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Founded in 1822, Decatur is a quaint and historic town in the Atlanta metropolitan area and is also the county seat of DeKalb County. Named after iconic naval officer Stephen Decatur, the city has a small-town charm, while enjoying proximity to a wealth of big-city amenities and facilities. In 2000, the city changed its slogan to “A city of homes, schools and places of worship,” although many locals still prefer its unofficial slogan, “It’s greater in Decatur.”
With a total area of 4.5 square miles, Decatur isn’t a huge city by any means. It has a population of around 22,500, meaning it doesn’t feel crowded or overly hectic, either.
Decatur is about 6.5 miles east of downtown Atlanta, ensuring that you can be right in the hustle and bustle of the bigger city in next to no time. Athens, Ga., is around 66 miles east of the city, while Augusta, Ga., is about 145 miles to the southeast.
Decatur enjoys a pleasant climate characterized by hot summers and mild winters. With around 218 sunny days per year, July sees the highest temperatures, around 88°F, on average. Meanwhile, January lows average 33°F. The city experiences an annual rainfall of around 52.5 inches, with around 109 wet days per year and anywhere between 3.5 to 5.5 inches each month, on average. Snow is uncommon, but not unheard of here.
Famous for being a quaint and calm city, Decatur has a charming local history enriched by cultural diversity. The downtown area, in particular, has seen development and restoration projects revitalize the area and lead to economic growth and a number of small, independent businesses. Meanwhile, close proximity to Atlanta and good public transit allow the majority of the workforce to commute to the big city for a wider range of higher-paying jobs.
One of the main downsides to living in Decatur is the cost of living, which is significantly higher than the state and national average. However, the largest increase is in housing, with utilities, groceries and healthcare being more in line with national and state averages. Plus, with many residents working in Atlanta, incomes are typically high enough to live comfortably. The only other issue is that finding somewhere to park in the city center can be tricky.
Decatur enjoys affordable public transportation, both locally and throughout the Atlanta metropolitan area. A light-rail service provided by MARTA enables travel from Decatur to Atlanta, with a one-way fare costing $2.50, which includes four free transfers within a three-hour period. For regular users, a variety of passes are available — from a $9 one-day pass to a 30-day pass, which costs $95. Local routes generally cost $1 for a one-way fare, while the Downtown Decatur Trolley is a free service throughout the downtown area.
On average, you can expect to pay around $60 for a three-course meal for two in a mid-range restaurant in Decatur. A regular coffee will generally be about $4.20. For a single meal in an inexpensive restaurant, expect to pay anywhere between $10 and $20.
Monthly utilities cost around $165, on average. This is based on a 915-square-foot apartment and includes water, heating, cooling, electricity and garbage disposal.
The average rent for an apartment in Decatur is $1,545 per month.
The average apartment size in Decatur is 983 sq. ft.
Rent for a studio apartment in Decatur ranges between $1,250 and $1,250 per month.
Rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in Decatur ranges between $700 and $6,057 per month.
Rent for a 2-bedroom apartment in Decatur ranges between $850 and $7,977 per month.
Rent for a 3-bedroom apartment in Decatur ranges between $1,000 and $3,187 per month.
In Decatur, the most common industry by number of employees is the professional, scientific and technical services sector, which employs around 19.5% of the local workforce. The education sector comes in second place with 18.4%, followed by healthcare and social assistance, which hires 13.1%.
Top employers in Decatur include DeKalb County, Emory University Health Systems Clinic and the VA Hospital.
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The City Schools of Decatur public school district provides a number of quality schools within the city limits. Boasting a student-to-teacher ratio of around 14:1, classes are never overcrowded, allowing kids to enjoy a personalized educational experience. City Schools of Decatur aims to provide an innovative learning community and is committed to meeting the unique needs of every pupil while achieving academic excellence. Decatur High School is the only high school in the city and is well-regarded. A number of elementary and middle schools can also be found across the city, each performing to a high standard.
