for-rent-and-sale-signThe Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) has released the results of its latest Regional Snapshot, which asks the question: Is metro Atlanta an affordable place to live? The answer: It’s complicated.

According to the report, the relatively affordable home prices in metro Atlanta can be credited with helping to add more than one million new residents to the region over the last decade, but that does not mean that metro Atlanta is an affordable place to live.

Here are some highlights:

  • According to the National Association of Realtors, the median sales price for a single-family home was $167,500 during the third quarter of 2014, lower than Houston, Dallas and Charlotte, Sunbelt regions to which metro Atlanta is often compared. It is this relative affordability that helped fuel metro Atlanta’s population boom over the past two decades.
  • Among the largest 25 metro areas, Atlanta ranks as the sixth most affordable place, based on the Housing Opportunity Index (the percentage of homes that are affordable to a family who earns the area’s median income.) However, much of affordability depends on more than home prices.
  • At the neighborhood level, affordability is determined by many factors, including simple supply and demand near job centers. In the Atlanta region, many of the largest employment centers also have some of the region’s most expensive housing.
  • Transportation plays a key role in assessing overall affordability. In metro Atlanta, often, the most affordable housing options are located far away from key job centers. When transportation costs are added to the cost of a home in the suburbs or exurbs, housing becomes less affordable, particularly for lower- to moderate-income households.
  • Renters have a particularly hard time finding affordable options throughout the region. In many jurisdictions, particularly poorer exurban counties, living in an average-priced two-bedroom apartment consumes more than 60 percent of a typical renter’s income, and that does NOT factor in increased transportation costs.

To see the entire Regional Snapshot, visit this link to download the PDF.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.