Oh, Atlanta - I hear you calling. I'm coming back to you one fine day. No need to worry, there ain't no hurry 'cause I'm on my way back to Georgia." (Allison Krauss - "Oh Atlanta")
It happens all the time. You're at a cocktail party. Granny Smith appletini in one hand, Crab Louie with hydroponic chive in mini puff pastry in the other. While musing about summers in the Hamptons, the tennis cad injects a social trump card with a devilish aphorism extolling the virtues of winter sailing in Catalina. And just like that, it's on. The East Coast - West Coast rivalry. A virulent, zealous, hopeless fight. That's why people like Atlanta. New York has the potency of Wall Street, L.A. has the glitterati of Hollywood. That's why people like Atlanta. Let Wall Street have its base of operations for entitled billionaires - I'm just a good ol’ hard working Josephine after all. Let Hollywood be the nerve center of flashbulbs and red carpets - I don't need daily affirmation to feel like a star. That's why I like Atlanta... headquarters to Coca Cola, Home Depot, and Cartoon Network... now that's what speaks to me!
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What'll ya have?
Atlanta's has an array of rental options. It is a sprawling place where land is not at a diamond premium as in other premier cities. Expect to encounter amenity-rich complexes with functions, fountains, and racquetball. There are downtown high-rises and bungalows in the social heart of the city. Also, with summer temperatures well over 90 degrees many of the apartment communities have awesome ways to help you beat the heat: outdoor areas with built in bbqs, pools and gyms. Some choose row houses near universities and in developing neighborhoods. Yes, you can even live near the Varsity if you crave those hot dogs that much... What'll ya have:
Cumberland-Smyrna: Edge cities to Atlanta, the Cumberland-Smyrna areas are scaled down amalgams of financial districts and mega-family centric zones. Home to offices (more space here than in Miami), malls, hotels, and, recently, The Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. This area, especially if you work herein, is one of those places you may rarely leave. It's clean and has a little bit, but enough of everything to keep you content. Of course, if it's more of Hotlanta you seek, downtown is 10 miles Southeast. Complexes galore in this area with 1 BR apartments at $600 - $900 per month - be selective at the lower end; the higher end of this range can include non-standard features such as jacuzzi tub in unit, or bonus rooms. 2 BR pads available for around $1,050.
Emory-Deactur: Technically, one of the nation's premier universities has an Atlanta zip code, but it reaches into abutting Decatur to fulfill some of it housing, dining, and general entertainment overflow. This is a clean, historic district of Atlanta et al. With quaintly titled neighborhoods like Briarvista and Druid Hills, you can either expect this area to be green space peppered, comfortable and satisfying, or the setting of a David Lynch movie. From experience, I assure you it's the former. You'll find a smattering of cozy parks, restaurants, cafés, and tree-canopied walks in these environs. If you want nightlife, you can go either 2, 4, or 6 miles away (Brookwood, Virginia Highlands, and Buckhead Village, respectively) depending on the desired amount you wish to retain of memory, the next morning, in Emory. Expect to pay around $800 - $900 for a 1 BR in a professionally managed building. 2 BR places have a wide range of $1,000 - $1,500 and tend to feather into Atlanta's more tony nooks.
Brookwood: In between midtown Atlanta and its iconic Buckhead neighborhood, Brookwood lies magically close to downtown and major business districts, and has easy highway access. Brookwood has much big city appeal but is largely shielded from big city encroachment. This is especially true of Brookwood Hills - one of Atlanta's most exclusive neighborhoods, with a one-road-in, one-road-out design. What Brookwood Hills may lack in complex infrastructure, they more than make up for with a tireless enthusiasm for political ping-pong. In fact, putting a cold stop to Brookwood proper’s planned expansion is their pet (with emerald encrusted collar) project. Brookwood is a small, non-touristy area with a nice offering of walkable restaurants, parks, and nighttime outposts. Brookwood Hills... forget about it. Not without the password.One bedroom apartments starting around $900; two bedroom apartments around $1,250.
Buckhead: Originally dotted with estates and rolling hills, Modern Buckhead is now home to an abundance of mansions and has been known (at various times) as the wealthiest, most chic, most exclusive area of Atlanta with little exception, as well as the one most out of favor with other Atlantans. Buckhead apartments are known for being very well appointed, having the best amenities. It's almost a given that any unit you rent will have in-unit washer and dryer, hardwood floors and of course air conditioning. A lot of buildings in this area will also full time doormen to receive packages and let guests into the building.
Buckhead Village (the more urban section of Buckhead): received its share of funny looks when it began its pursuit to corner the market on Atlanta's nightlife. The good news - they succeeded. The bad news - they succeeded. For a short time, Buckhead Village was a destination in and of itself. That gave way to nightly, rowdy gatherings. While fun for a while, and certainly a boon to local coffers, Buckhead knew it was time for an utter rebranding. While this plan was taking effect, Buckhead Village became increasingly unpleasant with a "nobody really goes there anymore" feeling. Now, Buckhead, specifically the village, is thoroughly successful in its reinvention. It's fancy, and well heeled (it never stopped being the latter - its fall from grace was precipitous bet reversible). Still, and once again, the largest concentration of luxury hotels, dining, and shopping are within easy reach in Buckhead. 1 BR $900 - $1,200. 2 BR $1,200 - $1,550.
Virginia Highlands: Many cities refer to unique enclaves and niches within their limits as "villages." This usually translates into "small and wealthy". Virginia Highlands is a village, seven, in fact, that comprise a prism of residential settings with opportunities for relaxing, exercising, people watching, diversion, and money spending. With sidewalk cafés, bistros, trendy dining, parks, pets, boutiques featuring the sublime to the far out, Virginia Highlands has a deceptively comprehensive urban vibe. It's as if Epcot designed it - X paired oddly, but perfectly next to Y and it goes on for several blocks, then stops. Bungalows and craftily built homes largely define Virginia Highlands residential landscape - a sweet respite from big. Figure $850 per person per BR and you won't go wrong.
What won't ya have?
An unmanageable problem with paperwork or pets. Atlanta is large with a good combination of family, wealth, and bohemian - that translates into choice and general flexibility. Most non-home apartments have weight limits on pets that tend to run on the high side. Chances are Fido is welcomed. Some top it at 35 lbs. so assume nothing. Metro Atlanta has around 24 dog parks, making it one of the best cities to find a pet friendly apartment in. Cat parks - Zero - but millions of laundry hampers and windowsills.
Lack of traffic. The Weather Channel ranks Atlanta the third worst city in the U.S. for traffic, which is like Hooters stating that Montpelier, VT is the third hardest state capital to spell. Both companies are based in Atlanta anyway. Yet Atlanta doesn't balance out choking road congestion with a welcoming, convenient public transit system. It's good, but not Atlanta Braves, 11 playoff appearances in a row good. Keep your car. And if you're keeping your car, make sure that you've got your parking options at your apartment covered. Assigned parking and covered parking are common, but finding a garage is more unusual, unless you are looking to live in the more dense downtown area.
An ability to buy beer, wine, or liquor in stores on Sundays.
That pretty much covers it.
The view is great from Terminal D
Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is the world's largest in terms of passengers. In fact, the number of passengers annually transiting through ATL (88,000,000) is over 200 times the size of the ATL itself. What does that mean? In a nutshell, a peanut shell (this is Georgia after all) Atlanta is big and small. The metropolitan area is enormous statistically, while the city itself is relatively compact (around 420,000). As such, some of the desirable neighborhoods in Atlanta, aren't actually in The Big Peach - but close enough to easily be called the peach fuzz.