Nestled in the heart of the South, the bustling epicenter of Atlanta offers a unique blend of history, diverse culture, and thriving job market, captivating newcomers seeking a new place to call home. From its iconic landmarks and diverse neighborhoods to its culinary delights, there’s no denying that Atlanta holds an alluring charm.
However, like any city, it comes with its share of trade-offs. Before you make the leap and buy a home or rent an apartment in Atlanta, it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons of living in Atlanta. From its vibrant neighborhoods to traffic congestion, this Redfin article offers valuable insights into what life in Atlanta truly entails.
Pros of living in Atlanta, GA
1. The convenient location
Atlanta’s strategic position serves as a major transportation hub, with Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport being one of the busiest airports globally. The city’s extensive highway network, including the intersection of major interstates, makes traveling to neighboring states and cities remarkably accessible. Additionally, Atlanta’s central location enables residents to enjoy a variety of day trips to charming towns, scenic mountains, and serene coastal destinations. Here’s a few spots locals recommend:
Blue Ridge Mountains
“Glamping in the Blue Ridge Mountains is always a great year-round getaway about 2 hours from Atlanta,” explains Happy Mango, a baby boutique located in Atlanta, GA. “Bainbridge, GA is also a fantastic weekend trip. You can stay at the Willis Park Hotel and visit one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Georgia at the Little Grand Canyon State Park. Helen GA, is like little Germany in Georgia, and is such a fun experience.”
Chattahoochie Hills, Birmingham, Charleston, and Savannah
“For a quick weekend getaway, I recommend exploring the idyllic Serenbe in Chattahoochee Hills, GA, soaking in the vibrant culture of Birmingham, AL, and indulging in the historical charm of Charleston, SC,” shares Atlanta Influences Everything, a creative consulting agency. “Alternatively, immerse yourself in the coastal allure of Savannah, GA, or unwind on the serene shores of St. Simmons Island or Tybee Island. Each of these picturesque destinations promises a delightful escape filled with unforgettable experiences.”
“Dahlonega, GA, boasts exceptional wineries and captivating wine tours, along with local breweries producing delightful Beer and Meade,” suggests Michelle Dunbar, Administrative Partner at Clutch Bicycle Shop. “For a coastal escape, head to Savannah, where pristine beaches and rich history await. And if mountain vistas call to you, venture north of I-75, near the Tennessee state line, where cozy cabins offer a perfect retreat amidst awe-inspiring scenery that stretches as far as the eye can see.”
2. Things to do
From exploring the vibrant Atlanta BeltLine and savoring Piedmont Park’s urban oasis to immersing in culture at the High Museum of Art or Fox Theatre and spending time at Little Five Points’ unique shops and bustling nightlife, Atlanta has an endless list of things to do.
Georgia State Parks are highly recommended by Atlanta native and Spa Director at D’LOR Salon & Spa, Kym Anderson, who praises the diverse landscapes, from mountains to waterfalls, perfect for romantic getaways or lunch break escapes. Anderson also shares, “Atlanta’s entertainment scene is a treasure trove for making connections. The city hosts events where going solo is embraced, allowing you to mingle and forge friendships with people from across the globe. So, whether you seek natural wonders or a vibrant social life, Atlanta has something truly special to offer.”
A can’t miss event is October Pride. Finca to Filter, an ATL based coffee shop focused on celebrating humanity’s finest through inspired drinks and celebratory events, explains “This event takes place during National LGBT History Month, and it showcases the city’s welcoming and inclusive spirit. From colorful parades to engaging cultural events, October Pride embraces diversity, advocates for equality, and fosters a strong sense of community.”
Atlanta-based beverage company Eleven TLC cherishes the abundance of greenspaces and nature trails Atlanta, “The City in the Forest,” has to offer. “As someone who loves hiking, I find it delightful that there is always a hiking trail nearby to explore. From tranquil urban parks to scenic trails nestled in the lush woods, Atlanta’s diverse landscapes offer endless opportunities to connect with nature and enjoy the city’s unique blend of urban and natural environments.”
Atlanta, GA, boasts a vibrant and diverse culture that reflects its rich history and dynamic present as the city embraces a blend of traditional Southern hospitality and contemporary urban energy. Residents contribute to a thriving arts scene, celebrated music traditions, and a booming film industry. The city also values its civil rights legacy, with landmarks like the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Park, serving as a reminder of its pivotal role in the American civil rights movement.
“Atlanta is a playground for the arts,” states Dee-Ann Woolridge, owner of Clowning for You, offering a variety of entertainment options for parties and events. “The city is home to world-class museums, theaters, and music venues that will leave you awe-struck including the High Museum of Art, Fox Theatre, and an impressive music scene – from hip-hop and R&B to jazz and indie rock – with live performances at iconic venues like the Tabernacle or the Terminal West.”
