Whether you’re moving to Savannah, GA for a job relocation, due to family ties, or simply for a change of pace, you’ll be met with welcoming Southern charm, temperate weather, and antebellum beauty. In Savannah, you’ll enjoy the charming Historic District, home to the City Market and restored 19th-century architecture. You’ll also delight in the imposing oaks dripping with Spanish moss in any of the city’s historic cobblestoned parks, like the famous Forsyth Park or Johnson Square. Also, Savannah’s location on the Atlantic Coast, set between three major rivers, provides unique coastal beauty and opportunities for fresh and seawater sports and activities of all kinds.
If you’re into art and culture, Savannah is the place for you. The city, home to Savannah College of Art and Design, and is filled with art museums, working artists’ studios, and amazing cultural festivals all year long. Savannah displays classic Southern charm, offers scrumptious coastal cuisine, and has every convenience of a large city. Welcome home to Savannah!
Living in Savannah, GA: What to Know Before Moving to Savannah
Known for its beautiful historic architecture, charming urban parks, and welcoming residents, Savannah is home to around 150,000 people. Before you pack up and move to Savannah, your relocation will be a lot smoother if you learn a few key things about your new city. We’ve researched for you and compiled everything you need to know about the ins and outs of life in Savannah, GA.
Pros and Cons of Living in Savannah
While Savannah is a city full of positive attributes, just like any city, it has a few downsides too. Consider these pros and cons:
- Cost of living is affordable. The cost of living is more moderate than in other states on the Eastern Seaboard.
- The beach and rivers. If you love the water, you’ll love living in Savannah. Marinas, docks, sand, ocean waves – it’s a water wonderland.
- You’re in the heart of a rich culinary culture. You can expect creative eats in Savannah with a heavy emphasis on locally sourced seafood.
- Storms are a threat. Savannah is in a prime hurricane region, and these powerful storms hit on occasion. Be sure to look into buying flood insurance.
- Locals often lament how parking downtown can be challenging and expensive.
- Summers are hot and humid. Being in the south and along the ocean, it’s no surprise that Savannah can get pretty hot and humid in the summer. For much of the year, the temperatures are mild and comfortable, but summers can be pretty brutal.
Before moving to a new city, it’s helpful to understand local and state taxes.
- Property Tax: Savannah’s property tax rate is 0.928%. This rate means that a home worth $250,000 would accrue about $2,320 in property taxes per year. The typical tax bill is lower than the national average of about $3,000.
- State Income Tax: Georgia income tax is 5.75%. Compare this to the income taxes of South Carolina (7%) and Louisiana (6%). However, it’s higher than other southern states like Mississippi and Alabama, which have income tax rates at 5%.
- Sales Tax: At 7%, Savannah’s sales tax is a bit higher than in Georgia locales.
Just less than half the Savannah population rents. With 46.5% renting, homes, condos, townhomes, and apartments are available in most areas. The median home price is $134,600, and the median rental list price is $1,400, a fraction higher than the national average of $1,391. According to Zillow, the Savannah housing market is hot. Home prices rose 5.2% in 2018.
If you’re looking for more affordable places to live, look for neighborhoods that are further inland. As usual, properties closer to the coastline tend to be more expensive.
Cost of Living
Cost of living is a major consideration when investigating where to relocate. On the cost of living index, Savannah ranks 87.9, so you can expect most of your basic expenses to be less than the national average. Bestplaces.net reports that Savannah families enjoy a low housing cost of 67/100. Grocery costs rank 91.9/100, Health 83.3/100, Utilities 103.2/100, Transportation 102.4/100, and Miscellaneous (clothing, repairs, insurances, etc.) 98.3/100. For a family of four in Savannah, the Economic Policy Institute estimates monthly costs to be around $1,063 for housing, $785 for groceries, $989 for childcare, $953 for health care, $899 for taxes, $745 for other necessities, and $1,151 for transportation. To maintain a modest standard of living, the family would need to bring in $6,585 monthly.
