Best Places To Live In Rural America, Homes For Sale In Athens Georgia, Clarke County and Surrounding Areas including Oconee and Jackson County

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Living in Athens Georgia


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 Oconee County Rated in Top 10   BEST PLACES TO LIVE   2008

CNN Money Best Places To Retire

Oconee County Georgia, Rated in top 10 Best Place To Live two years in a row!
Story and Photo By Jamie Cole
Oconee County is one of only two places that made our top 10 two years in a row. Considering how extensively we changed our formula from last year, that's especially impressive.

Progressive Farmer Magazine / Subscriptions

  Athens, Georgia
As much as Bob and Shirley Willoughby wanted to retire near their kids in Atlanta, they didn't want the hassles of a big city. They also knew that their children might eventually move. So the Willoughbys sought a town nearby that could stand on its own, one with a vibrant cultural scene and a strong health-care system.

Athens, home to the University of Georgia, met their requirements and then some. The town of 102,700 lacks even a hint of modern urban sprawl, giving it a distinctive, cozy feel. The pedestrian-friendly downtown lines the north edge of the campus.

Two well-regarded hospitals are within five miles of the town center; three golf clubs sit just beyond the perimeter. Entertainment includes six local theaters, wine tastings in the botanical gardens and a music scene that both spawned rock superstars REM and supports a community orchestra.

Anyone over 62 can take classes at UGA for free. And Learning in Retirement, a local member-run nonprofit, taps professors to teach classes ranging from foreign relations to geology.

To folks arriving from any big city metro area, Athens is strikingly affordable. Modest homes start at less than $150,000 and dinner for two at one of Athens' finer restaurants runs less than $50.

"This is the best decision we ever made," says Bob, a retired Alcoa executive who is taking an herbology class this semester and recently attended his first Bulldogs football game. "We'll be okay here even if our kids move."

It's not surprising, though. Drive down Colham Ferry Road through the middle of the county, watching on both sides of the road as family farms, beatific country homes and horse barns pass. Walk the sidewalks in the county seat of Watkinsville, where historic buildings stand next to a beautiful new City Center complex that centralizes businesses and preserves the small-town flavor. Hike along the Apalachee River and the county's nature trails. All this and it's just across the Oconee River from Athens and the University of Georgia.
When Oconee County appeared on our list last year, one resident told us that "every realtor within 100 miles of here will use that to sell land." Folks in the county have a strong commitment, though, to maintaining their rural lifestyle.
E X T R A: A Forever Farm
That kind of commitment is attractive to newer residents like Jim and Chris Altizer, who moved to Oconee County just months ago. Their daughter Sonia is an ecology professor at the University of Georgia. "It's peaceful here, and it's a perfect place to settle," says Jim, who has just built new wood fencing, a barn and a horse run on his acreage. Sonia keeps her horse there and stops by frequently to ride the pastures.
Young families are drawn to the county by some of the state's best schools. The relatively small Oconee County School District sports excellent test scores and gets great reviews from parents.

Autumn In Athens
By Christiane Lauterbach 

   Article from Atlanta Magazine         

This article was re-printed
from the September 1999 issue of
Atlanta Magazine




This photo is courtesy of Athens Visitor Center

When I think of Athens, Greece, I think: the Parthenon. When I think of Athens, Ga., I think: tickets. The countless lottery tickets that send B average-minimum students to college for free thanks to the HOPE scholarship; the tickets to the football games that several of my friends asked me to get for them as soon as they heard that one of my children was at the University of Georgia; the tickets to the many concerts that have made Athens' reputation as a music town.

It is safe to assume that most of the freshmen in the fall have never set foot in Athens prior to their quick tour of the campus as prospective students. Folks who think nothing of driving from Atlanta to the outlet mall in Commerce to hunt for towels and underwear are frequently unaware that, just over their horizon, downtown Athens is chock-full of boutiques, cafés, restaurants and galleries, and that the area encompassing several city blocks resembles a larger Virginia-Highland with a pinch of Little Five Points.

Best known as the city of UGA and R.E.M., Athens is a classic college town: a cultural oasis in a land of hard scrabble; a contrasting world of fine Southern mansions and milltown sprawl; a place whose peace is disturbed at regular intervals by rabid football fans and partying students; a fertile ground for such unlikely personalities as Herschel Walker, Vic Chesnutt, Walker Percy (briefly) and Zell Miller, who will teach at UGA in the fall.

The University of Georgia and Athens have grown up together, and the main campus adjoins a lively historic downtown, with the Arch on Broad Street (a symbol of UGA) connecting both worlds. The handsome historic buildings lining the quad include the Chapel, Old College, Terrell Hall and two debate societies, Demosthenian and Phi Kappa halls, whose students are said to have hurled bricks at one another. Also on North Campus, The Founders Memorial Garden, honoring the nation's first garden club, is a charming, secluded spot.

