A fountain in Savannah Georgia

15 of the Best Places to Live in Georgia


by Shannon Jacobs Posted on November 30, 2023

If you’re thinking of moving to Georgia, you’re not alone! From 2010 to 2020, over a million people moved to the Peach State, according to the U.S. Census. Georgia even saw the sixth-highest growth of all states in 2022, with an overall population increase of 1.2 percent as people found the best places to live in Georgia.

But enough with the nerdy numbers. Why are people moving here and where are the most popular Georgia cities? Let’s find out!

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Best Places to Live in Georgia

Mild winters, friendly neighbors, low cost of living, and delicious southern homecookin’ are just some of the reasons people are flocking to this peachy state. From urban Atlanta to historic Savannah, Georgia has something for everyone! Let’s explore the best places to live in Georgia and what makes these cities so special.

Aerial view of the city of Alpharetta, Georgia, and its lush wooded surroundings.
Alpharetta, Georgia
(Source: Awesome Alpharetta, Georgia via Facebook)

1. Alpharetta, GA

Alpharetta is just 26 miles north of Atlanta, giving its residents easy access to the big city while still offering the pleasures of “small-town” life. Rated the #1 best suburb in Georgia by Niche, and with its public schools, housing, family-friendliness, nightlife, and diversity all receiving an A-grade or better, it’s no wonder more than 67,000 Georgians choose to call Alpharetta home

Here, you’ll find popular music venues, restaurants, and a variety of shopping opportunities (more than 250 shops in a 5-mile radius!). Meet up with friends at one of the local breweries (Jekyll Brewing has a rooftop bar on Academy Street), or try your luck at one of the escape rooms in town. And for the outdoorsy among you, there’s Big Creek Greenway where you can hike and bike to your heart’s content, or visit one of the many Arboretums in town for a relaxing walk through native Georgia greenery.

The only downside, perhaps, is the cost of living. Not only is it higher than the Georgia average, but it’s even higher than the U.S. average (by about 20 percent!). Still, with all Alpharetta has to offer, it could be worth it!

2. Rome, GA

In the northwest corner of Georgia, about halfway between Atlanta and Chattanooga, you’ll find Rome. Though this Rome doesn’t have a Colosseum, it is home to nearly 38,000 residents, and this charming city will make you wonder why you didn’t move to Georgia sooner! 

There’s a historic downtown with boutique shopping and local restaurants, delis, bakeries, and cafes. We suggest you try Cosmic Dog Outpost for a riverside beer garden experience, or visit Duffy’s Deli for Rome’s famous chicken salad (since 1978). There are also some chain favorites in town, so you won’t have to give up your protein shakes at Smoothie King or Friday pizza nights at Mellow Mushroom. 

In addition to checking out art exhibits and live music shows, locals can swim, kayak, or fish in the three rivers that run through town — Coosa River, Oostanaula River, and Etowah River. There are also more than two dozen parks throughout Rome, popular for hiking, biking, walking, picnicking, and the like. And for those looking for higher education opportunities, just outside of the city limits, you’ll find Berry College, an independent coeducational institution that’s been providing students with a comprehensive liberal arts education for over a century. In addition to having the largest college campus in the world, at 27,000 acres, it’s just plain gorgeous.

It’s important to note, though, that the cost of living in Rome is about 14 percent higher than the Georgia average (but still 19 percent lower than the national average). Housing, groceries, transportation, and other miscellaneous expenses become notably more affordable once you settle in Rome. 

Q: What is the healthiest place to live in Georgia?
Sandy Springs was named the 13th healthiest in America by Niche. And although we’re not going to argue with that, of course, we think that almost all of Georgia has the potential to unseat Sandy Springs. From cozy spots in the North Georgia mountains to the laid-back beach vibe of the coast, Georgia cities offer an abundance of outdoor options to keep you active and healthy. 