Weather & Natural Disasters
Savannah’s subtropical climate means that summers are hot and winters are mild. July and August are the hottest months with highs in the 90s, and the constant humidity can make the heat feel oppressive. Nights cool down comfortably to the low 70s. In the winter, expect mild temperatures in the 60s, dropping to the low 40s at night. In the spring, you can expect temperatures in the 70s and 80s during the day. Fall days are lovely, with temperatures in the 70s during the day and 50s overnight. Each month gets a few inches of rain, but June, July, and August will each get around 6 inches. The total annual rainfall is about 49 inches, and snowfall is rare.
Late summer and early fall is typically hurricane season in Savannah. Storm surges are a major threat during severe thunderstorms, but tornadoes and wildfires are additional possible threats. Chatham County provides comprehensive emergency preparedness information.
Economy & Job Market
Savannah boasts a bustling economy and job market, thanks in large part to its prime location on the coast. The unemployment rate, 4.1%, is slightly higher than the US average of 3.6%.
Manufacturing leads Savannah’s major industries, closely followed by the port and transportation, tourism, hospitality, the military, and then businesses such as health care and education. Notably, the Port of Savannah is the 5th largest container port in the United States.
If you’re looking for a job in Savannah, any of the above industries will offer plenty of opportunities. But several large corporations in Savannah are worth considering during your job hunt. Gulfstream Aerospace manufactures executive jets. International Paper, one of the largest manufacturers of paper bags in the United States, is based in Savannah. If you’re in the military, Savannah is a great place to be based – it’s home to Hunter Army Airfield and Fort Stewart, 40 minutes from downtown Savannah. The military employs over 3,500 civilians and has over 22,000 soldiers.
Traffic & Transportation
Major highways into and out of the city include north-south I-95 and I-16 which take you from central Georgia and Atlanta right into Savannah. Interstate 516 is a perimeter highway that connects the southside of Savannah with the port area to the north. US Route 80 runs east-west, connecting the city with Talahi, Wilmington, Tybee, and Whitemarsh islands at the east.
The city has a walk score of 43, making it car-dependent for most residents. However, Savannah is more of a walking city for visitors since they concentrate their activities in the Historic District. Savannah is a bike-friendly city. It boats the bronze level rating for being a bicycle-friendly community by the League of American Bicyclists. Locals and tourists enjoy the CAT bike system, a bike rental system with stations conveniently located throughout the city. It’s a great way to commute, run errands, tour, or see the sights. For those who prefer not to cycle, Chatham Area Transit, the CAT system, offers bus routes throughout Chatham County for nominal fees. The fare-free Downtown Transportation (DOT) offers a free shuttle and ferry service throughout the Historic District, making stops at major tourist locations as well as parking spots throughout the city.
In 2019, Travel and Leisure named Savannah Hilton Head International Airport (SAV) the 4th best domestic airport in the US. SAV is about 12 miles northwest of downtown Savannah. Both the CAT local bus system and an Airport Express provide service from downtown to the airport.
What to Do
Georgia is full of amazing state parks like Cloudland Canyon and Stone Mountain, but Savannah particularly boasts many fascinating places to visit and enjoy. In Savannah’s Historic District, you’ll find Forsyth Park, one of the most famous locations in the city. Majestic oaks draped with Spanish Moss and several fountains make this a favorite place to stroll, attend a concert, or farmers market.
The City Market features a four-block open-air market with bars, cafes, shopping opportunities, and plenty of 19th-century architecture. Both the Telfair Museum of Art and the Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum reside in homes from this era. The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, built in 1876, is one of the most historic locations in the city.
Tybee Island is a lovely area to play on the beach or spend a week in a cottage by the sea. The Tybee Island Marine Science Center and Tybee Island Light Station and Museum are popular spots to explore. McQueen’s Island Historic Trail runs along the south end of the Savannah River and features a six-mile trail on an old Savannah and Atlantic Railroad line.
Schools and Universities
Educational opportunities abound in Savannah. The region is home to the impressive Savannah-Chatham Public School district. The 23 elementary schools and 11 high schools, along with several charter programs, STEM, and Montessori-focused schools, serve over 38,000 students.
In terms of higher education, Savannah is home to the Savannah College of Art and Design, famous for churning out graduates skilled in the arts, fashion, design, and communication. Savannah State University, a historic black university, was established in 1890 and is renowned for its nationally recognized marine sciences program.
