Atlanta

How much money do you have to earn to afford rent and live alone in Atlanta?

ATLANTA — Questions of affordability are frequently top of mind when it comes to worries about inflation, the economy and if you can afford to splurge.

In the metro Atlanta area, and nationally, the cost of housing remains one of, if not the, the biggest drivers of inflation, whether it be a mortgage from buying a home, or paying rent.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “the shelter index was the largest factor in the monthly increase” for the Consumer Price Index when ignoring food and energy costs.

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For metro Atlanta residents, the most recent average rent was between $1,486 to $2,183 per month, depending on how many rooms you’ve got in your apartment, as reported by Apartments.com.

According to the Economist’s Carrie Bradshaw Index, the question of affordability in Atlanta is one equal to more than $16,000.

Specifically, the index reported that the median wage in Atlanta was $46,700, or $16,100 lower than what would be considered affordable-studio wage, or what they say is a rental cost making up 30% of yearly earnings.

The Economist reported the affordable rent wage in Atlanta for median studio rental prices was a required $62,800 earned per year.

The Apartments.com rent averages showed a studio rental sized at less than 600 square feet was about $1,486 per month.

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An analysis of living and housing trends among millennials and Gen Z published by RentCafe said that “14% of Millennials expect to live in a shared household for at least 10 years, while Gen Z-ers are somewhat more optimistic with only 6% envisioning the same arrangement into their adulthood.”

By comparison, “18% of Baby Boomers and 17% of Gen X were living with their parents at the same age as today’s average Millennials,” RentCafe said, adding that “22 years old, 66% of Millennials, 65% of Gen X and 61% of Baby Boomers were still at home, which was surpassed by a 68% share of Gen Z.”

Additional information from the U.S. Census Bureau showed rental vacancies in the Atlanta metro area had dropped from 9.8% to 7.7% from the first quarter of the year to the third, meaning how many people were in a rental compared to how many rentals were sitting empty had decreased by just over 2%

Rental prices, according to Apartments.com, have gone down by close to 5% in the past year, or $74 per month less than in 2022. In the same report, Apartments.com said to live comfortably in Atlanta, you’d have to earn at least $61,800 per year. It does not clarify if that salary includes costs before or after taxes are taken out of paychecks, nor does it calculate for other monthly expenses such as electricity, water, insurance, car payments, or phone bills, among others.

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Higher costs for rent have meant more millennials and Gen-Zers are living together or in multigenerational homes with their parents. According to RentCafe, more than 250,000 millennials live with their parents, while almost 440,000 Gen-Zers do as well.

The other question of affordability is based on income, not just price.

Data from the U.S. Federal Reserve reported the average hourly earnings of Atlanta metro residents, as of October 2023, was $33.74 per hour. Before taxes, benefits withholding, and other fees taken out of salaries, that’s about $70,180 per year, but it’s an average rather than a specific age or position-focused number.

The Georgia Department of Labor reported the average weekly wage in Fulton County, where Atlanta is, was $1,719 as of October, equal to a reported $89,388 per year. Here’s a look at all five of the core metro counties, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett.

CountyAverage Hourly WageAverage Weekly WageAverage Yearly Wage
Clayton County$34.70$1,388$72,176
Cobb County$34.75$1,390$72,280
DeKalb County$34.28$1,371$71,292
Fulton County$42.98$1,719$89,388
Gwinnett County$30.10$1,204$62,608
Collectively$35.362$1,414$73,548

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