Georgia is known for many things: beautiful old houses, a rich history, Southern charm, and, of course, some of the most welcoming and unique cities in the country—we’d be hard pressed to pick out the best.
Luckily for us, we didn’t have to. Instead, the Movoto Real Estate Blog relied solely on the results of our analysis to find the best places in Georgia, so this list is unbiased, data-based, and pretty much indisputable. Which were the irrefutably best places in the state? Here they are, starting with our top spot, Canton.
1. City of Canton
2. Peachtree City
3. City of Athens
4. City of Alpharetta
5. City of Perry
6. City of Fayetteville
7. City of Duluth
8. City of Woodstock
9. City of Norcross
10. City of Kennesaw
10. City of Gainesville
To find out the method behind creating this list, plus why each of these places is such a peach, keep on reading.
How We Did It
Just like our other Big Deal Lists, in order to come up with the best places in Georgia, we needed to start out with a list of all of the places in the state with a population of 10,000 or more. This left us with a total of 81 places. Then, we looked at each place according to the following criteria using data from the U.S. Census, FBI, and business listings:
- Total amenities
- Quality of life (cost of living, median home price, median rent, median household income, and student to teacher ratio)
- Total crimes
- Tax rates (sales tax and income tax)
- Commute time
- Weather (temperature and air quality)
From there, we ranked each place with a score of 1 to 81, according to the above criteria, with one being the best possible score; and after that, we averaged each for an overall Big Deal Score, again, with the lowest number being the best place in the state.
If you’re itching to see how the top 50 places in the state ranked, feel free to head on down to the bottom of the post for a complete list. Otherwise, kick back, relax, and maybe grab a glass of iced tea and take your laptop out on the verandah, as we take a closer look at each of these 10 best places in the state.
This is the quintessence of a charming Georgian city. From the beautiful, historic downtown, to the community events like the Downtown Farmers Market, the Festival of Arts in May, plus, some surprisingly good Mexican food at La Bamba (which may not be especially Georgian, but hey, the fajitas here are practically reason enough to live in Canton).
Delicious sauteed chicken aside, Canton ranked well in our analysis for its low unemployment rate of just 7.7 percent, a crime rate 49 percent lower than the rest of Georgia, and a sales tax of just 6 percent. Plus, Canton has some of the finest weather in the state, with a relatively cool average summer temperature of 76.
2. Peachtree City
Easily the Georgian city with the absolute cutest name on our list, Peachtree City is about as lovely as it sounds. Residents in this peach of a city can enjoy over over 24 square miles of resort-style living and an impressive 90 miles of running, biking, and golf cart paths. Plus, according to our analysis, the majority of them don’t have to struggle to do so.
Peachtree City earned one of the highest overall quality of life scores on our list, due to its high median household income of $92,647 and a median home and rent price of $279,800 and $1,135, respectively—a good indication of the area’s desirability. The city also had one of the lowest crime rates out of all 81 places we looked at, with just 1,321 crimes per 100,000 people.
Home of the State Botanical Garden, the University of Georgia, the school’s Performing Arts Center, the Bear Hollow Zoo, and more, it’s no wonder Athens ranked well in our analysis for its high number of amenities.
Athen’s greatness didn’t stop there. It also ranked well for its low unemployment rate of just 8 percent, a relatively low average commute time of 21 minutes, and a student-teacher ratio of just 13 to 1, where many places in the state (Douglas, Hinesville, and Villa Rica, for example), are nearly 20 to 1.
This affluent suburb of Atlanta came in toward the top of our list, mostly thanks to its excellent overall quality of life. What exactly does that entail? It means a student-teacher ratio lower than the state average, a median household income of $90,450 and a median home and rent price of $330,700 and $1,037, respectively.
Apart from a high income, this city has much that’s desirable. For example, not only did Alpharetta rank as one of the best in our analysis for its quantity of amenities, but it also has some truly quality amenities to offer; places like Sweet Apple Donut & Coffee, the Jerusalem Bakery, and the Alpine Bakery and Trattoria.
This rather quaint, cozy, and welcoming city is well known in the area as a lovely little place to stop in on your travels. It has all of the charm of a small Southern town, including some of the best fried green tomatoes you’ll ever have at the Swanson House, plus the convenience of being close to both Atlanta and Macon.
Perry ranked as one of the safer places in our analysis, with a crime rate 32 percent lower than the rest of the state. It also ranked as the second best in the state in terms of employment, and had some of the best air quality in Georgia: a score of just 36 where the average is 41 (the lower, the better).
A low sales tax, an unemployment rate of just 8.1 percent, and one of the best quality of life scores in the state—Fayetteville seems to have it all. This includes a cost of living that’s on the higher side, but, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for.
This city had a student-teacher ratio of just 15 to 1, a median household income 48 percent higher than the Georgia average, and, considering the city’s relatively small population of just over 16,000, a good amount of amenities, including a beautiful secret garden. Fayetteville really does seem to have it all.
The old saying “safety first” really applies to Duluth, which ranked well in our analysis for its low crime rate of just 2,223 crimes per 100,000 people. As such things tend to go hand in hand, Duluth also ranked well for its low unemployment rate of 8.2 percent. Compare that to, say, Bainbridge, where it’s nearly 12 percent, and you’ll see why Duluth placed so highly.
Plus, with a variety of amenities—spas, parks, festivals, and restaurants like the Georgia French Bakery and Cafe—a median household income of $59,792, and a median home price 53 percent higher than the state, Duluth had one of the highest quality of life scores in our analysis.
Out of the 81 places we looked at, Woodstock ranked 14th best for its overall quality of life. That’s because in Woodstock, residents make a median household income of $64,086 and the median home and rent prices are 50 and 47 percent higher than Georgia’s median, respectively.
As our analysis showed, Woodstock’s historic downtown isn’t just packed with charm; it’s also packed with amenities. From Century House Tavern to some of the best southern barbecue in the city at J. Miller’s, Woodstock is brimming with local flavor.
This Gwinnett County city’s motto is “a place to imagine,” and we imagine this is true, especially if your daydreams tend to involve wonderful places to live in Georgia. For starters, it had the 12th best quality of life score, out of all 81 places we looked at, due to a student-teacher ratio of just 14 to 1, a median household income of over $55,000, and a relatively high number of amenities.
Along with several other places in our top 10, Norcross earned points for its sales tax of 6 percent (where in other places in the state it is 7 or even 8 percent), plus a low unemployment rate of 8.2 percent.
The first of our places tied for No. 10 is Kennesaw. This Cobb County city is well known for its unique festivals and community events, like the Big Shanty Festival, filled with arts and crafts booths and delicious food.
According to our analysis, Kennesaw may want to add a few more things to its list of bragging rights, like a crime rate 48 percent lower than the rest of the state, and a quality life ranking of 18th overall. What’s so great about the quality of life here? Kennesaw residents enjoy a variety of amenities and a median household income of $61,355, one of the higher incomes in the state.
With its large number of poultry-processing plants, this city is often referred to as the “Poultry Capital of the World”—which may have something to do with why Gainesville’s unemployment rate is just 7.7 percent, one of the lowest in the state.
As it turns out, Gainesville has much more to offer than a bunch of chicken. In fact, out of the 81 places we looked at, Gainesville came in as No. 11 for its sheer variety of places to go and things to do (amenities), including, of course, the Atlanta Highway Seafood Market.
Georgia: What A Peach
With all of the beautiful places in Georgia, filled with such rich history, things to do, and places to eat, it sure is a good thing we didn’t have to hand pick the best places in the state. Instead, we relied solely on the numbers, and what resulted was a pretty great list of places to live, including the peachiest of them all, Canton.