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Cost of Living in Atlanta

Atlanta combines small-town charm with the hustle and bustle of a big city. The city itself is home to just under half a million people, but the Atlanta Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is home to 5.8 million Americans, according to a 2018 report by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC). Atlanta’s recent economic growth attracted 89,000 new residents in 2017, also according to the AJC.

Atlanta Home Prices

Like much of the American housing market, the appreciation rates in Atlanta are trending upwards. According to NeighborhoodScout, this cumulative rate is 67.68% from 2000 to 2018. While this might seem like a great rate, it’s just above average in comparison to the U.S.

Aside from everything above, the median sales price of a single-family home in the Atlanta metro area is just $216,100, according to the National Association of Realtors. That makes home buying in the city a realistic opportunity, especially in comparison to larger East Coast cities. For example, in New York and Washington, D.C., the median sales prices are $403,900 and $417,400, respectively.

Need help figuring out how mortgage payments will fit into your overall financial life? You may want to think about working with a financial advisor.

Cost of Living in Atlanta

Atlanta Rents

It may be difficult to save up for a down payment if you’re planning on renting in Atlanta. According to a March 2019 report by Apartment List, the median rent for various types of apartments in Atlanta are well above national marks. This trend is most visible with studios, as an Atlanta studio apartment goes for $988 compared to the $827 U.S. median – a $161 split.

The larger the apartment you’re looking at in Atlanta, the closer prices get to the nationwide median. One bedrooms in Atlanta run $1,036 ($89 higher than the U.S. median) and two bedrooms cost $1,197 ($22 higher than the U.S. median).

Cost of Living in Atlanta

Utilities

According to a Numbeo.com report from May 2019, a basic package of utilities for a 915-square foot apartment in Atlanta will cost you $151.66. That includes electricity, heating, water and garbage. If you want to add internet, expect to pay around $64 a month, which is only a couple dollars more than the $62.51 U.S. average.

Transportation

A 30-day public transit pass for the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) will cost you $95. Atlanta is a driving town, though, as long commutes and heavy traffic are a part of life here. EducatedDriver.org data from 2018 shows that the average daily commute time in Atlanta is 62 minutes, which is near the worst in America.

According to GasBuddy data from May 2019, the average price of a gallon of regular gas in Atlanta is $2.72. This is slightly more expensive than the state average of $2.66, but cheaper than the national average of $2.86.

Taxes

Atlanta has a sales tax rate of 8.90% (7.00% for Dekalb and Fulton Counties with a 1.90% additional tax for Atlanta). Georgia holds statewide sales tax holidays twice a year. The first of these is typically around the end of July and is meant to aid parents doing back-to-school shopping. The latter occurs at a different time every year.

The average effective property tax rate in Atlanta’s Fulton County is 1.07%. Fulton County residents’ median property tax payment is $2,692, the highest in the state.

Residents of the state of Georgia pay a top marginal state income tax rate of 6.00%. This applies to filers with taxable income of $7,000 or more.

Food

According to Numbeo.com (May 2019), a three-course meal for two in a mid-range restaurant will cost you $50. A meal for one at an inexpensive restaurant has an average price of $15. On a monthly basis, Numbeo estimates that Atlanta residents will need to spend $312.65 for food. This is a bit cheaper than the $324.33 national average.

Atlanta has all the tasty treats you’d expect in a Southern city. Popular chains include Waffle House and Chick-Fil-A, but there’s a thriving independent restaurant scene too. If you want to sample what the city has to offer, you can attend the annual Atlanta Food and Wine Festival. A one-day pass costs $175, and a three-day pass for the weekend costs $500.

Miscellaneous Cost of Living Facts

Cost of Living in Atlanta

To counteract all the Southern delicacies available in Atlanta you may decide a gym membership is worth trying out. If so, expect to pay around$35 a month, according to Numbeo. If you prefer watching sports to exercising, head to Atlanta’s Suntrust Park to see the Atlanta Braves play baseball. Statista.com’s 2018 report on Major League Baseball ticket prices places the average cost of Braves’ tickets at around $32.

It would be a shame to live in Atlanta without exploring the city’s rich history. You certainly have a lot of options, and not all of them carry a hefty price tag. A visit to the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Center is completely free. Admission to Atlanta’s Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum is free for anyone 16 and under, though adults must pay $12 each. An adult ticket to Atlanta’s Center for Civil and Human Rights will cost adults $19.99, whereas tickets for children are $15.99.

You can also buy the Atlanta CityPASS for $76, which gets you admission to five hallmark attractions in Atlanta. This includes:

  • Georgia Aquarium
  • World of Coca-Cola
  • CNN Studio Tours
  • Zoo Atlanta or the National Center for Civil and Human Rights
  • Fernbank Museum of Natural History or the College Football Hall of Fame

For a free outing, you can always head to the BeltLine, an Atlanta project that will grow to comprise 33 miles of multi-use trails converted from an elevated rail track. The BeltLine began as a graduate student’s idea in 1999 and opened its first sections in 2005.

Next Steps If You’re Moving to Atlanta

Photo credit: © iStock.com/Sean Pavone, © iStock.com/wellesenterprises

Amelia Josephson Amelia Josephson is a writer passionate about covering financial literacy topics. Her areas of expertise include retirement and home buying. Amelia's work has appeared across the web, including on AOL, CBS News and The Simple Dollar. She holds degrees from Columbia and Oxford. Originally from Alaska, Amelia now calls Brooklyn home.
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