Study: Best Cities to Live in Georgia

Life in the Peach State is sweet thanks to Georgia's thriving economy, its moderate climate, and the unique blend of large urban centers with quaint country towns. There are more than a dozen Fortune 500 companies with headquarters throughout the state and the education system consistently ranks in the top ten nationally. The cost of living is well below the national average, and the crime rate overall is relatively low.

Georgia's diverse landscape offers something for everyone. There are more than 60 state parks to explore, not to mention the miles of sandy beaches along the Atlantic Coast. If sports are your thing, you'll find plenty of teams to root for, including the Atlanta Falcons, the University of Georgia Bulldogs, and the Atlanta Braves. The cultural scene is steeped in history and tradition: Pat Conroy, Ray Charles, and Gladys Knight are just a few notable natives.

Georgia attracts thousands of new residents each year, and if you'll soon be one of them, deciding where you want to live can be overwhelming. If you're a current resident who's looking for a change of pace, narrowing down your choices may be somewhat easier. To save you some time and stress, the CreditDonkey team has put together a list of the best cities to live in Georgia.

Study Methodology

We based our rankings on the following:

  1. Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime
  2. Commute Time
  3. Income
  4. Residents Who Attended Some College
  5. Restaurants Per Capita

Finding a safe place to call home is of utmost importance, particularly for families. For each city in our rankings, we looked at the odds of becoming a victim of a violent crime. All of the cities on our list are well below the average crime rate and several are among the safest in the state.

No one wants to deal with heavy traffic going to or from work, and that's why we factored in average commute times when compiling our rankings. Many of the cities in our study are close to the Atlanta metro area, but commute times still come in at under 35 minutes.

We also looked at the average incomes and educational attainment for each city on our list. Specifically, we considered what percentage of residents attended some college to see what, if any, impact it had on incomes.

Finally, we calculated the number of restaurants per capita for each city. On a town-by-town basis, we found choices ranging from high-end international cuisine to down home southern favorites.

10 Best Cities to Live in Georgia

10. Snellville

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 555
  • Commute Time: 32.3 minutes
  • Income: $62,537
  • Residents Who Attended Some College, No Degree: 24.5%
  • Restaurants: 1 per 268 inhabitants

Snellville is a small town located approximately 20 miles east of Atlanta and 45 miles west of Athens. Originally founded as a trading post for area farmers, today Snellville is a busy commercial center. Resident incomes average just over $60,000, and violent crime is a rare occurrence, making it an ideal choice if you're looking for a quiet spot to settle down.

Did You Know: Nearby Stone Mountain is home to the largest exposed granite dome in the U.S., which features carvings of Confederate leaders Stonewall Jackson, Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee.

9. Conyers

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 234
  • Commute Time: 28.8 minutes
  • Income: $41,542
  • Residents Who Attended Some College, No Degree: 26.7%
  • Restaurants: 1 per 139 inhabitants

Approximately 30 minutes from Atlanta, Conyers is the smallest of the small towns on our list with a population of just over 15,000. Newer schools and higher teacher salaries have made Conyers an especially desirable location for young families. Despites its small size, there are more than 100 restaurants to choose from. Crime here is low and the average commute is just under 30 minutes.

Did You Know: The Georgia International Horse Park was the setting for all the equestrian events in the 1996 summer Olympics.

8. Peachtree City

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 2,342
  • Commute Time: 28.6 minutes
  • Income: $91,349
  • Residents Who Attended Some College, No Degree: 22.1%
  • Restaurants: 1 per 428 inhabitants

Peachtree City earns the distinction of being the safest city on our list, with the odds of becoming the victim of a violent crime 1 in over 2,300. Located approximately 35 minutes south of Atlanta, Peachtree City originally got its start in the 1950s as a planned development. Today, the city is a major economic center in its own right, thanks to its booming manufacturing industry. Average incomes approach the six-figure range and commute times are reasonable.

Did You Know: Several television shows, including Drop Dead Diva and The Walking Dead, have filmed scenes in and around Peachtree City.

7. Kennesaw

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 1,017
  • Commute Time: 30.9 minutes
  • Income: $62,111
  • Residents Who Attended Some College, No Degree: 24.9%
  • Restaurants: 1 per 323 inhabitants

Located just north of Atlanta and Marietta, Kennesaw is another hotspot for young families. The town has one of the lowest crime rates of any city on our list, which is often attributed to the passage of a 1982 ordinance that requires every household to own at least one registered firearm. Average incomes are above the $60,000 mark and there are nearly 100 restaurants to choose from, including the locally famous Big Shanty Smokehouse.

Did You Know: Originally named "Big Shanty," Kennesaw served as a supply base for General Sherman's troops during the Civil War.

6. Fayetteville

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 652
  • Commute Time: 33.1 minutes
  • Income: $64,632
  • Residents Who Attended Some College, No Degree: 20.7%
  • Restaurants: 1 per 205 inhabitants

Another small town, Fayetteville is situated approximately 22 miles south of Atlanta and 10 miles northeast of Peachtree City. While the average commute time is a little longer at just over 33 minutes, crime rates are low and incomes average well over $60,000. There are plenty of families here but Fayetteville is also popular among retirees. The city was named one of the Top 25 Suburbs for Retirees by Forbes magazine in 2011.

