Last year, Metro Atlanta gained the fourth highest number of residents in the nation. With vibrant, diverse communities, affordable housing and a booming economy, it’s no wonder thousands of people are moving to Atlanta from all over the country.It’s easy to fall in love with the city’s award-winning restaurants, decades of rich history and mild, sunny weather—but it’s even easier to plant roots in the ATL. The city boasts some of the best businesses, highest rates of job growth and most desirable neighborhoods for families.
As you consider all of your options, we put together everything you need to know about moving to Atlanta, GA. And you might be surprised at some of our findings.
Update: This post was originally published on February 20, 2015, and was revised on January 29, 2019, with new information from Atlanta expert, Caroline Eubanks.
What You Need to Know About Living in Atlanta
Before we get to our Atlanta neighborhood guide, here are some must-know details about living in the ATL:
How many people live in Atlanta, Georgia?
Atlanta’s population is nearing 5.8 million people, making it the ninth largest metropolitan area in the U.S. According to researchers, it’s not slowing down anytime soon. The city is expected to see some major population growth over the next two decades.
The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) predicts that the 10-county metro area will add 2.5 million people by 2040. That’s roughly the size of metro Charlotte, North Carolina! Officials project that 500,000 of them will live within city limits, more than doubling the city’s current population.
“We were one of three metros over the last decade to add more than 1 million people,” notes ARC official Mike Carnathan. “If you look at the recent past, Atlanta has been one of the fastest-growing metro areas in the nation.”
What is the economy like in Atlanta?
With a 4.9% unemployment rate and a projected 1.5 million jobs to be added by 2040, Atlanta is one of the most popular destinations for job seekers. Over 90,000 people moved to Atlanta in 2016 alone. Many of these people are young professionals settling down into their careers.
Atlanta boasts a very reasonable cost of living, particularly in comparison to other major cities like LA and NYC. Homes can be found on fairly large lots and the cost of building isn’t as high. Renting is also a popular housing choice for residents, with apartment rentals averaging $1,500 per month. The affordable housing cost coupled with the promising career growth has people flocking to the metro area by the thousands.
Atlanta is also home to the third-most Fortune 500 companies in America. Sixteen of the 18 Fortune 500 company headquarters based in Georgia can be found in metro Atlanta, including Mercedes-Benz, Home Depot, UPS, Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines and Aflac. Each year, Millennials flock to Atlanta to join its major industries: agribusiness, energy, film, aerospace and more. The film industry in particular is responsible for over 90,000 jobs in the state.
Is Atlanta safe?
Despite its reputation as a dangerous place to live—it often turns up in the national top 10 cities with the highest crime rate— Atlanta has a wide variety of safe neighborhoods. Atlanta’s public safety improvement efforts have made getting around a breeze.
The number of total year-over-year crimes in Atlanta is also on the decline. Other large metro areas such as Memphis, Oakland and Detroit all have significantly higher crime rates.
What is the weather like in Atlanta?
The average temperature in Atlanta is 70°F. The humidity, especially during the summer, can be overwhelming to first timers and visitors, but locals know to take advantage of public pools and air conditioning. Winters are usually mild, but snow appears every few years.
What celebrities live in Atlanta?
With a diverse musical heritage, vibrant arts and entertainment scene, and thriving NFL, MLB and NBA franchises, Atlanta is home to artists and celebrities alike. While many are originally from Atlanta and wish to remain close to friends and family, many also migrate to the city due to the ability to interact with other entertainers (and proximity to Nashville). Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is one of the largest transportation hubs in the world, allowing celebrities to travel to their destinations quickly and easily.
Some of the famous names that stem from the ATL include Julia Roberts, Tyler Perry, Usher, Chris Tucker, Martin Luther King Jr., Jane Fonda, T.I., Ludacris, Jeff Foxworthy, Jamie Foxx, Eric Decker, Kenny Rogers and more. Countless other actors settle here to work on film and television projects but stick around.
Best Places To Live In Atlanta
Atlanta can be simplified into a conglomeration of suburbs—each one with its own charm, vibe and neighbors. Young and single professional? Raising a family? Looking to settle down? No matter your reason for relocating to Atlanta, this city has the perfect niche for everyone. Here are the best areas to live in Atlanta:
Virginia Highland—or VaHi, as residents call it—combines vibrant city living with small-town community charm. Located east of Ansley Park and close to Downtown, the area consists of four distinct villages connected by walkable blocks. With over 100-year-old homes, Virginia Highland is one of Atlanta’s most sought-after places to live. Styles range from charming bungalows to beautiful Victorians to modern townhouses.