3. Athens, GA

Home to the University of Georgia, Athens (or the “Classic City” as it’s called) was named the Best College Town in the South by Southern Living in 2022. What’s more, the cost of living is lower than the Georgia average, making it an affordable place to live. Still, a lower cost of living and a higher education are just a small part of what makes Athens one of the best cities in Georgia.

The local music and entertainment scene is impressive, which is no surprise once you realize that bands like R.E.M., Drive-By Truckers, The B-52s, and Widespread Panic all made their start right here in Athens. And today, you can still catch amazing live music — from up-and-comers to big name acts — at local venues like Georgia Theatre and 40 Watt Club. If you’re looking for something a little less rock ’n’ roll, head over to The Classic Center or UGA Performing Arts Center for Broadway shows, instrumental and classical music, comedy showcases, and more. And we can’t forget the summer festivals — AthFest, Classic City American Music Festival, and Sunflower Music Series.

In addition to several local parks and the must-visit State Botanical Garden of Georgia, there’s the Oconee Rivers Greenway, where visitors can bike, hike, kayak, fish, and more. And the local art scene will have you touring the Georgia Museum of Art, perusing downtown boutiques and galleries, and searching for the dozens of bulldog statues that have been installed throughout the city in celebration of the UGA Bulldogs.

Aerial view of Downtown Savannah, Georgia, at dusk. The sky is streaked with pinks and blues and the tops of buildings poke out from above lush trees.
Savannah, Georgia

4. Savannah, GA

Savannah is a dream — almost surreal and ever mysterious, filled with beautiful oaks cloaked in Spanish moss, historic architecture, grand fountains decorating city parks, and those famous blooming azaleas. Add to that, world-class dining plus the serene Savannah Riverwalk and it’s no wonder Savannah is one of the best places to live in Georgia!

Contrary to what you may expect from a tourist town that attracts millions of visitors each year, Savannah has a surprisingly low cost of living — nearly 10 percent under the national average. Not bad for one of the most popular Georgia cities.

Homes here are still affordable and pretty darn cute, if you ask us. From bungalows and craftsman houses to townhomes and mansions, there’s something for everyone in Savannah. And there are plenty of rentals, too. As a matter of fact, a little more than half of Savannah’s 148,000 residents rent their homes rather than own.

And if you’re looking for a city with true Southern hospitality, you’ll be happy to hear that Savannah’s self-dubbed nickname is “Hostess City of the South.” Living here, you’ll always have your fill of good food and entertainment. Take in award-winning performances at the Savannah Theatre and Lucas Theatre, or put on your dancing shoes for the Savannah Music Festival and Philharmonic Picnic in the Park (for starters). Visitors and locals alike embark on haunted ghost tours through the city’s historic streets and then unwind again at one of Savannah’s many delectable dining establishments.

Outdoor activities include strolling along the Riverwalk, beaching it up at Tybee Island (20 minutes from the Historic District), and exploring the 100-acre (and centuries old) Bonaventure Cemetery. History buffs won’t want to miss out on the plethora of historic architecture and religious sites (some of the oldest in the South). 

Some favorites of the PODS Blog staff include Alligator Soul for a fine dining experience, The Olde Pink House for a Savannah classic, and Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room for down-home southern chow.

Q: What is the most beautiful city to live in Georgia?
Savannah, GA, has the honor of being called the most beautiful city in Georgia and the second most beautiful city in America, according to Forbes. 

5. Sandy Springs, GA

  • Typical home value: $636,700
  • Average rent (1-bedroom): $1,525
  • Great for: Schools, families, nightlife, diversity

Less than 30 minutes north of Atlanta, Sandy Springs has a lot going for it. Many Fortune 500 companies are based here, and it’s home to the headquarters of UPS and Mercedes-Benz USA (and then some). In short, Sandy Springs is a business hub, making it a great city to live and work. The cost of living is 20 percent higher than Georgia’s average, but that hasn’t stopped over 107,000 Georgians from settling here. It helps that the median per capita income in Sandy Springs is almost double the state’s median. 

