Dreaming of living in a city that’s not only affordable but offers a great quality of life, world-class entertainment, and excellent career options? Atlanta will definitely seem like a dream come true! Atlanta is one of the most affordable cities in the U.S. with a median income within the top 25% of the country, vibrant neighborhoods full of life, ideal weather, and a population of 730,000 (but a metro population of 4.6 million!). The Atlanta cost of living is also close to the national average making it one of the best places to live in the Southeast. Here’s what you should know about the cost of living in Atlanta as you consider whether it’s the right place for you.
Atlanta Cost of Living Index
How much do I need to earn to live in Atlanta? As you weigh relocating to the City of Trees, comparing the Atlanta cost of living index to your current city can be helpful. This is a useful tool that compares common expenses between major cities, but keep in mind the cost of living in Atlanta will depend on your lifestyle, household size, where you live in the city, and more.
The cost of living index in Atlanta is 102.4%. That means Atlanta is just 2.4% more expensive than the national average – a tough thing to find for a major metro area!
How does this break down by category? The average cost of groceries in Atlanta is just 3% above the national average. Transportation is also very close, as is housing, both just 2-3% above the average U.S. cost of living. You’ll probably save a lot on utilities in Atlanta which are 15% below the U.S. average!
The Consumer Price Index for the Atlanta metro area increased 1.2% over the most recent year. The index for all expenses minus energy and food – including apparel, used cars, and shelter – increased 1.7%, but the food index increased by 4.5%. The energy index in Atlanta dropped 9%. This index doesn’t compare the Atlanta cost of living to any other area; it only tracks average price changes within the metro area.
Cost of Groceries, Food, Gas & Household Items in Atlanta
Atlanta is an affordable city, but it’s still helpful to compare living expenses in Atlanta with what you are paying now. Here are average prices for common items plus a better look at utility costs in Atlanta. Keep in mind that the average commute in Atlanta is 25.6 minutes when you compare gas and other transportation costs!
Cost of Items in Atlanta
- Steak (ribeye, 1 lb): $13.63
- Milk (whole, ½ gal): $2.09
- Eggs (1 dozen, grade A): $1.15
- Potatoes (5 lb bag): $2.91
- Bread (wheat, 1 loaf): $4.17
- Beer (Heineken’s 6-pack): $9.72
- Movie ticket (first run): $14.61
- McDonald’s burger (Quarter Pounder): $4.33
- Average cell phone bill: $180.74
- Average electrical bill in Atlanta: $123.80
- Average water bill in Atlanta: $70.39
- Price of gas in Atlanta: $2.53 (2019)
Atlanta Real Estate Market
One of the biggest expenses you will face is housing costs in Atlanta. What is the average home price in Atlanta you should expect? What areas of Atlanta are affordable or expensive?
The median home price in Atlanta is $343,000, up 9% between 2019 and 2020. The average home spends 33 days on the market and sells for just below list price. You’ll find a wide range of home styles in Atlanta. The following are some of the most common:
- Bungalows. Find historic bungalows from the 1920s and 30s in Edgewood, Grant Park, Decatur, Kirkwood, and other older neighborhoods.
- Condos, particularly in neighborhoods like downtown, Buckhead, and Midtown. You’ll get unbeatable views from Buckhead Grand. In Midtown, Luxe Condominiums and Spire Midtown are two top picks.
- Tudor. These historic homes have a fairytale charm. There are great examples in neighborhoods like Druid Hills, Peachtree Heights, Midtown, Morningside, and Buckhead.
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The Atlanta housing market definitely depends on which neighborhood you’re considering. Some of the most expensive neighborhoods include:
- North Buckhead: Median home price of $488,500 with many condos and large homes priced over $2 million
- Kingswood: Median home price of $1.31 million
- Tuxedo Park: Median home price of $3.01 million
As you navigate the Atlanta real estate market, you’ll find many safe and affordable neighborhoods too. This includes Avondale Estates, Edgewood, East Lake, East Atlanta, Kirkwood, and Woodland Hills.
Atlanta Rental Market – Average Rent in Atlanta
If you’re considering renting in Atlanta, you won’t be alone. Atlanta has a homeownership rate of just 45% — far below the U.S. average. The average apartment rent in Atlanta is $1,692 according to RentJungle. A one-bedroom apartment is $1,446 on average.
Average Atlanta rent prices vary a great deal by neighborhood, however. You’ll find the Atlanta cost of living is high in the following neighborhoods: Poncey-Highland ($2,236/month), Midtown ($1,970), Atlanta-Inman Park ($1,938), Old Fourth Ward ($1,881), Five Points ($1,867), Downtown ($1,717), and Morningside-Lenox Park ($1,608).
