Athens, Ga – Best Town In The World

archI love to travel. I love to see new places. I love to explore, meet new people and take in the uniqueness of places that have their own personality. Athens, Georgia: whether you are just passing through, spending an amazing 4 years (or 5), or settling down- it is one of the most unique and memorable cities that exist. Although we have traveled tons of places spread over several continents, we always enjoy coming home. Where you live is one of the single most influential aspects of your entire life and one of the fundamental keys to lifestyle design. If you made a list of what you want in a city, what would it contain? Are you curious to know why anyone who has passed through loves Athens, Ga? What do you love about where you currently reside?

What Makes Athens Awesome?

Food – Honestly, food in Athens deserves its own article. But I’ll give it a go. Awesome food! Incredible diversity. Insanely inexpensive. I could make the argument that it has the best selection of any small non-tourist town. Every ethnic possibility, delicious farm to table and plenty of vegetarian and vegan options. Athens is home to several breweries, mircopubs, and even bike tours to local farms. Our favorite local restaurants include Last Resort, Copper Creek, Jittery Joe’s coffee, Mama’s Boy, Little Italy, Cali & Titos, Depalmas and 5 & 10.

– You know your town has a problem with sports when your football stadium holds more people than the town’s population. I don’t know if there is anything better than an early morning on a cool fall Saturday in Athens, Ga. No really, football rules, but UGA is also known for its incredible tennis, golf, gymnastics and entertaining (but sometimes terrible) college basketball and baseball. Athens is also home to a plethora of high school, intramural and adult leagues for every sport imaginable. It even hosts one of the coolest downtown criterium bike races in the country. Twilight is a professional race with monster prizes, a wonderful accompanying festival and an awesome downtown atmosphere.

AthensGA-nightNightlife – 
Woah, how many bars? There are how many bands playing tonight? UGA took the #1 spot in Princeton Reviews’ Party School rankings for a reason. Terrapin Breweries offers great early evening festivities and brewery tours. You can have dinner at one of the amazing gastropubs, and then go to one of the 80 local award winning bars- all in a single square mile. Oh, did I mention that cover charges are non-existent and even fancy beers rarely top $3. Some of the most popular and nationally recognized establishments are: The Globe, Georgia Theatre, Bourbon Street, Walkers and Trappeze.

Music – Athens is known for a few small bands like R.E.M., Widespread Panic, Neutral Milk Hotel and the B-52s. But what is surprising is simply the amount of local talent and the volume. Every night of the week there are tons of small bands and individuals playing for free at the 100 or so bars in the two square mile radius that makes up downtown/normaltown. For its size, the music scene (spotify playlist) is truly unparalleled. A few of the newer local bands like Drive-By-Truckers (or old), Elf Power and Brantley Gilbert are developing their national exposure.

Education & Smart People – Athens is the quintessential college town. And one of the greatest parts about that is the utter abundance of educational opportunities. One of several local colleges, UGA gives access to learn almost anything you want from some of the top researchers in the world. As an added benefit, if you are an employee of the college you can take any classes you want for free! Not only that, residents of Georgia with decent high school grades can attend any state college for free!

Arts, Theater & Culture – Performing arts often have an exaggerated presence in college towns. And Athens is no exception. Home to a wonderful performing arts center and excellent curation, Athens boasts big name performers from around the globe. Wonderful opera, museums, theater, and classical music are all available locally without any hassle or traffic of a big city!

Dense – A small town with big town amenities. For a southern town, Athens is surprisingly dense and everything radiates from the University and historic downtown. It is pretty easy to live your entire life in a three mile radius if you would like. Athens is one of the few bike-friendly towns in the entire Southeast and the ability to go car free is a welcomed change. Free public transportation is actually available for all college students and many of the largest employers.

Inexpensive – I mean really, where else can you buy a nice little brick house walking distance from downtown, fancy public parks, miles of greenway, 1/2 mile from the football stadium and near the largest employer for under 65k? Oh yeah, right here in A-Town. Rent in nice areas typically runs $250 to $450 for your own bedroom and bathroom. It is actually hard to find a place that doesn’t sell $1 beers, and even craft beers rarely top the $3 mark. Even the nicest restaurant entrées are rarely over $18.

Church, Schools and Hospitals – Athens is home to hundreds of churches and religious institutions. Athens Church is one of the most dynamic, engaging churches I’ve ever seen. There are tons of local schools, and Athens is unique in that one of the best local schools is adjacent to the intercity downtown area. The high schools are nationally ranked with International Baccalaureate programs and tons of AP options. Two of the states’ best hospitals call Athens home. I’m amazed what all is packed in such a small region.

Parks, Trails and Green Space – I love to run, bike, hunt and fish. Athens is packed with parks, trails and has miles of greenway that extend through downtown for walking and biking. Living near a public park is inevitable and if you want to retreat to nature, the Redlands public WMA is 37,500 acres of hunting, fishing, biking and camping all within twenty minutes from downtown.

Location, Location, Location
When designing your life and where you want to live, location is fundamental. Because of the unique culture, Athens has actually become a destination. But aside from that, it is quaintly located about an hour from Atlanta and one short shuttle from Hartsfield Jackson- the busiest airport in the world. In addition, Athens is close to several lakes for awesome water sports and minutes away from the mountains for hiking. If you are even more adventurous, you are welcome to take a short three hour drive to the Atlantic Ocean.

