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. So without further ado…
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.
Here are the 10 worst suburbs around Atlanta for 2019:
- Palmetto (Photos)
- Forest Park (Photos)
- Jonesboro (Photos)
- Conyers (Photos)
- College Park (Photos)
- Clarkston (Photos)
- Union City (Photos)
- Riverdale (Photos)
- East Point (Photos)
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:
- 10 Best Places To Live In Georgia
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Georgia
- 10 Most Dangerous Places In Georgia
Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Atlanta for 2019
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 2013-2017, 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, Palmetto.
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.
We’ll get the ball rolling with Palmetto, the absolute worst place to live around Atlanta according to the data.
And in the world of worst rankings, Palmetto beat the competition pretty handily thanks to scoring in the bottom 15% in three major categories. Income is the 16th 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 Palmetto.
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.
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 4th lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $33,208 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 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 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 Conyers, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 10th lowest Atlanta suburb when it comes to residents making money.
Not only that, but this is the 10th worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Atlanta. Remember, we looked at 53 cities for this study.
Conyers is about 26.3 miles to downtown.
College Park has the distinction of being a Atlanta suburb. Which means that’s about all it has going for it.
All snarkiness aside, College Park has the 26th lowest home values in the metro Atlanta area, where the median price is $154,700. To put that into perspective, in Avondale Estates, the median income is $125,592, which is the best in the area.
College Park has an unemployment rate of 12.1% which ranks 6th worst.
Clarkston has 12,702 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 33.0%.
Ah, Union City. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around Atlanta.
It’s the place with the 5th most out of work residents in the Atlanta metro area (12.2%).
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 1)
Median Income: $30,673 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.6% (18th highest)
Median Home Value: $76,300 (2nd lowest)
More on Lithonia: Data
Lithonia is a city about 18.5 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. Lithonia has the 27th most uninsured people, 2nd worst incomes, and has the 18th highest unemployment rate (8.6%) in the entire Atlanta metro area.
Homes only cost $76,300 for a reason. That’s cheap for Atlanta standards.
If you absolutely have to live near Atlanta, then Riverdale might be a place for you to consider as it’s only the 9th worst Atlanta suburb.
About 13.2% of residents are out of work.
Rounding out the ten worst Atlanta suburbs to call home is East Point.
Located 6.9 miles outside the city, East Points is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 11th highest unemployment rate (10.8%), and poverty is far above the area average.
The areas around Atlanta where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2019
Well there you have it — the worst of the ‘burbs surrounding Atlanta with Palmetto 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
- Johns Creek
For more Georgia reading, check out:
- These Are The 10 Best Places To Retire In Georgia
- These Are The 10 Richest Cities In Georgia
- 10 Safest Places In Georgia
- 10 Worst Places To Live In Georgia
Detailed List Of The Worst Atlanta Suburbs