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10. Atlanta, GA
10. Atlanta, GA
24% Projected gain in home prices (5-year)*
Median home price Median home price
2006: $173,000
2011: $214,000
Population Population
2006: 5,030,000
2011: 5,615,000
Per capita income Per capita income
2006: $36,000
2011: $45,400
*Metro region statistics

Sure, the projected price gain is only a third that of top-ranked Panama City. But it's dramatic for a metro region with a population of more than 5 million people. Andrew Schiller, founder of NeighborhoodScout, notes Atlanta's strategic importance as the primary "growth pole" for the entire Southeast, and Bruce Katz, head of the urban development program at the Brookings Institution, says Atlanta is "sprawl on steroids."

While the city itself is home to only 400,000 people, the greater region includes 110 municipal governments, each determined to beat its neighbors in growth. With the greatest job growth expected near Atlanta's heart, commuters from far-flung suburbs are fighting harder each day to get back inside the I-285 "perimeter" that encircles the city. That has already pumped up prices in the more desirable north Atlanta neighborhoods, including swank Buckhead, forcing less well-heeled newcomers to look outside the perimeter for a price break. Expect to see the greatest appreciation along Atlanta's southern perimeter fringes, particularly in and around Peachtree City.

CAUTION: Atlanta has never been known for record-breaking housing appreciation. This year's closure of Ford's assembly plant in Hapeville and the scheduled closure of General Motors's Doraville plant in 2008 could also slow things down.