Herbietown - House-hunting in Atlanta: OTP vs. ITP

House-hunting in Atlanta: OTP vs. ITP

Our current home.

Our current home.

So we’re house-hunting in Atlanta.  It’s hard because, in many ways, nothing will match up to our current home in Wilton.  I thought we’d never leave it.  We really stretched to buy it and just now, 4 years later, can finally afford it, and now we have to leave.  Oh well.  Onwards and upwards.

Except, is Atlanta really upwards?  I don’t know the answer to that question.  I’ve met tons of great people that live in Atlanta and the outlying suburbs, and most of them are great, but I also see things that disturb me.

For example, every time I drive by a Chick FIl-A, I’m amazed that people still eat there.  Don’t they know about all the money the owners have given to anti-gay causes?  The answer, of course, is yes.  Yes, they know, and yes, they like it, and yes, they keep eating there anyway.  Perhaps because of their anti-gay stance.

These are the thoughts swirling around in my head as I try to decide where to live.  There are 4 primary areas that we are looking at in Atlanta: Buckhead, Brookhaven, East Cobb and old Marietta.

Buckhead is the most expensive of the 4.  It’s got the biggest houses and it’s been described to me as the Greenwich of Atlanta.  Which makes me want to puke.  I hate Greenwich.  Or, more accurately, I hate what Greenwich stands for.  Money.  I don’t want my children growing up in an area where money is a religion.  I want them to lead more normal childhoods, have a chance to meet people of all socio-economic backgrounds, and have a healthy relationship with money.  All of which makes it much easier to say no to Buckhead, because the reality is that we probably can’t afford it!

If we lived in Buckhead, we’d send our kids to public elementary school but then probably switch to a private school for middle and high.  Which is 6 years away but worth considering when choosing where to live.  I’m not sure I want to be forced to send our kids to private school in 6 years.

On the plus side for Buckhead, it really is the most cosmopolitan area of Atlanta.  You get lots of people that have lived other places, traveled, perhaps voted for a Democrat once in their lives.  This is important to me, especially as I think about the kinds of people that I want my children to be friends with.  Also, Buckhead would be an easy commute to the office.

Brookhaven is on the outskirts of Buckhead.  It’d be a little farther commute to the office, but seems more down-to-earth and younger.  I have a friend from college that lives there and others have suggested it to me.  You can get more for your money in Brookhaven, compared to Buckhead, but the taxes are still high and I don’t think the schools are the greatest.  That equation doesn’t add up to me.  Why pay high taxes if you don’t get services back in return?

Still, Brookhaven is appealing.  A down-to-earth Buckhead with interesting young people means that we might actually have friends we like.  Which is nice.

OTP = Outside The Perimeter

OTP = Outside The Perimeter

East Cobb is the closest to the office.  It’s a suburb of Atlanta, meaning it’s Outside The Perimeter.  OTP.  A little like B&T in New York.  I guess we won’t be considered too hip if we live OTP.  But taxes are lower, schools are better, and you get a lot more bang for your buck.  If we want to find a house in our price range that is comparable or better than what we have today, we probably have to go OTP.

What I fear about going OTP is that I’ll be surrounded by rednecks.  You know, people with guns and bibles and flags of their favorite college football teams.  I don’t mind a few of those people around – they make life interesting – but if my children come home from school and suddenly want to go to monster truck shows and KKK rallies, I’ll be, um, disappointed.

East Cobb has the best public schools in the state, especially Walton.  That’s an enormous plus.  It means that we won’t have to shell out for private schools and the resale value of the home will be good.  The only thing that concerns me is that there’s a reasonable chance we’ll end up sending our children to private high school anyways, in which case living in East Cobb doesn’t make much sense.  All the good private high schools are in Buckhead.

North of East Cobb is old Marietta.  A colleague lives up that way.  There’s a nice historic square and a huge park called Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park.  I drove up there last night to get a feel for the area.  The house I found online turned out to be on a really busy road, so that poured cold water on our big plans to live in a New England style farmhouse (see pic below).


1880’s New England style home in Marietta; unfortunately it’s on a really busy road. Ugh.

As I was driving around to get a feel for the area, I came across a superstore called Adventure Outdoors.  It is as large as a Wal-Mart and all they sell is guns.  The sign on the road is priceless; it just says “10,000 guns!” in enormous neon letters.  Fascinating.  I would love to go in there and walk around.  Must be some kind of redneck Mecca.  I can’t seem to find a picture of it online but here’s a billboard from the last election that gives you a sense of what they’re up to.


This kind of stuff scares the hell out of me.  I want my children to be surrounded by other kids that are a good influence on them.  I want them to enjoy reading books and creating art and playing sports.  I don’t want them to idolize gun-shooting and college football and gay-bashing.

So do we go back ITP (inside the perimeter) and stretch a bit to find something more cosmopolitan?  Or do we find something comfortably in our budget, OTP, and doom our children to a life of confederate flag worship?

I just don’t want my children to grow up in a place where people stereotype other people.  You know?