If you’re relocating to Georgia’s capital for good, it would please you to hear that it’s a relatively affordable place to live. The cost of living in Atlanta as a whole is about 2% lower than the national average. On the other hand, it’s a bit cheaper than Miami, about the same as Dallas, and much, much cheaper than New York City. If you’re moving to Atlanta from another part of the country, you should be familiar with everyday expenses and figure out whether your monthly income could bear all the financial burden of living in the ATL.
To help you figure out the overall Atlanta cost of living, we’ve compiled some basics on what you can expect while living in the Georgia capital on a permanent basis. But before we move on to your monthly expenses, let’s find out the answers on the questions Is Atlanta expensive to live in? And How much money do you need to live comfortably in Atlanta?
What to Know About the Cost of Living in Atlanta GA Before You Move There
If you’re moving from a small town to a big city, you’ll probably find ATL’s small-town charm combined with the hustle and bustle of a metropolis appealing. And even if you’re coming from bigger cities, keep in mind that A-Town is among the nation’s fastest-growing metro areas. It fascinates millennials worldwide due to its lower prices and cozy way of living.
Depending on your needs, preferences, and budget possibilities, you can opt to live in some of the wealthiest neighborhoods in ATL, where business executives, lawyers, and doctors are situated, such as Buckhead, Morningside-Lenox Park or Oakdale.
But, the truth is that life in A-Town is equally good even if you live in a cheaper place. It’s needless to say that your rent costs and other daily tidbits will be significantly lower. Why should you pay $5 for coffee when you can enjoy it for only $2?
So, here are several Atlanta neighborhoods with affordable housing options:
- Center Hill
- Grove Park
- Cascade Heights
- Lakewood Heights
In general, the cost of living index is based on the national average of 100. When it comes to the Georgia capital, the overall Atlanta cost of living is 107.5 which is higher than Georgia’s index – 93.4. In fact, all price indexes of A-Town are above the state parameters (grocery, housing, median home cost, utilities, transportation) except the health category – 91.8 compared to 95.5 in Georgia.
A-Town is especially appealing to young professionals and all career-minded individuals. Its everyday costs are very reasonable compared to other major cities (NYC or San Francisco). A combination of affordable daily expenses, a booming industry (agribusiness, aerospace, film, energy), and ample green spaces are the main factors why both business people and family-oriented folks flock there. Headquarters of some of the well-known Fortune 500 companies are located in metro Atlanta, like Coca-Cola, Mercedes-Benz, Home Depot, and Delta Airlines. Renting is also a popular housing choice, due to rentals that average $1,500 per month.
Whether you’re moving to a city alone or with a family or moving from an apartment to a house, or moving in with a partner in one of the many Atlanta suburbs, one thing is certain. Whatever area you choose, your bills need to be paid, and you must set aside money for expenses included in the cost of living index. So, let’s find out what’s an average salary in ATL, and which occupations are on the shortlist.
What Is a Good Salary in Atlanta 2020?
An avg. yearly salary is $95,600, meaning you can expect to receive about $7,970 monthly, according to salaryexplorer.com. Salaries range from $24,200 to $427,000, but your income will vary depending on your career and specific job title.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, psychiatrists are the highest paid professionals in ATL. To find out whether your profession is on the list, let’s take a glimpse into the highest paying jobs in Georgia’s capital:
- Psychiatrists – $255,360 (avg. salary)
- Surgeons (except ophthalmologists) – $243,420
- Physicians and ophthalmologists – $237,720
- Family medicine physicians – $235,660
- Obstetricians and gynecologists – $229,570
Housing Prices in Atlanta
If you’re interested in investing in the Big A real estate market, the good news is that ATL is one of the top rental markets in the US with less expensive home prices than the national average.
According to recent research, properties are starting at $70,000, and compared to the national average of $152,000, that’s a significant deal. Of course, the final price is determined by the location and will depend on your choice of where to live. Based on Numbeo.com data, the prices are:
- Apartment in the city center (price per square foot) – about $352
- Apartment outside of the center (price per square foot) – about $182
When it comes to median rent for various apartment types, A-Town holds prices well above the national average. If you would like to know more about renting options and where ATL is compared to other US cities, keep reading.
Atlanta’s Rent Prices Compared to the Other US Cities
Rent in A-Town averages at $1,599, but is still affordable compared to other major cities in the US. In the most expensive ATL neighborhoods, such as Buckhead and Five Points, the monthly rent will set you back around $1,700 – $2,100 and up per month. In comparison with San Francisco, where prices for two-bedroom apartments reach $4,300, or in New York, where you should expect to pay around $2,900 for a one-bedroom flat, ATL is a much more affordable solution. (data website Niche)
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Utilities Are Among the Most Expensive When Compared to Other Cities
According to recent reports and analyzes, Georgia ranks as the fifth most expensive state when it comes to utility costs in the US. Depending on the type of dwelling, you should put aside between $100-$150 (apartment costs) and around $400 (house expenses) per month for utilities. Here is data disaggregation of your average expenses in a month:
- Electricity: $130
- Natural gas: $100
- Water: $70
- Internet: $60
- Cable: $85
Find an Excellent Choice of Food and Groceries in Atlanta
Atlanta-area household spends about $3,800 on food and groceries prepared at home, according to bls.gov. One of the reasons for that is that A-Town is packed with local grocery stores offering a wide selection of ingredients, seasonal products, rare spices, and sauces. Strolling around the stalls with your significant other in search of your favorite fruit might be one of the most inspiring romantic things to do in Atlanta, if followed by an equally romantic meal. If you decide to visit Sevananda Natural Foods Market (Little Five Points) or Bennett’s Market and Deli (Grant Park), you will find everything you need.
