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Yet another relocator looking for help from all you...

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posts: 5
Yet another relocator looking for help from all you...

Considering moving to the Altanta area. I have read a lot of great information on the other forums and they have been enormously helpful. I do have some specific questions about cost of living (other than housing prices). For example, I read on another forum that Douglas county has the lowest taxes - does that mean real estate taxes.

I am actually considering two areas Douglasville and Stone Mountain. I understand Stone Mountain is in Dekalb county. Are taxes real high there?

1)For a say $200,000 home in Douglasville, can anyone give me a ballpark figure what annual real estate taxes will run?

2) For that same $200,000 home, what can I expect for home owners insurance?

3) Noticed that many of the newer homes have homeowner's association fee - I realize these will be dependent on what the amenities are, but say for a clubhouse, pool, and tennis court, what should I expect for annual HOA fees?

4) From either Stone Mountain or Douglasville say 18 miles from downtown (looking at Grady health system for employment), what can I expect for travel time if my start of shift is at 7am? Will I miss the heavy traffic?

5) Seems like none of your homes are listed with square feet. If I were looking at 4-5 bedrooms and 3 baths, what could I expect for square footage?

6) I have heard that Atlanta is terrible for termites and most homes have a "bond" for treatment and prevention. Is this the case? Is it transfered to the new owner?

7) Anyone like to give me an estimate on car insurance in the area. In my early 40s, female, divorced, 1998 Honda Accord. NO tickets, accidents, or claims at all. An annual quote would be appreciated.

I think that is all I can think of at the moment. Any advice/suggestions would really be appreciated. I currently live in Ca. and think the RE is way too high. I have older parents living with me now and need more space. If I am going to move, then I am getting the heck out of CA. Everything is way too expensive, airquality is horrible, crime is sky high....and it is just time for a change. Atlanta sounds wonderful and from what I have heard the people are soooo nice.

posts: 5
1. Re: Yet another relocator looking for help from all you...

OOPS...one more question:

Average utility (gas and electric) bills?

thanks..

Atlanta, Georgia
posts: 1,299
reviews: 25
2. Re: Yet another relocator looking for help from all you...

Don't know much about Douglasville, but might be able to offer some general info regarding Stone Mountain area. DeKalb County taxes are going to be higher than Douglas County, but I doubt the difference would be crippling.

Obviously, you should check into the details yourself -- I could be way off base on any or all of this.

For a $200K house in Stone Mountain, property taxes would probably be in the neighborhood of $1500/yr.

Homeowner's insurance will be more heavily dependent on specific neighborhood and coverage, but probably another $500/year. We're in Gwinnett County, but quite close to Stone Mountain, and pay about $465/yr on a 30 year old house we paid $129K for 9 years ago, and are under contract to sell for $187K.

Homeowner's association dues vary quite a bit, but for a typical swim/tennis community, figure $350-$450/yr. Many of the older communities have optional swim/tennis clubs and/or HOAs -- ours, for instance, is optional, and allows for HOA-only memberships at less than $50/year, or full swim/tennis memberships at $375/year.

If your shift start time at Grady would be 7 am, you'd probably miss the worst of the traffic from Stone Mountain. I have to think that the commute from Stone Mountain would be easier than from Douglasville, but that's just an impression. Not sure about the travel time -- the Georgia DOT has just added historical trip time data to their web site: http://www.georgia-navigator.com.

For reasons no one has ever explained adquately to me, local custom is not to list square footage in real estate listings. A 4-5 BR house with 3 baths could be anywhere from about 2200 sf to five times that. For a $200K 4 BR/3 BA house in Stone Mountain, you're probably looking at something in the 2400-3600 sf range, but that's strictly a guess.

Termites are definitely an issue -- the winters here aren't usually severe enough to adversely affect colonies. There's no requirement that the property be covered, but in order to transfer title the state requires an inspection report indicating whether there's any evidence of current or former infestation. Most lenders won't approve a loan on a property without either a "clear" letter showing no evidence of current infestation or unrepaired prior damage, or a report showing that any current infestation has been treated and a structural engineer's report that indicates any existing damage does not affect the integrity of the structure. Termite protection warranties and bonds range widely in terms of what they cover, and the prices range accordingly. The simplest coverage is a retreatment warranty -- this guarantees that if the structure is infested with termites during the term of the warranty, the pest control provider will re-treat the premises at no charge. This does nothing to address any damage caused before the infestation is detected. A more comprehensive option is a retreatment/repair bond. This provides for not only retreatment of the premises, but also repair of any damage caused by an infestation during the term of bond. Initial treatment cost depends on the treatment system used and whether you're getting a retreatment warranty or repair bond, and can range from several hundred dollars to $2000 or more for an actively monitored perimeter baiting system such as Sentricon. Retreatment warranties and repair bonds may or may not be transferrable to a new owner. If you don't explicitly ask for a transferrable bond, you probably won't get it, and you should expect to pay a little more for one that is. Annual renewal is usually a few hundred dollars -- I think we're paying about $300/year for our current Sentricon system, but that includes monthly inspection of the bait stations and treatment of any detected termite activity.

