The Sistas Guide to Moving to the Atlanta Area and Starting a Business in the Atlanta Area

spiritofatl I’m pretty sure you up north sistas are tired of all that snowy depressing winters, high rent, self-hate crime and violence plus places to start and run a business without going into debt in a few months. Many sistas are engaged in the reverse migration of moving to sun belt regions like Los Angeles, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Houston, Miami, Tampa, Charlotte and also Atlanta. In my opinion and I been around and can move anywhere I want, Atlanta is simply the best city to be situated and there is no place I rather be. The number one reason I like Atlanta is how the airport is less than 2 hours from 80% of the major business markets in the United States. I can be in New York City in the morning, run a pop-up and be back in Atlanta before 10pm (and vice versa for NY cats) In addition I’m approximately 3 hours from beaches in Costa Rica and Nicaragua and Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico during the winter and a 5 hour drive to the Gulf beaches like Destin and 7 hours drive to Orlando Disney World and Universal and 6 hours drive away from New Orleans. Now compare that to being in Chicago where their option is to drive to something like a Wisconsin Dells or Indiana Sands Dunes, that’s those places Chicago people be going and they be all happy and stuff like that..nah, I rather be here in Atlanta with my options. The other reasons people find Atlanta attractive is it is a good transient city to temporary setup shop and live there and get out when you can. This is how the world is moving as I got a sista who just moved to Singapore and set herself up living it up there before she move next to London to do financial technology work but she want to settle back down here in Atlanta. It’s not hard to settle in and get out or quickly adjust living arrangements down here. Housing is a good selection and you can find any style of housing to modern condos to luxury mansions and the prices are attractive also. And even better, it is not hard to get off-leased 3 year old cars like Mercedes E-classes, Porsches and Range Rovers and stuff for between $20k - $35k like that and black folks don’t hate as hard as they do up north so you can drive in style and be yourself. But the biggest advantage is Atlanta is a great location for starting up next generation business models and hosting national events and setting up as a destination city. While Atlanta do not have organic high density, it can be manufactured through piggy backing on events that are coming into town like an after party or pool party, etc. For example when Chicago Bears came down to play the Atlanta Falcons, cats from Chicago setup house music parties and other stuff for motorcycle clubs from Chicago to come down. I found setting up a business in Atlanta in a way I cannot describe for any other city – I found setting up a business in Atlanta to be fun and exciting and uplifting! It is nice to talk to other brothas and sistas sitting behind a desk about your startup and they want to see you do good – most people be hating on you starting your own business but people down here are willing to push through the paperwork. So these are the reasons Atlanta is just way a lot better than other cities out there to be a destination to settle down somewhere. Plus, the Atlanta area will be the North American base of my startup that helps empower other businesses and we want to work with brothas and sistas in the Atlanta area get their comeup and you will hear more from us as we launch and our focus is on urban business solutions worldwide. So in this article, let’s talk about moving to Atlanta area and starting a business here in the Atlanta area. Here is your basic strategy – the first thing you sistas want to focus on is where to work at in Atlanta. You should live near your employment in Atlanta as a best practice so once you find work, then find a place to live, then from there, look around to explore your entrepreneurial options and then last, focus on having a quality of life. Alright, let me start this promotional for the city of Atlanta even though I’m not getting paid anything to write all this. Where to Work At in Atlanta? hiring If you are looking for work and what my recommendation, I always prefer any place near the MARTA line. So that means if you want to work at the airport, you can get off at MARTA at the airport station. If you want to work for Georgia-Pacific, Suntrust, Wells Fargo, State of Georgia, Coca-Cola, AT&T and major companies downtown, there are MARTA stations downtown to take the train. But the best station is going to be Dunwoody Marta station as a lot of new jobs are coming to the area like State Farm just relocated all their people from around the country to this area, Mercedes-Benz is moving to this area and a lot of fintech firms just started up business in this location. There are other places and areas like Alpharetta up 400 North and Cobb County near the 75 & 285 interchange but these locations do not have access to public rail transportation and I found these places hard because of the heavy traffic just to get out of the area and doing 1.5 hour commutes is not fun either. I would focus on jobs situated along MARTA as the base strategy. Where is the Best Place to Move? placetolive As a rule of thumb, always move next to your job. You do not want to drive 30 miles each way and spend 1 hour in traffic each way and a lot of sistas do this living in places like Lithonia, Powder Springs, Austell, Johns Creek, Stone Mountain, and Lawrenceville and stuff like that. One of the motivation people live in those outlying areas is to be next to their mega church and I would rather do a 30 mile commute to a mega church on a Sunday than drive 60 miles and 2 hours a day for a 5-day work week because that’s get stressful after a while, real talk. Most people want to say they want a big house with a big backyard and stuff like that – whatever. You can take your kid to the park with other kids instead of having your kid all alone in their own backyard kicking a soccer ball around by themselves while you in the house watching reality TV shows looking out the window like most of these sistas be doing. You will also hear people say the housing is cheaper out in places like Gwinnett County versus inside the city but remember – 60 miles and 2 hour commute a day. If your car does 20mpg then that is 3 gallons of gas a day at $2.50/gallon is $7.50 for your daily commute or $150/month just in gas alone. Now imagine the gas going up to $3.85/gallon which it will again..yeah thought so. And you driving 60 miles a day is putting wear and tear on your car on the CV joints and oil usage and miles - you ain’t saving that much money living out in those suburbs versus living next to your job and you can walk or take the bus or do a 15 minute drive to get there. Atlanta like most cities are moving towards renting and apartment living and a lot of nice apartment living arrangements are being built here near job clusters. I actually found apartment living to be the ish in Atlanta versus having a big house. You can hang out at the pool, hang out at the common area and bring your smoothie recipe and host a baby shower or a small TV watching party and stuff like that with other singles and have a lot of fun! Remember what I told you about circular economics and sharing economy because ownership is overrated. The reason they want you in those suburbs is not to own a home but to pay housing taxes, hook their friends up with road construction contracts, fine you with speeding tickets and make money off your kid going to a mega suburban school that look like a correctional institution. I would recommend looking at Brookhaven area, Lindbergh area and Dunwoody area and maybe the places at Atlantic Station. They have a lot of nice apartments in these areas and building out new ones. Remember that you are not saving much money living way out somewhere with more space – think smart on this. Setup Your Business Operation. hairfest The thing I recommend