Discover the Appeal of Moving to and Living in Atlanta, GA

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City Highlights

A capital city with a deep history, the story of America could not have been written without the city Atlanta. As a battleground in both the Civil War and the civil rights movement, Atlanta’s undulating hills and valleys have borne witness to some of the most consequential cultural shifts in human history. But those events are only part of what has made it the cultural epicenter it is today.  

With more than 5.1 million residents, the Atlanta metro area population is now the eighth-largest in the nation. But the city of Atlanta itself has a comparatively small population: only 500,000 people reside within city limits. That’s, in part, because Atlanta has a small footprint. The area of the city is only 135.31 square miles, making it roughly half the size of Chicago, New York or Dallas, and less than a quarter of the size of Houston. But it’s still the largest city in the state of Georgia, and one that is growing at an astonishing rate. The population of this popular city has swelled more than 18% over the past 12 years.   

The city’s population is also diverse across its 11 counties, from Fulton — the city’s largest — to Gwinnett — the city’s fastest-growing. A significant 26% of this county is foreign-born, you’ll find international communities from Mexico, Korea, India, Vietnam, El Salvador, China and many others. 

Atlanta has long been a transportation hub — one of its first names was actually Terminus — but this railroad town modernized itself into a global center for air travel (and the homebase of Delta Airlines), and that has been critical to its business and cultural base. Atlanta is a longstanding leader in an array of industries, with paper manufacturers like Georgia Pacific, food and beverage giants like Coca-Cola, shipping/freight companies like UPS and creative industries like Tyler Perry Studios. But there are plenty of great small businesses in the city, too, from real estate brokers to interior design houses and financial consultants. 

And, when you’re not at work, there’s so much to do in this lush and lively place. Atlanta is known as a city of trees, and there are so many spots to get out and enjoy the gorgeous canopy of oaks and pines, cypress and serviceberries, yellowwoods and sugar maples. City dwellers love the Atlanta Beltline — the ever-growing rails-to-trails-project which encircles the city’s core and connects some of its most popular districts in a fun, new way. And whether you live in town or out, Atlantans flock to the beautiful Chattahoochee River for fishing, tubing, biking and hiking.  

But indoor attractions are where Atlanta really shines. There are kid-centric spots like the Atlanta Children’s Museum and Fernbank natural history museum, and destinations the whole family can enjoy, like the High Museum and Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Park. Atlanta is also a destination for foodies, so whether you’re looking for classic Southern staples or innovative, high-concept fusion, this is a city to dine out in. 

With a reasonable cost of living, a strong job market and plenty of tempting amenities, Atlanta can be a great place to call home. If you think the city sounds like what you’re looking for, read more below about the job market, weather, neighborhoods and transportation below. And, if you’re interested in learning more about the Peach State, check out our Moving Guide to Georgia.  

What is the Weather Like in Atlanta?

Nobody in Atlanta enjoys the nickname Hotlanta, but this moniker doesn’t exaggerate when it comes to weather. The city really heats up in the summertime. But those steamy temperatures, ranging from a humid 70 F-90 F on an average summer day may not feel as oppressive as you might think. That’s thanks to the tree canopy, which is both tall and vast, and helps shade the streets and abate the effects of smog from Hartsfield-Jackson International — the world’s busiest airport.  

Apart from the dog days of summer, Atlanta’s weather is wonderfully mild. The average annual temperature is 65 F, and spring and fall allow for plenty of al fresco dining and catching up on front porches. Expect colorful displays of nature in both seasons, with dogwoods, tulips and azaleas in the spring and gorgeous, changing leaves in the fall. Atlanta is not immune from extreme weather, though — tornados and intense rains spawned from hurricanes in neighboring states can dramatically impact the city.  

Atlanta does have a true winter, with freezing temperatures and occasional snowfall, but frosty weather here is short-lived, and temperatures often warm up in the afternoon. Even during the coldest weeks, the city’s camellias brighten front yards as much as any holiday lights can.  

Is Atlanta Affordable, Compared to Chicago or New York?

Georgia’s cost of living may be a bargain compared to the national average, but Atlanta’s prices aren’t quite as cut-rate. The median home value in the city averaged nearly $400,000 between 2018 and 2022, compared to a U.S. average of $281,900 and a state average of $245,900. Rent, too, is far steeper. The median gross rent in Atlanta is $2,260 per month, compared to the national average of $1,828 and the state average of $1,640.  

Atlanta’s real estate prices pale in comparison to New York City’s, though, where home values are nearly double Atlanta’s, and rent is nearly a thousand dollars higher. But both Chicago and Houston have far more affordable prices for buyers, which may come as a surprise to many looking to move to a bigger city. Renters, though, are equally burned in the Windy City and the Bayou City as they are in Hotlanta.  