The Chattahoochee River creates the north and west borders of the city, providing endless opportunities for residents to get out on the water. There’s ample green space, including more than two dozen parks and the Abernathy Greenway, where locals can bike or stroll through Georgia’s natural beauty. And downtown, you’ll find Heritage Sandy Springs, home to the local history museum and the city’s namesake springs. With all this nature and outdoor recreation, it’s no wonder Sandy Springs was named the 13th Healthiest Place to Live in America by Niche.

Sandy Springs has above-average schools, and, with its happening nightlife, it’s a great place for families and young professionals alike. According to Niche, it’s a great place for retirees, as well, and was rated the 20th Best City to Retire in America (that’s right, top 20 out of the entire country, not just Georgia). 

View down the beach of beachfront homes in St. Simons Island, Georgia. The sand is a light cream color, and the water is lapping gently against the shore.

6. St. Simons Island, GA

St. Simons Island is one of the most romantic places to live in the Southeast. The largest in a string of barrier islands off the Southeast Georgia coast called the Golden Isles, St. Simons is a favored resort getaway for vacationers from all over Georgia — and the U.S., for that matter. And for good reason: About an hour and a half from Jacksonville to the south and Savannah to the north, this is island life turned up to the max, with a leisurely pace of life, immaculate beaches, and enough entertainment to keep you thrilled every day of the year.

For a resort town, the cost of living is comparatively reasonable at about 4 percent lower than the rest of Georgia and 9 percent lower than the rest of the U.S. Buying a home here will cost you, though, and jobs are somewhat scarce in the off season, with an unemployment rate of 4 percent. But if you’re a fan of laid-back beach living and don’t mind summer humidity and heat (but with a lovely sea breeze!), this may be your cup of tea. 

Travel + Leisure ranked St. Simons, along with its neighbors Jekyll Island, Little St. Simons Island, and Sea Island, as the best islands in the Continental U.S. High praise for the Peach State! Its antique shops, galleries, boutiques, and southern culinary delights are of particular note. And you might be surprised at the volume of restaurants on the island — more than 70! Some favorites for locally sourced treats: Georgia Sea Grill and Iguanas Seafood Restaurant (try the shrimp-anything).

7. Atlanta, GA

If you’re looking for big-city living in Georgia, Atlanta is where you need to be. Sometimes called the New York of the South, this southern state capital is home to nearly half a million people. Skyscrapers, booming nightlife, incredible dining and shopping, pro sports, live entertainment. Atlanta’s on a different level, and that’s why people love it here! In fact, Atlanta is one of the top 20 Best Cities for Young Professionals in the country, according to Niche.

Moving to Atlanta, you won’t stay a lonely newcomer for long. Georgia’s friendly southern hospitality is commonplace even in this uber-urban setting. If you’re willing to strike up a conversation with your neighbors, you’ll find new buddies in no time. 

And guess what? The ATL is about to become very bikeable. Currently underway is the Atlanta Beltline, repurposing the 22-mile historic railway loop around downtown into a paved multi-use path, lined with art installations and native greenery. Once complete, it’ll connect 45 in-town Atlanta neighborhoods and will include 1,300 acres of new greenspace and 33 miles of trails. The Northside, Westside, Eastside, and West End trails are already finished, and the entire project is estimated to be complete in 2030. 

The cost of living in The Big Peach is more than 13 percent above the national average. While that’s higher than a lot of other places on our list, it’s not bad for life in the big city. Traffic, on the other hand, is just as bad, or maybe worse than you’d expect.

Winters here are mild, but you still have to contend with the hot, humid summers, and the allergy season is nothing to sneeze at (or rather, it’s something to sneeze at). Luckily, you’ll have easy access to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, so you can take a trip to somewhere a little cooler if you need to.