Just east of Ansley Park, close to Midtown and Downtown, Virginia Highland offers numerous attractions including the Beltline, Ponce City Market and Piedmont Park. Historic Virginia-Highland is Atlanta’s most popular neighborhood for art, shopping, dining and nightlife.
Neighbors: Artists, families and students
Average home price: $750,000
Average rent: $1,700
Known for: Charming, eclectic, family-friendly communiyy
If you’re looking for an upscale neighborhood in Atlanta, Buckhead is for you. Located north of Midtown and south of Brookhaven, this prestigious area is known as the Beverly Hills of the South. Here you’ll find fine dining, endless entertainment and numerous renowned cultural centers—such as the Atlanta History Center and Chastain Park Amphitheatre, the largest park in Atlanta. It’s also one of the city’s biggest shopping districts, home to both boutiques and big name stores at Lenox Square, Phipps Plaza and The Shops Buckhead Atlanta.
If you’re moving to Atlanta with kids, Buckhead makes an ideal destination due to its top-quality schools and family friendly amenities in the area. While homes are on the pricier side, you’ll find a wide variety of options from modern single condos to large estates.
Neighbors: Athletes, celebrities, affluent
Average home price: $1,000,000
Average rent: $2,000
Known for: Old money, celebrity sightings, rich in history
Old Fourth Ward
The Old Fourth Ward is one of Atlanta’s hippest new communities. This young and affordable neighborhood is the perfect destination for students, young professionals and first-time homebuyers. Located east of Downtown and south of Midtown, the area is experiencing a significant resurgence thanks to the Beltline and Ponce City Market, bringing in new dining and retail. It’s also one of the bike and pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods.
Originally one of the most desirable neighborhoods in the 19th century, the Old Fourth Ward was where Martin Luther King, Jr. grew up and perfected his preaching style. Since then, the neighborhood has been undergoing substantial revitalization while still staying true to its roots.
“In recent years, the Old Fourth Ward has become a striking symbol of intelligent gentrification in the Georgia capital,” notes Cameron Decker, Atlanta Realtor. “It’s a place where abandoned warehouses are being converted to lofts and small businesses are thriving–while the authentic flavor of this historic area remains preserved.”
Neighbors: Young professionals, artists, hipsters
Average home price: $350,000
Average rent: $1,500
Known for: Hip neighborhood, public parks and spaces, recent resurgence
If you’re moving to Atlanta and looking for convenience, Midtown is the place for you. Known as the city’s cultural epicenter (and one of the most desirable areas to live in Atlanta), the neighborhood offers easy access to Atlanta’s transportation, parks, including Piedmont Park, restaurants and thriving Midtown Arts District. It’s home to the Woodruff Arts Center, Fox Theatre, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the High Museum of Arts.
But there’s more: you also won’t want to miss Atlanta’s Midtown Mile, which runs along Peachtree Street (Atlanta’s most famous roadway). The area features one-of-a-kind restaurants and boutique shops and has shown rapid residential development over the last decade.
Homeowners can expect everything from old, Victorian homes to modern condos. Midtown offers all of these attractions right around the corner, with ample walkways and bike paths throughout the neighborhood.
Neighbors: Professionals, empty nesters
Average home price: $700,000
Average rent: $2,000
Known for: Thriving arts scene, commercial business district, vibrant community
Read Also: Downsizing to a Condo Pros and Cons
Druid Hills is one of Atlanta’s most prestigious neighborhoods, originally created as a streetcar suburb. The area is one of the major works by famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted—designer of landscapes for the U.S. Capitol, New York City’s Central Park and the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC.
With Georgian homes, elegant estates and beautiful landscapes, the area is a quiet, respectable neighborhood that’s heavily populated with Atlanta’s elites. Located about five miles east of downtown Atlanta, Druid Hills has around 15,000 residents and some of the area’s top schools. The Druid Hills Civic Association works relentlessly to preserve the neighborhood’s beauty and history.
If you’re moving to Atlanta, GA and are looking for a peaceful, upscale neighborhood, Druid Hills is for you.
Neighbors: Professionals, public officials, affluent
Average home price: $600,000
Average rent: $1,500
Known for: Architecture, beautiful landscapes, upscale area
Living in Atlanta can get pricey, but it doesn’t have to be. Kirkwood is the perfect example of a family-friendly community offering affordable, quality housing minutes from downtown Atlanta. It’s also home to a thriving arts scene, including Gilliam Park, pb&j Gallery and the Kirkwood Urban Forest Community Garden.
Located east of Atlanta, Kirkwood offers ample parks and trails—making it an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts. It’s also conveniently located close to the airport, Emory University, Georgia State, Georgia Tech and interstate highways I-20 and I-75/I-85. If you’re moving to Atlanta and prefer to get around by train, Kirkwood is right on the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) east rail line.
