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Moving to a new city – particularly a big one like Atlanta – can be a challenge. You may be relocating for a new job, to be closer to family, or just to get a fresh start. Managing your transition well can help keep it from becoming overwhelming.
Once you start to settle in, you’ll discover plenty of things to do in Atlanta, for every budget. You’ll find entertainment, dining, pro sports, easy access to nature, mild winters, recreation, and a reasonably stable economy.
But of course there are downsides, too. If you hate heat and humidity, southern summers may seem insufferable. The cost of living has risen tremendously in Atlanta over the past decade, including housing costs. The city is also notorious for heavy traffic, long commutes, and lack of public transportation.
You’ll have to navigate all these pros and cons to get settled, but with the tips below you’ll soon be on your way to feeling like a local.
Of course, housing is your first consideration. Will you live in town or in a suburb? Would it be better to rent or buy? You’ll find Atlanta insiders often discuss real estate in terms of OTP and ITP – outside or inside the Perimeter (the loop of highway formed by I-285). It’s no surprise that housing prices vary widely by location.
Setting up a new home can be expensive. Apartment complexes typically require first and last month’s rent, security deposit, pet deposit, application fees, and more. You may need to buy furniture and appliances, do some renovations if you’re buying a home, or pay to have your things moved across the country. (Hint: consider a personal loan to help ease the financial bottleneck as you get settled.)
Be a tourist for awhile
One of the best ways to learn your new city is to go sightseeing! Sign up for walks and tours. Head downtown and ride the Atlanta Streetcar. Visit the local landmarks – including Zoo Atlanta, GA Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola, High Museum of Art, Stone Mountain, and others. You’ll learn a bit about local history and culture, and maybe even learn your way around a bit.
Explore the BeltLine
If you fancy yourself an urban explorer, there’s no better place to indulge your wanderings than the Atlanta BeltLine. You’ll want to read up on the history of this trail system, and how it came to be – it actually started out as a master’s thesis by a student at Georgia Tech! Once completed, the BeltLine will consist of a 22-mile loop along unused railway tracks around the city center, as well as spurs that connect to urban neighborhoods, public parks, entertainment and dining districts, and more. Each section of the BeltLine has its own distinct character.
Head to a festival
Spring festival season in particular is a wondrous time in Atlanta, and there is something going on every weekend in March, April, and May. You can listen to free outdoor concerts, shop for art and handcrafted items, indulge in carnival food, and enjoy the warm spring weather. Festivals happen everywhere, from the city to the outer ‘burbs, so you have plenty to explore and discover. Notable spring festivals for you to check out include the Brookhaven Cherry Blossom Festival, Atlanta Dogwood Festival, and Inman Park Festival. There are also summer music festivals, lots of fall arts festivals, and the North Georgia State Fair.
Cheer for the home team
You’re a local now, remember? In the pro leagues, you can cheer for the Atlanta Braves (baseball), Atlanta Falcons (football), Atlanta Hawks (basketball), and Atlanta United (soccer). In the minor leagues, you’ll find the Gwinnett Stripers just a short trip north of the city at Coolray Field in Lawrenceville. College sports here include Georgia Tech, Georgia State, Kennesaw State, Emory University, and more.
Hop on a MARTA train
The train system is far from perfect in Atlanta, and it doesn’t cover a lot of ground. Still, it’s useful at times and you should get acquainted with MARTA. The train is by far the best way to travel to the airport (the Red and Gold lines go right into the south terminal). MARTA is also handy for getting to the intown festivals, where there is no parking. And, the MARTA website contains all kinds of handy guides to help you navigate your way through the various stations. Go buy your Breeze Card and hop on a train!
Get out in nature
Still feeling stressed by your move to Atlanta? There’s no better way to unwind than with nature. Whether you want the wide open spaces of Piedmont Park (midtown Atlanta) or a heavily wooded trail like those at Henderson Park and others, there is something for you. The metro Atlanta area is very spread out, so it easily includes pockets of nature, hidden forests, nature preserves, and other quiet spots. If you love water, you can stroll around the lake at Murphey Candler Park or head to the recreational areas along the Chattahoochee River where you can walk, kayak, canoe, or tube.
Hang out at a craft brewery
The craft beer scene has exploded in the greater Atlanta metro area! There are breweries in virtually every part of the city, and in many of the suburbs. These are a great alternative to hanging out at a bar. Many have outdoor patio seating and are dog-friendly and family friendly. Breweries tend to offer an affordable entertainment experience. Yes, you’ll pay for beer. But you’ll also find live music with no cover charge and lots of fun events (think St. Patrick’s Day parties and ugly sweater contests). Atlanta’s breweries often have food trucks on site on select days, and some let you bring in your own food or even order a pizza.
Start your Atlanta Bucket List
Now you’re really settling in! As you hear your new local friends talk about where they go and what they do, jot down the things you’d like to try at least once. There are certain experiences you simply must have before you really become an insider to Atlanta culture. Some ideas to get you started:
- Hike the trail to the top of Stone Mountain (or ride the cable car)
- Hunt for Tiny Doors
- Take a selfie on the Jackson Street Bridge (made famous by The Walking Dead)
- Walk through the Krog Street Tunnel
- Pencil in your order at Mary Mac’s Tea Room (an ionic midtown eatery!)