20 Things to Know Before Moving to Atlanta, GA
Atlanta may be the gateway to the south. However, it’s also known for its exploding population, strong job market, and incredible amenities and attractions.
The city offers more than just an urban place to live. It's like a small town inside a major metropolitan city ready to welcome you home.
Before you pack up and move, here's what you need to know about moving to Atlanta.
1. Atlanta Weather is Mostly Fabulous
Atlanta summers are hot, y'all. But the rest of the seasons are enviable. Fall is warm enough for hiking and eating outdoors with fall foliage at your feet.
During winter, you might see snow once or twice, but even a few snowflakes will immediately shut down the city. Simultaneously panicking and celebrating snow flurries is real. During a rare year, it might even blizzard. But it all melts in days.
Spring and summer are arguably the most challenging seasons in Atlanta. Spring is stunning, with blooming dogwoods and festivals welcoming locals into the sunshine.
The problem is the copious amounts of pollen. That drives allergy sufferers inside.
Summer is hot, humid, and temperatures can soar towards 100 degrees. The good news is central air blasts from every corner of the city. It’s also the norm to find swimming pools on the rooftops of premier luxury Atlanta apartments.
2. The Southern Hospitality is Real
Southern hospitality is a staple around Georgia, but Atlanta is a bit of a diverse melting pot of cultures. True southerners will offer a "Hey!" and smile when they pass strangers. They may loathe you, but they won't deny you a glass of sweet tea and a pleasant conversation.
Atlanta is rapidly growing, with over 500,000 people living in the city, with nearly 6 million in the metro area. Transplants from around the world and across the country may or may not be as friendly.
Overall, the vibe in Atlanta is welcoming and relaxed to newcomers. It's the kind of city that feels big enough to get lost and enjoy the culture, but small enough you'll know your neighbors and the regulars at the dog park.
3. Atlanta's Economy is Booming
Atlanta's economy is booming. Fortune 500 companies like Coca-Cola, Home Depot, Delta Airlines, and UPS are headquartered in the city.
The healthcare and higher education industries are also major employers in Atlanta. The range of industries and open positions leaves the market wide open to pursue multiple career paths.
There are also no signs of job growth slowing down in the city. Job growth in Atlanta is projected to rise by 46.8% over the next ten years. That’s significantly higher than the country's average of 33.5%.
4. Atlanta Boasts a Growing Tech Hub
Speaking of the economy and employment, Atlanta also boasts a growing tech hub. Atlanta Tech Village is home to over 300 startups, and the place to be in the city if you're an entrepreneur.
Atlanta also earned the designation of "Entrepreneur Friendly" status from the Georgia Department of Economic Development. Startups are welcome around town and innovation is the norm. As a bonus, Atlanta's foothold in higher education means fresh talent pouring into the tech industry.
5. Housing in Atlanta is Affordable (for now)
Compared to other metropolitan areas, Atlanta is relatively affordable for buying or renting a home. Over the past year, Atlanta proper has seen a 1.7% rent decline in rents. You can expect to pay a median of $1,181 on a one-bedroom apartment or $1,188 for a two-bedroom.
However, the surrounding metro area has experienced a 1.7% increase in rents for the fastest growing rentals in the region.
Home prices are also relatively affordable compared to New York, Seattle, San Francisco, and other metro cities. The median home price in Atlanta is $259,000.
However, housing costs are on the rise. Atlanta is starting to shed its reputation for affordability with homes and rents increasing.
It’s also common to find move-in specials in Atlanta, especially during the pandemic.
6. The Cost of Living in Atlanta is Reasonable
According to BestPlaces, the Atlanta cost of living is currently 107.5. That figure is higher than the cost of living indices based on a United States average of 100.
According to MIT's living wage calculator, you can expect to pay $11,238 for housing for a single person living alone. Two working adults with one child will pay $13,206 in housing.
Transportation costs will run $4,322 for one person or $10,689 for two working adults and one child.
