The lush, bustling Southern city of Atlanta has attracted everyone from families to filmmakers to young entrepreneurs, making it easy to fall in love with the city’s abundant green space, award-winning restaurants, and decades of rich history. 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, making it well worth it to move to Atlanta.
As you consider all of your options, we put together everything you need to know about moving to Atlanta, GA.
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 has surpassed 6 million, making it the seventh-largest metropolitan area in the U.S. According to researchers, it’s not slowing down anytime soon. Metro Atlanta 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.”
The feel of the city is versatile – Atlanta’s Midtown and Downtown districts feature skyscrapers and art deco-style buildings reminiscent of downtown Chicago, Boston, or Miami. There are often also film shoots taking place in these districts. Parts of Buckhead can feel like Los Angeles, with its luxury shopping and dining district. However, anyone looking for a more quaint vibe can head to neighborhoods like Inman Park, Decatur, Old Fourth Ward, or Virginia Highland for less hustle and bustle. The city can feel as big or as small as you prefer.
What is the Economy Like in Atlanta?
Atlanta is one of the top destinations for young professionals to begin their careers. This is especially true for entrepreneurs, tech industry professionals, artists, creatives, and African-American young professionals. With a projected 1.5 million jobs to be added by 2040, Atlanta is one of the most popular destinations for career-minded individuals.
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. Apartment rentals average around $1,800 per month. Atlanta’s ample greenspace also makes for pleasant natural living despite an urban environment.
An ideal annual salary for living in Atlanta is at least $121,170 if you want to be comfortable, according to research from GoBankingRates. However, many Atlantans do well enough on an annual salary of $69,240 to $86,550.
Atlanta is also home to the third-most Fortune 500 companies in America. Sixteen of the eighteen Fortune 500 company headquarters based in Georgia can be found in metro Atlanta. These include Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, Mercedes-Benz, Home Depot, UPS, and Aflac.
While Atlanta’s job market can be competitive, entry-level positions as well as corporate positions are abundant. Popular industries include the restaurant or service industry, travel and hospitality, and film and the arts.
Each year, young professionals 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, so much so that many call Atlanta the “new Hollywood.”
Is Atlanta Safe?
Despite its reputation as a dangerous place to live, Atlanta has a wide variety of safe neighborhoods. As Atlanta’s public safety has improved, so has the safety of its residents. In particular, its public transportation system of trains and buses known as MARTA (Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) is very clean and safe.
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?
Like many locations in the American South, Georgia is infamous for humid summers. However, the rest of the year has pleasantly mild temperatures. Atlanta’s average temperature is 70 degrees Fahrenheit, with rain in the spring and fall, and occasional light snow in the winter.
Atlanta’s mild weather makes it a great city for outdoor festivals, sports games, and public parks. Many Atlanta residents take advantage of the mild weather to grow vegetable gardens, tropical plants, and more on their property.
What is Education Like in Atlanta?
Atlanta has a variety of public, charter, private, and international schools throughout K-12 and higher education. Atlanta Public Schools, Georgia Department of Education, and Fulton County Schools educate kindergarteners through high schoolers.
Some of Atlanta’s most notable public and private colleges are:
- Georgia State University
- Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech)
- Emory University
- Clark Atlanta University
- Morehouse University
- Spelman College
- Agnes Scott College
- SCAD Atlanta
Agnes Scott College is a notable liberal arts historically women’s college, while Morehouse, Spelman, and Clark Atlanta are HBCUs.
Atlanta also has unique offerings in terms of education, including:
- The Global Village Project, a school for refugee girls
- The Adaptive Learning Center for preschoolers with special needs
- College-preparatory schools such as Woodward Atlanta
The proximity of notable college campuses like Georgia State, Georgia Tech, and Emory also means increased opportunities for sporting and arts events put on by the campuses.
What do People do for Fun in Atlanta?
- Residents of Atlanta enjoy the city’s parks such as Piedmont Park, Woodruff Park, and Stone Mountain. Walk, bike, rollerblade, or scooter along the Atlanta Beltline.
- Bar-hop in Buckhead or along Edgewood Avenue.
- Enjoy fine food and wine at Atlanta’s best restaurants like Miller Union, Staplehouse, and Spring.
- Explore international cuisine along Buford Highway at businesses such as Masterpiece, Sushi Hayakawa, and Sweet Hut Bakery. Attend concerts at the Tabernacle, the Fox Theatre, Variety Playhouse, and City Winery.
- Shop local goods at Ponce City Market and franchise favorites at Atlantic Station.
- View masterpieces at the High Museum of Art and friendly fish at the Georgia Aquarium.
- Catch Atlanta United Games on balmy Sunday evenings.
- Celebrate Atlanta Pride and vibrant LGBTQ+ culture in Midtown.
- In general, enjoy the history, culture, diversity, growth, and sprawl of living in one of America’s most prominent Southern cities.
Which 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 Atlanta include Martin Luther King, Jr., Outkast, Julia Roberts, Tyler Perry, Usher, Chris Tucker, Jane Fonda, T.I., Ludacris, Jeff Foxworthy, Jamie Foxx, Eric Decker, Kenny Rogers, and more. Countless other actors stay in Atlanta after first visiting to shoot film or television projects.
