Living in Atlanta Georgia – The Definitive Guide for a Newcomer

If you’re considering moving to Atlanta, then you’re probably asking yourself what living in Atlanta looks like. There is no short answer because we’re talking about a vast and diverse place with so much to offer. We went the extra mile to give you a complete and thorough picture of life in this sprawling Southern metropolis. Enjoy reading about how it feels to be a resident of the Georgia capital.

More and more people are realizing how great a community this is – the metro area saw an increase of approximately 734,000 people from 2010 to 2019. It currently has around 524 thousand residents, and it’s constantly growing, while its metropolitan area is ninth-largest in the nation with about 6 million people. It’s the most prominent urban unit in GA by territory, spreading across some 134 square miles.

A large number of transplants have transformed the city into a very diverse place to live, and that unique mix of cultures is making The A what it is today – a thriving and bustling Southern capital. The population today is 52.8% White, 34.3% Black, 6.1% Asian, 10.9% Hispanic, and 13.8% of foreign-born people.

Livability is excellent because of the beautiful and warm weather almost all year round and a booming economy, which is also a reason for a large number of newcomers.

Is Atlanta a Good Place to Live?

No matter who you are and where you come from, you will be accepted here, and you will surely enjoy your stay. Atlanta, ATL, The A, The Big Peach, Black Hollywood, or however you wish to call it, the capital of GA is a land of opportunities, hospitality, and great fun. Whether you want to start from scratch and change things, or you’re coming in search of a new career, this is the place to reinvent yourself. Atlantans that are born and raised here along with the ones who came a few years ago share the same opinion – it’s a fantastic place to reside in.

A Few General Things You Need to Know Before Relocating Long Distance

If you want to fit right in, there are some things you should learn if you wish to become a genuine Atlantan. Here’s a list of the most important ones:

  • Southern hospitality is an important characteristic of this place
  • This is a sports town – Falcons, Braves, Atlanta United, and Hawks are teams that everyone loves, and they all have amazing Stadiums. Mercedes-Benz Stadium is a multi-purpose and most sustainable venue of its kind in the world. It truly offers a unique experience.
  • The food is amazing, and the city is the birthplace of the famous Varsity restaurant chain. The one here is also the biggest drive-in restaurant in the world.
  • Many more iconic brands such as Coca-Cola, Home Depot, United Parcel Service, and Delta Air Lines have headquarters in this place.
  • A lot of movies are filmed here every year, and the music industry is thriving. Artists that are trying to succeed in the movie or music industry come here to try their luck. Many celebrities like Outcast, Migos, Usher, Ciara, John Mayer, and T.I hail from The A.
  • There are around 70 lanes, places, drives, and avenues that have the word “peach” in them, but there’s only one Peach Street.
  • Five colossal rings at the Centennial Olympic Park serve as an eternal reminder of the Summer Olympic Games that were held here in 1996.
  • There’s always something to do and some event going on, so you will never be bored in the Big Peach.

Pros and Cons of Living in Atlanta

When you ask a current resident: Why do you love living in Atlanta, and what bothers you, you will hear about both the good and the bad sides of being a local around here. As in every metropolis, there are going to be some things that everyone dislikes and some that you must love. Here’s a brief list for newcomers.

Here's a list of pros

Choosing to reside here is a fantastic opportunity to change your career, improve the current one, or start your own business. The A is known for its robust economy – its job market increased by 2.9% over the last year, and it’s predicted to grow even more over the next ten years.

Some of the most famous worldwide companies have headquarters here, but the economy itself is driven by the fact that The A has the lowest relative cost of doing business among the nation’s ten largest metro areas.

When comparing The A with other cities that attract young people and offer this many good things, the cost of living here is really low. It’s cheaper than New York and California, and yet it has a similar vibe of a booming metropolis.

Many different cultures and races live together in the largest community of GA. More than half of the population are African American, and it’s the second-largest metro area with a Black majority in the US. It’s also one of the places with the highest LGBT population per capita. You’re not going to have problems with getting along with your neighbors: Atlantans are known to be very kind and helpful.

It’s never dull in The A. Atlantans always have something to do, such as attending festivals, sports events, going to the bars and clubs or concerts. Every weekend there’s something going on, so just check your calendar and have fun.

A lot of people here know each other and have mutual friends. There are many churches and social clubs, so if you join some of them or meet someone, you will soon become a part of a much larger group. Once you’re finished saying bye to friends in your old town, get ready to make some new ones.

If you don’t like the cold and snow, you’ll be making a great decision by coming here. Don’t get us wrong – you will see snow, but there will be an inch of it at most. It’s similar to other Southern states: the coldest month is January, and it can get wet and chilly.