Kayakers paddle down the Chattahoochee River in Johns Creek, Georgia.
Chattahoochee River
(Source: Johns Creek Convention & Visitors Bureau via Facebook)

8. Johns Creek, GA

Johns Creek is a suburb less than 30 miles north of Atlanta. It’s one of the best places to live in Georgia for families — actually, that’s an understatement. Johns Creek was rated the #1 Best Place to Raise a Family in Georgia by Niche. It received A ratings or better for its public schools, housing, nightlife, and diversity. It also received really good safety marks from Neighborhood Scout, which found Johns Creek to be safer than 77 percent of U.S. cities. With such high marks, it may not surprise you that the cost of living in Johns Creek is more than 13 percent higher than the U.S. average (and 20 percent higher than in the rest of Georgia). 

The Chattahoochee River makes up the town’s southern boundary and is a popular place for locals to tube, boat, or fish. The Autrey Mill Nature Preserve and Heritage Center — with 46 acres of trails, creek, historic buildings, pavilions, and woodlands —  is a great place for an afternoon hike or picnic.

There’s plenty to entertain you indoors, as well. The town has its fair share of local boutiques, salons, and spas. There are multiple country clubs and a wide variety of restaurants with menus to appease all palates. If you’re looking for a culture kick, check out the Johns Creek Chorale or Symphony Orchestra. And remember: You always have easy Atlanta access.

Q: Where is the safest place to live in Georgia?
According to Neighborhood Scout, the tiny little town of Midville, Georgia, about an hour southwest of Augusta, is the safest place to live in Georgia. Out of the cities on our list, Johns Creek is the safest with a crime index of 77 (safer than 77 percent of cities in America). 

9. Roswell, GA

Across the Chattahoochee River from Sandy Springs, you’ll find Roswell. This beautiful city is only 22 miles north of Atlanta and has been dubbed one of the top 10 best suburbs to live in all of Georgia. Home to almost 93,000, Roswell is known for having great public schools, a plethora of outdoor recreation activities, and a delectable dining scene.

Take the kids to the Chattahoochee Nature Center, where they can explore fantastical gnome homes and fairy houses on the Enchanted Woodland Trail. Roswell was also the first city in Georgia to earn the designation of being a Bike Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists. Cycling enthusiasts can join local organizations of like-minded “pedal heads” and take to the trails at Big Creek Park and Greenway or the Roswell Riverwalk.

There’s a lot of history here, too. Roswell was founded in 1839 by Roswell King. He named the town after himself and, harnessing the power of the Chattahoochee River, opened the first cotton mill for the Roswell Manufacturing Company. Most of the mill buildings were burned during the Civil War, but visitors can explore the ruins at Old Mill Park. The park also has hiking trails and a pedestrian bridge over Vickery Creek that connects to the Chattahoochee River National Park trail.

If you’re looking for a night out on the town, you’re in the right place. Canton Street is where you’ll find sidewalk cafes and restaurants. There’s a variety of amazing dining options throughout Roswell, serving chef-driven cuisines from around the world. If craft beer (or even mead) is your scene, head to one of Roswell’s many breweries, and be sure to check out 5/4 Meadery. There’s plenty of live entertainment here, as well. From the Georgia Ensemble Theater and Riverside Park Stage to the Roswell Cultural Arts Center and the Roswell Dance Theatre, there’s something for everyone.

Downtown Marietta, Georgia, with the tree-lined square, surrounding woodlands, and the mountains in the background.
Marietta, Georgia
(Source: Visit Marietta, GA via Facebook)

10. Marietta, GA

Only 30 minutes from downtown Atlanta, Marietta still retains its small-town southern charm with beautiful antebellum homes and a historic downtown. The cost of living is about 10 percent higher than the state’s average. And boasting great schools and a family-friendly environment, this is an urban-suburban city to love. 

For the outdoorsy among you, there are endless hiking trails, parks, and public gardens. You can go for a woodsy bike ride on the Sope Creek trail or take the whole family to East Cobb Park to picnic at the gazebo. For bigger adventures, drive north toward the mountains for a weekend camping trip. Marietta is also home to Six Flags White Water amusement park — perfect for hot summer days. 

