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What Is the Cost of Living in Atlanta, Georgia?

Oct 17, 2019

Atlanta, Georgia continues to be one of the most desirable destinations in the entire country for people considering a move. Whether it’s the weather, the food, the job market, or the culture, once someone does resettle here, they usually never leave.

However, as many reasons as there are to love this city, one factor that might persuade you to look elsewhere is the cost of living in Atlanta, Georgia.

The 5 Biggest Factors Affecting the Cost of Living in Atlanta

BestPlaces gives the cost of living in Atlanta a 115.4 rating compared to the averaging rating for the entire country, which is 100.

To put this into perspective, let’s look at some other cities with populations similar to Atlanta’s (456,002 people):

  • Virginia, Beach, VA (450,980): 115.6
  • Kansas City, MO (470,800): 91.9
  • Long Beach, CA (473,577): 179.1

As you can see, while Atlanta is above the nation’s average, it’s hardly higher by an excessive amount, especially when you consider all that the city has to offer.

Still, let’s look at the five biggest factors that impact the cost of living in Atlanta, Georgia.

1. House Prices

Housing prices in Atlanta are the biggest contributor to the city’s above-average cost of living.

Currently, the median price for a house in Atlanta is $184,900. However, that median accounts for a range of possibilities, from distressed houses to multimillion-dollar mansions in Buckhead. On average, single-family homes in Atlanta cost about $1,500 to $2,000 per square foot.

So, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from when house-hunting in Atlanta no matter what your budget looks like.

There are also a number of amazing Atlanta suburbs worth considering. Many of these are treasure troves for great deals on beautiful homes. These suburbs are also fantastic for stretching your buck in terms of enjoying other amenities like good school districts, local parks, and easily-accessible shopping centers.

With all that being said, there are several signs that Atlanta will soon be a seller’s market, so if you are considering relocating here, now would be the time to start looking before prices go up.

2. Transportation Costs

If you plan on living in the city, you may want to purchase a public transit pass for MARTA (the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority). MARTA passes range from $9 for a day to $95 for a 30-day pass and can be beneficial if your work is on or near the current lines.

However, the current MARTA transit lines are limited and public transit rates are dropping in Atlanta, resulting in more and more commuters either driving themselves or relying on more cost-effective options like Uber and Lyft.

Traffic in Atlanta also tends to be extremely congested, which is why many locals will tell you it’s just easier to own a car, so you can time your trips appropriately.

Fortunately, according to AAA, gas prices in Atlanta are significantly below the national average and actually compare quite favorably to the rest of Georgia, too. Therefore, with the right amount of planning, keeping your transportation costs down in Atlanta is definitely doable, especially if you own a vehicle and supplement with ride-hailing services.

3. Taxes in Atlanta

Between the city, county, and state, the sales tax in Atlanta is 8.9%. Georgia’s progressive income tax is about average for the country, with a top rate that is the 20th highest and the 15th lowest bottom rate.

There’s even more good news for anyone looking to buy a house in Atlanta, as the median property tax rate is actually below the median for the rest of the country. The median amount an Atlanta resident pays every year is just 0.91% or about $1,448, which is roughly $650 less than the country’s average.

Atlanta is also very tax-friendly to retirees as Georgia doesn’t tax social security retirement benefits and offers a deduction of up to $65,000 per resident on any type of retirement income as long as the person is at least 65. Furthermore, the state doesn’t have any inheritance or estate tax.

4. Grocery Bills

Groceries are surprisingly affordable in Atlanta with most items falling well below the national average. Compare the following prices for common grocery items in Atlanta vs. the national average:

  • Gallon of Regular Milk: $3.22 vs. $3.50
  • Loaf of White Bread: $2.40 vs. $2.50
  • Carton of 12 Eggs: $1.98 vs. $2.00

Of course, everyone wants to go out from time to time, especially if you’re living in one of the country’s most popular foodie destinations.

According to Numbeo, here’s what you can expect to pay for various dining experiences:

  • Meal at an Inexpensive Restaurant: $15.00
  • 3-Course Meal for 2 at a Mid-Range Restaurant: $50.00
  • Combo Meal at McDonalds or Equivalent: $7.00
  • Pint of Domestic Beer: $4.75
  • 12 Ounces of Imported Beer: $6.00
  • Regular Cappuccino: $4.01
  • 12 Ounces of Coke or Pepsi: $1.87
  • 12 Ounce Bottle of Water: $1.75

5. Miscellaneous Costs

Finally, let’s look at some miscellaneous items you may want to add to your budget that affect the cost of living in Atlanta.

For example, if you like working out, you won’t have to look far for a gym in Atlanta. Again, Numbeo puts the average monthly price for a gym membership at just $35.

Another great way to stay active and get to know the city is by exploring Atlanta’s rich history. Fortunately, many popular attractions – like the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Center – don’t charge admission. Others, like the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library only charge visitors $12 (it’s free for those who are 16 and under).

You can also pay just $76 for an Atlanta CityPass which will grant you admission for nine days to:

  • The Georgia Aquarium
  • World of Coca-Cola
  • CNN Studio Tours

And your choice of either Zoo Atlanta or the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, and the Fernbank Museum of Natural History or the Chic-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame.

The average ticket price for a Braves game is just $29.44. Tickets to a Falcons game regularly go for around $40 or so.

Cut Costs When Buying a House in Atlanta

The cost of living in Atlanta may be a bit above the national average, but you’re also paying to live in one of the nation’s most beloved cities.

Even better, you can save a lot of money when you purchase your house by going through SimpleShowing. Our Buyer Refund Program could give you up to $15,000 back after you close on your house in Atlanta. Contact us today to learn more.