Thinking about Athens, Georgia?
It’s more than just a college town. Sure, the University of Georgia is a big part of life here, but there’s so much more.
Whether you’re into live music at places like the 40 Watt Club, enjoying some good old Southern cooking, or just taking a relaxing stroll through botanical gardens and parks, Athens has something for you.
With around 125,000 people, Athens isn’t too big or too small. It’s got that nice mix of Southern charm and new vibes.
You’ll see trendy cafes next to buildings that have been around forever, and the streets are filled with faces young and old.
So, what’s it really like to live in Athens? Let’s dive in and explore the good and not-so-good parts of living in Athens.
- Is Athens a Good Place to Live?
- Pros of Living in Athens, GA
- Reasonable Cost of Living
- A Growing Economy
- Naturally Beautiful
- Great Food Culture
- Eccentric Music
- College Town
- Great art Scene
- Robust Housing Market
- Cons of Living in Athens
- Hot and Sticky Summers
- Rowdy Downtown Scene (too many students)
- High Poverty Rate
- Rising Real Estate Prices
- Final Thoughts
Is Athens a Good Place to Live?
Athens is a great home base and an excellent place to raise kids.
It’s got all the pros of living in Austin 15 years ago, and that’s something special.
What sets Athens apart is its great cost of living matched with a quality of life that might surprise you for a town of its size.
If you’re into music, you’re going to love Athens. The music scene here is fantastic, and places like Georgia Theater and 40 Watt Club are just the tip of the iceberg.
There’s a rich culture waiting for you to explore, and you don’t need a car to do it. With free buses and an increasingly bike-friendly attitude, getting around is easy and convenient.
Safety is another big plus in Athens. It’s a very safe city, which adds to its appeal as a place to settle down with a family.
The housing market in Athens can be a bit tight, especially for affordable options, and it’s difficult to find anything decent under $1000 a month. But it’s worth the effort to find the right spot.
Traffic? Not a problem here. And football culture, while present, doesn’t have to dominate your life unless you want it to.
Athens is growing, and there’s a palpable sense of excitement in the air. With big development projects in the works, it feels like a place on the verge of something big.
Whether you’re drawn to the cultural offerings, the safety, or the relaxed atmosphere, there’s plenty to love about living in Athens, GA. So come on down and see what it’s all about.
It might just be the place you’ve been looking for. Now, let’s check all the pros and cons of Athens.
Pros of Living in Athens, GA
Here are the numerous benefits of living in Athens:
Reasonable Cost of Living
Athens has a median income of $50,447 and a home value of $310,000 (4.7% up over the past year).
Compared to other safe cities in Georgia, especially major metropolitan areas, Athens offers affordable housing options, lower utility bills, and lower expenses.
This makes it attractive for families, young professionals, and retirees. Who wouldn’t want to live in a city where their hard-earned money stretches a little farther?
A Growing Economy
Athens has a lively economy, and a lot of that comes from the University of Georgia.
The school doesn’t just add to the local job market; it makes the city a place where skilled professionals gather, collaborate, and innovate.
With strong research programs at the university, there’s a magnet for talent that extends into various sectors.
From healthcare and technology to creative arts and startups, Athens has a mix of industries that create plenty of job prospects and room for career growth.
Athens will charm you with its natural beauty if you love nature.
The city is surrounded by stunning landscapes, including lush green forests, rolling hills, and sparkling lakes.
Its proximity to The North Georgia Mountains and the Chattahoochee National Forest offers endless outdoor adventures such as hiking, camping, and fishing.
Athens also has numerous parks and green spaces where you can relax, picnic, or simply soak in the city’s scenic beauty.
Great Food Culture
If you love food, Athens is a dream come true.
This city knows how to eat! Whether you’re into Southern comfort food or international dishes, there’s something for every taste here.
And if you’re a fan of beer or spirits, the local breweries and distilleries won’t disappoint.
From cool little cafes to restaurants that win awards, Athens has dining options that fit any budget, making sure nobody leaves hungry.
If you’re into tunes, you’re going to love Athens.
This place is all about music, and it’s been home to big names like R.E.M., the B-52s, and Widespread Panic.
But it’s not just the famous bands that make Athens rock.
There’s always something happening in the local music scene, whether you’re into jazz, rock, blues, or indie.