Lovin’ It
I didn’t even have time to touch on the fact that Athens is the state’s best local economy and the weather allows you to grow your own food year round. Athens is also one of the most diverse cities in the South with people and students from nations all over the world. It even has an impressive budding entrepreneurial and start-up tech scene. So, is Athens the best city in the world? For me, I think it is about as close as it gets. I love the idea of being intentional and designing the lifestyle of our dreams. And choosing where you live is an integral part of your experience. For kids, college students, young adults, families and retirees- Athens, GA fits the bill of a small town with big town access and charm. If you are ever heading over this way, feel free to contact me if you want to go bike the city, find out where to eat or learn about the amazing things my favorite town has to offer.

*Pictures from AJC & Dogwonderful

96 thoughts on “Athens, Ga – Best Town In The World

  1. Athens sounds pretty great! We haven’t really considered the Deep South much (especially after reading American Nations) but you make a good pitch. It sounds like a cool college town.

    • While I do share a bias and love for the deep south and SEC, Athens is a strange anomaly within the context of the state and region as a whole. It has tons of international and political diversity, awesome music and a large hippie/green/low impact lifestyle community.

    • hate to hear comments like that about the “deep south”. not sure where you live but people are the same everywhere. smart, dumb, kind, hateful, city, country – all represented in every corner of the globe and all the colors of the rainbow in between. it always amazes me how stereotyping still exist towards the south – ironically enough by those who think the south is so bad for its stereotyping. athens is a unique town for sure – i have only visited – but there are so many fantastic places like athens all across the south and all across america. i have experienced hatred and racism and narrow mindedness while living in san francisco, boston, chicago, miami, nashville, asheville, seaside, steamboat springs and in my present home in the bahamas. its a shame you have, up until this article, crossed an entire swath of our great country off your list of places you would want to live. i hope you do end up moving to athens and see just how great us “deep southers” are – just as the rest of the american community is as well.

      • Well, just to be geographically accurate, Georgia is not a part of the “deep south”. Do a bit more discovery. Georgia is considered a part of the Atlantic Southeast and the Colonial South. Don’t believe me, check the stars on Betsy’s first flag. People are people.

        • Just so you know, Georgia is 100% part of the Deep South. As a student focused on southern history at UGA, I can confidently say that Georgia is part of the Deep South. It’s unfortunate that people are so misinformed about the South–we do have a distinctive culture (see James Cobb’s Away Down South for references) and a dark past, but certainly a bright future. To quote Hartsfield, Atlanta is “too busy to hate!” And Athens definitely takes the cake for small town glory.

      • That’s right Scott nice to see some down to Earth people such as yourself. I have lived in SC all my life and Racism never comes to MIND.BUT YOU KNOW WHO HAS BROUGHT THAT FRONT AND CENTER . THANKS FOR YOUR THOUGHTS ON ATHENS.
        We will be going there this weekend. Have a good one and God Bless. Charles.

    • Hi! I just moved in Athens from france and I a totally agree with you, I am so grateful to live here! Thank you Athens to be what you are!

    • Athens is awesome. We love what you do to help make it a great place to be as well. It wouldn’t be the same without AC!

  2. This is so on point! Having grown up in Athens I can confirm that is an amazing city that is growing and improving each year! GO DAWGS!

    • That’s awesome! It is true, it seems like every year there is something new and exciting. Although I didn’t grow up in Athens, it already feels like a home to me.

  3. We moved away for a few years and no other place compared. Wherever we lived we would say…it’s just not as cool. :-/ Love this place!

  4. Moved to Athens to attend UGA. Married my college sweetheart. We loved Athens so much we decided to make it our home. My husband’s business moved us to Virginia for 8 years. Thankfully we were able to move back HOME just in time for our kids to enjoy the same college experience we both had at UGA! Athens, I LOVE YOU!

  5. Having also grown up here I constantly tell people “I can’t see myself living anywhere else!” Music ‘nut’, sports fan and recreational ‘weekend warrior’, I love every inch of Athens–even down to it’s nitty gritty. There’s just so much I still havnt experienced in this little-big town…

  6. I was born an raised in Athens, As a kid we could walk where ever we wanted too. there are special places to go too. I love to eat at the Varsity, it’s the best place in town. plus going an see the Tree that own;s it’s self. It’s just so much to do there. I had to move to Alabama when I got married but I go home as often as I can. It will always be home!!!!

  7. Having been born and raised here, moving away, and then coming back home to Athens, I have grown to appreciate the diversity of the city’s music scenes, restaurants, and artistic outlets. Love this town! Go Dawgs!

  8. I moved to Athens in the early 90s & thought I’d be there forever & ever. Amen. I lived there for 17 years & saw Athens grow from a quaint & sleepy little college town that basically shut down for a month in the summer while the UGA students were gone, to the much more cosmopolitan, small-town-that-feels-like-a-city it has become. Unfortunately, my husband’s career took us away from Athens to Northern VA in 2010. While we really like it here, it nothing will ever compare to Athens.

