
6,180 posts, read 5,546,047 times
Reputation: 4201
Quote:
Originally Posted by tatdenning View Post
Hello,


We are looking at possibly relocating to the Atlanta area. I am considering a job in Dunwoody and my husband would be starting anew his business as a general contractor doing things like remodels. We also have a 10 year old son who will be entering 6th grade in the fall. Oh, and 2 cats will be following us:}


I am looking at the cost of living as well as schools in the Atlanta area to see if the move makes sense for us. We currently live in Richmond, VA where the cost of living isn't too bad and where we have excellent public schools here in the suburbs. Getting around the city isn't too crazy for my husband with doing his remodeling work. The move to Atlanta would be a good thing in terms of my career but I need to consider what's best for us all.


So...if anyone has any advice on:

- the cost of living in terms of taxes (especially on homes), gas, food, etc.
> Property taxes in the Atlanta area are reasonable when compared to other more heavily-populated parts of the country like the West Coast and the Northeast. Though property taxes might be about the same or (more likely) slightly higher than in the Richmond area.


Quote:
Originally Posted by tatdenning View Post
- the average cost of homes in the Dunwoody area (I've looked a bit and was disheartened at the prices) and what you get for your money.
> Home prices in an area like Dunwoody and throughout much of the North Atlanta (North Metro Atlanta) area potentially might be higher than you might expect coming from a smaller city/metro like Richmond. Home prices will not be as high as they are in the Washington D.C. area to the north, but prices will be a little higher because of the highly-competitive nature of the current real estate market in the North Atlanta area.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tatdenning View Post
- advice on any nearby areas that wouldn't involve a bad commute. I'd love to find something on a lake or some sort of water - and/or something with a little land.
> Something on a lake or some sort of water with some land is likely going to require a noticeably longer commute than you might be comfortable with at this point in time, particularly involving a commute to and from an area like Dunwoody, an area which struggles with severe traffic congestion during peak traffic hours. If you move to the Atlanta area you are probably going to have to settle for a dwelling that is smaller than you might like to keep your commutes to and from work at a manageable time and distance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tatdenning View Post
- advice on how difficult it would be for my husband to get around in Atlanta traffic for his business traveling to various homes
> Getting around will be a challenge at times, particularly in the city of Atlanta (north of I-20) and particularly on the more heavily-developed north side of the Atlanta metropolitan area (north of I-20) during peak traffic hours. With a regional population that is about five times larger than Richmond and a road network that has reached its limits in many areas, Atlanta traffic will be much more challenging than anything that you may currently experience in Richmond....Atlanta traffic will basically be a "totally different animal" from Richmond traffic.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tatdenning View Post
- advice on public schools
> Very good-to-excellent public schools throughout most of the entirety of the North Atlanta/North Metro Atlanta area....Though the schools in many areas will be much more diverse (ultra-diverse) and cosmopolitan than what you might be used to in a much-smaller and more provincial city/metro like Richmond. One of the factors that is currently driving the intense competitiveness of the North Metro Atlanta real estate market is the extremely high quality of the public schools in areas like North Fulton and East Cobb counties and even into areas like Dunwoody and North DeKalb County.


Quote:
Originally Posted by tatdenning View Post
- advice on private schools. I was likely going to put my little one in a private school this year here in VA just because I think middle school is a tough period and there are some great unique private schools here that are more non-traditional...ie, one that I really like is for boys only and involves a lot of letting boys be boys without a lot of sitting at the desk. I also dislike the whole teaching to the test thing, and so that's steering me toward private schools as well. It's the cost that's the hesitation.
> Unless one is enrolling their children into a smaller private Christian school, private schools generally will be much more expensive and much more difficult to get into, especially if they are located close to or inside the I-285 Perimeter Highway (I-285 Perimeter loop highway is to Atlanta what the I-495 Capital Beltway is to Washington D.C.). While the Atlanta private school scene is not nearly as exclusive as the private school scenes are in Northeastern cities like DC, Philly, NYC or Boston, generally the farther away from the I-285 Perimeter one gets, the lower the expense (and difficulty of getting into) private schools may be.


