So you’re thinking of moving to Atlanta, Georgia? Maybe you want to be closer to family or friends, or your job is moving there and you with it, or you simply want a change of scenery.
Whatever the reason, you should know Atlanta has a lot going for it. Like any large metro area, it has plenty of attractions for all ages. From theme parks, shopping, and restaurants to music, entertainment, and night life, Atlanta has the full complement of amenities to suit most any taste.
As always, though, it’s best to be acquainted with the destination before you arrive. Before you pack up and head over, you need to get prepared. Here are things you need to know when moving to Atlanta.
It’s Hot (and Cold)
You may have heard the nickname “Hotlanta”. It was first made popular by the Allman Brothers Band way back in the 1970s. And there’s a reason it stuck. The high temperature in July and August is around 90 degrees. Since it’s the Deep South, it’s also muggy – the humidity is near 80% in the summer months.
But come fall, the heat gives way to comfortable average temperatures in the 60s and 70s. The fall days are typically sunny, cool, and dry. At night the temps can drop to around 50 degrees. The first frost shows up in November in the city.
In the winter, the average temperature is in the 40s, so you’ll need a winter coat. Occasionally there’s a little snowfall, but rarely are there snowstorms. You definitely get four seasons here.
Atlanta is the largest metro area in the Southeast and ninth most populated metro area in the U.S., ahead of Phoenix, Boston, and San Francisco. With 14 counties, 242 neighborhoods, and over 50 miles of cityscape in all directions, it embodies urban sprawl. Its urban land area grew 35 percent between 2000 and 2010, and this trend is expected to continue.
If you’re expecting to take public transportation, you may be disappointed. The Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) is safe and clean, but its route map hasn’t kept up with the city’s expansion. So it might not go where you need it.
And bikes? You may be accustomed to biking to work where you came from, but in Atlanta, cars rule. Most streets do not have bike lanes. Cyclists ride during quiet times of the day, or on the sidewalk.
Taxis are seldom seen on the roads. And even if you call one, the driver might not bother to come.
With no natural geographic boundaries like mountains, rivers, or a coastline, Atlanta is free to keep growing out. With this size come long commutes and heavy traffic, so just be ready. With an average commute time of 26 miles roundtrip daily, Atlanta has the most expensive commute in the country.
With all the cars, expect to be in bumper-to-bumper traffic during rush hour and moving slowly most other times. Plan on spending 45 minutes to go across town and longer to travel to the suburbs.
There’s Lots of Restaurants
Along with heat and traffic, Atlanta is known for its food scene. From decades-old traditions like Manuel’s Tavern and Mary Mac’s Tea Room to trendy new arrivals like Ruby Chow’s and Jimmy’z Kitchen, there’s something in town to satisfy any palate.
The world’s largest drive-in restaurant, The Varsity, has been serving up chili dogs and colas to residents since 1928. Nan Thai Fine Dining is known and beloved for its modern Thai cuisine. On the Westside, there’s Miller Union, whose fine dining and wines received top awards from the James Beard Foundation, and also Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours, which serves soul food with an international flavor.
And There’s Lots of Parks
Atlanta locals love their green spaces, and for good reason. There are lots of them and they’re well maintained. One of the most popular is Piedmont Park, a 189-acre sanctuary just a mile from downtown. It features playgrounds, a pond and pool, walking and bike paths, a dog park, and fields for recreational flag football, soccer, and kickball.
Also well-known is the Beltline. This former railway system is now a network of trails and parks. The Chatahoochee River National Recreation Area is a 10,000-acre collection of parks for hiking, boating, and tubing. “Shooting the Hootch” is a local expression that means taking a relaxing ride down the Chatahoochee River.
Stone Mountain is a nationally-famous, giant natural dome of quartz with carvings of Confederate leaders and other carvings made by people over the decades. Hiking paths lead to the top of the dome where you get a panoramic view of the Atlanta skyline.
It’s the South
Although it’s a modern, cosmopolitan city, Atlanta hasn’t strayed far from its Southern roots. You’ll hear many southern colloquialisms, like “fixing to”, “over yonder”, or even “bless your heart.”
Southern culture and hospitality is very much alive. Talking to strangers is completely normal and accepted. People think nothing of someone holding up the grocery line to chat with the cashier; in fact they might even join in.
But Atlanta isn’t a stereotypical Southern town. With many transplants who have been moving to Atlanta, it’s become a diverse blend of cultures that form a one-of-a-kind product. Its population includes significant numbers of Mexican, Central American, Chinese, Korean, Indian, and Vietnamese people. As the birthplace of Martin Luther King, Jr., Atlanta has strong ties to the African-American community and history. It’s even become known as a “black mecca” because many African Americans hold positions of power in the city.
Your Neighborhood Determines Your Lifestyle
Like any large city, there are areas that are clean, safe, and desirable, and areas that are less so. As you’re moving to Atlanta, know that where you choose to live will have a huge bearing on your lifestyle.
Interstate Highway 285 which encircles the city defines a boundary between city and suburban living. Inside I-285 has most of the big-city attractions, and much higher real estate prices. Outside I-285 there are mostly homes with large yards in great school districts.
Many longtime Atlanta residents live in town in their younger years, and move to the suburbs when they get older and start families.
We hope this post has given you an idea of what to expect when moving to Atlanta and inspired you to learn more. Atlanta is a unique city with much to offer. Knowledge and preparation will serve you well while you’re moving to Atlanta.
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