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  • Writer's pictureMuriel Vega

Meet a part-time grad student living in Hills Park

This 24-year-old lives with her parents to save money while she attends school

Art clippings of a one hundred dollar bill, a map of Atlanta, the Georgia capitol, and a peach
Illustration by Khoa Tran

After receiving her undergraduate degree in criminology and applying to work at several different places related to her degree, this 24-year-old realized that “most of the jobs I was qualified for did not pay much. I would not be able to afford to live on my own.” Right now, she’s saving money by living with her parents while she earns a master’s degree in social work. Hopefully, after she graduates, she’ll have access to higher-paying jobs. “I am [a part-time student] due to the fact that it is almost impossible to work and be a full-time graduate student,” she says. “I’m not paying rent right now, but I still have to pay for my car, phone, credit card bill, school expenses, etc. Living with my parents has been a lifesaver.”

What does she hope to have one day in Atlanta? “I would like to be a homeowner at some point, so affordable housing is the main thing for me.”

Job title

Part-time graduate student and AmeriCorps VISTA member




Hills Park

Lives with


Annual gross income

Less than $20,000 a year (She currently works two jobs at her university.)



Credit card debt


Phone plan and monthly subscriptions (Netflix, Spotify, food delivery services, apps, etc.)

$139 (Phone plan: $84; Apple: $5; food delivery: $50)

Transportation (car payment, car insurance, gas, public transportation, Uber)

$550. I wish that there was more free parking in Atlanta, especially in the downtown area. I spend most of my time there and, on average, I spend $10 to $20 a week on parking.

Restaurants, fast food, drinks at bars, coffees

Between $70 and $100


Between $700 and $1,000 a year

Fun (concerts, books, movies, recreational drugs, etc.)

Between $200 and $300

How much money would you need to live comfortably in Atlanta? What hourly rate or annual salary would you be happy with?


What she’d like to have but lives without

My own apartment

Her take on what can be done to improve the cost of living in Atlanta

Make housing more affordable. Lower food and grocery costs.

Most challenging thing about living in Atlanta

Driving, paying for parking, and lack of affordable housing even with a college degree. I also would like the City of Atlanta to put more funding into programs that help unsheltered folks and make mental health resources more accessible. In the last two years of commuting in and out of downtown Atlanta, I have seen the homeless population continue to grow.

What she loves most about Atlanta

The culture, people, and opportunities


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