As the comments section has proven over the years, input from people freshly transplanted to Atlanta can be engaging, enlightening and downright embarrassing. In an effort to gather those insights/opinions/gripes/raves/rants in bulk, we launched a project called New Voices Atlanta several weeks ago. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the City of Atlanta's population swelled by about 30,000 — or 6.6 percent — between the spring of 2010 and summer 2013, and it's likely accelerated since then. Many of those new arrivals were more than happy to talk about it. After several weeks of soliciting input from Atlanta newcomers — we asked for folks who'd moved ITP from some other place within the last three years or so — we've analyzed responses from our 20-question surveys for a series of posts that begin right now. The hope is that we all can learn from each other, in terms of where this city is now and could be soon. Today we start by introducing these newbies, in general terms, and sharing what they think of our (and their) fair city overall.
From the 45 surveys completed by new Atlantans, we were able to extrapolate the following insight, statistical and otherwise:
AVERAGE AGE: 31
The ages of ATL newbies ran the gamut. They ranged from a 23-year-old director of public affairs (for the Consulate General of Israel to the Southeast, no less) who swapped Washington DC for Virginia-Highland, to a 63-year-old retiree from Annapolis, Maryland who loves Midtown and the fact that "We haven't had to shovel any snow!" but hates "Georgia politics."
AVERAGE TIME IN ATLANTA SO FAR: 1 year
Several respondents had moved to the city mere months ago. The outlier was a Buckhead investment banker who's live here six years and didn't exactly read the fine print about who should be taking the survey. But we counted his input on the strength of this heartfelt comment alone:
"That's the biggest thing — I almost become apathetic trying to do things because it will be too stressful," wrote the former St. Louis resident. "For my interests I absolutely need a car in Atlanta, and that is unfortunate because there are a lot of great things to see and do, but I refuse to do them because the commute getting to them is too stressful. Even going a few miles can make you want to go mad."
WHERE DID THEY COME FROM?
None of the respondents had emigrated from another country, but for one reason or another, they've come to Atlanta from all points across the United States. Those being:
Los Angeles (2)
New Jersey (2)
"New York City" (7)
Orange County, New York
WHEREVER THAT IS:
WHAT NEIGHBORHOOD DID THEY CHOOSE?
Old Fourth Ward (6)
East Atlanta (4)
Grant Park (3)
Druid Hills (2)
* Okay, so it's not an ITP city, but his survey was counted on the strength of this comment alone:
"I had heard stories about how unsafe Atlanta was — almost to the point that people complained, whined and criticized this amazing city," writes the relocated consultant from Massachusetts. "Most of them had not been to Atlanta themselves, so I'm not sure how they came about forming such strong opinions about this city. Crime has no address — it has existed as long as humans have."
WHAT JOBS HAVE THEY FOUND IN ATLANTA?
Communications field (7)
Marketing field (3)
Construction and real estate (4)
I.T. Field (4)
Media (2; CNN producer; assistant magazine editor)
Evangelists, dentists, retirees, salespeople, occupational therapists, bankers, symphony musicians, hair colorists, freelance Spanish interpreters and others: 1 each
Teachers (2; Emory professor, and local charter school)
Drug dealers (1; a pharmacist)
Possibly unemployed (1; dodged the question in about 1,000 words)
Preferred to not say (Several)
OVERALL IMPRESSION OF ATLANTA SO FAR, ON A SCALE FROM 1 TO 10:
Median answer: 8
The good news is that transplants think the ATL is 80 percent all right, on average. (Worth noting: The city earned three 10s, and three respondents gave Atlanta a "solid" 8 — basically an 8+). That's not too shabby, and probably stronger than most American cities. But no one called this a perfect metropolis, and many groaned at length about our shortcomings (more on that later). Some sample commentary, as it pertains to scoring Atlanta:
"I would rank the city with a solid 8 and can see the room for going higher."
"In relation to? Impossible question, but I'll say 8."
"9. One point off for traffic."
"10. I'm a huge fan. I love my new home."
Sample comment from the 24-year-old marketer, a NYC transplant, who gave the lowest score, a 5:
"The people overall seem terrible. There is a huge culture of ignorance, racism, and alcoholism mixed with driving. The food is overwhelmingly similar, or underwhelming. I'm tired of people talking about Jesus. But real estate is cheap and I'm insanely optimistic about the future of the city."
COMING TOMORROW: Talking crime, transit and that gawd-awful traffic mess.