The 10 Worst Atlanta Suburbs For 2021


We used science and data to determine which ATL burbs are the real pits.

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Editor’s Note: This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out we updated this article for 2021. This is our seventh time ranking the worst suburbs around Atlanta.

Not everyone is cut out for city life. Some people would prefer to live in the cities and towns that surround Atlanta.

So the question arises, do the suburbs maintain a semblance of the larger-than-life appeal of their more famous neighbor?

Today, we'll use science and data to determine which Atlanta 'burbs need a little tender loving care - the sore thumbs of the Atlanta area if you will. Realistically, you can't expect all the suburbs to live up to Atlanta proper, although Avondale Estates certainly tries.

Of course, not all suburbs of Atlanta are created equally, which is precisely why we set out to find the best ones..

We examined the 52 biggest suburbs of Atlanta to find out the worst places to live. And while you won't necessarily find them on the worst places to live in georgia lists, these ten places are a little too far downwind of Atlanta in terms of quality of life.

Here are the 10 worst suburbs around Atlanta for 2021:

  1. Forest Park
  2. Jonesboro
  3. Lithonia
  4. Clarkston
  5. Conyers
  6. Palmetto
  7. Morrow
  8. Hapeville
  9. College Park
  10. Fairburn

What's the worst suburb of Atlanta? Forest Park ranks as the worst suburb of Atlanta for 2021 based on the most recent Census and FBI data.

Read on to see how we determined the places around Atlanta that need a pick-me-up. And remember, don't blame the messenger.

Or, if you're thinking of moving to elsewhere in georgia check out the best places in georgia overall or the worst.

And remember, there are some good places to live around Atlanta too.

Editor's Note: If you see a slight difference between the worst in state rankings and this suburb ranking, it's because of the methodology. We needed a way to include more places, so we eliminated crime and commute times as criteria for this analysis.

For more Georgia reading, check out:

The 10 Worst Atlanta Suburbs To Live For 2021

Forest Park, GA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

2
/10

Population: 19,723
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Income: $36,792 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.4% (3rd highest)
Median Home Value: $67,100 (lowest)
More on Forest Park:  Data | Photos

We'll get the ball rolling with Forest Park, the absolute worst place to live around Atlanta according to the data.

And in the world of worst rankings, Forest Park beat the competition pretty handily thanks to scoring in the bottom 15% in three major categories. Income is the 4th worst in the Atlanta area, and to make matters worse, the city ranks worst when it comes to home values.

But hey, at least it's cheap to live there. But there's a reason for that... it's Forest Park.

You won't feel bad about not having a great income for the area, there aren't a bunch of places to spend your money anyway.

Jonesboro, GA

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 4,771
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 1)
Median Income: $34,418 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.9% (8th highest)
Median Home Value: $80,400 (2nd lowest)
More on Jonesboro:  Data | Photos

Welcome to Jonesboro. Home to KMart, Big Lots, and a lot of gas stations.

This city is 17.2 miles to Atlanta. Income levels here are the 2nd lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $34,418 a year, which doesn't go a long ways even on a shoestring budget.

But on the bright side, there are a lot of fast food joints in the area.

Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 2,778
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 3)
Median Income: $32,670 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.7% (6th highest)
Median Home Value: $89,600 (3rd lowest)
More on Lithonia:  Data

Back up the highway we go for the third worst Atlanta suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Lithonia on here. While the cost of living is low, your entertainment and work options are limited. And that's an understatement.

In terms of numbers, it's in the worst 15% for insurance, and the adult high school drop out rate is poor compared to other Atlanta suburbs.

But at least there are nice parks to bring the kids during the day.

Clarkston, GA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

3
/10

Population: 12,750
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 1)
Median Income: $41,070 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.2% (highest)
Median Home Value: $122,900 (8th lowest)
More on Clarkston:  Data | Photos

If you live in Clarkston, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 5th lowest Atlanta suburb when it comes to residents making money.

Not only that, but this is the worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Atlanta. Remember, we looked at 52 cities for this study.

Clarkston is about 10.9 miles to downtown.

Conyers, GA

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 15,986
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 1)
Median Income: $44,367 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.3% (9th highest)
Median Home Value: $140,400 (14th lowest)
More on Conyers:  Data | Photos

Conyers has the distinction of being a Atlanta suburb. Which means that's about all it has going for it.

All snarkiness aside, Conyers has the 14th lowest home values in the metro Atlanta area, where the median price is $140,400. To put that into perspective, in Avondale Estates, the median income is $128,559, which is the best in the area.

Conyers has an unemployment rate of 7.28% which ranks 9th worst.

Palmetto, GA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 5,095
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 4)
Median Income: $47,019 (14th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.1% (2nd highest)
Median Home Value: $129,200 (10th lowest)
More on Palmetto:  Data | Photos

Palmetto has 5,095 residents that probably know it's a pretty crummy place to live when you look at the data. (Or, if you've ever been there, you don't need to look at the data.)

Incomes are towards the bottom and the poverty rate sits at 19.172932330827066%.

Morrow, GA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 6,965
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 1)
Median Income: $52,372 (17th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.2% (4th highest)
Median Home Value: $112,100 (7th lowest)
More on Morrow:  Data | Photos

Ah, Morrow. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around Atlanta.

It's the place with the 4th most out of work residents in the Atlanta metro area (9.16%).

Hapeville, GA

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 6,577
Rank Last Year: 19 (Up 11)
Median Income: $44,881 (10th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.2% (32nd highest)
Median Home Value: $97,900 (4th lowest)
More on Hapeville:  Data | Photos

Hapeville is a city about 7.1 miles from Atlanta, but Atlanta probably wishes it was further away. It ranks as the 8th worst burb for 2018.

