Will You Like Living in Atlanta? | [2021] 🏆 ULTIMATE Moving to Atlanta Guide

Are you considering moving to Atlanta, Georgia? Atlanta sits at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains with a high elevation that makes it unique in the Southeast. Originally the terminus for a large state-sponsored railroad, Atlanta’s name comes from the Western and Atlantic Railroad’s local depot. This beautiful city was once almost completely destroyed during Sherman’s March to the Sea during the Civil War. Here, you can see Atlanta’s historic Marrieta Street in 1864 compared to today!

After it was rebuilt, the city became the unofficial capital for the New South then an important leader in the civil rights movement in the 20th century. Today, Atlanta is known for its dense forests, sports, history, and top-rated universities. Nicknamed ATL, The Big Peach, or The City in a Forest, Atlanta is a great place to live with a low cost of living and endless things to do.

Atlanta has a unique culture all its own with a fairly young population, a bustling city center packed with urban parks and amenities, and famously walkable neighborhoods. Here’s what you’ll love about living in Atlanta and the many things awaiting you.

Atlanta Population & Demographics

If you’re considering living in Atlanta, GA, a good place to start is learning more about the city and the people who live there. The population of Atlanta is 507,000 which makes it the largest city in Georgia. The Atlanta metropolitan area has a population of 6 million which makes it the 9th largest metro area in the U.S. The median age in Atlanta is 33, slightly younger than the national average.

The racial and ethnic composition of Atlanta is 54% Black or African American, 38% white, 4% Asian, and 5% Hispanic of any race. At the 2010 Census, Atlanta was the 4th largest majority-black city in the United States. Atlanta’s historically black-majority population has led to it being called a black mecca thanks to its excellent economic opportunities, historically black colleges, entrepreneurship, and black entertainment industry. Atlanta became the first large Southern city to elect an African American mayor in 1974 and, since then, every Atlanta mayor has been African American.

Atlanta has growing immigrant populations as well. Over the last decade, there has been strong growth with immigrants from Jamaica, China, South Korea, and India with sizable growth from other countries such as Poland, Vietnam, Nigeria, and Ukraine. However, just 7.3% of people living in Atlanta were born outside the U.S.

 

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Atlanta is also known for its large LGBTQ population which is the 3rd largest among major U.S. cities after San Francisco and Seattle. Almost 13% of Atlantans identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. The city’s Cheshire Bridge and Midtown neighborhoods have historically been the center of Atlanta’s LGBT culture.

The median household income in Atlanta is $65,345, up more than 13% over the last year. Almost 22% of the population lives below the poverty level.

What Is the Cost of Living in Atlanta?

How expensive is it to live in Atlanta? There are many ways to answer this question, beginning with the Atlanta cost of living index which is 102.4. That means the Atlanta metro area is just 2.4% above the national average. Housing, groceries, transportation, and health care are all slightly above the national average. Utilities are very affordable in Atlanta: 15% below the national average. The average monthly utility bill is $123.80.

Click here for an in-depth look at the cost of living in Atlanta including the cost of renting versus buying, utilities, transportation, and food.

Atlanta Typical Living Expenses

According to Numbeo, this is what you’ll pay for common living expenses in Atlanta:

  • Milk, 1 gallon: $3.09
  • Loaf of white bread: $2.38
  • Dozen eggs: $2.37
  • 1 pound of apples: $2.21
  • Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant: $50

If you use public transportation, you can get a 30-day MARTA pass for $95 with discounted passes for students and faculty.

Atlanta Tax Rates

Another important aspect of the Atlanta cost of living is taxes. It’s easy to overlook taxes if you’re considering moving to Atlanta, but they may vary dramatically from what you pay now and reduce your take-home pay and increase the cost of goods and services.

Georgia has a progressive income tax rate. Income taxes in Atlanta are 1% to 5.75% depending on your tax bracket. However, this top rate of 5.75% kicks in at just $7,000 in taxable income for single filers. In 2020, the Georgia House of Representatives passed legislation to introduce a new flat tax rate of 5.375%.

The combined sales tax rate in Atlanta is 8.9%. This includes a Georgia sales tax of 4% and a county sales tax of 3%.

