While many cities are defined by their neighborhoods, the surrounding suburbs are often just as vibrant. The same rings true for Atlanta and its suburbs, many of which are hubs of culture and diversity. Here are four Atlanta suburbs (and one honorable-mention Atlanta neighborhood) that stand out for their affordability, cultural significance and activities:
1. Chamblee – Chamblee is known for being a blue-collar city, with businesses such as Frito-Lay, General Electric, Kodak and General Electric plants lining the city’s Peachtree Industrial Boulevard. In the 1980’s, many of the manufacturing sites closed, affecting the local economy. However, many immigrants flocked to the city for its affordable housing, resulting in a diverse population. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 58.5 percent of Chamblee’s population was either Hispanic or Latino in 2010. Since the city’s economic downturn, job growth has been positive, and home appreciation is up 16.5 percent, according to data from Sperling’s Best Places. In addition to its affordable housing and economic growth, Chamblee is home to six parks, and offers a variety of festivals and events, including Taste of Chamblee, a food festival celebrating the city’s diverse culture.
2. Lilburn – Named for the general superintendent of the Seaboard Airline Railway, Lilburn was founded in 1890, and was incorporated in 1910. Since its founding, Lilburn has survived a number of disasters (as is outlined on the city’s “series of misfortunes” page), including a fire in 1920 that destroyed the city’s business district. Today, residents of Lilburn can enjoy a number of cultural events, including the Lilburn Daze arts and crafts festival and the annual Christmas parade, with proceeds from the parade funding local scholarships and community improvement projects. A cost of living that’s 1.70 percent lower than the national average and home appreciation rates up 16.70 percent from last year make Lilburn a good choice for those looking to escape the high cost of city living in Atlanta.
3. Norcross – Incorporated in 1870, Norcross is home to a historical downtown district that sits along the eastern continental divide. Located 20 miles from Atlanta, Norcross is a close and affordable place to live, with an average home price of $138,376 (which is lower than the Georgia average of $141,600, according to City-Data). Like Chamblee, Norcross is a very diverse community, with 39.4 percent of the population being Hispanic or Latino in 2010, according to the Census Bureau. Norcross has a lot to offer in terms of community events, including summer concert series, “Movie Mondays” at the Cultural Arts and Community Center and the Classic Norcross Car Show.
4. Lawrenceville – Lawrenceville is the county seat of Gwinnett county, as well as the county’s oldest city. The city has undergone revitalization since 2005, focusing on Lawrenceville’s historical landmarks in the downtown district. Located approximately 30 miles northeast of Atlanta, Lawrenceville is a diverse community, with 32 percent of the population being black, and 22.3 percent being Hispanic or Latino, according to the 2010 Census. Home prices in Lawrenceville fall below the Georgia average at $120,800, according to City-Data.com. Additionally, the cost of living in Lawrenceville is 4.8 percent lower than the national average, and home appreciation is up 16.2 percent. In addition to its affordability, Lawrenceville has a multitude of things to do and places to visit, including antique shops in the city’s revitalized, historic buildings, as well as the Aurora Theatre, located in downtown’s historic Courthouse Square.
5. Sweet Auburn – While Sweet Auburn is not a suburb of Atlanta, it is a historical district worth mentioning. Sweet Auburn, the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr., is a historically African American neighborhood that is currently undergoing revitalization. Since it was deemed one of America’s most endangered historic places by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Historic District Development Corporation (HDDC) was formed to design Sweet Auburn’s renewal to improve the community without pricing lower-income residents out of the neighborhood. Since 1994, HDDC has revitalized and built more than 110 single-family homes, as well as more than 50 units of affordable rental housing. Being the historical neighborhood it is, many festivals are held in Sweet Auburn, including the Sweet Auburn Heritage Festival in October and the Sweet Auburn SpringFest in May.