With the season of tassel-tossing just around the corner, a new analysis has emerged that again casts Atlanta in a favorable light as a destination for younger Americans—especially those who prefer living in major urban centers.

ApartmentAdvisor, a national apartment search database, slotted Atlanta in the top five for its 2023 list of “Best Cities for College Grads”—a ranking of the country’s 84 largest cities.  

Relative affordability, abundant nightlife, a healthy economy, and a robust creative scene all worked in the ATL’s favor.

The city landed at No. 4, between Seattle and Salt Lake City, respectively. With its cheap rents, large postgrad population, scant traffic, and abundant breweries, Madison, Wisconsin took the top slot.

ApartmentAdvisor scored each city on economic indicators such as average salaries, employment rates, and rent prices. Other metrics generally important to fresh-faced grads—access to recreation and nightlife, size of each city’s young adult population, and ease of mobility—were also factored in. (Atlanta’s overall “Desirability Score” of 28 was good for No. 10.)

Analysts found that Atlanta has “the lowest cost of living of any big city” on the list, alongside “a relatively high individual median income,” aided by the presence of 16 Fortune 500 headquarters. A booming TV and film industry and overall economy also make the city “a mecca for creatives,” as ApartmentAdvisor put it.


The high ranking follows Atlanta’s eye-popping 2022 winning streak for positive—if sometimes questionable—city rankings.

Most famously, Money magazine’s October issue declared the city proper “the Best Place to Live in the U.S.”, citing Atlanta’s “booming jobs market and eye on equality,” among other factors.

A poll in April last year among 175 organizations in 23 countries determined ATL to be the top target for global real estate investment in the U.S. British publication The Economist declared Atlanta the “most livable” city in the United States in August. A couple of weeks after that, a CommercialCafe analysis found Atlanta to be the country’s best city for young adults, or Generation Z. And in December, the National Association of Realtors anointed Atlanta the “top real estate market to watch in 2023 and beyond” of 179 studied.

The winning streak continues despite a ballooning cost of living in the region—and home prices that have shot through the roof across metro Atlanta.

Brett Barnhill/Shutterstock

This week, alongside Washington D.C., metro Atlanta is the only place to rank in ApartmentAdvisor’s top 10 that also stacks up among the top 10 U.S. metros for population. Their best destinations for 2023 college grads are as follows: 

  1. Madison
  2. Minneapolis
  3. Seattle
  4. Atlanta
  5. Salt Lake City
  6. Pittsburgh
  7. Denver
  8. Austin
  9. Washington
  10. St. Louis


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