Unlike big cities like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, Atlanta can seem like an enigma to many, but it’s a city that surprises you with its many layers.
There’s never been a better time for moving to Atlanta, the city of many trees, hip hop, the world’s busiest airport and excellent food and beer.
There’s something here for everyone, whether you’re a foodie, a big outdoor person, an art enthusiast or into the latest music. Chefs get creative with pop-ups, there are nature trails within 20 minutes of every neighborhood and some of the biggest movies and music hits are created here.
While it’s a little easier to learn about the city’s best spots with a local (it’s not as apparent as you may think), you can still understand why locals feel so passionate about the city. In no time, you’ll catch up to the lingo (ITP vs. OTP) or add lemon pepper wet wings to your top five favorite food list. Pro tip: Don’t call it Hotlanta.
Keep on reading to see if this city of half a million residents is a fit for you and why you’re bound to fall in love with it.
Atlanta is a city with a rich, complicated history. As a significant contended spot during the Civil War, a central hub of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s and a growing international community, you can see how every one of those milestones changed the city’s face. Despite all the change, Atlanta has retained its charm.
Over the last decade, the city has undergone fast growth within its economy and among the in-town neighborhoods, leading to higher rent prices and gentrification. Here are a few numbers to give you a bigger picture of Atlanta.
- Population: 508,811
- Population density (people per square mile): 3,154.3
- Median income: $65,345
- Average studio rent: $1,690
- Average one-bedroom rent: $1,661
- Average two-bedroom rent: $2,171
- Cost of living index: 99.9
Popular neighborhoods in Atlanta
Did you know that the Atlanta BeltLine connects all 45 in-town neighborhoods? It’s a fun way to see the city and explore new communities. Each neighborhood in Atlanta seems to have its own branding and appeal to a particular lifestyle, whether you’re single, have a small family or look for strong community ties.
- Old Fourth Ward: Ponce City Market and the adjacent Eastside Trail of the BeltLine have made Old Fourth Ward the most popular neighborhood. You’re also surrounded by history as Martin Luther King, Jr., grew up and preached here. Visit his childhood home and other vital spots. The neighborhood remains highly walkable with many restaurants and bars at your fingertips.
- East Atlanta: The eastside neighborhood was the setting of the Battle of Atlanta during the Civil War. Nowadays, you can find nightlife, walkable, a small downtown area with a farmers market and affordable housing. The bikeable neighborhood features quiet streets, access to the BeltLine and even a few farms where you can pick fruit.
- Virginia-Highland: If you’re looking for a small-town feel in the middle of the city, Virginia-Highland, or Va-Hi, if you’re local, is the right neighborhood for you. Its tree-lined streets, small boutiques, neighborhood watering holes and many playgrounds make it perfect for a young family. There are several good schools in the neighborhood, as well.
- Midtown: Midtown attracts young professionals and single folks, thanks to the diverse, thriving bars and LGBT nightlife and walkable streets. You also get access to Piedmont Park, art museums and the city’s massive botanical garden. In the summer, festivals like Music Midtown, Shaky Knees and the Dogwood Festival take over the neighborhood.
- West End: One of the prominent up-and-coming neighborhoods in Atlanta, the West End neighborhood has flown under the radar until recently. Affordable homes and apartments, easy access to MARTA and a growing roster of small breweries and restaurants are the West End’s main family-friendly features. The historic neighborhood also has a few gems like the Wren’s Nest and the Hammonds House Museum.
The pros of moving to Atlanta
Beyond affordable living and ease of travel due to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, Atlanta steals your heart when the fall weather rolls in. You attend a concert in a new emerging artist’s small venue or tube down the Chattahoochee River. It’s not always obvious what part of the city you’ll like the best, so it’s best to explore them all. Here are three reasons you should move to ATL.
Sure, you love the city, but you’ll want to look up and see stars every once in a while. Atlanta is nicknamed “city in a forest” for a reason. There’s a waterfall, a nature trail or a place to enjoy hiking or camping within 30 minutes, no matter where you live.
