Are you thinking about moving to Atlanta? My husband lived in Atlanta for 20+ years and wanted to provide a comprehensive list of the honest pros and cons of living in Atlanta, Georgia.
Atlanta is known as the city that rose from the ashes (which is why Atlanta’s symbol is the phoenix) because it’s the only North American city destroyed in a war. The city was completely burned to the ground in 1864 by General Sherman (naughty fella, no?) and only 400 buildings survived the fire.
Not one to stay down, Atlanta promptly rebuilt itself and in many ways is still doing that to this very day.
Slowly but surely, Atlanta is attracting folks from all over the country thanks to the mild winters and affordable housing. The city is adapting to this new influx of residents (especially millennials) by catering to their whims with exciting city-wide projects and public spaces.
But look at me getting ahead of myself already!
Read on to learn about the honest pros and cons of living in Atlanta from a local’s perspective. Hopefully the list below answers some of your questions, if not, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I’d love to help!
As you read this, keep in mind that these pros and cons are based on his personal experience, not everyone feels the same way. With that said, let’s jump right in!
Cover image credit
Pros & Cons of Living in Atlanta, Georgia
Pros of Living in Atlanta
#1. The locals are genuinely friendly
The warmth of the people is hands down, my favorite thing about living in Atlanta, Georgia. Southern hospitality is a real thing and you can count on being greeted with a friendly hello and nod most anywhere you go.
Despite having half a million residents, Atlantians have a way of making you feel welcome wherever you go. There’s an enthusiastic city pride in Atlanta and locals love telling you how great the city is, making it easy to strike up positive conversations with locals.
Making friends in Atlanta has proven easier than making friends in other cities we’ve lived in (especially Portland, Oregon). If you’re open to striking up conversations and coming out of your comfort zone, you will find that Atlanta is a very friendly city.
#2. Atlanta is a great millennial city
Millennials make up 25% of Atlanta’s population and since the number is rising, business are catching on. It’s no coincidence that the Ponce City Market was received with such great enthusiasm! And since millennials prefer to shop local and support small businesses, as opposed to shopping at large chains, Atlanta has seen an increase in small shops as well.
In the past ten years, Atlanta has truly transformed into a city that caters to millennials and every time I visit my hometown, I find myself impressed by all the new cool shops and interesting restaurants!
#3. The BeltLine
Another big pro of living in Atlanta is the incredible new project currently under construction (but still usable) called the BeltLine.
What is the BeltLine? It’s an expansive network of multi-use trails that unites various in-town neighborhoods.
Similar to the HighLine in New York City, Atlanta’s BeltLine is repurposing 22 miles of unused railroad tracks that encircle the city’s core in-town neighborhoods into walking, hiking and biking trails and green spaces. Yet another ode to the city determine to rise from the ashes into a better future!
Locals take great pride in the BeltLine and it’s not uncommon for folks to suggest walking portions of it with friends as a way to pass the time during the weekends.
#4. The food scene is incredible
Few folks know that Atlanta has recently been called one of the best food cities in the country due to the food diversity, quality and accessibility pleasing both visitors and locals alike.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming you’ll only find southern comfort food while living in Atlanta! Atlanta’s food scene has diversified over the years and you’ll be able to find a plethora of other cultural cuisines as well. There’s plenty of farmer’s markets, restaurants and bars to choose from while living in Atlanta and one thing is certain — you’ll never go hungry.
#5. The cost of living is reasonable
Compared to other large metropolitan regions, the cost of living is very reasonable in Atlanta. The median price of a home is $325,000 (a 10% increase from last year). A 10% increase in housing value may seem like a lot, but other metro regions are experiencing greater housing value surges and Atlanta is nowhere near the top of most expensive cities in America.
If you plan to rent while living in Atlanta, a one-bedroom apartment averages about $1,600 per month.
#6. Mild winters
One of the biggest reasons I would consider moving to Atlanta again is that the winters are mild and there isn’t much in the way of harsh winters or dreadful snowstorms. In fact, Atlanta rarely gets snow! Which is a pro of living in Atlanta that I took for granted before moving out west.
#7. Atlanta is diverse
Another great perk of living in Atlanta is that the city is the rich diversity found within city limits. With approximately 51% of the population identifying as black, Atlanta is home to the second largest majority black metro area in the country.