“Over the years, Atlanta has transformed into a remarkably multicultural city, and while many of us are newcomers, we have embraced it as our cherished home,” says Michelle Dunbar, Administrative Partner at Clutch Bicycle Shop. “The city offers abundant opportunities for diverse communities, and our growth knows no bounds. Atlanta proudly carries the moniker of ‘the gateway to the South,’ symbolizing its welcoming spirit and pivotal role as a crossroads of cultures and ideas.”
4. The incredible food scene
Atlanta’s food scene is a delectable melting pot of flavors and cultures. From upscale dining establishments helmed by renowned chefs to vibrant food markets offering diverse international cuisines, the city caters to every palate. Southern comfort food, farm-to-table delights, and innovative fusion dishes are just a taste of what awaits eager foodies in Atlanta. Below are some local favorites:
La Parilla for mexican food
“Here in Atlanta, there is just a variety to satisfy anyone’s food palette, states Shawn Brown, owner of CheeseCaked known for their hand-crafted cheesecakes – from cheesecake egg rolls and deep fried cheesecake to the Over The Top Cheesecake Milkshakes. “I personally love Mexican food and La Parilla has the best variety of tacos, enchiladas but my favorite dish is their Fiesta salmon salad. Atlanta also hosts a variety of festivals ranging from ice cream festivals to mac and cheese festivals that are a can’t-miss event.”
Chef Moe’s Lunchbox
“Atlanta is the perfect city for just about anyone,” says Jayde Mauldin, CEO and co-founder of the Treat Truck serving delicious desserts across Atlanta. “If you’re a foodie like me, there’s an endless amount of amazing food from 5 star restaurants to local food trucks. My personal favorite, apart from the Treat Truck, is Chef Moe’s Lunchbox.
Atlanta satisfies all cravings
Happy Mango offers several recommendations for dining options in Atlanta. “For those looking for soul food, the Busy Bee Cafe offers delicious Atlanta soul food. If you’re in the mood for a variety of cuisines, The Chattahoochee Food Hall provides a little taste of everything. For those seeking upscale soul food, South City Kitchen is a fantastic option. If you want to explore different ethnic foods, Buford Highway is the place to go. Lastly, Kamayan is a highly recommended Filipino restaurant in the area.”
Consulting Agency, Atlanta Influences Everything, also compiled a list of their top dining recommendations in Atlanta. “Soul Vegetarian offers a variety of plant-based dishes. Magic City Kitchen serves some of the best wings. Slutty Vegan is highly recommended for plant-based burgers. Poor Calvin’s is the place for amazing mac and cheese. Zaddy’s or Humble Mumble are great choices for large and tasty sandwiches. Local Green offers creative vegan bites to satisfy your cravings.”
5. Atlanta’s neighborhoods
Atlanta boasts diverse neighborhoods, each with its own charm. Buckhead, known for luxury living and high-end shopping, contrasts with the artistic and bohemian vibe of Little Five Points. Historic Grant Park offers beautiful parks and Victorian homes, while Midtown buzzes with cultural attractions. East Atlanta is celebrated for its hip and eclectic atmosphere. Here’s a few more options to consider from locals’ perspectives.
Finca and Filter prefer the West End neighborhood, and not just because their shop is located there. “Known for its diverse culture and strong sense of community, West End boasts beautiful historic homes, charming streets, and a thriving arts scene. It’s a place where history meets creativity, making it a unique and appealing destination.”
“Living in Midtown is truly like living in an inclusive utopia,” says Mitchell Anderson, Founder and Executive Chef at MetroFresh, a diner offering fresh and healthy food. “The kaleidoscope of cultures, ethnicities, ages, sexual identities/expressions, and diverse range of professions are all around you here. To be part of this vibrant cultural life, to eat amazing food, to hear incredible music, to walk in beautiful parks and neighborhoods, makes living in the center of Atlanta amazing.”
Upper West Side and East Atlanta
“The Upper West Side has become a cherished haven, offering an array of amenities and a lively atmosphere,” says Happy Mango. “Meanwhile, East Atlanta, with its diverse neighborhoods like East Atlanta Village, Little Five Points, and the Krog Street District, has won my heart as the ultimate place to reside. These areas present an eclectic blend of attractions, catering to a wide range of interests and tastes. From quirky boutiques to vibrant art scenes and culinary delights, this vibrant mix of experiences is precisely why my family and I have chosen to call this part of Atlanta our home.”
“My favorite neighborhoods in Atlanta include Buckhead, where I attended K-12,” shares Atlanta Influences Everything. “Known for its luxurious and upscale ambiance, Buckhead offers a captivating blend of southern charm and contemporary flair, attracting celebrities and offering a glimpse of the city’s evolving landscape.”
Here’s a short description of several more neighborhoods in Atlanta worth checking out:
- Virginia-Highland: Quaint, walkable streets, trendy boutiques, and restaurants.
- Inman Park: Historic charm, beautiful Victorian houses, and the BeltLine trail access.
