Expats looking for a bit of southern hospitality are sure to find it in Atlanta. With a diverse population of local and foreign residents, the city tends to receive newcomers warmly.
While it is a sprawling metropolis, Atlanta has many pockets of distinct close-knit communities and maintains somewhat of a small-town feel – it certainly operates at a slower pace than one might expect of such a major commercial hub.
Atlanta is a vibrant and pleasant city that offers expats a good quality of life and a relatively low cost of living. From suburban family life in the outer suburbs to the city chic lifestyle of Midtown, each neighbourhood of Atlanta has something unique to offer. It is also one of the greenest cities in the US with lush parks and even forests, which, along with a moderate climate, allow residents to enjoy an active outdoor lifestyle. There are also abundant shopping and nightlife opportunities throughout Atlanta.
Shopping in Atlanta
From large shopping malls to trendy boutiques and outdoor markets, Atlanta has something to suit every shopper. Shopping in the upmarket Buckhead neighbourhood offers luxury boutiques, antique stores and high-end retailers lining the streets, while Phipps Plaza and Lenox Square, located just across from each other, house hundreds of mainstream shopping outlets.
Expats will also find plenty of independent shops and boutiques, especially in Virginia-Highland, Midtown and Decatur. Those looking for something a little more offbeat can head to Little Five Points. Known as Atlanta’s bohemian neighbourhood, this district offers an eclectic and laid-back shopping experience.
Eating out in Atlanta
Atlantans love to eat out, and expats will find dining options for every taste and budget. The city is home to a number of top restaurants, many of which are owned by international celebrities. There are plenty of establishments serving local southern fare, while the city also boasts plenty of exotic flavours, including Korean, Vietnamese, Moroccan, Mexican and Indian eateries. A number of popular annual festivals celebrating food and beverages also take place in Atlanta, such as Taste of Atlanta and the Atlanta Summer Beer Fest.
Nightlife and entertainment in Atlanta
Atlanta is bustling with nightlife and entertainment options, and expats are sure to find something to suit their particular lifestyle. Buckhead, Midtown, Downtown and Little Five Points are popular areas for singles and young professionals, and have a vibrant nightlife scene with scores of bars, clubs and restaurants.
Sporting and outdoor activities in Atlanta
With the city's many open spaces of forests and parks, walking and cycling are two popular activities in Atlanta. Active outdoorsy types most often head to one of Piedmont Park, Chastain Park or the Centennial Olympic Park.
Just a short drive from Atlanta, expats will find some great state parks, particularly in and around the Appalachian Mountains, that offer hiking trails, fishing and camping.
Home to a number of major league professional sporting teams, including the Atlanta Falcons (American football), Atlanta Hawks (basketball) and the Atlanta Braves (baseball), sports fans will be spoilt for choice when it comes to live action at one of the city’s impressive stadiums.
See and do in Atlanta
Atlanta is home to a wide range of attractions. Everyone from sports fans to culture enthusiasts and music lovers will be able to find an activity to suit their interests in Atlanta. Those moving here with children will be pleased to know that there are plenty of child-friendly activities to get involved with in the city.
Here is a list of some of Atlanta’s most popular attractions.
Atlanta Botanical Garden
This is a secret world of serenity amid the city’s hustle and bustle. Visitors will find an ever-changing schedule of fascinating exhibitions, exciting events and interesting classes held at the Garden.
National Center for Civil and Human Rights
This informative cultural attraction is located in Downtown Atlanta. Exhibits are informative and moving, depicting the American Civil Rights Movement as well as a range of other modern-day global human rights initiatives.
High Museum of Art
Featuring American, European and African art as well as decorative pieces and photography, the High Museum boasts a collection of more than 15,000 works. A must for art lovers.
Martin Luther King Jr National Historical Park
This historical park contains the birthplace of Martin Luther King, Jr and the church where he preached and the memorial site where he is buried. It's an extremely popular attraction in Atlanta and draws close to 700,000 visitors each year.
This 189-acre park is always a hive of activity. Not only is it home to the Atlanta Botanical Garden, but in the summer, residents can enjoy music festivals and picnics in the park. Throughout the year it is a popular place for joggers, cyclists and recreational walkers.
Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse
This is the home of the Atlanta Shakespeare Company, which regularly stages productions of Shakespearean classics. Visitors can enjoy British pub food and drinks in the recreated tavern setting while taking in a play.
What's on in Atlanta
Atlanta has a brimming calendar of lively annual events to keep both locals and expats entertained throughout the year.
Regardless of whether one is looking for a party or simply to appreciate some good live music or art, there is sure to be something on Atlanta's events calendar to appeal to newcomers of all walks.
Martin Luther King Jr. Week (January)
This national holiday has turned into a whole week of festivities in Atlanta in tribute to the great civil rights leader, including parades, readings, educational events and religious services.
Atlanta Film Festival (March)
This nine-day event showcases works of both mainstream and independent filmmakers from around the world, with movies screened in various locations around Atlanta.
Inman Park Festival (April)
This is one of Atlanta’s best neighbourhood festivals, with a history of close to 50 years. Attendees can enjoy a parade, live music, a street market and tours of historic and remodelled homes in the Inman Park area.
Atlanta Jazz Festival (May)
One of the largest free jazz events in the US, the Atlanta Jazz Festival sees thousands of attendees gather to enjoy the works of jazz legends at a number of venues around the city.
Music Midtown (September)
This celebration of a range of musical genres is a treat for musos of all kinds, with numerous local and international acts gracing stages in Midtown.
North Georgia State Fair (September)
The second-largest fair in the state of Georgia, this festival is fun for the whole family and includes exhibits, rides, live performances and a beauty pageant. Don't forget to try some classic American festival fare, like corndogs and funnel cakes.
Taste of Atlanta (October)
A huge outdoor food festival featuring cooking demonstrations, tasting tents and live entertainment, foodies won't want to miss this sensory feast.
►For tips on finding a home in the city, see Accommodation in Atlanta
Are you an expat living in Atlanta?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Atlanta. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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