I live in Cumming, Georgia, a rural suburb about 30 miles north of Atlanta. Cumming is growing very rapidly, and was listed on America’s Promise list of 100 Best Communities for Young People in 2012. It’s an interesting area, where you’ll find long -time rural residents mixed with newly transplanted yuppies. Cattle graze the peaceful rolling foothills of the north Georgia mountains, while the roads that pass their pastures are becoming increasingly crowded.
Half of the cars you pass on Cumming’s back country roads are pickup trucks, now sprinkled with the occasional BMW or Range Rover. The area still maintains a small town friendliness, it’s residents holding on to their strong southern accents. It’s the kind of place where the owner of the local convenience store, with it’s aging neon sign, will ask you which is your favorite flavor of coffee creamer, so he can keep it in stock. The kind of place where people greet their new neighbors with a basket of biscuits – even if they are only renting.
Mix in with these country residents a healthy dose of white collar workers hoping to escape the crowded suburbs like Alpharetta and Sandy Springs, but still wanting remain within commuting distance to their jobs in the city. These folks build huge houses on big plots of land, or buy a cookie cutter house in one of the many subdivisions that have popped up in rapid succession in the past decade. That is, until the recession hit, when things came to a screeching halt. Many of these new neighborhoods have been abandoned – marked off with a flimsy chain link fence or barbed wire, and left to sit. Until things get better.