You'd be hard pressed to find a worse place to live. Hapeville has the 5th most uninsured people, 10th worst incomes, and has the 32nd highest unemployment rate (4.17%) in the entire Atlanta metro area.

Homes only cost $97,900 for a reason. That's cheap for Atlanta standards.

College Park, GA

Overall SnackAbility

5
/10

Population: 14,501
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 3)
Median Income: $35,470 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.9% (13th highest)
Median Home Value: $183,700 (30th lowest)
More on College Park:  Data | Photos

If you absolutely have to live near Atlanta, then College Park might be a place for you to consider as it's only the 9th worst Atlanta suburb.

About 6.88% of residents are out of work.

Fairburn, GA

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility

4
/10

Population: 15,295
Rank Last Year: 9 (Down 1)
Median Income: $46,785 (13th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.1% (22nd highest)
Median Home Value: $140,600 (15th lowest)
More on Fairburn:  Data | Photos

Rounding out the ten worst Atlanta suburbs to call home is Fairburn.

Located 17.6 miles outside the city, Fairburns is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 22nd highest unemployment rate (5.06%), and poverty is far above the area average.

Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Atlanta for 2021

To figure out how bad a place is to live in, we only needed to know what kinds of things people like and then decide what cities have the least amount of those things.

We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using the most recent American Community Survey data from 2015-2019, this is the criteria we used:

  • High unemployment rate
  • Low median household incomes
  • Low population density (no things to do)
  • Low home values
  • A lot of high school drop outs
  • High poverty
  • High rate of uninsured families

FYI: We defined a suburb as being within 30 miles of Atlanta.

Additionally, we limited the analysis to places that have over 2,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 52 suburbs to evaluate around Atlanta.

We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 52 in each category, where 1 was the "worst".

Next, we averaged the rankings for each place to create a quality of life index.

And finally, we crowned the city with the worst quality of life index the "Worst Suburb near Atlanta." We're lookin' at you, Forest Park. You can download the data here.

Read on below to learn more about what it's like to live in the worst of the worst. Or skip to the end to see the list of all the suburbs ranked from worst to best.

The areas around Atlanta where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2021

Well there you have it -- the worst of the 'burbs surrounding Atlanta with Forest Park casting itself ahead of the pack.

As we mentioned earlier, the suburbs around Atlanta aren't all bad. Avondale Estates takes the cake as the best place to live around Atlanta.

  • Avondale Estates
  • Dunwoody
  • Decatur

For more Georgia reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Worst Atlanta Suburbs

Rank City Population Median Income Median Home Values
1 Forest Park 19,723 $36,792 $67,100
2 Jonesboro 4,771 $34,418 $80,400
3 Lithonia 2,778 $32,670 $89,600
4 Clarkston 12,750 $41,070 $122,900
5 Conyers 15,986 $44,367 $140,400
6 Palmetto 5,095 $47,019 $129,200
7 Morrow 6,965 $52,372 $112,100
8 Hapeville 6,577 $44,881 $97,900
9 College Park 14,501 $35,470 $183,700
10 Fairburn 15,295 $46,785 $140,600
11 Lawrenceville 29,719 $52,585 $171,600
12 East Point 34,957 $43,453 $139,800
13 Norcross 16,458 $58,236 $177,400
14 Doraville 10,228 $51,647 $177,600
15 Union City 21,396 $45,324 $132,300
16 Riverdale 15,291 $50,145 $101,300
17 Lovejoy 6,179 $45,488 $107,500
18 Chattahoochee Hills 2,872 $60,867 $226,800
19 Dallas 13,321 $43,209 $154,300
20 Lilburn 12,644 $58,151 $175,300
21 Douglasville 33,052 $58,560 $171,600
22 Austell 7,205 $53,551 $133,200
23 Stone Mountain 6,285 $44,245 $125,000
24 Villa Rica 15,392 $63,241 $162,800
25 Hampton 7,735 $63,726 $146,900
26 Stockbridge 29,089 $61,291 $180,700
27 Marietta 60,544 $57,452 $287,600
28 Chamblee 29,232 $61,797 $283,300
29 Mcdonough 24,852 $63,108 $164,100
30 Hiram 4,001 $73,819 $154,300
31 Holly Springs 12,509 $95,941 $268,900
32 Powder Springs 15,163 $69,807 $167,500
33 Acworth 22,534 $68,860 $182,900
34 Duluth 29,370 $71,220 $229,600
35 Fayetteville 17,586 $73,526 $224,100
36 Kennesaw 33,960 $70,930 $194,800
37 Smyrna 56,268 $76,444 $284,000
38 Snellville 19,778 $74,535 $169,600
39 Brookhaven 53,819 $92,604 $484,400
40 Peachtree Corners 43,057 $71,149 $344,600
41 Roswell 94,498 $99,726 $374,700
42 Woodstock 31,437 $76,191 $243,500
43 Tyrone 7,295 $103,929 $286,500
44 Suwanee 19,743 $90,436 $308,900
45 Grayson 3,989 $111,528 $311,700
46 Sandy Springs 107,072 $78,613 $471,800
47 Milton 38,759 $128,559 $541,000
48 Alpharetta 65,590 $113,802 $422,800
49 Johns Creek 83,999 $122,514 $400,100
50 Decatur 24,002 $106,088 $521,900
51 Dunwoody 49,371 $96,057 $432,900
52 Avondale Estates 3,144 $110,000 $371,400

How Is Your Town In ?