- Kennesaw ranks #1 as our best commuter town for Atlanta.
- The northwest suburbs dominate the list of top Atlanta commuter towns.
- Over one hour per day is spent commuting, adding up to over 13.5 days per year.
In the past months, we’ve looked at some of the best commuter towns in both Boston and Chicago. Using similar methods, we decided to look at Atlanta as well. Only about 2% of the residents in the Atlanta MSA commute using public transportation, meaning the vast majority drive.
Drivers from our 10 commuter towns spend on average 37.6 minutes on a one-way commute. While that’s likely on the low end for the whole region, it’s still 13.5 days per year of commuting. For some, that’s an easy price to pay for lower crime, better schools, and more affordable housing in a quieter neighborhood. Half of the entries on our list are northwest of downtown: Woodstock, Acworth, Kennesaw, Powder Springs, and Marietta.
We looked at average commuting times for residents that would reasonably be commuting to downtown Atlanta. To make the list as useful as possible, we’ve weighted the metrics to reflect the importance of commuting and home affordability with 40% and 30% respectively, with the remaining percentage split between crime and school ratings. Our goal is to identify the best overall commuter towns for those considering a move to or around the region.
Kennesaw: Best Commuter Town and Growing
Although Kennesaw wasn’t first in any of our individual metrics, its overall appeal across categories lead it to the top spot on our list with an average commute time of 35 minutes. It’s also on the more affordable end with a median home sale price of $163,200. The median home price of the Atlanta metropolitan statistical area is $184,200 by comparison. The affordability of this community is a leading factor for why Kennesaw is ranked first. The scores in both crime rate and school quality are in the middle of the cities we looked at.
Located northwest of Marietta, Kennesaw is farther away from Atlanta than Marietta, but remains more affordable. It’s also growing in many ways. Kennesaw State University has been steadily growing its enrollment, which currently sits at 35,000. The new $280 million Eastpark Village mixed-use development near downtown Kennesaw is set to offer 850 market rate and senior living units in addition to commercial and retail space.
Powder Springs: Most Affordable
Just south of Kennesaw is Powder Springs, our number three city for best commuter towns in Atlanta, with a 35-minute commute on average. This small community off the C.H. James Parkway is the most affordable on our list with a median sale price of $145,100. It also ranked high on our list for school rating.
Powder Springs has a small-town quaintness to it and is still in close proximity to the city, giving it a nice balance for anyone looking for both in their life. Powder Springs recently opened a new escape room experience at Sleepy Hollow Farm, the set of Hopper’s cabin from the Netflix series, Stranger Things.
Marietta: Shortest Overall Commute
While Marietta has the lowest commute time, at 26 minutes, it misses the top due to its $242,000 median home price and higher crime ratings compared to the other towns. It’s the largest community on our list with a population around 60,000.
Marietta does a remarkable job of maintaining a hometown feel given its size. The vibrant Victorian-style town square features museums, theatres, and numerous restaurants. It’s also close to more natural amenities like Slope Creek Trail and Kennesaw Mountain, which both offer great hiking.
Check out the interactive map below to compare all 10 cities on our list. Hover over cities to show details on crime rates, school ratings, and median home prices.
We looked at towns located between 5 and 30 miles from Atlanta. Each town was allocated points based on the following metrics: commuting time, housing value, crime rate, and school rating.
Points for commute time, housing cost, and crime rate were awarded inversely proportional to their value. Points for school ratings were awarded directly proportional to their value.
Entries could gather a maximum of 100 points spread across the four metrics as follows: 40 points for commute time, 30 points for housing value, and 15 points each for crime rate and school rating.
The average commute time by car or mass transit was calculated by Google directions. We’ve considered the shortest typical trip time for arriving in Atlanta between 07:40 – 08:10 on a Monday.
Housing values are based on a 5-year Census estimate (2013-2017) of the median price of owner-occupied housing units.
FBI crime rates indicate the number of violent crimes committed per 100,000 residents. We only included towns that have a violent crime rate lower than the state average of 341 crimes per 100,000 residents.
School ratings were calculated based on the average score by town for schools that had a review on GreatSchools.com by May 2019.
Cities with less than 10,000 residents, based on 2017 Census estimates, were excluded from the list.