People and businesses are flocking to Atlanta
The city’s affordability and multiple attractions have made it a top destination.
People want to live in Atlanta. In 2021, and for the eleventh year in a row, Atlanta ranked among the top 10 moving destinations in the country.1 The 10 counties that make up the metropolitan area added more than 63,000 people in the past year. It’s a trend that is expected to continue well into the future. Estimates are that the population for this region, currently at 4.6 million, will nearly double to 8.9 million by 2050.2
A mild climate, affordable living, a strong economy, and a diverse population are among the key points of attraction. The total cost of living in Atlanta is 2% lower than the national average.3 The reasonable cost of housing in Atlanta is undoubtedly another reason why it is experiencing an influx of new residents while other major cities, like New York,4 are seeing an exodus. The median monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Atlanta is just $1,215, and the median cost of a three-bedroom home is $365,726. That is well below half of the cost of similar housing in New York City, even if one opted to avoid astronomically pricey Manhattan for the more affordable borough of Queens (where the medians of a monthly apartment rent and home purchase price, respectively, are $2,854 and $839,741).5
Similar to the renaissance that Barcelona experienced after hosting the Olympic games, many of Atlanta’s neighborhoods continue to enjoy a revitalization that was set in motion by the 1996 Summer Olympics. The city also offers a welcome escape from the “concrete jungle” that characterizes so many other big cities. It is known as the “city in a forest” and has been deemed by the National Forest Service as the “most heavily forested urban area in the country.” 6 The wide assortment of trees – including oaks, cedars, magnolias and maples, to name a few – make for a lush tree canopy that covers 47.9% of Atlanta, well above the national average (27%) for major cities.
The millions of newcomers to the region over the next few decades should have no trouble finding jobs. Atlanta is home to many Fortune 500 Companies, such as Delta Air Lines, Coca-Cola, Home Depot, UPS and AT&T, as well as other large employers like the Centers for Disease Control. The region is expected to add more than 1.2 million jobs by 2050, with the top employment sectors being health care, retail and education, as well as professional and scientific fields.7
Blackrock, Honeywell and GE Digital are among the companies that have recently relocated parts of their operations to the Atlanta area, which has earned recognition for offering the lowest cost of doing business of any metro region in the country.8
The city was also named the “No. 1 Tech Hub Spot,” by Business Facilities Magazine in 2020.9 This year, the computer networking company Cisco, which already employs 1,000 people across Georgia, announced it plans to invest $41 million in a Talent and Collaboration Center that will employ an additional 700 people and be housed in midtown Atlanta.10 Microsoft, which has been in Atlanta since 2007, recently announced an expansion that will bring an additional 1,500 jobs to the area.11
Many companies are establishing or expanding their presence in Atlanta because they gain access to highly skilled talent. Forty-eight percent of the city’s residents over the age of 25 have a bachelor’s or higher academic degree. That ranks the city’s population as third in the country for educational level. Atlanta is also the eighth best market in the country for tech talent, given the size of the labor pool, and the eighth best market for finding professionals with training in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).12
The numerous colleges and universities in the city, such as Emory and the Georgia Institute of Technology, trained many of the area’s residents. Atlanta is also home to Morehouse College, Spelman College, and Clark Atlanta University, all renowned HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). Microsoft is strengthening its ties to HBCUs and establishing an Atlanta presence for its Leap Apprenticeship Program to support the next generation of diverse tech talent.13
In 2020, the state’s film industry brought in a record $4 billion in direct spending. As one of the busiest film production centers in the world, Atlanta has earned its reputation as “the Hollywood of the South.”14 Currently, there are more than 60 movies and TV series being filmed in Georgia.15
Filmmaker Tyler Perry is widely credited with putting Georgia, and Atlanta in particular, on the entertainment map 15 years ago, when he converted the former Fort McPherson army base to Tyler Perry Studios.16 The 330-acre property is now such a large production facility that, as one industry insider noted, the Los Angeles studio lots of Disney, Warner, Paramount, Sony, and Fox could all fit inside it, and still have room left over. The Tyler Perry Studios attract more than 5,000 visitors a day. The studio recently purchased additional land adjacent to the current property, and that will house retail shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues.
