If you're planning on moving to Atlanta, don't think you're moving to a simple southern city. While this Georgia gem has lots of friendly people and Southern-hospitality, it offers more than just warm chats over sweet tea and biscuits. Once you make the move to Atlanta you'll find lots of live music, parks, and food of all types. To help ease your transition, here are some things you should know before moving.
1. The traffic is bad, so try to live close to where you work.
Anticipate heavy traffic in the Atlanta area, especially during rush hour. There isn't just a morning and evening rush hour but an afternoon one as well. Some of the worst traffic is on I-85, so avoid this road if you can.
Before you look for a place to live, consider your commute to work. Unless you want to be one of those commuters who sits in traffic for multiple hours each day, live close to your work.
This traffic not only impacts residents' commutes but also other travel. People generally hang out close to where they live, so consider your surroundings before you settle on a neighborhood.
2. You can get around without a car, but it takes some effort.
If you want to avoid traffic and live in Atlanta without a car (or just not fully rely on an automobile), you can. However, it takes some planning. The public transportation in the city is constantly ranked as some of the worst transit in the United States in terms of commuting. Therefore, check if you'll be able to take a train or bus to work rather than assuming you can.
Atlanta has some of the worst public transportation for a metropolitan area of its size. Residents dream about the New York City transit system. The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (AKA "MARTA") can take you most places inside the perimeter of I-285, but you'll likely need to walk to a stop and wait a bit for a bus or train.
Another option if you want to ditch the car is a bike. However, the city isn't very bike-friendly outside of the area around Downtown Atlanta.
3. People don't walk much outside of their neighborhoods.
It's a stretch to say that Atlanta isn't walkable. People do walk around, but they generally stick within their neighborhood, especially if they live further from Midtown. Some highly walkable neighborhoods include Inman Park, Midtown, Old Fourth Ward, and Virginia Highland.
It is easy to walk along the Beltline — a 33-mile trail that will eventually circle the entire city. Much of the Beltline is still in construction, but new businesses and houses are opening close to sections that are open.
4. Nobody calls it Hotlanta.
You know how cities have nicknames that nobody actually uses? "Hotlanta" is one of those. Just call it Atlanta.
5. Atlanta played a big roll in the civil rights movement.
Atlanta served as a hub of the United States civil rights movement. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born here, and he and other leaders peacefully fought for increased rights for African Americans.
To learn more about the American civil rights movement as well as global human rights, check out the interactive exhibits at The National Center for Civil and Human Rights. You can also visit historic sites around Atlanta including the Ebenezer Baptist Church where King preached, and the Elbert P. Tuttle United States Court of Appeals Building, where judges voted to implement Brown vs. Board of Education in the South.
6. Rent prices are rising faster than the national average.
While Atlanta was considered an affordable city 10 years ago, rent prices and home prices are quickly rising. Across the United States, rents rose by an average of about 3% from 2018 to 2019, while rent in Atlanta rose by over 5%. Some factors that impact this increase include the strong job market and an increase in luxury apartments.
Despite this rise, rent prices in Atlanta are within a few dollars of the national average, so you likely can afford options besides a cramped studio or a house with five roommates. Of course, costs vary by neighborhood. You can find more affordable apartment options in Pittsburgh, East Atlanta, and Bolton. Midtown, Old Fourth Ward, Buckhead, and Decatur are some of the most expensive places to live in the Atlanta Metro Area.
7. The economy is doing well.
Atlanta has an unemployment rate that's consistently lower than the US average, indicating a strong economy. Part of this economic success is due to the Fortune 500 companies that have headquarters in Metro Atlanta. These companies include Delta Airlines, UPS, and Home Depot.
8. Atlanta loves the word "peachtree."
If you move to Atlanta, get ready to hear the word Peachtree. While Peachtree Street is one of the main roads in the city, there are over 60 streets that have peachtree in their name.
9. You can find green space within the city and scenic spaces close-by.
While Atlanta is a major city, you'll have no problem finding some greenery since 49.7% of the city is covered by tree canopy. This high percentage has given Atlanta the nickname "City in a Forest." While most residential properties have trees on them, there is also a large number of trees in parks.
Piedmont Park covers 185 acres and includes lakes, lawns, and dog parks. Grant Park is the oldest park in the city and has miles of trails that are perfect for walking or jogging.
While the city isn't lacking in greenery, Atlanta residents head out of the city to head into nature. A popular place to go is the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area north of Atlanta, where you can hike along waterfalls and float down the river in a tube (a perfect activity for the hot Georgia summers).
10. You'll have a home team to root for, no matter your sport of choice.
If you like sports, you're in luck. Atlanta has all the major sports teams, so you can choose one or more to root for.
Here are the major teams for the city:
- MLB: Atlanta Braves
- MLS: Atlanta United FC
- NBA: Atlanta Hawks
- NFL: Atlanta Falcons
- NHL: Atlanta Thrashers
11. You can visit some famous attractions, and hit lesser-known spots.
Atlanta has attractions of all kinds to keep you entertained. When you first move to your new city, you might as well check out the popular tourist hot spots. The Varsity is the world's largest drive-in restaurant, and a great spot to grab a hot dog or burger. If you're feeling like hanging with underwater creatures, head to the Georgia Aquarium to spend the day with penguins, manta rays, and schools of fish.
To get a glimpse of Atlanta's past, head to the Centennial Olympic Park and take an audio tour to learn about the site of the1996 Olympics. It's also a great spot to hang out on the lawn or catch some live music at the amphitheater.
Another popular attraction is the World of Coca-Cola. The famous Coke was invented in Atlanta in 1886, and this interactive museum showcases the evolution of Coca-Cola since then.
Along with the well-known attractions, Atlanta also has a number of amazing under the radar spots. If you're looking for something new to do, check out the Center for Puppetry Arts, stroll through the Oakland Cemetary, or grab a bite to eat at the Krog Street Market.
12. You can eat your way around the city.
Atlanta has some great food, no matter what you like. Thanks to a diverse population, Atlanta restaurants offer Israeli, Malaysian. Sichuan, Mexican, Italian, and Afro-Caribbean food — just to name a few.
Of course, you can also catch a meal at Waffle House and find some stellar wings and barbecue around the city.
Head to Atlanta with confidence.
The weather may be hot, but the people of Atlanta know how to give a warm welcome. It might take a while for you to explore the city by both car, transit, and foot, but when you do, you'll find places you'll love.