In New York it’s easy to get around without a car. In Atlanta it isn’t as easy to go car-free because of sprawl and fewer walkable neighborhoods that provide the amenities needed for daily life. However, it is absolutely doable if you choose where you live and where you work carefully. To get started with your relocation or move, here are some of Atlanta’s top neighborhoods to check out that are great to live in if you don’t have a car.
Livability Score: 78
Rail Line: (All, requires bus)
The Poncey-Highland neighborhood is conveniently near downtown and Midtown Atlanta with a mix of new and historic housing options. Publix grocery store, Jimmy Carter Presidential Library, many restaurants, bike trails (including the BeltLine), coffee shops, video rental store and frequent buses on Ponce de Leon Avenue and North Highland Avenue are highlights of this area. Choose from bus routes 2, 6, 102 and 816 to get to and from the neighborhood, and to the North Avenue MARTA station, Inman Park/Reynoldstown MARTA station, Edgewood/Candler Park MARTA station, Virginia-Highland, Emory University, Ponce City Market and Little 5 Points.
Brookhaven has single-family homes, condos and apartments near the Brookhaven MARTA station. Walk to Kroger, Walgreens, parks and restaurants along with a weekly farmers market. The Brookhaven Village is also just down the street from the station with Savi Provisions and additional restaurants and housing options. Trains offer quick commutes to jobs in Buckhead, Midtown and downtown Atlanta, and bus 110 departs from the station with service on Peachtree Road to many office buildings and Piedmont Hospital.
You’ll find many office buildings, condos and apartments in Buckhead near the Lenox and Buckhead MARTA stations. Retail and grocery stores are also in the area, including two malls, a Publix, Kroger, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. Nightlife can be found at hotel bars and in the Buckhead Village near the intersection of Roswell and Peachtree Roads. Bus 110 and bus 5 are the local bus routes for additional service to Midtown and Sandy Springs, including all destinations along Peachtree Road from Brookhaven to the High Museum of Art.
4. Sandy Springs
A small portion of Sandy Springs is next to the Dunwoody and Sandy Springs MARTA stations on the red line. Also called Perimeter Center, the area is anchored by Perimeter Mall and office buildings, so there are plenty of places to shop and work. Apartments, condos and single-family homes are in walking distance of these stations, and it is easy to get groceries at Publix, Target and Costco. If you prefer a suburban lifestyle that is still transit-friendly, Sandy Springs is a neighborhood to consider.
5. Downtown Decatur
Downtown Decatur (pictured above) is a charming, highly-walkable and family-friendly neighborhood that is east of downtown Atlanta and right above the Decatur MARTA station. If you want a small-town feel with big-city amenities, Decatur is for you. There are many restaurants, bars, a small Kroger, two neighborhood markets and a farmers market, plus banks, salons, boutique shops, library, recreation center and a CVS pharmacy. Housing options include new apartment buildings, apartments in old buildings, condos, townhomes and single-family houses.
6. Downtown Chamblee
Full of new developments, downtown Chamblee is an upcoming walkable area that is northeast of Atlanta. Apartments, condos, restaurants, parks, Walmart and Whole Foods are near the Chamblee MARTA station if you’re looking for a less urban place to live. For entertainment, take the train to Buckhead or Midtown for movies, malls and nightlife venues. Atlanta Chinatown is also near the station for Asian food and shopping.
7. Old Fourth Ward
Livability Score: 72
Rail Line: All (requires bus)
Close to downtown and the Beltline Eastside Trail, the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood is undergoing gentrification at a fast rate. Major landmarks include Ponce City Market, Historic Fourth Ward Park, WellStar Medical Center and some of Atlanta’s hippest bars and restaurants. A bike is helpful for getting around without a car, otherwise, bus 2, 3, 102, 809, 816 and 899 travel through the neighborhood and provide a short ride to destinations including the King Memorial MARTA station, North Avenue MARTA station, Piedmont Park and downtown Atlanta. Kroger and Publix are at the edge of the neighborhood for your grocery needs, though if you don’t live near either, it isn’t easy to walk to get food.
Built in the shadow of a cotton mill, Cabbagetown is a historic neighborhood with the Krog Street Tunnel and the popular Chomp and Stomp chili and bluegrass festival. It isn’t the easiest neighborhood to walk to from MARTA rail, but bus 21 and 107 provide additional service via Memorial Drive. For food, enjoy a few neighborhood restaurants and the historic Little’s Food Store. Or walk or bike to the nearby Grant Park Market and the Publix in Reynoldstown. The Beltline Eastside Trail travels through the neighborhood as another perk for easy access to Inman Park and Old Fourth Ward.
Livability Score: 71
Rail Lines: All (requires bus)
Virginia-Highland is a former streetcar neighborhood with many restaurants, bars, everyday amenities (banks, CVS, hardware store, post office) nightlife venues and four nearby grocery stores: Kroger, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Publix. Piedmont Park and the BeltLine are also nearby for recreation or bike commuting, and while the neighborhood isn’t very convenient to a train station, the neighborhood has five bus routes: 2, 6, 36, 102 and 816. These routes provide convenient access to all rails lines as well as downtown Atlanta, Emory University, Little 5 Points, Midtown, Candler Park and Inman Park.
9. Inman Park
Next to the Inman Park/Reynoldstown MARTA station and the BeltLine Eastside Trail, the historic Inman Park neighborhood has easy access to MARTA trains. The housing in the area has gotten quite expensive, but there is a variety of apartments, condos and single-family homes, including Victorian mansions along tree-lined streets. Trendy restaurants can be found throughout the area, but grocery stores are harder to walk to. The nearby Carter Center parking lot has a farmers market, Savi Provisions offers basics in the village and Krog Street Market has additional grocery offerings. Another perk is Little 5 Points, which is just down the street, where you can shop, eat and attend a concert or theater performance.
Midtown is one of the most walkable areas in Atlanta with plenty of restaurants, museums and nightlife options just steps away from three MARTA stations (North Avenue, Midtown and Arts Center). The housing can be more expensive here than other parts of the city and is better for singles and couples (less so families), hence a lower livability score despite the ease of living here without a car. There are still some affordable apartments in the residential neighborhood south of Piedmont Park, or choose from luxury apartments and condos that are more centrally-located. Purchase groceries at Trader Joe’s, Publix, Whole Foods and Savi Provisions. Midtown is a very urban area, so always use caution at night, especially south of 7th Street.
Last updated April 2020