Culture abounds in the form of museums, art galleries, and the historic Strand Theatre. You can spend the day exploring boutiques, antique malls, and vintage clothing shops, satiate your palate at one of the 30+ restaurants in the historic Marietta Square, and then end the night taking advantage of Marietta’s vibrant nightlife scene.

Q: How much does it cost to live comfortably in Georgia?
Employment, gas and food prices, and other factors vary somewhat dramatically across Georgia cities, from Lookout Mountain to Hahira, influenced as they are by their border neighbors Tennessee, North and South Carolina, Alabama, and Florida. But overall, the cost of living averages 5.5 percent lower than in the rest of the U.S. To live comfortably requires an income of about $59,000 for a family and almost $45,000 for a single person. .

11. Smyrna, GA

Smyrna is another smallish city with an easy commute into Atlanta — but once you find out all that Smyrna has to offer, you’ll never want to leave. 

The schools here are top-notch and include six of the top 10 best private high schools in the state. Smyrna has proven itself as a great place to raise a family, but also a terrific option for young professionals and singles. With vibrant culture and nightlife, plus an ever-increasing foodie scene, there’s rarely a reason to leave the city limits. And the cherry on top of Smyrna’s cultural sundae — the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, home to both the Atlanta Ballet and the Atlanta Opera.

Another reason to love Smyrna? The housing prices aren’t that bad, especially when compared to Johns Creek, Sandy Springs, and Roswell. A little under half of the people in Smyrna rent rather than own, and there are plenty of rentals available at any given time. Communities such as Cortland at the Village come with amenities like tennis courts, resort-style pools, fitness centers, and clubhouses.

Here are some local recommendations for all you foodies out there: The Original Hot Dog Factory (20 varieties of frankfurters), Rev Coffee (with its own roastery), Muss & Turner’s (popular spot with a creative menu), MTH Pizza (an ever-changing and creative menu), South City Kitchen (good ol’ southern comfort food).

12. Lookout Mountain, GA

Travelers all over the Southeast are familiar with Lookout Mountain — even if they don’t know it — thanks to the abundance of “See Rock City” signs everywhere from billboards to barn roofs. This charming town on the border of Georgia and Tennessee, just outside of Chattanooga, gives its residents a mountain-town lifestyle lifted from a Thomas Cole painting. The nickname “Fairyland,” as shown on its seal, is a perfect descriptor. Waterfalls, lush deciduous forests, and abundant wildlife make it feel like you’re living in a fairy tale.

Residents enjoy a calm, safe environment. Niche gives Lookout Mountain an “A” rating for Crime & Safety, with near-zero violent crimes reported and few property crimes. 50 percent of people here hold a Bachelor’s degree, and 31 percent hold a Master’s or higher. Median household income is also strong, coming in at about $130,000.

Business options are limited — there are only a few grocery stores, restaurants, and other stores in town — but easy access to nearby Chattanooga solves these issues. And with a small population of just 1,700, you can be assured that you’ll have a community to connect with.

Under a bright blue sky and surrounded by crowds of spectators, professional golfers compete at the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia.
Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia
(Source: Masters Tournament via Facebook)

13. Augusta, GA

Which city in Georgia has a lower-than-expected cost of living? Augusta! The cost of living here is 13% below the national average, earning it a spot on Niche’s list of Cities With the Lowest Cost of Living in America. It turns out that those three-dollar pimento cheese sandwiches Augusta National is famous for translates to the city’s cost of living, too. 

Augusta’s biggest draw is the Augusta National Golf Club, a prestigious national organization with membership on an invite-only basis. Augusta National hosts The Masters each year, one of professional golf’s four major tournaments, and the only one that is played at the same course every year. Needless to say, the tournament is a huge draw to Augusta each April and patrons the nation over flock to partake.