The effective property tax rate in Atlanta is 0.94%. The per capita property tax amount is $1,124 per person. You can learn more about property taxes in Atlanta, how the taxes are used, and how to understand a tax bill from the City of Atlanta.

Atlanta, GA Real Estate

Will you buy or rent after moving to Atlanta? Overall, Atlanta has a hot real estate market. Record-low mortgage rates and low housing inventory have increased demand, but Atlanta’s excellent and growing economy is one of the biggest factors driving home prices and competition higher in the city.

The median home price in Atlanta is $348,000 compared to the U.S. median price of $295,300 in June 2020. Homes spend an average of 35 days on the market. About 23% of homes sell for above list price. Check Atlanta, GA homes for sale online to get an idea of which neighborhoods are within your budget and what you can afford.

If you’re planning to rent while living in Atlanta, you aren’t alone. Atlanta has a homeownership rate of just 45%, well below the U.S. average of 64%. The average rent in Atlanta is $1,705 according to RentJungle. You’ll pay $1,460 on average for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,895 for a two-bedroom apartment.

Midtown Atlanta

Average rent in Atlanta depends a great deal on where you choose to live. One of the most expensive neighborhoods in Atlanta is Midtown, pictured above, with average rent of $2,036. Living in downtown Atlanta, you’ll pay about $1,705 per month – right at the city’s average. Morningside-Lenox Park is a desirable neighborhood close to the median at $1,575. The neighborhoods of Vine City and Rockdale are two of the most affordable places to live in Atlanta with average rent of $1,360 without a high crime rate.

Best Neighborhoods in Atlanta

There are tons of neighborhoods to consider as you plan for living in Atlanta. Where is the best place to live in Atlanta? It depends on your budget and lifestyle.

Buckhead — Most Affluent Neighborhood in Atlanta

One of the most affluent neighborhoods in Atlanta is Buckhead. Just outside downtown, Buckhead, Atlanta has some of the best schools in Atlanta and is home to over 40 subdivisions. Chastain Park in Buckhead is known for its high number of professionals and families who appreciate staying an active lifestyle and amenities.

 

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Morningside/Lenox Park — Atlanta’s Most Walkable Neighborhood

This Atlanta neighborhood is known for its active residents who walk to the farmer’s market, community garden, and the neighborhood’s parks. Morningside is mostly home to young professionals without children. While living in Morningside, you’ll have a short 4-mile commute to downtown!

Midtown — Best Neighborhood in Atlanta for Cultural Attractions

Midtown is known for its historic buildings, museums, and theaters which have earned it the name Heart of the Arts. More than 6 million people visit Midtown every year for festivals and some of the city’s best attractions at your fingertips.

Atlantic Station — Atlanta’s Top Neighborhood for Families

Atlantic Station is a great choice if you’re looking for a conveniently located and affordable neighborhood for families in Atlanta. It’s home to some of the city’s best schools like Grady High School and Georgia State University!

Atlantic Station Atlanta

Brookhaven — Atlanta’s Safest Neighborhood

Located in northern Atlanta, Brookhaven is popular with retirees and families. It also has the lowest crime rate in Atlanta!

Virginia Highland — Top Atlanta Neighborhood for Parks and Recreation

Virginia Highland is located northeast of downtown. Once a streetcar suburb, today it’s one of Atlanta’s safest areas with historic homes and everything from museums and shopping to top-rated restaurants at your fingertips.

Atlanta Climate – What Is the Weather Like in Atlanta?

Atlanta has a humid subtropical climate with short, mild winters and hot, humid summers. Rainfall in Atlanta is pretty high: 52 inches on average per year, well above the U.S. average. While living in Atlanta, you can expect rain throughout the year. The wettest month is July with 12 days of rain on average.

Snowfall in Atlanta is rare but does happen about half a day a year on average. The winter low is about 33 degrees in January. There are about 47 days per year in which the temperature gets below freezing at night, but it never goes below zero.

Summers in Atlanta average around 88 degrees. There are about 32 days a year in which the temperature goes above 90 degrees. The relative humidity during the summer is usually around 75%.

