Is reloville back?

Yesterday was bittersweet. I watched as a ten year old little girl tearfully said goodbye to my daughter. They’d spent one last afternoon together at Build-a-Bear making each other a bear. Then they exchanged addresses and promised to write, call and email. Another weepy exchange and she was gone, relocating with her family to suburban Charlotte.

reloville book coverMy daughter’s BFF will be alright as I’m sure she’ll make new friends. But it was sad to watch the exchange. It brought back the topic that inspired the name of this blog, this New York Times article by Peter Kilborn on the rootless relos of Alpharetta. It was published almost exactly ten years ago but is still as relevant as ever. It later became a book. Both are worth a read.

Each member of my family lost a friend recently to reloville. My son’s best friend from school moved to Florida earlier this spring. My wife’s best buddy is moving her family to Dalton in a few weeks. And my good friend and co-worker left our company for a work from home gig. Having no deep ties here and freedom to work anywhere, he’s seriously considering a move back to South Carolina.

Are Alpharetta’s reloville days returning now that the economy is improving? It’s a possibility. New home construction is on the rebound which suggests people are again moving about. Kilborn called them suburban executive nomads, picking up their families every few years to follow the latest professional opportunity. They don’t establish roots in the community and have no hometown.

Alpharetta’s leaders talk of creating a “hometown”. It’s a word thrown out usually when speaking of downtown plans. It’s a worthy goal to create a hometown feel, but overcoming reloville is tough, something they will not be successful in combating. “#1 Reloville” is a moniker Alpharett’s earned over a few generations now. It’s here to stay, unlike many families.

Or maybe it’s just my family’s coincidence, having the reloville bug bite us like this. It’s just been a bummer of a few weeks in the Guy household. Saying goodbye to friends is never easy.

2 comments on this post.
  1. Red:

    Is reloville back? For us it is! We are relocating to Alpharetta for a new job in just a couple of weeks. I’ve been reading this blog over the past month or so to get a feel for the community. We’ve lived in transient places before (college towns) and actually preferred them to places where everyone’s a local. Church friends & neighbors become like family, since few people have relatives nearby. While it is sad when people go, as a newcomer you usually can find a place where people are friendly and up to meet someone new. We’re excited!

  2. Julie:

    The Reloville factor is the hardest aspect of Alpharetta to deal with. I’ve been in the metro ATL, more or less, most of my life – in Gwinnett, city of Decatur and then Brookhaven. I only moved to Alpharetta in 1997. It was a horrible experience! No friends and not really friendly people. I don’t think people were naturally un-friendly – I simply think they had other things on their mind, were not from here and did not necessarily want to stay here. This is a tough subject you’ve written about, Lee! I know that in time it will change as the people who were new in 1997 will remain and be old-timers in another 10 or so years. But in the meantime, this is tough…Thanks for being open to such a tough subject.

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