Gray Television, one of the largest operators of local television stations in the country, has purchased 128 acres in Doraville, just outside of Atlanta. The company plans to convert the site, the former home of a General Motors assembly plant, to a mixed-used property that will feature 10 TV and movie studios, offices, retail spaces, apartments, townhomes and a hotel.17
While the U.S. Congress considers a major infrastructure bill, Atlanta is already benefiting from significant spending on infrastructure that supports the city’s growth. In 2021, the region received $2.7 billion in federal and state transportation funds to improve roads and highways, to enhance public transportation options, and to construct or expand the city’s network of biking and pedestrian trails.18
The city’s entertainment and dining scenes offer plenty of options to suit any person’s tastes and interests. The city has professional franchises in baseball (the Braves), football (the Falcons) and basketball (the Hawks). Atlanta is also the home of the College Football Hall of Fame.
The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra has won 27 Grammy Awards. Starting next year, it will be led by Nathalie Stutzmann. She is only the second woman to lead a major U.S. orchestra.19 The Alliance Theater has won a Tony Award as an outstanding regional theater.20 The Georgia Aquarium is the world’s largest aquarium.21 Its 11 million gallons of fresh and saltwater are home to a diverse variety of fish and plant life that includes 100,000 animals from 500 different species.
Visitors and newcomers to the city have also discovered what the locals have always known: Atlanta is a foodie’s paradise. In 2016, Staplehouse was named by Bon Appétit as America’s Best New Restaurant.22 While there are plenty of restaurants that offer southern cooking with a flair, the city is also an international community and home to 70 foreign consulates. For those who want to experience flavors from around the world, the dining options range from Laotian food at Snackboxe Bistro to Ethiopian dishes at Desta.
The city has a storied history, having been a key location for critical moments in both the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement a hundred years later. Today, Atlanta is the unofficial capital of the new South. It has held onto its charms, while still becoming a thoroughly modern metropolis. Real estate investors can be assured that the city with the rich history also has a vibrant future.
1. Source: “Atlanta remains a top moving destination in U.S.,” Atlanta Agency Magazine, 5/7/21
2. Source: “About the Atlanta region,” Atlanta Regional Commission
3. Source: “Moving to Atlanta, GA: A Bellhop City Guide,” getbellhops.com
4. Source: “Reasons Why Many New Yorkers Are Moving to Atlanta,” Haven Lifestyles
5. Source: “NerdWallet’s cost of living calculator: Atlanta, GA vs. New York (Queens), NY,” NerdWallet.com
6. Source: “Atlanta: The City in a Forest,” J.H. Heath Tree Service blog
7. Source: “About the Atlanta region,” Atlanta Regional Commission
8. Source: “Why Come to Atlanta?,” investatlanta.com
9. Source: “Georgia Earns No. 1 Tech Hub Ranking from Business Facilities Magazine,” georgia.org, the website for the Georgia Department of Economic Development
10. Source: “Cisco to Open ‘Talent and Collaboration’ Center in Atlanta, Create 700 Jobs,” georgia.org
11. Source: “Georgia Earns No. 1 Tech Hub Ranking from Business Facilities Magazine,” georgia.org
12. Source: “A High-Quality Workforce,” investatlanta.com
13. Source: “Georgia Earns No. 1 Tech Hub Ranking from Business Facilities Magazine,” georgia.org.
14. Source: “Georgia Film Records Blockbuster Year,” georia.org
15. Source: “Now Filming in Georgia,” georgia.org
16. Source: “The Hollywood of the South Is Booming,” Atlanta Jewish Times, 9/17/21
17. Source: “Gray TV Building ‘Studio City’ Outside of Atlanta,” TV Tech
18. Source: “ARC 2021 Annual Report,” Atlanta Regional Commission
19. Source: “Atlanta Symphony Orchestra announces its first female conductor,” The Bona Venture Newspaper
20. Source: Alliancetheatre.org
21. Source: ”Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, World’s Largest,” tourcounsel.com
22. Source: “Staplehouse in Atlanta Is the Best New Restaurant in America 2016,” Bon Appétit
23. Source: “Taste the Difference,” discoveratlanta.com
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