So you're thinking about moving to Atlanta. We get it. Atlanta is hot right now. Some might say that it has it all--a great music scene, an interesting history, professional sports teams, great food, craft beer, and a ton more.
We know how it goes. You're thinking of moving to Atlanta, but you also have a lot of questions on your mind. Where is the best place to live in Atlanta? What's Atlanta even known for? How much does it cost to live in Georgia? What kind of pros and cons can I expect out of this decision? Moving to a new city can be overwhelming. And Atlanta's size might not help your anxiety. Atlanta has a population of just under half a million residents, and the greater Atlanta metropolitan region reaches over 4 million.
But here at Bellhops, we don't like it when you're overwhelmed. Not one bit. And that's why we wrote this guide. Consider us your "cool friends." We'll show you around the city and show you our favorites. We'll talk neighborhoods, we'll talk food, we'll talk nightlife--we'll talk it all.
This guide will provide you with a thorough list of the ins and outs of Atlanta. Without further adieu, let's dive in.
The downtown area is where all the action is. There's the CNN Center, the famous Fox Theater, the World of Coca-Cola, local breweries, Centennial Olympic Park, and a ton more. But we're talking neighborhoods right now. We'll get to that stuff later.
First up on our list of downtown neighborhoods is Castleberry Hill. Located in the southwest corner of downtown, Castleberry Hill is one of the few surviving warehouse districts in the country. It also happens to be a growing Atlanta neighborhood known for the arts and culture. Many of the old warehouses here have been converted into lofts for housing, making for some exciting, if non-conventional, places to call home. The main boundaries are I-20, MLK Jr. Pkwy, and Northside Drive. If warehouse-turned-apartment living is your thing, check out the Atlanta Convention and Visitor’s Bureau website. There you'll find a thorough list of eateries, festivals, and things to do on the daily.
Next up we have Fairlie Poplar District. The Fairlie Poplar District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The neighborhood blossomed in the 19th and 20th centuries as a business district while Atlanta established itself as one of the major business hubs of the Southeast. Luckie Street Studios and The Balzer Theater anchor the arts and culture scene in the district and are recognized city-wide. Beautiful architecture is also a hallmark of Fairlie Poplar. The district's crown jewel is the Flatiron building. Opened in 1897 and designated as a world heritage site in 1976, its construction actually predates the construction of the famous structure in NYC bearing the same name.
If you've done any reading at all about Atlanta neighborhoods, then you have likely heard of Midtown and Buckhead. And, if that's the case, we don't need to tell you that they're popular neighborhoods. (If that's not the case, then let us take the time to tell you right now: they're popular neighborhoods).
First up, a little about Midtown. The main drag in Midtown is the Midtown Mile, a section of Peachtree Street between North Avenue and 15th Street. The mile has loads of shopping, from local boutiques to national stores, as well as several restaurants and unique, local cuisine along the way. Midtown is one of the young and hip neighborhoods, and it's been attracting young professionals since all the way back in the 1980s. The neighborhood sports many luxury high rise buildings among its walkable streets. With an average walk score of 88, Midtown is the 6th most walkable neighborhood in Atlanta. You can do almost all your errands here on foot.
Second, a little about Buckhead. The fancier older sibling of Midtown, Buckhead is another popular neighborhood for Atlanta young professionals. With a central location, a thriving nightlife, and a supremely walkable layout, Buckhead's popularity is no small wonder.
Buckhead is one of the more affluent neighborhoods in Atlanta which lends itself to the obvious pros and cons. You have some of the best amenities in the city, easy access to the MARTA and beautiful properties. This also has its downsides. Real estate in Buckhead is pricey, with the average single-family home starting around $500K. Rental prices are more reasonable for young professionals but are still on the more expensive side. For young families, the public school system is solid, although, as with most affluent areas, most kids end up at one of the many local private schools. Apartment hunting can be a little tough here, so check out either rent.com or apartmentguide.com. Both are excellent apartment aggregators with impressive databases.
Once again, if you've heard much about Atlanta, then you know that the Eastside is getting hot. Here, let's talk about two prominent neighborhoods: East Atlanta Village and The Historic Old Fourth Ward District.
East Atlanta Village, located between I-20 and Moreland Avenue, has undergone significant revitalization in recent years. This has effected a major shift: what was once considered a dangerous, undesirable part of Atlanta has become one of the most sought-after. And, it doesn't hurt that the Eastside also boasts affordable housing and abundant local food options.
