2020 State of Buckhead Survey: The Results
By Denise Starling, Executive Director of Livable Buckhead
In a pandemic year when so much was unsettled in our world, asking people to share their perceptions about life in Buckhead was a risky proposition. More than once during the process of developing the 2020 State of Buckhead survey I was reminded of a golden rule of opinion research – don’t ask the question if you don’t want to know the answer.
But we did want to know the answers. And now we do.
What do the people who live and work in Buckhead think of it? The majority think that Buckhead is a great place to live, work and visit. People are drawn to this area for shopping and dining, and they love to live here because we have good schools and good jobs, as well as easy access to many areas of the city. Here are a few key findings:
- Majorities of respondents agree that Buckhead is the most attractive place to live in Atlanta (56%), and that it offers the best shopping (71%), dining (57%) and schools (55%).
- The two most common reasons people move to Buckhead are to be closer to dining and retail options (42%) and to be closer to work (35%).
- For business owners, having access to highways and major roads was the most common reason for locating in Buckhead (40%), followed by proximity to retail/dining (33%) and residences of C-suite individuals (25%).
- More than a quarter (26%) of respondents’ top-of-mind association with Buckhead is related to its upscale nature.
- Top-of-mind associations vary depending on how long a person has lived or worked in Buckhead, and also depending on age. Buckhead’s upscale nature is top-of-mind with people who have lived or worked in Buckhead less than five years or who are under 45 years old; concerns about crime and safety are top-of-mind for people who have lived or worked in Buckhead more than five years or who are more than 45 years old.
Those findings are strong building blocks for Buckhead’s continued growth and success, and we are working to leverage these strengths across a range of programs that will make this community an even better place to live and work.
However, the survey also confirmed that people are very concerned about crime. Crime and safety concerns were the second most common top-of-mind association among respondents (18%) and two-thirds (66%) named crime and safety as the most important issue facing Buckhead. That’s understandable, given the increase in crime that Buckhead and all of Atlanta has experienced during the past year. Those concerns were a driving force behind the Buckhead Security Plan, and implementation is well underway and beginning to show results. Progress may be slow, but we’re optimistic that it will be steady and that crime will recede as a top-of-mind concern for Buckhead residents and workers.
What else did we learn from the survey?
- We have room for improvement in some of the key areas that make a community a great place to live and work. Only a minority of respondents agreed that Buckhead offers the best entertainment (31%), parks (30%), arts (20%), pedestrian-friendly environment (15%), and festivals/events (11%).
- Beyond crime prevention, the two most important improvement initiatives are felt to be road maintenance (76%) and improving pedestrian safety and the sidewalk network (72%) in Buckhead. There is also strong support for adding more parks and public greenspace (52%). That’s great news for Livable Buckhead as we continue to build PATH400 and work with community partners to create a network of adjoining parks such as Mountain Way Common, Loridans Park and Old Ivy Park.
- There are almost as many dogs as people living in Buckhead. Approximately 37% of residents responding to our survey own a dog, and about 19% have two or more. That adds up to approximately 82,000 canine companions for Buckhead’s 96,000 residents.
- People have seen some real benefits to working from home and don’t want to give it up after the pandemic is over. Approximately three out of four workers and commuters would choose to work from home at least one day a week once things return to “normal.” Livable Buckhead is working with employers to implement flexible workplace strategies that maximize the benefits of telework without negatively affecting the aspects of operations that require an in-person presence.
- Giving back to the community is very important to Buckhead. The overwhelming majority (85%) of Buckhead households have some level of engagement with civic activities. The most popular activities are volunteering through religious institutions (34%) schools (25%) and at community events (18%).
- Sustainability is common practice among Buckhead households, with 76% using energy efficient appliances or light bulbs, 71% taking advantage of curbside recycling and 60% purchasing eco-friendly products. Some sustainable activities haven’t reached majority status in Buckhead yet but did receive strong levels of interest, including drop-off recycling for batteries and other items (44%), transportation alternatives such as transit (33%) and involvement with sustainability organizations (37%).
These and other findings from the survey will help Livable Buckhead and our partnering organizations — the Buckhead Coalition, Buckhead Community Improvement District and the Buckhead Business Association – refine our programs and prioritize our work in the coming years. Thank you to everyone who participated and took time to share their perspective on living and working in Buckhead.