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Old 07-13-2009, 03:16 PM
 
Location: Decatur, GA
6 posts, read 22,329 times
Reputation: 11

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I'm looking for advice on elementary schools in the Atlanta metro area. My family and I want to move to a family friendly neighborhood, with parks and recreation areas within walking distance of home. We also need great schools. And we can't spend more than $300,000 tops on a 3 BR / 2 BA home. Where would you send us?

I love the Medlock neighborhood for this - there's a great playground and public pool to walk to, and a nature preserve as well. But I understand that Medlock elementary and Shamrock middle are not great schools. Does anyone have experience with this?

What about the schools in Oakhurst? Not sure we can even afford to live there.

I know a neighborhood like Chandler Park would be perfect if we could afford it - I understand that Mary Lin is amazing, and that Inman and Grady are good.

Let me know if you have thoughts on this!
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Old 07-13-2009, 04:50 PM
 
9,124 posts, read 36,367,911 times
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You might find something for $300k in Oakhurst, Candler Park or Inman Park, but it'll be a fixer-upper.
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Old 07-13-2009, 06:35 PM
 
Location: Atlanta/Decatur/Emory area
1,320 posts, read 4,273,044 times
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Medlock and Shamrock are not bad schools. Have you visited them? I was at Medlock this weekend during the Medlock neighborhood garden tour -- the school has a nice outdoor classroom with butterfly garden, little raised beds with veggies, a sort of amphitheatre, etc. It might not be a "great" school, but if you're an active parent who takes a hand in the education of your child, there's no reason why your kid(s) couldn't do very well there. If you like the neighborhood, I'd advise you to make an appointment and tour the school. Get a feel for the vibe. Talk to other parents in the neighborhood about their experience, etc. You can usually find people out walking around the neighborhood on the weekends (this past weekend would have been ideal because everyone was walking and biking around looking at the gardens on tour). In your price range, the Medlock and Laurel Ridge Elementary neighborhoods may be the best fit for your budget in this part of town. $300k really doesn't go far in Mary Lin or in the City of Decatur.
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Old 07-14-2009, 05:48 AM
 
281 posts, read 617,150 times
Reputation: 199
Welcome to the Atlanta conundrum. Live in the suburbs and fight traffic all day or spend a fortune to live intown with a postage-stamp size lot. Intown you also have to deal with the thugs who will steal anything that is not bolted down. I would personally try to find something in Candler Park or Oakhurst, although it would be a fixer-upper. You may want to wait a little while and see if prices keep dropping. I have seen some prices lately that I have not seen since the late nineties. The houses have a lot more charm in those neighborhoods vs. Medlock. The schools are also better in my opinion. You could try Virginia-Highlands closer to Ponce as well, but it will be a stretch.
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Old 07-14-2009, 11:20 AM
 
39 posts, read 104,525 times
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Kimbermanny- I was just about to post about Medlock Park! I would like to know firsthand knowledge about the neighborhood and school too. I have gone through all the old posts and people seem generally positive about it but don't go into much detail.

We'd love to do City of Decatur, but what most people realize is that there really is nothing on the market right now under 300K, or if there is, the increase in tax essentially puts it over 300K budgetwise. People have also mentioned Fernbank, but there are only 2 - count 'em - 2 houses for sale, both at 295K. One in Mary Lin, zero in VA-HI.

Then there is the opposite problem in Medlock Park. Tons of houses for sale all between 200-300K. Why is there so much there to choose from? Best kept secret or people avoid it for a reason? They also seem to need a little bit of updating, but with so much on the market, would you get your money back at resale? On the plus side, their garden tour seemed busy this weekend. They also have an informal HOA that is trying to get neighborhood spirit up. Kids can walk to school. Closer to Decatur than Lakeside districts. Huge park, and they are on the greenway thing.

Anyway, I'd love everyone's thoughts too.
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Old 07-14-2009, 12:04 PM
 
Location: Decatur, GA
6 posts, read 22,329 times
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Thanks for the feedback!

Am I right in thinking that some of the Medlock Park area is on a flood plain? And, the houses there are generally on the small side. I think that might be part of why there is so much on the market there, but I really don't know - I'd love the answer to that, too, kattykay.

I live in the Briarlake school district now, in a great 1950s ranch house with a huge yard, but absolutely no sense of community... and I'm on a busy road, and not in a neighborhood. I have a 2 year old son, and we're planning for our second child. We want to move somewhere with a vibrant community, with parks you can walk to, with great schools, and a progressive spirit. I know I might be able to find that in-town or in Decatur, but I really don't want to spend that kind of money. And, I think that there's more of a small town feel in Medlock than intown. I did go to the garden fair this weekend, which was great, and what got me thinking about this again. I have always heard that the Medlock school isn't great, but it seemed really well loved when I visited the children's garden there over the weekend.