The Historic Old Fourth Ward District is located north of downtown, east of I-85, and split by highway 10. The neighborhood is home to beautiful old homes, a budding restaurant scene, and residents of all ages. Further east, Little Five Points is another popular neighborhood. A word of caution, though: the crime rate here is a bit higher than the other neighborhoods we previously mentioned.
The two dominant neighborhoods in west Atlanta are Atlantic Station and West Midtown.
Atlantic Station feels a little paradoxical. The majority of the neighborhood is accessible by public transportation, but the majority of the neighborhood is also privately owned. The neighborhood has the convenience of everything you could ever want, including an IKEA, in easy walking distance. However, the neighborhood is popular for tourists and can be crowded in the summer and holidays.
West Midtown is known as the “design district” and is full of warehouses, lofts, art galleries, and shopping. The Westside Provision District within provides unique, minimalist architecture and some of the top restaurants in Atlanta. For example, Antico Pizza, one of our personal favorites, has a location in the neighborhood.
After moving to Atlanta, you may realize you have more stuff than you have room for. It happens to the best of us. If you find yourself in this situation, check out SpareFoot. SpareFoot is the world's largest marketplace for storage, making it easy to find your stuff a home. Their website lets you compare the storage options nationwide and reserve the best solution for your needs, whether it is traditional self-storage or on-demand full-service storage. And lucky for you, they cover Atlanta.
If a mimosa and devouring delicious food is the highlight of your weekend, then A-town does not disappoint. If you’re looking for variety and a good deal, Apres Diem offers dishes such as Crab Cake Benedict and Cubano Eggs and Beans for under $15. Those wanting a buffet brunch can find an all you can eat heaven at Local Three, featuring dishes from a collaboration of three of Atlanta’s best chefs. If you’re looking for a sweeter option, the A-Town cream by Sublime is incredibly popular among residents and tourists alike.
The neighborhoods best known for dining in Atlanta are West Midtown, Midtown, and East Atlanta Village. As a southeastern hub (Atlanta is still in Georgia, after all), Atlanta has a knack for southern-inspired cooking. Many look to fried chicken as a hallmark, with the Busy Bee Café on MLK Jr. Drive NW or Mary Mac’s Tea Room in Midtown showing up on lists of the “Best of” Atlanta often.
But, at the same time, please don't assume that the only thing you can find in Atlanta is fried chicken and cornbread. Atlanta also is home to a diverse (and, honestly, delicious) international food scene. There's loads of high-quality Mexican food, but there's also an impressive amount of Ethiopian, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Indian, and more. If international cuisine is your thing, you'll like this list from Thrillist.
In Atlanta, "nightlife" means way more than just going out and drinking. That's not to say that there are not plenty of great places to drink, though. But the beauty of Atlanta is that right alongside the bustling bar scene, there's also a thriving music community, dance clubs, comedy clubs, and a ton more.
For live music, Atlanta's offerings are impressive. Here are a few of our favorites. There's The Tabernacle for popular rap, rock, or R&B outfits. There's the Fox Theatre, which hosts both all sorts of live music and comedy acts. There's Eddie's Attic, a quiet, intimate setting for singer-songwriters, poets, and more that also happens to have killer food and drink options. Finally, there's The Masquerade, one of the most uniquely designed and diversely programmed venues in America.
The bar scene in Atlanta is big, diverse, and great. That's a simple way to put it, but it's true. You've got secret speakeasies like Red Phone Booth where you enter by dialing a secret code in an antique London phone booth (seriously, check it out). You've got retro arcade bars with machines all the way from the 1970s at Joystick Gamebar. You've got a karaoke bar with an in-house church organ to accompany all your warbling. And it also happens to have a great name, Sister Louisa's Church of the Living Room. And there's way more to explore. These are just a few of our favorites.
The Center for Civil and Human Rights in downtown Atlanta provides visitors with the opportunity to "explore the fundamental rights of all human beings." The Center exists to connect the American Civil Rights Movement to today's Global Human Rights Movement, and it does so through a combination of powerful imagery, compelling artifacts, and poignant storytelling. The Center promises that visitors will leave inspired and empowered to join the ongoing dialogue about human rights in their communities.
