So you're thinking of moving to Alabama, but you're not sure you've thoroughly mulled-over all the super-important details before arriving at your decision. Well, possibly southern-bound friend, you've come to the right place - we've assembled a handy, tasty guide that will outline some of the most important points for someone in your position to review.
No matter where you choose to move in Alabama, you can always find affordable home insurance within our trusted network.
We don't blame you for wanting to move to the Heart of Dixie (as it's called) considering that the state is home to rocket scientists - Huntsville houses both the U.S. Space & Rocket Center and the Marshall Space Flight Center at the Redstone Arsenal. The U.S. Army's lead rocket engineer, Wernher von Braun, led NASA's rocketry program throughout the '60s.
What else does the Yellowhammer State have to offer, besides huge advances in the space program and ridiculously smart people? Plenty - from beautiful landscapes that'll have you clicking your shutter so fast your camera starts steaming, to mouth-watering soul food, to seriously action-packed sporting events. Read on to discover why you might just make Alabama your next move.
According to U.S. Census data, about 4.875 million people currently reside in the Cotton State. About 11,447 of those people moved here between 2016 and 2017. Also, get this - 55% of the people overall in the U.S. who moved in the year 2017 moved to Alabama, according to the 2017 National Movers Study. So why are so many people are flocking here?
Well, for starters, the state has several fast-growing job fields, including computer science, physical therapy, nursing, occupational therapy, aircraft assembly and EMT, to name a few. The highest-paid careers include pediatrician, nurse anesthetist, administrative law judge, dentist and orthodontist.
The current unemployment rate is just 3.5%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, so odds are pretty good for finding work upon your move. This number has also been on a nice, steady decline since 2010, when it was a much-higher 11.9%. The federal minimum wage is the same as the national average, however, at $7.25/hour, states minimum-wage.org.
Don't forget that Alabama is home to NASA, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center and the Marshall Space Flight Center. If you've got a love for all-things aeronautical, this could very well be the new home of your dreams.
You're probably going to want a place to live after you move (we're just guessing), so what's the likelihood of finding a new place you'll love (and be able to afford) in the Yellowhammer State?
Well, the median value of homes currently on the market is $128,900, with an average listing price of $190,000. The median home rent is $995/month, with one-bedroom apartments averaging $824/month in Birmingham.
Homes in Alabama are mostly fairly new, too - most houses currently available were built in the decade 2000-2010. So not only are odds good for you to find an affordable place to live, but you'll also be looking at newish properties, too.
That being said, there's not much in the way of new construction popping up these days. A little is happening in central Alabama, in and around Birmingham; a little in the southwest corner, near Mobile; and a tiny bit in the northern end of the state, in and around Huntsville.
If cheaper housing, especially around the state's hot-spots, appeals to you, you may just want to set your sights on the Heart of Dixie.
Culture and Natives
When moving to a new place, you might be curious about the people there. Will they become your best friends, or will they be the type to make you chain your doors and stare out of a slit in your blinds in total paranoia?
According to locals, residents can be a real mixed bag. The consensus is that Alabamians love to gossip, are passive-aggressive, and may just fool you with their underhanded insults. The phrase "bless your heart" is not meant warmly, but rather sarcastically - and if you hear it, odds are good that once you've left, you'll be talked about.
Don't let that dissuade you, though. Locals stress that the main vibe of their state is one of true southern hospitality - they use "sir" and "ma'am" out of respect, and will give you a warm welcome and lots of food. They may refer to you as a Yankee if you're from the North, but this they actually do out of (mocking) love.
You'll find yourself adjusting your vocabulary and pronunciations after a move to Alabama. The town of Burmingham, to Alabamians, has a silent 'g', and is pronounced "Burmin'-ham". Don't be the loser who sticks out like a sore thumb just because you're partial to your consonants. In addition, Alabamians have their own catch-phrase when they're ready to take action: "Fixin' to."
Yellowhammer State Trivia
Montgomery, Alabama was the where a famous event occurred on December 1, 1955 - the day when Rosa Parks bravely refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white man. Today, to honor this local woman’s act of bravery, the Rosa Parks Library and Museum stands in the town of Montgomery, attracting lots of locals and tourists alike.
The people of the Cotton State are crazy about BBQ - and we do mean CRAZY. They'll fight to the death (maybe not literally) over which restaurant or local cookout serves up the best. These are not discussions to be entered into lightly. Be prepared to explain, and defend, your stance.
Locals will ALWAYS rock out to "Sweet Home Alabama" if it comes on the radio, and they'll crank it up to 11. Even Alabamians who secretly hate the tune will start to boogie when they hear that famous opening riff. The song has made such an impression on the culture that it's even printed on license plates.
Alabamians pride themselves on their rich food and cultural pride. They have rare, supposedly lobster-tasting shrimp called "Royal Reds" from the Gulf of Mexico, fried green tomatoes, super-sweet tea (heavy on the sweet, light on the tea) and MoonPies - and they smother everything in TABASCOÒ sauce.
It seems fitting, with a diet that rich and heavy, that locals like to observe a slower pace of life. These self-proclaimed "salt of the earth" types will make you forget your health-enthusiast ways and have you reaching for seconds. Bring extra napkins.
Must-See Alabama Fun + Activities
We know you're already halfway out the door, luggage in hand, ready to make your move to the Heart of Dixie, but cool your jets for a moment. Before you go racing off like you're a driver at Talladega Superspeedway, check out this list we've compiled of some of the state's main attractions.
