Will young professionals continue to choose Atlanta?

Young professionals have been moving into the city of Atlanta by the thousands, transforming abandoned warehouses into lofts, vacant lots into dog parks and communities long in decline into neighborhoods of choice, AJC reporter Craig Schneider writes.

Atlanta is on the leading edge of a national trend: Since 2000, neighborhoods within three miles of downtown Atlanta have seen a 61 percent surge in residents aged 25 to 34 who have at least a four-year degree, according to U.S. Census figures.

What about the future? Here are a few questions –

Given the economic slowdown of the past few years, do you think this will continue or stall?

A lot of the young professionals do not have kids yet. When they do, will they move to the suburbs like past generations did or stay intown? Will the recent problems in Atlanta Public Schools affect that decision?

Finally, will increasing traffic congestion and higher gas prices help to solidify this trend?

- Henry Unger, The Biz Beat

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

69 comments Add your comment

justdoingme

April 13th, 2011
7:22 am

I wouldn’t I want my kids properly educated!

jrev

April 13th, 2011
7:23 am

We’ve lived here since before the Olympics. It isn’t bad, but if you’re freaked out by gun fire, please don’t come down.

Jason

April 13th, 2011
7:33 am

Prediction one: the messages below will be filled with racist comments.

Prediction two: the generation moving into town will have much fewer children than previous generations

Prediction three: yes, some will move to the suburbs if they have more than one children, but more for reasons of space than school quality

Prediction four: trends clearly indicate that the suburbs are the housing choice of the poor and this will continue causing the schools to decline

Prediction five: for yuppies with one child and two good incomes, close in edge cities like Decatur will be the place to be

Prediction six: Atlanta will have a white mayor in the next ten years but not because of the color of their skin but rather as a natural outcome of there being a larger pool of potential candidates to pull from. People will be really embarrassed that they ever considered Mary Norwood as a viable candidate and pretend they didn’t support her.

Prediction Seven: gentrification will continue, driving up the cost of living in the city and eliminating poor neighborhoods. This will not be without trouble as those moving into current high crime areas will have to endure break ins and theft during the gentrification process.

Prediction Eight: opportunists will continue to use gentrification crime as a springboard to gaining political office. Facts will be ignored and emotion will rule the day.

Prediction Nine: As the ratio of childless residents to children continues to increase, there will be more taxpayers per student. Also the quality of student will increase as they’ll come from stable homes. There will be a radical change in the quality of schools but more most families with children it won’t matter since they won’t be able to afford to live in the district.

Prediction Ten: The State of Georgia will continue to pretend this is a home rule state while continuing to interfere with the governance of all of metro Atlanta. This will eventually backfire as the region starts to work together and outnumbers the rest of the state.

Ace

April 13th, 2011
7:48 am

Jason, u got too much time on your hands, go outside and enjoy

The Economy

April 13th, 2011
7:48 am

As manufacturing jobs disapear and factory close, lower wage/education segment will continue to move from the rust belt to the South. More crime and poverty will follow to Atlanta.

Steve

April 13th, 2011
7:49 am

I’m a white male and live in Captitol View. I have lived there for ten years now and i love it. Convenient to everything, cool turn of the century houses, never been a victim of crime.

Intowner

April 13th, 2011
7:57 am

I am a yuppie who moved to midtown in 2006 when I was 24. I’ve loved it and it’s been really convenient. Now that I’ve been here for a while and met a nice girl, I’m going to settle down and move to a nice house in the suburbs and here’s the reasons why. 1) Air quality: this is big for me because I’ve never had allergies in my entire life until moving to midtown. 2) Parking: I don’t like having to jump through hoops to find parking for myself and guests. MARTA is not an option for my girlfriend and my job is 1.5 miles from the closest bus stop. 3) Having a backyard/grill: I’ve enjoyed the condo lifestyle for a while but I’m ready for some privacy to enjoy what I love doing. 4) Crime: It’s not bad during the day, but you’ve really got to watch your back at night. 5) Schools: I don’t want to send my future kids to a school with administrators and teachers that cheat. These are the reasons I’m going to move. The city has to become more family friendly to keep these people that are planning to start a family eventually. JMHO

