Is Georgia on your mind? You’re not the only one! That’s why over 270,000 people moved to Georgia in 2019.
Georgia is one of the best states to live in the South with so much to offer; natural beauty, thriving cities, and Southern hospitality. From its historic mountains and white sand beaches to its thriving economy, celebrated sports culture, great food, and much more, Georgia offers just the right blend of rich culture and world-class amenities with affordable, easygoing living. Like the tea, life is certainly sweeter here.
Living in Georgia
Georgia is the 24th largest state by size and 8th most populous state, there’s so much to offer new residents moving to Georgia.
Pros and Cons of Living in Georgia
- Cost of living: As the 11th most affordable state in America, Georgia offers overall great savings on housing, utilities, and many other living expenses.
- Job market: Home to over a dozen Fortune 500 companies, particularly Atlanta, is a hub for career opportunities.
- Economy: Matching the state’s cost of living rank, Georgia’s economy ranking currently sits at #11. GDP is nearly $564 billion, and the median income comes in at just under $30K.
- Nature: Home to many beautiful mountains and beaches, Georgia is chock full of natural wonder and outdoor adventures to keep you and yours captivated and in shape.
- Sports: If you’re serious about sports, you’ll love it here! Home to the Braves, Hawks, Falcons, Bulldogs, and Yellow Jackets, there’s a home team to root for year-round.
- Festivals: From Summerfest and Imagine Music Festival, to Dogwood Festival and the Atlanta Film Festival, Georgians can find a festival right up their alley during every season.
- Southern charm: the Peach State is known for its Southern hospitality. Politeness and southern home cooking help define Georgia’s charm.
- Traffic: Atlanta being a natural draw for tourism and business, traffic congestion can be pretty horrendous. ATL ranks among the most congested US cities.
- Humidity: The state averages mild winters with occasional snow and ice. The tradeoff is the summer's heat and humidity.
- Pollen: Home to many trees and plants, the state gets covered in pollen. If you’re an allergy sufferer, remember that residents have windshield scrapers handy to remove thick pollen.
- Bugs: From ants and gnats to mosquitoes and palmetto bugs, there are hordes of pesky and biting bugs that are active throughout most of the year.
- Well-being score: According to certain elements (purpose, social, financial, community, and physical), Georgians score their state lower than a majority of other states.
- Weird laws: Like many other states, Georgia has some bizarre laws. For example, it’s illegal to keep a donkey in a bathtub. Another is that signs must be in English.
- Property Tax: 0.91%. Georgia’s effective real-estate tax rate is ranked #25 in the nation.
- Sales Tax: 4%. Combined with local taxes, the total rate can range from 4% to 9%.
- Income Tax: 5.75% (for income over $15,000). Lawmakers plan to reduce this rate to 5.5% in 2020.
Cheaper to Rent or Buy? As the cost of rent has increased, it has become a better financial option to buy a home. There are several areas where it’s cheaper to purchase a house, including Warner Robins, Augusta-Richmond County, and Savannah.
- Median Home Value: $189,500
- Median Rental Expense: $880 (1BR), $1,038 (2BR)
As of summer 2020, the median home value in Atlanta is $299,308. Compare that to the NYC median home price of $680,500, and you can immediately see the significant savings. You’ll also see substantial savings in rental costs. The median price for a two-bedroom rental in Atlanta is $1,243, while in New York City, the average is $2,049 for a two-bedroom apartment.
In addition to significant savings on housing, you’ll also enjoy lower costs for standard expenses. In Atlanta, your transportation costs will be 47% lower than in NYC, and your utility costs will be 45% lower. You’ll also save, on average, about 22% on health costs and 18% in spending on food and groceries.
Cost of Living
According to the Cost of Living Index by State 2019 Report by World Population Review, Georgia ranks #11 in the nation for the lowest cost of living. Its current cost of living index is 91.2. This index is below the national index average of 100.
Utilizing the Family Budget Calculator, let’s compare the average monthly expenses in two Georgia counties. We’ll use a family of four for the examples (2 adults + 2 children).
First, let’s take a look at Fulton County. The cost breakdown: $1,031 for housing, $772 for food, $968 for childcare, $1,159 for transportation, $1,010 for healthcare, $727 for other necessities, and $893 for taxes, totaling $6,560 per month or $78,717 per year.
