Article Overview: Pros & Cons of Living in Georgia
Thinking about moving to Georgia? As a lifelong Georgia resident of 30+ years I can say there’s a lot to love about the good old Peach State.
I mean, who couldn’t use a little southern charm in their lives?
Georgia is an incredibly diverse state in terms of both scenery and population. Did you know that Georgia is home to some of the most beautiful barrier islands in the world? Or that it’s home to the oldest mountain range in the world?
Now I must say, it not all sunshine and cobbler in the Peach State. There’s also some major downsides worth considering before moving to Georgia.
It wasn’t until I moved out of Georgia a few years ago (for work) that I realized the full extent of the pros and cons of living in Georgia. While I’m confident there’s a local city (or town) for just about everyone, it’s worth considering whether living in Georgia is right for you.
And that’s where I come in. Read on for the pros and cons of living in Georgia. Please keep in mind this is my personal list based on first hand experience, not everyone will feel that same way (and that’s perfectly fine).
Pros & Cons of Living in Georgia
First, the perks of moving to Georgia
1. Hello, Sunshine! Georgia is Part of the Sun Belt
If you’re looking for sunshine, moving to Georgia should be high on your list. Each year Georgia sees an average of 215 days of partial sun and 110 days of full sun. That means that sunshine will become a part of your daily life in Georgia (well, every two out of every three days).
I didn’t realize what a perk this was until I moved out. Clearly I took for granted the copious amounts of sunshine I was privy to until I moved to a state where daily sunshine was nothing short of a foreign concept (shout-out to the Pacific Northwest).
But constant sunshine doesn’t always mean clear skies — Georgia definitely gets its fair share of rain. In fact, Georgia is the seventh wettest state in America receiving over 50 inches of rain each year!
The good news is that, rather than the rain settling in for days at a time, storms come and go quickly – typically within an hour or two. Sometimes they come with some incredible suddenness and fury in what we like to call a “baptist downpour.”
All this to say, if you like sunshine, occasional rain storms and the sound of roaring thunder, living in Georgia might be right for you!
2. Hate Winters? You’ll Love Living in Georgia
So my brother moved away from Georgia (to Maine) a few years ago for a new gig. Let me tell you, after his first winter he fully realized how good he had it living in Georgia his whole life.
Winters in Georgia are quite mild, with average winter highs in the low 50s and lows hovering just above freezing (about 33 degrees or so).
While the humidity does add to the “bone chill” effect, overall it’s a great place to be in the US for winter.
For those thinking about moving to Georgia for retirement, the mild winter climate is quite the draw. There are great retirement communities here for the “grey hairs” as my grandmother calls them.
In fact, my own sweet grandmother (she goes by Gram) retired in Georgia from upstate New York in an effort to escape harsh winters.
3. The Locals are (Very) Friendly
I’m happy to report that Southern hospitality is alive and well in the Peach State. People in Georgia are genuinely friendly. Every daily errand is met with a friendly hello where folks ask about your well being.
The best part? It’s not uncommon for folks to ask follow-up questions the next time they see you. Anyone moving to Georgia from a big city may be shocked by this, but it’s true.
Georgia is not the kind of place to snub someone who waves to you (which seems to be sport in the Pacific Northwest). Friendly greetings are a way of life down south and few states are more famous for hospitality than Georgia.
Folks are prone to strike up conversations with strangers just about everywhere so if you can’t stand small talk (looking at my dear wife on this one) then moving to Georgia may be a bit outside of your comfort zone. Or perhaps that has something to do with the in-laws living in Georgia? I can’t tell.
And while the locals here sure are friendly, read on to hear about the con side of the friendly locals.
4. Moving to Georgia for Retirement? You’re Not the Only One
Moving to Georgia for retirement has become quite the trend and it’s not hard to see why. Georgia is considered one of the best states for retirement with high affordability and warm weather being the top selling points for retirees.
Another consideration for folks dreaming of retirement in Georgia is the dearth of natural & climate related disasters.
Coastal Georgia folks have to be weary of hurricanes and central Georgia folks have to watch the skies for tornadoes from time to time, but overall Georgia is considered relatively safe from extreme weather events.
5. Georgia is a Diverse State
According to the Census Bureau, Georgia is the ninth most ethnically and racially diverse state in the US. Living in Georgia my whole life I was oblivious to the lack of diversity that exists in so many of the other states.
Folks not from Georgia might be surprised to know that Georgia is home to third highest African American/black population with nearly one out of every three residents in Georgia identifying as black.
The second largest minority group in Georgia is Hispanic with a growing community of over 1 million residents.