Dan

April 13th, 2011
8:33 am

Midtown has always RULED….I think we should challenge the census figures for Atlanta because i know 1,000 extra have moved to MY BLOCK on Peachtree alone…they got it wrong !!

nativeson71

April 13th, 2011
8:48 am

What Jason wrote! PERFECTO!!!!!!!!
…towards Unger by ‘Atlanta’ do you mean the metro area or the ‘City of Atlanta?’

nativeson71

April 13th, 2011
8:50 am

um Dan…I would guess you have lived in Atlanta less than 10 years. Midtown has NOT always ruled. You should read the be book “Where Peachtree meets Sweet Auburn” it will help you understand where you live.

Henry Unger

April 13th, 2011
9:00 am

Nativeson71 — It’s the city, not metro area.

joe

April 13th, 2011
9:12 am

Whatever works in the city to get rid of the crime, I’m all for it. However, I’d bet one dollar that the majority of the crime isn’t committed by Atlanta city residents…they ride MARTA in from the neighborhoods south of the city, commit their crimes and steal a car to drive their haul back to wherever they reside…or drive up and drive home afterward. This pattern is seen all over way too often.

Darin

April 13th, 2011
9:15 am

I’m excited by this trend. When my wife and I had a child a few years ago, we were living in a midtown condo and had to decide to stay or move to a house we could afford in the suburbs. We ended up staying in midtown and actually moved to a downtown condo last year to be closer to MARTA and a park (Centennial). It’s worked out great for us. Living intown with kids is a lot different than the suburban childhood I had, but it’s no worse and has some distinct advantages, especially when it comes to finding fun stuff to do on the weekend.

Intowner

April 13th, 2011
9:29 am

Is this republished from 1998? Other than the Westside, this really isn’t news. How about a story on the high performing, over crowded APS schools that is a result of this trend happening over the past 10+ years. Morningside, Inman, Spark, Grady, Mary Lin

Mr. Gump

April 13th, 2011
9:40 am

Can we do something about that stupid Steve Rayman Chevrolet drop down ad every time I go to a new AJC page??

Furious Styles

April 13th, 2011
9:44 am

@The Dark Reality you didn’t include any link/urls showing the statistics to your claims. If that’s true, its no different to the cesspools outside metro Atlanta that are producing meth which has run rampant outside merto Atlanta. Pick your poison.

Mr. Charlie

April 13th, 2011
9:46 am

@The Dark Reality. Steve’s post contradicts your primitive methodological post. You appear foolish, brash and bitter.

Mr. Charlie

April 13th, 2011
9:51 am

@Joe, if that were true, then it would be easy to cordon off the South Side of town, setup check points in/out of the South Side of town, or setup one large police zone on the South Side of town and nab the robbers on their way back in. That way EACH case is solved within 24-48hrs.

BUT since that isn’t happening and cases have been open for months, RATIONAL thinking would conclude that your theory is an EPIC FAIL.

JT

April 13th, 2011
9:52 am

I’ve lived in Midtown for about 4 years and have had relatives there who were among the first to take it back in 1997. The neighborhood is head and shoulders above what it was then and those of us who have seen this transformation first hand aren’t the ones who complain about every shortfall but instead see the potential as evidenced from a complete transformation in just 12 short years, a change so drastic it would be decades in the making in other cities. I see know problem with raising a family here except the one obvious one of if you simply can’t afford the space. I also don’t agree with the crime being worse at night either. I live near the High and walk down to Crescent Avenue and back regularly without so much as a request for money. Meanwhile there are areas in Gwinnett County, Jimmy Carter Blvd. for one where I am hesitant to get out of my car….during the day.

MK

April 13th, 2011
9:53 am

My wife and I are both currently 29. We live and Midtown. We plan on staying in Atlanta, not necessarily Midtown, for a very long time. The Public/Private School for children decision is several years away for us. I’m very happy to see the current trend and pray that it continues. For the record, we have lived in Midtown for 4 years.

