Duluth is a vibrant city that blends suburban tranquility with the diverse, bustling energy of a cultural hub. We’re looking at the pros and cons of living in Duluth, GA, giving you a comprehensive look at life here. Whether you're considering a move or just curious, stay tuned as we uncover the charms and challenges of this southern gem.
Duluth is a city located in Gwinnett County, Georgia. It is part of the Atlanta metropolitan area and is located approximately 22 miles northeast of the city center. As of the 2020 census, the city had a population of 29,609, but we continue to see steady growth since then. Fun fact, in case you were wondering, the town was named Duluth in the 1870s after the city of Duluth, Minnesota!
First, the Pros:
Duluth is diverse and inclusive. You'll find this in the mix of food, businesses, and cultural festivals in the city. Duluth fosters a sense of global community. People of different ethnic backgrounds coexist and enrich each other's lives!
The population reflects the immigration patterns into the Atlanta area over the past several decades. According to the 2020 Census, the racial composition of the city was approximately: 40% White, 24% Black or African American, 19% Asian, and 15% from other races. About 20% of the population was Hispanic or Latino of any race.
This diversity allows for the opportunity to learn from various cultural perspectives. It also means, if you are a Foodie, you will never run out of unique places to eat! Duluth's culinary diversity offers a huge variety of international cuisines and Southern comfort dishes.
Duluth is often praised for its high quality of life. The city has a relatively low crime rate, contributing to a safe environment for its residents. According to NeighborhoodScout.com, Duluth has a lower crime rate than average compared to other communities of similar population sizes across America.
The city's upkeep is evident in its clean streets and well-maintained public areas. A focal point of the city is Duluth Town Green. The Town Green is a wonderful mix of shops, restaurants, and outdoor entertainment and play spaces. In the warm months, you can enjoy concerts, outdoor movie nights, and a variety of festivals. The can't-miss festival of the year is the Duluth Fall Festival! Many public spaces show the city’s commitment to developing and maintaining common areas for residents to enjoy. And visitors too!
Duluth offers a wealth of outdoor activities for those who enjoy nature. From the well-maintained trails in Bunten Road Park to the opportunities for boating and fishing at nearby Lake Lanier and the Chattahoochee River, outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to do. Duluth is home to several beautiful parks. Plus, it's near Gwinnett County’s nationally recognized parks and recreational areas. In fact, Gwinnett County recently received its 5th nomination for the title of the nation’s top parks and recreation department!
The schools in Duluth, part of the Gwinnett County Public School system, are highly rated. They consistently perform above average in state testing scores and offer a range of extracurricular activities. The city is also home to several private schools. Several colleges and universities are nearby, providing good educational opportunities for all ages.
Duluth is actually a highly educated city. 53% of adults in Duluth, GA have a 4-year degree or graduate degree, whereas the national average for all cities and towns is around 22%.
In Duluth, you can count on reliable infrastructure and amenities. Duluth boasts many shopping centers, restaurants, and entertainment venues. Gas South District, formerly known as the Infinite Energy Arena, hosts everything from concerts to hockey games. The Red Clay Music Foundry offers a more intimate performance setting. The infrastructure in Duluth is well-developed, with reliable utilities and good connectivity.
One of the key advantages of living in Duluth is its proximity to Atlanta. Residents can enjoy all the benefits of a major city while still maintaining a quieter, suburban lifestyle. So, you see, you get the best of both worlds with access to large employers, cultural institutions, and major sports teams! You’re also only a couple hours' drive away from the Blue Ridge mountains and day-trip-worthy towns like Helen, GA. This makes for convenient and affordable excursions.
Now the Cons:
It’d be ridiculous to exclude the traffic when talking about possible downsides of North Metro Atlanta! Traffic congestion can be a significant issue in Duluth, especially during peak hours. This can lead to longer commute times and can be a source of stress for residents. It's a common problem in many growing cities and suburbs in the Atlanta metropolitan area.
There are a few Duluth streets known for higher levels of traffic during rush hour: Peachtree Industrial Blvd, Buford Highway, Sugarloaf Parkway, Pleasant Hill Road, and Old Norcross Road. You want to be aware of this when commuting at peak hours. It’s always a good idea to use navigational apps to get around congestion when possible.
Duluth is not the most expensive place to live, but its cost of living is a little higher than the national average. Healthcare and groceries tend to cost the same here as the national average. What pushes Duluth above the national average is housing. The housing costs in Duluth are above average as you might expect within a growing metropolitan area.
In Duluth you'll find that the most common type of housing is single-family detached homes, making up almost half, about 48%, of the city's housing units. You'll also come across other housing options, like large apartment complexes, which account for about 30% of the homes. Townhomes, attached homes, a few duplexes, and small apartment buildings make up the remaining percentage of housing units in Duluth.
Duluth's most popular building sizes are three- and four-bedroom dwellings, mostly found in single-family homes. The city has a mix of homeowners and renters, with around 58.55% owning their homes and 41.45% renting.
As you explore the neighborhoods in Duluth, you'll notice that many houses were built between 1970 and 1999. Many homes have that classic "Brady Bunch" look from the '70s and early '80s. You'll also find newer construction, with around 26.62% of the housing stock built from 2000 onwards.
We can also spin Duluth housing costs into a pro because home appreciation rates in this city tend to outperform other cities and towns in Georgia. So, it could be a smart investment thanks to the expected growth of North Metro Atlanta. Individual neighborhoods within Duluth could differ in their investment potential, so it’s important to consult a local real estate expert to learn more about a specific area or property.
Duluth, like many suburban cities, has limited public transportation options. Gwinnett County does have a bus system, but its routes, and frequency may not be enough for everyone's needs. Residents often find that owning a car is necessary for commuting and running errands. Duluth’s closest access point to MARTA, Atlanta’s public transport system, is the Doraville station. It's about a 20-minute drive down Peachtree Industrial Blvd.
Hand-in-hand with limited public transportation is limited walkability. Most consider Duluth to be a car-dependent city. While there are some areas where you can walk to shops or restaurants, most errands need a car. This can be a con for those who prefer a more walkable, urban environment. More recent developments are including walkable, multi-use areas. Duluth Town Green is an excellent example of this. There is also very early-stage planning to convert the now vacant Gwinnett Place Mall off of Pleasant Hill Rd into a revitalized collection of housing, neighborhood services, green space, and retail.
Depending on your field of work, the job market in Duluth can be competitive. You'll, of course, find opportunities in nearby Atlanta, but the commute can be long. The largest employment industry in Duluth is professional, scientific, and technical services. Duluth has more people living here who work in computers and math than 95% of the rest of the US according to NeighborhoodScout.com. The next biggest industries in Duluth are healthcare, hospitality, retail, and manufacturing.
Georgia's climate can be challenging when not accustomed to hot and humid conditions. Summers in Duluth can be particularly uncomfortable, with high temperatures and humidity levels. This can impact outdoor activities and comfort levels. At the other end of the calendar, our winters are very mild and Duluth averages only 1 inch of show per year. When it snows here, it is a novelty! Schools may close over a dusting of snow which can be a little comical to any northerners relocating here!
There you have it! Remember, these are generalized points. Everyone's experience will vary based on their individual circumstances, preferences, and lifestyle.