What Is The Cost Of Living In Athens, GA? (Taxes, Housing & More)

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by Upgraded Home Team

Athens, Georgia, has a population of about 125,000. It is in Clarke County. Athens is among the best places in Georgia to live. It offers residents a suburban feel. Most residents live in rental homes. There are a lot of parks, restaurants, and bars in Athens. Residents tend to be on the liberal side. Many young professionals live here. Athens has above-average schools.

The median home cost of living in Athens, Georgia, is $173,100. The cost-of-living indices are based on an average of 100 in the US. Athens has an overall index of 86.2, which means it is cheaper than the norm in the US. This report includes the living expenses for the cost to own a home, rent, property taxes, utilities, child care, food, entertainment, and education.

The minimum wage in Georgia is $7.25. It is the same as the federal minimum wage. The minimum wage applies to the majority of Georgia employees. Exceptions include some exempt occupations, student workers, and tipped employees.

Seasonal and full-time farmworkers are exempt jobs. Certain educational and nonprofit organizations can apply to the Department of Labor for a certificate allowing them to pay 85 percent of the minimum wage. The average hourly wage is $23.85. Below is a breakdown of monthly expenses in Athens, Georgia.

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The Cost to Own a Home in Athens, GA

The median cost of homes in Athens, Georgia, is $226,797. Real estate prices are above the average cost when prices are compared nationally. Trailers and mobile homes are the single most common type of housing in Athens. Most homes in Georgia are valued at $208,833, while living in Georgia costs about $173,100, which is lower than the overall cost of living in the state.

There are homes on the market in Athens priced at well over $300,000. They range from $372,060 to $1,014,039. Those homes have square footage above 2400 and multiple bathrooms. The price of homes in Athens is the reason so many people rent.

Rental Costs in Athens

The latest census data shows 48.36% of households in Athens, Georgia, are renters. There is a rental vacancy of 1.17%, which is the percentage of vacant or unoccupied available rental units. Here is the expected price to rent.

Style of HomePrice Per Month
1 Bedroom$667
2 Bedroom$785
3 Bedroom$1063
4 Bedroom$1303

Apartments in Athens, Georgia, cost 8.9% less than the national average. Affordable apartments exist but do not stay on the market long.

From 2019 to 2020, the average rent dropped in 12 U.S. states, and Georgia was one of them. Though, during the most severe coronavirus outbreak in 2020, rental prices plunged all throughout the state. The average rental price in Athens, Georgia is $935, which is slightly lower than the state average of $1,006.

To put things in perspective, the following table outlines how the average monthly rent in Athens compares to other cities in the state of Georgia:

City Average Rent
Athens, GA$935
Atlanta, GA$1,723
Marietta, GA$1,485
Augusta, GA$1,008
Lawrenceville, GA$1,433
Sandy Springs, GA$1,602
Decatur, GA$1,362

Taxes in Athens, Georgia

Taxpayers in Athens, Georgia pay three main forms of state and local taxes: local property taxes, a state income tax, and state and local sales taxes. For each of these, the state of Georgia ranks relatively on par with the national average.

Sales Taxes in Athens, Georgia

Among other states that also have a sales tax, the state of Georgia has one of the lowest statewide sales taxes in the nation. The base rate is just 4.0% but cities and counties across the state can assess their own local sales taxes. This means that, depending on where you are in Georgia, you may have end up paying as much as 8.90% in sales tax.

In Clarke County, where Athens is located, the county rate is 4.0%, meaning you’ll pay a total sales tax rate of 8% in Athens, Georgia.

Property Taxes in Athens, GA

In general, Georgia property taxes are relatively low. The median $1771 per year real estate tax payment is approximately $800 below the national average. In Georgia, the average effective property tax rate is 0.87%.

The state is ranked 33 out of 50 in order of average property tax amount collected. Clarke County residents pay an average of $1549 in property taxes. The rates range from as low as $314 in Warren County to $2733 in Fulton County.

Income Taxes in Athens, GA

Georgia has a relatively simple progressive income tax system, with rates that range from as little as 1% to a top marginal rate of 5.75%. A progressive income tax means that you pay based on your income and there are higher rates for higher income earners.

The state has six income brackets in total, but the brackets top out at only $7,000 for single filers. This means that the majority of full-time workers in the Athens will pay the top marginal rate of 5.75%.

Utilities in Athens

Utilities in Georgia exceed the national average by 3.2%. In Athens, utilities exceed the national average by 1.5%. The mean residential electricity bill is approximately $123 per month in Georgia. It ranks 11th in the US and is 14.95% greater than the $107 national average.

The average rate is 11.17 cents per kWh, which is 5.98% below the national average. However, Georgia’s consumption ranks 11th in the US and is 21.59% higher than the national average. The basic utilities in Athens include:

  • Electricity
  • Heating
  • Cooling
  • Water
  • Garbage

For a 915 square foot apartment, the above list’s cost of utilities is approximately $182.46 per month. Internet access is roughly $56.88 per month.

Child Care Cost

Child care in Georgia is expensive. It costs more than $1000 per year than in-state tuition for a four-year public college. Georgia is among 33 states and Washington, DC where infant care cost more than college.

