“Sweet Home Alabama”, Is an earworm that stays with you for days if you hear the tune anywhere. A state in the southeastern area of America, bordered by Tennessee, Georgia, Florida and with the Gulf of Mexico to the south, Alabama is a sweet home to many. It is the 24th most populous state in the country with a rich history and 4 million friendly and kind folk.
The Alabama landscape is never boring from its mountainous northern regions to its shores along the Gulf of Mexico. Scenic views accompany the catchy tunes with its music, rich history and food that would make your mouth salivate. Wondering what else you should know before deciding if moving to Alabama is the right choice for you? Read on!
What Should I Know Before Moving To Alabama?
This beautiful state is fondly known by many names like the Yellowhammer State, The Heart of Dixie and the Cotton state. Some even call it the lizard state. It’s not hard to guess why from the name. If you are not a fan of football, you better convert quickly, because the state is football crazy. The instate rivalry between colleges attracts 100,000 fans to watch the games every year.
The southern state is one of the greatest food destinations in the country, so you better have a significantly large belly with a lot of space for all that pulled pork, fried catfish and caramel cake. You also better embrace that famous southern spirit. Alabamians have a more relaxed and laid back approach to life in general and no matter how much you love the fast life, you will not be able to resist it either.
The state’s rich history is rooted in its music, with some of the great music legends in jazz and blues having originated here. If you look at the landscape in Alabama, you would not be able to deny that it did play a role in the development of these music genres. Many states have beaches or mountains, but Alabama has it all.
Crime Rate In Alabama
Alabama is not one of the safest cities to live in with regard to violent crime. The violent crime sits at 5.1 incidents per 1000 people this year. Sure, it is a 2% improvement from the 5.2 incidents per 1000 people last year. But it still makes Alabama’s violent crime rate higher than the national average by 38%.
Below we have listed some of the safer cities to live in Alabama.
● Vestavia Hills
● Pleasant Grove
The state experiences subtropical climates with annual temperature averaging around 65°F with very hot summers and mild winters. The weather in the northern region of Alabama is much cooler than the southern regions. Winds from the Gulf of Mexico and the higher elevation in the north, help mitigate the heat in this extremely warm state.
The state can receive precipitation throughout the year and is no stranger to thunderstorms. The southern region, the Gulf coast, can receive anywhere from 70 – 80 days of thunderstorms annually, while the calmer northern regions get around 60 days of thunderstorms a year.
Spring season is from March through May and has average highs of 77°F degrees and lows of 55°F. The earlier months are significantly cooler than the later ones, with each month receiving at least 5 days of precipitation. Spring is one of the wettest seasons of the year.
Spring is anonymous with blooming flowers and thawing rivers. In Alabama, spring is infamous for being the tornado season. The northern regions of the state are situated in what has come to be known as Tornado Alley, and also get thunderstorms that can spawn twisters.
The season of heat begins in June and melts its way through August with temperatures reaching a high of 90°F degrees, and with lows typically around 72°F. It is not uncommon to beat the heat in the summers with visits to lakes and rivers and visits to the coast.
The earlier months do see precipitation a few days a month, with the later month of August consisting of many sunny days and clear skies. Many activities come to life during the season from hiking to bird watching, with the promise of peace, possibly burning your skin if you are not careful.
The months of September through to November see temperatures between 44°F and 72°F. You can expect precipitation and sometimes snow about 3 to 4 days every month. The milder, calmer climate with the humidity and wind will feel far more comfortable than the previous season.
Accompanying the forgiving climate is the harvest and hunting season. The hunting season kicks off among the beautiful fall foliage. A lakeside visit and a night under the stars is a welcome getaway before the cold sets in.
December through to February is the winter season. It tends to be mild and rainy with comfortable temperatures of 30°F and 60°F. The state gets roughly 2 inches of snowfall annually. Although this snowfall rarely graces the southern reaches by the gulf of mexico.
The northern regions can get freezing nights with January being the coldest month. However, this does bring joy to snow lowers and skiing enthusiasts as they can indulge in their passion in the higher elevations. Down the Gulf, a light jacket will keep you warm in the winter and protect you from a light shower, while you enjoy some light fishing.
Is It Expensive To Live In Alabama?
Alabama is one of the cheaper states to live in the United States, but it is also one of the states with a lower household income. The median household income in Alabama is roughly $56,200, while the average household income in the United States is $68,703.
But it’s not just about the income, taxes also play a role in your average cost of living. According to taxfoundation.org, Alabama has one of the lowest sales tax rates at around 4.00%. But it is also one of the states with the highest average local sales tax rates, at around 5.22%. This puts Alabama’s combined state and local sales tax rates at 9.22% which is one of the highest in the country
Cost Of Living In Alabama
Cost of living in the heart of Dixie is affordable compared to many of the other states. The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that it is roughly 13% below the national average cost of living. In fact, the cost of goods and services in the most expensive cities and regions in the state is still approximately 9.7% lower than the national average, which is only about 4% higher than the state average. This makes Alabama a state with the third lowest cost of living in the country.
