More reasons to bet on Atlanta (Natalie Ransom)

March 31, 2010


Natalie Ransom, Buckhead Office Founding Member, REALTOR®

Natalie Ransom, Buckhead Office Founding Member, REALTOR®

Submitted by Natalie Ransom of Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty. Taken from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Over the past 25 years, metro Atlanta has consistently been about the fastest-growing major metro area in America. OK, I know Las Vegas snuck into the top spot a couple of times on a percentage basis, but there was no one there to begin with, so it doesn’t count.

But the real estate meltdown, coupled with the recession, has been unkind to our region. Most areas have seen prices drop, and demand is still only a fraction of what it was before the fall of 2007. A glut of bank-owned homes clogs our market, and a seemingly endless inventory of high-end new construction is still not selling.

That’s why I was pleased to read “Betting On Atlanta” in a recent edition of the New York Times “Economix Blog.”

Written by Harvard economist Edward L. Glaeser, the article paints Atlanta emerging as a “mighty metropolitan economy” and goes on to review our history, as non-natives often are inclined to do.

He explains that a rich history of educational institutions, our proximity to cotton and the rise of Coca-Cola contributed to Atlanta’s rise. He also cites low cost of land for development.

But he discounts those as major factors in the years ahead.

Instead, Glaeser points to three areas that will lead Atlanta back to the top of the economic hill:

● Atlanta is the dominant city in the Southeast, with no 
real rivals in the region. The fact that large cities continue to thrive is a “remarkable fact” of our age, and he believes we will benefit from it.

● The Atlanta metro area also benefits from a business-friendly political environment that draws new corporate citizens.

● And finally, he points to Atlanta’s highly skilled population. In the city itself, 43 percent of adults have college degrees. The author sees the percentage of workers with college degrees as a “powerful predictor of urban growth.”

He concludes that Atlanta will once again rise from its own ashes, as Northerners are prone to say.

While I agree with all of the reasons presented above, I might offer one powerful benefit of living in Atlanta that is often overlooked, and that is the “true cost of living.”

It’s called “cost efficiency,” and it’s the median income of a town divided by the cost of living there. In other words, how well can you live based on how much you are likely to get paid?

A study of these numbers in Kiplinger Magazine reveals an eye-opening statistic:

Of America’s 50 largest cities, the Atlanta metro area ranks first in “cost effectiveness.” In other words, it pays to live in Atlanta, where higher income and lower cost of living translate into a better quality of life.

Glaeser concludes with this gem:

“Smart money never bets against the ability of a huge concentration of smart people to weather an economic storm. Don’t count Atlanta out.”

 John Adams is an author, broadcaster and investor. He answers real estate questions on radio station WGKA (920am) every Saturday at noon.



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