The best time to visit Atlanta is May, October, and September for the most pleasant weather. This is Atlanta’s peak tourism season and when most festivals and outdoor events occur like the Yellow Daisy Festival in September.

Great Places to Eat in Atlanta, GA

Atlanta is known for its traditional Southern cuisine but there are many broader influences in this international city. Here are some of the best restaurants in Atlanta, including an ATL hallmark.

The Varsity

The Varsity is a landmark. You aren’t a real Atlantan until you try one of the long-running drive-in’s famous hot dogs with a shake. This location in downtown Atlanta is the chain’s original. Opened in 1928, it covers two city blocks and can serve up to 800 people inside!

The Varsity, 61 North Avenue NW, Atlanta, GA 30308 (404) 881-1706

Atlanta Breakfast Club

 

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Located right next to the Atlanta Aquarium is Atlanta Breakfast Club, the best place to eat in Atlanta when you’re craving home-cooked Southern breakfast and American classics. You’ll love the salmon croquettes and the fried chicken and waffles.

Atlanta Breakfast Club, 249 Ivan Allen Jr Blvd NW, Atlanta, GA 30313 (470) 428-3825

Mary Mac’s Tea Room

A popular Atlanta restaurant for locals and tourists alike, Mary Mac’s is an institution with a history going back to 1945. Enjoy traditional Southern comfort food in a homey environment with classics like fried green tomatoes and fried chicken.

Mary Mac’s Tea Room, 224 Ponce De Leon Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30308 (404) 876-1800

Top Things to Do in Atlanta, GA

Atlanta is famous for its culture, nightlife, and attractions. It’s one of the only American cities with permanent, professional companies in all areas of performing arts like ballet, opera, and theater. With a large population of residents who have come from other areas or outside the U.S., Atlanta has become a multicultural metro area without the Southern culture that one may expect. Here are some of the best things to do in Atlanta after moving to the city.

Top Attractions in Atlanta

 

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  • Georgia Aquarium – Visit the best aquarium in the Southeast and one of the top tourist attractions in Atlanta.
  • Atlanta Botanical Garden – This 30-acre botanical garden is next to Piedmont Park in Midtown. It hosts frequent events like Alice’s Wonderland Reimagined.
  • Zoo Atlanta – The zoo is home to more than 1,500 animals and 220 species like pandas, gorillas, and African elephants.
  • Atlanta BeltLine – A former railroad corridor, the BeltLine is a circular multi-use trail being developed with parks and attractions. It’s one of the best things to do outside in Atlanta!
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park – One of the best family-friendly attractions in Atlanta, this historic site covers several buildings including the original Ebenezer Baptist Church and Martin Luther King, Jr’s childhood home.
  • Ponce City Market – This large, mixed-use facility features a food hall, boutiques, apartments, office space, and more. It’s also a popular event space.
  • Mercedes-Benz Stadium – Atlanta’s top stadium is home to the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United FC.

Atlanta Entertainment & Arts

 

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  • Fox Theatre – The historic Fox Theatre, originally planned as a Shrine Temple, is the heart of Atlanta’s Fox Theatre Historic District. Today, it’s the best destination for concerts, Broadway performances, and comedy shows.
  • Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre – This performance venue is home to two resident companies: the Atlanta Opera, one of the region’s best opera companies, and the Atlanta Ballet.
  • Main Event Atlanta – Main Event is one of the best things to do in Atlanta for families with bowling, video games, laser tag, billiards, gravity ropes, and more!

Atlanta Museums

  • High Museum of Art – This is one of the 100 most-visited art museums in the world with over 17,000 pieces of African, European, and American art.
  • Children’s Museum of Atlanta – Visit one of the best things to do in Atlanta with kids between 2 and 8 with an indoor playground and interactive exhibits.
  • Fernbank Museum of Natural History – Explore amazing permanent exhibits with unique outdoor experiences like Fernbank Forest and the Rain Garden and an exciting collection of dinosaur fossils.
  • World of Coca-Cola – Did you know Coca-Cola debuted in Atlanta in 1886? This is one of Atlanta’s top tourist attractions with interactive exhibits, films, and more.

