Is Moving to Atlanta Worth It?

Atlanta’s a global city that’s growing fast. With a diverse population, booming tech, film & entertainment industries, amazing food, and more green spaces than most major cities, Atlanta GA is guaranteed to have something for you.

Confusing Atlanta lingo

Atlanta can seem overwhelming at first, especially when it comes to traffic and city-specific lingo.

ITP? OTP? 04W? L5P?
OMG, IDK!

This guide will help you navigate living in Atlanta and prepare you for your big move. Read on to learn more!

Everything about relocating to Atlanta

If you’re looking for more info on moving to Atlanta, check out our resources on:

A few more moving resources:

  • If you’re looking to hire a moving company to help you move to Atlanta we created a list of the best interstate movers.
  • Or, if movers are out of your budget be sure to check out our list of best moving pod companies. They’ll be cheaper but still allow you to avoid some of the hassles of moving.
  • Lastly, if you need to ship a car be sure to have a look at our list of best car shipping companies.

Quick Atlanta GA snapshot

  • Atlanta’s currently the 37th most populous city in the US, but the metro Atlanta area includes 6,020,864 people. That makes it the 9th biggest metro area in the country, just behind Philadelphia.
  • Rent in Atlanta averages at $1,548 as of early 2021, which is high for the Southeast but beats many other big cities across the US. Housing, on the other hand, comes in at a median price of $330,000 as of January 2021.
  • Many company headquarters abound here. Delta Airlines, Cartoon Network, and Home Depot all operate out of an Atlanta home base.
  • Filmmakers across the US have flocked to Atlanta––outside of LA and New York City, it’s becoming one of the best cities in the country for the entertainment industry.
  • Coca-Cola, Willy’s, Chick-fil-A, Tin Drum, and Moe’s are headquartered in ATL as well. Waffle House opened here in Avondale Estates in 1955. That’s right, you can thank Atlanta for all those late night hangover meals.
  • There are 37 colleges in Atlanta with over 130,000 students. Atlanta has become a popular college city with countless undergrads and young professionals starting careers within the city’s prosperous job market. If you’re into learning, living in Atlanta might be for you!

We’ve covered some highlights of this great city. Now sit back, relax, and take a quick aerial tour.

Atlanta neighborhoods: Diversity doesn’t just apply to its people

Each of Atlanta’s many neighborhoods is full of character. To find the right area for you, let’s go over a few considerations.

ITP versus OTP

  • ITP: Inside the I-285 Perimeter. Tends to be pricier and more active.
  • OTP: Outside the I-285 Perimeter. Tends to be more affordable and laid-back/family-friendly.

First, decide on your budget. Try to be realistic. Finding the perfect place only to realize it’s $500+ more per month than you can comfortably afford is a recipe for frustration.

Next, check out this handy map to see how the different Atlanta neighborhoods are laid out across the city.

Let’s look at some of the price data from Apartment List.

A look at the numbers before you start moving to Atlanta

  • 1% of Atlanta apartments cost less than $1,000 per month.
  • 65% of Atlanta apartments cost between $1,000-$1,999 per month.
  • 26% of Atlanta apartments cost between $2,000-$2,999 per month.
  • 8% of Atlanta apartments cost over $3,000 per month.
  • The most expensive neighborhoods in Atlanta are Buckhead Forest ($2,051), Lenox ($2,032), and Midtown ($2,019).
  • The most affordable neighborhoods in Atlanta are Lindbergh – Morosgo ($1,870), Piedmont Heights ($1,871), and Loring Heights ($1,902).

Now here’s where your budget comes in. This rental hotspot map below will give you a good idea of where you can afford to live in Atlanta.

Atlanta Rental Hotspot Map 2021

Bring it all together

Bottom line: if you’re on a tighter budget, look to West End, West View, Adair Park, and Kirkwood/Edgewood. These tend to be more popular with younger crowds. If cost is no object, look to Midtown, Buckhead, and Five Points.

Side note: since Atlanta is home to so many high-caliber schools, it can be hard to find neighborhoods that don’t have a university nearby.

Highly-rated schools like Emory, Agnes Scott, Mercer, and Georgia Tech are just a few examples of universities spread around eastern, north, and central Atlanta.

There are also several schools in the Atlanta University Center Consortium that share predominantly African-American heritage, including Clark Atlanta University, Spelman College, and Morehouse College and Morehouse School of Medicine.

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Where are people like me living?

The website Esri.com does an amazing job breaking down demographics by zip code with their zip tapestry tool.