Emory University is the main college in Decatur and is located in the northwest section of the city. A number of other institutes of higher education also have campuses and facilities in the city, including Columbia Theological Seminary, Agnes Scott College, Georgia State University’s Perimeter College and DeVry University.
One of the main attractions in Decatur is the city’s charming downtown area. This bustling district blends historic charm with modern economic strength and is home to an array of small, local stores; boutiques; cafes; bars; artisan bakeries; and restaurants, as well as town squares and parks. Indeed, the city attracts thousands of tourists who are lured by its charm. The DeKalb History Center is a must for history buffs and is home to the largest collection of local Decatur art, history and memorabilia in the county. The Decatur Historic Courthouse is also worth checking out to admire the stunning architecture, while a trip to the ever-popular Waffle House Museum is also well worth a visit.
Glenlake Park and Pool offers a great place for the whole family to chill out on a hot day, while Golden Glide Roller Skating Rink is ideal for skating and features inflatable play areas for the little ones, as well as a DJ. Meanwhile, YMCA Decatur has a variety of programs to suit all ages and talents.
Decatur boasts a number of beautiful parks, each offering a variety of facilities and amenities. Exchange Park offers several sports facilities and frequently hosts youth sports and activities. McKoy Park offers nine acres, complete with playgrounds, a skate park, picnic areas, grills and a variety of other activities. The slightly smaller Oakhurst Park features two multipurpose fields, floodlit tennis courts and baseball fields. Glenlake Park also offers an array of sports fields and facilities, as well as a popular community pool. Finally, Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve is ideal for nature lovers, offering peace and tranquility amid stunning natural beauty.
Decatur hosts a number of exciting annual events, each designed to bring the local community together. Top choices include the Decatur Books Festival, the Decatur Arts Festival, and the BBQ Blues and Bluegrass Festival. Each June, the city hosts its popular Decatur Beach Party, while the Decatur Craft Beer Festival was named one of the top 10 beer festivals in the U.S.
There are plenty of interesting things for couples to do for a more unique date. Head to Whitewater Express to try out some river rafting and tubing or browse the curiosities at Kudzu Antiques. BlueTarp Brewing Co. is a great place to stop and try a selection of locally brewed beers.
Decatur is famed for its diverse and exciting food scene, with The New York Times calling the city “Atlanta’s gastronomic equivalent of Berkeley or Brooklyn.” You’ll find a huge array of places to eat and drink, as well as a variety of clubs, galleries, theaters and live music venues. With culinary treats from across the globe, you can enjoy anything from pizza or tapas to seafood or Indian dishes and much, much more. Top choices include New Orleans Seafood, Iberian Pig and Wahoo Grill. For drinks, Brick Store Pub is a top choice, with the Belgian Bar just upstairs for those who like imported delicacies. Alternatively, Wild Heaven Beer is a brewery with a beer garden, offering a selection of exciting beers brewed on site. Eddie’s Attic is another local favorite, with regular live music and performances.
You can find all the regular big-brand grocery stores and supermarkets in Decatur, such as Walmart, Home Depot and Kroger. However, downtown Decatur is the best place for smaller boutiques and independent stores, which sell an array of locally produced goods. For fresh produce, Your Dekalb Farmers Market is a great place to pick up locally produced fruit, vegetables and much more.
Renters’ rights in Decatur are protected by state and federal laws, as stated in the Fair Housing Act. This act makes it illegal for landlords to discriminate due to race, national origin, sex, religion, familial status or disability. Tenants in Decatur are protected against both direct discrimination — in which a landlord refuses to rent to a tenant based on the above characteristics — as well as indirect discrimination. Indirect discrimination occurs when applications are rejected without a cause or for non-business reasons, or when landlords deny prospective tenants the opportunity to inspect a property that has been listed for rent or offers a rental price that differs from the advertised price.