Despite the elevated costs compared to the national average, the cost of living in Atlanta is still significantly cheaper than its metropolitan counterparts. You have more options to move to your favorite, trendy neighborhood with a steeper price tag or head to quieter spots for more reasonable rents.
7. Learn Your ITP vs. OTP
You can't live in Atlanta without knowing your ITP vs. OTP and taking sides about it. ITP is "inside the perimeter" that encompasses anything inside I-285. OTP is all about being "outside of the perimeter" where the suburbs beyond I-285 lie.
Expect locals to have strong opinions on whether or not living ITP or OTP is better.
8. Atlanta Neighborhoods Are Unique
Atlanta's leafy streets are full of unique and popular neighborhoods that offer something for everyone. Buckhead features an upscale vibe with a retail mecca and fabulous food. You'll find luxury high-rises and condos outfitted with pools, covered parking, and on-site parking.
Midtown Atlanta is where public transportation, green space, and entertainment venus intersect. You'll find a mix of high-rises, smaller apartment complexes, and walkable pockets to museums and theaters.
Virginia Highland is family-friendly. However, it still attracts young professionals looking for pubs, good food, and quick access to Midtown.
And Druid Hills is leafy and quaint with a quiet, laid-back vibe. It’s easy to see why it was considered Atlanta’s first suburbs.
For a funkier vibe, head to Old Fourth Ward and surrounding neighborhoods for pubs, restaurants, and easy access to the Atlanta Beltline. New apartment complexes with mixed-use space are increasingly popping up. They attract urban dwellers looking for convenience in the bustle of it all.
The best neighborhoods in Atlanta have something to offer for everyone.
9. Atlanta Traffic is Intense
Atlanta traffic is as bad as you've heard. Long commutes are a mainstay. Rush hour can start as early as 3:30 pm on a Friday afternoon. You can avoid the traffic if you live in a walkable neighborhood or close to MARTA public transit.
MARTA trains and buses are limited in their scope. They don't necessarily reach the suburbs. Many locals who live outside the city drive to a MARTA station, park, and hop on a train to get through the bulk of their commute.
It’s possible to ditch the car in Atlanta if you live Downtown, Midtown, or in an area like Old Fourth Ward. You should be ready and willing to grab a rideshare or an electric scooter available for rent around major intersections and attractions.
But Atlanta is a driving town. Your options are limited without wheels of your own.
10. You'll Never Run Out of Things to Do in Atlanta
There are scores of attractions around Atlanta. They include an aquarium, museums, civil rights centers, parks, and more. Locals are bound to show up with their guests to the top draw but still have their own shortlist of favorites.
Check out the Botanical Gardens with year-round exhibits and events, including holiday night displays. You'll also find locals walking, jogging, or zipping down the Beltline on an electric scooter.
Or, take in a Broadway show, stand-up act, and special event at Atlanta's Fox Theatre in Midtown.
Join the crowds at a festival or stroll through Piedmont Park on the weekend to find a pond, running trails, playground, and dog park.
Over at Chastain Park & Amphitheater, you’ll find the largest city park in Atlanta. It comes outfitted with a swimming pool, horse park, and amphitheater. You can enjoy outdoor concerts and events between April and October. That includes the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
Atlanta has a complicated relationship with its professional sports teams. The Braves, Falcons, and Hawks may or may not have an amazing or dismal season in any given year. Atlantans don't seem to mind. They’ll still come out to root for their home team. The Atlanta United soccer team is also gaining steam and creating a buzz in the city.
11. Atlanta is the Hollywood of the South
Atlanta earned its reputation as the “Hollywood of the South.” The state of Georgia offers generous tax credits to the film industry and attracts hundreds of television and film productions. It's not uncommon to run into locals relocating from Los Angeles and New York to pursue their film careers.
Some of the metro area is home to sprawling production studios and entire live-work communities dedicated to the film industry.
12. Atlanta Takes Higher Education Seriously
The Atlanta area is home to 57 colleges and universities. It ranks 7th in student enrollment in its largest urban areas.
