What's it like to live in Atlanta, GA?


Jaime Weinstein

Profile written by local expert:

Jaime Weinstein

Sure, the sweet tea abounds and it's common to hear the occasional "y'all" in casual conversation, but Atlanta has long been redefining prevailing perceptions of the South and its so-called Southern charm.

Among the nation's fastest-growing metro areas, the Georgia capital is attracting newcomers from around the country, and people are looking to this part of the country for culture and commerce like never before. If you learn about everything Atlanta has to offer, it's easy to see why. Atlanta features award-winning restaurants and chefs, iconic locales that rival any across the country – including the Tony Award-winning Alliance Theatre, the CNN Center and the Western hemisphere's largest indoor aquarium – and one of the highest rates of job growth in the U.S.

Although a sprawling, constantly developing area may mean construction sites at every turn, a dense tree canopy covers any unsightliness, and prompts Atlanta's reputation as the "city in a forest." The Chattahoochee River that traverses the metro area, and Stone Mountain, the world's largest chunk of exposed granite, located just northeast of the city proper, also offer a quick escape from any urban anxiety. And there's still a sense of that Southern charm that pervades the dynamic metropolis. "I'm not used to people holding the door open for me," transplants often say. 

Rankings

U.S. News analyzed 100 metro areas in the United States to find the best places to live based on quality of life and the job market in each metro area, as well as the value of living there and people's desire to live there.

Atlanta, Georgia is ranked:

#50 in Best Places to Live

#62 in Best Places to Retire

6.6

Overall

Scorecard

  • Desirability
    6.8
  • Value
    7.0
  • Job Market
    6.7
  • Quality of Life
    5.8
  • Net Migration
    7.1

Read how we rank places

Atlanta, GA Quick Stats

  • 5,535,837

    Metro Population

  • $49,430

    Average Annual Salary

  • 71.8° / 53.2°

    Avg High/Low Temps

  • 35.7

    Median Age

  • $195,727

    Median Home Price

  • 49.7 inches

    AVG Annual Rainfall

  • 5.0%

    Unemployment Rate

  • $977

    AVG Monthly Rent

  • 30.7 minutes

    Avg Commute Time

What's the cost of living in Atlanta, GA?

Atlanta has been revitalizing many previously declining neighborhoods across the area. This has resulted in the good, like the Ponce City Market, an old warehouse-turned-mixed-use development in the Old Fourth Ward, and the bad – an increased cost of living. The average cost of living in Atlanta still remains below the U.S. average, despite the fact that home prices are on the rise.

Value Index

Index Score: 7.0 /10

How we calculate this.


Atlanta offers a better value than similarly sized metro areas when you compare housing costs to median household income.

Housing Costs this Year


Atlanta
$195,727

USA
$211,704

Housing Costs Over Time

Data sourced from Zillow median home sale price data series. Additional data provided by the Austin Board of Realtors, Houston Association of Realtors, Intermountain MLS, Omaha Area Board of Realtors, San Antonio Board of Realtors, and the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

Buying or Selling a Home in Atlanta, GA

Finding the right real estate agent or realtor is key when it comes to buying or selling a home in Atlanta.

Thanks to its healthy economy and rapid job growth, Atlanta has welcomed a large number of new residents over the past few years. Although the demand for housing is fairly high, the average sales price for homes in Atlanta has been on the decline, with roughly three quarters of homes selling for less than $500,000.

If you're considering buying or selling a home, see our list of the top real estate agents in Atlanta.

What's the weather like in Atlanta, GA?

Atlanta's weather is one of the main reasons people like living in the region. Summers may be hot and humid, but the subtropical climate brings four distinct seasons, and winters are markedly mild. 

Seasonal Temperature (Avgs)

45.3°F


Winter

62.1°F


Spring

79.0°F


Summer

63.6°F


Fall

Seasonal Rainfall (Avgs)

4.7 in


Winter

4.8 in


Spring

5.3 in


Summer

4.5 in


Fall

Monthly High and Low Temperatures (°F)

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center.

What's the best way to get around Atlanta, GA?

Even though cycling and pedestrian paths are growing in popularity, Atlanta is still dominated by drivers navigating the metro area's traffic and congestion. The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, known as MARTA, is the main means of public transportation. But the rails don't reach the suburbs, which means those commuting in and out of the city center can't make use of it (though expansion projects are in the works). The Atlanta Streetcar, which launched in late 2014, is another option for in-town commutes.

If you're looking to get away, however, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport makes flying a breeze. The hub for Delta Air Lines, Atlanta's airport supports a high volume of daily flights to destinations around the world. 

Commuting in Atlanta, GA

Means of Transportation
Driving
88%
Above national average

Bicycling
0%
Equal to national average

Walking
1%
Equal to national average

Public Transit
3%
Below national average
Average Commute Time

30.7 minutes

4.8 minutes more than national average

Average Commute Times by Zip Code

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

Who lives in Atlanta, GA?

Atlanta is luring millennials with its lower cost of living and good employment opportunities. Another potential draw for millennials is the fact that more than half of the population is single. Strong neighborhood associations and easy commutes make it a good place for families as well.

The metro area also has one of the highest LGBT populations per capita among major metropolitan areas, and has long been considered the epicenter of the gay South for its support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Given this liberal perspective on LGBT rights and the area's young slant, it makes sense that Atlanta residents lean left politically, despite the fact that Georgia remains a red state.

About 65.8 percent of the people in Atlanta affiliate with a religion. And while many different faiths are represented across the metro area, Protestant Christianity makes up the highest percentage. It's still the Bible Belt, after all. 

Age Distribution

Marital Status Breakdown


About the same number of single people in Atlanta as national average

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

What is there to do in Atlanta, GA?

People here enjoy the outdoors. Parks – like Piedmont Park in Midtown and Centennial Olympic Park Downtown – are prevalent throughout Atlanta and it's common to see people taking advantage of these urban oases with a game of ultimate Frisbee or a family picnic. The parks also provide the perfect locations for Atlanta's numerous festivals that bring people out in droves.

Atlanta residents are also avid sports fans, flocking to Turner Field to cheer on baseball's Braves or to Mercedes-Benz Stadium to root for football's Falcons. Meanwhile, families have access to a number of educational attractions, including Atlanta's famous aquarium. 

Find out more about what there is to see and do in Atlanta, GA