Whether you call it soda, soft drinks, or pop, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that Coca-Cola originated in Atlanta. Obviously, then, Atlanta is also home to the famous World of Coca-Cola. Browse through the many floors of Coke, where you'll find a 4D theatre, exhibits on the history of Coke, insights into their manufacturing process, and an international tasting room with every Coke product from around the world. Mom's gonna love this one.
Part of Atlanta’s rich history includes the 39th president of the United States, Jimmy Carter. A Georgia peanut farmer before he entered politics, the former president’s library and museum houses former US President Jimmy Carter's papers and other materials related to both the Carter Administration and his family life. If educational outings are your thing, this could make for a great Saturday afternoon.
The Georgia Aquarium is located next to Coca-Cola World Downtown, right in the middle of the city. When it opened in 2005, the Georgia Aquarium was the largest aquarium in the world, with thirteen acres of floor space and over eight million gallons of water. The aquarium has several exhibits featuring sea life from around the globe and is a great way to beat the heat in summer months. Don’t want to leave? The aquarium even has sleepover events for children and adults. The aquarium offers daily tickets, annual passes, and, often, discounts on their website.
Located just east of I-85 between the Old Fourth Ward and Virginia Highlands Neighborhood, 185 acres of green space make up Piedmont Park. Picnic shelters, dog parks, open-air space, aquatic center, and basketball courts are just a few of the activities available here. The park’s website provides information on things to do and also the conditions of the various sports complexes given inclement weather.
Located downtown, Centennial Olympic Park commemorates Atlanta’s hosting of the 1996 Olympic Games. 21 acres of green space provide plenty of places for an ultimate Frisbee game or picnic. Kids can also cool off in the Olympic fountains, designed in the shape of the five Olympic rings.
We won't say that Atlanta has every sport. But as far as we can tell, it's got the big ones--or all the American favorites, at least. Professional baseball (The Braves), football (The Falcons), basketball (The Hawks), soccer (Atlanta United), and tennis (Atlanta is home to the BB&T Atlanta Open every summer). Atlantans love their professional sports, too. If you're hoping to move to a new city where you can get invested in the local sports teams, Atlanta will not leave you disappointed.
The most well-known transportation hub in Atlanta is Hartfield-Jackson Airport, located 10 miles south of the city on I-85. Atlanta’s airport has been the busiest airport every year since 2000. It also serves as a major hub for Delta Airlines. With hundreds of domestic and international flights each day, getting to and from Atlanta is remarkably easy.
As for getting around Atlanta, the majority of residents rely on cars. Those looking to tackle the city and save on gas can utilize MARTA, Atlanta’s public transportation agency, which oversees a bus and rail system.
Atlanta ranks number three in the US for the most Fortune 500 Companies' HQs. Delta Airlines, United Parcel Service (UPS), and Home Depot are just a few of the many well-known companies that call ATL home. Like we said before, the Coca-Cola Company, originated in the city when the first beverage was served in downtown ATL in 1885. While the company is now global, they still employ over 9,000 people in Georgia, primarily within the Atlanta Metro. Those who watch CNN will also find the studio headquarters just a short drive from downtown.
While Atlanta boasts low business costs, not all sectors are thriving. Retail jobs have followed the national downtown, and blue-collar positions have seen minimal growth. Don't let that discourage you, though. According to Nerd Wallet, Atlanta has been ranked as number six on a list of the best cities for job seekers in 2017.
Atlanta isn’t called Hotlanta for no reason. True to the climate in the south (which is technically a humid subtropical climate), the temperatures can get uncomfortably hot in the summer. Most summer days reach the mid-nineties and can often be quite humid. However, the winters are fairly mild. Snowstorms are quite rare, but when they do hit, they have a knack for shutting down the entire city. Because people in the south don't know how to handle snow, as any of your northern friends will gleefully point out to you.
Atlanta and its suburbs are spread out, intersected by several interstates. One of the biggest complaints residents have is the sub-par walkability of the city as a whole. Unless you live near downtown, the walkability and public transportation of the Atlanta area leave something to be desired. Most people own cars and rely on the interstate system which jams easily from all the traffic. Most residents need to account for additional commute time because of this. The good news is that Atlanta has committed to building "The Beltline", which will increase walking, jogging, and bike paths throughout the entire city--a little glimpse of where the city is headed.