I'm currently living in Atlanta as a Teach For America corps member--female in her early 20s. I would imagine that my monthly income is about the same as a grad students--I take home about $1500/month. Fall 09/Spring 10 I lived in Grant Park (which is just southeast of GATech and GA State) in a house I shared with 2 architects through Craigslist for $600/month. It was very central and a 15-minute or less drive to anything in Atlanta, but a quiet neighborhood. Unfortunately, Grant Park is going through gentrification so parts of it are still sketchy. This year I'm living in a house shared with a government employee and a bartender in the Poncey Highlands (sandwiched between Inman Park, L5P, and the Virginia Highlands) for $650/month. Very safe location, and within walking distance of tons of bars, shops, movies, and restaurants.
Midtown can be a great place to live although generally more expensive, especially if you're looking for a 1br. I like the area in Midtown close to a shopping complex that has a Trader Joe's, Mellow Mushroom, a movie theater, and a good Indian place. The area's also super close to Piedmont Park, which is one of the best parks in Atlanta.
Creative Loafing is a free weekly that posts info about local events, concerts, festivals, etc: http://clatl.com/ The food in Atlanta is the best, too. Buford Highway and Jimmy Carter Boulevard in northeast Atlanta have terrific ethnic restaurants (Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Mexican, etc) and ethnic grocery stores that go on for miles and miles. There's a burgeoning street food movement in Atlanta, too, particularly in my neighborhood. Here are my favorite restaurants:
Cafe Intermezzo in Buckhead
Amazing dessert, coffee, a little fancier, very intimate feeling.
Tuk Tuk Thai Food Loft in Buckhead
Reasonably priced Thai; delicious entrees; and an actual tuk-tuk on the ground floor!
Antico Pizza near Georgia Tech in Midtown
The best pizza you will EVER eat—I highly recommend the San Gennaro pizza. Get 1 pizza for every 2-3 people, and get the Nutella-stuffed cannoli, too!
Dressed Salads in Midtown
Fresh, delicious, gigantic salads with a million choices of toppings. Great lunch spot, and right by the TFA office. I go whenever I have to be at the TFA office late at night to do work.
Ru Sans in Midtown
Crazy cheap sushi and Japanese dishes (fried rice, tempura, etc), plus a lively tradition of sake bomb-ing
The Shed at Glenwood in East Atlanta
There was a scene in “Blind Side” that was shot here! The food is also really good—the sliders especially. On Wednesday nights, they’re $3 apiece.
Cafe di Sol in the Poncey-Highlands
Fantastic brunch, really good sandwiches and cocktails
Planet Bombay in Little Five Points
One of the best places for Indian around Midtown, plus the neighborhood they’re in (L5P) is fun to walk around in afterwards to work off all that chicken and naan!
Leon’s in Decatur
Great for beer-aficionados, plus they have a million different sauces for french fry dipping—love it!
Yeah! Burger in the Virginia-Highlands
Cute decor, delicious burgers that don’t feel heavy, and also a million different sauces.