Though there are between 4-5 million people residing in the Atlanta metro area (depending upon how you define the metro area), only about 450,000 actually have an Atlanta address. The city limits fall within both Fulton and Dekalb Counties in north central Georgia.
Due, at least in part, to a drastic decrease in crime rates since the late 80’s, a steady increase in property values and an increase in the number of national and international corporations making their home base here, the metro area has seen a rapid growth rate since 2000. The city of Atlanta has seen the population grow 16.8% from 2000 to 2006.
If Atlanta is known for anything, it’s an extensive array of restaurants and nighttime hangout spots. Just this September, 2008, Forbes Magazine named Atlanta “No.1 City in the US for Singles.” Additionally, many businesses come to Atlanta to establish their bases because operating costs are lower than other major US cities.
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According to the 2000 census, the population of the city of Atlanta is divided as follows:
White - 33.2%
Black - 61.4%
Hispanic or Latino - 4.5%
American Indian and Alaska Native - 0.2%
Asian - 1.9%
Two or more races - 1.2%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander - 0.1%
On the education front, 26.6% of the population holds a bachelor’s degree or higher, which is higher than the state’s average.
The homeownership rate in the city of Atlanta is 43.7%, with surrounding neighborhoods and suburbs being a little higher than that. The median value of owner-occupied homes is $130,600. Depending on where in the city you want to live, and what size home you’re looking for, selling prices range from under $100,000 to around $3 million.
Median household income for Atlanta is just under $40,000. The city itself is ranked as the city with the eighth highest poverty rate in the nation, with 23.5% of the population living below the poverty line.
Atlanta is a great place to flip houses or buy fixer-ups. For renters, this is a valuable tool as well, bringing out options for people who don’t mind less than perfect homes, people who have less than perfect credit or people who are handy around the house (landlords find that very valuable).
The biggest downside to living in Atlanta is its crime rate. Over the past few years, the city has maintained a spot within the top 10 most dangerous cities, though the rates slope down drastically from places like Cincinnati and Detroit. Check out this website for fairly recent crime stats for the Atlanta metro area, divided by city.
Pollution rates fluctuate, with Atlanta usually floating around the 20th ranking slot for cities, and Georgia floating at a much lower ranking on the states’ side.
Traffic, though not as bad as New York or L.A., is an issue for Atlantans, since over 50% of the workforce within the city commutes from the suburbs. Interstate 285, also known at ‘the perimeter,’ is a circular bypass that encompasses the city. Rush hours tend to last from 7:30-10:00 in the mornings and from 3:30-7:00 in the afternoons. Georgia Navigator is a great resource for traffic maps and conditions. News Talk 750 (750 AM) use multiple helicopters for traffic updates around the city, and is the leading resource for you in the car.
Atlanta is home to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, the world’s busiest passenger airport. That’s a double edged sword. It’s easy to find last minute travel options, and the competition keeps flight rates lower than other cities. On the other hand, plan on arriving two hours prior to your departure time unless you want to chance missing it. Security lines can get excessively long.
Most people think that it’s an optimal idea to own a car in Atlanta, unless you live close to downtown. If you don’t own a car, you can probably still hop on a bus over to the nearest MARTA station, the city’s rapid transit system. You can get to just about all necessities via MARTA, but not everywhere you want to go, and cab rates aren’t exactly cheap. Not as extensive and efficient as other major cities, MARTA includes an east and west rail line, and a northeast split off line for northern commuters. The downside is that trains stop running just after midnight, even on the weekends.
To find apartments in the Atlanta areas, it is easiest to search on the Internet. Look for Atlanta apartments in neighborhoods such as Buckhead, Midtown, and the Virginia Highlands and suburbs such as Smyrna, Marietta, Stone Mountain, and East Point. You can also search for apartments near colleges and universities such as Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia State University, Kennesaw State University and the various colleges located in the Atlanta University Center. If you want be near public transportation you can also find an apartment near MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority). Atlanta apartments can also be located near popular spots like the Georgia Dome, Turner Field, Philips Arena, the Fox Theatre, and World of Coke. Rental rates inside I-285 ("ITP") are significantly higher than outside the "Perimeter", but many find the extra price justifiable if they can avoid Atlanta traffic and gridlock. Most older apartment communities ITP were converted to condos during the housing boom of the early 2000's, but many new, luxury apartment communities have been built in recent years. Atlanta offers various types of apartments to fit all personalities; whether you like apartments that with contemporary design or historical character, you can find what you desire.
