By Carolyn Crist
For the AJC
Elizabeth and Rey Vega left friends and family when they moved from Chicago to Atlanta four years ago for Elizabeth’s Presidential Management Fellowship at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When the CDC sent Elizabeth, 29, to Zambia for six months, Rey joined her by volunteering for an HIV-AIDS orphanage. While in Zambia, Elizabeth found out she was pregnant. After they returned to Atlanta, Elizabeth and Rey, 39, decided to buy a home for their growing family.
The Vegas looked for a good school district, a guest suite to host visiting family, a second-floor master suite to be near the kids’ rooms and a yard. They made Gwinnett County a priority, for its schools, and found a swim/tennis community in Lilburn that had floor plans with a basement. “It was really about the kids,” said Elizabeth, who is now a public health analyst at the CDC and pregnant with a second child due around Halloween.
Homes were selling so quickly that Elizabeth decided to be proactive. She emailed a CDC parent listserv with 3,500 people to ask if anyone planned to list a home in the next six months with their priorities and price range. The owners of a four-bedroom, four-and-a-half bathroom home with 2,500 square feet emailed her within 24 hours. The Vegas viewed it days later and decided to raise their family there. Lauren Silberman (The Silberman Team) of Chapman Hall Premier, Realtors helped them through the buying process.
“When you’re a first-time homebuyer, you don’t know what to expect, and she was always available,” Elizabeth said. “She responded to texts immediately, had an electronic system for signing documents and had relationships with banks, inspectors and painters.”
The family enjoys the practical flow of the home, especially the master suite with separate walk-in closets and a big tub in the bathroom. The Vegas made the space safe for Alexander, 2, by installing baby gates at the stairs and covering outlets. “You have to get on your hands and knees and crawl around the house to see what a toddler sees,” she said. “We wanted to make it as kid-friendly and safe as possible.”
Within a week of moving in, the family was welcomed by 10 neighbors, and Elizabeth met several fellow CDC employees. They now carpool to work. The Vegas participate in community events, such as ice cream socials and swim/tennis events. They also joined a babysitting co-op, which allows families to exchange free childcare.
“We put out a request on the website, and other families in the neighborhood offer to babysit,” she said. “It’s great for the families here without grandparents to help.”