Sweetwater Creek State Park is beyond the perimeter and offers trails for all levels, yurts and water sports. The Morningside Nature Preserve gives you quiet time right in the middle of Midtown. The Silver Comet Trail, a 60-mile stretch that takes you to Alabama, is a great way to spend your day on your bike. If you need a break from the city, Atlanta has a quiet spot for you.
Music is truly everywhere
Outkast, Usher, Killer Mike, Ciara and so many others started right here in ATL. Hip hop, rap, R&B and emerging indie bands take the stage during the city’s many festivals and record in local producing studios like 11th Street Studios.
If you’re a true music fan, you’ll thrive in Atlanta. Catch your favorite artists at the Vinyl, 529, The Earl, The Tabernacle and even bars like Smith’s Olde Bar and Eddie’s Attic for smaller performances.
Rising job market
Atlanta makes the top 50 for best cities for jobs, according to WalletHub. Atlanta is home to some of the biggest Fortune 500 companies in the country, including Home Depot, Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines and UPS. Many companies from across the pond have made Atlanta their U.S. headquarters, as well, thanks to easy access to the airport, affordable living and talent acquisition.
Beyond Silicon Valley, Atlanta has risen as an important tech hub for startups. In Buckhead, the Atlanta Tech Village, the country’s fourth-largest tech hub, hosts hundreds of startups and a thriving ecosystem of innovation inside its 100,000 square-foot building.
The cons of moving to Atlanta
As much as Atlanta boasts diversity, excellent dining choices and mild weather, it also has a few downsides. Here are a few cons beyond sneezing non-stop during pollen-apocalypse every spring season.
The traffic really is that bad
Unfortunately, metro Atlanta is very spread out. Thanks to the convergence of multiple interstates in the downtown connector, you can easily spend a few hours in your car each day. We’ve been ranked one of the worst traffic cities in the world multiple times, with some estimates saying that the average commuter in Atlanta spends 70.8 hours in traffic each year.
While MARTA, the city’s rapid rail and bus system, connects various in-town neighborhoods, it isn’t widespread enough to cater to those who sit in their cars day in and day out. Keep that in mind when calculating commuting times and picking a neighborhood.
When it snows, the city stops
Unlike cities in the Northeast, Atlanta doesn’t get wintry weather very often. The winter is usually very mild, and aside from some sleet and ice, the city never sees blizzard conditions.
Every once in a while, though, a big snowstorm comes through and brings the city to a standstill. The Snowpocalypse of 2011, which brought four inches of snow to the city, left all interstates on lockdown during rush hour, caused multiple accidents and even stopped air travel. That’s just one of many winter incidents. Just be patient as the city isn’t quite prepared for storms of this magnitude.
The rapid gentrification of the city
Thanks to a fast-growing economy and an influx of transplants around emerging neighborhoods next to the Atlanta BeltLine, gentrification has become a real issue. Affordable housing has been a hot issue as regulations have not protected long time residents in emerging neighborhoods.
More than 75 percent of low-income renters in Atlanta spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent — making them especially vulnerable if they lose their jobs. In some popular neighborhoods, median rents have increased by more than 60 percent since 2013, thanks to investors and new homes being built. Rents can quickly go up without warning, due to the increasing popularity of specific neighborhoods.
How to get started on your move to Atlanta
Have we convinced you to make your move down to ATL? No matter what neighborhood you end up picking, you’ll fall in love with the city pretty quickly, thanks to its culture, tasty dining options and open green spaces.
To help with your move as you pack your apartment, head to our Moving Center to get free quotes and more information about planning out your move.
Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com’s multifamily rental property inventory of one-bedroom apartments. Data was pulled in September 2020 and goes back for one year. We use a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
Population and income numbers are from the U.S. Census Bureau. Cost of living data comes from the Council for Community and Economic Research.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.