The Starlight Drive-In is quite a phenomena. It’s $7 per person and open seven nights a week. You can drink, pull out the lawn chairs, grill out – pretty much whatever you want as long as you don’t disturb others during the show. Be sure to take your own FM radio and food – buying from the snack bar can get expensive. Also, for daytime fun, the Drive-In hosts an open air market every weekend. It costs almost nothing to sell there ($5), and is free to browse.
A day at Zoo Atlanta is fun, but tickets prices have gotten outrageous. If you go, shoot for student, military, etc. discounts. The zoo hosts lots of interesting social activities, especially during the summer (“Brew in the Zoo” was a recent one), so pay for a membership if you think you’ll use it.
Speaking of youthful exhuberance, Atlanta's NBA team, the Atlanta Hawks, is full of young, rising NBA stars. From Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams, to Jamal Crawford and Josh Smith, the Hawks are an exciting team and a contender in the Eastern Conference.
Whether you’re a baseball fan or not Turner Field (home of the Atlanta Braves) is relatively cheap fun. Check out 2-for-1 Tuesdays – two tickets for $8. Also check out “All You Can Eat Seat” tickets.
Piedmont Park is the most popular one in the city, and the hosting spot of most inner city summer festivals.
The Botanical Gardens, right next to Piedmont Park off Piedmont Avenue, makes for a great weekend day getaway. They have seasonal features and a great light show that you can drive through during the holidays in December.
The High Museum of Art features artists and sculptors of all types from around the globe, and is centrally located in Midtown on Peachtree Street.
The Georgia Aquarium is the world’s largest indoor aquarium, and is located in downtown. It’s fairly easy to get to via MARTA. If you drive, it’s just a couple of exits down off the I-75/I-86 Connector. Be warned, though, it’s expensive and they like to jack up the prices during peak season.
Fernbank is just on the other side of Midtown off Ponce de Leon Avenue in Druid Hills. Under parks, you’ll see it listed as Fernbank Forest and Recreation Center. It also includes the Fernbank Science Center and Fernbank Museum of Natural History. These are great attractions for children but, for an adult specific activity, check out Martinis & IMAX on Friday nights. Watch the movie (or not), have some wine or martinis and hang out in the museum while being serenaded by some of the city’s finest jazz groups.
Atlantic Station is the newest hot spot in Midtown. The Atlantic Station District includes great restaurants, a list of clothing and specialty shops, a bowling alley and a cinema.
Buckhead (right next to Lenox Square really) is the home of Emiril’s restaurant. It might not be as great as all the hype, but it’s worth checking out just once for nostalgia’s sake.
If you’re new to the area and single, the Singles Dinner Club is a cool way to meet new people and check out restaurants around the city. A lot of the club members are in Buckhead, as are many of the city’s best restaurants.
Chastain Park is home to Classic Chastain amphitheatre, which holds 6,000 patrons and hosts national musical acts during warm months.
Underground Atlanta, located in the middle of downtown, holds historic value. It includes several restaurants and drinkeries, shops and street vendors. If you’re looking for nightlife, Underground has it. Local reactions to Underground nightlife, though, tend to be mixed. People either love it or hate it. If you have the money for a cab, which means you live close, bar/club hopping at Underground can be a fun night, a different experience. But cab rides and cover charges make it uneconomical for regular practice for most. MARTA lines are great to get you there, but they stop running at 12:30 on weekend nights.
The Carter Center is a human rights non-profit created by Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter to heighten awareness of social injustices around the globe and to find and implement solutions. But they do actually have a Center, and it’s located on the very north side of Inman Park, adjacent to downtown.
The King Center is also adjacent to downtown. It's not utilized as much as it should be by locals, but is definitely worth visiting at least once. After Coretta Scott King's death, lots of artifacts (mostly letters and correspondences hand written by Dr. King) were moved to the center from Birmingham. The Center is right beside the King Memorial MARTA station.
Cell Phones: Metro PCS is big in Atlanta, offering cheap, no depot, pay per month services with unlimited calling. Sprint, AT&T (which is based in Atlanta and the monopoly land line service provider) and Verizon also play a big part in the local market.
Craigslist is also a great employment resource, since Atlantans use it extensively and employers can post ads there for free.
Staffing companies are on the prowl in Atlanta. Usually, they get in the way, cluttering up your inbox and job search sites with irrelevant opportunities. For some, though, staffing companies are the way to go, and offer quick fix solutions for people in dire unemployment stress. Chase Staffing is a big one, as is Ranstad. A simple Google search will yield many, MANY more results.
Look for temp agencies, too, because they tend to offer even quicker fixes. Because Atlanta has a large Hispanic population, most staffing companies have Spanish speaking agents on hand. Likewise, they certain agencies staff for Spanish speaking ONLY jobs, mostly in the Gwinnett and Cobb county areas.