Kirkwood is a popular destination for real estate investors and homebuyers due to its affordable prices, diverse community and variety of housing options. Homes include everything from newly developed loft apartments to quaint ranches to new construction.
Neighbors: First-time homebuyers, families, students
Average home price: $300,000
Average rent: $1,000
Known for: Small-town charm, outdoor oasis, diverse neighborhood
Home to the campuses of Agnes Scott College and Emory University as well as the Centers for Disease Control, Decatur is a large neighborhood with wide appeal. Technically a city in its own right, this area has a strong community, with popular events like the Decatur Book Festival and live music at Eddie’s Attic, a longtime venue. Decatur also boasts a number of craft breweries and distilleries.
Served by three MARTA rail lines and the highway, the downtown area is also very pedestrian and bike friendly. Residents can walk to popular restaurants and shops. There are many types of homes, from cozy bungalows to modern ranches to apartments.
Located just southwest of Downtown Atlanta, Adair Park is an up-and-coming area with home prices that can’t be beaten.
“Many homebuyers have been priced out of more established neighborhoods, but Adair Park is one of the last neighborhoods close to downtown where first-time homebuyers can still find nice homes in the $100,000 to $200,000 range,” notes Redfin real estate agent Victoria Hurd. “This neighborhood has also become really popular as more people have opted for car-free lifestyles—it’s right next to the West End MARTA rail station and has a Bike Score of 72, making transportation quick and easy.”
Similar to the nearby West End, Adair Park offers tons of housing options and local amenities including Zoo Atlanta, The Georgia Aquarium, Centennial Olympic Park and The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. Conveniences include walkable streets and its location within three miles of Downtown Atlanta. It’s only five miles from the world’s busiest airport and within proximity to major highways.
Neighbors: First-time homebuyers, students, visionaries
Average home price: $200,000
Average rent: $800
Known for: Railroad district, up-and-coming area
What are the pros and cons of living in Atlanta?
As with every city, Atlanta has its pros and cons. Here are some things to consider before relocating to Atlanta:
The weather. Atlanta weather is great year-round, which makes the city best explored outdoors. It actually has a higher percentage of tree coverage than the national average, nicknamed “The City in the Forest.” It’s home to dozens of parks, trails and nature preserves, and the weather makes it easy to explore any day of the year.
Family-friendly atmosphere. Atlanta is a great place to raise a family. Between restaurants, shopping districts, nature trails and historic sites, it’s tough to run out of things to do. For kids, the area offers zoos, aquariums, gardens, concerts, parks and endless attractions. Many of the suburban public schools are also excellent.
Thriving economy. Georgia is consistently ranked as one of the best places to do business. Atlanta has a ton to offer for all stages of life. The city boasts a young, diverse workforce and companies know they can come to find the employees they need. Social activities and networking events make it easy to meet new people. The cost of living is also second to none.
The crime. Although crime rates are dropping, Atlanta is considered one of the most dangerous cities in America. However, crime rates vary dramatically by neighborhood—leaving plenty of safe neighborhoods. The city is also protected by various layers of law enforcement. Most crimes are low level break ins and robberies.
The traffic. As with any large metro, Atlanta’s traffic is common and unpredictable—but this is by far the city’s number one complaint. Last year, Atlantans spent 71 hours per person driving on congested roadways during peak travel times, INRIX found. If you leave at four in the afternoon, expect to be caught up in rush-hour traffic for an hour in any direction. It especially gets bad at the intersection of I-285 and I-85. Two major highways converge on “The Connector,” a source of major congestion.
Limited routes of transportation. If you’re moving to Atlanta, prepare to travel everywhere by car. At least that’s what the rest of the city’s drivers do. The 1,584-mile city only offers 84 miles of bike lanes and Atlanta’s drivers aren’t exactly known for sharing the road. The city’s train system is popular for commuting to and from downtown. But, the routes are limited and don’t run very frequently. This is especially the case for those who commute from “outside the Perimeter,” or the neighborhoods beyond the circle of I-285,. Transportation is limited almost entirely to cars here.
Moving to Atlanta, GA?
If you’re debating moving here, hopefully this Atlanta neighborhood guide helps you find the best area for your needs. Now it’s easy to understand why residents can’t stay away from the charming history, promising job opportunities and charismatic neighborhoods.
Whether you’re relocating across the state or across the country, the moving process can be stressful. Life Storage offers self-storage in Atlanta as well as moving trucks to assist with your move. What are you looking forward to most about moving to Georgia? What advice do you have for new residents? Let us know on Twitter, @LifeStorage!