JT

April 13th, 2011
9:54 am

* no problem

T.A.

April 13th, 2011
9:57 am

I believe the trend will continue. As long as gasoline prices stay high and people want convenience and things close to them, the city will remain attractive. Myself being a young professional, I’m planning on moving into the city at some point in the near future, as I prefer the city as opposed to the exurbs.

Question

April 13th, 2011
9:57 am

Question: Is gentrification a bad thing? I understand that it involves people losing their homes. However, when their homes/neighborhoods have been rundown to the point that it is bringing the quality of an entire city down, isn’t it ok that they be pushed to other areas of town? Not a loaded question filled with prejudice, just very curious what is the thought of others.

Angus

April 13th, 2011
9:57 am

Only additional quality schools will allow it to continue.

I’m one of such that moved in single, but now have a wife and kids. If the status quo remains, we’ll have to move out of the city before my eldest reaches high school.

We really do not want to move. We love our neighborhood and the convenience of being a hop, skip, or jump away from all that Atlanta has to offer.

Amy in the ATL

April 13th, 2011
9:58 am

Not quite sure why this is news, since this process has been going on quite a while. All it takes is a drive around Atlanta neighborhoods to see how much has changed in the last 15 years.

We were one of the twenty-something “DINKS” who bought intown property in the mid 90s. We settled in Grant Park, and have been there since (albeit in a larger house now). We now have 2 kids and aren’t planning on going anywhere.

There is a huge surge in the number of families with kids, and there is always a waiting list or lottery to get into the neighborhood preschools and charter schools because of it. And while some families move (especially if they can’t get into their school of choice), they tend to move within intown Atlanta as opposed to the suburbs. For most of the intown folks I know, moving to the suburbs is not even considered a viable option due to commute times to work, lack of social outlets, and preference for a more urban lifestyle.

Crime, of course, is a very valid concern. But I do feel that the current admistration and police chief do have law-abiding resident’s best interests at heart and are working hard to make the city safer.

Andre

April 13th, 2011
9:59 am

Well, Jason may have a lot of time on his hands, but he isn’t lying at all. He’s spot on.

time now

April 13th, 2011
10:00 am

The relaxing sound of rhythmic gunfire at night outside my condo–it makes me sleep easier

TnGelding

April 13th, 2011
10:00 am

It will continue and they will stay. They learned from our mistake.

JT

April 13th, 2011
10:04 am

There are plenty of safe, vibrant neighborhoods intown. The gunfire comments are beyond ignorant. I’ve not heard gunfire in Ansley in 12 years, in the heart of Midtown. The problem people think they deserve their dream house even though they cant afford it where they live. So instead of working harder and earning it, they just move further out where they can find slum level land values.

blazerdawg

April 13th, 2011
10:17 am

Atlanta has historically been a great city with a vibrant downtown and an anything goes attitude. It was just the late 70s and 80s that downtown was dead, and even then there was some cool underground (not the one on AL St) activity.

Downtown will endure, but will never feature a large family population. Families will still reside intown in Midtown and Grant Park, just as they always have.

I have lived in both the suburbs and intown. I think Atlanta has exceptional suburbs compared to most cities because of the trees, hills, lot sizes, and great neighbors. Atlanta has a unique intown atmosphere because of the interesting people, trees, and architecture. One’s success does not have to come at the other’s expense. Love them both. Let’s be different and not have the ITP/OTP arguments that all other cities seem to have as well.

MK

April 13th, 2011
10:21 am

I agree fully blazerdawg. The burbs are great as well.

By the way, in four years, I’ve heard gunshots outside my condo once. It came in the streets when the crowd let out at Primal. This is the only violence-related complaint I’ve had in the four years.