Savannah is a relatively safe place to live in terms of violent crimes, though it does experience a high ratio of property crimes. Bestplaces.net ranks Savannah, on a scale of 1 to 100 (with 100 being the highest crime rate), at 22.2 for violent crime and 51. 5 for property crime. The national average for violent crime is 22.7, while the property crime rate is 35.4. Higher crime rates tend to be in areas of more dense population, especially in the downtown and metropolitan areas. The safest neighborhoods include Wilmington Island and Skidaway Island.
Residents of Savannah have several options when it comes to utilities. Your realtor will be able to advise you as to which companies service your neighborhood.
- Water and sewer:
- Gas service:
- Sanitation services:
- Republic Waste (912-964-2211)
- Boaen’s Sanitation Services (912-355-1374)
- Curbie Sanitation (912-352-2229)
- Waste Management (912-965-0300)
- ABC Waste (912-925-7610)
- Cable and internet:
- Comcast/XFINITY (800-266-2278)
- Bellsouth (888-757-6500)
- Cingular (888-333-6651)
- Verizon (800-922-0204)
- T-Mobil (877-453-1304)
- Coastal (912-736-9000)
Best Neighborhoods in Savannah, GA
Savannah is home to some amazing neighborhoods, both within the city limits and just a short drive away. Learn about some of Savannah’s best neighborhoods and what makes them so unique.
The Historic District/Downtown
The Historic District of Savannah is where you’ll find not only some of the most interesting attractions and beautiful architecture but also some of the best restaurants and southern charm. This neighborhood is south of the Savannah River, between Highway 17 and Harry S. Truman Boulevard. Homes here are expensive, with a median home value of $615,000. Many of the homes in this area are several hundred years old and have immense historical value. Apartment rents in this area hover around $2,000 per month.
The region is serviced by Savannah-Chatham Public Schools, with Gadsden Elementary School, and private schools like the Habersham School and St. Vincent’s Academy being some of the closest. It’s also very close to Savannah College of Art and Design.
You’ll find plenty of activities in the Historic District, whether it’s taking in the riverfront views at the Boar’s Head Grill or enjoying one of many city parks and squares. This community is truly the heart of the city’s historic center, and even non-history buffs will fall in love with its charm.
The Victorian District is full of the whimsical, colorful architecture characteristic of 19th century America. One of Savannah’s oldest suburbs, it’s enjoyable to walk or drive around to take in the beautiful homes and picturesque streets. Oaks, hanging with Spanish Moss, tower over quiet streets, creating a truly charming atmosphere. The Victorian District takes up 50 blocks directly south of the Historic District. Home prices are significantly lower than the Historic District at $244,000. Rent prices hover around $2,000 per month.
The Victorian District offers a short commute to some of the region’s best schools and corporations. Savannah-Chatham School District services this region with Savannah Classical Academy and Savannah Arts Academy High School.
You’ll find plenty of enjoyment and recreation in the Victorian District, whether it’s touring the area’s historic homes, going for a stroll in famous Forsyth Park, or finding an open-air concert or farmer’s market to attend.
The Starland/Thomas Square neighborhood is a quirky, almost hipster neighborhood that’s the embodiment of the creativity of SCAD students. This neighborhood is in the southern part of the Victorian District to Victory Drive, where the Midtown neighborhood begins. Recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 1997, this neighborhood focuses on art and entertainment, but it’s not without impressive 19th-century architecture of its own.
The median home price is $252,000, and for renters, expect to spend $600 per bedroom, or at least $1,000 for a sizeable apartment in the area. Major companies in the area include Wells Anderson Construction and the Southern Pine Company of Georgia.
You won’t ever be bored in the Starland/Thomas Square District. You’ll find eccentric quaint cafes, art galleries, studios, and unique shops selling vintage and vinyl. It’s hipster, but with a perfect touch of Savannah’s characteristic southern charm. Perhaps the best-kept secret in this neighborhood is the Habersham Antiques Market, home to the enticing wares of 70 antique dealers.
The Southside neighborhood is a bit further south near the Vernon River and is a great region for families because of its many creature comforts and recreational activities. This neighborhood straddles both the north and south sides of Route 204, west of the Vernon River. Home prices vary, but the median is $295,000. You can also expect to pay an average of $1,000 per month for rent.