Looking for a more affordable area? Try the northern edge of Edgewood with average rent of $1,069, Cabbage Town ($1,268), Rockdale ($1,328), or Grant Park ($1,425).
Here’s a quick overview of the most popular Atlanta neighborhoods for renters and a handful of popular apartment complexes to consider.
- Midtown, walking distance to Piedmont Park and home to many offices and high-rise apartments. A 2-bedroom apartment is around $2,675 in Midtown. Mark at West Midtown is highly rated while Sixty11th is known for its luxury amenities.
- Buckhead, an upscale neighborhood just north of downtown populated with young professionals and recent grads. It’s more affordable than Midtown with plenty of shopping and restaurants. A 2-bedroom apartment is around $2,090. One of the best places to rent in Buckhead is The Bryant at Buckhead Village, a new property with upscale amenities.
- Downtown, home to many new apartments, tourist destinations, and jobs. A 2-bedroom apartment is $2,090 on average.
- Virginia Highland, a top pick for young professionals and families with a small-town atmosphere. A 2-bedroom apartment is around $2,000. You’ll find many excellent apartment buildings surrounding the Historic Fourth Ward Park.
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Average Salary & Household Income in Atlanta
How much do you need to make to live in Atlanta? A good place to start is with the average salary in Atlanta which is $69,000 or $18.41 an hour according to Payscale. Wages have trended downward about 0.7% in the city.
Here’s the average income in common jobs:
- Project manager: $76k
- Software engineer: $81k
- Data analyst: $61k
- Registered nurse: $31/hour
- Medical assistant: $16/hour
- Patient care tech: $14/hour
Atlanta’s economy is robust with many major sectors like healthcare, hospitality, professional services, and government. The top employers in Metro Atlanta include:
- Delta Air Lines
- Emory University & Emory Healthcare
- Home Depot
- Northside Hospital
- Piedmont Healthcare
- WellStar Health System
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The median household income in Atlanta is $65,345, up 13.5% over the last year. The average household income, on the other hand, is $90,879. Median income is different than average income because it distributes all households’ income into two equal groups then arrives at the income in the middle. This means half of all households make more and half make less than the median amount.
Income, Sales & Property Taxes in Atlanta
Don’t overlook how taxes will impact your cost of living in Atlanta, GA! Here’s what you can expect to pay for income tax, property tax, and sales tax in Atlanta.
Georgia Income Tax Rate
Georgia once has a simple progressive income tax system ranging from 1.0% to 5.75%. Among states with a progressive income tax system, Georgia has one of the narrowest brackets with each rate applying to very small income amounts. The top marginal tax rate of 5.75% applies starting at $7,000 in taxable income for singles.
Georgia is currently working on legislation that will consolidate these tax brackets into a single, flat income tax rate.
Atlanta Sales Tax Rate
The Georgia state sales tax rate is 4.0%, one of the lowest among states with a sales tax. However, this does not include county and city taxes. The Atlanta sales tax is 8.9%, the highest in Georgia. Georgia has the 19th highest sales tax rate in the United States based on combined state and average local tax rates.
Atlanta Property Tax Rate
Property taxes in Georgia are about average for the U.S. and based on the assessed value of your home. In Atlanta, a 40% assessment ratio is applied. If your home has a market value of $200,000, the assessed value is $80,000. There is also a standard $2,000 homestead exemption.
Property taxes are calculated using a millage rate which is the amount per $1,000 in assessed value that you pay in taxes. One mill is equal to $1 per $1,000 in assessed value. The Atlanta property tax rate is 33.565 mills and the county tax rate is 9.98 mills. That’s a combined rate of $43.545 per $1,000 in assessed value.
Atlanta vs. Chicago Cost of Living
Trying to decide between Chicago and Atlanta? These major metro areas have very different costs of living. The cost of living in Chicago is about 14.7% higher than the Atlanta cost of living while you can only expect to earn about 7.2% more. Compared with the Atlanta median home price of $343,000, Chicago has a median home price of $295,000. However, the cost of living in Atlanta vs Chicago is more apparent for renters: $1,692 in Atlanta vs $1,821 in Chicago on average.
With its affordable cost of living, exciting neighborhoods, and top-rated attractions, it’s no wonder so many people are choosing to settle in Atlanta, Georgia. Have you decided moving to Atlanta is right for you? Call Wirks Moving & Storage today for your free moving quote to get started.