College grads looking to start a life in the grown-up world of bills and bosses and non-Ramen Noodle meals would be better off in Atlanta than anywhere else in the country, according to new rankings from Homes.com and ForRentUniversity.com, which ranked Atlanta as the very best city for new grads. The rankings were based on things like average rent for a one-bedroom apartment, average starting income and unemployment rate. Cost of beer and proximity to IKEA were not factored in, although that probably would've only widened our lead. According to the report, starting salaries in the ATL are 21 percent higher than the national average and rent is as cheap as you'll find in any city. Curbed Atlanta put that claim to the test, comparing what fresh-faced grads could rent in Atlanta for 1,000 bucks with what they could get for the same price in New York, Chicago, Austin, Seattle and San Francisco.
For the sake of consistency and fairness, all of the apartments below are centrally located in their city (i.e., not in the 'burbs). Let's start with Atlanta, because we're #1 and don't you forget it...
↑ One-bedroom at Ashley Auburn Point in Atlanta
What you pay: $900/month
What you get: One bedroom, one bathroom, a patio or balcony, 756 square feet, a saltwater pool with a badass view of downtown, a gym and a business center
Not a half-bad starter apartment. Heck, not a half-bad apartment for someone who's not a new grad. Convenient location and oh, that pool!
↑ 114 West 71st Street in Manhattan
What you pay: $1,000/month
What you get: Location, location, location! You can walk to Central Park and are living in the heart of the Upper West Side with pretty much anything you want right outside your door. Now, inside your door is another matter. You get a 100-square-foot studio with a bathroom but no kitchen or stove. There's a skylight, a fast internet connection and a shower.
The listing puts it best: "This apartment is so small, you can't have three friends over at the same time; one of you will have to wait outside in the hall. It's so small you can't gain weight once you move in. It's so small there's a bumper on the front door to keep it from hitting the back wall. It's so small you have to move the bed just to open and close the front door." That's a tradeoff that's not for everyone.
↑ 420 West Aldine Avenue in Chicago
What you pay: $995/month
What you get: A 575-square-foot studio in Lakeview that includes "state of the art thermal windows" and free strong central heat (which matter a lot when you're on Lake Michigan), all basic utilities except electric, on-site parking for an additional $180/month, parquet flooring and three closets.
The location is great, just a mile from Wrigley Field and right on top of all sorts of amenities, but you're looking at $1,175 if you want somewhere to park and the lister's use of the adjective "spacious" seems suspect and it seems they need help with the definition of "walk-in closet."
[Golden Gate Bridge image via Christian Mehlführer]
↑ San Francisco
What you pay: At least $1,550/month for anything within the city limits
What you get: Not a thing for less than that. Nothing. There's not one single result in the Zillow rental listings until you raise the upper limit to $1,600. Not even a shady hut full of drug paraphernalia.
Go home, San Francisco, you're drunk. The rent is too damn high.
↑ 2100 Nueces Street in Austin
What you pay: $995/month
What you get: A mysterious 450-square-foot one-bedroom near the University of Texas. It's about a 20 minute walk to the edge of downtown, so don't go getting any ideas about SXSW parties right outside your door. You can't rent in downtown Austin for $1,000.
By the look of the photo, the bedroom might be above the kitchen and accessible only via ladder. There isn't much information to work with here. There are four walls and a floor though so that's... good?
↑ 101 W Olympic Place in Seattle
What you pay: $905/month
What you get: A 435-square-foot studio with on-site parking for an additional $110/month and access to a 10,000-square-foot rooftop deck with views of Puget Sound, Mount Rainer and the Space Needle. Heat, water, hot water, sewer and garbage are included.
It's small and dated-looking but seems clean and the views from the rooftop sound incredible (why no photos?).
Verdict: For all the complaining about intown rents becoming hard to afford for the young, broke and creative, Atlanta is still a far more appealing option for renters than many other major American cities. There were, in fact, several options of similar quality and price point that could've been selected to represent Atlanta. Maybe things aren't so bad, right? RIGHT?
· Homes.com Reveals "Top 10 Cities for New Grads" [Homes.com]