Atlanta, GA

Moving to Atlanta: Things All Renters Need to Know

Unlike big cities like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, Atlanta can seem like an enigma to many, but it’s a vibrant city that surprises you with its many layers. There’s never been a better time for moving to Atlanta, the city of many trees, Coca-Cola, the hip-hop music industry, the world’s busiest airport and excellent southern food and beer.

Sure, Atlanta’s traffic is infamous, but its rush hour traffic is comparable to other cities. And you get used to the humid summers, but nothing a cold Coke can’t fix. Pro tip: Don’t call it “Hotlanta.”

Fans at the Atlanta Braves game

Living in Atlanta

There’s something for everyone to do, 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 Atlanta neighborhood and some of the biggest movies and music hits start here.

The Georgia Aquarium, big acts at the State Farm Arena and iconic Fox Theatre and professional sports teams, like the Atlanta Falcons or Atlanta United at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, will have you cheering on for the Georgia capital in no time.

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 this friendly city.

After moving to Atlanta, you’ll catch up to the lingo (ITP vs. OTP), add lemon pepper wet wings to your top five favorite food list or be able to navigate to the correct Peachtree Street in no time (and yes, we have many).

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 its many hip neighborhoods.

Getting to know Atlanta

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.

The city encompasses mainly two counties, Fulton and DeKalb, with a few others joining when looking at the metro area. Over the last decade, the city has undergone fast growth within its economy and in-town neighborhoods. This led to higher rent prices and gentrification.

Despite all the change, Atlanta has retained its southern charm.


Positioned right in the middle of the Southeast region, Atlanta functions as a transportation hub with a busy airport (some may say busiest in the world!) and interstates that converge in Georgia’s capital to connect to other states. At one time, Atlanta’s name was Terminus — since all roads ended there.

According to the last Census, the Atlanta metro area is home to more than 6 million people, but the city itself sits at around half a million people.

Krog Street Tunnel in Atlanta

Popular neighborhoods in Atlanta

Did you know that the Atlanta BeltLine connects all 45 in-town neighborhoods? It’s a fun way to get to know your new 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.
  • East Atlanta: The eastside neighborhood was the setting of the Battle of Atlanta during the Civil War. Nowadays, you can find nightlife, a small downtown area with a farmers market and affordable housing.
  • Virginia-Highland: Va-Hi, if you’re local, gives a small-town feel in the middle of the city. Its tree-lined streets, small boutiques, neighborhood watering holes and many playgrounds make it perfect for a young family.
  • Midtown: Midtown attracts young professionals and single folks, thanks to the diverse, thriving bars and LGBTQ+ nightlife. You also get access to Piedmont Park, art museums and the city’s massive botanical garden.
  • West End: 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.
  • Westside: Recently, the Westside Reservoir Park opened, becoming Atlanta’s largest green space at 280 acres. You have access to many walking and bicycle trails. The Westside, also referred to as West Midtown, has many apartments for rent. Nearby, you can find upscale restaurants, yoga studios and fancy boutiques with clothes and homewares.

The overall cost of living in Atlanta

While the cost of living continues to increase, living in Atlanta is still significantly affordable when compared to other major cities. Here are a few numbers to give you a bigger picture of Atlanta.

  • Population: 498,715
  • Population density (people per square mile): 3,154.3
  • Median income: $59,948
  • Studio rent (on average): $1,661
  • One-bedroom rent (on average): $1,916
  • Two-bedroom rent (on average): $2,557
  • Cost of living index: 101.8

Across the board, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER), Atlanta places slightly above the national average like a big city on most things. This includes groceries, transportation, healthcare and housing. Utilities are below the national average — an energy bill averages around $120.52. One-bedroom rents are currently above the national average.

There are so many companies headquartered in Atlanta.

The rising job market in downtown Atlanta

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 and San Francisco, Atlanta has risen as an important tech hub for startups in the Southeast. This industry thrives thanks to the talent injection via Atlanta Public Schools, HBICs like Spelman and Morehouse, Georgia Tech graduates and young professionals to the Atlanta area and its business district.

In Buckhead, the Atlanta Tech Village, the country’s fourth-largest tech hub, hosts hundreds of startups and a thriving innovation ecosystem inside its 100,000-square-foot building. There are plenty of opportunities for young professionals to grow and nurture their careers in the ninth-largest metropolitan area.

The mild climate in the Southeast

Georgia’s beautiful fall season, full of oranges and reds, makes up for the sweltering and humid summers and what the locals call “the pollening” of the spring season. The latter is a phenomenon that happens in Atlanta as all trees start blooming simultaneously. A thick layer of yellow pollen covers everything.

