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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 53 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.
What's the worst suburb of Atlanta? Lithonia ranks as the worst suburb of Atlanta for 2022 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.
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 2022
We'll get the ball rolling with Lithonia, the absolute worst place to live around Atlanta according to the data.
And in the world of worst rankings, Lithonia beat the competition pretty handily thanks to scoring in the bottom 15% in three major categories. Income is the 2nd worst in the Atlanta area, and to make matters worse, the city ranks 4th 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 Lithonia.
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.
Rank Last Year: 3 (Up 2)
Median Income: $29,537 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 11.0% (3rd highest)
Median Home Value: $111,000 (4th lowest)
More on Lithonia: Data
Welcome to Forest Park. Home to KMart, Big Lots, and a lot of gas stations.
This city is 10.5 miles to Atlanta. Income levels here are the 3rd lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $35,585 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.
Back up the highway we go for the third worst Atlanta suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Conyers 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.
If you live in Clarkston, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 6th lowest Atlanta suburb when it comes to residents making money.
Not only that, but this is the 4th worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Atlanta. Remember, we looked at 53 cities for this study.
Clarkston is about 10.9 miles to downtown.
Jonesboro has the distinction of being a Atlanta suburb. Which means that's about all it has going for it.
All snarkiness aside, Jonesboro has the 2nd lowest home values in the metro Atlanta area, where the median price is $80,700. To put that into perspective, in Avondale Estates, the median income is $135,579, which is the best in the area.
Jonesboro has an unemployment rate of 3.19% which ranks 46th worst.
Morrow has 7,061 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 5.859701992298678%.
Ah, Fairburn. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around Atlanta.
It's the place with the 14th most out of work residents in the Atlanta metro area (6.29%).
College Park is a city about 8.9 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. College Park has the 22nd most uninsured people, 4th worst incomes, and has the 2nd highest unemployment rate (11.88%) in the entire Atlanta metro area.
Homes only cost $199,200 for a reason. That's cheap for Atlanta standards.
If you absolutely have to live near Atlanta, then Palmetto might be a place for you to consider as it's only the 9th worst Atlanta suburb.
About 6.51% of residents are out of work.
Rounding out the ten worst Atlanta suburbs to call home is Austell.
Located 13.3 miles outside the city, Austells is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 8th highest unemployment rate (7.98%), and poverty is far above the area average.
Methodology: Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Atlanta for 2022
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 2016-2020, 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 53 suburbs to evaluate around Atlanta.
We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 53 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, Lithonia. 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.
Summary: The areas around Atlanta where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2022
Well there you have it -- the worst of the 'burbs surrounding Atlanta with Lithonia 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
- Berkeley Lake
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Detailed List Of The Worst Atlanta Suburbs