Susan

April 13th, 2011
10:24 am

I moved downtown in 1994 and am pleased to see the trend continue. I previously lived in a home in Sandy Springs. I have always felt safer in town than in the burbs.
The ability to walk to restaurants, theater, sporting events and such can not be beaten in the sidewalk-less neighborhoods built in the ‘burbs.
Where is my nearest grocery? Less than a mile.
I put less than 3000 miles on my car last year as I can ride MARTA, walk, or ride my bike to most of the places I wat to go.
I walk down the street and have conversations with my neighbors.
I can walk my dog to any number of parks.
Thanks to Carl Patton and GSU for making the commitment to downtown.
Now if we can just get the suburban groups to take the people that they are feeding back to their neighborhoods or support the facilities that exist (Gateway Center for one) we will be better off.

Intowner

April 13th, 2011
10:35 am

MK, I remember that gun shot outside Primal. We must be neighbors :-)

@JT, your ITP vs. OTP stance does no good in helping people want to move here. I mean, we all have to live somewhere, and your one-size fits all approach will no doubt piss some people off. Get over yourself and relax a little.

Mr. Charlie

April 13th, 2011
10:41 am

Atlanta will always be dogged by the OTP vs. ITP mentality. Carry on with the infighting as the state above Georgia and the state below Georgia continue to surpass you………

Boss Hawg

April 13th, 2011
10:46 am

You see the same thing happening in places like Baltimore where yupsters are moving into neighborhoods alongside no income housing. The result is a crime surge and widespread racial tension. It is hard to imagine any other outcomes.

jrev

April 13th, 2011
10:53 am

@ Mr Charlie
I’d rather not give up my civil rights.
@JT
Guess you don’t spend much time in the West End. Just because you don’t hear it in Ansley, it does not mean my comments are ignorant.

RJ

April 13th, 2011
10:57 am

As far as crime is concerned, I live in the suburbs and it’s not much better. Crime is awful. I’ve been a victim of a home invasion. As an Atlanta native I’m happy to see the trend. I enjoy the suburbs mostly for space. But I won’t live too far away from downtown because I want to enjoy all that Atlanta has to offer with restaurants, museums, parks, etc.

Since quality schools are determined more by the community than anything else, schools won’t be an issue. Not everyone is cheating.

@Question, it can be unfortunate, but you are right. Many of these homes have brought the entire city down. Change is inevitable.

moved on

April 13th, 2011
10:58 am

I lived ITP for bout 12-13 years but just got tired of city of Atlanta issues, water bills, parking, taxes, riff raff, or just going to the grocery or lowes and getting hit for money in the parking lots. So i moved a little OTP into my own house. It was an adjustment but overall I would rather live OTP than back in the city of ATL.

Amy in the ATL

April 13th, 2011
11:03 am

As a follow up to this piece, I would actually be curious as to changing population trends in the burbs as well. I grew up in East Cobb, but when I do venture back there to see family it seems significantly older and noticeably lacking in younger children, at least compared to the more family-friendly intown neighborhoods. Where are the younger suburban families living these days? Are they still choosing shiny new houses on the outer edge of development, or are closer in areas being renovated?

Another Steve

April 13th, 2011
11:05 am

I am a neighbor of @Steve, 7:49 am, and Steve, you were a victim of an attempted car theft. Remember they found your car just down from my house! I too live in Capitol View, a neighborhood that belies it’s facade. I have been assaulted, robbed, broken into, stalked while walking my dog in our big beautiful park. Beautiful old bungalows, very convenient -not sure those are enough attributes to effect change here in SW Atlanta. Paul Luna was to open a new restaurant concept here but that apparently is a no go. Nothing really happens here but the perception is SW is a ghetto. Other areas have money thrown at them so they will change. But SW is the bastion of black “elite” (there word not mine) citizenry and gentrification will be stopped or stymied as much as possible. After the Kirkwood situation in the 90s, the city formed a gentrification task force to stop gentrification because the black power structure fears loss of power as wealthier whites move in. I think the trend will continue but I think it will slow down as there will be a plus/minus migration as some will move intown and others will move to the suburbs. Traffic is horrible on intown streets anymore. Some suburbs are creating their own “downtown” and “districts” (Swanee, Buford, Duluth, Marietta, Gainesville to name a few.) and are way safer. And Atlanta is one of the worst cities for new jobs, so if that doesn’t improve people won’t be moving to the city. Finally as referenced by other posters, intown migration is old news, ATL is just late to the game,..you figure out why. Other cities like Denver, San Diego, Charlotte, Seattle, St. Paul, have had vibrant inner city neighborhoods. Good luck ATL, you’ll need it!