Locals can find a range of smaller colleges to pursue higher ed in the evening to rigorously competitive degree programs at Emory University.
Atlanta’s higher education can benefit you regardless of whether you’re pursuing a degree. It’s among the most prominent job industries in Atlanta.
13. Atlanta Is Proud of its Civil-Rights Roots
Atlantans take pride in their civil-rights roots, with leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lewis calling the area home. Locals join the tourists at the Birth home of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.
Free programming is always available somewhere to dive deeper into the past, present, and future of the movement in Atlanta and across the country.
14. Atlanta Boasts a Unique Arts Scene
Atlanta's art scene is impressive. It boasts the High Museum of Art, small galleries, street art, and live theater.
However, there are some surprisingly funky places to go and see something a little different. Walk from the Beltline to Krog Street Market via the Krog Street tunnel for a dazzling display of colorful graffiti that attracts tourists and locals.
The Center for Puppetry Arts draws locals to its adult-only and kid-friendly performances year-round. There's also an on-site museum with over 5,000 puppets and artifacts. There’s an impressive Jim Henson collection of the Muppets and more.
15. Atlanta Takes Its Food Seriously
Atlanta enjoys a long love affair with food dating back to its earliest days. Fried chicken and waffles, grits, and collard greens are long-time staples.
New dishes are also turning into icons, like pimento cheese-infused anything. Whether it's on a burger or added to a fine dining dish, pimento cheese is a local favorite.
Some areas of Atlanta are also known for specific dishes and dining. Buckhead is all about fine dining and has new restaurants popping up often. Midtown houses long-time favorites and urban eateries. Buford Highway is the place to be if you want to savor ethnic dishes, like Ethiopian food.
16. Experience the Great Outdoors in Atlanta
Despite the summer heat, Atlanta takes care of its outdoor lovers year-round. The "City of Trees" lives up to its name with leafy streets and unique gardens.
You'll be hard-pressed to find a time the Beltline isn't filled with joggers and cyclists enjoying the city. Piedmont Park and the adjacent Botanical Gardens are also popular spots for locals.
There are also outdoor activities completely unique to the Atlanta area. On hot summer days, locals head north to "Shoot the 'Hooch'" or rent rafts and kayaks to glide down the Chattahoochee River.
Drive east to reach Stone Mountain. There, you’ll find historical sites, museums, and an ambitious walk up the world's large piece of exposed granite.
17. Atlanta is Home to the World's Busiest Airport
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport isn't just big. It also holds the title of the busiest airport in the world. Over 2,500 daily flights connect to hundreds of destinations, cities, and 50 other countries on a typical day.
For a weekend getaway, hop on MARTA to the airport and take a flight to anywhere you want to go. Delta's headquarters in Atlanta also means plenty of direct flights and competitive prices.
18. Atlanta is Always Ready for a Festival
Atlanta is a stomping ground for year-round festivals spanning food, art, and books. There's always an upcoming event in Piedmont Park or Downtown Atlanta. Mark your calendar for the Dogwood Festival, Sweetwater 420 Fest, Springfest, Music Midtown, and more.
There's even an event for sci-fi lovers and gaming enthusiasts. Locals come out for DragonCon to see adults and kids dressed up as Iron Man, steampunks, and anyone else trending.
19. You Need to Know Your Peachtrees
Locals are accustomed to everything being named Peachtree something, despite the fact they've likely never seen a Peachtree anywhere near Atlanta.
There are 15 separate streets with the name Peachtree in them. That can take some getting used to.
The main roads you'll probably need are Peachtree St. and West Peachtree. Just make sure you plug in the right Peachtree street, road, or variation to get to your destination.
20. Atlanta is a Music City
Atlanta's music scene is thriving and is considered the capital of hip-hop. Usher, T.I., Ludacris, and Outkast are just some of the musicians who came out of Atlanta.
Beyond rap, hip-hop, and R&B, Atlanta is also home to a world-class symphony and opera ready to entertain. Live entertainment is also standard during the nonstop festival season.
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