Southern hospitality and spread-out ‘burbs make the ninth-largest metropolitan area in the US feel more like a small town. The capital of the Peach State, this economic and cultural hub is also its most populous city. Besides the fact that no one calls it “Hotlanta,” here are some things to know before making the move to the dirty dirty.
Hello, welcome to Atlanta. We hope you like the interior of your car because you will be spending a lot of time there. With over half a million commuters in the metropolitan area, Atlanta has some of the worst traffic in the country. Locals will spend an average of 484 days commuting over their lifetimes. Be sure to find your job before your place, so you can live close to work. Or perhaps look into working remotely, so you don’t have to commute at all. If you are stuck in bumper-to-bumper, make sure to have some good podcasts cued up for rush hour.
If the traffic is so bad, why not take the train? Good question. Although fairly safe, clean, and affordable, Atlanta’s public transportation system MARTA (Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority), just hasn’t kept pace with the city’s growing sprawl. Although MARTA is a will take you to area attractions, like game day at SunTrust Park and the airport, you will need wheels to get where you want to go.
The Atlanta metro area encompasses 14 counties, spreading 50 miles in any direction from the city center. Interstate 285 encircles the city, separating it from the burbs. If you hear someone mention “ITP,” they are referring to “Inside the Perimeter” while outside of I-285 is known as “OTP,” Outside the Perimeter. McMansions get bigger and bigger as you get further and further away from the perimeter.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find an actual peach tree in the city, but Peachtree Rd, Ln, St, Ave, Dr, Way, etc. is a different story. Just make sure you’re plugging the right one into your GPS.
Spring is allergy season. Even if you’ve never suffered from seasonal allergies, you’ll probably get them here. Atlanta has the most tree cover of any major city in the US, which is great until they pollinate. Allergy season peaks in April and May, when red cars turn orange with a coating of pollen. Thank goodness for Claritin!
Temps get up to the 90s in the summer, but it’s the humidity that’ll make you want to stay in the A/C. Your best bet to survive the southern summer is to find a place (or a friend) with a pool. Winter is pretty mild—calling for a coat in December and January. It rarely snows, but when it does Atlantans forget how to drive and the city effectively shuts down.
Multi-platinum artists like OutKast, Ludacris, T.I., Usher, Ciara, and Young Jeezy all came out of the ATL. If you’re not a fan of the Dirty South yet, constant exposure to Southern hip hop will have you rapping along in no time.
Georgia is known for its millions of peaches, Vidalia onions, and boiled peanuts in Coke. But Atlanta is known for its farmers’ markets, authentic ethnic eateries, food trucks, and James Beard awarded restaurants, not to mention the beloved Varsity Burger. Of course, there are plenty of chains, like Waffle House or Chick-fil-A, too.
If you meet an Atlanta resident who was born and raised in the city, you have found a unicorn. A city of transplants, Atlanta attracts people from all over the south and beyond. Instead of a southern drawl, you’ll find most people have no discernible accent at all. Ethnically, Atlanta is the largest majority African American metro area behind NYC. It also has the third-highest LGBT population per capita, after San Francisco and Seattle.
If we haven’t talked you out of moving to the ATL, check out Our Favorite Atlanta Neighborhoods For Millennials.