Paul

April 13th, 2011
11:15 am

Intown isn’t just condos – it can still include a real home. We live 4 miles from downtown in Kirkwood, bought ten years ago, and just had a baby. We have loved it here, and hope to stay if our elementary school is able to move up. I walk to the train station, live next to the PATH, and have a great park/playground. Oh, and our street of 20 families has had 8 babies in just the last two years.

Mr. Charlie

April 13th, 2011
11:21 am

@jrev why would you need to give up your civil rights? More scare tactics. They won’t work here anymore.

Danny Boy

April 13th, 2011
11:21 am

We all determine where to live based on numerous qualities. Just because you have differing opinions on what those important qualities are, it doesn’t make anyone else’s choice wrong. However, I think the trend is showing the younger generation thinks in-town living is preferred for various reasons (traffic, entertainment, restaurants, uniqueness of neighborhoods). However, Atlanta offers all types of neighborhoods and suburbs for everyone to be happy in!

SWAGA1

April 13th, 2011
11:29 am

I would live downtown but its too expensive for me so i have to live in the suburbs where there is reasonable rent. In addition, i think someone stated this before, u cant travel around town without someone hitting you up for a quarter, 50 cents or trying to wash your windshield with a pissy water bottle. that being said, the APD has to clean up the homeless people and the criminals who hang out downtown near the 5 points marta station and midtown like its a 24 hr nightclub. those are the people who are breaking into peoples’ cars and robbing them as well. you would see more people living downtown or in midtown if there was something done about that.

jrev

April 13th, 2011
11:31 am

@ Mr. Charlie
I live in that neighborhood, and I would rather not be subject to illegal search and seizure. It’s not scare tactics, it is my 4th amendment right to not have to be subject to what amounts to an illegal checkpoint.

Blah Blah Blah!!!

April 13th, 2011
11:31 am

REALLY? So many individuals are obviously obvious to how things really were…. if you knew anything about Atlanta (and some of the surrounding areas) prior to the Olympics,or a few years after, you would know that Atlanta has almost did a complete 360. Yes, there is still crime, but for people (mostly whom will admit that they only been here for 10 or less years) to sit and say that Atlanta is full of crime, blah, blah, and blah….. some of you should have been here before Atlanta was taken over by homos( no offense) and bogey college grads… Atlanta is so much safer now and please go read an almanac or go back up north or whereever you came from…..

Justin

April 13th, 2011
11:34 am

City of Atlanta has 3 of the top 15 elementary schools in the metro Atlanta Area. http://www.ostenson.com/files/ElementaryMetro-2009.pdf (page 3)

You could probably add one more with Springdale Park.

JT

April 13th, 2011
11:42 am

Swaga1 obviously hasn’t been intown in quite sometime. You are dead on about 5 points, its a problem but where in Midtown does it look ANYTHING like 5 points? name one place.

SteveO

April 13th, 2011
11:47 am

@JT – I knew a guy from Buford who referred to my house in Toco Hills as being “in downtown Atlanta”. I’ve noticed that people from more rural areas will consider 5 miles to be a “right down the street” whereas when I lived in Cabbagetown I wouldn’t go to the Highlands because it was “so far away”.

Basically, SWAGA1 perceives 5 points as being “right next” to 16th and Piedmont.

JT

April 13th, 2011
11:50 am

Fair point, when you drive 8 miles to the grocery store I suppose your perception of distance would be off. I live near 17th and Peachtree and feel like Buckhead is in another universe and hate going there.