Atlanta has a long, dubious history of dismal performances in data-based Internet lists that rank top places for families, but a new report this week might be the most worthy of forehead-smackin’ — or enraged fist-wavin’ — to date.
The consumer advisers at WalletHub set out to find the top Peach State cities for families to put down roots in 2016. In examining 100 Georgia cities, analysts factored in four metrics that usually give an indication of any town’s quality of life: affordability; socioeconomics; education, heath, and safety, and another measure called “family life and fun.”
Atlanta, in short, sputtered. Its family-friendliness, per WalletHub, is sandwiched between Fairburn and Carrollton, ranking 77th on the “Best Places to Raise a Family in Georgia” study.
And the report hasn’t gone unnoticed.
One of the AJC's most popular stories on Monday was titled “For families, Atlanta’s rank is woeful (but suburbs glow),” which begins as follows:
“Sad! In a ranking of the 100 best places to raise a family Atlanta ranks 77th. And that is just in Georgia!!”
Ouch. Double exclamation points does schadenfreude make, right?
Drilling a little deeper, WalletHub shows what’s really dragging Atlanta into their family-friendly netherworld — things that smaller cities don’t typically have to grapple with, as with desirability.
Housing affordability in Atlanta ranks the lowest of the city’s lowest marks at 82nd. Atlanta does tie with Savannah for the No. 1 amount of “attractions,” though. So yay!
Other key findings for the ATL:
80th – % of families with children aged 0 to 17
70th – High school graduation rate
68th – Quality of school system
64th – Violent-crime rate per capita
59th – % of families living below poverty level
On the report’s flipside are suburbs — Johns Creek, Milton, Alpharetta, and Suwanee in the top five — that the AJC described as glowing. Decatur and Druid Hills do slip into the overall top 10, while ITP counterparts Dorvaille, East Point, and College Park rank in the 90-100 basement.
The report comes on the heels of Apartment List findings earlier this year that ranked Atlanta — cover your eyes, ATL parents — merely the 27th of America’s 30 best cities for families, scoring high in relative affordability but flunking hard in education.
And last year, WalletHub’s list factory dubbed Atlanta the country’s 15 worst place for families, between Providence and Little Rock (but higher than bottom-feeders Washington DC, New Orleans, and Miami).
For what it’s worth, recent transplants who participated in our New Voices Atlanta series last year said they overwhelmingly felt safe here — even those recently victimized by crime. However, a slim majority (20 of 39 respondents) said they would have reservations about sending their children to local schools — or simply would never let their kids attend them.
But what say you, diehard Atlanta locals?