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Old 04-01-2008, 08:48 PM
60 posts, read 136,414 times
Reputation: 22


I will be starting a post-doc position at Emory this summer (late May or early June), and I am hunting for a place to live. I am married, have a 5 year old that will be starting kindergarden, and one more in the oven. I want to figure out if there is any way I can buy a place or if renting is my only option. My max budget for buying is $200,000 and renting is around $1000/month. My top priorities are:

1. Elementary schools. I want a school that will artisitically and academically challenge my child. I have heard Decatur city schools (Oakhurst especially) are good and Livsey in Tucker is good. Any others?
2. Safe neighborhood. My wife may want to stay home with our new baby for a while, and I don't want to worry about them all the time.
3. Fairly close to Emory. I have heard traffic nightmares, so I would prefer a commute of less than 30 minutes.

I have had alot of people reccomend Decatur and Tucker. Deactur seems great, but is it way out of my price range? I dont care if the place is old or new. If I'm gonna be there for a few years, I would like to buy, but I don't mind renting for a while. I don't want my child to have to switch schools because we rented in a place we couldn't afford. 2 bedrooms would do the trick, although 3 would be better.
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Old 04-01-2008, 08:56 PM
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Given the housing market, owning may not be your best bet. I guess time will tell, but some experts are saying 5 to 10 years for the market to start to regain ground. If you do buy, make sure you buy in a highly desireable area.

DeKalb County (where Livsey is) is making cuts in extras at schools for the next year. I don't know what the impact will be on Livsey specifically. City of Decatur does a better job, in my opinion, than DeKalb County, it would be my first choice. Also, the city of Atlanta does a better job than DeKalb, many of those schools will be fine as well.
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Old 04-01-2008, 09:06 PM
Location: St Simons Island, GA
23,125 posts, read 36,367,127 times
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What comes to mind for your budget is the University Heights area of Decatur (actually unincorporated DeKalb County, zip 30033). It's a neighborhood of modest ranches, but about as close to Emory as you can get for that price. As far as I know it's quite safe and the neighborhoods surrounding it are far more expensive.

There is an elementary school in the middle of the neighborhood...here's the 411 on that:
Medlock Elementary School - Decatur, Georgia - GA - school overview
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Old 04-01-2008, 09:18 PM
Location: Atlanta/Decatur/Emory area
1,320 posts, read 3,877,847 times
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Even in University Heights/Medlock Park, $200k will probably not be enough to buy a home. There are occasionally homes in the neighborhood available for under $200k but they will be unrenovated and in the floodplain. Your best bet will probably be a townhome or condo if you want to be near Decatur. Otherwise, you might be able to find a single family home in Tucker in your price range.

Actually, I saw a condo yesterday that's under $135k and less than a mile from Emory. It's a 2 BR/1 BA top floor unit on the bus line, next door to a grocery store, and across from the YMCA, which has childcare programs as well as pool, sports, etc. It's also in the (very good) Fernbank Elementary School district. If you could handle just 1 bathroom, it's got a really big living/dining room, the unit's just been updated and it has a fabulous walk-in closet in the master bedroom. So, you can definitely find something in your price range if you're willing to consider condos and townhomes.

Last edited by IntownHomes247; 04-01-2008 at 09:35 PM..
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Old 04-01-2008, 09:26 PM
Location: Roswell, GA
697 posts, read 2,704,138 times
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I don't know of anyplace in Decatur or Tucker that would fit your budget and be reasonably safe with a decent elementary school.

In your situation, I'd focus my attention on the Laurel Ridge and Medlock Elementary districts in the area just north of North Druid Hills Road and just west of Lawrenceville Highway. This area has an abundance of small 50- to 60-year-old 2- and 3-bedroom homes, is quite close to Emory, and has a good community feel. Our daughter was on a Tucker Youth Soccer Association team that was otherwise almost all kids from the Laurel Ridge district, and they pretty consistently were pleased with the school. You're not terribly far from some dicey areas as you get closer to I-285, but if you stay in the Laurel Ridge district you should be as safe as you can expect to be. The more you can stretch your budget, the happier you're likely to be -- most of the sub-$200K houses in the Laurel Ridge district are going to be in Valley Brook Estates, which is probably the least desirable, diciest part of the district. It's almost certainly going to be the best available compromise for the things that you say are important to you.

Parts of the McClendon Elementary district are definitely dicey, so be wary of that. Medlock Elementary district is mostly OK, as I recall, but there probably won't be that many options in your price range there.