Atlanta Parks & Outdoors

 

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  • Piedmont Park – This historic urban park is just outside downtown Atlanta and next to the Atlanta Botanical Garden.
  • Stone Mountain Park – One of the top family destinations near Atlanta! Enjoy cable car rides, golf, a scenic railroad, and more!
  • Centennial Olympic Park – Built for the Olympic Games, Centennial Olympic Park is the centerpiece of downtown Atlanta with playgrounds and iconic attractions.
  • Oakland Cemetery – This is the oldest public park in Atlanta and known for its magnolia and oak trees, art gallery, and beautiful architecture.

Shopping in Atlanta

 

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  • Lenox Square – Atlanta’s best mall with high-end department stores, boutiques, and restaurants.
  • Phipps Plaza – Located in Buckhead, this shopping mall is the sister property of Lenox Square with upscale brands and an AMC.
  • Atlantic Station – This mall has everything with specialty shops, department stores, a large multiplex, and restaurants with an open-air design and green space.

Map of Things to Do in Atlanta

Sports in Atlanta, GA

Sports are huge in Atlanta with several professional league teams, professional franchises, and sporting events.

  • Atlanta Braves (MLB) who play at Truist Park
  • Atlanta Hawks (NBA) who play at the State Farm Arena
  • Atlanta Falcons (NFL) who play at the Mercedes Benz Stadium. The Falcons have won the NFC championship twice and division title six times.
  • Atlanta United FC (MLS)

Most universities in Atlanta also participate in collegiate sports. Atlanta is known for its college football and hosts the SEC Championship Game every year. Other major Atlanta sporting events include the Celebration Bowl and the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game.

How to Get Around Atlanta – Public Transportation & Average Commute

Atlanta has one of the country’s best public transportation systems which makes getting around Atlanta easy. The MARTA system has 38 rail stations and 48 miles of track plus 100 bus lines and a streetcar. There are also free shuttles that serve popular destinations and colleges in Atlanta.

 

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As a driver, the city is accessible via Interstates 85, 75, and 20 and Georgia 400 with I-285 forming a beltway around Atlanta. How bad is Atlanta traffic? Pretty bad! It’s one of the biggest downsides of living in Atlanta. As a driver, you’ll spend 17% of your time on the road stuck in traffic. A recent report found Atlanta has some of the worst traffic in the world. The average commute in Atlanta is 35 minutes by car and an astounding 53 minutes by train or bus – the second-worst in the U.S. after L.A.

The Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) is the main Atlanta airport. Located 7 miles outside downtown Atlanta, it’s the world’s busiest airport and the main hub of Delta Air Lines.

You can learn more about Atlanta public transportation and getting around Atlanta with this complete guide to Atlanta transportation.

Crime in Atlanta – Is Atlanta a Safe Place to Live?

As you plan for moving to Atlanta, you’ll definitely want to know the Atlanta crime rate. Atlanta has a crime rate about 110% higher than the U.S. average. Per 100,000 residents, Atlanta has:

  • 1,433 violent crimes
  • 2,944 aggravated assaults
  • 1,995 robberies
  • 4,781 burglaries
  • 4,282 vehicle thefts

Atlanta was recently ranked as one of the 25th deadliest cities in the U.S. How many murders are there in Atlanta? There are 17.7 murders per 100k people, up 16.7 between 2017 and 2018.

The Atlanta crime rate varies a great deal by neighborhood, however! There are many safe neighborhoods in Atlanta with low crime rates. Keep in mind a great deal of Atlanta’s crimes involve gang members and tend to be clustered in specific areas. You can use this Atlanta crime map to see reported crimes by neighborhood.

Atlanta, GA Economy

Atlanta has the 10th largest economy in the United States and the world’s 18th largest. The Atlanta GDP is more than $324 billion. It’s also one of the top 4 cities in the U.S. for Fortune 500 headquarters such as Delta Air Lines, Coca-Cola Company, Home Depot, UPS, Newell Rubbermaid, Equifax, and Waffle House. Major industries in Atlanta include finance, healthcare, biomedical, media, film and TV production, and logistics.