Quote:
Originally Posted by tatdenning View Post
- and then any advice on renting - cost, where, etc. as we would initially, hopefully, find a home to rent while getting to know the area, and then buy.
>Rental rates will generally be noticeably higher in Atlanta than in Richmond because of the increased competitiveness of the Atlanta market, especially in the northern part of the Atlanta area that will be within reasonable commuting distance of your job in the Dunwoody area....Which if you want to stay within a reasonable commuting distance of your job in the Dunwoody area, you are likely going to be looking at lots of apartments, townhomes, condos and smaller homes in terms of rental options and buying. If you want access to larger single-family homes (3-bedroom, 2-bathroom and larger) at reasonable prices, you are likely going to have to look in areas that will be a longer commute away from your job in Dunwoody.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tatdenning View Post
I think we would like the Atlanta area as we really enjoy things like museums, plays, the symphony and also some outdoor time. I do love the water and so would miss our easy access to the beach, but I can deal with that I suppose:}
> The Atlanta region will offer loads and loads of activities to do for both the adults and the family, though the beach will be farther away. (...The beaches of the Atlantic Coast will be about between 4.5 to 5.5 hours away from North Atlanta and the beaches of the Gulf Coast will be about between 5.5 to 6 hours away from North Atlanta versus the beaches of the Atlantic Coast being only about 1.75 hours away from Richmond.)


Quote:
Originally Posted by tatdenning View Post
I really appreciate any and all advice!!


Thanks in advance!

Last edited by Born 2 Roll; 02-28-2017 at 10:21 PM..
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Old 03-01-2017, 09:41 AM
 
Location: Georgia
4,562 posts, read 4,089,318 times
Reputation: 15767
Just thought of a couple of neighborhoods for you to look into:

Martins Landing
Horseshoe Bend
Northcliff

These are all in south Roswell, along the river in 30076. Older homes, but near the river and close to East Roswell Park and shopping on Holcomb Bridge Road, with easy access to Dunwoody.
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Old 03-01-2017, 04:49 PM
 
6 posts, read 3,152 times
Reputation: 10
Thanks so much to both of you for your input. Very helpful. I know Atlanta traffic is terrible...I've spent a little time there in the past - and I lived in Philadelphia for 5 years and it was bad there as well, although Atlanta still has it beat I think. I just don't want to be one of these people spending a lot of time every day getting to an from work...that's why I'd turned down jobs in Northern Virginia. So proximity to work is important - but it does sound like there could be some options. Housing is definitely pricey for what you get. We lived in Tampa in the past as well and Atlanta prices are much higher than either Richmond or Tampa. So something to consider when looking at pay.


Oh, and dblackga, we live in Henrico, not far from University of Richmond near River Road. (I'm glad to hear you like Atlanta, btw). My little boy has been in a great public school here, and my girlfriend (who is a teacher and researched schools a bit for me) had let me that Atlanta public schools, generally speaking, aren't as good. I'm a bit concerned about the price of the private schools, although they are probably similar to here. And it sounds like we would miss the deadline for applying this year, and so I may be forced to put him in public school. Ugh! Lots to figure out and we're on a short deadline here. I'm looking at another job in Sarasota and so I'm trying to gather all the information I can on both areas to see what's best for us all.


I think we would enjoy Atlanta overall. Curious...does Atlanta do much in the way of outdoor festivals and art shows and that sort of thing? Just some other things we enjoy here, but it certainly won't make or break our decision.:}


Thanks again and any further input or thoughts are greatly appreciated!
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Old 03-01-2017, 04:50 PM
 
6 posts, read 3,152 times
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Born 2 Roll...disappointed to hear about the rentals. Any thoughts on a good way to search for home rentals?
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Old 03-01-2017, 05:20 PM
 
11,259 posts, read 8,414,613 times
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We were there a year and a half. (For my job) My other half is a contractor. He registered with Thumbtack and had about all the deck work he could handle. It's fairly well used out there. If you start early enough in the morning you can miss some of the bad traffic but the days I went from Lilburn to Marietta and back was often a couple of hours' commute.
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Old 03-01-2017, 06:39 PM
 