Atlanta Neighborhood Demographics

For example, if you plug in Atlanta, GA (zip code 30324) into the tool you’ll get a full breakdown of the primary types of people living in that area. How cool is that?!

Atlanta Neighborhood Statistics

Data’s great, but nothing beats first-hand experience. If you can swing it, why not take a mini-vacation to the neighborhood(s) that interest you?

AirBnB with a local or explore the town with Meetup–it could give you the perspective you need to feel confident about where you’ll be setting up roots in your move to Atlanta.

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How is commuting in Atlanta?

Check out this map to get oriented with Atlanta’s major roads:

Atlanta road map

I’ll give it to you straight – Atlanta’s traffic is terrible. 87% of Atlantans drive to work. Commuting’s definitely a top factor when considering where to live in Atlanta, so let’s look at ways you can beat the rush hour.

Traffic: The bottom line

Pro-tip: Work as close to where you live as possible. Plan to drive during non-peak times when possible.

Also, if you’re commuting on I-85 on the north side, or going to other southern states like North Carolina or Florida often, consider getting a Peach Pass to take care of tolls.

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Atlanta’s walkability

Transportation in Atlanta 2021
Atlanta’s scores are: walk – 48, transit – 47, bike – 45 and walkscore.com rates it a car-dependent city.

If you really hate owning a car, check out Atlanta’s most walkable neighborhoods: Georgia State University, Peachtree Center, and Sweet Auburn – all rank in the 90’s for walkability.

Public transportation

MARTA– Atlanta’s answer for public transit. It’ll get you around inside the perimeter, but getting to and from the suburbs requires some ingenuity.

Here’s a map of MARTA’s train stops throughout the city.

Atlanta train stations map 2020

For info on using MARTA’s bus system, look here and for bus routes, look here. If you’re looking for ideas on where to go, check out this list of 10 of the easiest places to visit with MARTA.

If you’re living in the city and MARTA’s a good option for you, different passes are available, including a 7 Day Pass for $23.75 or a 30 Day Pass for $95.

Biking in The A

Biking in Atlanta Map

Central Atlanta is definitely the most bikeable part of the city.

Check out the map to the left to see which neighborhoods work best for biking.

Green is ideal, red and grey are bad. Clearly certain areas are winners.

The best areas for biking are all close to downtown Atlanta: Cabbagetown, Marietta Street Artery, and Old Fourth Ward.

Air transit

Atlanta’s also home to Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Also known as ATL, it’s the busiest airport in the world since 1998 and the headquarters for Delta Airlines.

If you glance at its facts page, you’ll see ATL’s within a two-hour flight of 80 percent of the US population. Pro-tip: Ride MARTA’s redline directly to ATL to avoid huge parking fees or expensive cab/Uber fares for long trips.

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Next, let’s talk about crime. What’s the crime rate like living in Atlanta?

Scoring a whopping 3 out of 100 on the crime index (100 is best, 0 is worst), Atlanta sounds like the lawless wild west of America’s frontier days. However, property crimes make up the majority and there are plenty of areas that feel completely safe.

Atlanta Crime Map 2021

Check out the crime map to the right. Dark blue = less safe, light blue = more safe.

Crime rates are lower in North and West Atlanta.

Straight to the point: if you want to avoid the areas with the worst crime, avoid parts of South and East Atlanta. For example, areas near Virginia Highlands, Fourth Ward, & MLK Boulevard.

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Atlanta apartment hunting

Atlanta weather

Expect hot, humid summers with temps in the 90’s and fairly cold winters.

You’ll definitely want an apartment with heating and air conditioning.

If you’re not from the South, here’s an important PSA: Atlantans freak out when it snows. But as Buzzfeed rightly points out, they also support each other.

Atlanta snow shutdown The Walking Dead

This is a pretty accurate take on what it’s like living in Atlanta when it snows. The Walking Dead fans will recognize this (modified) poster on the right. Did you know it films right outside of Atlanta?

When renting a place with heating and air conditioning, you’ll want to take the average electricity bill per month into account when budgeting.

Many apartments come with on-site laundry facilities. Also, there are laundromats in most of the city. But if you prefer solitude and the convenience of washing at home, hold out for a place with a washer/dryer.

Here are a few of our favorite websites to find apartments. Use the sort function to drill down on your desired number of bedrooms, budget, etc.

It may surprise you, but Craigslist is a very useful site for finding apartments (especially places with owners/landlords desperate to rent out).

Note: This DOES NOT mean you should trust Craigslist implicitly. Here’s their guide on how to recognize potential scammers.