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, sometimes called VaHi, 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, VaHi 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
Known for: Charming, eclectic, family-friendly community, walkable area; come-as-you-are, comfortable nightlife scene
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: $2,424
Known for: Shopping and nightlife, 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 most 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 and artists
Average home price: $350,000
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
Known for: Thriving arts scene, commercial business district, LGBTQ+ 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
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
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 broad appeal. A small 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. Downtown Decatur is walkable and boasts everything from brunch spots to ice cream to 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 including cozy bungalows, modern ranches, and apartments.
Neighbors: Singles, students, young professionals
Average home price: $500,000
Average rent: $1,462
Known for: Business district, hip, walkable neighborhood
Located just southwest of Downtown Atlanta, Adair Park is an up-and-coming area with competitive home prices.
“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,” notes Redfin real estate agent Victoria Hurd. 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: $1,341
Known for: Railroad district, up-and-coming area
Hidden Gems of Atlanta
If you feel a “Rainbow Connection” with the Muppets and other puppet creatures, the Center for Puppetry Arts is definitely worth a visit. Adults and kids alike can connect with the global cultural impact and history of puppetry and enjoy two signature galleries and an annual calendar of rotating special exhibitions. The Global Gallery is a geographic exploration of the history and traditions of puppetry around the world, including puppets built by Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon inventor Tony Sarg and Japanese Bunraku puppets donated by master puppeteer and Living National Treasure Kiritake Kanjuro III. The Jim Henson Gallery explores the imagination and impact of Jim Henson, where visitors will enjoy viewing puppets, props, and costumes from Sesame Street, The Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock, The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and more.
A fairly new addition to Atlanta’s museums, the Trap Music Museum has been educating visitors about the history and culture of trap music since 2019. The museum pays tribute to musicians like 2 Chainz, Gucci Mane, Rick Ross, 21 Savage, and Migos. After experiencing the museum which includes a replica trap house, convenience store, and plenty of music memorabilia, grab a drink at the bar or try your hand at “Escape the Trap,” the museum’s escape room.
While it may seem odd to include a cemetery in a list of “hidden gems,” the Oakland Cemetery is much more than a graveyard. The sprawling cemetery is Atlanta’s oldest public park and the final resting place of many notable people, including country music star Kenny Rogers, historic African American and Jewish burial grounds, and Civil War history. The cemetery is known for its gardens, sculptures, architecture, and ancient oaks and magnolias. Oakland Cemetery hosts regular tours on various cultural subjects, as well as events like arts exhibitions, music festivals, ghost tours (including an often sold-out Halloween tour), and more.
Explore the work of today’s artists and creatives: Founded in 1973, the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center has since become one of the Southeast’s leading venues for contemporary art and features rotating exhibitions, including commissioned work, for visitors to experience. The center presents the work of over 200 artists and creatives from the local, national, and international art scenes annually. Cocktail nights, talks, and children’s programs can also be enjoyed at the center.
Vintage lovers rejoice! Chamblee’s Antique Row District features a plethora of antique and resale shops to explore. The District includes more than 350 dealers offering antiques and collectibles in more than 300,000 square feet of retail space. Shops’ specialities include books, furniture, hardware, gems and jewelry, and lots of miscellaneous collectibles, so there’s bound to be something for everyone.
Retirement Communities of Atlanta
This senior living community located near Buckhead offers city homes, independent living, assisted living and memory care homes. Corso emphasizes its unique qualities such as a no buy-in model, on-site nurses and physical, occupational, & speech therapists, and a flexible, no-move care model.
Villa Palazzo, located just outside of Atlanta in Sandy Springs, offers assisted living and memory care communities for residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia, including Montessori-based memory care, the first facility in Georgia to do so. Studio apartments are available in both the Assisted living and Memory Care communities, and Assisted Living residents can also select from one- and two-bedroom units.
Atria Buckhead’s care options include Independent Living, discreet Supportive Living, and memory care. The community includes amenities such as a garden, a pet-friendly environment, and even a movie theatre.
Located in Marietta, GA, a 30-minute drive from Atlanta, Sterling Estates offers independent living, assisted living, and a legacy memory care program. Its campus is hosted on ten acres of property, including lots of greenspace, creating a neighborhood feel.
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, including Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology, Walton High School, Northview High School, Columbus High School, and more, are highly acclaimed.
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 still considered a dangerous city. However, crime rates vary dramatically by neighborhood, which means there’s 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. 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, expect to commute and explore mostly by car. The 1,584-mile city only offers 84 miles of bike lanes and Atlanta’s drivers aren’t exactly known for sharing the road. And while the city’s train system is popular for commuting to and from downtown, 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 Metro Atlanta? If you already love living in ATL, what advice do you have for new residents? Let us know on Instagram @LifeStorage!
- Revised on June 28, 2022 with new information from Atlanta expert, Alex Brown.
- Revised on January 29, 2019, with new information from Atlanta expert, Caroline Eubanks.
- Originally published on February 20, 2015.