What’s it like to live in the South? We’re taking a look at the Heart of Dixie–Alabama–to answer that question. Here’s everything you need to know.
If you’re considering moving to Alabama, get ready for breathtaking shorelines, low costs and some of the kindest neighbors you’ll ever meet. Between its deep-rooted history, mouth-watering food and passion for college football, you’re going to love being a part of the authentic Alabama experience.
Here’s the best part: you’re going to love the cost of it, too. Alabama’s largest city was even deemed the most affordable city in America.
Before you pack up your things and head South, we put together everything you need to know about Sweet Home Alabama to help you live like a local.
So, what is Alabama known for, anyway?
Alabama is the physical heart and the cultural soul of the deep south. Nicknamed the Heart of Dixie, Alabama joined the Union in 1819. At 52,419 square miles, Alabama ranks No. 30 in size of all the states. It also has more than 4 million people, making it No. 23 in U.S. population.
If you’re going to be new the area, here are a few things the state is known for.
Alabama–in the river city of Montgomery, to be exact–is where the breakaway Confederate States of America were born, leading to the U.S. Civil War. It’s also where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached and changed history. Alabama is famous for its role in the Civil Rights Movement, where Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat and 3,000 demonstrators marched in Selma. There’s arguably no better place to learn about the modern history of the U.S. than right here in Alabama.
Its mouth-watering food.
Alabama is one of the greatest food destinations in the U.S., so get ready to eat!
Locally owned restaurants dish up slow-cooked Southern dishes, elegant fine dining and fresh seafood. If you want to try out the authentic barbecue, be sure to stop by Dreamland and Big Bob Gibson’s. And if you haven’t experienced all that fried food has to offer, you may want to start. There are certain dishes–like fried okra, fried green tomatoes, fried pickles and fried catfish–that you won’t want to miss.
Its beautiful landscapes.
Florida, watch out–there are definitely perks of living in a humid, subtropical climate right off the Gulf Shores. From 60 miles of silky white beaches to lakes lined with cottages, to high-ridge mountains, Alabama has it all. Whether you enjoy soaking up the sun while relaxing, floating down a river or being more active on nearby trails, Alabama is a nature lover’s paradise.
Its musical heritage.
In Alabama, you’ll find roots deep in music and a history that has played a huge role in the development of blues, jazz and country worldwide. Between the Jazz Hall of Fame in Birmingham, the Hank Williams festival in Montgomery, the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in Tuscumbia and the Muscle Shoals Music Studios, the entire state has always centered around its music. Not to mention the footsteps of some great music legends that are all found here: like Nat King Cole, Jimmy Buffet, Aretha Franklin, the Rolling Stones and more.
If there’s one thing you need to know before moving to Alabama, it’s that football is a way of life–especially with the competition between the University of Alabama and Auburn University. Every year, more than 100,000 fans gather to witness the game at Bryant-Denny and Jordan-Hare stadiums. So prepare for the time when you get asked, “who are you for?” Your friends, neighbors and coworkers want to know if you say “War Eagle” or “Roll Tide” — and you’ll want to answer confidently!
Did you know?
Alabama is also the only state in the United States that provides the natural resources needed to make iron and steel. As a result, Alabama is the largest supplier of cast-iron and steel pipe products in the entire U.S.
Popular Towns in Alabama
Alabama is divided into 67 counties, consisting of 169 cities and 291 towns. If you’re moving to Alabama, it doesn’t matter which town you live in–you’ll be centrally located to everything you need. Montgomery and Birmingham are a 2.5-hour drive from Atlanta, while Mobile and the Gulf Shore beaches are about the same distance from New Orleans.
Whether you’re looking for a thriving downtown scene or some spots on the water to relax, here are some of the best places to live in Alabama:
From the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute to the Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park, Birmingham is known for playing a crucial role in Alabama’s history. For a list of the top places to live around Birmingham, I suggest you continue reading and take a look at this link. Today, the area boasts a thriving cultural epicenter, numerous trails in Red Mountain Park and the Southwestern Athletic Conference. With over 212,000 people, Birmingham is the most populated area in Alabama and offers the draw of urban life without the affordable price tag.
As the State Capital and Alabama’s second-largest city, Montgomery offers rich history, ample job opportunities and vibrant downtown life. From the Civil War to the civil rights movement, Montgomery has played a vital role in some of Alabama’s most significant achievements. It’s also home to the State Capitol building where Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous speech in 1963. Today, Montgomery is recognized nationally for its recent downtown revitalization and new urbanism projects.
From turquoise waters to deep-sea fishing at The Wharf, to panoramic bay views, Mobile is the ultimate beach destination. Known for being one of the largest shipping ports in the U.S., the city has a deep history of its own: including its centuries-old Mardi Gras tradition, WWII-era Battleship Memorial Park, and architectural style. Whether you’re relocating to this part of Alabama alone or with your entire family, you’re going to love it in no time.
Known as the Rocket City, Huntsville is the third-largest city in Alabama with a population of 193,000. Home to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center (along with Redstone Arsenal, a military base of the U.S. Army), Huntsville is the area to be for military, aerospace and advanced-technology businesses, and is even called the STEM capital of the country. It hosts one of the largest research parks in the U.S., one of the most well-educated populations in the world, and it’s also home to several Fortune 500 companies including Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon and more.
Auburn is a top-10 college town. It’s home to 63,000 people and Auburn University. The school is the largest employer in the area and offers dynamic job opportunities. With affordable housing, an award-winning school system and tons of sports perks, it’s no wonder Auburn is a sought-after place to live. Centrally located near Atlanta, Birmingham and Montgomery, the area is easy to get to and easy to love.