The suburbs of Atlanta call to all types of people looking to escape city life. Some people would prefer to live in the cities and towns that surround Atlanta to avoid all the hustle and bustle.
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 Saturday Night Science to determine which Atlanta ‘burbs need a little tender loving care – the sore thumbs of the Atlanta area if you will. Realistically, you can only expect some of 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.
Now don’t freak out.
What’s the worst suburb of Atlanta? Forest Park ranks as the worst suburb of Atlanta for 2023 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.
For more Georgia reading, check out:
The 10 Worst Atlanta Suburbs To Live For 2023
Median Income: $37,370 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.6% (6th highest)
Median Home Value: $82,400 (lowest)
More on Forest Park:
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 3rd 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.
Median Income: $33,278 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.0% (5th highest)
Median Home Value: $102,500 (3rd lowest)
More on Lithonia:
Welcome to Lithonia. Home to KMart, Big Lots, and a lot of gas stations.
This city is 18.5 miles to Atlanta. Income levels here are the 2nd lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $33,278 a year, which only goes so far even on a shoestring budget.
But on the bright side, there are a lot of fast food joints in the area.
Median Income: $31,033 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.7% (27th highest)
Median Home Value: $94,600 (2nd lowest)
More on Jonesboro:
Back up the highway we go for the third worst Atlanta suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Jonesboro 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 dropout rate is poor compared to other Atlanta suburbs.
But at least there are lovely parks to bring the kids during the day.
Median Income: $48,266 (8th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.6% (7th highest)
Median Home Value: $123,300 (6th lowest)
More on Palmetto:
If you live in Palmetto, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 8th lowest Atlanta suburb for median household incomes.
Not only that, but this is the 7th worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Atlanta. Remember, we looked at 53 cities for this study.
Palmetto is about 21.2 miles to downtown.
Median Income: $70,075 (25th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.1% (2nd highest)
Median Home Value: $116,000 (4th lowest)
More on Morrow:
Morrow has the distinction of being a Atlanta suburb. Which means that’s about all it has going for it.
All snarkiness aside, Morrow has the 4th lowest home values in the metro Atlanta area, where the median price is $116,000. The median income is $138,182.
Morrow has an unemployment rate of 10.08% which ranks 2nd worst.
Median Income: $47,280 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 9.6% (4th highest)
Median Home Value: $161,900 (10th lowest)
More on Conyers:
Conyers has 17,101 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 17.48812351543943%.
Median Income: $48,643 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 10.1% (3rd highest)
Median Home Value: $164,200 (12th lowest)
More on Clarkston:
Ah, Clarkston. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around Atlanta.
It’s the place with the 3rd most out of work residents in the Atlanta metro area (10.06%).
Median Income: $43,554 (5th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 11.8% (highest)
Median Home Value: $244,200 (29th lowest)
More on College Park:
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 19th most uninsured people, 5th worst incomes, and has the highest unemployment rate (11.84%) in the entire Atlanta metro area.
Homes only cost $244,200 for a reason. That’s cheap for Atlanta standards.
Median Income: $50,371 (11th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.3% (8th highest)
Median Home Value: $177,500 (17th lowest)
More on East Point:
If you absolutely have to live near Atlanta, then East Point might be a place for you to consider as it’s only the 9th worst Atlanta suburb.
About 7.33% of residents are out of work.
Median Income: $58,900 (17th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.4% (3highest)
Median Home Value: $212,700 (24th lowest)
More on Lilburn:
Rounding out the ten worst Atlanta suburbs to call home is Lilburn.
Located 18.6 miles outside the city, Lilburns is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 3highest unemployment rate (4.4%), and poverty is far above the area average.
Methodology: Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Atlanta for 2023
To figure out how bad a Atlanta suburb is to live in, we only needed to know what kinds of things people like and then decide what suburbs have the least amount of those things.
It’s Saturday Night Science.
We threw a lot of criteria at this one to get the best, most complete results possible. Using the most recent American Community Survey data from 2017-2021, 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 dropouts
- High poverty
- High rate of uninsured families
We defined a suburb as any town within 30 miles of Atlanta.
We also limited the analysis to places with 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 looking at you, Forest Park.
We updated this article for 2023, which reflects our tenth time ranking the worst suburbs around Atlanta.
Summary: The areas around Atlanta where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2023
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
- Berkeley Lake
For more Georgia reading, check out:
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- Worst Places To Live In Georgia
Detailed List Of The Worst Atlanta Suburbs