What’s more, Atlanta is also home to one of the 19th largest LGBTQ+ populations per capita in the country (approximately 4.2% of Atlanta’s population identifies as gay, lesbian or bisexual). In fact, Atlanta is considered the second best gay-friendly city in the US!
It’s great to live in a city where diversity isn’t lacking!
#8. The Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport
Access to one of the largest airports in the world is definitely a big advantage of living in Atlanta! Employing 63,000 people, the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport transfers 107 million passengers a year! It consistently ranks as the busiest airport in the world!
All this to say, having such an efficient airport in your hometown means you’ll always get where you need to go. The airport is great and I’ve always found flying out (and in) to Atlanta a breeze!
#9. Stable job market
If you’re moving to Atlanta with the hope of find a job, you’re in luck. With 16 Fortune 500 companies within city limits, Atlanta has one of the highest concentrations of Fortune 500 companies in the country. Large employers include hospitals, universities and infrastructure, there’s ample career opportunities to be had if you’re living in Atlanta.
If you’re moving to Atlanta because of work, I highly suggest hiring movers in Atlanta to make the transition easier.
Cons of Living in Atlanta
#10. Lack of public transportation
Make no mistake, you will absolutely need to have a car for daily life in Atlanta and should be taken into account if you plan to move to Atlanta. The lack of public transportation is striking. I mean sure, there’s MARTA, but avoiding it is considered sport because it’s inefficient and feels unsafe.
You’ll need a car while living in Atlanta, without a doubt, so make sure it’s accounted for in your budget because — as you know — the gas, car insurance and maintenance adds up quickly. At least Georgia doesn’t have the most expensive gas in the country (looking at you, California)!
#11. The summer heat and humidity
Atlanta’s summer weather is notorious for being hot and muggy. Temperatures average 88-90°F from June – August but it’s the sneaky humidity that gets you! So you’ll definitely need this bad boy while living in Atlanta, make no mistake about it!
I will say though, the hot summers are nothing in the grand scheme of things because the temperatures are mild and pleasant most of the year, so it’s hard to complain about a few hot months!
P.S. Allergies are rampant during the hot and muggy summer months and bugs making it nearly impossible to enjoy the outdoors for long periods of time. Prepare for that!
#12. The urban sprawl
This might be nit-picky on my end but I really dislike that Atlanta has three downtown cores (Buckhead, Midtown and Downtown). Couple the urban sprawl with never ending traffic and you have a recipe for hours spent in a car – which is definitely not my idea of a good time!
#13. Atlanta’s traffic is some of the worst in the country
The one piece of advice I often give friends thinking about moving to Atlanta is to live within the city limits or choose a neighborhood close to work because traffic will take up too much time otherwise. It feels like the traffic never lets up!
Give yourself plenty of time to get from Point A to Point B because the constant traffic (which is not just confined to weekdays) is one of the biggest cons of living in Atlanta. Atlanta consistently ranks as one of the worst cities in the country for traffic.
#14. The bugs
Believe it or not, but Atlanta is considered the 4th worst city in the country for bugs. We’re talking ticks, mosquitos, cockroaches, fleas, etc. The sheer quantity of bugs is a major drawback of living in Atlanta because you can’t enjoy the outdoors too long during the summer months without getting savaged.
In fact, I didn’t realize that folks in other parts of the country could keep windows open without screens! If you’re moving to Atlanta you can say goodbye to that — there’s a reason screened in porches practically come standard with most homes.
#15. Lack of variety in outdoor recreation
Some locals will tell you that Atlanta has ample outdoor recreations opportunities, but after 20+ years of living in Atlanta I can tell you that we’re lacking in the outdoor arena.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of beautiful places nearby like Stone Mountain, the Chattahoochee River and a handful of healthy forests — but by and large, Atlanta’s landscape gets somewhat boring after a while.
I’ll probably get some flack for sharing my unpopular opinion, but I want to be honest with you here. Lack of outdoor recreation and natural scenery was a con of living in Atlanta for me personally, and it wasn’t until I moved out west that I realized just how nutty folks get for outdoor activities!