about setting up a business is to scale up. This is how I start my businesses and how I advise cats in the Global Urban Collective to start. Yes, I have money to start hiring cats and lease server space at a major co-location and lease an office/storefront but I’m starting off on a $5/month GoDaddy site, outsourcing tasks to cheap labor and staying virtual with no inventory. Atlanta has great opportunity but the biggest mistake I see is people go physical when they don’t have to. You don’t need to rent a boutique at $7,000 month when you can get a vendor license and sell from your car and use social media to market around Atlanta, correct? So don’t come down here like those reality TV show chicks and open a damn $5,000/month rent for a boutique and stuff like that. Chill out for a minute and hear me out. If you are working here in Atlanta, you can side hustle and work your job. Do not listen to hustle blogging cornballs who think having a job is a problem and you don’t own anything – that’s simple and broke cats talking and they will never step outside of text comments with that nonsense. The #1 purpose of having a job is to establish peer networking and upward mobility networking – most sistas work jobs and be messing around with pretty boys instead of working that job to help build entrepreneurial networks and support systems to move upward. You can work a job and at the same time, run a food truck operation on the weekend or run a socialite event on weeknights and weekends. Most sistas down here does this like sell hair extensions out of the parking lot to other sistas working in that huge corporate building full of multiple employers. So yeah, a sista can setup a business at the Peachtree Center downtown but another sista can do buy-online and pickup at the Peachtree Center food court during lunch hours, right? So don’t listen to cornballs running around the Internet talking about people working jobs because jobs will get you in the door of connects and networking. Get a job when you move down here in Atlanta if for that purpose only of building relationships. To start a business, go online to https://cgov.sos.state.ga.us/Account.aspx/Register and you can start a corporation or LLC. Most sistas prefer doing an LLC but this is outside the scope of this article. The problem I have with LLC is child support and having a spouse – they use your tax records to determine income and if you passing your hustle income through your LLC, then you sistas are messing up. But a brotha can use his LLC to write losses to avoid paying sistas high child support after he get you pregnant – haha. This is outside the scope of this article on what kind of business to form but just do some homework and ask around. Now, when you setup a corporation or LLC or non-profit, you may need a registered agent and you will need this before filling out the forms. If you use LegalZoom and incorporate.com, they will be your registered agent in their fees – in fact, that is probably not a bad option to go with these places as a one stop shop. But here is the thing – understand if you need a business license or a resale license. If you are selling from one person to another in Georgia and physically, then you need a business license. Here is what you do, in the Atlanta area, you can go to the State of Georgia tax place over on Clairmont which is up northeast 85 and you can get a state tax id which allow you to buy wholesale. It is a drive out but it’s just one of the journeys. Another thing is to get a vendor license, I have a vendor license but you also need a business license from the city of Atlanta. The place for vendor license if I remember is the same place you see all the strippers getting their license which is an Atlanta police station off 285 and Donald Lee Howell Parkway going west, not east towards Blue Flame. Now other cities around Atlanta have their own vending license so you will have to get one there also. The goal of a vending license is to be able to sell to others without problems or someone trying to get you caught up. To get the business license, you have to go to city hall in downtown Atlanta and there is a place to get it setup. This is like a treasure hunt. But before all of that, you need a liability insurance binder which is not expensive but you have to get this before getting a vendor license. So once you get all of this, then you are set – I would recommend you start off vending and working a side hustle while working a job and then look around for fixed retailing locations if that is what you want to do. Atlanta is the kind of city where business can be done at a coffee shop or hotel lobby or lobby inside of one of these skyscrapers without needing to rent an office. You can always use a private library room and they have co-working spaces for startups to host events. Even Ebeneezer church has a learning center you can look at and Chik-Fil-A have a conference room off Windy Hill so there are plenty of places you can do business without paying for fixed locations. Enjoying Quality of Life in Atlanta islands The best thing about Atlanta is you can enjoy a quality of life. Yeah, there is no ocean here or waterfront but sistas don’t like to get her hair wet anyway. One of the things sistas will enjoy about Atlanta is the ability to join running clubs and walking clubs with other sistas. Unlike Boston or NYC Central Park, running down here can be done all year around and it is easier for sistas to meetup at a park together and workout together. Also sports like softball and kickball can be done here also for fun. Now for shopping and eating, you got places all over to eat. Dining out in Atlanta is very diverse from Flying Biscuit for breakfast to the Daiquiri Factory on Sundays and Cheesecake Factory at Lenox or Perimeter mall on Thursday nights and stuff like that. I can name others like Copeland’s but before I do that – I will publicly state I’m from Chicago and eat real hot dogs and real pizza and some of these places cats be mentioning local to Atlanta – nah, I’m better off buying Oscar Mayer beef hot dogs and grilling myself or making my own pizza from my kitchen instead. Festivals are very fun from the Jazz Festival to the Black Arts Festival to the Red Bull Soap Box Derby and other events too many to be named. Even the Caribbean parade done around Memorial Day is fun to take the family. But what is even better is you can get on the road and 6 hours, you are at the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans or you are at Panama City Beach or Jacksonville or Savannah or near Tampa Florida getting some tropical weather. And when you want to bring down friends and relatives, a lot of places to throw a huge family BBQ and your kids and your nieces and nephews can bring their bikes and ride around while you sit around relaxing all day. And I really like the lakes they have where you can rent a pontoon or houseboat and go to one of those islands and throw a party with you and your crew. So it’s also plenty to do down here. Overall, Atlanta is a great place to live, work, hustle and play. You will find yourself in the company of other sistas with the same motivations and upward direction you want to go. The quality of life of being able to do running clubs or have your kids in a sports program is something you cannot ignore comparing Atlanta to other cities. And you can hustle from the bottom up to bigger and better with ease starting off with trade shows to having your own location. And living the apartment life inside the city is the bomb and the jobs are moving down here to Atlanta from everywhere and accessible on MARTA - as a single black man, I thank God for MARTA and all the sistas I get to see. In addition, you have Spirit Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Delta Airlines and Frontier offering cheap flights under $100 each way to locations and even to the Caribbean and you can easily do South Beach Miami or Manhattan New York over the weekend easily. So if you are looking at Atlanta, I hope you take time to look around because overall and my personal recommend, no place I rather be..