What Jobs are in High Demand in Atlanta?

As the eighth-largest metro area in the country, Atlanta has a powerful workforce across diverse industries and fields. The city is the homebase of Fortune 500s like Coca-Cola, Home Depot, UPS, Delta Air Lines and Chick-fil-A. It’s the hub of TV networks and film companies like CNN and Tyler Perry Studios. And between the CDC and hospital systems like Emory, Piedmont and Northside, life sciences are another powerhouse in the ATL. Whether you’re a budding graphic designer or an established software engineer, you’re likely to find that your strong suit has strong foothold in Atlanta.  

The metro Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell area has a nonfarm civilian workforce of more than three million people, and the leading industry sectors are trade, transportation and utilities (658,000 employees), professional and business services (594,000 employees), and education and health services (425,000 employees). Atlanta’s job market is strong, and its unemployment rate stood at just 3.1% in November 2023, lower than the national average. 

Over the past year, education and health services saw the greatest gains, adding more than 25,000 new jobs in metro Atlanta. Leisure and hospitality, which employs 316,000 Atlantans, increased its workforce by more than 15,000. Financial activities, construction and other services also ended up on the plus side. Only four of the area’s major sectors experienced losses — information, manufacturing, professional and business services and trade, transportation and utilities — but none shed more than 2,800 jobs. 

The city of Atlanta boasts a strong employment rate (67.2%) that easily exceeds the state average. But the city is an outlier in the state in many regards. Its high school graduation rate of 92.9% tops the state and national averages by several points, and the 57.3% of residents who have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher is more than 20 points above the rates in Georgia and the U.S. 

Is Atlanta Easy to Get Around Without a Car?

Atlanta is still very much a car-dependent place, and the city’s reputation for traffic unfortunately precedes itself. While Atlanta has widened its roadways countless times and added new highways to relieve congestion, these only encouraged more people to take to the road in their own cars. Metro Atlanta’s major north-south arteries are painfully clogged, even during non-peak hours.  

On a regular day in Atlanta, commuters spend an average of 27.5 minutes behind the wheel on their way to work — a minute more than the U.S. average — but budget for added time in this city, particularly if your commute involves taking 285, better known as the Perimeter, or if you live anywhere near Jonesboro.  

Another culprit of Atlanta’s traffic woes is its public transit system, MARTA. With a metro area population of more than five million, MARTA has never really gotten the love — or the funding that it deserves — to adequately serve Atlanta’s sprawling suburbs. The light rail system now has four lines that can take you from College Park to North Springs or Doraville on the Red or Gold Line, and from Indian Creek to East Point along the Blue Line. The Green Line serves only in-town traffic from Bankhead to Edgewood. MARTA has made several major improvements in recent years, though, adding Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and the Atlanta Streetcar. The streetcar runs on a single loop through some of the city’s most frequented destinations: Peachtree Center, Centennial Olympic Park, and the Sweet Auburn Curb Market or Municipal Market. The BRT system simulates train service without the tracks, dedicating certain traffic lanes as bus-only, enabling priority traffic signals and creating accessible platforms for passengers.  

What are Good Neighborhoods in Atlanta? 

Atlanta has a wealth of appealing neighborhoods, from suburban areas like Sandy Springs and Smyrna to hip and friendly near-town districts like Druid Hills and Decatur. So, whether you’re looking for a big house with a backyard or a cool condo near your favorite restaurant, Atlanta neighborhoods have all the vibes.  

Buckhead is Atlanta’s second business district, where corporate office towers, posh boutiques, shopping malls and popular dining spots meet. Housing prices are steep around this tony neighborhood, where you’ll find historic mansions like the Swan House, palatial new residences, cozy brick bungalows and cool apartments and condominiums. Peach Park is a small, beloved area of Buckhead, prized for its well-appointed (but not outlandish) residences and its walkability factor — it’s also situated on the PATH400, a paved trail network. Longstanding fine dining restaurants like Chops and Aria complement cozy neighborhood bistros like Anis, which has serious country French charm and an excellent Trout Meunière.  

Midtown is Atlanta’s cultural hub, where the Woodruff Arts Center brings the sounds of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the performances of the Alliance Theatre and the treasures of the High Museum of Art to the city. Many Atlanta businesses are found here, so if you have a corporate job, chances are, you’ll be working in this area. Georgia Tech has its main campus here, too, so the area is usually buzzing with students. When you’re not working or studying, one of the greatest spots in Midtown is Piedmont Park, where many summer concerts are held. The dining options in Midtown are vast and varied. Atlanta is a pro at updated traditional, and Ecco is a fine example. When you need a pick-me-up, Café Intermezzo will be ready with a triple chocolate torte and a Caffé Bach. 

