It’s hard to resist Atlanta’s charm, food and culture — but how does it stack up against your budget?
Atlanta is widely known for its busy airport, pollen counts, mild weather and most recently, for lending itself as the background for several Hollywood movies.
Despite being a big city, Atlanta’s southern charm remains intact as it welcomes many transplants every year. It’s hard to resist a move to Georgia capital with its diversity and robust culture, but what does that entail from a budget standpoint?
While others look to more expensive hubs like Los Angeles and New York City, Atlanta’s cost of living remains significantly more affordable while still providing a thriving economy and amenities.
Right now, for example, Atlanta rents are 49.23 percent lower on average than in New York. However, while its cost of living is 1.1 percent above the national average, this is quickly changing as housing demand increases with newcomers. Get to know the cost of living in Atlanta, from transportation to goods and services.
Housing costs in Atlanta
Atlanta’s housing market — whether you’re renting or buying — is not for the faint of heart. The average rent in Atlanta has gone up 0.11 percent to $1,655 per month for a one-bedroom in the past year. This average rent fluctuates dramatically per neighborhood and amenities offered.
Midtown, Old Fourth Ward and Buckhead are among the most expensive neighborhoods with average rents between $2,180 and $2,500 per month for a one-bedroom. Neighborhoods close to the average rent in Atlanta include Morningside, Westside, Home Park, Kirkwood, Edgewood and Lindbergh.
But if you’re looking to stay inside the city and save a little, you can find an apartment in Ormewood Park for $1,382 a month on average or Embry Hills at $1,260 per month.
The average home price in Atlanta at this time is $380,418. However, this is mainly dependent on the neighborhood. As of March 2021, home prices are up 7.7 percent compared to last year, according to Redfin. Most homes sell in less than 30 days.
Food costs in Atlanta
We can’t talk about Atlanta without food. The city currently houses incredible chefs across every cuisine, thanks to its diverse population. You can find anything from Southern fare to authentic Thai, Malaysian, Filipino, Mexican and more locally.
Atlanta’s cost of living for groceries is about 5 percent above the national average. Expect to see eggs for $1.25, ground beef for $4.61 a pound and bread for $3.65.
Utility costs in Atlanta
In the South, we love porch weather. Thanks to Atlanta’s mild winters, you get to enjoy the outdoors most of the year.
But, the city didn’t get its nickname “Hotlanta” for nothing, so know that in the summer, your energy bill will go up.
Thankfully, Atlanta’s utility prices are 15.3 percent below the national average. You can expect your total energy costs to be around $120.82 each month.
For the internet, the city has a limited amount of providers, but your bill will hover around $67.49 a month.
Transportation costs in Atlanta
Yes, the rumors are true — Atlanta’s infamous traffic is real. The city takes a spot on the worst traffic listicles year after year. The average commute is 35 minutes, according to a recent study. However, once you’re off the highway, the stress tends to diminish as you have more options to get out of your car and get around.
Hop on MARTA, Atlanta’s public transportation system, and use the rail and bus system to navigate the city. The options amount to a 49 transit score. It’s not as expansive as the subway in New York, but it makes your commute a little easier to Buckhead, Midtown, the airport and OTP (outside the perimeter).
MARTA allows frequent riders to save by offering a 7-day pass for $23.75 and a monthly pass for $95.
MARTA also connects with the Atlanta Streetcar that navigates the downtown and Edgewood neighborhoods with 12 stops. A round-trip Breeze card will cost $5 (with up to four transfers), and one ride on the Streetcar costs $1 (with no free MARTA transfers).
Atlanta’s bike score is 46, but some neighborhoods are more bike-friendly than others. Midtown, Old Fourth Ward, Inman Park and Cabbagetown have bike lanes all over that quickly drop you on the Atlanta BeltLine Eastside Trail. The BeltLine loop connects all of the city’s 45 neighborhoods. With a walk score of 55, you can also get to know the City in a Forest via foot.
If you decide to drive, motorists are wasting up to $1,043 annually and 50 hours searching for parking. You’ll also spend on average $2,233 a year on gasoline.
All in all, the cost of living for transportation in Atlanta is about 2 percent above the national average.
Healthcare costs in Atlanta
Whether it’s a routine check-up or a more serious health mishap, navigating healthcare systems is never easy. Since everyone’s health situations are different, it’s difficult to come up with overall healthcare spend in Atlanta, but here are some cost guidelines.
In Atlanta, you have access to quality healthcare at Emory University and Grady Memorial Hospital. Atlanta healthcare costs are 2 percent above the national average.
A regular doctor visit costs $119.80 on average while a prescription drug can set you back $459.02 on average (without insurance of some kind). You can pick up ibuprofen at your local pharmacy for $8.71 on average.
Goods and services costs in Atlanta
Beyond essential bills, Atlanta remains on par with the national average across different categories. You’ll goods and services will hover around 2.3 percent above the national average.
Atlanta’s neighborhoods are very pet-friendly, so if you get a pup to walk around the city with you, vet services cost $56.23 per visit on average.
More a movie buff? A ticket to a new release on average costs $14.15.
For exercise, you have plenty of choices from pilates, yoga studios, kickboxing and even 24/7-access facilities. A yoga class will average more than $17, but many luxury apartments in the city include a small gym as an amenity if you’re looking to stay on budget.
Luckily, you can have a great time for free as well around the city with plenty of outdoor opportunities at city parks like Piedmont Park and the Atlanta BeltLine.
Taxes in Atlanta
Understanding what county and part of the city you live in will make it easier to decipher your taxes. In Atlanta, the sales tax rate is 8.9 percent — that’s 7 percent for DeKalb and Fulton counties and 1.90 percent additional for the city of Atlanta. In this case, if you spend $100 shopping at Ponce City Market, you’ll pay $8.90 in sales tax.
The state has two sales tax holidays a year, including a back-to-school event. Georgia does not tax grocery items. However, prepared food, alcoholic beverages, dietary supplements, drugs, over-the-counter drugs and tobacco all require taxes applied to purchases. The state’s income tax rate is 5.75 percent for the highest bracket currently.
How much do I need to earn to live in Atlanta?
Most financial advisors recommend keeping your rent payment at 30 percent of your gross income or less. You would need to make at least $66,200 annually to afford a one-bedroom apartment on average in Atlanta. Currently, a one-bedroom costs $1,655 per month on average.
For perspective, an average Atlanta resident makes around $69,000 a year. Want to know where you stand with your current budget? Use our rent calculator to get a high view of how it would change after moving to Atlanta.
Living in Atlanta
Everyone says come to Atlanta in the fall for its beautiful autumn colors, crisp 70-degree weather and outdoor hiking. Yes, it’s not always “Hotlanta.” The cost of living in Atlanta offers access to big city amenities while still finding small corners for recreation and the outdoors. The city’s technology, supply chain and other industries are quickly growing for more job opportunities.
Find great apartments for rent or homes to buy in Atlanta today.
Cost of living information comes from The Council for Community and Economic Research.
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 April 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.
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.