Tips on Moving to Atlanta, GA: Relocation Guide

Peaches. Zombies. Coke and Waffles. Civil Rights.

You’re moving to Hotlanta! Wait, stop there. Don’t call it that. Seriously, it’s not cool.

Moving to AtlantaPhoto Credit: Steve Hardy

Atlanta’s a global city that’s growing fast. With a diverse population, booming tech, film & entertainment industries, amazing food, and more green than most major cities, Atlanta GA will have something great to offer 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 decipher the mysteries of Atlanta and prep you for your big move. Read on to learn more!

Learn everything you need to know about moving to Atlanta

Quick Atlanta GA Snapshot

  • Atlanta’s currently the 38th most populous city in the US, but the metro Atlanta area includes 472,522 people. That makes it the 9th biggest metro area in the country, just behind Miami.
  • Rent in Atlanta averages at $1,376 as of early 2018, which is high for the Southeast but beats many other big cities across the US. Housing, on the other hand, comes at an average price of $265,000.
  • Many company headquarters abound here. Delta, Cartoon Network, and Home Depot all operate out of an Atlanta home base.
  • 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.
  • Home to more than 32 colleges in Atlanta with over 80,000 students, Atlanta’s a college city with countless undergrads and young professionals starting careers. If you’re into learning, Atlanta’s the place for you!

We’ve covered some highlights about 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-oriented.

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 get oriented for how the different Atlanta neighborhoods are laid out across the city.

Atlanta neighborhoods map

Now, let’s dig into the price data from RentJungle:

A look at the numbers before you start moving to Atlanta

  • The most expensive Atlanta neighborhoods to rent apartments are Five Points, Midtown, Buckhead, and Poncey-Highland – those will have you spending around $1,600-$2,000 and up per month.
  • For a mid-point, Kirkwood/Edgewood, Grant Park, and West End average around $900-1,200 per month.
  • As for the least expensive neighborhoods in Atlanta, renting in Adair Park, Grove Park, Cascade Heights, and Center Hill are the winners. These average $550-$800 per month.

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

Note: Green = cheaper

Atlanta rental hotspot map

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.

Where are people like me living?

The website Esri.com does an amazing job breaking down demographics by zip code with their ziptapestry 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 in the neighborhood(s) that interest you?

AirBnB-ing with a local or exploring the town with Meetup could give you the perspective you need to feel confident about where you’ll be setting up roots in Atlanta.

How is Commuting in Atlanta?

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

Atlanta road map

I’ll give it to you straight – Atlanta’s traffic is terrible. 88% of Atlantans drive to work. Commuting’s definitely a top factor when considering where to live in Atlanta.

Atlanta Apartment Rental Map 2018

How to use the map: Open the link and drag the cursor to your starting point.

Times: green areas are 5-20 minutes of traffic, yellow are 20-35, and red are 35 minutes plus. You probably don’t want to do that.

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 NC or FL often, consider getting a Peach Pass to take care of tolls.

Atlanta’s Walkability

Atlanta walkscore

Atlanta’s scores are: walk – 48, transit – 44, bike – 50 and walkscore.com rates it a car-dependent city for most errands.

If you really hate owning a car, check out Atlanta’s most walkable neighborhoods: Georgia State University, Peachtree Center and Buckhead Village – 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 MARTA rail map

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

Atlanta bikescore 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/grey are bad. Clearly certain areas are winners.

Some of the best areas for biking are all close to Downtown: Atlantic Station, Poncey-Highland, and Home Park.

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.

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.

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

Scoring a whopping 2 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

Check out the crime map to the right. Dark blue = more safe, light blue = less 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 that are gentrifying near Virginia Highlands, Fourth Ward, & MLK Boulevard.

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

The Walking Dead fans will recognize this (modified) poster on the right. Did you know it films right outside Atlanta? Also, this is a pretty accurate take on Atlanta when it snows.

When renting a place with heat and air conditioning, you’ll want to take the average electircity 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 washer/dryer.

Here are a few of our favorite websites to find apartments. Use the sort functionality 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 whose owners/landlords are desperate to rent out).

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

Atlanta’s Rental Market

Rents in Atlanta have increased 1.76% from 2017 to 2018, compared to a 3.43% 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 5.93%, compared to 5.85% for the nation as a whole. But, vacancy rates are trending down as the city continues to grow.

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

Atlanta’s Rental Law

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

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.

Atlanta rentals higher end

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.

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 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.

Now that you’re ready to move to Atlanta…

Moving Cost Calculator

If you want to get an idea on 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.

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.

Finished Moving to Atlanta? Do this to get settled

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!

Atlanta Meetup

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 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 downtown or on the Beltline.

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…