Southside is about 15-20 minutes from the hustle and bustle of downtown, but it’s still central to many of the major interests of the Savannah region. You’ll be a short drive from the beach and Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge where you can enjoy kayaking through the Savannah Lowcountry. This neighborhood offers a lower key, quieter atmosphere with all the conveniences – like shopping centers such as the Savannah Mall and Oglethorpe Mall. Hesse School K-8 and Jenkins High School serve Southside students.
If you’re looking for a slower pace and want to be surrounded by nature, Skidaway Island is a secluded neighborhood not far outside Savannah’s metro area that may be the best place to call home. Bound by Moon, Wilmington, and Little Ogeechee Rivers, the island is home to protected nature in one of Georgia’s best-loved state parks.
Skidaway Island is west of Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge, but a considerable distance southeast from downtown and the Historic District. Island living drives the cost of living up quite a bit; median home prices are $479,000, and you can expect to pay upwards of $1,240 per month for just a studio apartment. The closest schools are off-island and include Hesse School K-8 and Jenkins High School.
Unless you’re working in a small business or the tourist or waterways industries, you’ll likely have to commute from Skidaway. However, you’ll have plenty of things to keep you occupied and in tune with nature. Explore the Skidaway Island State Park’s protected wildlife. Book a tour with Savannah Coastal EcoTours to experience the beauty of the Lowcountry and its wildlife like deer, marine life, and waterfowl.
Moon River is one of the most historic districts in all of Savannah and is the heart of Savannah Lowcountry. An increasingly sought-after location for its historic charm and an unbeatable location, Moon River is a great choice for a less urban lifestyle.
The Moon River District is east of the Harry S. Truman Parkway and Skidaway River. Marshes and creeks meander through this area, allowing you to live in the optimal Lowcountry environment. Because Moon River is so close to Skidaway Island, home prices and rent prices are comparable.
Schools and businesses are a bit more spread apart, so you’ll likely have to commute further into Savannah proper for schools and job opportunities. However, Oglethorpe Charter School and the Benedictine Military School are just west of Moon River. Savannah State University is just a few minutes’ drive north.
This community is the place to be if you want to be surrounded by the rich history of Savannah. The Wormsloe Historic Site is one of the oldest plantations in the region. Moon River is just a stone’s throw from the University of Georgia Aquarium and the Pin Point Heritage Museum. Locals enjoy tasty meals at the Driftaway Cafe, Sandfly Barbeque, and Pearl’s Saltwater Grille.
You’ll find Tybee Island is one of the best-loved barrier islands in the Savannah area. Just a thirty-minute drive east from downtown, Tybee Island is all you’d ever want when it comes to southern charm and island living.
On Tybee, home prices reflect the proximity to ocean views at a median price of $442,000. Since the island is small, and most homes are either owner-occupied or used as tourist accommodations, long term rental options are not readily available. Beach houses, quaint cottages, and opulent island homes offer a wide variety of home types for those looking to buy.
Families that reside on Tybee Island will likely send their children to Tybee Elementary School, which is just a short distance from the beach along Highway 80. High school students will need to go a bit further west to Islands High School, located on Whitemarsh Island.
Just as you’d expect, you’ll enjoy tons of island activities on Tybee. Visit the Tybee Island Light Station, or spend a relaxing day on the beach. Local charter boat companies also offer water activities like fishing, kayaking, and dolphin-watching cruises.
Going back to Savannah proper, the Midtown District provides an urban environment but one that is comfortably low key and convenient. You’ll find plenty of shopping, restaurants, and beautiful homes at a slightly more affordable rate than the Historic District.
Midtown is south of Victory Drive, and north of the Chatham Crescent neighborhood, near the center of the metropolitan part of the city. The median home value is $220,000, and rentals run around $1,014.
Though Midtown is conveniently located so that children living here can easily attend any school in the Savannah area, the Charles Ellis Montessori School and Savannah Arts Academy are closest, just off Victory Drive.
Midtown offers a plethora of activities and entertainment. Order a batch of cinnamon rolls at Mattie Belle’s Bakery or search for a special vintage item for your new home at one of the many antique shops. In Midtown, you’ll find the ideal urban environment but at a low key, relaxed pace.
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