    I’d say that this article really hit on everything I love about that town. (The food! Oh my gawd, the food is amazing & you have no idea until you leave!) Well, except for the football part – if you’re indifferent to college football, living in Athens will make you a rabid football hater, if not a rabid football fan. There is no remaining indifferent toward it. The only other discrepancy I saw was the paying under $65 thousand for a house?!?! I would love to know where in Athens one can find such a steal on a house? The real estate market must have taken an insanely bad hit since April of 2010, which is when I left. At that time there were no houses in that price range anywhere near downtown, much less within walking distance. Was that number perhaps a typo – should it have maybe been $165? (Which is still ridiculously inexpensive, if you ask me.) Otherwise, very nice article.

    • Thanks for the comment! We really enjoy living in Athens. I use the 65k because my family paid under that for the house we currently live in! And I used our house for all the examples! There a plenty of deals to be found especially in the eclectic, diverse neighborhoods that surround the east side of downtown. Ours was a great snag but I have seen dozens in that price range that we looked at before making our purchase! Now, if you are looking 5pts/Normaltown those numbers would be closer to your estimates.

      • Stumbled across your great site while searching for info about Athens as we are considering a move there…for all the reasons you articulated in your blog. especially the arts and the people. We have four young children, ages 4 to 10. My biggest concern is that private school will not be an option. every place we have lived so far, due to my husband’s work in IT has had really terrible public school opportunities. We did private school for awhile – ouch. We would really like to not have to go that route. What neighborhoods would you recommend looking in for good schools and nice NICE families….I do not miss the snob conspicuous consumption of Agoura Hills and Westlake Village. N VA was okay in the Warrenton area, not nearly as impacted as So Cal, but it was still there. We really want a nice little home, in a sweet little neighborhood, near good schools, and with a sense of community…we want to find a HOME, and show our kids, finally, what that really means. Thanks for any tips…we are thinking in the 150-300,000 range. Can we find something for that do you think? Cheers!!

        • There are endless debates about school systems in the town but the great news is they are many great public ones to choose from. Both Clakre County Schools and Oconee County Schools provide great educational opportunities. I would suggest touring both systems to see which is the best fit for your family. In your price range, 5pts and Normaltown would both be in reach and almost any house in the surburbs would work as well if that is your interest. There are tons of great options in the town.

        • Oconee county schools rank in top10% beautiful neighborhoods
          Top shopping and still Athens addresses.

    • I love the your weekly posts about the money saving tips that my wife and i have tried more than a few of. We now have prepaid iPhones, have monthly food budget of around 200 dollars, buying everything possible used, still are working on the selling tips, and by attacking debt while watching spending we are really close to being debt free, except for our recently purchased 8 yr old house on 4 acres with a creek that we got for the low low price of 66,500. We did have to wait a while to find something we could afford but not being in a hurry made it possible:) Thanks for the time y’all put into this blog.

      • That is awesome! Y’all inspire us too and I’m constantly learning all kinds of DIY types from your vast array of knowledge. You guys are a perfect example of living the good life without the crazy expense outlay so many people expect.

  9. I grew up in Athens and it was great. I moved away after college but still come to town for potable games. Have brought my friends with me for the games and they absolutely love Athens. Fortunately my parents are still there so I can still call it home.

  10. As a long time Athens resident who agrees that the cost of living IS low – I feel that your assessment of actual costs erred rather on the low side. In all instances I think you used the least expensive example of the item for which you were defining an actual cost. A lovely article otherwise, though.

    Now shhhhh! Don’t tell everyone! 😉

    • I like the to think of it as a not so well kept secret! Agreed, I suppose that would be the economist in me coming out. I do tend to go with the low price examples due to the fact that is what I personally tend to go for and I’m always trying to get a great deal on everything. Feel free to read anything by Mr. Money Mustache to get a larger scope/perspective on low cost living erring on the inexpensive side of life.

  11. Ok, fine then. I’ll move my family 1,500 miles across the country to live in the greatest little college town in America.

    Oh wait. I already did that last year! Best move our family has ever made, we love the city of Athens as much as anybody!

  12. i think its funny I visted Athens for the first time this weekend and you post this 3 days later! My best friend goes to UGA while I live in kennesaw and go to Kennesaw state, we usually meet halfway in atl when we meet up, but i decided to visit her on her turf this week end. I actually really enjoyed it. The food was amazing, the bar hopping as fun, and the bands we heard were pretty good! I even checked out the school and it was huge!

    I ate at Mama’s boys (the wait was ridiculous, and will never do that again), cali & tito’s (delicious baja tacos), the grit (my personal fav), and little italy. Went to a few coffee shops, that had great brews.

    I think its a great college town, but i couldn’t live there after i got my degree.

  13. I grew up in Athens, Clarke Central then UGA. Lived in DC/NoVa for twenty years, moved back with family a couple of months ago.

    I generally agree — Athens is great — lots of cool stuff, and for the most part quite cheap by coastal city standards. It’s a pretty sweet arbitrage of walkable city life with small town cost of living.

    A couple of quibbles. I agree with ohgoody re house prices. There are some ok 5 figure options, I guess, but I think most families, once they work through all the tradeoffs would end up spending 150-200 k. Which is still pretty cheap for what you get.

    Also, because of demographic issues, the public schools are struggling. Again, some people make it work, and there are alternatives, but let’s just say the schools aren’t a no-brainer (as they were when I was kid, 30 years of white flight to neighboring Oconee County ago).

