The Best Places to Live in Georgia in 2021

Georgia, also known as the Peach State, features everything from fun city amenities like a thriving nightlife and the latest art openings to outdoor opportunities right in your suburban backyard.

It’s no surprise that Georgia has plenty of options for great places to live.

Atlanta’s growing economy with Coca-Cola, Home Depot and Delta Air Lines at the helm entice any visitor to move to the city. Farther south in Macon and Savannah, you can enjoy a growing music scene and fresh seafood, respectively, too.

Georgia provides a full spectrum of experiences for those visiting and considering moving here. Seriously, there are more than 100, just in Atlanta.

To help your search for your next home, here are the best places to live in Georgia, arranged in alphabetical order:

Alpharetta, Georgia.

  • Population: 67,213
  • Median household income: $113,802
  • Average commute time: 29 minutes
  • Walk score: 30
  • Studio average rent: N/A
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,635
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,052

The Atlanta suburb of Alpharetta continues to make the best places to live lists, thanks to its vibrant culinary spots, shopping districts like Avalon, thriving tech and manufacturing industries and of course, education.

The city offers easy access to the airport, only 35 miles south via GA-400. You can head on your way to your next business trip or vacation in no time.

If you’re looking for the outdoors, you’re also less than 45 minutes from the North Georgia Mountains and cabin towns like Blue Ridge and Ellijay.

Downtown Alpharetta offers a walkable experience with boutiques, breweries and fine dining establishments lining the streets. Every weekend, the city comes down to stock up on local offerings at the Alpharetta Farmer’s Market.

With a one-bedroom average rent of under $1,700, you can find an affordable place with good schools nearby in Alpharetta.

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Athens, Georgia.

  • Population: 126,913
  • Median household income: $38,311
  • Average commute time: 19.4 minutes
  • Walk score: 35
  • Studio average rent: $712
  • One-bedroom average rent: $739
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,259

Sure, when you hear Athens, you think of the University of Georgia and the accompanying football tailgating. However, the city has more to offer than college fun.

While Athens is a small city, it does come with a great perk — affordability. You can rent a one-bedroom for $739 a month on average.

You also have access to arts and entertainment, thanks to Athens’ thriving music scene. Check out your favorite entertainer at the Georgia Theatre or discover a new one at the intimate 40 Watt Club.

The State Botanical Garden of Georgia and Sandy Creek Park offer opportunities to enjoy the mild Georgia weather and nature. End your weekend with a pint from local brewery Creature Comforts — yes, the one you saw in Thor’s hand during the last “Avengers” movie.

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Atlanta, GA.

  • Population: 506,811
  • Median household income: $59,948
  • Average commute time: 27.2 minutes
  • Walk score: 55
  • Studio average rent: $1,605
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,655
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,140

From Fortune 500 companies to good music and food, Atlanta has plenty to offer as one of the best cities to live in Georgia. With more than half a million residents, the city has a diverse community that provides everything from an indie clothing store to large coffee chains.

Atlanta’s 45 neighborhoods all have their unique personality. You can find a luxury condo in Midtown or a charming craftsman home in Grant Park — just minutes from each other. Depending on the neighborhood, your walk score may improve, but you’ll have access to city parks and local dining options that range from Mexican to Italian and Ethiopian.

With those city amenities come high rent prices — you can find a studio on average for $1,605 a month. Keep in mind that easy access to MARTA rail and the bus line can help you skip long commutes at the end of the day.

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Augusta, Georgia.

  • Population: 197,888
  • Median household income: $42,592
  • Average commute time: 21.1 minutes
  • Walk score: 33
  • Studio average rent: $1,000
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,013
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,153

While many know Augusta for the annual Masters golf tournament, its residents enjoy a rich history, a charming downtown and a growing economy year-round. The walk along the Savannah River in downtown Augusta indeed shows the beauty of the city.

The Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art and the Augusta Museum of History give you a glimpse of this Southern city’s history. The Summerville neighborhood has some of the most beautiful historic homes, preserved thanks to a local ordinance, with large columns and manicured lawns.

On the weekends, you can explore Broad Street and its small boutiques and restaurants on foot. During the warm months, the Augusta Market brings local artisans to the Savannah River’s River Walk park.

From tapas to nightlife, you can find it all here.

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Columbus, Georgia.

  • Population: 195,769
  • Median household income: $46,408
  • Average commute time: 20.6 minutes
  • Walk score: 35
  • Studio average rent: $553
  • One-bedroom average rent: $833
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $983

For those looking into affordable living, Columbus tops our list of best places to live in Georgia. You can get a two-bedroom apartment in the city for under $1,000 per month on average.

Only 90 minutes from Atlanta, Columbus is an outdoor lover’s paradise with the Chattahoochee River flowing nearby. The river provides incredible opportunities to whitewater one of the country’s longest courses and even zipline across it.

Elsewhere in the city, you can find a farmers market, artists market and free concert series set up in the downtown area.

The Springer Opera House features some of the best talents throughout annual performances and leads one of the most prominent theatre programs in the Southeast.