In 2020, Metro Atlanta reached an all-time low for unemployment. Atlanta enjoys an incredibly strong economy that continues to draw in people and major employers. Since 2010, Metro Atlanta has gained 650,000 jobs (up 29%), mostly including high-paying healthcare, logistics, and corporate jobs.

Jobs in Atlanta, GA

The average salary in Atlanta is $68,000 or $18.36 for an hourly rate according to Payscale. While wages have trended downward 0.7%, the cost of living in Atlanta is close to the national average. The average salary in the U.S. is $48,672 according to the BLS.

Over 75% of Fortune 1000 companies have some presence in Atlanta. The top employers in Atlanta include:

  • Delta Air Lines
  • Emory University/Emory Healthcare
  • Wal-Mart
  • Home Depot
  • AT&T
  • Kroger
  • Wellstar Health Systems
  • USPS
  • Northside Hospital
  • Coca-Cola
  • UPS
  • Piedmont Healthcare
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

 

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Where are the best places to work in Atlanta? According to Glassdoor, some of the best employers in Atlanta, voted by employees, include:

  • Bain & Company
  • UKG
  • VIPKid
  • Southwest Airlines
  • Boston Consulting Group
  • Trader Joe’s
  • Power Home Remodeling
  • McKinsey & Company
  • Viasat
  • Keller Williams

Ready to start exploring job opportunities while living in Atlanta? If you are looking for a job in Atlanta, you can start with Indeed as well as the City of Atlanta jobs board.

Healthcare in Atlanta, GA

Healthcare is an important part of Atlanta’s economy and the city is known for its outstanding hospitals and treatment facilities. Renowned Emory University operates Emory Healthcare, Georgia’s largest health care system, out of Atlanta. Emory University Hospital is ranked as the best hospital in Atlanta and nationally ranked in eight specialties including oncology, neurology, and cardiology. Emory St. Joseph’s Hospital is high performing in 7 specialties and procedures.

All 10 of the state’s top-ranked hospitals are in Georgia.

The highly-rated Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is one of the region’s best children’s hospitals and ranks nationally in 10 children’s specialties with one of the nation’s largest transition of care programs for children with congenital cardiac diseases.

 

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Atlanta Public Schools & Colleges

While living in Atlanta, you’ll be served by Atlanta Public Schools (APS) with 21 high schools alone. You’ll find some of the best schools in Atlanta in the surrounding suburbs of the metro area like the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology in Lawrenceville which ranks 12th nationwide. Some Atlanta schools have earned awards like Grady High School which has won two recent awards from GreatSchools.org for college readiness.

Considering higher education after moving to Atlanta, GA? Metro Atlanta is one of the country’s best hubs for higher education with 15 universities and colleges.

  • Georgia Institute of Technology, a public research university with highly rated degree programs in science, design, and engineering
  • University of Georgia, one of the country’s top public research universities
  • Georgia State University, a public research university in downtown Atlanta
  • Emory University, one of the country’s best liberal arts and research universities
  • Atlanta University Center, a consortium of historically black colleges including the Morehouse School of Medicine and Spelman College

 

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Setting up Atlanta Utilities & Getting a Georgia Driver’s License

One of the first things you’ll need to do after moving to Atlanta is getting your Georgia driver’s license and setting up utilities in your new Atlanta home. Here’s who you need to contact for water, trash service, gas, and electric service in Atlanta. Just note that Atlanta Gas Light owns all natural gas in the region but you can choose a supplier, each with their own rates.

You can click here for a complete guide to Atlanta, GA utilities.

Getting your Georgia driver’s license is also easy. Within 30 days of moving to Atlanta, you must visit the Department of Driver Services (DDS) to transfer your license. You will need to bring your current license, proof of Social Security number, two documents proving residency (such as a utility bill or signed lease), and proof of identity like your birth certificate or passport.

Learn more about becoming a Georgia resident here.

Sold on relocating to Atlanta? With the award-winning movers at Wirks Moving & Storage, you can rest easy knowing your belongings will make the trip in one piece and without the stress. Give us a call today to request your free Atlanta moving estimate!