As always, there are also some not so positive aspects of living in Atlanta

The A is quite spread out, so you will need a car, but the traffic is bad. There are alternatives to avoid traffic congestions, but the rush hour can be just awful.

The heat and the humidity can be unbearable – July is the warmest and the rainiest month, which makes a combo that’s not for everyone.

As in most vibrant large cities, general safety is not perfect, and carjacking and robberies are still a thing. But if you apply a few precautionary steps (like not leaving your wallet in the car) and pick a good neighborhood, the chances of such things happening are mostly the same as anywhere else.

Is It Expensive to Live in Atlanta?

Before choosing to relocate somewhere, you have to find out if you can afford it. That is why we did research and found out the prices of some essential expenses. According to the site Numbeo that compares everyday costs in various places, the cost of living in Atlanta is ranked 73rd out of 511 most expensive cities. On that same list, Seattle ranks as 25th and Los Angeles 46th, just for comparison.

If you’re moving to a city alone, your monthly costs will be around $1,000 without rent, while a four-person family costs are $3,540, also without rent. Given that the average salary after taxes is nearly $4,700, becoming an Atlantan is not overly expensive, at all. You will have enough money for everyday expenses, and be able to leave some in your piggy bank. Almost 37% of your monthly salary will be spent on rent, while the second biggest expense is grocery shopping – 31%.

Compared to other cities, The A has similar prices as Denver, Colorado, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It’s more expensive than Dallas and Austin, Texas, but it’s much cheaper than Los Angeles or NYC.

Useful Info About Renting and Buying a Property

Whether you opt for residing in the center or for moving to the suburbs, you have to know the average prices of finding a home.

According to Numbeo, the price for a one-bedroom apartment in the center is around $1,600, while the same-sized place outside of the center will take $1,100. If you’re considering coming with your family, or you simply wish to have a bigger apartment, keep in mind that a three-bedroom apartment costs almost $2,900 in the center and $1,900 further from Downtown.

As fas as buying property is concerned, you can calculate the average home price: a square foot for a place in the center costs $350, and it’s $180 for apartments outside of the center.

Don’t forget the utilities – the basic ones such as electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage for 915 square-feet apartments are around $160. Keep in mind that it gets pretty hot here, so your air conditioning will be working more than you might be used to. Also, be prepared for higher figures on your bills, especially if you’re moving from a small town to a big city.

What Are the Job Opportunities When Living in Atlanta

There are some essential things to consider when relocating for a job, such as the economy of the state and the community you will be residing in.

As we already said, the job market situation and the unemployment rate here work in your favor. Before the COVID19 pandemic, the national unemployment rate stood at 3.6%, while in The A, it was only 4%.

It’s easy to find a job without the usual struggle. As the locals say, you only need to show initiative and goodwill, and someone will hire you. ATL takes the fourth spot among the cities with the highest number of Fortune 500 company headquarters. It’s also home to seven enterprises from the prestigious Fortune 100 list. More than 75% of the Fortune 1000 are present in this area, and many of the big names are here. The entertainment industry is vast, and so is the IT industry. Whatever might be your occupation, you’ll be able to land a job here. If you’re in the music or movie industry, you’ll quickly find a project to work on.

Who Are the Biggest Employers?

It’s always recommended to have a job before you relocate somewhere else, so find some tips on how to get a job before you move and try them out. You will feel safe and you won’t stress over money once you have a secure source of income. If this is maybe a last-minute moving decision, you might want to know who are the biggest employers here.

Aside from the Coca Cola, UPS, Newell Rubbermaid, and Home Depot, there are a lot more corporations and businesses that hire thousands of people. Some of them are:

  • Emory University hires more than 31,000 people from The A
  • Delta Airlines with almost 31,000
  • Gwinnett County Public Schools with 21,500
  • AT&T Inc. with 20,000
  • Piedmont Healthcare with 17,000

According to the Glassdoor site, the top places to work here in 2020 according to the employees are:

  • Bain & Company
  • Ultimate Software
  • VIPKid
  • Southwest Airlines
  • Boston Consulting Group
  • Trader Joe’s
  • Power Home Remodeling
Dominant sectors here are trade and transportation that hire 530,000 workers

What Taxes Will You Pay When Living in Atlanta Georgia

This place has a combined minimum sales tax rate of 8.9% that includes state, county, and city sales tax rates. GA sales tax rate is 4%, while the ATL tax is 1.5%.

As for the property taxes, you will pay an amount that is calculated based on the value of your place. The effective property tax rate is 0.91%, so you can determine the tax once you know the property value.