If you want to get a feel for what’s going on in town, check out the websites for Georgia Theater, 40 Watt Club, Classic Center, and UGA Presents.
You’ll get a taste of the different performances coming through and maybe find your next favorite band.
The people here love their music, and you’ll feel that energy all around town.
As home to the University of Georgia, Athens has the distinct advantage of being a college town.
This brings a lively, youthful energy that permeates every corner of the city.
The presence of students creates a dynamic atmosphere, offering a wide range of cultural activities, sports events, and educational opportunities.
College campuses are known for having resources and facilities that often benefit the local community, and Athens is no exception.
The university’s libraries, museums, and sports facilities are open to the public, providing enrichment options for residents of all ages.
Great art Scene
For those with an appreciation for the arts, Athens is a haven.
The city has a thriving arts scene, with numerous galleries, theaters, and museums offering an eclectic range of exhibitions and performances.
Athens embraces all forms of artistic expression, from local art festivals to international exhibits.
The Georgia Museum of Art and the Georgia Theatre are just a couple of the many cultural landmarks in Athens that cater to art buffs, drawing in visitors from near and far.
Robust Housing Market
Athens’s real estate market offers healthy housing options to suit every need and budget.
Whether looking for a charming historic home in the downtown area or a spacious suburban house for your growing family, you’ll find various options.
The city also has a strong rental market, making it an attractive choice for those who prefer to lease instead of own.
With a healthy housing market, finding your dream home in Athens is not a far-fetched dream but a reality waiting to happen.
Cons of Living in Athens
Like any other place, there are specific cons that residents of Athens have to contend with.
Hot and Sticky Summers
Summers in Athens tend to be extremely hot and humid, with temperatures often reaching the upper 80s.
High temperatures and humidity can be uncomfortable for those unfamiliar with such weather conditions.
Outdoor activities during the day can be challenging, and air conditioning becomes necessary, leading to higher utility bills.
Rowdy Downtown Scene (too many students)
Athens isn’t just known for its music and food; it’s also home to the University of Georgia, with a whopping 38,000 students.
Now, that many students can really liven up a place, especially downtown.
But be warned, it’s not for everyone.
If game days and weekends get a little wild for your taste, you might find the noise, traffic jams, and the fight for parking a bit much.
It can be a fun scene, but it can also be a hassle if you’re not in the mood for it.
High Poverty Rate
Despite being home to a prestigious university, Athens struggles with a higher poverty rate than the national average.
Around one in five people here live in poverty, and that’s way above the national average.
But it’s not just about statistics. In the past few years, there’s been a noticeable increase in the homeless population, and it’s got a lot of folks worried.
Athens has become the go-to place for mental health and rehab services in northeast Georgia, but with one of the highest poverty rates per capita for a county, it feels like there’s more going on under the surface than you’d expect for a town this size.
Rising Real Estate Prices
Athens has seen a real spike in housing costs in recent years.
Whether you’re looking to rent or buy, you’re going to find that prices have gone up.
It’s a pinch that’s hitting a lot of folks, from long-time residents to newcomers looking for more affordable options.
Now, here’s a heads-up if you’re not a student: the Athens rental market is pretty much built around the university crowd.
Most leases start in July or August, and it’s all about student living.
It’s not always easy to find a one-bedroom apartment, and if you’re a non-student, this whole setup might feel a bit frustrating.
But, let’s keep some perspective.If you’ve been living in Atlanta and are stressed about the housing situation there, take a breath.
Cut that anxiety in half, and that’s about how hard it’ll be in Athens.
Sure, it’s a bit more seasonal, and maybe the timing isn’t perfect, but don’t overthink it too much. It’s a challenge, but it’s workable.
Living in Athens, GA, offers its own unique blend of benefits and challenges.
Your choice to move here will depend largely on what you’re looking for in a home base.
If you appreciate a lively music scene, quality education at the University of Georgia, and a great cost of living/quality of life ratio, Athens could be the perfect fit for you.
But if you’re concerned about the rising housing costs, the seasonal rental market catering to students, or the underlying issues like poverty and a growing homeless population, you may want to weigh these factors carefully.
Athens has a lot to offer, but if it’s not suitable for you, be sure to check our guides for living elsewhere in Georgia: