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15 Things You Should Know About Living in Atlanta

It’s easy to see why Atlanta—known by some as Hotlanta, Empire State of the South, Terminus, or Y’allywood—is one of the South’s top cities. Sherman may have burned it to the ground during the Civil War, but like the bronze phoenix monument in Woodruff Park, it rose from the ashes. Whether you’re relocating for a job or stopping by to learn about its history, there’s no better place to encounter a perfect balance of rich Southern culture and modern innovation. But before you pack your bags, there are a few things you should know about living in Atlanta.

Atlanta Skyline

Photo Source: Flickr/tableatny

1. Driving is not for the faint of heart.

You could say that driving in the city is an Olympic sport, and definitely not for rookies. The roads aren’t laid out in a user-friendly manner, with two major highways converging into a downtown bottleneck known as the Connector. Don’t let the term “rush hour” confuse you; traffic lasts for many hours — not just one — in the morning and afternoon. Public transportation does exist in the form of MARTA trains and buses, but its limited routes leave a lot to be desired. And lastly, any Atlanta driver should know the difference between OTP and ITP, meaning outside or inside the I-285 perimeter around the city, respectively.

Dinner at Mary Mac's Tea Room

Photo Source: Flickr/Mark McElroy

2. There’s more to the food scene than fried chicken.

The city may not have one dish that encapsulates it, like Nashville’s hot chicken or Charleston’s shrimp and grits, but fried chicken is considered the unofficial representative. And while there is some excellent traditional Southern cuisine to be found at places like Mary Mac’s Tea Room, the dining scene in Atlanta is much more than what most people imagine. The restaurants around town, like Miller Union and Staplehouse, have won countless awards for their modern interpretations of Southern dishes. Think of a style of ethnic food — you’re likely to find it on Buford Highway, the city’s international corridor where there are as many signs in Vietnamese, Korean and Spanish as there are in English.

Peachtree Road Race

Photo Source: Flickr/Chip Harlan

3. You haven’t experienced Atlanta until you’ve survived the humidity.

Summer in Atlanta is hard to explain to those that have never felt it. It’s not just the temperatures, which can soar to the mid to upper 90s, but the humidity. Your hair will develop unwanted volume and it will feel much hotter than your weather app denotes. This weather can start as early as March and last well into September. Most residents crank up the air conditioning and stay inside as much as possible or spend time by their pools or at nearby Lake Lanier. But the weather conditions don’t stop the most ambitious from running the Peachtree Road Race, the country’s largest 10K, on one of the hottest days of the year: July 4. It’s a tradition that ends in the famous annual T-shirt design and an excuse to pig out and drink for the rest of the day.

Atlanta Location in The Walking Dead

Photo Source: Flickr/Neeson Hsu

4. You don’t have to go to the movies to see celebrities.

Thanks to state tax credits and Hollywood heavy hitters like Tyler Perry, the film industry in Georgia, and Atlanta especially, has exploded in the last few years. Television shows like “The Walking Dead,” “The Vampire Diaries,” “Being Mary Jane” and “Sleepy Hollow” are all filmed in Atlanta and its surrounding communities. Blockbusters like “The Hunger Games” series, “Fast and Furious and a number of Marvel projects have also been produced using Atlanta’s familiar skylines and nearby studios. Because of this, Atlanta now ranks third worldwide in film production, so you never know when you might spot a celebrity around town! Just remember to play it cool — they deserve their privacy, too.

Little Five Points

Photo Source: Flickr/Pawel Loj

5. The city is made up of unique neighborhoods.

Similar to cities like Los Angeles, Atlanta is really a collection of neighborhoods, each with its own unique atmosphere. Little Five Points is known as the bohemian district, complete with a massive skull doorway at The Vortex Bar and Grill, vintage clothing stores and live music venues. Cabbagetown used to be home to cotton mill workers, but the warehouses are now lofts and the surrounding buildings are restaurants. Oakland Cemetery straddles Cabbagetown and Old Fourth Ward, where famous names like Margaret Mitchell and Bobby Jones are buried. Over on the West End, you can visit the Wren’s Nest, the Victorian home where author Joel Chandler Harris lived.

Victorian Home in Inman Park

Photo Source: Flickr/Brent Newhall

6. Historic homes are still affordable.

While in cities like San Francisco and New York City, most people won’t ever consider buying a house because of the high price, living in Atlanta is different. It’s a buyer’s market with historic Victorian and Craftsman homes still available to buy in certain parts of the city. According to Atlanta Magazine, neighborhoods like East Point, Smyrna, Oakhurst and Glenwood Park are hot for homebuyers.

Atlanta International Airport

Photo Source: Flickr/David Rosen

7. It’s home to the world’s largest airport.

In 2015, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport welcomed its 100 millionth passenger for the year, the only airport in the world to do so. As a major airline hub, you can conveniently fly just about anywhere from Atlanta. But you might regret arriving any later than two hours before a domestic flight, thanks to the airport’s sprawling network of terminals, the distances between gates and the sometimes inefficient security. If you’ve planned accordingly, hop on the Plane Train and enjoy a meal from one of the many the local restaurants that have set up outposts here.

Eddie's Attic

Photo Source: Flickr/SunFrog

8. Atlanta has a thriving, diverse music scene.

Nashville may have country and New Orleans may have jazz, but Atlanta has just about everything else. Music artists like Outkast, Alan Jackson and the Indigo Girls have all come from the city to make it big in their respective genres. Other acts, like John Mayer and Justin Bieber, may not have called the city home, but they can thank their connections in the city for their rises to fame. Music venues like Eddie’s Attic in Decatur have long fostered local talent, so you never know — that unknown opening act may just become the industry’s next big thing.

Living Walls

Photo Source: Flickr/Jason Eppink

9. The arts scene is more than just museums.

Don’t get the wrong idea — the museums are great. Between the High Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art, Carlos, Oglethorpe and Millennium Gate museums, the city has just about every significant period of art history covered. But you can check out the next generation of creators on The Beltline as well as through the large-scale murals produced by the Living Walls Conference. You might also want to check out The Goat Farm on the Westside, which is a creative community for artists.

Martin Luther King Center

Photo Source: Flickr/Counse

10. History is all around you if you know where to look.

Sure, Atlanta may not be great at saving buildings from the wrecking ball, and it tends to bulldoze buildings that are barely 20 years old, but it’s got history in spades. You can tour the home where Margaret Mitchell wrote Gone with the Wind. You can dine at the restaurant where Martin Luther King, Jr. and his contemporaries planned Civil Rights marches, as well as check out the home he was born in and the church he preached in. You can see the remnants of the original settlement at Underground Atlanta. You can even spot where much of the 1996 Centennial Olympics festivities took place and the structures built for the events.

Piedmont Park

Photo Source: Flickr/Chris McClanahan

11. It’s a green city.

Nicknamed the City in a Forest, Atlanta has many parks and green spaces to keep it from feeling like a concrete jungle. Piedmont Park is the most well known, spanning over 180 acres. Parts of it were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, although others completed the project. Other notable parks include Candler Park, Grant Park and Historic Fourth Ward Park. Those with active lifestyles will appreciate the walking trails around the city known as The Beltline. The nearby Silver Comet Trail (which goes all the way to Alabama) and PATH trails also afford opportunities to get fit in the great outdoors.

SweetWater Brewing Company

Photo Source: Flickr/Hillary

12. You’ll find a surprising amount of craft beer.

It wasn’t so long ago that the most “local” beer you could get was Budweiser brewed in Cartersville. But today, there are breweries opening every few months in just about every part of town. SweetWater was the first, opening in 1997, but since then there’s been Orpheus, Arches, Three Taverns and Monday Night. If you’re gluten intolerant, you can still enjoy a pint at Urban Tree and Treehorn cideries.

Coca-Cola Headquarters

Photo Source: Flickr/Hector Alejandro

13. Major companies call the city home.

It’s no wonder that more companies are moving to the city every day. Perhaps the most well-known are Home Depot, Delta and Coca-Cola, but did you know that the city houses more than 20 other Fortune 500 companies? UPS, Newell Brands, Carter’s and Equifax have headquarters here as well. Atlanta is also becoming a hub for the automotive industry, as Porsche set up its national headquarters in Hapeville. And you can’t forget about Chick-fil-a and Waffle House!

Agnes Scott College

Photo Source: Flickr/James Diedrick

14. It’s a university town.

Among the confines of the city, you’ll find nearly a dozen institutions of higher learning. Among the oldest are the Georgia Institute of Technology, known as Georgia Tech, Clark Atlanta University and Emory University. Georgia State University, Morehouse College, Spelman College, Agnes Scott College and the Savannah College of Art and Design Atlanta campus are also located within the city. Each has its own scenic campus and facilities open to the public. Emory’s Carlos Museum and the art museums at Spelman and Oglethorpe are worth a visit, as is the Paper Museum at Georgia Tech.

Manuel's Tavern

Photo Source: Flickr/Lee Coursey

15. You never know where you might run into a politician.

This goes beyond the history of The Varsity, where most of the U.S. presidents since Jimmy Carter have dined. Former president Carter has an apartment at his presidential library and has been seen at the farmer’s market held there seasonally. Manuel’s Tavern has long been a watering hole for both Democratic politicians and local college students. President Obama played a round of darts there during his last trip through Atlanta, and countless leaders have made campaign stops there. And, of course, if you go anywhere near the familiar gold dome of the state capitol, you’re sure to see a local leader.

So if you’re interested in living in Atlanta or already call it home, you now know just about everything you need to know. Soon you’ll be able to differentiate all of your 71 Peachtree streets and place your Waffle House order like a local!

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Owners.com, Altisource or any other Altisource® business or entity. The foregoing content is not intended to constitute, and in fact does not constitute, financial, investment, tax or legal advice by the author, Owners.com, Altisource or any other business or entity.


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