Otherwise, Atlanta’s average temperature throughout the year hovers between 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit and doesn’t really get snow during the winter. This mild climate is great for festivals, outdoor recreation and growing food. The city has a robust farmer’s market culture, with many farmers and nonprofits working to provide fresh food to households within the city limits.

Georgia Tech is only one university here.

Higher education

Top-rated universities like Georgia Tech and Georgia State University are in Midtown and Downtown Atlanta, respectively, with plenty of apartment housing nearby. Both have undergraduate and graduate offerings and college teams with a big following. Go, Yellow Jackets! SCAD Atlanta and all-women Agnes Scott College are also within the city.

HBIC colleges Spelman and Morehouse are west of the city and closer to downtown. Amenities and housing expand to the Westside, where students access music venues, restaurants and nightlife. Emory University is north of the city, closer to Decatur.

Healthcare costs

Northside Hospital and Emory Healthcare lead the charge in Atlanta healthcare. Healthcare is slightly above the national average — at 1.4 percent. An average doctor visit is $121.80, and a dentist visit costs $101.80 on average, according to C2ER’s Cost of Living Index.


Nightlife and entertainment

No matter what neighborhood you pick, you’re bound to find an opportunity to listen to some good live music. The Tabernacle, the Eastern, the Masquerade, the Buckhead Theatre and the Loft all host the most popular acts in an intimate setting. Big rock stars often take over the Mercedes-Benz Stadium and State Farm Arena’s stages.

Thinking more like bars and dancing? We got you. Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room in Edgewood is a great way to start the night as the street closes down on weekends to just pedestrians. Speakeasies and arcade bars are also around if you need something a little different. Bars like Ticonderoga Club and SOS Tiki Bar offer some of the best cocktails in the city if you’re feeling fancy.

Public transportation

Unfortunately, you’ll most likely need a car when moving to Atlanta. While MARTA rail goes to some spots around the city, the train doesn’t cover enough city sprawl. Buses are your best bet if you want to get around without a car.

While there are some bike lanes in Midtown and surrounding neighborhoods, the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition is still fighting for more bike safety and lanes throughout the city. Along with Atlanta’s hilly terrain, that makes it not-so-friendly to two-wheel transportation.

Overall, Atlanta is a safe city.

Crime and safety

Like any other metro area, when moving to Atlanta you’ll find there are some unsafe areas with higher crime rates. But, the city is safe. According to U.S. News, the metro area’s violent crime rate was lower than the national rate in 2019.

It’s always wise to take any valuables with you and, if you can, travel with a buddy at night. While violent crime is low, property crime (think broken car windows) continues as a crime of opportunity.

Before moving to Atlanta, it’s essential to consult with local friends and colleagues on what areas to avoid while you get to know the city.

Dining scene

After moving to Atlanta, you’ll get the full spectrum of excellent dining, from James Beard award winners to holes in the wall. Fried chicken at Busy Bee Cafe is a must and, of course, barbecue from Fox Bros. or Fat Matt’s.

Pop-ups are also a big way local chefs build a following in Atlanta. Intimate spot Gato in Candler Park works as an incubator for emerging concepts and talent, including Talat Market and Little Bear. You can also see innovation across the city at The Optimist, Empire State South, King & Duke and other upscale establishment doing things a little differently.

Dog parks abound.

Pet-friendly city

Atlanta residents love dogs! Many parks around the city have dedicated areas for four-legged friends, and with the city’s mild weather, pet-friendly patios are a way of life. Plus, most apartments welcome pets for a small fee.

Stop by Fetch Park in Old Fourth Ward or Buckhead for a bit of fun for both you and your dog. There’s a small bar for the humans and plenty of space to run for the pups.

Family-friendly fun

WalletHub named Atlanta one of the best cities to raise a family in 2021 — scoring high in family fun and affordability. The city has an abundance of parks in different neighborhoods, some with playgrounds. There are also educational programs at the Center of Puppetry Arts and the High Museum for children of all ages.

At Centennial Olympic Park, families can learn more about the 1996 Olympics. One block over, they can learn about the history of the Coca-Cola brand. And then head to learn aboutthe many species of fish at the Atlanta Aquarium.

The Blue Ridge mountains are very close.

Side trips from the city

The best part of Atlanta’s location is its variety of options for side trips from the city. Need to get away to the mountains? You’re just 90 minutes from the Blue Ridge Mountains. Head to Blue Ridge or Ellijay for apple picking, cozy cabin rentals and charming downtown shops filled with vintage trinkets.