Don’t hate the messenger — If you are looking for some outdoor recreation in Atlanta, you may find this article helpful.
Pros & Cons of Living in Atlanta Georgia (Post Summary)
In sum, these are the HONEST pros & cons of living in Atlanta Georgia
- The locals are genuinely nice
- Atlanta is a great city for millennials
- Mild winters
- Incredible food scene
- Reasonable cost of living
- Atlanta is diverse
- The BeltLine
- The great airport
- Stable job market
- Lack of public transportation
- The summer heat + humidity
- The urban sprawl
- The bugs
- Lack of varied outdoor recreation
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Until next time,
Mary Webber says
I lived in Atlanta for 20 years and personally I thought it was one the rudest cities I’ve lived. I live in NYC now and i personally think people here are more polite, just in a hurry all the time. Also Atlanta was voted 12th rudest cities in the country. https://www.realsimple.com/work-life/work-life-etiquette/rudest-cities-in-america-survey
Also the cost of living being affordable, that was true 15 years ago, Atlanta is ranked one of the worse cities to live on minimum wage. https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.fox5atlanta.com/news/study-atlanta-named-worst-place-to-live-on-minimum-wage.amp
People really need to get over Atlanta, and believing it’s a great place to live. It’s really not, and hasn’t been for a long time.
Yolonda Fincher says
Bravo Atlanta is the worst place to live – THE CRIME has increased cost of living ..Housing high, people are rude and uninformed. Moved here from Cincinnati. Can’t wait to get out. Bad experience with employers too!!!!
ANTHONY RIVERS says
I thought this was great! I am from Portland and lived in Atlanta for 8 years. I currently live in Portland and work remote so I am considering moving back to Atlanta. You are spot on. The people there are much more friendlier and I struggle to find friends here. The lack of outdoor activities is a thing but I like that Atlanta is central to states that have more of those things. I would love to talk more about experiences. Tha k you for this great read.
Thank you so much. Your article really helped me convince my parents NOT to move to Atlanta Georgia.
I looked at this article, as I’ve thought about moving to Atlanta. Everything seemed reasonable except the statement regarding MARTA is inaccurate. Atlanta is easily in the top three cities for public transit in the South (competing with Miami and Charlotte). Other than that, I found it insightful.
Having just moved to Atlanta from Portland earlier this month (we lived for over 20 years in PDX, first in Vancouver, then Orenco area, then Multnomah Village)… Atlanta is more green, more friendly, feels safer (oh my goodness has Portland gone downhill – even my beloved Village has protests and trash and graffiti and a homeless epidemic now), and despite the bugs is infinitely a better place to raise children. I have not even been here a month and I can say that while there used to be a lot to love about Portland (walking near the river being one of them – but now you cannot do that safely because the scary druggies and the protests), Atlanta (and the lack of a spineless mayor) is a breath of fresh air. And, for what it is worth, I am a left-leaning moderate.
I more or less agree with most points except the public transportation and recreation cons. Atlanta is a far more bikeable city than it gets credit for especially if you are in intown neighborhoods. MARTA actually is a great option if it is going where you need to be. Having the option of MARTA to go to the airport and major events downtown is a huge plus.
Regarding recreation, I think Atlanta is underrate. Atlanta is 2 -5 hours away from gorgeous Appalachian hikes and a 5 hour drive to the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf.
Not listed but maybe the MOST underrated part of living in Atlanta is its central proximity to some of America’s best and most unique small to medium sized cities! 3.5 hours drive to Savannah and Charleston, 1.5 hours to Chattanooga, 4 hours to Asheville, NC, and 4 hours to Nashville. It’s really easy and cheap to get out of town and get a change of scenery and culture.
Atlanta is full of plenty of outdoor recreation, easy trips to mountains and nature, and a few lakes. Crime is horrid, people are super rude, locals have fled to to the influx of rude Northerners.
Atlanta is unaffordable for the average person. My wife and I just have Bachelor Degrees, in our field a Masters or Doctorates would not make much of a difference. We barely get by living here. I can’t imagine being on minimum wage here. Most people here are struggling even teachers (hint) are doing UberEats or Amazon Prime on the side.
What public transportation? My wife and I do ride MARTA to the airport for every trip fortunately for us we are close to a train station. Racism and classism from certain counties is why our transit system bites.