Not even going to try on the car insurance quote, but you should be able to get a comparative analysis from any of several online sources.

Atlanta, Georgia
posts: 1,299
reviews: 25
3. Re: Yet another relocator looking for help from all you...

RE: Gas and electric bills

Have no idea whether we're typical or not. We have gas heat and electric A/C in a 2020 sf two-story frame house in Gwinnett County, near the DeKalb County line. Built in 1978, no thermal pane windows or any other special energy-saving features. Relatively new (<5 years) furnace, A/C, and hot water heaeter. Total bill for gas/electricity averages $150-$200 in the hottest/coldest months (the gas bill goes up in winter and down in summer, and electricity is the other way round), around $100 in the most moderate months.

posts: 5
4. Re: Yet another relocator looking for help from all you...

Rackensack,

THANK YOU so much for that more than comprehensive reply. This is very helpful! Looks like in general housing and living costs are much more affordable than what I am used to. I will definately look into he website about the traffic/commute. Where I live (and it is considered one of the more afforable areas in CA.) you couldn't touch a home like you own for under 320,000 and it goes up from there. It sounds like a 4/2 or 4/3 house will be plenty of room although it will depend on the layout. Only downside is the traffic, but I may only have to travel into the city to work 3 days a week (12 hour shifts), so it may not be that bad. Looks like crime in Stone Mountain is higher than Douglasville and that is an important consideration for me. I am also looking at Norcross in Gwinnett county. Thanks again for all your time and help. It is true, people in Georgia (Atlanta) really are some of the nicest people in the county!

Atlanta, Georgia
posts: 1,299
reviews: 25
5. Re: Yet another relocator looking for help from all you...

Mercedes:

I'm familiar with California real estate prices -- my last two jobs have been with companies based in the Bay Area. I rather enjoy working for companies where the salary scale is determined by Bay Area costs of living, but I only have to pay Atlanta-area prices.

The problem with general crime stats is that it's tough to focus in adequately on specific neighborhoods. The overall crime rate in Stone Mountain is indeed higher than Douglasville, but in the the sort of areas you're likely to be looking in, it's probably going to be much lower than in the worst areas of either DeKalb or Douglas. Douglas County is growing a lot faster than Stone Mountain, and much of that growth is in the form of apartment complexes, which tend to have higher crime rates than areas of single-family homes, particularly those at or above the median home price for the area. DeKalb County in general is more mature and stable than the outlying suburban counties -- any given neighborhood in DeKalb is a lot less likely to take a dramatic turn for the better or worse over the next ten years than one in Douglas, so you'll have a better sense that what you buy today is what you'll have a decade down the road. No guarantees, of course, but better odds.

Atlanta, Georgia
posts: 1,299
reviews: 25
6. Re: Yet another relocator looking for help from all you...

Norcross is even more of a mixed bag than the other options you've mentioned. Pro-growth development policies on the part of the Gwinnett County commission over the last 25 years have led to a population explosion (~200K in 1980, over 600K today), tons of apartment complexes, and a shift in single-family homes from owner-occupied to rental properties in many areas. There are still plenty of wonderful neighborhoods and areas, and the crest of the wave is probably about to pass Norcross on its way farther out, but it's another area you have to judge by the specific location; it's hard to generalize about it (even though I just did). I'd expect it to be a little less convenient than either Douglasville or Stone Mountain for getting to Grady -- longer commute, and few viable options besides I-85 for getting downtown.

Atlanta, Georgia
Destination Expert
for Atlanta
posts: 9,559
reviews: 76
7. Re: Yet another relocator looking for help from all you...

You can get car insurance quotes online. There are too many variables to get accurate anecdotal estimates. Some will depend on the crime rate where you move, whether you have a garage, etc.

posts: 5
8. Re: Yet another relocator looking for help from all you...

Rackensack,

Again thank you for all the information! It is most helpful. It sounds like maybe staying in the Stone Mountain area might be safer in terms of stability and potential for housing appreciation going forward. From what I can tell the commute will be the biggest downside, but there are so many upsides. I would also like to have a little land or at least not have to look in my neighbors back yard.

Again THANK YOU for taking the time and effort to provide such an extensive response!!

posts: 5
9. Re: Yet another relocator looking for help from all you...

JAtlanta,

I realize that cost will probably vary. I just wanted to get a rough idea. I am currently paying 1100/yr for one 7 yr old honda and that is with a "distinguished driver" discount and a multiple policy discount (I have my homeowner's insurance with the same company). That seems excessive, but they penalize me because I'm single now.

Atlanta, Georgia
Destination Expert
for Atlanta
posts: 9,559
reviews: 76
10. Re: Yet another relocator looking for help from all you...

Insurance rates depend heavily on the limits you want. Generally, I would believe you could get lower insurance rates. Mine are just about what you're paying now and I live in midtown, where crime is higher, and drive what the insurer considers a luxury convertible, a prime target for thieves. My limits are far higher than the statutory minimum. If you own a home (I rent) that should also lower the rates. Why don't you try something like the Progressive website, where you can get quotes based on your details? I'm not trying to be rude at all, but it seems that an insurance company would be a far more informative resource that a group of travellers.