Atlanta, GA Rental Market

Renting Remains the Popular Choice in Atlanta, Despite Ownership Gaining Ground in the Eastern and Northwestern Areas

Renter-Owner Ratio Atlanta

As Atlanta offers some of the most affordable rents compared to cities of similar size, the renter lifestyle continues to be the logical choice for most residents of the Big Peach. The city has been favored by renters for decades – a look into historical U.S. Census data revealed that the homeowner-to-renter ratio in Atlanta at the end of 2016 was the same 45%-55% as in 2000.

However, the city’s population has seen a 9.4% increase since the turn of the millennium and this growth hasn’t been perfectly even, resulting in some seesawing of the owner- and renter population during these 17 years. A brief period of enthusiasm towards the final years of the housing bubble broke renter-domination for four consecutive years until the crisis hit. After 2009, though, the renter-owner ratio bounced back to the previous level almost instantly, and renters have claimed around 55% of the market ever since.

Atlanta is back to pre-bubble renter-owner ratio, but the neighborhoods have seen realignments

In spite of things being back to the way they were in 2000 at macro-level (renters dominating the city by a 10% margin), the internal distribution of the population has seen some changes along the way. To trace out these patterns we zoomed in a notch and first examined what the ratio of renter- and owner-occupied households looks like in the census tracts within Atlanta’s city boundaries.

Tap or hover your mouse over an area to see its renter-owner ratio recorded in 2016. Areas marked with orange have more than 50% of their populations living in rental homes. The neighborhoods marked with blue are owner-dominated.

Renting is the more popular lifestyle in southern and western suburbs, Greenbriar area adds most renters

Downtown and all but a few neighborhoods south and west of Atlanta’s core area are now renter-dominated. As single-family renting has become ever more popular since the turn of the millennium – and especially after many homes were foreclosed during the recession and purchased by investors –, the areas have further reinforced their status as renters’ hubs. By contrast, the vast majority of residents in the northern- and easternmost suburbs of Atlanta live in self-owned homes.

The renter population has seen the biggest increase in a larger tract in Southwestern Atlanta, encompassing Greenbriar, Princeton Lakes, Deerwood and parts of Ben Hill, where the 2016 data shows 5,172 more people living in rental homes compared to 2000. Home Park is second with more than 3,015 new renters added, while the area including Piedmont Heights and Lindridge – Martin Manor ranks third with 2,433 new renters.

Area2000 Renter Population2016 Renter PopulationRenter Population Change
Princeton Lakes, Ben Hill, Greenbriar 3,711 8,883 5,172
Home Park 1,076 4,091 3,015
Piedmont Heights, Lindridge - Martin Manor 2,636 5,069 2,433
Audobon Forest, Lynn Valley, Cascade Road 2,069 4,244 2,175
Niskey Lake, Kimberley Courts, Ralph Bunche862 2,961 2,099
Wilson Mill Meadows, Fairburn Mays, Wisteria Gardens 1,944 3,855 1,911
Collier Heights 1,836 3,712 1,876
Pine Hills 3,923 5,707 1,784
Midtown Atlanta 2,804 4,527 1,723
Glenrose Heights, Rosedale Heights, Orchard Knob 4,589 6,251 1,662

Renters gain majority in 9 tracts, but so do owners in 9 others

Above we’ve called attention to the fact that almost the entire southern half/southwestern quadrant of the city is now renter-dominated. The area is now a huge, almost continuous orange spot on the map, but in 2000 it would have been more checkered. By 2016, renters have outnumbered homeowners in a total of 9 census tracts in Atlanta, all of them found in either the southern, southwestern or western suburbs of the city. The balance tipped towards renters since 2000 in neighborhoods like Collier Heights, Wilson Mill Meadows, Fairburn Mays and Wisteria Gardens,  the western end of Sylvan Hills, the area right next to West End – covering the neighborhoods of Mozley ParkWestview, Cascade Road and Bush Mountain –, as well as a fairly large area encompassing almost the entire Southwest Atlanta neighborhood as well as Heritage Valley, Kings Forest, Adams Park and Venetian Hills.

Meanwhile, homeownership has also gained more ground, conquering some of the last renter-ruled “islands” at the traditionally owner-dominated northern and eastern perimeters, such as the small patch at the top of our map, north of Chastain Park, or the U-shaped spot covering parts of Edgewood and Kirkwood. The two tracts encompassing om Riverside, Bolton, Hills Park, Cross Creek and Fernleaf also form a blue patch that’s hard to miss, which joins the traditionally mainly owner-occupied northern suburbs of Buckhead as an extension. Other areas where owner-occupied households outnumbered renters since 2000 include Cabbagetown and Reynoldstown with a small part of Grant Park, the lower end of Virginia Highland and a smaller area covering parts of Dixie Hills and Penelope Neighbors.

Methodology — Who is RENTCafé and How Did We Compile the Data?
  • RENTCafé is a nationwide apartment search website that enables renters to easily find apartments and houses for rent throughout the United States.
  • The population data used in this research was provided by the U.S. Census Bureau’s public databases (Population in Occupied Housing Units by Tenure).
  • In our study we have compared the number of people living in renter- and owner-occupied units in 2000 and 2016 in census tracts inside Atlanta’s city borders.
  • The population changes have been calculated using data from Census 2000 and the 2016 ACS Five-Year Estimates.
  • We used the 2000 and 2016 census tract Shape Files from Census Tiger Files to create the polygons for the interactive map. In order to counteract changes in the Census Bureau’s tracking methods during this period and obtain a comparable partitioning, we combined data from certain census tracts as needed.
  • The polygons along the perimeter have been cropped to match the city boundaries. In these cases, we analyzed partial data (fraction of the total, proportional to the surface area inside the city boundaries).

Fair use and redistribution

We encourage you and freely grant you permission to reuse, host, or repost the images in this article. When doing so, we only ask that you kindly attribute the authors by linking to or this page, so that your readers can learn more about this project, the research behind it and its methodology.

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About the author

Balazs Szekely

Balazs Szekely is a qualified journalist with extensive experience as a real estate writer for several Yardi publications. He has covered a wide range of housing issues and real estate news as a creative writer for RENTCafé. Balazs holds a B.S. in Journalism. You can connect with Balazs via email.

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