Note: I was born and raised inside the Perimeter in Northern part of a popular county.
I was born and raised in Atlanta(Westside). Some of what you say is true. Traffic is horrible, now. It never was like that growing up but the most traffic comes from transplants. It used to be a city all for hometown people. After Freaknik, the secret got out.
Robynne Springs says
No matter where you go, when it comes to driving Transplants in any state pack up and bring their driving habits with them. Watch out there in your town now.
Kristy Lancaster Hirst says
I agree with a lot of the list and I appreciate you writing it. I would like to disagree with a comment someone made about Atlantans being rude. I am born and raised in Atlanta. I know that it’s rare to come across a true local but when you do you will know it by our friendly and polite southern charm. I’m my experience when you encounter a rude person in Atlanta it is typically someone who has relocated here and maybe called Atlanta home for a few years so perhaps they claim to be a true local. Yet by their rude behavior and lack of manners you can easily figure out that they are probably from a non southern state. Makes you think that schools should incorporate etiquette classes.
I do agree that traffic here is beyond ridiculous. I live 15 minutes from job yet my commute can take over an hour most days. Marta is a great option but it is for Atlanta only so if you work on the city but live on the metro area there is very limited public transportation. Pathetic. As for recreation I would love to show you around to amazing places that seem you may have overlooked. Like Morningside nature preserve off of Lenox Rd. It has a sandy beach area, a swing bridge and a special dog beach. There is also cascade springs nature preserve off of Cascade Rd. In Atlanta, it is a 120 acree forested nature trail with waterfalls and streams. There is also Grant Park Atlanta’s oldest park which has 131.5 acres of green space and recreational areas. There is also the historic fourth ward park, Chastain park, and so many others right in the heart of the city. And if you would like to hop on the expressway and head north, about a 30 minute ride depending on traffic you’ll find lake Lanier with tons of activities. There are also a variety of hiking trails as well as bike trails, Towne greens and community gardens. I love your article and agree with many points made on your pros and cons list. Everyone has their opinion, I see your point of view and I hope you have the opportunity to discover these hidden gems and enjoy more of what Atlanta has to offer. Again thank you for sharing. Happy exploring
Cindy Mc says
To all of you bashing my home state , all I can say is PLEASE don’t move here, we really won’t be sad; we have enough people moving here and making the growth in everything ridiculous, causing even more traffic and more subdivisions and more trees cut down ! I liked it so much better 25-30 years ago before people found out just how great Georgia is ! Your opinions are just that- your opinions ! We all have them, and I’d much rather live here then up north or out west !
I moved to Atlanta from Long Island. Being a minority I find enough neighborhoods to choose from to find the perfect place to live. It’s very expensive though. The jobs just don’t pay enough to keep up with cost of living. As for finding friends it’s tough. The people are very clannish and not very friendly. Diversity is here and the medical doctors appear to be good. Overall, it has a lot to offer but prepared for the high cost of living.
Jackson Forrest says
Great article until you said Atlanta is relatively flat, it is actually the opposite and relatively hilly. Atlanta is the most elevated major city east of the Mississippi River and that’s a big statement in itself. It’s also the most densely forested metro in the US hence it being spectacularly beautiful in the fall and spring, and combined with the mild temperatures during these times makes it perfect for recreation.
Antonina Pattiz says
Thanks for the comment, Jackson!
Just updated. Not sure why I typed that originally.
And the 96 Olympics
Dan C. says
Hoping to move to the Atlanta area but need to know whether the bugs are a big problem in the suburbs around Atlanta as well?
I’m surprised you didn’t mention gun violence, which has become unconscionable in the last few years. Gun laws here are very loose, and I’m amazed at all the people who “carry,” even in public places – churches, etc. The air is often smoggy because of all the traffic, and there seems to be not a lot of concern about this, and with all the (beautiful!) plant life, it’s a nightmare for people with allergies (I didn’t even have allergies until I moved here – always lived on the coast) That said, the food is fantastic and varied, there is talk of improving MARTA, and it is a short drive to the mountains and three or four hours to the beach. Interesting architecture and a variety of choices in housing, although it’s becoming less and less affordable.
A lot of Karens in The Metro area