Income tax is also charged, but it depends on the zip code you’re in, and it varies from 4% to 9%. If you reside further from the center, your tax rate will be lower.

Take your future taxes into consideration when thinking about becoming a resident

Know How to Find the Best Neighborhood

Regardless of whether you wish to move to some of the Atlanta neighborhoods closer to Downtown or opt for Atlanta suburbs, you should learn how to choose the one that suits your lifestyle and needs. Firstly, you have to decide what are your demands and to see the characteristics of every community. Here are some of the examples of what you should look out for:

  • Affordability
  • Walkability
  • Parks and environment
  • Crime level
  • Cafes, bars, and restaurants
  • Ratings of schools if you have kids
  • Diversity

Once you see that the neighborhood you chose matches your criteria, you can start looking for an apartment.

What Are the Best Options in GA Capital?

To make an educated decision on where to buy or rent a place easier for you, we researched the most popular neighborhoods in The A area. We selected the top six based on Niche‘s ranking.

Top options for living in Atlanta Georgia

This diverse and urban neighborhood is home to around 2,000 people. The majority of them rent their homes, and the median rent is $1,500. Schools here are above average, and some of the top ones are Grady High School and Springdale Park Elementary School. It’s highly suitable for families and kids, so keep that in mind if you’re moving while pregnant.

Peachtree Heights is a very affordable place with around a thousand residents. Median rent is about $600, and yet the majority owns their homes. Peachtree Heights East has an A+ for safety while the education level is very high. The highest-rated school is North Atlanta High School.

Around 2,000 residents chose this area because of the dense urban feeling, diversity, and vibrant nightlife. There are lots of bars, coffee shops, and restaurants. If you’re planning to get a pet or you’re moving with pets, keep in mind that this community also has many parks where you can take your dogs out for a walk. Median rent is $1,400 and it’s a pretty safe community.

Midtown is very diverse and has a fantastic nightlife, which is why a younger population chooses to reside here. It has more than 16,600 residents, most of which rent their places. The median rent is $1,400, and that is only $400 more expensive than the national average. Numerous highly-rated schools are here, such as Grady High School and Inman Middle School. Keep in mind that the crime rates here are not so good compared to some other parts of the city.

Around 8,000 people reside in Morningside and they love it. It’s very walkable, friendly, and great for kids. It’s close to the center, but it gives an urban-suburban feel. The median rent is $1,600 and more people own their homes than rent. Bars and restaurants are also amazing.

The great thing about this community is how close it is to shops, restaurants, metro stations, Downtown, and everything else you might need. It’s pretty safe and fantastic for relocating with your family. People are very hospitable and kind, and it’s also affordable. Median rent is $1,600, and the median home value is $311,000.

Is Atlanta Safe to Live In?

Neighborhoodscout states that the crime rate here is one of the highest in the nation when compared to all communities of all sizes. What locals have noticed when it comes to crime in The A is that broken car windows aren’t such a rare occurrence. The crime rate varies from one neighborhood to another, but the general public safety has been a problem in this city since the 20th century. But as we’ve already mentioned, with enough common sense and precaution, you’ll be safe here as anywhere else.

Even though The A has some crime issues, it also has amazing communities

What’s the Traffic Like?

This is, unfortunately, one thing that every person who lives in The A agrees with – the traffic can be horrible. There are too many cars on the roads, which causes traffic congestions, even if there were no accidents.

You can also use MARTA – a mass transportation system with trains, buses, and streetcars. A monthly pass costs $95, and a one-way ticket is $2.5. It doesn’t cover every part of the metropolis, and that is why many people prefer to use their cars. There are also taxis – start costs $3, and one mile in regular tariff costs $3.50. Biking is also always an option.

Having a car here is a necessity because the community is really spread out. The gas prices are very low – one gallon is $2.55. Consider getting auto transport, but be ready to stay stuck in traffic.

Another important fact is that Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is the busiest and most efficient of its kind in the world. It has so many flights every day, so booking a ticket and going somewhere will never be a problem. Over 150 domestic destinations and 70 international ones are available non-stop.

Atlantans agree that traffic is a problem here

What Are the Best Spots Where You Can Have a Tasty Meal?

Here is some excellent news for the foodies – The A has fantastic food. They are very proud of it and love the fact that you can choose between so many different and amazing eateries. We promise that there won’t be a single situation when you want to eat something, but you can’t find it here. Japanese, Thai, Italian, French, Lebanese, American – you name it, Atlantans have it. But how to choose between so many good spots? This is why we selected some of the best restaurants in Atlanta you must visit.