    Finally, yes there is a lot of cheap food, and some of it is very good. But the higher end places that tend to get a lot of attention charge DC prices, i.e. most entrees $25+. 5&10, Branded Butcher, The National, the late Farm 255 are good values, because they are truly excellent, but they are pretty spendy. It’s fine if you hold your Hugh Acheson intake down to once a month or so, but don’t think you’ll be able to hang with him multiple times per week. unless it’s just a lunchtime sandwich.

    All friendly amendments; the general premise that Athens is hard — perhaps impossible — to beat is a sound one.

    • Thanks for the insight and additional perspective! I agree that there are a lot of different options for people who want to live different types of lifestyles in a city as eclectic as Athens. There are plenty of five figure options in housing but many people I know tend to buy more expensive houses in the range you specified (but they are the same ones who are likely to own a car and rarely bike or walk everywhere they go). I like the additional restaurants you mentioned noting that it is possible to spend $25 on an meal if you like (I’ll blame/thank Hugh as well). And I’ll finish off touching on the school systems and poverty rates. Indeed, there are some strong and weak school in Athens but I think, even in the poorer schools, there are incredible opportunities and gifted teachers that do an amazing job with the resources they have. I’ll briefly touch on the poverty statics that many people are messaging about. Be aware that college towns, by poverty statistical definitions, are fundamentally skewed by and low income students, international graduate students (often wealthy and very smart) and low costing seeking individuals (local artist and musicians) that reside in the town. Google the census blog for more info.

      • Came to the site via a link so didn’t understand your premises when I first replied. After clicking around a bit, I now better understand those, and granting you them, it all makes sense. I was responding with a more general “nonminimalist” audience in mind.

        BTW, interesting stuff. I look forward to reading more.

        A few last words on schools and poverty. It is true that college students inflate Athens’ poverty stats to some degree, but I think that one has to acknowledge that there is a significant underlying issue. One way of looking at it is that while it’s almost never anyone’s choice to be truly poor, Athens is a much better place to be poor (more progressive, better housing, services and other benefits) than the very rural surrounding counties. So people move here, as they should, seeking a better life for themselves and their families. A lot of people in Athens are very poor, in the nonstudent, nonbohemian sense, with all that tends to be correlated with that.

        As for the schools, the Title I and other demographic stats are what they are. The Athens schools are dealt a very tough hand, which I agree some very talented and dedicated people play as best they can, and pretty much as well as anyone could. But, unfortunately, parent’s SES remains an excellent predictor of academic success, no more in Athens than anyplace else, but not much less either, I am afraid.

        Anyway, great town (with some problems, like every other place in the world), excellent post, looking forward to more.

        • I have two children in the Clarke County School district. They are both at Clarke Central and have been in our schools since pre-k. They have had an awesome education. I makes me sad that people believe the rumors.

          • Am a product of the the Clarke County public schools as are my own children. Taught in the Clarke County public schools, too, for 14 years. Our schools are +/- 85% free and reduced lunches, which tells a lot about the community’s true make-up vs. its appearance. I can assure you, though, that any student looking for a truly excellent education can get it in our local schools. The community has continued its commitment to provide our students with excellent facilities (take a look at all the new or revitalized schools in the last 15 years). The presence of UGA also give opportunities for partnerships which are being more and more realized. I love our local schools and encourage people looking at our area to step forward and take a good look. You will be welcomed!

  14. As an R.E.M. fan as well as other bands with ties to the area, I love Athens. It is a beautiful historic town. I wish to visit again someday soon.

  15. I cam to Athens on a trip revolving around the music scene and ended up meeting the love of my life. Although we didn’t end up living there together, we will always keep coming back, as often as we can.
    The atmosphere in the town is unlike any place I have ever travelled to before, and I have seen many places in many countries. In Athens, it is completely normal to strike up a conversation with somebody at a bar which starts with: wow, what a great (pregnant) belly you have!
    On my first night in town, I was stopped on the stairs of a local venue by a guy who just wanted to tell me how pretty I looked. Rather than continuing to flatter me and hang around, he smiled and then continued on his way.

    Just a few examples. Athens to me felt like a warm bath, like coming home. Can’t wait to be back next month!

  16. Been living in Athens for nearly 20 years. I’ve traveled all over the country, and there’s no other place I’d like to settle down. This is it! I’m a Realtor here, so give me a shout if you’d like to come settle here in the most perfect town in America. *htmlremoved*. GO DAWGS!

    • Hi,
      Packing my house up now and planning to move to Athens as soon as I can sell this house. My son lives in Lawrenceville and want to be near him as I reach retirement age. I have seen is low cost housing, but worry about crime and such. I don’t want bars on my windows. So tell me more about the eclectic part of the east side. Your article was so helpful. Thanks.

      • Hey,
        Thanks for the comment. There are many different areas that are still reasonably priced but still safe and intown. I typically use zillow and just search for downtown athens. I Most of the eclectic neighborhoods are in the ‘normaltown’ or cars hill areas. Full circle realty does most of the listings in those areas of town so they might be a good reference point. It also always helps to look online then drive through the different areas next time you are in town. On zillow, I like to search for sold listings to get an idea of what properties are actually selling for. Areas north of downtown are also quite reasonable if you are looking for a little bit of land and bigger lots. Thanks for the comment.