The city is also home to Fort Benning and the National Infantry Museum, the only one of its kind in the U.S.

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Decatur, Georgia.

Photo source: Agnes Scott College
  • Population: 25,696
  • Median household income: $106,088
  • Average commute time: 27.3 minutes
  • Walk score: 39
  • Studio average rent: $1,323
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,403
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,587

The city of Decatur is only about five square miles, but it packs a lot of goodness. With three MARTA rail stations and a robust bike lane program, you can easily navigate the city without a car.

Agnes Scott College, an acclaimed women-only liberal arts college, provides interesting arts programming for residents to enjoy.

Only a few miles from downtown Atlanta and high-quality schools, Decatur’s housing is highly sought out. You can find a two-bedroom on average for $1,587 per month.

However, you’ll have access to some of the best restaurants in Georgia, like Kimball House, Leon’s Full Service and Brush Izakaya, along with regular community events in the square.

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Macon, Georgia.

  • Population: 153,159
  • Median household income: $41,334
  • Average commute time: 21.3 minutes
  • Walk score: 35
  • Studio average rent: $610
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,050
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,172

Right at the heart of the Peach State and only two hours from Atlanta, Macon is a hub of job opportunities, higher education options like Mercer University and, of course, entertainment on the weekends.

Warner Robins, 20 miles away, offers job opportunities at the Robins Air Force Base as one of the state’s largest employers. Plus, your average commute time hovers around 20 minutes.

Downtown Macon features new, cool boutiques as well as iconic places that have regulars. Listen to the latest tunes at Fresh Produce Records and then hop to the Tubman Museum, an essential visit.

To learn more about Macon’s music history, The Little Richard House and Otis Redding Museum are both must-see stops for music lovers.

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Marietta, Georgia.

  • Population: 60,867
  • Median household income: $57,452
  • Average commute time: 28.5 minutes
  • Walk score: 31
  • Studio average rent: $1,018
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,162
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,426

One of Cobb County’s gems, Marietta, offers good schools, a tight-knit community and rich history. Marietta City Schools hosts a diverse student body with high rankings in the state.

Near Marietta Square, a hub for most community events, you can find the Marietta Museum of History in a preserved 1845 warehouse building. There are a few other historical sites within the city center like the William Root House Museum & Garden and Kennesaw Mountain.

Not too far, at Truist Park, you can cheer on the Atlanta Braves and enjoy a meal at The Battery.

While Atlanta’s infamous traffic can keep you on I-75 for longer than you want, the average person commutes nearly 30 minutes to work.

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Sandy Springs, Georgia.

  • Population: 109,452
  • Median household income: $78,613
  • Average commute time: 26.1 minutes
  • Walk score: 44
  • Studio average rent: N/A
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,630
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,007

Sandy Springs’ proximity to downtown Atlanta, Buckhead’s business district and the outdoors makes it one of the best places to live in Georgia. You’ll also have to the public transportation via the MARTA rail to avoid the 26-minute average commute.

The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area and 16 city parks offer plenty of opportunities to get outside, explore new trails and even go on a kayak or two. You can also find Vickery Creek Falls nearby in Roswell.

For those into nightlife, you can check out Battle & Brew as well as plays at the City Springs Theatre Company and Act 3 Productions.

You can find a one-bedroom in the area for $1,630 a month on average.

If you’re looking for close proximity to the action while keeping a little quiet at home, this is the place for you.

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Savannah, Georgia.

  • Population: 144,464
  • Median household income: $43,307
  • Average commute time: 20.5 minutes
  • Walk score: 46
  • Studio average rent: $1,244
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,197
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,346

Home to River Street and the Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah’s Spanish moss-lined streets take you back to the past. The city’s downtown grid street system makes it incredibly walkable and easily enjoyable.

Despite all of the ghost stories and dark past, the city has plenty to offer delicious dining options, museums and outdoor opportunities. You can both enjoy fresh oysters on River Street next to the water and not too far, walk around the area that inspired the “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” book.

The Port of Savannah played an essential role in local cotton and tobacco industries following its opening in 1744. These days, the port is a historic landmark and one of the fastest-growing ports in the country.

If you want a hop and a skip from Tybee Island, you can find a two-bedroom apartment for $1,346 a month on average.

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Find your own best place to live in Georgia

Georgia’s four seasons, affordability and growing economy have attracted people from all over. It’s no surprise that the Peach State has several great cities to pick from.

Whether you’re looking to relocate with your job or just looking for a new city to love, Georgia’s Southern charm and delicious food will reel you in.

Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com’s multifamily rental property inventory of one-bedroom apartments in March 2021. Our team uses a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
Other demographic data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.

Source: rent.com

Mint Success: Transitioning from College Kid to Young Professional

Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart

“Mint is so crucial to my personal finance I honestly have no idea where I would be without it.” That’s what Austin, TX photography consultant Lawrence Peart says when reflecting about his transition from college student to young pro, financially speaking. His experience so far shows that it is possible to graduate from college without debt, and to adjust to the higher cost of living as a young professional, while also saving money for your future.

