Fayette County: Close to Atlanta, Yet a World Away
The golf course at Flat Creek Country Club in Peachtree City.
Located approximately 25 minutes south of Atlanta,Fayette County is an increasingly popular destination for families, empty nesters and professionals. Since its foundation in the early 1800s, the county has grown into one of metro Atlanta’s main destinations for those looking to live close to the city while enjoying the area’s laid-back feel, excellent education options and a multitude of recreational attractions.
Home to an estimated 107,000 residents, Fayette County enjoys the lowest cost of living in the metro area, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research’s Cost of Living Index. Residents enjoy a median household income of $81,498 and a median home value of $247,500, both higher than the city of Atlanta.
Nowhere is that high quality of life more visible than in Peachtree City. Named one of Bloomberg Businessweek’s Best Places to Raise Kids for 2013, the county’s largest city boasts a population of more than 34,000 residents and is famous for its unique 90-mile network of multi-use paths. These paths are used by pedestrians, cyclists and even golf carts, which are a common mode of transportation throughout the city. Add an abundance of lush wooded scenery, and this nearly 15,637-acre community feels like a soothing resort. “Basically, we call it resort-style living, and it is,” says Nancy Price, executive director of the Peachtree City Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Developed as a planned community in the 1950s, Peachtree City consists of five distinct villages—Aberdeen, Braelinn, Glenloch, Kedron, and Wilksmoor—each with its own shopping areas, recreational facilities and schools.
While sporting a very different feel, Fayetteville, the county seat, offers its own idyllic allure. With 16,000 residents, a historic downtown district and pedestrian-friendly streets, it exudes a small-town charm, which appeals to a broad range of inhabitants, says Brian Wismer, Fayetteville’s director of community development.
“We’re a bedroom community with a short commute into town,” he says. “You’ve got the families with school-aged children, and we also have a lot of senior citizens, who like the lifestyle here.” In addition, Fayetteville has been named a top 10 suburb for retirement by Forbes and a top 10 Georgia town for young families by the financial website NerdWallet.
The smaller towns of Tyrone, Brooks and Woolsey offer their own pastoral settings, with all of the county’s amenities still close by.
Education and Business
One big draw for families is the county’s nationally recognized public school system, Fayette County Schools, which is considered one of the best in the state. Last year, Fayette County students earned an average SAT score of 1,542, topping both the state average of 1,452 and the national average of 1,498. And a majority of the schools scored more than 90 out of 100 on the Georgia Department of Education’s College and Career Readiness Performance Index, a new system used to evaluate academic success.
“[The school system] has really been a major reason why people come to Fayette County,” says Virginia Gibbs, president of the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce. “They just know that … wherever you live in the county, there are some great schools doing amazing work with students, K-12 as well as some really wonderful pre-K programs.” The system’s 26 schools serve more than 20,000 students.
Fayette County also boasts a thriving economic center that offers a number of attractive incentives for businesses, including the 2,200-acre Peachtree City Industrial Park, which features its own Foreign Trade Zone, allowing an easier path for merchandise entering from or going to foreign countries.
And the area continues to benefit from Georgia’s growing film industry. The Lifetime series “Drop Dead Diva” films in Peachtree City, which also hosted the motion picture Lawless. The CVB has also recently developed a film tour, Price says, highlighting locations used in “The Walking Dead,” Sweet Home Alabama, Fried Green Tomatoes and more.
And recently, Pinewood Studios, the British film studio most famous for producing the James Bond film series, announced plans for a production facility in Fayetteville. The studio is slated to make the area even more attractive to large film productions, and bring more business to the county. “The estimates are for about 150,000 ancillary businesses that will want to locate in proximity” to the facility, says Wismer. “We’re very optimistic about the business forecast for the next year to year and a half.”
“There’s so much excitement in the community because of what that means and all the potential employment opportunities and peripheral business opportunities,” agrees Gibbs.
Another growing business sector in the region is the health care industry, due in no small part to Fayetteville’s Piedmont Fayette Hospital. The 172-bed facility employs more than 500 physicians and more than 1,100 employees, making it one of the largest employers in the county. Since opening in 1997, Piedmont Fayette has been named one of the nation’s top 100 hospitals five times by Thomson Reuters, and been recognized as one of the country’s “most wired” hospitals six straight years for its use of advanced technology.
Entertainment and Recreation
Perhaps Fayette County’s biggest attraction is its wealth of recreational and entertainment activities. Among its leisure-time offerings are the Line Creek Nature Area, a 70-acre public preserve; three lakes (Lake Horton, Lake Kedron and Starr’s Mill) open to fishing and boating (except at Starr’s Mill); six golf courses, youth athletic programs, miles of recreational trails and numerous parks. The county is home to two outdoor music venues, the Frederick Brown Jr. Amphitheater and Southern Ground Amphitheater. Peachtree City also boasts a tennis center and an indoor aquatic center.
Major events in the county include the Shakerag Arts, Crafts and Bluegrass Festival, featuring live music and homemade crafts; the Dragon Boat Races and International Festival, a day of international food, dance and culture; and the Great Georgia Air Show, which draws more than 30,000 spectators for a weekend of aerial stunts and demonstrations.
Shoppers can visit the Avenue Peachtree City, a walkable, open-air shopping center fe aturing national and local stores and restaurants, and the Fayette Pavilion in Fayetteville, which offers a number of affordable shops as well as a movie theater.
Close to Atlanta and yet a world away, Fayette County provides all the advantages of metro Atlanta against a relaxing backdrop. With affordable housing, top-notch schools, first-class health care, a booming business scene and a multitude of recreational and entertainment options, it offers an increasingly attractive alternative to big-city life.
Fayette County Government
Fayette County Schools
Fayette County Chamber of Commerce
Fayette County Development Authority
City of Fayetteville
City of Peachtree City
Peachtree City Convention and Visitors Bureau