So you're living in Georgia but you're worried about finding an affordable place to live. Don't stress, there's plenty of options if you know where to find them. Whether you want to live in bustling Atlanta, charming Savannah, or anywhere in between, you could definitely find a place to call home without breaking the bank.
You just need the right mindset, some patience, and a couple insider tips. Stick with us and you could be relaxing on the porch of your Georgia digs before you know it, sweet tea in hand. There's a perfect spot out there for you, you've just got to go find it!
How to Define Your Housing Budget in Georgia
Step 1 is figuring out how much you're actually able afford to spend on rent each month. A good rule of thumb is that your rent should be no more than 30% of your take-home pay. If you make $3,000 a month after taxes, aim to spend $900 or less on rent.
Consider Renting in Different Areas
Once you know your budget, start researching average rent prices in different areas of Georgia. Rent varies quite a bit between cities and regions. For example, rent in Atlanta may be $1,200 a month for a one-bedroom, while in a smaller town like Carrollton rent for a similar place may only be $700. Consider how far you want to commute to work or school and factor in additional costs like transportation.
It also helps to be flexible. A studio or one-bedroom apartment likely costs less than a two-bedroom. You may have to compromise on things like in-unit laundry, parking, or extra storage space to find something within your budget. Older buildings from the 1970s or 1980s often charge lower rent than newly constructed ones.
Don't forget to consider additional expenses beyond just rent. Utility bills, parking fees, pet rent, and other costs sometimes add an extra $200 to $500 a month. Make sure any place you consider fits your entire budget after expenses.
5 Best Cities in Georgia for Affordable Apartments
When looking for affordable apartments in Georgia -- here're some of the best cities to consider:
As Georgia’s capital and biggest city, Atlanta offers many budget-friendly apartments. Check out suburbs such as Decatur or Marietta. Rent for a one-bedroom starts around $800. Public transit makes it easy to commute downtown without a car.
About 2 hours east of Atlanta, Augusta is an ideal city for affordable living. Rent for a one-bedroom apartment averages just $650. Low cost of living, historic charm, and outdoor recreation along the Savannah River are just some of Augusta's benefits.
On the border with Alabama, Columbus provides small-city appeal with apartment rents around $700 for a one-bedroom. Museums and outdoor activities at the Chattahoochee RiverWalk are highlights.
An hour south of Atlanta, Macon offers apartments for under $700. A mainly walkable downtown, music venues, and nearby Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park attract newcomers. Thanks to things like the American Rescue Plan Act making it easier for companies to hire, many known employers such as GEICO or Robins Air Force Base provide work opportunities.
If you're into coastal living on a budget, definitely check out Savannah. Rent starts around $800 for a one-bedroom. Enjoy things like historic squares, dining, shopping, and activities along the Savannah River. Mild winters make it attractive all year.
With appealing cities spread across the state -- you’re sure to find an affordable apartment in Georgia that suits your needs and budget.
Section 8 Housing Vouchers Program
Still can't find housing within your budget? If you're at risk of homelessness, the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program is providing rental assistance to low-income families to afford decent housing. If you qualify for the program based on your income and family size, you receive an emergency housing voucher that is used to rent apartments that meet the program's standards. The voucher covers a portion of your rent each month so your share of the rent is more affordable.
Applying to Section 8 Program
To start, contact your local public housing agency (PHA) and fill out an application to determine if you qualify for a Section 8 voucher based on the program's income limits in your area. If there is a waiting list, you could face a wait of several months to over a year in some places. Once you receive a voucher, you have a limited time, typically 60-120 days, to find a suitable rental unit.
Finding a Suitable Apartment
When looking for apartments, search for landlords or property managers that accept Section 8 vouchers. Explain the program and provide the necessary paperwork to show your voucher details and income certification. The unit must meet certain standards on safety and affordability.
Using Your Housing voucher
Once you find an approved unit and sign a lease, the PHA will conduct an inspection to ensure the unit qualifies before payments to the landlord begin. You must continue to meet income limits and other obligations to maintain your voucher. The PHA re-examines your income and family composition annually to determine your rent portion and whether you remain eligible for the program.
Section 8 opens up permanent housing options you could have otherwise not been able to afford. While requirements must be met, a voucher is a lifeline for those struggling with housing instability. Check with your local PHA to know if you qualify for these valuable supportive services.
Rapid Re-Housing Program in Georgia
Lastly -- Georgia’s Rapid Rehousing Program aims to assist individuals and families experiencing homelessness to quickly transition into affordable housing. To qualify, you're going to have to meet certain income requirements based on where in Georgia you live in. The program provides temporary rental assistance for up to 24 months.
To be eligible for rapid re-housing in Georgia, you must be either permanently or recently homeless -- coming from places not meant for human habitation like living on the streets, or living in an emergency shelter or transitional housing. Your household income must be below 30% of the median income for your area. The Georgia Department of Community Affairs website has details on specific income limits for each county.
The rapid re-housing program provides benefits to help you get into an apartment as quickly as possible. This includes:
Help finding an affordable apartment: A case manager will work with you to find suitable housing options you can afford based on your income.
Rent and move-in assistance: You may receive financial assistance for rent, security deposits, and other move-in costs like utility deposits for up to 24 months. The amount of assistance will depend on your needs and ability to pay a portion of the costs.
Case management: A case manager will work with you to develop a personalized housing stability plan, connect you with job opportunities or benefits you may qualify for, and provide guidance for up to 6-12 months after you move into housing.
To start with the rapid re-housing program in Georgia, contact your local homeless coalition or shelter to apply and determine if you meet the eligibility criteria. With the help of this assistance program, you or your family's homelessness problem could be over before you know it.
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