But Peart stands out from the crowd. We looked at Minters’ numbers to see how college students and recent graduates use their money or handle debt, and found that there’s a big shift in many categories from ages 18 to 25 – incomes increase, spending categories fluctuate, and debt repayment – well, you know how that goes. Student loan payback time for many!

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College Grads Make More Money…

Depending on the field that graduates enter, incomes can be across the board, but a majority of our Mint users in that age range earn between $25K and $50K annually.

Student ChartGraduate Chart

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…and Spend More Money!

The newfound earnings may seem like a lot of money to a recent grad but, when faced with the sticker shock of life outside school, the typical Mint user experiences an accompanying increase in spending on rent, entertainment, and education related expenses – mostly student loan repayment. That bill averages about $300 per month.

Most grads continue to use credit cards after graduation. In fact, their card charges increase from $1,200 to $1,900 on average. But most of them don’t pay finance charges, which means these savvy Mint users are the ones who pay their balances by the end of the month. This explains why Mint’s young users have an average credit score of 690, considerably higher than the national average of 630 for the same age group*.

Good work, Minters! But while you’re paying off your college debt and adjusting to life on the outside, don’t forget to save for your future. Only 2% of college students have significant long-term savings, and that number only goes up to 7% among college graduates 25 and under. It might seem daunting to set aside those crucial dollars, but that money will grow over time and make your older self thank your younger self.

Moving Forward

Peart is in that 7% – he follows the mantra “Save, invest early and often, reap the benefits later.” With a goal to live debt-free and retire in his 20’s (he just turned 26), Lawrence uses Mint to budget and find extra money to sock away for the future. While his income falls in the same range as the majority of recently graduated Mint users, his experience both during school and in the few years since graduation defies many of the statistics, so naturally we asked him all about it.

What kind of shift in spending did you experience between college and post-college life?

I think it might surprise most people to hear that I spend far less money now than I did in college. Once you start earning an actual income and developing a clearer sense of your relationship to money it becomes much easier to save, and feels more rewarding to do so. While in school I never had much cash, so in a way it had less value and I spent it more freely. You expect to be broke in college, which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and unless you’re careful that can then extend past your college years into your working life. I even had a little saying for it: the closer I am to zero, the less I have to lose.

The average college graduate spends about $300 per month on student loan repayment. What’s your bill?

$0. My experience paying for college was a mixture of some good fortune, a little bit of privilege, and tons of hard work. I chose a public school in a reasonably cheap city, I received decent grants, I applied for every scholarship available to me every semester (and made sure I had the grades to qualify) and for all but my sophomore year I worked at least part-time to have a source of income. I graduated broke, sure, and maybe missed out on some fun things here and there, but at least I didn’t owe anything.

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What was the most shocking financial realization you experienced once you left college?

That you can save quite a bit of money not doing the stuff everyone seems to think you have to be doing. If you don’t buy fancy clothes, go out for drinks every day, feel the need to keep up with the newest phone every 6 months etc., all of that extra cash starts to add up.

What are your thoughts about retirement savings, and what do you practice?

I half-seriously tell myself that I want to retire in my 20’s. I don’t mean “retire” in the way most people would think of retirement, I always want to be creating and applying myself to something, but I’d like to have the ability to not work for long periods of time. To be able to wake up one day in the near future and say “I am comfortable not working the rest of the month, time do something creative” and not feel guilty about it. That’s the goal.

I set up a Roth IRA almost immediately upon getting sustained income and contribute the full amount each year into basic low-cost index funds. I admire my parents in a lot of ways and don’t question their decisions and what life events influenced them, but while they are both doing fine in retirement age they are doing so without any long-term retirement account holdings. It might be hard to imagine 40 years down the line, but the math regarding investing when you’re young is compelling.

How does Mint help you stay on track?

I worked for about nine months before I came across Mint, and even though I thought I was being good with my money, you truly have no idea until you see it categorized and laid out in front of you. Those little purchases each day, the subscriptions, the monthly payments, it all adds up fast. You might think you’re saving money, but you’re not. It really does take hard work. Mint makes it easy, and I’ll tell everyone who listens: it’s even made paying bills fun. The first week of each new month is like Christmas. I get paid, I pay off my recurring expenses and then allocate how much I want to save that month before organizing more flexible costs like groceries, entertainment, etc. I follow one maxim above all else: you don’t save what is left after spending, you spend what is left after saving.

You can be like Lawrence

Does the idea of watching the savings pile up get you excited? Try setting up a goal with your Mint account and making that progress bar move!Don't save what you don't spend - spend what you don't save
We would like to hear your story! Contact us at Editor_Mint@intuit.com with “Mint User Story” in the subject.

Kim Tracy Prince is a Los Angeles-based writer who is pretty jealous of Lawrence’s early progress. It took her many years to pay off her student loans. She celebrated by finally framing her diploma.

*Source: https://www.creditkarma.com/trends/age
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