It’s more expensive to live in Atlanta these days

Atlanta isn’t as cheap as it once was.

Affordability used to be the city's Sun Belt calling card, an attractive economic development lure for relocating businesses and job seekers.

The Atlanta Regional Commission, though, recently reported that the cost of living here is just about average compared to the nation’s 270 metropolitan areas. Atlanta is no less or more expensive than the average American city.

A decade ago, metro Atlanta was 4.4 percent cheaper than the urban average. No more.

“The cost of living is increasing,” said Mike Carnathan, who manages the commission’s research and analytics division. “That’s something we need to keep tracking of, moving forward, because that was one of the main narratives for attracting growth here over the past 25 years or so.”

The ARC threw a bunch of expenses – groceries, housing, utilities, transportation, health care and miscellaneous goods and services – into a blender to come up with the cost of living index. A score of 100 is average. Atlanta came in at 99.9.

It could be worse: New York City's cost of living index is 227.4 Somebody making $50,000 in Atlanta would need $114,000 in the Big Apple to live a commensurate lifestyle. But, take heart: Atlanta is only the 15th most expensive city among the top 25 largest metro areas.

The surge in housing and transportation costs largely explains Atlanta’s rising cost of living. Transportation – the cost of time-wasting congestion, mainly — is five percent more expensive versus the average American city.