Location: Georgia
4,562 posts, read 4,089,318 times
Reputation: 15767
Quote:
Originally Posted by tatdenning View Post
Oh, and dblackga, we live in Henrico, not far from University of Richmond near River Road. (I'm glad to hear you like Atlanta, btw). My little boy has been in a great public school here, and my girlfriend (who is a teacher and researched schools a bit for me) had let me that Atlanta public schools, generally speaking, aren't as good. I'm a bit concerned about the price of the private schools, although they are probably similar to here. And it sounds like we would miss the deadline for applying this year, and so I may be forced to put him in public school. Ugh! Lots to figure out and we're on a short deadline here. I'm looking at another job in Sarasota and so I'm trying to gather all the information I can on both areas to see what's best for us all.
There is a HUGE difference between "city of Atlanta schools" and North Fulton or East Cobb schools. City of Atlanta schools is strictly the city. Unlike Richmond, Atlanta is actually part of Fulton County (and a bit of DeKalb County). All the cities in Georgia are also part of counties -- unlike Richmond, which is not part of any of its surrounding counties. Check out GreatSchools.org for Fulton County north of 285 -- you'll be pleasantly surprised.

If you are currently at a private school, many of the private schools have reciprocal arrangements and may accept a student in a transfer arrangement. Can't hurt to inquire.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tatdenning View Post
I think we would enjoy Atlanta overall. Curious...does Atlanta do much in the way of outdoor festivals and art shows and that sort of thing? Just some other things we enjoy here, but it certainly won't make or break our decision.:}
Oh, goodness, YES! You could go to two or three outdoor festivals a weekend, if you wanted to! One unique one is "Tunes from the Tombs", a music festival at Atlanta's Historic Oakland Cemetery. The Yellow Daisy Festival, the Dogwood Festival, Inman Park Festival, Dunwoody Arts Festival (Mother's Day weekend), Sandy Springs Festival (September), Piedmont Park Arts Festival . . and tons and tons of smaller ones. Lots and lots of lots of festivals, every where you look - music, beer, bbq, arts, whatever! :-)
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Old 03-02-2017, 06:49 AM
 
6 posts, read 3,152 times
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I will definitely check out the schools site for myself then. And my little boy is in public school at present...so not transfer option I'm afraid. The school thing is really stressing me out because my little boy doesn't adapt easily and so I don't want to have to put him one place initially and then move him the next year. I'd like to get him where he'll stay which isn't easy to figure out, especially with the private school deadlines being here now.


And so glad to hear about all the festivals! Love those! Just curious, are there any home and garden tours that go on? Richmond has several in the Fan and museum district and other locations at various times of the year. Love seeing the insides of the beautiful, old, historic homes.


And good to know about Thumbtack hunterseat! The traffic concerns me but I don't think there's a great way around that, unless you try to miss those rush hours, which isn't always possible.
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Old 03-02-2017, 09:05 AM
 
Location: Georgia
4,562 posts, read 4,089,318 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tatdenning View Post
And so glad to hear about all the festivals! Love those! Just curious, are there any home and garden tours that go on? Richmond has several in the Fan and museum district and other locations at various times of the year. Love seeing the insides of the beautiful, old, historic homes.
Lots of beautiful, historic homes -- at least, the ones that didn't get burned by Sherman. :-) Most of them were built around the turn of the 20th century. There's dozens and dozens of home tours. The Dunwoody Women's Club sponsors the Dunwoody Home Tour in October, which is always fun -- a couple of new homes, but mostly a lot of updated homes and gardens. The Cathedral of St. Phillips, in Buckhead, has an annual Antique Shoe and Home Tour in February every year, with the proceeds going to a local charity. Druid Hills, Inman Park, etc. all have civic associations that have home tours, as well as some specialize ones -- modern homes, etc. November and December is also a popular time for home tours, as the homes are decorated for the holidays -- homes in Roswell such as Bulloch Hall, Callenwolde in Atlanta, etc. are popular holiday tours. Not to mention the Swan House (which was the party house featured in the Hunter Games movie "Catching Fire") -- many of these homes are open for tours year-round. You've probably seen many of the historic homes on TV and movies -- Atlanta is a very big film mecca, lots of movies being filmed here at any given time.

I've been to the tour in the Fan several times, the museum district one was always hit and miss when I was there. One year a couple of years out of college, I had a chance to live in the upstairs apartment for one of the houses owned by one of the garden clubs (maybe the Garden Club of Virginia, before it moved to the Keith-Valentine House?) This one was over by Ginter Park - the downstairs was used for weddings and events, and the upstairs had a beautiful one-bedroom apartment with stunning woodwork, a library, a cute little kitchen, wonderful windows overlooking the gardens, etc. Ended up not doing it, because I got engaged and was going to be moving out of state -- but always wish I had taken the chance to live there!
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