Cost of Living in Atlanta, GA

February 20th, 2023

Cost of Living in Atlanta, GA

Cost of Living in Atlanta

Are you planning your next move and considering Atlanta, Georgia? Let's expand on the cost of living.

Georgia's state capital, Atlanta, is well-known for its diversity and cosmopolitan vibes. Atlanta and its metro area have the 10th-largest economy in the nation and one of the 20 most extensive in the world. It is among the most significant major cities in the southeast.

Atlanta was a central railroad hub, but it was almost burnt down during the Civil War and has grown significantly since then. It is known as the city that rose from the ashes, so Atlanta's symbol is the phoenix. Its highly diverse economy offers job opportunities for residents across various career fields. In 1996, Atlanta even hosted the summer Olympics!

Atlanta is considered one of the best places to live in Georgia, attracting people from all over the country. The city adapts to all the new residents by catering to their needs with exciting city-wide projects, public spaces, and unique attractions. Residents say one of the best things about living in Atlanta is the warmth of the people. Southern hospitality is alive and well in the city of Atlanta! You can count on getting a friendly wave, hello, or nod from strangers everywhere you go. There is also enthusiastic city pride in Atlanta!

The city is also quite famous when it comes to millennials, who make up at least 25% of Atlanta's population, and businesses are catching on! Since millennials prefer to shop local and support small businesses, Atlanta has also seen an increase in small shops.

Another pro to living in Atlanta is the incredible food scene. It has been called one of the best food cities in the country because of its diversity, quality, and accessibility. Atlanta is certainly not only known for its southern comfort food. You will be able to find tons of other cultural cuisines as well!

It is getting more expensive these days when it comes to housing, groceries, healthcare, utilities, and more. The cost of living is increasing in metro areas, including in and around Atlanta. The city aligns with national averages on some things, but Atlanta is considered more expensive than the rest of the Southeast.

If you are considering moving to Atlanta, use this guide to help determine how the cost of living in Atlanta will match up with what you can afford. Keep reading to check out the cost of living in Atlanta, Georgia.

Atlanta, GA skyline at dusk lights on highway and in buildings

Housing and Rent Costs in Atlanta

If you are moving to Atlanta from a city like New York or San Francisco, you will think the cost of housing in Atlanta is a steal! However, if you are moving from another city in the southeast to Atlanta, you may feel the cost of housing is expensive. Rent is undoubtedly on the rise, and it will cost you a bit more in Atlanta than in other mid-sized cities, but prices are still affordable compared to some of the most popular large cities in the country.

If you plan to rent in Atlanta, a 1-bedroom apartment in the city will cost about $1,800, higher than the national average. A 2-bedroom apartment will cost you about $2,430 per month on average However, if you compare that price to a 1-bedroom apartment in San Francisco, New York, Miami, Los Angeles, or Boston, you will get a deal. Apartment rents in Atlanta have risen by more than 10% over the years.

The cost of rent will depend on what area of Atlanta you choose to live in. If you want to live in one of the most popular neighborhoods, including Buckhead, Old Fourth Ward, Midtown, Frontier Woods, Chattahoochee Bluffs, or Inman Park, you should expect to pay a lot more for rent. You can get better deals in more suburban areas like Roswell or Sandy Springs.

Affordable housing has been a topic across the country because many areas have seen an enormous increase in housing costs due to the increased demand. You can find multi-million dollar properties in Atlanta, but the median house price in the city is about $400,000, which is higher than the current national median home listing price.

Depending on the area where you choose to buy a home, the price per square foot could be a lot more or a lot less. For example, the median listing price in Sandy Springs is around $578,000, with an average of $203 per square foot. The median listing price in Alpharetta is about $525,000, an average of $188 per square foot.

According to the most recent U.S. Census Data, roughly 224,000 households in Atlanta and 2.2 million in the metro area. About 47% of housing units are owned and occupied in Atlanta, and 64% are owned and settled in the greater metro area; the rest are rentals.

Graphic of cost of living in Atlanta

Should You Rent or Buy?

Renting is quite common in Atlanta because of the large availability of options in great neighborhoods. If you want to live in a walkable community where a lot is happening, rent is almost always more affordable. Renting will also give you more flexibility if you still determine whether you plan to live in Atlanta for a long time. You can get more bang for your buck when renting in a city like Atlanta than you would be renting in New York or San Francisco. Renting during the first year of a new town will help you learn more about each area and figure out where you might want to buy in the future.

If you have a larger budget, can afford a home, and think you will be in Atlanta for several years or more, buying a property in the city might be desirable. If you can find a property at a reasonable price in an area you prefer, go for it!

Food & Dining

Food and dining costs are essential when moving to Atlanta because the food in this city is AMAZING. You might spend more money on food in Atlanta simply because of all the fantastic options available. Foodies and chefs travel to Atlanta to try Michelin-star restaurants and beautiful cocktail lounges.

You will spend quite a bit of money if you are dining at the higher-end, highly sought-after restaurants, but an average meal for two in downtown Atlanta will cost you about $50. Expect to pay between $40-120 for a three-course dinner for two in a mid-range restaurant. If you have a taste for chef-prepared food, your costs will go up. If you go out to eat twice a week, you will spend about $200-$400 per month on eating out.