Next, we have Dodge County. The cost breakdown: $667 for housing, $706 for food, $648 for childcare, $1,139 for transportation, $1,225 for healthcare, $554 for other necessities, and $662 for taxes, for a total of $5,600 per month or $67,204 per year.
The state of Georgia has a humid subtropical climate, with hot summers and mild winters.
Summer temperatures can often reach 90°F and higher for weeks. Fall typically offers comfortable temperatures. Throughout the state, you’ll find mild winter weather. In January and February, it hovers in the 50s in Atlanta and the 60s in the south and along the coast.
- Average rainfall – 50 inches
- Average temperature – 63°F
- Average high temp – 72°F
- Average low temp – 53°F
Economy & Job Market
According to Economy Rankings by US News, the state of Georgia State ranks as the eleventh best economy in America. This score is based on several categories, including business environment (#17), employment (#13), and growth (#12). The median income is $29,668, and GDP is approximately $563.6 billion.
With Atlanta as a significant player on the international commerce scene, some 26 Fortune 1,000 companies maintain headquarters in metro Atlanta. Sixteen of those companies, including UPS, Coca-Cola, Home Depot, and Delta Air Lines, are on the elite Fortune 500 list.
According to WorkSource Atlanta, over 55,000 local jobs in technology and healthcare will become available by 2024. Forbes magazine lists Atlanta as one of its “Five US Cities Poised to Become Tomorrow’s Tech Meccas.”
In 2019, the job market increased by 2.9%, and over the next ten years, experts anticipate jobs will grow by 46.8%, a significant rate over the US growth average of 33.5%.
The key job growth segments, according to the Metro Atlanta Chamber, are financial technology (fintech), health information technology, cybersecurity, mobility and IoT (Internet of Things), smart grid technology, and film/digital media/entertainment tech. Thanks in large part to metro Atlanta, Georgia is the number one filming location in the world.
- Construction & Real Estate
- Food & Beverage
- Technology & Telecommunications
- The Home Depot
- Randstad USA
- The Coca-Cola Company
- Hansen Beverage
- Cox Enterprises
- Genuine Parts
According to Education Rankings by US News, Georgia ranks #30 in education. This score derives from two categories: higher education (#25) and K–12 education (#31). However, the state is home to several highly acclaimed schools (mostly in Atlanta).
Top GA School Districts:
- Buford City Schools (Buford)
- Oconee County Schools (Watkinsville)
- Forsyth County Schools (Cumming)
- Decatur City Schools (Decatur)
- Jefferson City Schools (Jefferson)
- Fayette County Public Schools (Fayetteville)
- Carrollton City Schools (Carrollton)
- Bremen City Schools (Bremen)
- Calhoun City Schools (Calhoun)
- Cartersville City Schools (Cartersville)
Things to Do
- Food & Drink: The Majestic Diner, One Flew South, Nori Nori, Holeman & Finch Public House, North Beach Bar & Grill, Terrapin Beer Co., Buttermilk Kitchen, Oriental Pearl, Xocolatl Small Batch Chocolate Micro-Factory, Condesa Coffee, SweetWater Brewing Company, Clermont Lounge, Sublime Doughnuts, Atlanta Farmers Market, Yumbii, The Varsity, Mary Mac’s Tea Room, Southern Art, Morelli’s Gourmet Ice Cream, Zyka, Kevin Barry’s Pub, Varasano’s, The General Muir
- Zoos, Animal Parks, and Aquariums: Georgia Aquarium (Atlanta), North Georgia Zoo (Cleveland), Bear Hollow Zoo (Athens), Goats on the Roof (Tiger), Zoo Atlanta (Atlanta), Flint RiverQuarium (Albany), Chestatee Wildlife Preserve & Zoo (Dahlonega), Southern Belle Farm (McDonough), Wild Adventures Theme Park (Valdosta), Oatland Island Wildlife Center of Savannah (Savannah), The Wild Chickens of Fitzgerald (Fitzgerald), Goat Yoga Georgia (Loganville), Rome-Floyd E.C.O. Center (Rome)