Did You Know: Fayetteville is named after General Lafayette, who led French troops in support of George Washington during the American Revolution.

5. Duluth

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 7881
  • Commute Time: 27.8 minutes
  • Income: $59,107
  • Residents Who Attended Some College, No Degree: 17.4%
    (Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 43.7%)
  • Restaurants: 1 per 184 inhabitants

Close to both Alpharetta and Roswell, Duluth is home to nearly 30,000 residents. Originally a Cherokee Indian territory, the town's early roots formed in the 1870s during the railroad expansion. Today, major employers in the area include tech companies NCR and Cisco Systems. Duluth's restaurant scene offers an eclectic mix of international flair and old-fashioned tastes, with more than 150 dining spots.

Did You Know: One of the biggest attractions is the nearby Arena at Gwinnett Center, which hosts concerts, conferences, and sporting events, including the all-female Legends Football League.

4. Suwanee

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 723
  • Commute Time: 31.8 minutes
  • Income: $85,401
  • Residents Who Attended Some College, No Degree: 18.9%
    (Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 53.2%)
  • Restaurants: 1 per 155 inhabitants

Just minutes away from Duluth, Suwanee has undergone many transformations over the years. From a Shawnee Indian settlement to a busy railroad depot to a small agricultural community, the town has evolved into a haven for families largely due to its low crime rate and higher incomes. Since the 1970s, the population has swelled from just over 600 to more than 16,000, and that trend is expected to continue.

Did You Know: Until 2001, Suwanee was home to the practice facility of the Atlanta Falcons.

3. Pooler

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 735
  • Commute Time: 22.1 minutes
  • Income: $72,518
  • Residents Who Attended Some College, No Degree: 24.6%
  • Restaurants: 1 per 412 inhabitants

The only city on our list not close to the Atlanta metro area, Pooler is situated just north of Savannah. Commute times are among the shortest of any city on our list, clocking in at just over 22 minutes on average. Incomes gravitate towards the higher end of the scale, and the incidence of violent crime is relatively low. Major nearby attractions include the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge and the Savannah historic district.

Did You Know: Pooler is home to the Mighty Eight Air Force Museum, which chronicles the history of the World War II-era Eighth Air Force Division.

2. Alpharetta

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 1429
  • Commute Time: 25.3 minutes
  • Income: $91,991
  • Residents Who Attended Some College, No Degree: 15.8%
    (Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 63.1%)
  • Restaurants: 1 per 212 inhabitants

The most populous city on our list, Alpharetta is an up-and-coming suburb just north of Atlanta. Thanks to its close proximity to the metro area and extremely low crime rates, Alpharetta is considered an ideal spot for families and young professionals alike. The city is also the most affluent community on our list, with average incomes topping $91,000. The economy is heavily focused around the tech and telecommunications industries, and prominent employers include IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Verizon.

Did You Know: Alpharetta has received numerous distinctions from Forbes magazine, which include being voted one of America's Friendliest Towns and one of America's Best Places to Move.

1. Cartersville

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 392
  • Commute Time: 21.1 minutes
  • Income: $45,280
  • Residents Who Attended Some College, No Degree: 22.6%
  • Restaurants: 1 per 198.1 inhabitants

Located just on the northwestern fringe of Atlanta, Cartersville is our choice for the best city to live in Georgia for several reasons. The crime rate here is relatively low, and average incomes are healthy at just over $45,000. The average commute time here is the shortest of any of the ten cities we studied, and restaurants are plentiful. With a population of just under 20,000, Cartersville is bursting with small-town charm but is still convenient to larger to cities like Marietta and Alpharetta.

Did You Know: Young Brothers Pharmacy in downtown Cartersville features the oldest outdoor Coca-Cola advertisement, which dates back to 1894.

When it's time to get a move on, deciding where to go can be the biggest hurdle. Whether you're looking to escape the harsh northern winters or just seeking a slower pace, Georgia is the place to be. By including such a diverse blend of communities in our rankings, we hope to highlight the best of what the state has to offer.

Data Sources:

  • U.S. Census Bureau, Population Estimates
  • FBI, Uniform Crime Reports
  • U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey
  • U.S. Census Bureau, Economic Census

Rebecca Lake is a journalist at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and reviews website. Write to Rebecca Lake at Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

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Comments about Study: Best Cities to Live in Georgia
  • Kathy Cannon from Georgia
    on November 2015 said:

    Cartersville is not really convenient to Alpharetta because you can't drive straight over - you have to go down I-75, catch the I-285 loop, then back north again to Alpharetta. We're actually more convenient to Chattanooga, about 65-70 miles north up I-75, with relatively little traffic. The newest thing around here is the building of Lake Point Sports.

  • Tony H. from Georgia
    on November 2015 said:

    I'm from Duluth and I'm not sure where you are getting the numbers from as there aren't anywhere close to the amount of restaurants you quoted. The city saw it's glory days in the 80s, 90s and early 2000s but now it's controlled by Koreans. There are 7-8 stores in downtown Duluth that are a revolving door of businesses moving in and out and the city tries to call the city "historical" which most people laugh at as there's nothing historical about it. The city also thinks it's àn arts city which is laughable as it's just a group of middle age housewives that think they can paint.

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