Atlanta’s rental market

Rents in Atlanta have increased 5% from 2020 to 2021, compared to a 3% increase in the US as a whole. Atlanta’s cost of living overall is a bit higher than most of the South.

The vacancy rate is 6.2%, compared to 5.97% for the nation as a whole. However, vacancy rates are trending down as the city continues to grow.

If you want more insights on the Atlanta market, check out this report.

Georgia rental law

Since each state has its own way of handling rental laws, here are a few links on GA rental law.

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Life in Atlanta and its surrounding suburbs

Atlanta has some of the classiest and swankiest suburbs in Georgia.

You can find artistic areas, quiet subdivisions, and extremely diverse communities. Sandy Springs, Decatur, and Smyrna all have higher-end rentals available.

Smyrna, Georgia Properties Zillow

However, if your budget is tighter and you’re ok with more of a commute, take a look at Tucker, Clarkston, Candler-McAfee, or Forest Park.

By now, you should have some ideas of where you might want to live.

Next, let’s look at what you can do to unwind. Whether you’re a casual pub patron, club-goer, or you want to get your culture on with some live theatre or music, Atlanta’s got plenty to offer.

Staying at home to knit with your cat is cool, too.

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What keeps Atlantans entertained: Nightlife

Clubs. Comedy. Cinema. Clermont? Atlanta’s nightlife is lively.

Atlanta at nightPhoto Credit: Flickr user Jason Wu

10 Best did a great job with their list for Atlanta nightlife. Their list covers essentials like the campy bar Church, comedy spot Laughing Skull Lounge, and the seedy strip club with history, Clermont Lounge. But, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

There’s something for everyone here.

  • Clubs and partying – Buckhead, Midtown, Downtown and eastern Atlanta have some of the best options.
  • Casual hanging out – check out the Beltline at night or a town square, like Decatur Square or Marietta Square.
  • Live music, theatre, and comedy – options are spread out across the metro area.

Want more nightlife info? Read our Atlanta nightlife guide for an in-depth look at how the A-town gets down.

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Now that you’re ready to move to Atlanta…

If you want to get an idea of the cost of different moving services, check out our moving cost calculator.

You also may want to have a glance at our moving out of state guide for more info and tips to consider when making a long distance move.

If your move is from a nearby location, check out local Atlanta movers here.

There isn’t a metro-wide policy on parking times & permit requirements; it varies by area. Check this FAQ for regulations & area parking maps (Center Business District has the most zones), or call.

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Finished moving to Atlanta? Do this to get settled in

Congrats! You’re now an Atlantan. What boxes should you check to make your transition smooth?

  • Voter registration: you can find the steps to register to vote here.
  • Driver’s license: if you’re moving from out of state, you must get a Georgia license within 30 days of moving. You can find out how to do that here. Also, check out the relocation info here.
  • Vehicle registration: find the steps for registering your vehicle here.
  • Trash & recycling: the city handles trash and recycling. You can find your trash collection days here.
  • Ways to meet people: Atlanta always has something going on. A great option for newcomers is Meetup.com. Couchsurfing has an active Atlanta group that meets every week, is very open to newcomers, and brings together interesting people from all over the world!
  • Hire help with your lawn: Lawns are a big deal here. And between the hot summers and all the fun activities to do, the last thing you’ll want to do is push a mower. Wikilawn has put together a list of Atlanta’s top lawn services for you to pick from.

Atlanta Meetup

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Don’t forget to check out some of these great Atlanta attractions

Atlanta Centennial Olympic Park

Parks

Finding relaxing nature spots at parks like Piedmont Park or Centennial Olympic Park takes little effort when living in Atlanta, thanks to its abundant and well-maintained options.

Photo Credit: Flickr user Hector Sanchez

Shopping

Atlanta’s a big city with loads of malls for you to spend your hard-earned cash. Lenox Square Mall is a Buckhead essential.

To the north, there’s the Perimeter Mall. Cumberland Mall’s another solid choice.

Food

Satisfy your inner foodie with a trip to Buford Highway for lots of exotic eating options. Check out the farmer’s market there, too.

Explore options intown like Mary Mac’s or do a walking food tour in the downtown area or on the Beltline.

Sports teams

Get acquainted with the teams you’ll be rooting for–or at least prepare yourself for Atlanta’s enthusiastic fans.

Check out the Hawks in basketball, the Falcons in football, the Braves in baseball, and one of the newest additions, Atlanta United FC.

Events and tours

Something’s always happening in Atlanta. Don’t forget to check out local events like the ones listed here and here. Love movies and TV? Take an Atlanta landmark tour!

That’s it! I’ll let Ludacris take it from here…

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