Inside-the-Perimeter search comes with sticker shock

Tired of their hours-long commutes in other cities, Dan and Kyra Balentine decided not to face long drives when they moved to Atlanta. In Dallas, Texas, where they previously lived, they traveled about an hour each way on a daily basis.

“When we got here, we decided that we wanted to live inside the Perimeter, to reduce our commute,” said Dan, 34.

Why Atlanta?

Dan was transferred to Atlanta for his job as chief operating officer of American Health Imaging. They had been to Atlanta multiple times, visiting friends and for work. The Balentines graduated from college in Columbus, Ohio, and bought a home there in 2005 before moving to Dallas in 2007. In Atlanta, the home prices were more expensive per square foot than they expected, Dan said.

“At first, we had our mind made up on what we wanted to spend,” Dan said. “Then we kind of started looking and got sticker shock.”

Putting down roots

The couple moved to Atlanta in October 2013 and rented a home in Brookhaven. When buying, they looked for houses with vaulted ceilings, and a layout with no separation between the kitchen and living space, so that their son, Ben, who is 2 ½, could play while they cooked.

“If the floor plan wasn’t open,” Kyra said, “we didn’t even look at it.”

Assisted by Collette McDonald of RE/MAX Around Atlanta, they put in offers on homes in Dunwoody and Brookhaven before coming to an agreement with the seller of a Chamblee home priced in the low $400,000s that needed a few upgrades. Within three weeks of closing, they had installed dark brown floors and new carpet and paint (the beige walls became gray and white). They moved into the home in the Murphey Candler Park area during late March.

“We can do the upgrades on our own and make it the home that we want,” Dan said. “It looks so different from even when we bought it. It’s like a brand new house.”

The week they moved in, a “Welcome to Brookhaven” sign was installed down the street from their home, which Dan said should increase the value of the area.

“We feel like we got in a perfect time because it’s just going to go up from here,” said Kyra, 31, a marketing communications manager with Plaid Enterprises in Norcross.

Their commutes are just about 15 minutes each. They also have enjoyed the prime location and the ability to run around the nearby Murphey Candler Park lake and play tennis at free local courts. The neighbors are active, too. “Any night of the week, including weekends, somebody is out there with their kids,” she said. “We all stand in the driveway and the kids just play. That’s been really great.”

Relocation tip

If you have bought homes in other states, be prepared for the process to be different in Georgia. They even were surprised when the seller appeared at the closing, along with the mortgage lender. For their two previous homes, they had never met the seller, Dan said.