So, yes, any first hand feedback on Medlock would be much appreciated!
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Old 07-14-2009, 12:12 PM
 
Location: Atlanta/Decatur/Emory area
1,320 posts, read 4,273,044 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kattykay View Post
We'd love to do City of Decatur, but what most people realize is that there really is nothing on the market right now under 300K, or if there is, the increase in tax essentially puts it over 300K budgetwise. People have also mentioned Fernbank, but there are only 2 - count 'em - 2 houses for sale, both at 295K. One in Mary Lin, zero in VA-HI.

Then there is the opposite problem in Medlock Park. Tons of houses for sale all between 200-300K. Why is there so much there to choose from? Best kept secret or people avoid it for a reason? They also seem to need a little bit of updating, but with so much on the market, would you get your money back at resale? On the plus side, their garden tour seemed busy this weekend. They also have an informal HOA that is trying to get neighborhood spirit up. Kids can walk to school. Closer to Decatur than Lakeside districts. Huge park, and they are on the greenway thing.

Anyway, I'd love everyone's thoughts too.
The reason there are so many homes for sale in the 200-300k price range in the Medlock Park area is that that is the typical price range for the neighborhood. Whereas in City of Decatur, Fernbank, Mary Lin, that is NOT the typical price range and you generally have to either be looking at a tiny house (2/1), a dump, or a foreclosure to find anything in that price range. It's no different than any other neighborhood. If you look in Druid Hills, you're not going to find a $300k home either. Some neighborhoods are so popular that their prices have been driven way up in recent years. City of Decatur is certainly one of those. Candler Park, Inman Park, etc -- the historic intown suburbs that have revitalized where it's difficult to find an unrenovated home -- thet are going to be outside the $300k price range. It's not as though there are no homes for sale in the other neighborhoods (far from it) -- they're just not in the price range you're looking for because homes in those neighborhoods go for much higher prices.

Medlock Park is a completely different kind of neighborhood. It was developed in the 1940-1960s, not the early 1900s. It has mostly small ranch homes -- not the Craftsman bungalows and even older Victorians that everyone swoons over now. Some of the homes (just certain streets) are in the floodplain for Peachtree Creek (there are homes in the floodplain in City of Decatur and all over Atlanta as well). It is in the DeKalb county school system (rather than City of Decatur), but on the other hand you pay DeKalb county taxes rather than the higher City of Decatur taxes. It's just a completely different neighborhood and so far its prices tend to be in the $200-300k range (you can even find the occasional deal for under $200k).

I've lived in the Medlock Park area (University Heights) since I was 6 years old. It's a great area. The neighborhood is stable, the schools are perfectly acceptable, and it's extremely convenient to the "cooler" intown neighborhoods. You might not be able to walk to too many shops and restaurants like you can in City of Decatur and Virginia-Highland, but you can drive to them in less than 5 minutes. This is an area where people who want to be progressive and involved can be and people who want to just stay in their homes and never come outside or talk to neighbors can do that too. Personally, I think it's a great area for anyone looking for a convenient location on a realistic budget. There are also plans in the work for redevelopment of nearby areas (like North DeKalb Mall, Suburban Plaza and some of the North Decatur Road corridor) although the economic downturn has slowed down the plans. As the amenities in area improve, the neighborhood should continue to go up in value. It's not as though it's ever going to get any further away from downtown or Emory, so it's always going to be convenient.

BTW, you can get more details about the neighborhood on the North Decatur Community web site, 30033talk.com.


Last edited by IntownHomes247; 07-14-2009 at 12:25 PM..
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Old 07-14-2009, 12:31 PM
 
39 posts, read 104,525 times
Reputation: 16
"The reason there are so many homes for sale in the 200-300k price range in the Medlock Park area is that that is the typical price range for the neighborhood."

Good point, InTown. Just like there are a ton of 350-400K for sale in the more expensive neighborhoods I listed. Thanks for the info on the pool party too. We might stop by to chat up the neighbors.
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Old 07-14-2009, 12:58 PM
 
Location: Atlanta/Decatur/Emory area
1,320 posts, read 4,273,044 times
Reputation: 501
Quote:
Originally Posted by kattykay View Post
Thanks for the info on the pool party too. We might stop by to chat up the neighbors.
Oops. Just checked in with the organizer of the pool party and it's for neighbors only. I asked about "potential neighbors" but I guess they don't want to have it get over-crowded. Sorry.
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Old 07-14-2009, 01:18 PM
 
3,972 posts, read 12,655,174 times
Reputation: 1470
What you need to try and find out is whether Medlock Elementary is on an upward path in terms of neighborhood families using the school or is its growth flat in that area.

I know many families in that area who when their children reach school age, they move, not necessarily because of the schools but because they want more house.

Also, what makes a great school to you? DeKalb schools, as a whole, aren't as strong as Gwinnett or Fulton or Cobb and often have fewer extras and enrichment opportunities than those systems. Are you comfortable with diversity? Do you want a school where parents fight to be room parents? Do you want a school where the PTA raises enough money to hire extra staff for the school? Or are you ok, with something different?
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