Atlanta is a pretty amazing place. Originally an end point for the Western and Atlantic Railroad, today it is a bustling hub of business, culture, art, history, and so much more. The diverse population is a blend of native Georgians and people from around the country and all corners of the globe. People moving to Atlanta typically have a reason, whether it’s going to school, living near family, or relocating for work. Whatever brings you to the Big Peach, the transition will be easier if you clue in on a few tips for moving to Atlanta, Georgia.
Traffic and Transportation
Anyone living in Atlanta for at least a week voices the same top complaint about the city: traffic. The city is a major metropolitan area with many neighborhoods inside the perimeter, and many more suburbs outside the perimeter, so commuters are constantly buzzing around the busy streets—and that's all on top of the chaotic I-285, the very Interstate that makes up the perimeter itself.
Most people who choose to live outside the perimeter resign themselves to about an hour’s commute every day, traveling 25 to 35 minutes each way. That is why one of the best tips for moving to Atlanta is to find housing in the same area of the city where you are employed.
While most people do own their own cars, there are alternatives for commuters in Atlanta. MARTA is the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority that makes a variety of public transportation options available in the area. For starters, there is a subway system in Atlanta that has the distinguished designation of being the eighth busiest subway system in the nation. It even has lines going Downtown, Midtown, and to the airport. Additionally, you can catch a bus to just about anywhere in town, or even hop on the Amtrak train known as the Crescent that runs right through Atlanta, traveling between New Orleans and New York.
Owning a Car
Because of the sheer amount of ground you may need to cover while living in Atlanta, it’s understandable if you want to hold onto your car. One of the things to know before moving to Atlanta is that you'll need to jump through hoops before you can legally drive your car inside and outside the perimeter. You will have to register your car within 30 days of relocating to Atlanta, but you’ll need a few items to do that:
• Georgia driver’s license
• Proof of residency
• Proof of insurance
• Completed Certificate of Inspection
• Completed Title/Tag Application
You also may need to show proof that your vehicle has passed an emissions inspection.
You’ll note that the first required item is a Georgia driver’s license. If you move in from out of state, that means getting the license first before you can register your car. Getting a license must also take place within 30 days of moving to Atlanta but, if you have a current out-of-state license, you simply need to transfer it and won’t have to take a written exam.
Finding a Job
Though the unemployment rate in Atlanta is at 8.1 percent, a bit higher than the 6 percent national average, Forbes still lists it as third in the top cities where it’s easiest to find a job. If you're moving to Atlanta with no job, you'll be pleased to know that there are a number of Fortune 500 companies headquartered there, and it is number eight on the list of the largest economies in the nation.
A good amount of the workforce is educated, and there are employment opportunities across the board for just about anyone. The pay in Atlanta is fairly good, too, so even if you're moving to Atlanta with no money, you'll find opportunities to make a good living. At around $46,100, the median income is just a little lower than the national average of $53,046.
If you have always wanted to live in a mild climate, you’ll be happy you’re moving to Atlanta. Though it does experience all four seasons weather-wise, Atlanta is generally moderate compared to other areas in the country. Temperatures in the winter can drop to below freezing, but spring, summer, and autumn make up for that with thermometer readings in the mid-50s in spring and fall to the 80s and 90s in the summer.
It’s true that summers in Atlanta tend to be humid, and it has been as hot as 104 in August, but there have also been days in December that were warm enough to leave the mittens at home and go out without bundling up in jackets.
Stellar School System
Families moving to Atlanta are understandably concerned about finding good schools. The good news is that the school systems in Atlanta are terrific. When Niche published its List of Best Public Schools in 2015, Atlanta schools were at the top. The student to teacher ratio is 15:1, lower than the national average of 16:1.
There are hundreds of public and private schools scattered throughout the area, both inside and outside the perimeter. Plus, some suburbs, such as Marietta, have their own charter school system in place.
Entertainment and Amenities
Atlanta is a city full of foodies, and it has close to 10,000 bars, restaurants, caterers, cafeterias, and buffets to serve them all. Whatever you are in the mood for on any given day, you can find quaint local eateries, casual restaurants, or formal and fine dining establishments to meet your needs and satisfy your cravings. Plus, if you need to work up an appetite, there are endless boutiques, bohemian shops, outlet stores, and many other shopping opportunities on both sides of the perimeter.
Eating and shopping aren’t the only things to do in Atlanta. It is home to professional sports teams such as the Atlanta Hawks, the Atlanta Dream, the Atlanta Falcons and, of course, the Atlanta Braves, giving you a home team to root for during almost every season.
If you prefer your entertainment to be a bit more cultured, you can head to Midtown to hear the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, take in the exhibits at the High Museum of Art, or enjoy a live performance at the Atlanta Contemporary Arts Center. Additionally, don’t feel guilty if you enjoy the tourist attractions. Most other Atlanta residents have visited them, too, including taking historical tours and visiting the Georgia Aquarium, the Margaret Mitchell House and Museum, and even the World of Coca-Cola.
Unless you have had a few years to prepare for moving to Atlanta, including being able to visit several times for job- and house-hunting excursions, you will likely end up renting a temporary place when you first get there. That means it will be essential to find self-storage to house most of your belongings.
Everything but the absolute day-to-day necessities can go into storage while you get your bearings and look for more permanent digs. If you're moving to Atlanta from NYC or another bustling city, you may end up deciding to stay inside the perimeter to be near work and the numerous entertainment options. Otherwise, you might choose to look for a house outside the perimeter, which offers a more suburban way of life. Either way, your possessions will be safely stored away, giving you time to decide where you want to put down roots.