  17. Fantastic. Great story and right on the money.

    Just one question – did we leave out the 40 Watt?

    • That is true, it seems an obvious omission! I love that place and it is amazing the talent that comes through on a monthly basis. Thanks for mentioning it! One of the nicest venues that really is a fundamental part of the music scene here!

  18. I moved to Athens in 1973…. so I am officially a 40 year resident of this fine city! I got married here and started my business here…you may have heard of Up ‘N Away Balloons….well thats us! I would never leave this town because its the city of eternal youth and the music/food scene are incredible!!!
    Plus….love THEM DAWGS!!

  19. I’m one year new to Athens, and mostly agree with and endorse the great points of your post and comments. But you do leave poverty and racial inequality off your list as a significant feature of Athens (and the South generally). Athens, however, has lots of smart and dedicated people working to make the town a more fair and wonderful place for both the rich and poor to live. That is a big reason we live here in town rather than Oconee or any of the other homogenous places in the country. It is a challenge, but there is no place in the country better situated to make some headway into figuring out effective means of bridging racial and economic gaps.

  20. I moved here 15 years ago and I can definitely reiterate that this place spoils you for the rest of the world. Other places are fun to visit but there is only ONE city that I can see myself living in forever and that is Athens, GA. It’s the biggest small town you’ll ever live in. YouTube search “Athens, GA Patton Oswalt” and see what one of my favorite comics has to say about our little slice of heaven.

  21. I am so very thankful to my company for hiring me so that I could come back to Athens 10 years after graduating from UGA. Since I left there has been an increase of around 40 and maybe 50,000 people between the ages of 25-40. This population was very small when I was in school back in 1997-2001 but now we are booming. Not to mention there probably have been a couple thousand retirees added as well. It has been voted top place to retire by and many other places as well. There is so much more potential for this town, and it will be a long time before there would ever be too many people here. I can say without a doubt that my favorite thing about life in Athens – THERE IS NO TRAFFIC or RUSH HOUR morning or night(Except for 6-7 game days out of the year, but I am at the game usually!!) Great post! I will definitely mention on my blog at *htmlremoved* – THANKS

  22. Being at UGA for 5 years for grad school, although I will never be a bull dawg… (I will always be a yellow jacket at heart). But it’s hard not to have such great affection for this small Athens town. =)

  23. Pingback: Athens, GA – Best Town in the World

  24. This article is spot on in most every respect (minus the real estate–which is affordable, but $65K seems a stretch).

    One of the comments mentions the local schools. When we were deciding where to raise our young family, we did extensive research on the local and neighboring school systems. What we found in Oconee is what one would expect in a system where a high % of the students come from middle class homes–good grad rates, fine test scores–nothing surprising. In Clarke, with lots of diversity, we expected much different outcomes. What we found were top-notch teachers, administrators, very engaged parents (of all students), and schools that are succeeding! We talked to UGA professors, we talked to families that sent their kids through Clarke, etc. In the end, what we concluded was that Clarke had a lot of challenged kids, a lot of average, and a lot of off-the-charts bright kids…. all of them being taught very well. Oconee, while more homogenous in look and test scores, didn’t wow us. We liked the idea of having our kids in a system that teaches all kids well and that offers a real-world diverse population. We are people with options–and we chose Clarke with the idea that we could always change. Several years in now and we have no interest in leaving. Couldn’t be more pleased.

    The tired cliche about Clarke schools just no longer applies. It’s unfounded. I also noted yesterday that Clarke’s superintendent is one of four finalists for 2013 Georgia Superintendent of the Year. Perhaps that is one of the reasons for the success, along with an army of dedicated and talented teachers, and parents who stay engaged. It’s a formula for success in every school district (even one with severe poverty)!

    Love Athens, GA!

    • Great addition! I think you are right, there are tons of awesome schools in Athens and the surrounding areas. The diversity of Clarke and the great testing in Oconee give two incredible options for locals. It has been neat to see some of the local Clarke county schools be recognized for their incredible work. The associate with UGA and its faculty and staff do introduce a neat mix to the school system.

      • Enjoyed article… We are native Californians and have been thinking about
        Changing residence to Athens, we are in our mid fifties. We love the idea of walking to restaurants and sporting, cultural events. It is cost prohibitive to do this in most American cities. Our daughter attends UGA, which is the reason we even know about the place. We would keep a small get-away here in LA where we have lived for 25 yrs, mainly for a summer retreat. My daughter loves Athens and the people, but do u think the 20 something’s overpower the 50 something’s or do they co-exsist well together? Will a Californian alway be treated as an outsider here? You had very few neg replys, I am just wondering what would be the unknown deal breaker? We are very social people and looking for a real sense of community. We are moderate, but more liberal than conserv, And democratic not republican but small business owners. What do you think our chance of community would be?

        • Athens is actually gaining a lot of attention recently as a place to retire. There are quite a few people who are looking for a town with a small town feel but with big town amenities (and great hospitals). Athens actually has quite a few places for both collegiate and middle aged individuals. The areas where most retirees tend to live would be in the 5pts area, which is a bit more expensive (houses $175-300k) but is a very walkable part of town. I really enjoy athens and I know many 50+ individuals that have great community in the area. Thanks for the comment!

