You've chosen a wonderful city - I've lived in metro Atlanta off and on since 1988, in Cobb, Gwinnett, Fulton and Dekalb counties. I've been living Intown since 1998, when I bought a 4 bedroom, 4 bath 1908 Victorian in Inman Park for just $300,000! My recent clients in your price range who seek similar goals have looked at properties in really great neighborhoods all over the cities of Atlanta and Decatur. Supply is rich and three of the biggest competitive differentiators are school systems, retail proximity and nearby parks and lifestyle amenities for children. I'll suggest a few in 4 geographic submarkets of Intown Atlanta and Decatur...
Northside - Jackson and Smith school districts, Garden Hills, Collier Hills and Chastain Park are great places to start
Westside - there are some lovely houses along the I-75 corridor along Moores Mill and even closer in, but retail amenities and school systems are not the best
Eastside and Midtown - some of the best family neighborhoods in any metro city in the country - Ansley Park, Midtown North of Ponce De Leon, Virginia Highland, the super cool Inman Park ... of course, Morningside and their desirable elementary school
Southside - Grant Park has a really good charter school, depending on the type of house that you seek for $750,000 or more, the architectural styles are limited. East Atlanta and Ormewood Park are cool neighborhoods, but their schools are not the best.
I must mention Decatur, especially Winnona Park and their elementary school. Of course, closer to Emory and downtown Decatur, Oak Grove, Sagamore Hills and other good school districts have abundant choices. I also like the MAK historic district - very close to Oakhurst, and my Atlanta neighborhood, Kirkwood.
All of these areas are well policed, but as with any metro city in 2007, we have seen a rise in violent and invasive crimes. Property owners, and city dwellers in general, must be diligent.
Best wishes - welcome to Atlanta.
Are you coming to help us solve our water problem?