But, the Masters is only one week out of fifty-two. Every other week, Augusta is a blossoming city in its own right.

Georgia’s second-biggest city, Augusta lies on the South Carolina border, edged on the east by the Savannah River. Locals take in the sights and sounds of the city as they stroll along the peaceful River Walk between Downtown Augusta’s 6th and 10th streets. Cultural attractions include the Sacred Heart Cultural Center, Morris Museum of Art, and the Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History (to name a few). A walk through the Historic Downtown transports you back in time, with a tour past architectural styles from Greek and Romanesque Revival to Beaux Arts and Queen Anne. Several churches, homes, and other buildings are even open to the public.

Daytime venturing may find you at the Phinizy Swamp Nature Park, just a few minutes from downtown Augusta, with 1,100 acres of natural spaces and miles of trails for hiking and biking. For indoor entertainment, you can take in a show at the Imperial Theatre, which once showcased vaudeville and now is home to popular musicals and live concerts. And when it comes time to dine, Augusta won’t disappoint. Start by trying Oliviana, Abel Brown, and The Boll Weevil Cafe & Sweetery

14. Clarkesville, GA

Nestled in the North Georgia mountains, Clarkesville offers small-town living just a hop, skip, and a jump from weekends in the big city. This quaint village is a bustling tourist draw in the fall leaf-peeping season, when the gorgeous southern foliage bursts with color. And visitors come during other times of the year, too, to shop and dine in Clarkesville’s old-fashioned downtown, hike the miles of nearby mountain trails, or relax in a cozy weekend cabin with family and friends.

Just 1,600 people live here, so if solitude is your preference, you’ll likely be comfortable in Clarkesville. Other facts and figures: Habersham County Schools get an A rating from Niche, the median household income is right around $57,700, and the town has a 25 on the crime index from NeighborhoodScout. 

Dining options are surprisingly diverse for such a small town. Try Hawg Wild BBQ & Catfish House for true Southern fare or The Attic for a special dinner — or just a weeknight out. Besides Mother Nature’s abundant offerings, entertainment in Clarkesville includes the Grant Street Music Room, where touring acts and locals alike take the stage. Feeling gutsy? Grab the mic for karaoke every Friday night at 8 p.m.

15. Hahira, GA

Every October since 1981, the Hahira Honeybee Festival has drawn tens of thousands of visitors to this south Georgia town for a week-long celebration that includes a parade, arts and crafts, and live entertainment — all in the name of bees. The remaining 51 weeks aren’t too shabby, either, with plenty of small-town fun to keep the 3,300 residents happy. 

Schools in Hahira get an A rating from Niche. With more than 10,500 students in the Lowndes County district’s 11 schools, the student-teacher ratio promises that your kids will get the right attention. And like in any charming small town, after-school sports are a mainstay of civic life. Friday night lights, anyone? 

More things to love about Hahira: The median household income is around $92,000 and the cost of living is almost 20 percent lower than in the rest of the U.S. Parks abound, from beautiful 8,700-acre Lake Blackshear to more modest greenspaces, golf courses, and playgrounds. And the downtown area offers a walkable main stretch with more than 40 businesses, including restaurants, boutiques, and arts organizations.  

A family of four works together to carry boxes, toys, and decor from their house to the PODS moving container in their driveway. They’re preparing for their move to one of the best places to live in Georgia.

PODS can help you move to the best places in Georgia

Once you’ve found your perfect place in Georgia, let PODS help you get there. PODS will deliver your portable moving container right to your driveway where you can pack and load at your own pace. When you’re ready, PODS will pick it up and take it to your new home in one of Georgia’s best cities. One month’s storage is included in every move, so you can unload on your own schedule without feeling rushed.

Shannon Jacobs is a Tampa-based freelance writer and frequent contributor to the PODS Blog. She has lived in Atlanta, the Berkshires, and Nashville, but always returns to the warmth of Florida’s Gulf Coast.

(Source for image featured at top: Explore Georgia via Facebook)

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