        • Dear M’Lissa,
          We moved to Athens from Virginia 20 years ago and have loved it. We lived in Oconee County for 16 of those years and recently moved in town to the Five Points neighborhood. My only regret is that we didn’t do it sooner. While we loved our quiet, peaceful home on the golf course ~ this is far superior in terms of being close to most everything social and otherwise. Our teenagers also love being closer to friends and downtown, bike riding, long boarding, or just walking to the coffee shop has been fantastic.

          You will most assuredly find people who will embrace and include you, especially in the “in town” neighborhoods, lots of community here. There is something for every age group. Wonderful convention center with great events, theatres, excellent restaurants and an abundance of worthwhile causes to jump into. Wise to keep your summer place in CA as the summers here can be brutal in July and August. I still fret about the heat. We enjoy the SC beaches, especially Kiawah Island, just under five hours drive…worth every minute and Charleston is a great southern city to explore. I could go on and on.

          If you have any questions….please feel free to email me at Though Norfolk, VA will always be “home”, Athens is my favorite adopted home, such a great town.

        • There is a whole Athens that has niothing to do with UGA Our son attended UGA and I thougtht the same thing. It ihas everything you could want without the hassles and taxes No traffic and everyone looks and is cool seriously There is a growing 50 something population but I am amazed how many young families are here….the schools in OC are rated the best in the state but it is a hassle to go to the airport though….I

  25. I moved to Athens in the fall of 1974. I graduated from UGA, married a beautiful, local Athens girl, worked at UGA and we’ve both recently retired. We’ll make Athens our home til we depart this earth. Our hearts and souls will always remain in the awesome one of a kind place on earth. This is a gem of a town; let’s meet up for a slice at Little Italy and then mosey down to the Globe for a pint. Cheer’s. Come visit ant you may never leave.

  26. Yes, Athens is a cool little town. I lived there for a time, many years ago, at the beginning of my musical career, playing in my first Jazz group at the old Prime Time Restaurant. However, as a working professional, it is a bit ironic to read about Athens’ great live music scene. For like another music city, Austin, that greatness, while true for music fans, & for the creative musical environment, does have it’s downside, for full-time musicians. And that is this line: “Every night of the week there are tons of small bands and individuals playing for free at the 100 or so bars”….

    Pretty tough to pay the bills (which thankfully are lower in Athens) when you’re playing for free….

  27. Daughter just started at Clarke Central HS and my saying when I used to teacher there was, “We got kids going to Yale and kids going to Jail” and of course everywhere in between. I am proud of her for choosing to end her homeschooling since 1st grade and personally requesting to attend CCHS. Picked her up the other day and she was hanging out front on the steps (featured in our local boy made good’s movie The Spectacular Now) with her magenta dyed hair, black chucks without socks, and generally looking like a townie and comfortable in her own skin. And she has only just begun. Truly, I got a pang of nostalgic jealousy, thinking of my private school days and glad she is where she instead. Roaming the streets of ATH has given her a real sense of how this country works, good and bad. She LOVES this town yet wants badly to go away one day, like all of us did when growing up. We will have an ambassador out there, though, because you can take the kid out of ATH but can’t take the ATH out of the kid…ask anyone who grew up here.

  28. I moved to Athens, Ga. Exactly 1 year ago today! My husband & I are Property Managers, so we relocated here from Gordon County to run the property our boss just bought. We absolutely love Athens! I couldn’t have moved to a better town, I have two children here and this is where I want to raise them. The diversity is amazing, and the people are so friendly. I love the history, and was raised naturally as a huge University of Georgia fan! The first time I came here I fell in love. I will move back to Calhoun, Georgia I have found my heart and it belongs here in Athens 🙂

  29. Where exactly is the Redlands public WMA? Would love to go hiking there, but live in the area, and have never heard of it.

  30. Once I met in Madrid a girl from Atlanta that studied in Athens. Then we married and had 3 kids in the UK. Now that our kids are older we are thinking about going back to Athens, or to Spain. What should I do now? …. I love spain but…. Athens has lots of squirrels, and I love squirrels!!!!!!! Do you think I can buy some squirrels and take them with me to Spain??? Love you Delly Kean 🙂 te voy a comer esos ojos verdes a cucharadas jajjaja

    • The closest beaches are actually in South Carolina. I think Beaufort is around 200 miles away. The nicer beach we like to go to is Hilton Head (SC) which is about 230 miles from where we live. At lot of people also like going to Savannah/Tybee and St. Simonds Island but they are a both further away.

  31. Thank you for this article! We are planning to relocate from Pennsylvania to Athens in the next year or two {with the kids and the dog and the cat…..} and I have been nervous about such a huge cross country move!
    We plan on trying to rent a house close enough to downtown to be walkable, any ideas would be welcome 🙂

    • Awesome, Athens is a great place! A little depends on your budget but there are a lot of different options available in town. The “Normaltown” area is a family friendly area directly west of downtown (google maps – prince avenue) with lots of small houses for rent. It is a little pricey but still quite reasonable. It is also the flattest area in town and walkable/bikeable. The east side of downtown is much less expensive (mostly to buy- about the same for rentals) and it quite diverse/eclectic. I think renting for a few months or a year will give you a great idea of where you would want to settle. “5 Points” (google maps – milledge ave/lumpkin ave intersection) is also very walkable and family friendly but more expensive.

