Perhaps best known for being the setting of the book and film Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Savannah's mysterious appeal comes from its Southern gentility, eccentric characters and fabled ties to voodoo.
Savannah does not disappoint in this respect. Strolling through the downtown, one finds himself transported back in time--or rather to a state of timelessness, or midnight. Spanish moss draping willow trees pervade the city's interiors. The natives speak in a sweet, slow Southern accent.
Despite this history, the city is also home to the Savannah College of Art and Design, a highly regarded school that keeps the city young and artsy. It is also an incredibly green-friendly area, with citywide initiatives focused on walkability and public transportation.
However, underneath Savannah's patina of antebellum gentility lies a significant crime problem, closely tied to the racial oppression and poverty of many Southern cities. Most crime is tied to gang and drug related incidents on the east side of town, so these dangerous pockets can be avoided by familiarizing yourself with the neighborhoods before you settle in.
So, there are over a million neighborhoods in Savannah that consider themselves distinct. On top of that, residents will outline over a million different neighborhood borders. That is to say, the regions of Savannah are slightly...schizophrenic. There are however, a few distinct districts where you can easily find an apartment that suits your lifestyle and needs.
Downtown and Historic Districts
Are you a young dandy with a decent income who enjoys promenading in historic squares? Well, then the downtown and historic districts are right for you. Historic homes divided into apartments of varying sizes, as well as a few new condo and apartment developments, await you downtown. Besides being close to the economic center of Savannah, there are also a number of shops, restaurants and bars in the historic district to keep you and your family entertained. Prices for two bedrooms in this area range greatly, with smaller places going for $700-900 and larger homes and newer rentals going for $1200-1500.
Be wary, however, when settling downtown. The urban center has a significant drawback, as the areas surrounding the historic district, particularly those neighborhoods to the east, have higher crime rates and are considered rather dangerous at night.
Midtown proper is located directly south of the downtown and historic districts and also has its fair share of charming Victorian homes and charming squares. The areas surrounding Midtown, however, also have a number of desirable rentals, particularly for younger families looking for a quieter lifestyle than the rambling, bohemian ways of downtowners. If this appeals to you, check out Midtown and its bordering neighborhoods, including Thomas Square and Ardsley Park.
Again, prices in Midtown vary greatly, depending on the rental type. Two bedroom apartments in older buildings generally go for $650-800, while single-family homes and newer developments will have price tags of $800-900.
Far-flung, Southside and the Suburbs
So maybe you're looking for something a little less urban than Savannah proper has to offer. No worries! The city has a variety of suburban and semi-suburban areas with affordable and desirable rentals.
The farther south from the downtown and historic districts you go, the more suburban the neighborhoods will feel. Closer to downtown, the Southside neighborhoods of Bacon Park (Bacon!) and Bona Bella have single-family home rentals that feel like an even mix of urban and suburban, though the dominant rental market is in ranch-style homes. Keep going south and you'll find a lot of apartment and condo developments located within close proximity to chain restaurants and stores.
Outside the main city of limits lie a variety of unincorporated communities where many Savannah residents work and play. Some of the best among them include Tybee Island, Wilmington Island, Isle of Hope and Richmond Hill, all of which are considered desirable far-flung Savannah neighborhoods. Southside and far-flung two bedrooms generally go for between $600-800.
Savannah's real estate market is generally as welcoming as its people. Start your apartment hunt 30-60 days before your move-in date. Most rentals are available through online apartment classifieds (heyoooo!) without the assistance of a realtor. Deposits and background checks vary based on rental type and property manager. Expect to pay up to $50 for an application fee and one-month rent for a deposit.
Buses are operated by the Chatham Area Transit system which has a number of bus lines that will get you in and around the city and neighboring towns. Despite the number of bus lines, residents generally consider public transportation highly unreliable and prefer to walk or bike when possible. In fact, Savannah is one of the most walkable cities in the country!
Thaaaat's all folks! Hope this helped and best of luck finding your Savannah crash pad.
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