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10 Pros and Cons of Living in Decatur, GA

10 Pros and Cons of Living in Decatur, GA Written by Aislyn Hobbs

Decatur, Georgia, is a suburb of Atlanta, situated about 5 miles east of the city itself. Located in DeKalb County, the town is surrounded by Belvedere Park, Druid Hills, Panthersville, and Gresham Park.

Decatur was founded on December 10, 1823, and named after the U.S. Navy Commodore Stephen Decatur.

While “A City of Homes, Schools, and Places of Worship” is Decatur’s official motto, some locals employ the slogan “Everything is greater in Decatur” in informal settings. This beautiful suburb of Atlanta draws visitors from all over for its spectacular array of annual events, charming downtown district filled with historic buildings, and outstanding culinary offerings.

China Anne Mcclain is a famous Decatur native and actress. She has become a household name because of her parts in such films as Daddy’s Little Girls, Grown Ups, Black Lightning, and Descendants.

What are the benefits and downsides of living in this city? Let’s check out ten pros and cons of living in Decatur, GA!

Pros of Living in Decatur

1. A reasonable cost of living

With a cost of living index of 101.6, living expenses in Decatur are only 1% higher than the national average. This is still relatively affordable. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that a family of four in Decatur will require an annual income of $66,000 to get by comfortably.

The city’s median home price is  $324,271, which is lower than the national average. Rent for apartments in Decatur range from around $600 to $3,915 a month.

2. The weather is mild

Decatur has warm, humid summers and cold, damp winters, so bring your shades and an umbrella if you plan on staying for any length of time. In the winter, you may even see a dusting of snow.

Daytime highs in the spring and summer can reach the high 80s, while lows in the evening can drop to the low 70s. When autumn arrives, daytime highs are around 60 degrees, and overnight lows are around 40.

3. There are lots of great restaurants

Decatur is home to a wide variety of restaurants serving some of the best food in the area. The White Bull is a “farm-forward” Italian restaurant. It draws its culinary inspiration from the products sold at local farmers’ markets and uses ingredients that are in season and readily available in the state of Georgia.

In 2011, Victory Sandwich Bar opened in what was essentially a hole in the wall, but it is now one of Decatur’s most beloved restaurants. Sandwiches, snacks, salads, and various alcoholic beverages are just some of the many options available.

Calle Latina, Louisiana Bistreaux, and Brush Sushi Izakaya are some other amazing restaurants in the city.

4. There are many festivals to attend

There is always one festival or the other going on in Decatur. In the spring, Decatur holds the Decatur Arts Festival. People come here from all over Atlanta because it is one of the biggest art events in the city. The square and numerous adjacent streets are closed for the three-day event. In addition to the square’s live music and kid-friendly activities, the festival also has a wide variety of arts and crafts booths, food trucks, tents, and mobile kitchens. 

The Decatur Book Festival takes place every year in the fall. It’s a big festival that lasts several days in the town square, with lots of things for kids to do and speakers and authors from all over the country.

5. The city is quite walkable

It’s easy to get around Decatur on foot. The majority of Decatur’s neighborhoods date back to the late 1800s and early 1900s when most residents still preferred to get around town on foot. 

Pathways can be found in most areas, and many businesses and eateries can be reached on foot. Once you park your car in downtown Decatur, you won’t need it again for the rest of the day, making it ideal for a day of shopping and dining without the hassle of driving.

6. The schools in the city are great

The Decatur City School District is the top-rated public school district in the metro Atlanta area. There is only one high school, one junior high, and seven primary schools. The elementary schools have a lot of community support, committed parents, and strong test scores. 

The city of Decatur is highly sought after by families because of its robust educational system. A number of excellent private schools are also available, including St. Thomas More School, The Friends School, Waldorf School, and a Montessori School.

Cons of Living in Decatur

1. Property taxes are high

The average property tax rate in Dekalb County is 1.21%. It’s not strange for Decatur property taxes to be twice as high as the rates for comparable homes outside the city, but that’s the price of a high-quality public school system.

The public schools of Decatur are among the best in the greater Atlanta area. At the low end, private school education in Atlanta will set you back $700 monthly. The value of a high-quality public education system might justify the cost of higher taxation.

2. The city is isolated

Given its relative seclusion from the rest of Atlanta, residents of Decatur should expect to spend an extra 20 minutes in the car if they need to travel within the city. 

Midtown, Buckhead, and the Westside are where you’ll find most of Atlanta’s restaurants and shops. There are a number of great places to eat and shop in Decatur, but if you’re looking for something exceptional, you’ll have to travel outside of town. Decatur also isn’t conveniently located near any major highways.

3. The traffic could be terrible

In general, Atlanta has some of the worst traffic in the country, and Decatur is no exception. The limited number of routes leading to and from Decatur contributes to the longer travel times. At peak times, traffic on Clairmont Road, the primary route into Decatur, may be unbearable. It takes around 10 minutes to drive the 2.5 miles from Decatur’s downtown to Emory, and significantly longer during rush hours.

4. Parking is stressful and expensive

You won’t have to worry about finding a parking spot at your new Decatur single-family or townhome. Still, the lack of available parking spaces in Decatur’s central business district is the most common complaint from locals. Some companies have relocated because they could not survive the area’s severe parking shortage.  

You may have trouble finding a spot on the street, and if you do, it will likely cost you money. Locals have complained bitterly about the $3 minimum parking price, which applies whether you park for an hour or just stop for 10 minutes to pick up takeout. However, there is a big parking deck close to the city hall, and its rates are comparable to those found elsewhere in Atlanta.

To Sum it All Up

Is Decatur the right city for you? It has its own benefits, such as the reasonable cost of living, walkability, excellent schools, and fantastic restaurants. On the other hand, one should also consider its cons, such as the high property taxes, isolation, and terrible traffic.

Learn More About Living in Decatur, GA

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