  • The most popular places to have breakfast are mostly American cafes and diners that have a reputation for serving delicious waffles, french toasts, and oatmeals. Some of them are Atlanta Breakfast Club, Buttermilk Kitchen, Thumbs Up Diner, and Home Grown. These are also great places for brunch.
  • If you’re looking for a place to have lunch at, we recommend booking a table at Aviva by Kameel, Fox Bros BBQ, OK Cafe, and Herban Fix – Vegan Kitchen. Eight Sushi Lounge is excellent if you’re up for some fresh seafood.
  • Dinner is best at Babette’s Cafe, Bone’s Restaurant, Desta Ethiopian Kitchen, and Nikolai’s Roof. They all have fantastic options for every meal, but having dinner here is something special.

The A is known for many vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options at almost every eatery. Whichever diet you have, you’ll still be able to choose where you will eat.

Come and see why so many people adore the food in this place

There Are Many Things to Do and Places to See

What we haven’t mentioned yet is that there are so many unique things to do in Atlanta. Many outdoor attractions such as Centennial Olympic Park, Piedmont Park, or Atlanta Beltline will surely be something you’ll enjoy visiting. There are also numerous museums, galleries, theatres for everyone who likes culture, but music and Atlanta nightlife are something this place has a reputation for. It’s one of the coolest parts of residing here. Most of the clubs and bars are at the Downtown, Midtown, and Buckhead. Just open your browser and see what’s going on this week, and the fun is guaranteed. Visiting attractions such as the Atlanta Botanical Garden can be one of the romantic things to do in Atlanta. Or if you and your partner both love Coke, we suggest going to the World of Coca-Cola.

What Will Your Kids Love the Most in Atlanta: Here’s a List of the Most Popular Child-Friendly Things

The youngest ones will also have tons of fun in The A. Apart from the parks, kids also love the Magic Theater, Center for Puppetry Arts, and Children’s Museum. Going to the Legoland Discovery Center is one of the top things for kids to do in Atlanta, as are the Zoo and the Georgia Aquarium.

Exploring ATL's attractions is a great way to spend the day

In Which Story About the Atlantans Should You Believe?

There are many stereotypes and stories about the people from The A, and we don’t want you to come here and be the one with the wrong impression and information. If you want to feel like a local from the get-go, here are some tips that will come in handy:

  • Atlantans don’t have the accent that you might expect. There is some drawl and “y’all’ like in all Southern states, but it’s far from what you have heard in the movies or cartoons.
  • You can expect Southern hospitality and act accordingly. The people here are very hospitable, friendly, and kind, so being nice and having manners is always helpful. Also, if you hear “bless your heart,” you must have done something wrong. Even though it sounds like they said something nice, they didn’t.
  • Prepare for the traffic jams, but be aware that this is not because of the bad drivers. It’s simply too many people on the road at the same time.
  • Atlantans love their sports teams, so if you wish to fit in quickly, you might want to go and watch the games.
  • Music, arts, and culture are crucial for this community and many people contribute to it. Being a musician or actor is not a rare thing here.
Atlantans are known for their hospitality

Get as Many Moving Tips as You Can Before the Relocation Comes

Moving to another state isn’t a very simple process, and it asks for time, organization, and preparation. If you wish to have a stress free moving, the best thing to do is to get all the moving tips online or from the people that have moved recently. Some parts of the preparation process such as packing require that you learn how to handle all the items you wish to take with you. You must find out how to move electronics or how to remove a chandelier. All of that takes time and patience, so even if it seems that you will be ready to go in a few hours, prepare for weeks of packing.

You might also require storage to leave your belongings if you haven’t found the perfect place yet, so keep in mind that it can be an additional cost. Indeed, the most effective solution is hiring professional Atlanta long-distance movers that can do everything for you. It might not be absolutely the cheapest way to move out of state, but it’s the safest and most reliable option.

Getting professional movers will save you a lot of trouble

You’ll Get to a Stage of Feeling Like a Local in No Time

Atlantans will make sure that you feel like one of them as soon as you arrive. Living in Atlanta, Georgia made a positive impression to all who decided to relocate, regardless of the reasons. All of those who are here because they aren’t big fans of grey skies, cold, and snow, finally have 217 sunny days per year. Those who wanted to start their own business couldn’t have dreamed of a better place to do it. Even though the traffic isn’t so good, gas prices compensate for that. Crime, as in every metropolis, varies by the location, and you will feel safer in certain areas than in others. Overall, becoming an Atlantan means being able to enjoy any kind of lifestyle you want. Coming to The A is most certainly the right decision.

Written By: Christina Henry