What makes for a best Atlanta neighborhood? That’s subjective in a thousand different ways, but what’s indisputable is that Atlantans of all stripes need to be smart about locational choices or risk getting passed by in a city on the move.
What’s paramount in your buying or renting decision? Access to Atlanta transit? Walkability to a nice cozy tavern—or seven of them? Room for guests to park? Space for the in-laws? A flowery yard? Absolutely no yardwork whatsoever? A social scene that never quits? Or a home away from it all, where you can enjoy quiet summer nights in the yard, symphonic with the sound of cicadas?
Highlighted below are seven eclectic options picked from more than 240 neighborhoods officially recognized by the city of Atlanta, diverse in geography, architecture types, general price points, and demographics. But each neighborhood below offers the culture and convenience that only living intown provides, and their appeal is growing by the minute— you’ll find new housing stock, surging restaurant scenes, and freshly minted sections of the Beltline.
Whether for an empty-nester, first-time buyer, transplant from afar, or longtime renter who likes it that way, these neighborhoods offer an opportune place—one that’s quintessentially Atlanta—for thriving in 2020.
The draw: Diverse; steeped in local history; lower cost of living than its eastside counterparts
Similar neighborhoods: Peoplestown; Old Fourth Ward (circa 2006)
Types of homes: Everything from adorable shotguns to hulking contemporaries
Within a football’s toss of what’s become Georgia State Stadium, Summerhill is blowing up like few other places in Atlanta right now—with all the gentrification challenges inherent in such transformative development. Most notably, the depressing dead zone that was the storefront carcasses of Georgia Avenue—which had housed a diverse slate of grocers, restaurants, and spaces for butchers and shoe shops in the early 20th century—is being restored to vibrancy with the likes of Wood’s Chapel BBQ, Junior’s Pizza, and Halfway Crooks Beer, among others. By all indications, that’s just the beginning.
Within a few blocks, nearly 1,000 new multifamily residences are in the pipeline or have recently opened near the repurposed Major League Baseball stadium and its barren lots. Elsewhere, just north of the stadium, Aloft is planning to build its first hotel south of Interstate 20, and Georgia State is moving forward with an $85 million convocation center where the school’s basketball team would play. But only a fraction of the new housing has been earmarked as “affordable,” as determined by the earnings of residents in the area, in a district that’s been considered low-income for generations.
Renovated standalone homes costing north of a half-million dollars aren’t uncommon, while new construction routinely aims for higher prices. A national builder is erecting nearly 300 apartments near the neighborhood’s northern border, I-20, with each of them deemed “luxury.” On the transportation front, Atlanta’s first rapid bus transit project is planned for a three-mile circuit that would travel from downtown, through Summerhill, to the Beltline’s Southside Trail. Summerhill stands to be a substantially different place in coming years, for better or worse.
The draw: Car-free oasis with ritzy shops and restaurants
Similar neighborhoods: Midtown’s core
Types of homes: A mecca of high-end, sophisticated new condos and apartments
This is the trendy, walkable, hip, and some would argue pretentious section of Atlanta’s most monied neighborhood, located near the heavily commercial area around Peachtree Road’s split with Roswell Road. New (not cheap) housing options and restaurants have multiplied in recent years, but relatively affordable deals can still be found (though rarely at Jimmy Choo).
One of several new Buckhead Village apartment high-rises, for goodness’s sake, is actually called “Gentry,” and at the posh, glassy edifice that is Hanover Buckhead Village, studios of barely more than 600 square feet will set you back $1,837 monthly—or more. Still, that’d be peanuts compared to most mortgage notes at The Charles, a deluxe condo building at the coveted crossroads of Peachtree and East Paces Ferry roads. The Village is Exhibit A that Buckhead exclusivity, like enhanced walkability, doesn’t come cheap—unless you’re willing to look deeper and compromise a little.
So why pay the steep prices? Where else in Atlanta can you browse at Hermès, nosh at a white-tablecloth destination like Le Bilboquet, and catch a show at a landmark venue like Buckhead Theatre within a few blocks and without a car? And it’s not all bad; smaller condos that enjoy the same geographic benefits can routinely be found for less than $250,000.
Beyond the shopping and swanky flats, Charlie Loudermilk Park is a green respite amid the village’s commercial buzz. (Trivia: It was once the site of Henry Irby’s General Store, the man widely regarded as Buckhead’s founder.) And ATL newcomers might be surprised to learn that, where the village’s upscale outdoor shopping district stands, an estimated 100 bars and restaurants once thumped deep into the night, until general rowdiness and one very high-profile crime helped the city accelerate their demise.
The draw: Neighbors old and new who take pride in having so much pride
Similar neighborhoods: Adair Park; West End
Types of homes: Quintessential Atlanta bungalow or quaint cottages with Tudor flair
With smokin’-hot real estate for the past several years (thanks, Beltline buzz), this historic, diverse, and formerly downtrodden (thanks, Great Recession) neighborhood along the Westside Trail has shown anecdotal signs of cooling off recently, although bidding wars for choice properties are still a thing. Buyer incentives (closing costs paid, etc.) that seemed unthinkable not long ago have returned. Locals have also recently argued that the Westside Trail hasn’t yet lived up to its hype as an accelerant for outside investment—while others are grateful it hasn’t yet been the gentrifying tool for displacement many had feared. But it’s still early.
While Westview home sales in the $400,000s are commonplace these days, cheaper renovations with charm to knock your socks off are still out there for significantly less. The City of Atlanta counts about 1,100 single-family homes in the neighborhood, with a strong majority of them now classified as being in “good” condition. And Westview remains that increasingly rare Atlanta neighborhood where buyers hankering to live in their own fixer-upper might not be bullied out by deep-pocketed investors and moneybag flippers.