My personal experience with this growing up was great. It was not unusual to see someone of any race in the grocery store or out and about town.
That being said, the state’s record is far from peachy clean on race (we’ll cover that in the cons).
Interested in Living in Atlanta? Check out: 15 Honest Pros & Cons of Living in Atlanta
6. There Is a Wild Amount of Outdoor Recreation Opportunities in Georgia
Is access to nature an important factor for you in moving to Georgia? Chalk this as one of the top pros of living in Georgia.
While Georgia doesn’t make a lot of lists of the top outdoor destinations in the country, there is a surprising amount of outdoor recreation opportunities here. Starting at the coast you’ve got 100 miles of coastline with white sand beaches and 14 barrier islands, like the popular Tybee, Cumberland, & Jekyll.
Georgia is home to 10 national park sites, nearly a million acres of national forest, 53 state parks, just under 70,000 miles of river (one of which is designated as Wild & Scenic), and is the starting point of the famous Appalachian Trail.
Hiking is probably the most popular outdoor activity in Georgia but just about everything is possible from surfing to rock climbing depending on where you live.
7. The Cost of Living is Cheaper in Georgia
If you’re looking to save a buck by moving to Georgia you’re in luck. As of the writing of this article Georgia ranks as the 6th lowest cost of living in the United States.
For folks considering retiring in Georgia, the low cost of living is a big selling point. And, if the latest inflation numbers have you concerned about how far your money might go then Georgia could be the spot for you.
Only Iowa, Kansas, Alabama, Oklahoma, and Mississippi have lower costs of living than Georgia.
8. The Food Alone is Worth Moving to Georgia
Hometown of Paula Deen and Alton Brown, the sumptuous cuisine of Georgia is world renowned. Whether it’s just your neighbor bringing over a piping hot, homemade pecan pie or a stop at the highfalutin, world-renowned Bacchanalia, there is amazing food for everyone in Georgia.
While the state is most famous for its “Ps” – peaches, pecans, & peanuts, as well as its buttery, deep fried foods, the food scene here is expansive and exploding.
Forbes recently ranked four Georgia restaurants among the finest establishments in the world.
9. Sports Are a Major League Part of Living in Georgia
Do enthusiastic sports fans factor into your decision whether or not to call Georgia home? Things just got a bit sweeter for you. Georgia is home to some of the most energized sports fans in the country.
Living in Georgia for most of my life I often heard the phrase, “football is religion in the south”. This idiom is especially true in Georgia. While Sunday may be for the lord here, Saturday is for the state’s other religion, football, especially of the college variety where the Georgia Bulldogs reign supreme.
Recently the Atlanta Braves won the world series and the Georgia Bulldogs won the College Football National Championship in 2021.
Here’s a breakdown of the top sports teams in Georgia:
- NFL – Atlanta Falcons
- NBA – Atlanta Hawks
- WNBA – Atlanta Dream
- MLB – Atlanta Braves
- MLS – Atlanta United FC
- NCAAF – Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Georgia Southern Eagles
10. Georgia is Home to Savannah, the Most Beautiful City in the South
Ok, according to Southern Living Savannah is the second most beautiful city in the south but that sounds like a little South Carolina bias to me. In all seriousness Savannah is a gorgeous town full of sweet smelling magnolias, delicious seafood, and that famous southern charm.
If you’re considering moving to Georgia and looking for an authentic southern experience, look no further. Fans of the movie Forrest Gump will recognize Savannah as the setting of Forrest’s famous bench.
Savannah is dripping with Spanish moss and smothered in old world appeal. The city’s 22 squares each have their own character complete with live oaks, fountains, and lined with stunning homes.
Cons of Living in Georgia
1. Bugs & Critters Are An Outsized Part of Living in Georgia
Growing up the saying went, “we’re all brave until you realize the cockroach has wings”. Even living in Georgia above the famous “gnat line” (draw a line on the map from Macon to Augusta), the bugs are very much a concern.
If you grew up on the east coast then perhaps seeing insects in your house every day is normal for you as well. But for those sweet summer children of the west coast this could come as a real shock. Georgia routinely ranks among the top 5 worst cities to live in America for bugs.
The most common critters I’d see in my house on a near daily basis were spiders, cockroaches (especially bad during the changing of the hot/cold seasons), and ants. But they weren’t the only ones.
Our Japanese neighbor once came over and asked for my help with something that she seemed to be pretty worked up about but couldn’t communicate what exactly it was. I followed her into her kitchen where she pointed to a medium size snake coiled around a wire shelving unit.
