Differences Between the Suburbs in Atlanta vs the Suburbs in Chicago

It is almost a year since we traded our Chicago suburb for a suburb in Atlanta.There are many similarities with living in a suburbs in the southern part of the US vs north. There are cul-de-sacs, neighborhood pools and moms in minivans taking kids from one activity to another.   They both have great schools and rank high in safety, but there are some differences as expected. This is my list of differences I have observed since our move from a suburb in Chicago to a suburb in Atlanta.

  1. Teenagers are so respectful! Seriously. They refer to me as ma’am, and call me by my last name. At first, I admit, it made me feel old, but I was very impressed.
  2. No indoor malls in Atlanta suburbs. There are few indoor malls in Atlanta area and none near my suburb. In our suburb in Chicago we had 3 indoor malls within 25 minutes of our home.
  3. There is this thing called Mother’s Morning Out! Mother’s Morning Out are day cares where moms can register their babies and toddlers to attend a few days a week for about 3 hours. These are intended for stay at home moms who want to have a morning free to rest or get things done.
  4. There are so many faith based schools. Even though our area has some of the best schools in Georgia there are lots of private schools (mostly for mother’s morning out and preschool).
  5. We are not allowed to buy alcohol on Sundays before noon. It is most obvious that we live in the Bible Belt when my family goes out to breakfast on Sundays and we are the only customers. On Sunday mornings, when people are at church, our town feels like a ghost town.
  6. People are friendly and genuinely nice. Strangers smile, say hello and even start to chat sometimes. If you are not friendly back they will call you out. They will ask you if something is wrong, or ask if you are in a hurry.  I always believed people from the Midwest were down to earth, but the south is down to earth on a whole other level.
  7. It has been easier to make mom friends. I believe this is due to a combination of southern hospitality (locals), and also to the high percentage of people that have relocated to Atlanta who are looking to make new friends.  There are many organized mom clubs. The saying “it takes a village” is put into practice in our suburb. Moms support each other, offer to babysit, come over for play dates and are there for a much needed mom’s night out.
  8. Chick-Fil-A is like a community center. People are there for play dates, school spirit nights (fundraisers), daddy daughter Valentine date…there seems to always be an event or social gathering.  The employees feel like friends. On a rainy day they go to my car with an umbrella to escort me and the kids inside the restaurant. Amazing!
  9. People have beautiful properties. The houses in Atlanta suburbs are amazing inside and out.  For an affordable price you can get a mini-mansion with a large private wooded yard.  Even a home that is not big and fancy can have a private pond, waterfall, forest, acres of land…an oasis.
  10. There is natural beauty everywhere. Lakes, ponds, ducks, forest, birds and deer are a part of our everyday life. Sure, a few of the parks have playground equipment that is made of iron and pretty run down, but it is in the middle of a forest that feels like a secret hideaway. At the park my kids discharge their energy while I recharge mine.
  11. Kids can be outside all year around! I know you think they can do that in Chicago as well, but no, especially not toddlers.  It is too freaking cold, and you can only throw snowballs for so long before you can’t feel your fingers. No thank you!
  12. There is no park district. The suburbs in Chicago have a park district that offers swimming lessons, dance lessons, fitness facility, day camps, preschool, soccer, karate, etc. In Atlanta there is no central place for these activities and services. Parents have to search for these activities on their own. There may be some activities held by the town’s recreational center, but it is not as extensive as Illinois.
  13. Kids have days off of school for “snow days”, but there is no snow. You see, snow in Atlanta is rare, and therefore the city does not have sufficient snow removal equipment. If there is even a small chance of snow the city would rather cancel school for the protection of the children.
  14. Pine straw is everywhere! It is used as mulch in landscaping. I had never seen pine straw before so when we moved to Georgia in the fall I thought it all fell from the trees. I started to rake it and put it in bags. Before I threw it out I found out it was placed on the ground on purpose, and so I had to put it all back. True story.
  15. Garbage removal is a private business in Atlanta. In Chicago I was used to the garbage truck coming once a week and taking everyone’s garbage away on the same day. Well in Georgia, homeowners are responsible for hiring their own private company for garbage removal. This results in garbage day being  EVERYDAY in my neighborhood. Different garbage removal companies come to different homes on different days.
  16. The city feels far. Even though our suburb in Chicago was 45 minutes away from the city I still felt we belonged to Chicago. In our suburb in Atlanta we are 45 minutes away from the city, but I forget we are in Atlanta. Maybe this is because I don’t go to Atlanta much. I would love to visit Atlanta more, but unlike Chicago, there is no train connecting our suburb with the city. Another issue is that I am a chicken. I am nervous about driving in a highway that has 7 lanes! I know, I know, I need to just do it!
This the view from my favorite park in our Atlanta suburb. It is very peaceful and beautiful.
This the view from my favorite park in our Atlanta suburb. It is very peaceful and beautiful.
Playground hidden in the forest
Playground hidden in the forest


Passing On The Legacy Of Flavors

My mom is an amazing cook, who has spoiled me with delicious food, and is the person I credit for my love of cooking. Now, I have my own kids, and sharing the flavors of my childhood with them brings me great pleasure.  As a 1st generation Mexican American, food and music are the only two things that remain of my culture. I know Spanish as well, but I tend to only use it when needed. My thoughts and dreams are in English but my taste buds crave saltly, spicy, sour and sweet all in one bite and I am only inspired to sing when I hear Spanish lyrics. That is my reality. Who knows what parts of the Latino culture will remain in my 2nd generation Mexican/Colombian American children? So far I am doing a terrible job in the language and music department so that leaves me with food.  It is my mission to pass on the biggest treasure of my family and culture to my children: cooking! I will share these recipes with you. I hope they help you reproduce flavors of your childhood, or maybe help you create new flavors and traditions in your family.

I will share family recipes and also recipes that I will translate from the internet.  You see, many “Mexican” recipes on the internet are modified to the point that they don’t look anything like what they are suppose to be. I am sure they are delicious, but what the internet is passing off as enchildadas is in reality just a tortilla casserole. If all I have to pass on to my children, as part of their heritage, is food then I want the recipes to be as authentic as possible! Sometimes in order to get an authentic recipe you have to do your search in Spanish. Makes sense.  Spanish recipes can be difficult to follow since the author usually uses the metric system (ain’t nobody got time for that), or they tend to leave out details assuming you are already familiar with cooking techniques. I am very excited to translate internet recipes and share my family recipes. I hope you find it helpful. If there is a particular dish you want me to share please leave a comment.