A recent deep dive into rental applications suggests the City of Atlanta has become a top 10 destination for U.S. renters on the move, from both nearby suburbs and far-flung cities.

Researchers with STORAGECafé, an online service for storage spaces, pored over 3.4 million rental applications to get a sense of where American renters who opted to change places were coming from, or going to, in 2021.

The study found Atlanta to be the No. 7 “hotspot” for luring new renters, as ranked according to net migration as a proportion of the city’s population overall.

In simpler terms, Atlanta saw 1.8 people moving into city limits for every renter who went elsewhere last year.

In STORAGECafé’s top 10 ranking of renter magnets, Atlanta joined Sunbelt suburbs—the top two cities were both in suburban Dallas­—and cold-weather places that have attracted renters from bigger, pricier cites nearby, such as Boulder and Jersey City.

Drilling deeper into the local data, analysts found that Marietta residents constituted the largest number of inbound renters to Atlanta, followed by Decatur and Smyrna, according to STORAGECafé reps.

Interestingly, though, almost half of Atlanta apartment seekers (46 percent) were from another state, with the largest share of those being from New York, Chicago, and Charlotte. (Reps noted that New Yorkers and Chicagoans could expect significantly more bang for the rental buck—32 percent and 31 percent increases in living space, respectively—by uprooting to Atlanta.)

Those three major cities were also the top places for new City of Atlanta arrivals in 2020, according to a similar study of rental applications last year. 

The majority of all new arrivals in Atlanta were young professionals—about half of them millennials, and 28 percent GenZers, according to the analysis. 

The skyline of Midtown and downtown Atlanta, as seen from over Buckhead, approximately 15 years ago. Shutterstock

On the flipside, the most popular destination for renters leaving the ATL was Smyrna, followed by Stockbridge and Sandy Springs. Most locals headed out of state were aiming for Chicago, Washington D.C., and Denver, the study found.

The counterpoint to all this growth talk could be a recent AJC article pertaining to U.S. Census Bureau data suggesting Fulton and DeKalb counties had actually lost population for the first time in a decade in 2021, as more suburban counties (especially Forsyth) watched resident counts swell.

That article makes no mention of growth trends with the City of Atlanta itself, however.

Overall, STORAGECafé found that Georgia has five cities in the top 100 “renter havens” across the U.S., with the others being Augusta (No. 26), Sandy Springs (32), Savannah (49), and Macon (99).

Atlanta cracks top 5 metros for most development over past decade (Urbanize Atlanta)