Here just a few of the state's can't-miss sights and activities:
- U.S. Space & Rocket Center: Located in Huntsville, this museum includes access to the historic Shuttle Park and Rocket Park and showcases unique artifacts from the country's space exploration. It's considered to be the world's largest space museum, and outlines the history of the U.S. space program. It's also home to the annual, highly anticipated Space Camp program featuring the Aviation Challenge, in which students undergo training in flight simulators.
- Vulcan statue: In Birmingham, the world's tallest cast iron statue stands an impressive 56 feet tall. Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and forge, represents the state's roots in the iron and steel industry - and he's kind of a big deal. His 100th birthday was a huge celebration that drew a crowd of more than 100,000 people.
- Cathedral Caverns State Park: Located in Woodville, this park offers cave tours, campsites, backpacking and hiking. It has the widest entrance of any commercial cave in the world, and features a sparkly Gemstone Mine with a gem mining experience available to all ages.
- Talladega Superspeedway: AKA NASCAR's "biggest and baddest" track, it’s located in Lincoln and features a hugely anticipated annual NASCAR race, the Alabama 500. The race goes for 188 laps, covering just over 500 miles. Now that's a lot of high-speed left turns.
- Alligator Alley: Located in Summerdale, this swamp sanctuary has an elevated boardwalk featuring a too-close-for-comfort view of hundreds of alligators and different kinds of wildlife. If you're into staring one of mankind's biggest natural predators practically right in the face, this is the place for you.
Pros and Cons of Living in the Heart of Dixie
Before you perfect your BBQ recipe and run off to see the alligators and the world's tallest Vulcan, we thought it might be worth taking into consideration a short-and-sweet list of a few pros and cons of moving to Alabama.
- Low cost of living: It's no secret that real estate in the Cotton State is pretty cheap, and taxes are pretty low. We suspect that's just one of the big reasons why 55% of relocators nationwide in 2017 chose this as their new home.
- Nature + all four seasons: The terrain of Alabama is widely-varied, including beaches, mountains and forests. Because of this, there are plenty of activities for all different breeds of outdoorsy types. Locals also like to point out that they experience all four seasons and see weather from all over the spectrum - from snow and ice storms to hot, humid summers and springtime torrential downpours.
- Music: Because of its location, the Yellowhammer State draws lots of big music acts each year. The Hangout Fest in Gulf Shores is the state's largest annual music event. Big names in all genres - ranging from jazz to rock 'n' roll to country - make appearances here.
- Food: As we've already mentioned, Alabamians are die-hard foodies. In fact, the town of Birmingham alone has a whopping 28 different food festivals every year. Among them are the Exceptional Foundation Chili Cook-Off, Taste of Homewood, BBQ for Building, Girls Inc. Cajun Cook-Off and BHamBurger Battle. Seriously, don't eat anything for a while before you arrive here - you'll be stuffing your face in no time.
- Proximity to major cities: Nashville, Atlanta, New Orleans and Memphis are just day-trips away from the Heart of Dixie. This prime location lends itself to countless opportunities to see all kinds of festivals, concerts, museums, state parks, shopping attractions and more. Did you really think you'd be bored here?
- Humidity: Make that winter humidity. While the humidity in the summer is undeniably bad, it's the winter that separates die-hard Alabamians from wannabees - the extra moisture causes cold temperatures to feel absolutely frigid. Locals say that it's not uncommon for a 45-degree day on the thermometer to feel closer to 10 degrees. If you're not into feeling the extremes in every season, it may not be long before you're miserable here.
- Drug use: The more rural areas of the state have real problems with poverty, homelessness and block after block of abandoned houses. With this naturally comes problematic drug use, and in Alabama's case, methamphetamine labs are a real struggle to crack down on (no pun intended).
- Severe storms: While experiencing all four seasons can be argued as a good thing, it also means that there's opportunity for all kinds of stormy weather - and this state sees some of the most severe. For starters, it's one of the most active tornado states. The spring and fall seasons bring heavy thunderstorms, and mid-year brings hurricanes. At any time of year, residents are subject to periods of seemingly random downpours, that can stop as quickly as they start. Locals joke, "If you don't like the weather here, wait five minutes."
We'd be doing you a major disservice if we left without giving you a list of some of the strangest, lamest and downright dumbest laws still in existence in the state you're considering making your next homeland. We've compiled a few that'll have you raising an eyebrow in no time.
Here are just a few:
- Putting salt onto a railroad track is punishable by death. They want to keep their railroads free of cattle, and they're really serious about it.
- It's illegal to impersonate a priest. For real. So stop practicing your impression in the mirror, and put your comedic efforts towards new material - you'll thank us later.
- It's illegal to wear a fake moustache in church because it could cause laughter. (See? We told you they were super-serious about their church.) Religion is no laughing matter to Alabamians.
- It's illegal to wear a mask in public. Man, so what are we supposed to do on Halloween?
- It's illegal to play dominoes on Sunday. It disturbs the day of rest. Duh. You know how heated those dominoes matches can get!
Prepared for Landing in the Heart of Dixie
Well friends, there you have it - a carefully designed guide to some of the main contemplation points for permanent relocation. Of course, we can't lie and say that we're able to give you absolutely all the important details that could influence your decision (we'd be here for days), but it's our hope that we've given you a good launching pad to fire up your decision rocket from.
Now it's up to you to decide (after potentially doing some further research) if you can envision yourself in the Yellowhammer State, among the impressive and not-at-all intimidating rocket scientists, the speedy racecar drivers, the soul-filled foodies, and the always-hungry alligators. It's been a real pleasure compiling this guide for you, and we hope you've had your fill of Alabama goodies.
Good luck - and make sure you're covered with an affordable home insurance policy.