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Fernbank Museum Stone Mountain Park
Zoo Atlanta April/May 2010

Living the Good Life
Why Atlanta is a Great Place to Live
by Joye Hopkins

PHOTO: © 2010, Kevin C. Rose/

Home Sweet Home

If you’re considering a move to the Southeast, look no further than Atlanta, Georgia. Atlanta is a unique and diverse city, full of surprising contradictions. It has all the offerings of a multicultural metropolis, and yet many of the metro area’s most popular neighborhoods exude all the warmth and charm of a small town. The city also is rich in history and tradition, but Atlantans are keenly focused on the present, and simultaneously looking forward, eager to see what the future may bring.

Within the last five years, Atlanta also has attracted a bevy of new entertainment and cultural options, including celebrity chefs and restaurants, five-star luxury hotels, state-of-the-art concert and performing arts venues, and the world’s largest aquarium, to join the existing world-class museums, four professional sports teams and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. So whether you move into a high rise in Midtown, a loft in Castleberry Hill or a bungalow in the historic tree-lined Ansley Park neighborhood, there’s never been a better time to call Atlanta home.

Art Attack

From world-class events to small, intimate performances, the arts are alive and well in Atlanta. The internationally recognized and Grammy Award-winning Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) is celebrating its 65th season in Atlanta. The ASO performs more than 200 classic and family concerts throughout the year at Woodruff Arts Center, Chastain Park Amphitheater and Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre.

Atlanta’s newest performing arts venue, The Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre is home to the Atlanta Opera, and the Atlanta Ballet performs there frequently, as well. The options for live theater are equally diverse. Full-scale theatrical productions take place on the stages of several venues, including the renowned Alliance Theatre and one of Atlanta’s most recognized landmarks, the Fabulous Fox Theatre. Throughout the city and its suburbs, a large number of community theaters provide cozier, more up-closeand- personal, theatrical experiences.

Topping the list of Atlanta’s museum offerings are the High Museum of Art and the Fernbank Museum of Natural History, both of which showcase permanent and traveling exhibits. Both also offer popular social events like Martinis & IMAX ® (at Fernbank) and Friday Jazz (at the High). Local favorites that celebrate the city’s history include The King Center, the Margaret Mitchell House and the World of Coca-Cola.

Sports Central

Atlanta is one of the few U.S. cities whose downtown area houses all of its major sports facilities, which means there’s an exciting sporting event happening nearly every week of the year. The Georgia Dome is home for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, while Philips Arena is home to the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks and the NHL’s Atlanta Thrashers. And, yes, since their inception morethan 10 years ago, the Thrashers have enjoyed a solid fan base, proving that Atlanta is indeed a hockey town. Of course, the Atlanta Braves play baseball at Turner Field, or what has become affectionately known as “The Ted,” a nickname referring to former Atlanta Braves-owner and CNN-founder Ted Turner.

The Pleasure of Doing Business

Fish and more fish at the Georgia Aquarium. PHOTO: Georgia Aquarium.

Atlanta has grown from being the business center of the Southeast to an international capital with more than five million residents and close to 150,000 private-sector firms. In the past 10 years, nearly 500 companies have moved to the area, creating 40,000 new jobs with a $1.6 billion impact. The top three industry sectors are trade, transportation and utilities; professional and business services; and government. Eleven Fortune 500 firms are headquartered in the metro area and more than 2,100 international companies are based here. In fact, Atlanta is home to Coca-Cola, UPS, Delta Air Lines, Chick-fil-A, TBS, CNN and Home Depot, just to name a few.

Young, educated professionals are a significant sector of the workforce, which is a direct result of the unusually high number of highereducation institutions in the area. Hartsfield- Jackson International Airport is the busiest airport in the world, serving more than 90 million passengers annually. The overall cost of living in Atlanta consistently ranks below that of other large metropolitan cities throughout the U.S., making it extremely attractive to multiple demographic groups.

Enticing Education

Each county in metro Atlanta administers its own school system, and there are several smaller independent city systems, as well. Although the systems differ somewhat in their approach and focus, all are committed to providing a highquality education that emphasizes basic skills in core subjects, as well as the fine arts, performing arts, music and technology. Extracurricular activities, sports teams and clubs round out the educational opportunities.

Several systems around Atlanta boast impressive magnet school programs that challenge students with special abilities and strengths in such areas as communication, technology, foreign languages, mathematics, applied science and entrepreneurship. Many schools, both public and private, are enhanced by their hands-on partnerships with local businesses within the communities.