The draw: Great nightlife; affordable among its more northerly eastside brethren
Similar neighborhoods: Reynoldstown; Edgewood
Types of homes: Flashy townhomes; modest brick ranches; a few grand Victorian stalwarts
Longtime locals talk wistfully of the days when the East Atlanta Village had more gritty soul, or when a Craftsman-style cottage could be scored for the price of a used Tesla. But the scrappy spirit of this nabe, immortalized by artists like Gucci Mane and Camila Cabello, lives on. Added bonus: Plans are percolating to rework an East Atlanta intersection so notorious and nonsensical—the cockeyed Moreland/Glenwood Avenue crossroads—it inspired a Hawaiian artist to spotlight it in a book.
Like its cousin to the north, Little Five Points, EAV retains an anything-goes vibe and numerous watering holes that can get pleasingly rowdy (Midway Pub) if the right game is on. That’s despite the ubiquity of new townhomes and single-family houses selling high into the $600,000s these days.
Still, a max budget of, say, $300,000 scores a perfectly livable little house within hoofing distance of the bars and eats. Renting a well-equipped newer studio here—just a short drive from downtown on Interstate 20—could save $500 or more monthly versus Midtown and Buckhead.
Knight Park/Howell Station
The draw: Knowing the names of everybody on your leafy little street
Similar neighborhoods: Home Park; East Atlanta
Types of homes: Traditionals from recent decades commingle with old, revived bungalows
A diminutive, charming oasis of vernacular architecture and close-knit neighbors among the industrial Westside landscape, Knight Park/Howell Station stands around the corner from the gorgeous new Proctor Creek Greenway and the initial phase of what's projected to be Atlanta’s largest green space, Westside Park at Bellwood Quarry.
Last year, a Beltline spur trail that’s set to serve the historic neighborhood launched pre-construction clearing efforts. Also announced: a 15-acre warehouse conversion into an office and retail hub. The Knight Park green space is considered the district’s communal heart, but the Goliath park project across the road stands to really put this place on the map.
Located just a stone’s throw west of Midtown, fewer than 300 houses comprise the full neighborhood—or less than half as many as wee Cabbagetown. The neighborhood also has roots in the railroad industry dating back to the 1890s, with a National Register of Historic Places designation coming a century after that. The housing stock is almost exclusively standalone residences, ranging from rehabbed cottages in the low $200,000s, to more ornate bungalows and Craftsman-style offerings from the aughts edging over the half-million-dollar mark.
The draw: A feeling of being tucked away, in the middle of it all
Similar neighborhoods: Morningside-Lenox Park; Peachtree Hills
Types of homes: High-dollar new construction; handsome brick townhomes; garden-style condos
An icicle-shaped neighborhood bounded by Piedmont Avenue, Interstate 85, and the former railroad line that cuts through Piedmont Park, Piedmont Heights is under-appreciated. This tony neighborhood is a segue between trendy Midtown and the old/new money of Buckhead, with enviable proximity to Piedmont Park and all the scuzzy wonders of Cheshire Bridge Road. Its roster of attractions includes venerable Smith’s Olde Bar and Ford Fry’s Little Rey, plus a stock of truly lovely, smaller houses that can be attained in the ballpark of $500,000.
There is history aplenty; Atlanta’s second-oldest home—the Liddell House, a classic, clapboard-sided antebellum farmhouse with a porte cochère—is located on Montgomery Ferry Road. But for all its aspirational residences and marquee location, not every Atlantan could point out Piedmont Heights on a map, which boosts the cachet.
Bonus: Piedmont Heights is getting its own Beltline segment—a stretch of the Northeast Trail, behind the neighborhood’s Ansley Mall—that launched construction last fall. The result should be a combination of Beltline and interstate access second only to West End and Reynoldstown. And locals know not to miss Grindhouse Killer Burgers, which opened its “flagship” location here on Piedmont Avenue in 2011.
The draw: A happy medium between Midtown’s bustle and the spacious lots of Collier Hills
Similar neighborhoods: Loring Heights; Ormewood Park
Types of homes: Large, older condos and Colonials
The construction of I-75 couldn’t dampen the charm of this neighborhood of about 1,000 homes that occupies the middle ground between hip, postindustrial Blandtown and manicured Margaret Mitchell. Established in 1902, Underwood Hills’s earliest denizens were employees of the Seaboard Coastline Railroad, and that railroad tradition lives on, just to the west. Today, Underwood Hills isn’t shy about adopting the “Upper Westside” moniker coined by developers as a marketing tactic for the general area northwest of Atlantic Station. Less trendy is Underwood Hills Park, a tucked-away gem with tennis and basketball courts and more than enough equipment to keep the kiddos happy.
Large-scale ventures such as Selig Enterprises’s The Works—a planned 80-acre adaptive-reuse redo that’s landed a Scofflaw brewing facility and food hall from celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern—promise to boost the district’s appeal in the popular consciousness of Atlantans. Meanwhile, patrons of Hankook Taqueria and Atlanta Brewing Company may have previously visited Underwood Hills without knowing it.
Large, older, but well-kept condo complexes make Underwood Hills a go-to for first-time homebuying, with renovated options in the low $100,000s fairly common. (Just don’t expect much more than 700 square feet.) Meanwhile, a concentration of Colonial-style dwellings help the streets stand out aesthetically in bungalow-heavy Atlanta. Recent sales in the latter style show three-bedroom houses moving in the $400,000 to $500,000 range.