In Athens, the weekly average cost of full-time daycare for more than one child is $240. Based on age, the following are approximate rates.

Age Cost Per Week

Infant care typically takes up 13.8 percent of a family’s income in Georgia. The HHS (Health and Human Services) Department of the US recommends child care should cost no more than ten percent of a family’s income to be affordable. By that standard, only 37.7 percent of families in Georgia can afford infant care.

Food in Athens, Georgia

Finding where to shop for groceries is a part of establishing a routine. There are at least five grocery stores in Athens and large retailers that sell grocery items. The cost of groceries in Athens, Georgia, is 4.5% less than the national average.

This list of prices for some grocery items provides a place to start figuring out how much it will cost to eat.

Food ItemCost
1 Gallon of Milk$2.21
1 Pound Loaf of White Bread$2.10
1 Pound of White Rice$1.42
A Dozen Eggs$1.73
1 Pound of Local Cheese$3.17
1 Pound of Beef Round$3.63
1 Pound of Chicken Fillets$3.16
1 Pound Apples$1.70
1 Pound Bananas$.61
1 Pound Oranges$$1.28
1 Pound Tomatoes$1.41
1 Pound Onions$1.50
1 Head of Lettuce$1.83

Cost of Entertainment

Athens, Georgia, is a vibrant, creative community with a full calendar of events. Things to do include a botanical garden, zoo, brewing company, art museum, theater, park, and nature center. Some activities are excellent for rainy days, have free entry, budget-friendly, or are ideal for big groups, couples, or kids. This list of activities gives you an idea of what events in Athens may cost.

ActivityAverage Price
Dinner for two at a neighborhood pub$34
Two movie tickets$19
Best seating for two at the theater$172
A cocktail in a downtown club$9
Cappuccino in the city ex-pat area$4.35
A beer at a neighborhood pub$4.83
One month gym membership$32
A pack of cigarettes$5.41

There are many things to do outdoor. Athens, Georgia, offers picnicking, hiking, skating, biking, walking, kayaking, and fishing opportunities. The city has a reputation for its vibrant art scene, modern attractions, and its Southern heritage.

Education in Athens, Georgia

There are 21 schools in the Clarke County School District. It serves nearly 14,000 students. They include three High Schools, four Middle Schools, and 14 Elementary Schools. The district also has two specialty schools – the Early Learning Center and Athens Community Career Center.

An average of $9769 per student is spent in Georgia. The national average is $11,762. There is a student: teacher ratio of 13:1, which is less than the state average of 15:1.

Private Schools

Six private schools include:

  • Athens Academy
  • Athens Christian School
  • Athens Montessori
  • Monsignor Donovan Catholic High School
  • Saint Joseph Catholic Parish School
  • Prince Avenue Christian School


Athens, Georgia, is home to a few postsecondary institutions. It has public universities, private colleges, and technical colleges. The difference between in-state and out-of-state residency is substantial.

Tuition for in-state undergraduates is roughly $11,500 for full-time attendance and $20,600 for out-of-state residents. Graduate in-state resident tuition is $11,600 and $19,200 for out-of-state residents. There must be a gap year to establish in-state residency.

The University of Georgia is located in Athens. It is recognized for its commitment to student excellence. The emphasis is on rigorous learning experiences inside and outside the classroom, including opportunities for leadership and hands-on research. In-state residents’ tuition is $2909 for six hours or less and $4895 for more than six hours for undergraduates.

The University of Georgia and the Augusta University partnered to create a medical school campus in Athens. It is a four-year program meant to alleviate the shortage of physicians in the state. Tuition is $14,179 for 12 or more hours for in-state residents. It is double for out-of-state residents.

Piedmont College, near downtown Athens, offers students personal attention, small class sizes, and vibrant cultural life in a popular and historic city. In-state tuition for one year is $20, 140.

Technical College

Athens Technical College offers 46 programs. Tuition for Georgia residents is $2794 and $4926 for out-of-state students.

Is Athens, GA Right For You?

Located in Clarke County, Athens is a consolidated county-city and college town. Here you can experience great shopping, events, unique festivals, and live music. Famous rock musicians and Pulitzer Prize authors make their home in Athens, Georgia.

Georgia is ranked one of the most affordable places to live, and Athens has the lowest cost of living index in the state. The most expensive asset is real estate. For that reason, the majority of residents rent their homes.

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Related Questions

How much does your income need to be to live in Athens, Georgia?

Georgia is among the more affordable states in the US. A family of four living in Athens needs $70,851 per year. That is $5904 per month. Athens is the city with the lowest cost of living in Georgia.

Is Athens a good place to live?

Athens has a population of approximately 125,000. It is among the best places to reside in Georgia. Most Athens residents rent their homes. Living in Athens offers a dense suburban feel. It has a thriving music scene and rich culture. The college town has recreation activities year-round. Restaurants and over 65 shops downtown help support the small-business economy.

What industries are in Athens?

Like all thriving communities, Athens has major employers that are continually developing and growing. The community is proud of the industries that have expanded multiple times over the years. Enterprises take an active role in continuing the tradition of a bioscience talent and manufacturing pipeline.

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