Atlanta also boasts a vast selection of private school options for all ages, from infancy to senior year, including religious/parochial, independent, Montessori, special needs, collegepreparatory and international baccalaureate schools. Whatever a student’s individual needs may be, there is a school in town that provides an excellent fit.
The beautiful campus of Agnes Scott College.

Atlanta also is home to more than 40 colleges and universities that encompass a diverse spectrum of continuing education opportunities. Hundreds of programs of study are available, including liberal arts, law, medicine, engineering and theology. Georgia State University, Georgia Tech, Agnes Scott College, Oglethorpe University and Emory University are among the nationally recognized institutes for higher learning in Atlanta.

The Atlanta University Center is the largest historically African-American center of highereducation in the country, and includes Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine and Spelman College. The Savannah College of Art and Design’s Atlanta location shares its campus with the Woodruff Arts Center and is the only art college in the world to share a campus with a major museum (the High Museum), a symphony orchestra (ASO) and a theater company (Alliance Theatre). Several universities located throughout the state have satellite centers in the Atlanta area, as well, opening up even more options for local residents.

A Wealth of Healthcare

Some of the world’s best and brightest doctors are trained right here in Atlanta, and many of them never leave. Hundreds of physicians and medical support staff at all levels are educated and trained at local universities and hospitals. Not surprisingly, top quality healthcare is available throughout the metro area at state-of-theart hospitals and their satellite locations.

Atlanta’s healthcare community also is nationally recognized for breakthroughs in such areas as children’s emergency treatment, cancer treatment and cardiology. For example, Piedmont Hospital has been serving the Atlanta community for more than 100 years and is consistently ranked among the nation’s top hospitals. Just recently, Piedmont received 2010 specialty excellence awards for Cardiac Care and Coronary Intervention from HealthGrades, an independent healthcare ratings company.

In 1998, Scottish Rite and Egleston children’s hospitals merged to form Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA), the country’s largest children’s healthcare system. CHOA is unique in that it brings together the vast teaching and research capabilities of Emory’s Egleston and the private practice model of Scottish Rite. The winning combination has received national attention for achievements in many areas, including reconstructive surgery and kidney transplants. Atlanta also is home to Grady Memorial Hospital, the only Level I trauma center within 100 miles of Metro Atlanta and the busiest in the nation, and the Centers for Disease Control.

Most of Atlanta’s medical facilities have referral hotlines to assist newcomers in finding the right doctor, and many can even make an appointment for you. New residents who are already employed should investigate their company’s Human Resources department to gather information about healthcare options.

The Fabulous Fox Theatre.
Hot Spots

Atlanta and the surrounding areas have enjoyed almost continuous growth since the city’s humble beginnings as an 18th-century trading post. Buckhead, which some say is the heart of the city, has maintained its charm and appeal through economic ups and downs. Other historic intown neighborhoods such as Virginia Highland, Morningside, Midtown and Brookhaven continue to boast consistently solid property values, as well as time-tested charm. Little Five Points, East Atlanta and the West End have slowly gentrified into highly desirable areas that reflect a decidedly bohemian character.

The city of Decatur is also a popular neighborhood boasting wonderful architecture, multiple family and community events, and its own award-winning school system. Linda Harris, the assistant director of community and economic development, describes Decatur as “family-friendly” and “home to a lot of really creative people—we have a very walkable, mixed-use downtown area with lofts, restaurants and retail.”

Suburban growth has known almost no bounds for the past few decades, and some areas have handled the sprawl better than others. According to Steve Palm, owner at Smart Numbers, a real estate data management group (www., Forsyth and North Fulton are the metro counties with the most steady real estate values, despite the recent recession.

Desirable communities such as Canton, Suwanee and Alpharetta on the north side have worked hard to manage growth while preserving green space along the way. Lynne DeWilde, public information officer for the city of Suwanee, offers an explanation for how Suwanee found itself on Money Magazine’s list of the nation’s Top Small Communities twice in the last three years. “When we could see that the growth in Suwanee was really starting to take off, we knew we needed to manage it carefully,” she explains. “We really set out to create an identity for our community while preserving green space, creating parks and ensuring quality growth.”

And just like Suwanee, Atlanta’s changed significantly during the last decade, and much of the growth has been for the better. For the most part, it’s meant better job opportunities, outstanding restaurants, top-notch cultural performances, and improved access to healthcare. But ask most residents and they’ll probably tell you that the best part is that the city has never lost its Southern spirit or neighborly charm. That’s why there’s no time like the present to lay down new roots in Atlanta. In a short time, you will feel as though you’ve been here forever.

Atlanta History Center
Fernbank Museum, Children's Museum, Centennial Olympic Park

Children's Museum of Atlanta
Turner Field

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