I know I've been slacking on the posts (so sorry), but I've been trying to get settled after my recent move to Atlanta! After I got back from Asia, I had about a month in DC to pack up my apartment and prepare for my move... and once I got to Atlanta it went from 0-100.
Today marks about a little more than a month that I've been down here (I moved June 29) and I can definitely say I love the city already.
I've been able to explore, travel, and meet new people. Not to mention, the change of scenery is very refreshing!
I've also started my career and getting adjusted to the office and the longer days has been a process.
First things first, why Atlanta?
Well, to understand my reasoning for choosing Atlanta, I have to give my background.
I’ve lived in the DC area my entire life...
Prince George's County, MD from birth until college & DC for undergrad + grad school. I honestly LOVE the area, but I wanted a change and to experience a new city. And when is a more perfect time to experience a new place than in your 20s?
PG County is a special place - as the wealthiest majority Black county in the US, I grew up surrounded by many educated, degree-holding Blacks. I’ve attended private schools all my life and was always surrounded by people who looked like me, who had the same goals as I did - to attend college and continue the success laid out by our parents before us. Growing up, all of my doctors were Black... pediatrician, dentist, and even orthodontist! I attended Howard University, a historically black university located in DC, where I connected with even more motivated and driven Black students who had similar interests as I did. A common misconception about HBCUs are that we are not diverse, however, that is far from the truth! I met friends from all over the US and abroad, something that I could not say before Howard. With those friends came stories about their cities and the culture associated with them.
I heard about Atlanta when I was growing up and finally visited when I was in middle & high school, but my interest peaked when I learned just how similar it was to DC. Atlanta is also known for being a haven for young black professionals. Atlanta offers a city life combined with the laid-back vibe of the South - a little less city than DC, but more fast-paced than PG. It seemed like a perfect fit considering that I am a suburban girl at heart who loves to intermix with city life! I genuinely enjoyed the idea of being 10 minutes from Downtown/Midtown, but also having the suburbs right in my backyard.
Are you worried about liking the city when you actually live there instead of visiting?
YES! So, interestingly enough, I was able to intern in Atlanta last summer (2013) for two months thanks to a job opportunity. To put it simply - I fell in love with the city. I lived near Atlantic Station, which is one of the main attractions in Atlanta. Every weekend (and nearly every day haha) I was out and about exploring the city, meeting new people and truly getting the most out of Atlanta. Some of the things that I did while there included going to art shows, happy hours, brunches, kickbacks, parties, and visiting the many neighborhoods.
I would have to say that my absolute favorite place from the summer was Virginia Highlands.
It is such a cute neighborhood filled with charming cafes, chic spas and fashionable shops, which reminded me a lot of neighborhoods in DC!
I worked Downtown, which was about a 10 minute drive from my apartment. I am such a tourist so I was very excited to see Centennial Park every day on my commute. I also loved seeing the main tourist attractions such as Phillips Arena, CNN Center, Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola, etc. Of course there is a difference between living for a few months vs a few years so I will definitely have to give an update about that at a later time...
So what did you think about the people?
Honestly, I was taken aback by how friendly everyone was! I would go out to run errands and end up having random conversations with strangers. This would rarely happen to me in the DC area. People (from my experience) keep to themselves and do not speak to each other on the street if they do not know each other. This is changing, but you can tell that DC is a northern city in that regard.
It was refreshing to experience the Southern Hospitality that everyone talks about and I found that by the end of the summer, I was slowly, but surely molding myself into the culture.
It also helped that I have family that lives in Atlanta. My aunt and her family live down here and whenever I felt homesick or just wanted a home-cooked meal, I could stop by their home. Not to mention, my aunt is fabulous, so she quickly became my shopping/happy hour/nail salon buddy. I would have to say that some of my favorite moments included happy hour with her; she has taken me to Blue Agave, Taqueria del Sol, and the Ritz-Carlton - I would recommend them all.
So why don’t you talk a little bit about your move to Atlanta?
Well, to start off, I was extremely excited to start preparing for my move. I received a full-time job offer from my summer internship and started in July! I work for one of the Big 4 accounting firms, which is definitely something I am proud of. Things sort of fell into place with my housing situation, which I am very blessed to say. One of the ladies I worked with over the previous summer got married in December and was moving from her condo to a house. She doesn’t want to sell it quite yet and reached out to me to see if I was interested in renting it from her. I went to visit the condo in November and instantly was enamored with it. It’s a modern abode, located in an ideal location - Buckhead! The situation works out perfectly in that my lease for my apartment in DC ends in June and this lease was to begin in July. Oh, and did I mention that it came furnished with everything but bedroom furniture? Honestly, I could not have dreamt of a better situation.
My biggest blessings with my move are definitely my parents. They provided so much support in assisting with my logistics and I appreciate them so much for that. I was responsible for packing up my apartment myself and it was no small feat. Luckily, I was having my car shipped so a lot of my things fit in there. I did not have to worry about shipping furniture, which probably made my move 100x easier. I also tried not to overpack in regards to clothes - my reasoning was that I only needed summer clothes (which are light) and work clothes. All winter items went into storage! I also figured I would want to shop once I moved to Atlanta.
Once my flight touched down, I had plans to stay with my aunt until I could move into my new place on July 1. I have to say that having family who lived down there was another factor that enabled me to have less complications with my move. Unfortunately, my move had some bumps in the road... the morning of July 1, I woke up to the news that I wouldn't be able to live in the condo & needed to look for another place. Apparently, the tenant who lived there before I was to move in, refused to move out. I was devastated and honestly did not know what to do in that situation other than cry.
Then, I prayed on the situation. Less than 10 minutes after I prayed, I saw a quote about everything happening for a reason and decided that there was some reason that I did not understand in that moment, so I stopped acting like a baby and began asking friends about places they knew to rent from around Atlanta, in addition to researching online. Later that day, I got an email from my job saying that I was to start the next Monday (July 7), which I knew, but instead of in Atlanta, they were sending me to Manhattan for training. Then, the week after that, they were sending me to Dallas for another week of training. So I went from expecting to be in Atlanta to sudden travel plans that would have me out of the city for 2 weeks. My aunt offered for me to leave my things at her house while I traveled and I decided to take more time to look for somewhere else to live since I was not going to need somewhere to stay for at least two more weeks, what a relief!
Thursday, July 3 comes around and I'm unpacking and repacking to fly to New York on Saturday morning. I head to lunch at Atlantic Station with some fellow Bison who live in Atlanta and after, I decided to do some shopping around the area. As I'm in traffic back to my aunt's house, I receive a phone call from the condo owner with news that the tenant FINALLY moved out and that I can pick up the keys the next day. I honestly could not believe that I was going to be able to move in and my rent for the month was reduced by a lot. To top it off, I found an amazing bedroom furniture deal from one of my fellow Bison who was moving from Atlanta at the end of July.
Any advice for others looking to move to Atlanta?
The most important thing I would suggest - do not be afraid to take risks! I've had people tell me that they admire my move and that they wish they could have the courage to do it. I did not feel that it took much courage, but then again, I've never really been afraid to leave home.
I had to go forward with the faith that everything works out.
So another suggestion would be to pray - in times of struggle, walk by faith and not by sight. This was an important piece of advice that someone gave me just a few weeks ago and I must say that it has helped me immensely.
It helps that Atlanta is a fun city and that I've been busy since I've moved here. Also, most people that I've met down here love living in Atlanta! I totally understand why, it has tourist attractions, its own unique culture, and many gems within the city. I haven't had a lot of time to be homesick and people that I want to communicate with are only a phone call, facetime, or plane ride away.