One can walk the entire downtown area in less than an hour, even with stops at the double-barreled cannon (a technological failure) in front of City Hall and a picture-taking break at the famous 40 Watt Club on Washington and the Georgia Theatre on North Lumpkin Street. Other neighborhoods, such as Five Points and Normaltown (both featuring a desirable mix of renovated houses, cafés and restaurants) and the area around the Tree That Owns Itself - an oak that stands on a small plot of land willed to it by a generous and tree-loving resident - at the corner of Finley and Dearing streets require the use of a car.

The bar and restaurant scene is super active. On football weekends, everything is pretty much catch as catch can, and tailgating is the norm. But if you are visiting a student or simply wanting to entertain yourself in Athens, you will find many places to pique your gourmet interest. Using some favorite Atlanta restaurants as a comparison, here's where to eat when you stop over in Athens for a weekend or just a few hours.

The Last Restort- Clayton Street, Athens, GeorgiaFall is the season when Atlantans
pop over to Athens. Here's where
to eat (and stuff to see) while
you're there.
Athens Equivalents To Your Favorite Atlanta Favorites…

If you like Indigo Coastal Grill and Dish, you'll enjoy The Last Resort Grill (174 W. Clayton Street (706) 549-0810), Athens' most genuinely creative restaurant, located in a former nightclub in a quiet corner of downtown. The mix of nouvelle Southern cuisine, fresh grilled seafood and interesting vegetarian specialties (e.g., potato onion pancakes with goat cheese and caramelized Vidalia onion) is irresistible. Add freshly baked breads and desserts, a great wine list and a fun brunch on Sundays to the list of incentives!

If you like Harvest, join the locals in the sophisticated digs of The Basil Press (104 E. Washington St., (706) 227-8926), a newcomer with a Mediterranean/contemporary American flavor and unusually refined preparations such as sautéed dusted oysters with Tabasco butter and mango coleslaw, shrimp and scallops in basil crepe and a delicious lemon cream cake. If you like Tortillas, go right to Taco Stand (three locations, including 247 E. Broad St., (706) 549-1446) for Athens' cheapest and best burritos, or to its main competition, Mean Bean (1675 S. Lumpkin St., (706) 549-4868), which also serves filling and inexpensive Mexican fare.

The Grit Restaurant - Prince Avenue, Athens, GeorgiaIf you like The Flying Biscuit, you'll be a happy camper at The Grit (199 Prince Ave., (706) 543-6592), Athens' cult health food restaurant, which has recently expanded and looks cuter than ever. The fresh eclectic menu includes the best vegetable plate in the area, great ethnic specials, fabulous homemade desserts and a perfect weekend brunch.

If you like McKinnon's Louisiane, the old-fashioned dining rooms and exposed brick courtyard of Harry Bissett's New Orleans Café (279 E. Broad St., (706) 353-7065) (and the NEW Iron Grill 1155 Mitchell Bridge Rd. (706) 552-1193) and its slightly tarnished charm will be your refuge. According to the Townies (people who live in Athens but are neither students nor locals), the steaks are superior to the Creole specialties.

If you like Majestic Food Shop, try some eggs and bacon at the Mayflower (171 E. Broad St., (706) 548-1692), which has been open since 1948 - and looks it. If you like Alon's, the brand new Big City Bread (393 N. Finley St., (706) 543-1187) bakes Athens' best baguettes and has come up with ravishing sweets such as an almond French toast slice and little Belgian chocolate tarts shaped like muffins. A delicious patio and lots of reading material from gourmet magazines to The New York Times have le tout Athens dying to get in.

Atlanta's independent coffeehouses and espresso bars like Aurora Café allow for relaxing moments in an otherwise hectic day. You'll find the same refuge in Athens at Jittery Joe's (several locations, including: 1210 S. Milledge Ave. (706) 208-1979), and Espresso Royale Café (297 E. Broad St., (706) 613-7449).

Dining That's Uniquely Athens…

Weaver D's Delicious Fine Foods, 1016 E. Broad St., (706) 353-7797. Ever since R.E.M. used his motto AUTOMATIC FOR THE PEOPLE as a title for one of their albums, owner Dexter Weaver's soul food restaurant has become an object of curiosity. Whatever the motive, go and sit at one of the indoor picnic tables and enjoy down-home cooking the way it ought to be. Fish and chicken dinners, pork chops and barbecue pork all come with classic Southern vegetables including the best squash casserole in the state of Georgia.

Hodgson's Pharmacy, 1220 S. Milledge Ave., (706) 543-7386. When the price of ice cream went from .25 cents to .50 cents a scoop, Athens held its breath. Everyone still goes to this old-fashioned drugstore, lining up for a cone or a cup and the best bargain in town.

Lumpkin Café, 1700 S. Lumpkin St., (706) 543-3122. This little house in Five Points fixes delicious homemade soups, fresh salads, rataouille or spinach souffle crepes, and a fine steak sandwich.


Melinda Mcc., Real Estate Professional in Athens

Melinda McCausland- Assoc. Broker, REALTOR Benny Payne Realty


Benny Payne Realty, Inc. Athens Georgia
Melinda McCausland is a licensed Realtor®, CRS, ABR
In the state of Georgia for
 Benny Payne Realty, Inc
(706) 540-0606




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