What was an exciting day for me (what young boy doesn’t love an opportunity to handle a reptile?) was a traumatizing one for her.
2. The People Are Friendly, But Not Accepting
This con of living in Georgia is certain to ruffle some falcon feathers, but here’s the deal. Growing up in Georgia I took for granted how genuinely friendly people were until I moved to the pacific northwest for a few years (for work).
Waving to someone on the streets of Portland, Oregon seemed to be considered an act of lunacy rather than a kindhearted gesture.
What I found however, is that folks up in the Pacific Northwest were actually far more accepting of who a person was then my kin from Georgia. People who fall into any sort of minority demographic whether it be gay, not christian, immigrant, etc are far more welcomed as a member of the community in the northwest.
In Georgia you might get a friendly wave or a genuine invitation to “come on over for dinner”, but if it turns out you’re different in any sort of meaningful way that doesn’t jive with the accepted local norms, expect a healthy dose of judgement followed by a round of gossip.
3. Allergies in Georgia Are an Ordeal (Especially Pollen).
The feared yellow haze and accompanying seasonal allergies is one of the absolute worst parts of living in Georgia. Every year when the trees start leafing out in spring, the anxiety of when it will strike grows.
The attack we’re all worried about comes in the form of pine pollen, mustard yellow in color, that literally blankets cars and driveways in a measurable coat. In other states snowfall is a common occurrence. If you’re thinking about moving to Georgia, “pollen fall” is a guarantee.
Growing up I thought having a runny nose year round was just normal. After moving to the west coast I realized it didn’t have to be that way. Not all parts of Georgia are affected equally with the northern & southern parts of the state being less affected than the middle.
The allergens don’t stop at the pine pollen, however, with ragweed & grass pollen being top contributors as well.
Long story short, if you’re sensitive to seasonal allergies moving to Georgia may be a bit sneezy for you.
4. The Heat & Humidity of Summer Make Living in Georgia a Sticky Situation
I liken getting off the plane at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in summer to having a heavy, hot, wet blanket thrown over the top of you. If you’re “not from around here” it can hit you like a ton of bricks.
Without air conditioning this part of the country would be downright uninhabitable for modern humans. I’ve heard folks in the northwest complain about humidity, and sure, on paper there’s an argument to be made.
But not all humidity is created equal and the humidity of the south is an entirely different animal. It’s something you’ve got to experience for yourself to truly appreciate.
Any sort of physical exertion during the summer months requires a subsequent shower and outfit change due to the liters of sweat that your body emits out in the heat.
Average summer temperatures in Georgia soar into the 90s with the humidity making it feel like the surface of Mars.
5. The Educational System in Georgia is Lacking
While Georgia has actually risen in recent years in the education system rankings by state, it still has a long way to go. Living in Georgia as a school aged boy, my parents prioritized private education due to the lack of good public options available around us in Georgia.
My dad was actually a public school teacher in Georgia for 25 years and was sadly very glad to retire given the state of public education in Georgia.
When I was in school in the 90s and early 2000s, Georgia along with South Carolina typically fought it out for which state could win the title of worst in the country for education.
These days Georgia finds itself ranked closer to 14th worst for public schools in America.
That being said, Georgia is home to the HOPE scholarship which pays up to 90% of tuition fees for students who qualify with a minimum 3.0 GPA (grade point average). As a HOPE scholarship myself, I can personally attest to the positive difference it made for me and my family.
6. Structural Racism & Discrimination Are Still a Problem in Georgia
Finally we’ll address the old, ugly practices of structural racism and discrimination that sadly still exist and are worth noting if you’re thinking about living in Georgia. While much progress has been made, there’s still much progress to be made.
By and large I’d say racism and discrimination in Georgia mostly exist on the subconscious level. What I mean by that is you’re less likely to hear overtly racist statements and see blatantly racist acts and more likely to be discriminated against in other ways such as not being hired or police profiling.
How much and what kind of discrimination you might experience in Georgia depends largely on where you live.
For a quick crash course in the challenges that still face the state I recommend reading this brief catch up from the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute: Telling the Unvarnished Truth About Georgia.
Map of Georgia
Pros & Cons of Living in Georgia
- Lots of sunshine
- Mild winters
- Friendly locals
- Great for retirement
- Lots of diversity
- Great outdoor recreation
- Inexpensive cost of living
- Delicious food
- Great enthusiasm for sports
- Savannah is beautiful
- Lots of bugs & critters
- Seasonal allergies
- Oppressive heat & humidity in summer
- People are not accepting
- Poor public education system
- Racism & discrimination
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