Companies in Atlanta have the easiest time persuading potential employees to relocate to their city, new research shows.

A study by executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles International revealed 70 percent of search consultants view the Georgia capital as the easiest to recruit people to, due to its strong business infrastructure, affordability and quality of life.

"Atlanta has it all," said Laura Brinsmaid, principal in charge in Atlanta and member of the Global Consumer Markets Practice at Heidrick & Struggles. "It is an incredible city with a vibrant business community."

Other cities attractive to potential employees include Chicago, for its strong culture, ethnic diversity, moderate cost of living and public transportation; Denver, for the active adult and outdoor lifestyle; and Dallas, for its several Fortune 500 companies and affordable living.

Rusty O'Kelley, managing partner of Leadership Consulting for the Americas at Heidrick & Struggles, said these cities are significant metropolitan areas that balance urban life with a high quality of life.

"They are real business centers with a meaningful business and demographic diversity which is making them very attractive to top talent," O'Kelley said. "Not only are these four cities popular in the U.S., they are also garnering international attention when it comes to attracting the best talent globally."

On the other end of the spectrum, cities that are shrinking or experiencing slow growth, such as Detroit or towns in the southern states of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi, have the most difficulty recruiting talent, according to the study.

Depending on the industry, New York City and San Francisco were considered both easy and difficult to recruit to by the consultants surveyed. The cost of living in those cities was considered the biggest barrier to relocation for many candidates.

Overall, employees are less likely to consider relocating to another city than they were 10 years ago for a variety of reasons, including the instability of the job market and the decline in the housing market.

"For companies, this study provides general insights and trends on how attractive their location is perceived in the market," said Maribel Langer, associate principal of Leadership Consulting for Heidrick & Struggles. "The desirability of location directly affects the amount of time, cost and effort needed to recruit top leadership talent."

The study was based on surveys of more than 50 search consultants and represents a cross section of industries and companies across the U.S.

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