Kikero wrote:It can't be perfect since costs for different products change at varying rates. A house in NY probably costs 10x (at least) as much as in Detroit, but you can't buy milk for 1/10 of the NY price anywhere.
Housing cost differentials are what really matter. Housing is a fixed expense that you have to pay. Other than utilities the rest of your costs can be adjusted by choice. When you have $2K in loans due every month, you REALLY care about whether your fixed monthly housing costs are $900 vs. $2600. That's going to make a massive difference in your day to day quality of life.
Also people in here are really exaggerating how easy NYC biglaw is to get. Frankly, just bidding all NYC from a top 14 because you have median or below grades isn't some guaranteed safe strategy. Believe it or not a lot of people bid on big NYC firms. This is especially true if you don't go to one of the 2 top 14 schools in NYC. Frankly, from what I've seen, your chances at getting NYC vs. your home market (assuming it has biglaw firms) is going to depend more on the selectivity of your home market. And even if NYC is less selective than your home market, you still don't have a great chance at the big NYC firms when you are below median.
To the OP. Atlanta is amazing if you land a biglaw job. But if you don't go to one of Harvard, Yale, or Stanford, AND have ties to the South your chances at landing a big firm job are hilariously bad. If you get UVA, Duke, or Vandy your chances will be bad unless you get into the top 15 percent or so.