A primary lunch menu with a drink generally costs about $15, and a combo meal at a fast-food restaurant is about $7. A regular coffee from a cafe or restaurant will cost about $4.

If you enjoy cooking, good news! The cost of groceries in Atlanta is slightly lower than the national average. Expect to pay these prices on average for some of your everyday grocery items:

Loaf of white bread: $2.40

Dozen eggs: $2.30

A pound of chicken fillets: $5

A gallon of milk: $3.10

A pound of common fruits and vegetables: $1.30-$2.40

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates people will spend about $300-$400 monthly on groceries, which is typical for living in a city.

Restaurant with wine glasses and tables

Cost of Utilities

When calculating your cost of living in an apartment or a single-family home, it's essential to consider your monthly utility cost. Living in a city like Atlanta, with hot summer temperatures, you should expect higher utilities like air conditioning costs. On the other hand, winters in Atlanta can get cold at times, but residents rarely see snow.

On average, expect to pay at least $180 monthly on standard utilities, including heating, cooling, water, electricity, and garbage disposal, and another $80 monthly on internet services. Internet costs in Atlanta are average and range from $20 to $80+. Comcast, Google Fiber, and Earthlink are all options. Expect to pay at least $230 a month for utilities.

Remember that older buildings have worse insulation and may have older air conditioning units, so heating and air could cost much more if you live in an older building.

Utility poles during sunset blue sky

Transportation in Atlanta

Atlanta offers excellent options for public transportation if you prefer to use it over driving yourself. The city has a notoriously bad reputation for traffic, so if public transportation works for your schedule and job, it might be worth it.

The city offers MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority), which operates bus lines and light and heavy rail services. The Atlanta subway is the 8th busiest in the nation! A standard one-way fare on MARTA bus and rail services will cost $2.50, which allows up to four transfers in three hours. Or, you can buy a "Breeze Card," which costs $2 and can be reloaded as often as you need. If you plan to use MARTA services often around the Atlanta area, there are several pass options, including:

  • One-day pass: $9
  • Two-day pass: $14
  • Three-day pass: $16
  • Four-day pass: $19
  • Seven-day pass: $23.75
  • 30-day pass: $95

If you are a university student or attend a participating college, you can buy a monthly university pass for $68.50. School children (K-12) can get weekly access for $14.40.

It is important to note that MARTA train transit is unlike New York City's transit system, where trains service everywhere. You will likely have to interchange between train and bus, which may increase your commute time.

Gas is quite expensive, and traffic in Atlanta can be horrendous, so avoiding driving might be your best move. Parking in Atlanta can be tricky, but it is relatively inexpensive. The city provides more than 2,400 parking spaces for $2 an hour. Most MARTA stations offer free parking for customers, or you can find paid parking between $2-$20 per hour.

With $1, you can commute in the new Atlanta Streetcar, a 2.7-mile loop across downtown Atlanta.

Most employees in Atlanta have an average commute time of about 25 minutes. You cannot walk everywhere in Atlanta, so most people are car-dependent if they live in a walkable neighborhood near work.

Besides public transportation and driving yourself, Uber and taxis are also available in most areas.

Cars on highway in Atlanta buildings in background

Job Availability and Average Salary

You will want to make sure you are making enough money in Atlanta to live as comfortably as you would like to live. In general, the cost of your rent should be no more than 1/3 of your monthly salary. Since the rent cost in Atlanta is about $1,800 a month, your salary should be about $5,400 per month before taxes.

In the city, workers earn an average monthly net salary of about $5,200 after taxes which is relatively higher than the national average. The city's median household income is approximately $66,657, with a typical resident making about $55,000. The Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta Metro Area has a slightly higher median household income of $71,700. One of the most common jobs in Atlanta is management, with employees making about $104,000 annually. Sales-related occupations are another popular one in Atlanta.

The city is home to 16 Fortune 500 companies, including United Parcel Service (UPS), The Coca-Cola Company, Delta Airlines, and many more. Atlanta also claims 13 Fortune 1000 companies. The 15 top employers in Atlanta are The Kroger Co, Publix Super Markets, Emory University, AT&T, Marriott International, Cox Enterprises, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), plus several hospitals and healthcare companies.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the current unemployment rate in the Atlanta metro area is 3.1 percent below the national rate.

Financial technology is a significant industry in Atlanta through employers like Worldpay, Fiserv, TSYS, and First Data. The city is known for healthcare information technology, advanced manufacturing, logistics, and supply chain jobs.

Cost of Living in Atlanta, GA - Final Thoughts

With a higher cost of living than the state and the national average, living in Atlanta is on the more expensive end as the city continues to grow and evolve. Though the city remains cheaper than larger metropolitan areas, the cost of living is essential to consider before moving. If cost of living is a priority for you, check out our list of the cheapest places to live in Georgia

If you are ready to call Atlanta home and would like to begin your home search, please contact us today to be connected with one of our Realty Specialists. We are here to help and are ready to answer any questions! 








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Ryan Fitzgerald

Ryan Fitzgerald

Hi there! My name is Ryan Fitzgerald, and I am a REALTOR®. My goal is to help you learn more about real estate through our Real Estate Blog! Hopefully, you enjoyed the above blog post and it found a way to provide help or value to you. When you're ready to buy or sell a home of your own let us know here. Please feel free to join the conversation by dropping us a comment below.