- Old Fourth Ward: Art, dining, and the historic Martin Luther King Jr. site.
- Cabbagetown: Artistic neighborhood with murals, lofts, and a vibrant community.
- Poncey-Highland: Lively area with nightlife, the Atlanta BeltLine, and Ponce City Market.
- Reynoldstown: Emerging neighborhood, mix of historic and modern homes, and BeltLine proximity.
- Atlantic Station: Urban mixed-use development with shopping, dining, and entertainment.
- Sweet Auburn: Rich history, Civil Rights landmarks, and cultural significance.
- Grant Park: Home to Zoo Atlanta, historic homes, and Grant Park Conservancy.
- Ansley Park: Upscale neighborhood with tree-lined streets and Ansley Golf Club.
- Little Five Points: Bohemian district with eclectic shops, music venues, and alternative culture.
- Chastain Park: Upscale area known for Chastain Park Amphitheatre and green spaces.
“Because of Atlanta’s mild and accommodating climate, there is always a wide array of activities and events to enjoy throughout the year, explains Michelle Dunbar, Administrative Partner at Clutch Bicycle Shop. “The city’s four distinct seasons offer a balance of warm summers, pleasant springs, colorful autumns, and mild winters, catering to various preferences and interests.
During the warmer months, you can explore the numerous parks and outdoor spaces, indulge in water sports at nearby lakes, or attend lively outdoor festivals and concerts,” says Dunbar. “Springtime welcomes blooming flowers and ideal conditions for hiking and biking in the surrounding nature reserves. Fall brings a tapestry of vibrant colors, creating a perfect setting for scenic drives and visits to local orchards and pumpkin patches. Even during the cooler months, Atlanta has indoor attractions such as museums, theaters, and art galleries to keep you entertained.”
7. Cost of living
“Amid the nationwide increase in the cost of living, Atlanta stands out with a variable and relatively affordable housing market,” shares Dunbar. “Prospective residents can find a range of options that suit their needs and budget, from budget-friendly apartments in bustling neighborhoods to more spacious suburban homes. This flexibility in housing choices allows individuals and families to discover a living arrangement that aligns with their preferences without breaking the bank.”
While the median sale price for homes in Atlanta reached $439,200 in June 2023, about 3% more than the national median sale price, Atlanta home prices are still much lower than other major cities. For example, Seattle and Boston both have a median sale price of over $800,000.
8. Parks, historical sites, and attractions
“Centennial Olympic Park is a favorite spot in Atlanta, offering year-round activities like concerts, festivals, and sports,” shares Chetter Galloway, President at Kuumba Storytellers of Georgia. “Nearby attractions include the College Football Hall of Fame, The Georgia Aquarium, and the Coca Cola Museum. The National Center for Civil and Human Rights is a recent addition, leaving a profound impact. Piedmont Park in Midtown hosts outdoor activities, concerts, and festivals, attracting newcomers to its charming surroundings. The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site showcases his birth home, museum, and Ebenezer Baptist Church, chronicling his remarkable journey.”
“No matter where I spend time on planet earth, this city is always somewhere I am excited to return to and call home,” shares L’Angela Lee, Natural Skin Therapist herbalist, and owner of Honeysuckle Moon Self Care & Spa. “There’s a rich vegan food community known as Historic West End that’s superior to any city I’ve ever explored. Additionally, as it relates to festivals and culture, Atlanta’s many artists, thought leaders and inhabitants never disappoint in coming together to celebrate and support one another. Two of my favorite city festivals are One MusicFest and Vibrant Moons Natural Wellness Festival for the Indigenous Women. Simply put, ATL is where it’s at.”
Cons of living in Atlanta, GA
1. Hot and humid summers
Atlanta experiences sweltering summers with high temperatures and high humidity levels. The heat can be uncomfortable for some residents, necessitating higher energy usage for cooling and making outdoor activities less enjoyable.
2. High property taxes
While Atlanta’s property taxes aren’t excessively high compared to other major cities, it’s crucial to research and understand the long-term costs for informed decisions on homeownership or renting in Atlanta. Atlanta’s property taxes can pose a significant financial burden for homeowners and renters, impacting housing affordability and overall cost of living. Higher property tax rates can result in increased mortgage payments for homeowners and indirectly affect renters through potential rent increases.
3. Traffic congestion
Atlanta is notorious for its heavy traffic, especially during rush hours. The city’s sprawling layout and dependence on cars can lead to frustrating daily commutes and lengthy travel times, impacting overall quality of life.
4. Air quality
Atlanta occasionally experiences poor air quality due to traffic congestion and industrial activities that contribute to smog and particulate matter, which may pose health risks for sensitive individuals, especially those with respiratory conditions. Residents may need to take extra precautions during days with poor air quality, which may also impact outdoor activities and overall well-being.
Ultimately, whether you choose to move to Atlanta or not, the pros certainly outweigh the cons when calling this dynamic city home.