Atlanta was named the fourth-best place for renters to live in 2023 in a June study from RentCafe. Photo by Janelle Ward

In a June report from RentCafe, Atlanta is named the fourth best city for renters to live in this year.

Atlanta places fourth out of more than 100 towns and cities around the country, almost half of which are located in the South. 

Using data from Yardi Matrix and other databases, the report takes into account details of each city’s housing conditions, local economy and overall quality of life. Atlanta ranks highly particularly for its prosperous economy and its steadily expanding portfolio of multifamily developments prepared to house new residents moving to the city for employment.

Atlanta ranks fifth in terms of housing and related affordability, landing a top spot partially due to its influx of new multifamily construction expected this year and in 2024. This combined with the city’s moderate cost of living and an occupancy rate of 93.5% — one of the lowest rates featured in the report — gives the city an advantage over other locations observed in the data set.

Doug Ressler, manager of business intelligence at Yardi Matrix, said that Atlanta’s increase in available rentals gives new renters more influence in choosing a unit, allowing them to walk away with more of the amenities they want at a more affordable price.

“What we see with the economics of supply and demand is that the more units, the more flexibility or leverage that renters have in terms of choosing prices that fit their income,” Ressler said. “So, what you have is property owners willing to make concessions.”

Unlike the other cities rounding out the list’s top five, more than half of Atlanta’s recorded households classify as rentals. Ressler said that more than 15,000 new rental units are anticipated for completion by the end of this year, making up about 3.5% of the city’s current rental stock. An additional 18,000 units are slated for completion next year. This increase in available housing will prevent prices from rising as rapidly as seen in other metros and regions of the country.

“Even without [government-implemented programs], we think that you’ll continue to see a deceleration of prices, which means it’s going to be more affordable for the entire population in general,” Ressler said.

Cities in the Southeast take up many of the spots on RentCafe’s list, following a trend of companies migrating from major metropolitan areas and establishing roots in smaller cities offering more land at cheaper costs.

Atlanta isn’t exempt from this phenomenon. According to the study, the city ranks sixth for its economy, a position credited to local job growth and the share of residents who have obtained some level of higher education.

Ressler said that Atlanta’s base in education is beneficial for rising small businesses and startups, prompting immigrants and educated professionals alike to play roles in the local economy.

“Atlanta fits the bill if you want to start a side hustle, or if you want to start your own individual business,” Ressler said. “It’s a very rich and diverse environment to be able to do that.”

The city limits aren’t alone in being recognized for renting potential. Marietta also makes RentCafe’s list, placing 12th overall and ranking 22nd, 13th and 31st for housing, the economy and quality of life, respectively.

With small and mid-sized cities appearing alongside metropolitan areas in the report, companies’ motives to expand their outreach and production aren’t limited to cities with populations exceeding hundreds of thousands of people. Charleston, South Carolina, a coastal city with a population just under 150,000, ranks at the top of RentCafe’s study, with its share of new apartment builds approaching 30%.

The influx in new apartments also helps resolve a pending issue in cities teeming with young professionals. Not all demographics of workers are ready to own a home, and some residents simply can’t afford to break into the current housing market. According to Freddie Mac, mortgage rates have hovered between 6.5% and 7% since the end of May, reaching heights not seen since 2008.

Marietta’s share of rental units resembles that seen in Atlanta, although young and single renters on average, particularly those belonging to Generation Z, still choose to reside within the urban core, as older renters and homebuyers, including some millennials, tend to opt for suburban living, where they generally see more land and square footage to fit their familial needs. 

Ressler said he doesn’t see this trend shifting anytime soon. Atlanta’s growth isn’t forecasted to cease or slow down within the next 10-15 years, as tech companies and other major employers continue their reshoring efforts by bringing new jobs to the United States.

“We don’t really see the potential for oversaturation because of a lot of government and infrastructure bills that are still processing through the pipeline that have yet to play out in terms of the money spent, and where you’re going to see a lot of that economic diversity being created,” Ressler said. “The Southeast is prime.”