Less Is More: Downsizing to a more simple life Intown

A kitchen at The Atlantic building in Midtown.

More and more Atlantans are trading in their large single-family suburban homes for Intown living, where residents can enjoy a “less is more” lifestyle. There’s less square footage to clean and heat, less housework and yardwork, and less travel time to work, shopping, restaurants and entertainment. There’s more walkability, more time and more freedom.

Susan and Michael Jackson are retirees in the process of downsizing and selling their 5,000-square-foot home in Sandy Springs. They’re looking forward to a simpler, more flexible Intown lifestyle.

“The more stuff you have, the more you have to take care of,” Susan said. According to her, the purging process is like going down memory lane. It’s difficult to stay unemotional, but it’s energizing, too.

“It’s incredibly cathartic and especially satisfying when you’re completed,” she said. “It’s also much easier to do the earlier in life you tackle it.”

A rendering of The Charles in Buckhead.

While there are many choices for Atlanta residents looking to simplify their lives—apartments, townhomes, condominiums—condos offer an opportunity to enjoy the convenience of vertical living and the security of home ownership. Those qualities are attractive to a lot of different people in all phases of their lives.

Christa Huffstickler, President & CEO of Engel & Völkers Atlanta said that she has seen downsizers from the suburbs who’ve sold their large homes and want to move closer to work, culture and the city core where there’s an emphasis on wellness.

“Condos appeal to a wide variety of homeowners, from entry-level millennials to baby boomer empty nesters and everyone in between,” she said. “We’ve seen a transition over the last decade where the lifestyle of the millennial/generation x and y matches what the baby boomers want.”

They’re all drawn to life in an urban, energetic city center, according to Huffstickler, where life is spent with friends, walking in the park, focusing on health and fitness, going out to dinner, and not spending two hours a day commuting to and from work. “We’ve seen a trend where both move-up buyers and move-down buyers are looking for the same thing.”

Many people are relocating to Atlanta due to the strong job market, said Kerman Haynes, Senior Vice President of Berkshire Hathaway CITY HAUS Condominium Division, and the city is also retaining a lot of the recent graduates from high quality universities, such as Georgia Tech.

1065 Midtown on Peachtree Street.

“We’re keeping our graduates in Atlanta instead of having them move to cities like Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Chicago, and that’s largely because of the reasonable cost of living here,” Haynes explained. “With vertical living, they can find affordable housing that offers them luxury and convenience.”

He added that many of the younger people who bought condos about 12 to 15 years ago are now ready to move up. “Those first-generation condominium owners are staying in condos, rather than moving to the large home in the suburbs. They understand the lifestyle, they like it and they’re moving up, not out to homes in the suburbs.”

The appeal of condo living attracts buyers from many different facets of life, from relocation executives to empty nesters and single/divorcee buyers. Anne Schwall, Vice President of Developer Services, Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty, said “While many buyers relocating from larger urban cities such as New York seek out condos for proximity to work and cut down on commute times, empty nesters and downsizers are attracted to condos for the ability to enjoy lock and leave to travel.”

Although condos appeal to many different age groups and demographics, she stressed that the higher price points for new construction condos is pricing those newer condos out of reach for younger first-time buyers. “Empty nester and downsizing buyers are attracted to condos for the maintenance-free lifestyle and they have the financial means, from selling their existing homes, to afford the newer condos coming to the market,” she said.

There are a lot of reasons why condo life is attractive to so many homeowners, including the ease of the lifestyle. “Condominiums provide the lock and leave environment where an owner can come and go, whether it’s to and from work every day, traveling for work or pleasure or coming and going for leisure activities,” Huffstickler said.

No2 Opus Place in Midtown.

She added that there’s a sense of simplicity when owners are responsible for what’s inside their walls, but can rely on a staff to manage the common areas, pool, landscaping and the day-to-day things. For example, The Atlantic, on 17th Street near Atlantic Station, provides a porter, doorman and valet who offer security and convenience to residents.

“Condominiums also offer an array of amenities that aren’t available in other homes, like a full-service concierge, which includes an array of services like dry cleaning pick up and drop off, making restaurant reservations, calling uber or car services and signing for packages and package deliveries,” Huffstickler said. In condominiums with hotel components within them, the services become even more elevated with access to hotel amenities like room service, housekeeping, valet and spa services.

“The high level of available services is a strong draw for condo owners,” said Haynes. Most condo developments offer concierge services and conveniences, like pet walking, he said, and there are also restaurants, coffee shops, hair salons and just about everything else the residents want and need right in the buildings.

“Of course, there are also the spectacular views,” Haynes continued. “And the views are being enhanced every day with developments like new high-rises and the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Our skyline keeps getting better and better.”

No2 Opus Place in Midtown is a condo project that features 53 floors of floor-to-ceiling glass revealing unparalleled views of the city and area parks.

12th and Midtown

Location is another driver for condo popularity, said Schwall. Most condo buildings are located in urban cores that allow buyers walkability to restaurant and shopping. Emerson Buckhead boasts a premier location—on Peachtree Road in Buckhead—and offers two- and three- bedroom condominium residences that range from 2,200 to 3,700 square feet.

“Condos provide a maintenance free lifestyle that appeals to both younger and older buyers who want to spend free time enjoying friends and families and not be tied to the upkeep of a typical single-family home,” Schwall said. “Many single/divorcee buyers seek out condos for the sense of community and comradery the condo lifestyle provides.”

In fact, the sociability of condo life is another important factor in their popularity. “A lot of folks who are retiring want to come back into town and have the active lifestyle like they did before they had kids,” Haynes reported. “And many of them tell us that what’s attracting them is the social component, the possibility of building a friend base here. They want to be in a building and be part of a community.”

That desire is driving some boutique communities and buildings to emphasize the social component. No2 Opus Place employs a Wellness Director and Lifestyle Curator to help residents take full advantage of their lifestyle benefits.

Haynes said that the Wellness Director brings in fitness experts and personal trainers, like yoga and Pilates instructors, and coordinates services such as nutritionists to craft healthy eating plans for residents. The Lifestyle Curator helps activate the amenities for residents with programs. As an example, High Museum docents are invited to visit and speak about the latest exhibits and also share information on how to become a docent.

Intown condos seem to have just what Atlantans require to keep their lives simple – the space and services they need and the community and luxury they want, all in convenient, walkable locations.

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