    • I lived in Athens for 8 years for school and a little work at UGA. I met my husband there. We lived off of Prince closer to Normaltown than downtown and loved it. I walked and took the bus to work at UGA every day. We lived off Chatooga Ave. Career ceilings in Athens (ATL was and is still not growing in smart and innovative ways) took us to Denver(I think it is the best city in the country although Athens is the best “smallish” city in the country. We lived in Denver for 8 years and the only city my husband wanted to move back for was Athens. We’re back in Wilmington, NC (15 min from ocean) because we have a daughter and want her to know her family on the east coast, but I know his heart will always long for Athens. I love the saying above one poster happens ” you can take kid out of ATH but can’t take the ATH out of the kid…ask anyone who grew up here.” So true for us. Another city we love and that a CA person may love for its progressiveness, it Asheville. It is also a great place to live and raise a family. COL is a little higher than Athens, however, but MUCH cooler in the summer.

  32. Well, come on, “the world?” I’ve been to NY, San Fran (Berkley), Los Angeles, Chicago, New Orleans, Miami & Key West, London, Amsterdam, Rome, Sulmona & Florence (Firenze), Anchorage (before it freezes), Atlanta & Savannah are nice too! I’d go so far to say best “College Town” (having lived in Athens for 5 yrs), but let’s not lose all objectivity … OK, never mind, it is! (BA’91)

  33. How is the economy as far as finding a job? I have a Biology degree and am looking to use it. I’ve been considering getting my Masters at UGA, but if I move there, I obviously need to be able to support myself. I am single, so it would just be me. Currently I am a waitress in my hometown of Erie, PA. The economy is terrible here, and I really don’t want to move from bad to worse. The area looks and sounds like exactly what I want though.

    • I was born and raised here (and am a product of the Clarke County School System and UGA). I’ve moved away many times, but always seem to move back. I moved back from an island in the Caribbean three weeks ago, and have already landed one waitressing job and have a serious interview for a bartending job. It all depends on your job-hunting skills, your people skills, and your ability to find the right fit for you. There are so many different places and types of places, that you are bound to find a place you fit into. Which is the key…you have to find the place or places that want workers of your type of personality and age group. And most places will try to work around your class schedule, although you have a better chance if you work lunch shifts (and take your classes very early and/or very late or at night) than dinner shifts, as there are many students like you wanting to work. Do your homework, network, and don’t give up, and you should have no problem finding a job.

  34. I plan on moving to Athens GA with my boyfriend from New York we just need a new start on life. I want to do CNA training while I am there is there any great program’s out in Athens that you guys would recommend ?

  35. My wife and I are looking to move to Athens. Does anyone have a great realtor who specializes in rental properties. I am retired Navy and we will be coming the end of May to see the city and planning a move when our present lease runs out in Decmeber

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  37. Hi everybody. My wife and I are thinking to move to Athens Ga. We’re tired of being in a place where you have to run all the time, pay high for real state and just working to pay bills .Please if you can help us giving as mauch info as you can about Athens , we will preciated . My question is about the economy , i heard people say that Georgia lack of jobs and the pay is low etc.I know that each place is different , but please if you can really tell us about everything in Athens will be helpful ,,thanks

  38. I just discovered this post as my husband and I are thinking of abandoning the Hollywood rat race and looking for a slower life that is more in touch with nature, community and where we can afford land. Athens seems awesome. The concerns I have are about work. What kind of jobs do people have there? What are local industries? My husband is a coy editor and I have worked in Hollywood as a writer. I know Atlanta is getting a lot of production, but I’m not sure if that daily commute is feasible or desirable. Any idea on good job search websites to check out for work local to Athens? Thank you so much!

  39. Hey in looking to move to Athens from LA. I would like some more information about it if anyone can help! From what I’ve read it seems like a neat town!

  40. This is so great! I’ll be going to UGA in the fall and this place sounds awesome!! I didn’t get to see much of the actual city when I visited the campus so I’m super excited to explore! Any other students on this feed that live here?

    Looks cool but I know pics can be deceiving…

  41. I’ve just stumbled upon this great thread. My wife and I have lived in Austin for 22 years. Clearly, we’ve loved it. However, we find ourselves looking elsewhere and Athens is at the top of our list. In Austin we live about 1000 yards south of the Colorado river which is effectively downtown but growth and traffic and the emerging crush of the high rise downtown population is pushing us out, not to mention the property taxes. We’d like to be able to walk to restaurants, bars, nightlife. On a visit, where should we look in Athens? Best gym? Best dog walking? we need to triangulate these things.

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  43. Came across this thread a year ago and it inspired my husband and I to consider moving here from Los Angeles. We are now coming to check out Athens in late January. Anyone want to meet up? Or have suggestions on what to see to get a real feel? We will be looking at Watkinsville, too, since it has good schools for our children. Any thoughts on places to live with great schools that will give us the most Athens feel?
    Thank you so much. We are excited to come see this city that you love so much!