OTOH, as lastminutemom suggests, this might be a good time to wait out the market, rent for now, and try to save some money toward a larger downpayment for when your post-doc is over. In this market, you might even be able to score a house rental in one of the more desirable areas to the north, west, or south of it that would work well for you and stay within your budget.

Actually, there is one other area I'd suggest looking at: the Brockett Elementary district just outside the perimeter in Tucker. Make sure it's a Brockett Elementary/Henderson Middle neighborhood -- one I know of is Edinburgh Estates. I haven't been through there to see how it's holding up -- we looked there a dozen years ago when our price range was comparable to yours now, and while we bought elsewhere, it would have had more appeal had I been working at Emory -- it's not as convenient as the areas above, but it not that much farther away.

Last edited by rackensack; 04-01-2008 at 09:35 PM.. Reason: Added Brockett info
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Old 04-02-2008, 07:59 AM
401 posts, read 1,592,994 times
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OK, for kicks, I checked out Craiglist. Go to the Atlanta Craigslist, click on apts/housing. Then in the search bar, type the listing number - 611124075. It is a 4br in Winnona Park. This is a terrific family neighborhood and the schools are fantastic. Feeds into Winnona Park Elementary. The only problem is that it's 1125/mo. That may be a stretch.

If you peruse craigslist for rentals in Decatur, keep in mind that 95% of them are outside the city limits. You do not want to be outside the city limits in "Decatur" unless you are north of the city.

I also saw a ton of 2BR condos/apts for rent in City of Decatur that were in your price range - but the listing above is by far the best.

Good luck!
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Old 04-02-2008, 10:28 AM
340 posts, read 1,456,269 times
Reputation: 90
Originally Posted by pdadda View Post
1. Elementary schools. I want a school that will artisitically and academically challenge my child. I have heard Decatur city schools (Oakhurst especially) are good and Livsey in Tucker is good. Any others?
I don't know much about schools in the area, but I do know you can apply to gifted program for your 5 years old. You need find a school where full time gifted program is offered and your child has to be tested. Should your child be placed in a gifted program, your one criteria to choose school would be met. I don't know how much they help with artistical challenge in your term. I guess you need to go with private lessons. Learning to play piano is very good for kids to develop their talents. I can recommend a good teacher if you are in the market to look for one. I have been through the same thing you are seeking now.
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Old 04-02-2008, 02:40 PM
Location: Western Springs, IL
39 posts, read 131,193 times
Reputation: 15
Default Fernbank Elementary

Hi there. I'm a freshly minted Emory Ph.D. leaving this summer to teach in Chicago.

My wife (also an Emory student) and I and two kids lived in the Emory Gardens Condos in Decatur for the very reasons you list. We found the condos to be some of the most convenient to Emory (walk/bike/free Emory shuttle), blessedly wooded (shade in the hot summer, quiet in a busy neighborhood), and you can walk to just about everything you need (groceries, natural foods, YMCA, cafes, restaurants). We feel very safe: our car and condo doors are unlocked most of the time, and I never lock my bike... If you want something in your price range close to Emory, Emory Gardens would be the way to go, as far as I know...

You could also check out Emory Woods apartments. They're a little lived-in, but many grown-up type grad students and researchers with families and small children live there.

We've been extremely happy with Fernbank Elementary--many Emory/CDC/Medical Complex families, and really positive high levels of parent involvement. Our two kids have thrived there. Wish we could take the school with us. Most mornings, we walk the kids (about a mile) to school on very quiet residential streets and a little pedestrian greenway. Then walk to Emory--also through lovely residential areas. Bus service for the kids is available, too. Most mornings we just prefer the walk.

I think your instincts about Emory/Atlanta traffic are right on. I've known quite a few grad students and post-docs who got a "deal" living far from Emory, but then decided to give it up and move in close.

But you could also check out the free Emory shuttles, which have some Park and ride lots around the city. This may significantly expand your options. That's here: Emory Shuttles (http://transportation.emory.edu/shuttles.html - broken link)

In short, we've found this little niche to be a wonderful way to get into an excellent school, be close to Emory, walk to many good things, live in a safe and quiet place, and not break the bank.
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Old 04-02-2008, 02:42 PM
Location: Atlanta/Decatur/Emory area
1,320 posts, read 3,877,847 times
Reputation: 496
Yes, that 2/1 top floor unit I mentioned above is at Emory Garden. You won't be able to beat the location or price. And there's even a pool.
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Old 04-02-2008, 10:11 PM
60 posts, read 136,414 times
Reputation: 22
Thankyou very much for the replies so far. I will take a look at all of these. Any other suggestions?
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