Downtown Atlanta is filled with landmarks new and old, from the Georgia State Capitol to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where the Atlanta United plays. A business district with lots of government buildings — several major courthouses are found Downtown — you’ll also find plenty of tourist destinations in this convention-centric area. The Georgia Aquarium, Centennial Olympic Park, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, the Children’s Museum of Atlanta and the World of Coca-Cola create a destination-dense corner of Downtown. Just as in Midtown, this area is also an academic hub, home to Spelman, Morehouse and Clark Atlanta colleges as well as Georgia State University (GSU). Some of downtown’s landmarks are restaurants, and one that all Atlantans must eat at least once is the Varsity. This downtown drive-in is the unrivaled destination for hot dogs, hamburgers and fries in the city, and over the last century (it was founded in 1928) it’s perfected both the art of fried food and fast, friendly service.  

Note: If you’re thinking of moving to Atlanta, it’s important to thoroughly research neighborhoods or areas in the city you might be interested in living. Before you decide where you are going to live, make sure you understand the area’s cost of living, commute time, tax rates, safety statistics and schooling information. 

Where do Atlantans Have Fun?

As a key battleground in the Civil War and an epicenter of the civil rights movement, Atlanta is dotted with historical markers and sites. Street names like Peachtree Battle give themselves away, but others are less forthcoming, and not all historic sites in the city have to do with this single, monumental event. To get an in-depth look at the city’s past, the Atlanta History Center is your best place to start. This institution has historic homes, gardens, exhibitions and a research center that illuminate everything from the history of Southern railways to the influence of Black women on fashion in America. The AHC also houses the Cyclorama, a 3-D panoramic painting depicting the 1864 Battle of Atlanta. 

Just east of Downtown, you’ll find one of the most popular — and meaningful — destinations in the entire state: Martin Luther King, Jr. National Park. Encompassing King’s birthplace, final resting place, the Ebenezer Baptist Church where he famously preached and the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame, the park imparts a deeper understanding of the forces that shaped this extraordinary man and the courage and faith that made him a superlative civil rights leader and an international treasure.  

Art-lovers know that the High is Atlanta’s biggest art destination, but many have yet to meet its cool neighbor, MODA — the Museum of Design Atlanta. At this unusual space, you might learn about the history of chair design one month and the future of pasta the next. Who knows, maybe the mac & cheese of the future will have custom noodles, 3-D printed in your image. They do say you are what you eat, after all.  

When was the last time you went to a puppet show? If it’s been a minute, Atlanta’s Center for Puppetry Arts would be delighted to correct your puppetry deficiency. This special venue features imaginative and magical performances that will dazzle the whole family, from shows like “Stellaluna” that bring kids’ favorite books to life to experimental productions like “Packrat,” that are strictly for a 12+ crowd. And, yes, they do have workshops where you and your children can learn to make their own puppets.  

One of the best parts of living in this tree-canopied place is getting outdoors. You’ll soon discover that most residential areas still have beautiful, wooded areas and fine green spaces to visit for afternoon playdates and summertime concerts — Chastain Park is a Buckhead-area favorite for that. The city has also begun to transform a lot of its old railroad infrastructure and amend some of its more recent thoroughfares to connect disparate neighborhoods through public pathways. The Atlanta Beltline, the PATH400 and the Silver Comet Trail have created pedestrian and bikeways that connect Atlantans across the city and beyond. The Silver Comet travels to Alabama, connecting with the 33-mile-long Chief Ladiga Trail, so weekend warriors can pack in their miles.  

Trail hounds will certainly want to check out pathways along the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area — the only thoroughfare in the city of Atlanta that has never seen a traffic jam. This prized waterway meanders through the city and far beyond, offering a great escape for hikers, anglers, kayakers and naturalists of all kinds. Paddlers and tubers will find outfitters throughout the city that can hook them up with gear to “shoot the Hooch.”   

How do I Move to Atlanta?

When you decide to hire a professional, licensed moving company like United Van Lines to handle your move to Atlanta, you’re helping to make your relocation experience worry-free. We provide customized, full-service moving packages and an online MyUnited Move Portal to address all your moving needs, which can include packing, unpacking, car shipping, storage, debris removal and more.  

Whether you’re making a long-distance move to Atlanta or a local one, United Van Lines has you covered. 

Are you moving within the city of Atlanta or moving within the state of Georgia? We can help with your local move in the Atlanta area. United Van Lines’ interstate Georgia movers can provide local moving services in Atlanta independently under their own businesses and brands. 

Have you decided to handle your own move to Atlanta? Take advantage of our helpful moving resources, which can save you a lot of time and hassle. We have moving checklists, packing tips and regional guides to help you prepare for your move to Atlanta.  

Want to learn more about the Peach State? Our Guide to Moving to Georgia provides essential information about the most important things to know about the state. 

Get a quote today on moving to Atlanta. 

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