In the summer, head to Lake Lanier Islands and rent a boat. You can go swimming in the many coves and learn more about the area’s vibrant Black history before it disappeared with the creation of this man-made lake. If you’re more of a beach person, you’re four hours away from Savannah and Tybee Island.

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. That southern hospitality gets you with every interaction. If you prefer outdoor recreation, a tube down the Chattahoochee River will convince you.

It’s not always obvious what part of the city you’ll like the best, so it’s best to explore them all.

Piedmont Park

Piedmont Park and other outdoor opportunities

Sure, you love the city, but you’ll want to look up and see stars every once in a while. Atlanta has the nickname “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.

Midtown Atlanta, anchored by Piedmont Park, is one of the biggest green spaces in the city.

Sweetwater Creek State Park is beyond the perimeter and offers hiking and biking trails for all levels, as well as yurts and water sports. The Morningside Nature Preserve gives you quiet time right in the middle of Midtown, too.

The Silver Comet Trail, a 60-mile stretch that takes you to Alabama, is a great way to spend your day on your bike. Stone Mountain Park, the most visited tourist site in Georgia, has an annual laser show in the summer. It’s also an excellent hike to the top of the big rock.

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 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. The Masquerade in downtown Atlanta, housed at Underground Atlanta, is also a must-stop for music enthusiasts.

Ponce City Market

Ponce City Market and many things to do

Exploring Atlanta and getting to know its lesser-known gems will take time. It’s always hard moving to a new city. Atlanta is heavily fragmented, but a local friend can help you understand your new Atlanta neighborhood and how you can get used to living in Atlanta.

Ponce City Market in Old Fourth Ward has undergone the most extensive facelift, previously known as City Hall East. A food hall turned tourist attraction, the complex has high-end boutiques and some of the most experimental restaurants. The rooftop houses a small amusement park with an incredible view of Midtown.

Atlantic Station on the Westside offers options for shopping along with a walkable neighborhood and the city’s own IKEA. The proximity of MARTA via a shuttle makes it accessible without a car. The Woodruff Arts Center features the Atlanta Symphony and the High Museum of Art in Midtown. Nearby, don’t miss the Museum of Design and exhibitions at Savannah College of Art and Design.

Atlanta residents take food seriously. Buford Highway, a 20-mile stretch that houses a large majority of the city’s international community, offers international cuisine from Japan, Mexico, Vietnam, China and more. It’s truly an adventure to explore local restaurants to find your favorites.

The cons of moving to Atlanta

As much as Atlanta boasts diversity, a vibrant international community along Buford Highway and mild weather, it also has a few downsides. Here are a few cons to know before moving to Atlanta — beyond sneezing non-stop during every spring season.

Atlanta traffic

The Atlanta 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.

The big city has been ranked one of the worst traffic cities in the world multiple times, with some estimates saying that the average commuter in Atlanta spends 48 hours in traffic each year.

On top of that, public transportation isn’t quite as robust as in other cities. 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 an Atlanta neighborhood. Sometimes, it’s worth paying a bit more for walkable streets and shorter driving distances.

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 and the lack of robust public transportation often further complicates the situation.

Construction is never-ending

The rapid gentrification of metro Atlanta

Thanks to a fast-growing economy and an influx of transplants around Atlanta neighborhoods, like Old Fourth Ward and around the Atlanta BeltLine, gentrification and a high cost of living have become a real issue.

Affordable housing has been a hot issue as regulations have not protected long-time Atlanta residents in emerging neighborhoods. This makes living in Atlanta a lot harder for families that have been here for generations.

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 in the Atlanta metropolitan area, median rents have increased by more than 60 percent since 2013. This is thanks to investors and new homes being built across the entire city.

Rents can quickly go up without warning, due to the increasing popularity of specific, affluent neighborhoods. All while the median household income hovers around $59,948 per the latest Census data.

How to move to Atlanta

Have we convinced you that moving to Atlanta is an excellent idea? Moving to a new city is daunting even if it’s a friendly one like Atlanta, GA. No matter what neighborhood you end up picking, you’ll fall in love with the city pretty quickly. It’s got amazing culture, tasty dining options and open green spaces.

Expand your apartment hunting to the Atlanta metro area to include gems just beyond the city limits like downtown Decatur.

To help with your move as you pack your apartment, head to Rent.’s Moving Center to get free quotes and more information about planning out your move to Atlanta. We can help find the perfect home, check out these apartments for rent.

The rent information included in this article is based on a median calculation of multifamily property inventory from Rent.. The information does not constitute a pricing guarantee or financial advice related to the rental market.
Additional data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau, and


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