    • Hi, Katie! For ideas on things to do or see, go to and check out the calendar for the dates you’re going to be in town. Athens really is a great place to live. My husband and I moved over here from northwest Georgia thirteen years ago, thinking it was a temporary move while I was in graduate school. Instead, we bought a condo and then a house because we’d unexpectedly become townies!

      No matter where in Athens-Clarke County you live, everything is relatively close together. I live on the southeast side and work on the opposite side of town and can be there in just over 20 minutes. There is no real traffic to speak of, unless you make the mistake of getting caught up in football.

      I work for the Clarke County School District where, as several posts above have noted, there are lots of good things going on. Yes, there is a high poverty rate, but also top-notch teachers around the district. JoeyP, author of one of the earlier posts, is my neighbor and – in the interests of full disclosure!- was our realtor. His account of his daughter’s experiences as she transitioned from homeschool to public school is a wonderful endorsement of CCSD.

      My school is Burney-Harris-Lyons Middle, one of Athens’s best kept secrets. I know a number of teachers whose kids go to Chase Street Elementary, and they seem to be very pleased with it, but there are any number of very good schools in town.

      There is very much a small town feel to Athens. It’s easy to become part of the community here. I hope you can visit and that you’ll find some of that Athens magic for your family.

      • CAnne, thank you for your response and endorsement. We did visit and loved it. In fact, I fell in love with a home directly across from your middle school. My husband and I wanted land for the kids and it seems we have to be too far out to walk anywhere in exchange for the property size. My question is: is Athens as lively and lovely if you’re in the suburbs? Most of the posts have commented on it being a walkable town but we would be about 6 miles from downtown in suburbia. Is there the same community feel and appeal?

        • Yes, it is. Depending on your neighborhood. I am more familiar with the neighborhoods on the eastside, and the ones I know – Snapfinger Woods, Green Acres, and Cedar Creek – are great, plus you’re still close enough to town to get there quickly. I can ask around about Rivercliff, which I assume is the one you’re. It’s a little farther out than the ones above, so whether you’ll get the same flavor of town that you would closer in, I’m not sure. Those three miles down Tallassee count as a major commute in this neck of the woods.

          People get pretty happy when they realize how far their housing dollars can go around here. A professor friend told me that’s how UGA gets so many great professors, even though they might not draw the salary they would elsewhere. “Wow, look at the house I can afford!!”

          The in-town folks tend to regard those of us who settle outside the loop as suburbanites, but for a lot of us, a step removed from town gets us more space and a quieter neighborhood, while still maintaining that proximity to downtown and the UGA campus. We live in a wooded subdivision of California contemporaries built in the 1970s and ’80s, and it’s full of teachers, artists, professors who are interesting and fun. We can be at our favorite restaurant in five minutes. It has parking. I can be on campus watching a GymnDawgs meet in about 15 or so.

          You will meet some people who live in the burbs and never go to town, even shudder a little when they say it. I don’t get it because they are sure are missing out.

          My email is, if you would like to talk at some point.

          Good luck!

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  45. My family is considering a move to Athens but when I’ve researched safety it seems like there’s a lot of crime. This concerns me since I have a baby girl. I’d appreciate the viewpoint of people that actually live there currently.

    • I moved to Athens from northwest Georgia close to Chattanooga in 2003. I’ve found it to be a very safe place. Random violence is relatively rare. I asked a police officer friend of mine about crime in town, because my impression was that although people talk like it’s a major problem, it’s a lot safer than other places I’ve lived. He confirmed this, saying there were drugs and property crimes, as you might expect, but in terms of violent crime, as he put it, “We have a pretty good idea who’s likely to get shot,” which is to say major crimes are drug-related or domestic.

      That being said, don’t walk around drunk in the middle of the night. Don’t leave your laptop in an unlocked apartment or car. Keep valuables out of sight. Common sense stuff.

  46. The comments here are much appreciated, but allow me to broach a subject that is important to my family if we were to move to the Athens area. I’ve heard that Georgia, in general, can be a tough place for those with allergies or asthmatic condition. Can anyone comment on the level of difficulty folks with these struggles (especially spring or fall) experience in and around Athens? I’m from Ohio, where because of the three major cities, allergies and/or asthma can flare up pretty badly.

  47. Hi,

    I have lived in Los Angeles my whole life, and I’m so movin on.

    Would like a little feed back on:

    I’m a very youthful 50+ female – creative, fit, educated and contempory. An open, authentic perspective. (Sounds like I’m defending myself)).

    I’m reinventing the wheel after raising children and completing relationships/marriage.
    Would Athens be a good place for me to create a new life; friends, community and relationship?

    Thank You out there.

  48. I am thinking of going to school there. Thanks for your take on the town. What’s the mall/shopping scene like in Athens?

  49. I love Athens and you are right it’s a great town. But you are missing one of the most important elements is that what moves people around is opportunity and asides from the University and perhaps some professional sectors such as if you operate your own business, or doctors/nurses, there is a shortage of employment as Athens is just on the brink of where it’s no longer a suburb of the Atlanta DMA but its also close enough to Atlanta DMA where all the jobs are drawn to. Its what makes Athens unique but there’s just not a lot of high paying jobs. Otherwise great place to visit, family folks may look to it’s neighboring Oconee County as it has one of the best school districts and is one of the fastest growing counties in GA for that reason.