To give you an idea we have listed below a few of the cities in the state with their cost of living compared to the national average.
- Birmingham: 6.6% below national average
- Montgomery: 7.2% below national average
- Dothan: 12.5% below national average
- Tuscaloosa: 4.2% below national average
- Auburn: 12.8% below national average
Below we have shared the cost of living index for Alabama. Keep in mind that the national average is always set at 100. Overall, Alabama has a cost of living index of 89.3 Here’s the breakdown:
- Grocery: 95.1
- Housing: 70.2
- Utility: 103.3
- Transportation: 92.3
Another major aspect that affects your cost of living is healthcare. According to Valuepenguin, if you are a single parent and looking to settle down in the state with your single child, the healthcare will roughly cost you $849. If you are a family of three, two adults and a child, it will cost you approximately $1,417 and for a family of four with the same demographic, but a second child, healthcare will leave your bank account $1,699 less.
Again these costs will vary depending on the plan you take and the benefits you are offered by your employer.
Buying A House
According to Zillow, the median value of a home in Alabama is roughly $165,334. This price definitely varies from region to region in the state. Alabama has seen an increase in the median home value over the last year by about 10.3%.
Renting A House
According to an analysis by HomeSnacks, the rent in Alabama is 36.4% cheaper than the national average of $1,650. This brings the average rent in Alabama to $1050 for a 1,397 sq ft apartment.
Yes, the rent varies from location to location. It also goes higher the more bedrooms you have. A studio apartment would cost you approximately $1090 in rent, with a 1 bedroom apartment costing $950 in rent. Larger apartments like a 3 bedroom one will come to $1075 and a 4 bedroom apartment will be just $1,510 hole in your wallet. Interestingly enough, a 2 bedroom apartment actually has a lower average rent of just $895 a month.
Alabama has one of the highest power bills in the country. Rentcafe estimates that residents of the state pay approximately $145 for electricity alone. Adding your water and gas bill of $26 and $81 respectively and other miscellaneous costs like sewage, cable and internet, brings the total average utility cost to around $356 per month.
Alabama Employment Opportunities
As of February 2021, Alabama had an employment rate of 4.0% this is roughly 2% below the national average at the time. According to the NLCS, this has dropped to 3.8% in March. Being one of the states that doesn’t have a state minimum wage law, Alabama keeps to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.
There are quite a few industries that are at the economic forefront of the state. Agriculture is one of the state’s main sources of income with 18% coming from crops and the other 82% generated from livestock products. Being the only state in the US that provides the natural resources necessary for making iron and steel makes this another large industry in the country. These resources have led to Alabama being the largest provider of steel pipes and iron products in the US.
The Power and manufacturing sector are one of the other major employers in Alabama. On the other hand, one of the top paying job areas in the state happens to be as professionals in the healthcare or medical industry. In recent years, Alabama has also seen a rise in the IT sector with software engineers, computer analysts and software developments being in high demand. If you are interested in space and heavenly bodies, then you should know that Alabama is home to NASA, the Marshall Space Flight Center and the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.
Alabama is well renowned for its college football scene, with the famous rivalry between University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa and Auburn University. Even though Alabama is ranked 50th in education in the country, it is home to a number of notable school districts, universities and colleges.
The undergraduate tuition fees for Alabama residents is $11,620 and $31,090 for out-of-state students at The University of Alabama. Overseen by the Alabama State Board of Education, Alabama offers many schooling programs for children. Most parents prefer to send their children to their district assigned traditional public school.
The average school tuition is an estimated $7,214 per year for a private school and a private elementary school costs around $6,323 per year. According to School Choice Week, parents can also choose to send their children to Alabama charter public schools that take a more innovative approach to education. Or better yet, Alabama magnet schools, which allow children to focus on learning in a specific field or track, like engineering for example.
Getting Around Alabama
Public transport is one of the areas that Alabama has to improve on. It is one of the 5 states where there is no state funding provided for the public transport sector. But that being said, it does have a public transit system, although it is limited. Possibly owing to this lack of public transport infrastructure, Alabama ranks 33rd in the United States with a n average commute time of 24.3 minutes.
There are 5 bus companies that operate in Alabama. Connecting between 6 cities and towns within the state, The Tornado Bus also connects cities from outside the state to Alabama. El Expreso Bus is another company that runs within the state. It runs one route within the city and also connects Alabama to cities outside the state.
Wanda Coach, Greyhound, Jefferson Lines are bus companies that do not operate within the state between cities, but they operate interstate routes connecting Alabama to other cities and states.
The cheapest bus ticket you can get is around $18, while the most expensive ticket will put $239.00 out of your pocket. The average ticket price in Alabama is approximately $108. It is also worth noting that many bus services, especially in the smaller towns, only operate between 9am to 5pm, and no service operates post 11pm at night.
