“Welcome to the A” is the greeting I received from three different people shortly after arriving in Atlanta.
I haven’t been there in about 5 years and I thought it was finally time to visit my brother rather than having him do all the traveling to come home. Atlanta is home of the Braves, Falcons, Hawks, the Coke Museum, Martin Luther King Historic Site and the CNN Center. I met alot of really great people on my visit and I was asked a few times if I would consider moving to Atlanta. I’m a bit surprised that there are so many comparisons to Toronto that I’m not sure why I haven’t visited sooner. I’ve never lived anywhere other than Toronto and I can do my job from anywhere so for fun, here are my observations that I may take into consideration:
- Population – Metro Atlanta has over 5.4 million people. By comparison, the city of Toronto has about 2.5 million but if you include the GTA, it’s about 5.5 million. I think those are comparable numbers.
- The Marta – It’s the subway system that gets you around. It has lines running North/South and East/West. Just like the TTC! It’s underfunded, needs to go further to accommodate the needs of a growing city. Jjust like the TTC! But hey, they have a stop that takes you all the way to the airport. Toronto does not. Kudos Atlanta!
- Foodie scene – They have a great range of fine dining, lounges and pubs serving up some creative and tasty food. There is a restaurant that actually makes a foie gras twinkie and they have a food truck park. A foodie like me would have no problems finding delicious things to eat. Check.
- Hartsfield-Jackson Airport – This airport is currently ranked the world’s busiest airport, is a gateway to the US, and built an international terminal in 2012 . It is also the primary hub of Delta airlines. You definitely get anywhere from here so if I have to travel for business there will be plenty of flights. Also, Atlanta is a one hour and 45 minute flight from Toronto so going between cities would not be too much of a hardship. You could also get cheaper flights by flying out of Buffalo. Check and check.
- Wifi – You will have no problems getting connected in this city. There is free Wifi at the grocery store, most shopping malls, restaurants, bars, coffee shops (every Starbucks) and even the convention centre. Yes, this was all free. Note, the airport does not have free wifi. You can’t have everything…
- Shopping – Forget the malls, go to the outlet! You might be surprised to hear this but I don’t like shopping. I don’t enjoy going into every store, hunting for an imaginary deal, looking through every rack. Yes, I do have a Coach bag but it was a gift from one of my good friends and I love it! Personally, I tend not to spend crazy amounts on clothing and accessories. I’d rather spend my money experiencing a fantastic meal or traveling somewhere that I can experience a fantastic meal and enjoy culture. Ask anyone that knows me. But, I do suggest that you make a trip to the North Georgia Premium Outlet. It has 140 stores and amazing prices to match. It’s less than an hours drive north of the city but definitely worth the trip. Everyone knows shopping in the US is alot cheaper than in Canada. This was the only shopping experience I’ve ever enjoyed and I will definitely go back!
- OTP (outside the perimeter) – many people drop this acronym into conversation and you would have no idea what they mean. The explanation has to do with Interstate 285. It’s a circular highway that sort of divides Atlanta proper from the suburbs. If you live outside this highway you are OTP. Kind of like 905’ers in Toronto or the Bridge and Tunnel crowd in New York. That made me laugh and I thought it was interesting to include it.
- After work drinks – I have to say the after work drinks scene is missing. (I’m comparing this to Toronto since its something I enjoy.) I just couldn’t really find it. I don’t mean Happy Hour from 5-7. The Toronto scene starts right after work and could last until the next morning and I do mean during the work week. You can bar hop in the downtown core from place to place all night at some of the nicest hotels, restaurants and lounges all within walking distance or a short cab ride. I could not find this in Atlanta. I think part of this issue is the fact that the city is quite spread out and many people don’t live downtown. From what I understand, people want to get home and avoid traffic especially if they live OTP. What i don’t know is if once they get to their neighbourhoods, is there an after work scene there? Would people still want to leave the house once they get home? If I’m wrong about this, someone correct me or invite me out for my next visit. On the plus side, they do love to party on the weekend and it was FUN!
- Men hold doors open – I mean ALWAYS! Every elevator and door that I was near, men, ahem gentlemen, would wait or hold open the door for me. At first I was a bit paranoid because this rarely happens to me unless its an older gentleman. But the same thing occurred while waiting to crowd onto the train. I thought it was so considerate. I asked my brother about this and he said when he first moved to Atlanta, he noticed it too and he also said that men will be educated by woman if they slip up on this. I have to say that I am a modern woman but that just made me smile and feel good! I don’t expect it but I do appreciate it. Okay, I loved it! I need to visit the South more often 🙂
- People are friendly – No really they are. When I arrived, there was a downpour. I took the Marta to the CNN stop and on exiting the station you have to go outside and walk up quite a few stairs to get to the street in order to hail a cab I was transfixed thinking there was no way I could avoid getting soaked. A couple entering the station saw me and the man stopped and said, “Do you want my umbrella?” I declined because then he would not have one but he insisted that I needed it more. I thanked him profusely and I thought what a perfect start to my visit. During the rest of my trip, I found that people say good morning and they smile and nod to you even if they don’t know you. This even happened in the ladies washroom and it seemed so genuine. Toronto people are nice and friendly too and it did remind me of home.
So, would I live in Atlanta? Obviously this is not a serious list to use as a comparison but I can say that with all that it has to offer, it’s a city where I don’t think I would be too homesick. And that is a big compliment.