If you’re bilingual, push that point on your resume, because it’s often the key element to give you a step up above competing candidates.
In down residents fall within the Atlanta Public School system, which is actually more far reaching than you’d think. Generally, the system has a bad rap – i.e. not the best public schools in the country. If you can afford to, it’s advised that you send your children to private schools, and there are literally hundreds in the metro area.
The Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System serves the city with many locations, including a huge historic branch in the heart of downtown, close to the CNN Center. The Dekalb County Public Library system is great, too, but you absolutely must live in Dekalb county to get access. Dekalb is a more community active system, hosting events on a regular basis for all age groups.
Atlanta is home to several notable colleges and universities, Georgia State, Georgia Tech, Clark and the Art Institute included. Many people migrate to the city for college and stay.
Being in the Bible Belt, there’s an unmentionable number of churches of all denominations situated in Atlanta. USA Church is a great place to start.
The Jewish population within the city is thriving. The Jewish Times website is great start for finding synagogues and Jewish resources.
The Hindu Temple of Atlanta, though actually located south of the city in Riverdale, is the largest in this part of the nation.
The Rameshori Buddhist Center, located in Sandy Springs on the north side of the city, is an active face in Atlanta. It hosts events all over the city, and their site is the best 'go to' resource for Atlanta Buddhists.
The most recent reported average selling price for Atlanta area homes and homes in the immediate proximity is just under $260,000 for June of 2008. Remarkably, overall, Atlanta home selling prices have remained pretty constant for the past couple of years, with odd spikes upward, which occurred a couple of times, after which the curve returned to the constant.
Real estate pros contend that there are two major factors contributing to the fact that Atlanta homes are holding steady values right now, even through the home market slump.
1. The cost of living, on average, is lower in Atlanta than cities of comparable size (population-wise).
2. The population is growing rapidly – faster than any most other areas of the country, especially since 2000.
The city is home to so many ‘flippers,’ which makes it easy for people to get out from under their homes in time of dire need AND which probably accounts for the creeping rise of home values since the late 80s/early 90s.
Something worth noting about the Atlanta is property taxes. In general, they are higher than anywhere else in the state. Atlanta lies in two counties also – Fulton on the west and north, and Dekalb on the east. Dekalb County has the highest property taxes in the state, by far, and a rate that’s higher than most directly adjacent urban communities. The perks are that Dekalb County homes, even over others, tend to increase in value more, the schools are better, the streets are cleaner, the air is cleaner and the police officer to citizen ratio is higher. Still, it’s a shocker to a lot of lower middle class families that move into Dekalb County homes for relatively cheap and get their property tax bills at the beginning of summer.
If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. Summers in the South are excruciatingly hot. In the city, because of the asphalt and concrete, it’s even hotter than other areas on the same latitude.
Geographically, Atlanta lies just over 1,000 feet above sea level and, because the metro area is just south of the Appalachian Mountains, it usually slows the annual snow. Average snowfall is 1.5-2 inches, with snowstorms occurring about every five years and freezes occurring often.
It rains the most in March, and cool rainstorms are semi-frequently accompanied by hail. Because the region is equally close to the Gulf and the Atlantic, hurricane season tends to bring in thunderstorms every time they’re remotely close to the Florida, Louisiana or Carolina shores. Also, tornadoes are not uncommon for the area.
The average temperature for January is 40.5° F, and for July it’s 79.1° F. But residents know that August brings the hottest, driest days and typically the beginning of February brings the coldest and wettest. Average annual precipitation for the city is 50.77 inches.
The Weather Channel is located in the heart of Atlanta, and its locational bias is a perk for many. The National Weather Service also has an office in Peachtree City, just southwest of Atlanta.
NewsTalk 750 (750 AM) is a great source for up-to-the-minute weather reports, and their meteorologist tends to be more precise than other stations.’
Virginia Highland is probably the most efficient place to bar hop in the city. This strip of N. Highland between Ponce de Leon and Virginia Avenues is home to a plethora of restaurants and bars that host live music all nights of the week.
Little Five Points, located less than a mile east of the heart of downtown, hosts a variety of entertainment, including restaurants, bars, tattoo shops, clothing, accessory and specialty shops, theatres and music venues.
The East Atlanta Village is a great place to have a low key drink, shop, check out art or catch some of the city’s best indie rock.
Boasted as ‘the Southeast’s premier shopping destination,’ Lenox Square is just north of the downtown district.
Midtown up through Buckhead, including the south side of Sandy Springs, hosts some of the city’s most popular restaurants and, more importantly, is the place to be for trendy singles.
AccessAtlanta.com is a great website for restaurant and club info and reviews.