DeKalb County Living
Education, Diversity and Charming Communities
By Susan Flowers
When you’re relocating to Atlanta, choosing which part of themetropolitan area to call home can be a challenge. Do you go for the hustle and bustle of a city environment, or do you choose a more relaxed life in the suburbs? DeKalb County offers the best of both worlds, hosting approximately 10 percent of the city of Atlanta as well as several appealing suburban communities.
DeKalb is home to more than 700,000 residents, making it the third-largest county in the state and boasting a larger population than Alaska, North Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming, according to the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce. DeKalb County residents enjoy a median household income of $51,712 and a median home value of $185,100, both higher than the city of Atlanta.
Relocating residents will find a wide array of housing options. Whether you want a condo in artsy, close-in Decatur or Candler Park or a single-family home in more suburban Tucker or Lithonia, DeKalb’s small cities and numerous unincorporated communities offer something to fit every budget. According to the DeKalb chamber, home prices can range from a low of $90,000 to around $12 million, if you’re shopping in the area around Emory University.
Decatur, the county seat, is a charming, historic city known for its pedestrian-friendly streets, great shops and restaurants and its Courthouse Square, which hosts numerous festivals and events year-round. Dunwoody, which became a city in 2008, is a popular suburb for families and young professsionals and boasts such attracttions as the 35-acre Dunwoody Nature Center, Dunwoody Village and Perimeter Mall, the second-largest shopping mall in the state. DeKalb’s other cities are Avondale Estates, Brookhaven, Chamblee, Clarkston, Doraville, Lithonia, Pine Lake and Stone Mountain.
Visitors to these varied neighborhoods will find that DeKalb offers the best of big-city diversity. The chamber boasts that the county is the most ethnically diverse in the Southeast, with residents from more than 30 countries speaking at least 120 languages.
Thanks to its location just east of Fulton County and its excellent transportation options, getting to and around DeKalb is easy and convenient. Interstates 20, 85, 285 and 675, as well as U.S. Highway 78, traverse the county, as does MARTA. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is only 6 miles from the county’s southern border, and the DeKalb Peachtree Airport, said to be the state’s second busiest, is located in Chamblee.
Business and Education
DeKalb’s central location allows residents to seek employment options in the city of Atlanta or in many of the area’s bustling suburbs. But there are plenty of great opportunities within the county’s borders, as well. More than half of the Fortune 500 companies in Atlanta have operations in DeKalb, according to the county chamber. Among DeKalb’s top employers are its government and public school system, as well as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, AT&T Mobility, Kroger, Cox Communications, Emory Healthcare and Emory University.
Nationally renowned Emory is just one of several excellent post-secondary schools located in Decatur, offering undergraduate and graduate programs in subjects encompassing everything from liberal arts to mathematics and science, as well as schools of law, medicine, nursing, business, public health and theology. The city is also home to Agnes Scott, a private liberal arts college for women, and the Columbia Theological Seminary. Outside Decatur, the county also boasts Mercer University’s Atlanta campus and Oglethorpe University, a private liberal arts school featuring a gorgeous campus with gothic architecture in a big-city setting. And Georgia Perimeter College, a public junior college that feeds students to four-year schools across the state, has campuses in Clarkston, Decatur and Dunwoody.
The DeKalb County public school system is the third-largest in the state, serving the approximately 99,000 students not located within the Atlanta portion of the county. In addition, City Schools of Decatur, an independent public school system, serves the children of Decatur with eight schools.
Shopping, Dining and Entertainment
When it’s time for leisure, DeKalb residents don’t have to venture past the county line to find all kinds of options for entertainment and dining. Stone Mountain Park, the No. 1 attraction not just in the county but the state, is a 3,200-acre state park that includes Stone Mountain itself, as well as a theme park, a cable car, a train that circles the mountain, a laser show and more.
The Fernbank Museum of Natural History lets visitors gaze in awe at the world’s largest dinosaur replicas and take in a movie at the museum’s IMAX theater. Those looking to get back to nature for an hour or two can stroll through Fernbank’s 65-acre hardwood forest.
Some of the county’s most sought-after communities are also great places for shopping, dining and entertainment. The Decatur Square offers proximity to more than 50 shops, numerous restaurants and live music venues, including Eddie’s Attic. Candler Park, just five minutes from downtown Atlanta, features great options for weekend fun, with one-of-a-kind retail shops, art galleries, bars and restaurants. Antique lovers won’t want to miss Chamblee’s Antique Row, a cluster of shops known as the antique capital of the South, offering everything from vintage books to classic furniture.
Of course, good restaurants are easy to find in DeKalb. The county’s dining options are as diverse as its population, with eateries ranging from Decatur’s Café Istanbul to the Southern-style fare at such venues as the Flying Biscuit, Community Q BBQ and Matthews Cafeteria. Buford Highway, which begins near Midtown Atlanta and runs through DeKalb, offers a wide variety of international cuisines.
And those looking to prepare their own delicious meals head to the DeKalb Farmers Market. Covering 140,000 square feet and serving as many as 100,000 shoppers each week, it offers produce, seafood and other items from all over the world and is known as the world’s largest indoor farmers market.
From affordable housing to a wealth of businesses, colleges and universities, as well as a wide variety of restaurants, museums and other arts and recreation options, DeKalb County offers all of the convenience of Atlanta, along with many comforts, attractions and unique communities all its own.
DeKalb County Government
DeKalb Chamber of Commerce
City of Decatur
City of Dunwoody
Atlanta Public Schools
DeKalb County Schools
City Schools of Decatur
Agnes Scott College
Georgia Perimeter College
Stone Mountain Park
Your DeKalb Farmers Market