The state has three major stations, Birmingham, Tuscaloosa and Anniston. Connecting New York Penn station and New Oreleans, the Amtrak Crescent service runs through the state. This service visits the three major stations as well as a few lesser known stations in the state. The Amtrak Crescent service is not known for reliability and is notorious for delays, but the service provides for a comfortable journey when on the train.
The state of Alabama has six passenger service airports located at different parts of the state. In the north there are Huntsville International Airport and Birmingham International Airport, while the central region is serviced by Montgomery Regional Airport. The area at the Gulf Coast is covered by Mobile Regional Airport.
Apart from these 4 major airports, Dothan Regional and Northwest Alabama Regional also handle flights around the central region of the state.
Taxi And Cab Travel
Taxis are available throughout the state, but can be missing from some of the smaller cities and towns. Taxis are not particularly cheap and it is not terribly efficient unless you live in the larger cities like Montgomery and Birmingham. The Express Taxi is the popular taxi service company in Montgomery, and in Birmingham, theYellow Cab Company would be your go to company.
If you do not live in one of the big cities or you tend to travel between cities, then renting a car is the much more reliable and efficient method of traveling, as opposed to hiring a taxi.
The best way to get around the state and its cities is by road, and preferably by car. The limitations that the public transit system faces does not interfere with driving around the state. What’s great is that Alabama does have a great infrastructure of roads, with multiple US highways and four toll roads passing through the state. In fact, Alabama also has five auxiliary interstate routes and six interstate roads.
Best Cities To Live In Alabama
The southern state is a beautiful place to settle down or retire. Any region you decide to live in, brings its own unique charm to the table. So below, in no particular order, are our suggestions for the best cities to live in.
The city of Madison manages to combine the rich Alabama heritage with the fast growing modern world. The city is one of the more modern “digital” cities in the state, with its ever growing software and engineering industry. Madison is also a short 20 minute commute from huntsville, another great location with job opportunities.
You won’t have to worry about job opportunities when moving to Madison. To add to that, the city has strong military pride with the Redstone Arsenal Military base being prominent in the area. You can also witness the strong military community in many festivities and events centered around family and community. Madison is also very ethnically diverse and people are friendly and welcoming. Best part is that Madison has one of the best schools in the state and so is an ideal candidate for family life.
- Population: 53,797
- Median home value: $288,271
- Average market rent: $1,029
Are you craving for a place that is great to settle down with your family? A neighbourhood that does not thrive on the frantic city life, but still not a stranger to it? Then Mountain Brook is the place for you. Located just outside of Birmingham, northwest of Vestavia Hills, Mountain Brook gives you a suburban life you always dreamed off.
Arguably one of the happiest places in Alabama to settle down, Mountain Brook is just a 17 minute drive from the bustling hub of the city of Birmingham. No surprise that this makes the city the perfect candidate for suburban life, but with many great job opportunities less than 20 minutes away.
The houses in Mountain Brook come with a hefty price tag, but are well worth it, fulfilling your dream of owning a spacious house with a garden to boot. They are not stingy with education either, with the city having spent 20% more than the rest of the state on each student.
- Population: 20,145
- Median home value: $774,414
- Average market rent: $1,996
If you love seafood and dream of a small town set on the shores of a beach, then Fairhope has got you covered. Fairhope does give you the feel of a small town and being set on the mobile bay, it is easily one of the best cities to live in Alabama.
The median age of the population is just over 40 and that’s a thumbs up if you are looking to retire to the easy life. Fairhope does come as one of the more expensive cities to live in, so you better make sure that if you move there you can afford it. But with that exuberant price tag, you do get a few perks like great job opportunities, schools and safe streets.
This fast growing city is also a fisherman’s paradise, as you can enjoy the annual “jubilee” when it becomes real easy to net fish, crabs and others to see marine life just off the shores.
- Population: 233,992
- Median home value: $346,018
- Average market rent: $1,000
Is Alabama A Good Place To Live?
This is up for debate depending on the type of life you want to live. The state offers up cities with fast growing economies along with small towns that have a modern aesthetic to it. On top of that, you also get the option of choosing life on the shores of the Gulf Of Mexico or even higher up in the mountains
So the options are endless but the real question is, do you vibe with Alabama? Because no matter where you settle, you can’t escape the easy going nature of the state. Mix that in with the music, food and a lifestyle rooted in a rich cultural heritage and you will soon find yourself adapting the laid back approach to life. In the cities as well as in the rural areas.
This is all well and good, but it’s prudent that you do not let this pull you away from the reality that the state doesn’t boast a low crime rate or great schools. It also witnesses its share of tornadoes and thunderstorms throughout the year. If you ask us, Alabama is not necessarily the best place to live, but if these don’t concern you, then by all means do consider this beautiful rich state fondly called, the Heart of Dixie.
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