- Museums: World of Coca-Cola, National Infantry Museum & Soldier Center, Webb Military Museum, Museum of Aviation, National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Center for Civil & Human Rights, Little White House, Pin Point Heritage Museum, Booth Western Art Museum, Cumberland Island National Seashore Museum, Andersonville National Historic Site & National Prisoner of War Museum, Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum Inc., Currahee Military Museum
- Nature & Parks: Anna Ruby Falls, Jekyll Island Trail System, Berry College Campus, Hills & Dales Estate, Little Mulberry Park, Meeks Park, Amicalola Falls State Park, Minnehaha Falls, Toccoa Falls, Forsyth Park, Driftwood Beach, Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Brasstown Bald Mountain, Noah’s Ark Rehabilitation Center, Atlanta Botanical Garden, Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park, Cloudland Canyon State Park, Fort Mountain State Park, St. Simons Island
- Art Galleries: Mark of the Potter (Clarkesville), Hickory Flat Pottery (Clarkesville), Skylake Galleries (Sautee Nacoochee), Liquid Sands Glass Gallery (Savannah), The Willows Pottery (Helen), HomeGrown Decatur (Decatur), Madison-Morgan Cultural Center (Madison), Fish Art Gallerie (Tybee Island), Tannery Row Artist Colony (Buford), Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Assoc. (Blue Ridge), Artsy Me Ceramic & Art Studio, Art Downtown SoGlo Gallery & Brunswick Actors’ Theatre (Brunswick)
- Spas & Wellness: Savannah Healing Arts (Savannah), Milan Day Spa on Broughton (Savannah), Sea Island Spa (Sea Island), The Spa at Chateau Elan (Braselton), Serenity in the Mountains Spa (Blue Ridge), The Upper Hand Day Spa (Conyers), Dubhine Touch (Savannah), Spa Bleu (Savannah), Heavenly Spa by Westin (Savannah), Sweet Water Spa (Savannah), JeJu Sauna (Duluth), Christina’s Healing Hands Massage Therapy (Pooler), The Buckhead Massage Company (Atlanta)
- Fun & Games: The Escape Game Atlanta, Bad Axe Throwing, Pinball Palace, Atlanta Magic Theater, The Escapery, Time to Escape: The Escape Room Experience, Urban Escape Games, Bavarian Mountain Miniature Golf, Mission: Escape Atlanta, Sanford Stadium, iFLY Indoor Skydiving – Atlanta, Swan Drive-In, Stoddard’s Range & Guns, AMC Theaters Colonial 18, Alpine Mini Golf, The Lily Pad Village, ZEscape, Amazing Escape, Room Escape Atlanta, Tank Town USA, Breakout Games – ATL
- Water & Amusement Parks: LEGOLAND Discovery Center (Atlanta), Summer Waves Water Park (Jekyll Island), Wild Adventures Theme Park (Valdosta), SKYVIEW Atlanta (Atlanta), Lake Winnie Amusement Park (Rossville), Splash in the Boro (Statesboro), Neptune Park (St. Simons Island), Cummings Aquatic Center (Cumming), Six Flags White Water – Atlanta (Marietta), Cool River Adventures (Helen), Great Wolf Lodge (LaGrange), Margaritaville at Lanier Islands (Buford)
- Nightlife: Nightly Spirits, Atlanta Magic Theater, Spooky Savannah Ghost Tours, Creepy Crawl Haunted Pub Tour, Savannah Smiles Dueling Pianos Saloon, Southern Pedaler, The Pirates’ House, Savvy Savannah Tours, World of Beer, Wet Willie’s Tybee Island, Georgia Magic Theater, Haunted Savannah Pub Crawl, Savannah Supernatural Tours, Eddie’s Attic, The Bearding Bottle Shop, Artillery, Odd Lot, Blind Willie’s, The Rail Pub, Uncorked on Main, Rock House on Tybee
- Cool & Unusual: Doll’s Head Trail, Rock City, CDC Museum, Georgia Guidestones, The Paris Market, Junkman’s Daughter, Atlanta Prison Farm, Corpsewood Manor, Dungeness Ruins, The Krog Street Tunnel, Toccoa River Swinging Bridge, Central State Hospital, Tiny Doors ATL, Pasaquan, Old Car City, The Tree that Owns Itself, The Dwarf Castle, Crypt of Civilization, Trader Vic’s, Colonial Park Cemetery, Alex Raskin Antiques, Expedition Bigfoot