13 thoughts on “The Sistas Guide to Moving to the Atlanta Area and Starting a Business in the Atlanta Area

  1. I can say there is more support I got from any broth as or sistas when I lived down south with no real family. I had intentions to make things happen in Georgia before I moved back to Cali but I can understand and see why a sista with aspirations can do good getting her business off ground in ATL.
    ….I just may go for it

  2. Hi Ed. I love your website and enjoy reading it. Thank you for the work you do in our community. I recently relocated to the Atlanta area to launch my business, but with no friends or family here it’s been very challenging. I’d love to connect or network with you!

    1. You did the right thing by joining the Global Urban Collective on Facebook – I’m going to launch activities in the Atlanta area for urban entrepreneurs and career cats and the information will be in the Facebook group.

  3. This is a really helpful post! I have a friend who went to Atlanta with the idea to set e business. I think that he would appreciate these tips! I will share them with him! Thanks! Greetings, Man With Van Brixton Ltd.

  4. Ed-

    great expose’ about Atlanta. I’ll be moving there by years end. I love the city, cant’ get enough of it.

  5. I think the hardest part for me is traveling back and forth to find housing I’m a single mom with 8 year olds the first step for me is to find housing in a decent area with decent schools

  6. Hello,
    I’m moving to Atlanta by month end and I have started looking for employment first because I do have family I can stay by. My question is should I go this route first and then find a place? I have a 1 year old and I need a convenient area close to the Marta but very similar to Brooklyn . Where I can jump on the train, get my son to school and then head to work on a daily basis

    1. Natalie, I meet a lot of people from New York who move to Atlanta and show them places that offer the same thing because most of them are used to walking and taking the subway. One of the things being worked on is creating a job tour to show where the jobs and communities are for black people and I wrote an article about this and a few sistas are asking me about it.

      Here is a hint – most people chose the College Park and East Point Marta station and that gives them flexibility drops them off at downtown, midtown, buckhead or perimeter for their job. Up North, another group lives in Norcross or Chamblee and use the Doraville and Chamblee station to perform the same action. The job-based status are the stations I named up front but will tell you they are agressively building in Chamblee and Perimeter new apartments that you would like and close to the subway.

      State Farm just created a brand new HQ next to the Perimeter station and Fintech jobs are relocating to Buckhead and have plenty of nice-paying jobs to look at. That’s not even scratching the surface.

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