A-Town is one of the culinary capitals of the US. And such delight comes at a certain cost. According to Numbeo.com, if you want to eat in an inexpensive restaurant, you will spend about $14.00. ATL is famous for its excellent dining scene, so if you enjoy mouth-watering steaks, barbecues, or Mexican food with your significant other, this pleasure in a mid-range restaurant will cost you about $50.00.
MARTA Provides Transportation
Public transportation is the most efficient way of getting around A-Town – Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) is the eighth-largest rapid transit system in the nation by ridership.
A 30-day pass for MARTA will cost you $95, but you shouldn’t rely entirely on public transportation options. Even if you happen to live near a train, bus, or para-transit vehicle station, living in Atlanta without a car is not recommendable. Take into consideration professional car shipping service to move your vehicle to A-Town and make your life easier.
When it comes to walkability, ATL is certainly no NYC. Besides its downtown which boasts walkable streets, everything else is super spread out. That’s why a car is recommended. Luckily, the average price of a gallon of regular gas is $2.44, based on Expatistan data, which is still lower than gas per gallon in California – $3.06.
Gas Prices Are Cheaper in Atlanta Georgia Than in Most US States
Depending on your car model and gas you’re used to buying, the fuel price can vary from $1.80 to even $4.00. Still, gas prices in Georgia are among the lowest compared to other states. For example, in Hawaii, midgrade and premium gas are between $3.35 and $3.57, while diesel is $4.00. In Pennsylvania, the prices range from $2.73 to $2.77, in New York from $2.56 to $2.85, while in Georgia vary from $2.31 to $2.50, based on Finance.yahoo data.
How Much of Your Monthly Income You Should Set Aside for Leisure and Miscellaneous Expenses
When it comes to art, culture, and fun things to do in A-Town, the situation is quite diverse. Depending on your own preferences, you can choose among concerts, theaters, historical spots, outdoor activities, and plenty of options that the vibrant Atlanta nightlife scene offers.
Living in Georgia's Capital Means Enough Fun for All Ages, But at What Cost?
If you happen to be moving with children, they will be happy with the wide choice of things for kids to do in Atlanta. Some of the most famous sites you shouldn’t miss are: Alliance Theatre, Botanical Garden, History Center, Magic Theater, Center for Puppetry Arts, Children’s Museum, Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola.
Based on Expatistan.com data, two tickets for the movies are $28, the best available seats for the theater are $184, and a month of a gym membership is about $45. If you want to visit the Coke Museum, the tickets are from $13 to $17, while for the Aquarium experience, you should put aside from $29 to $33.
If you have a baby, the infant care is about $640 per month, while a 4-year-old will cost you $540 monthly, based on geears.org information. And if you have two children, on an annual level, you’ll face an even more considerable burden – $14,150, which is almost 46% more than the average rent in Georgia per year.
Clothing and Shoes
If you need to buy some general pieces of clothes, such as a pair of jeans, a summer dress, sneakers or leather business shoes, the pricing varies from $35 to $106.
According to Payscale.com, healthcare in ATL is 8% higher than the national avg:
- Doctor’s visit – $119
- Dentist visit – $102
- Optometrist visit – $111
- Veterinary visit – $52
If you need a medicine drug, you should stow away from $7 to $474, depending on the type of medication. According to Expatistan, for toiletries, you will need about $50 each month.
Taxes in Atlanta Georgia
Georgia is a state with a mixed tax picture due to its modest property taxes combined with taxes on groceries and high sales tax. To learn more about the tax system before moving to ATL , we’ve narrowed some of the most important features of Georgia’s tax system:
- Sales tax – 4% state charge. The state doesn’t tax grocery food sales, but localities are allowed.
- Effective tax rate – 5.24% for single filers, and 5.8% for joint filers
- Property taxes – residents are obliged to pay an average of $1.000 in taxes per $100,000 of the appraised home value
- Vehicle taxes – tax of 7% is charged at registration. If you’re an owner of an electric vehicle, your annual licensing fee is $200
- Inheritance and estate taxes do not exist
When it comes to retiree issues, the state boasts a tax-friendly system, which means the following:
- Social security income is not taxed
- Cancellations from retirement accounts are only partially taxed
- Wages are charged at regular rates, and your marginal state tax rate is 5.75%
- Public and private retirement income are partially taxed
Tips on How to Save Up When Moving to Atlanta and After Settling Down
Before you hire professional long distance Atlanta movers and their packing services, it’s advisable to learn more about how to plan your budget and save money when relocating cross country and settling in A-Town.
The general rule of thumb says that you should save 3-6 months’ worth of your income before relocating to ATL. These savings will be your main financial backstop when it comes to paying for professional moving company costs, transportation to The Big A, rent for the first month, grocery supplies, and deposits at utility companies.
After a certain period of living in the city, you’d probably want to know how to save on utilities in A-Town. So, here are some general tips:
- Consider energy-efficient appliances and save at least $100 a year on power bills
- A smart thermostat can help reduce your electric bill
- Compare internet providers
- Unplug large appliances when not using them and save money
- Install dimmer switches
- Fix leaky ductwork
The Big Peach Is Waiting for You
After all these tips and information about the cost of living in Atlanta, you might find this city a bit pricey, but don’t forget it’s still much cheaper than New York, San Francisco, or Boston. Besides, its booming economy, vast green spaces suitable to let some steam off, and excellent kid-friendly spots, will provide you with a sense of contentment and happiness. If you’re a gourmet, you’ll be thrilled that some of the best restaurants in Atlanta are packed with outstanding menu items and specialties that will satisfy even the pickiest guests. Simply put, there are many unique things to do in Atlanta and that alone is reason enough to book reliable long distance moving services.
All in all, with a cost of living index of 76.70, A-Town is a place where your income and expenses will be in balance.