You’ll find sweet southern hospitality in Alabama, particularly in the southern parts of the state. Perhaps your dream is to live in an old, southern mansion, or antebellum house. Moving to Alabama means you can make this dream a reality, as these types of homes are more affordable than you might think.
Here are some things you should know before moving to Alabama.
Weather is one of the most important elements to think about when deciding on the best time to move to Alabama. Try to avoid moving in March, April, May or November, as these tend to be high-storm months. October may be the best month to move, as this is often the driest, most mild month of the year. Alabama has one of the highest hurricane, tornado and thunderstorm frequencies in the nation, so you’ll want to familiarize
This blog post on AL.com will educate you on what to do before, during, and after hurricane season. AL.com is an all-encompassing site for Alabama news, weather, jobs, real estate, rentals, classified ads and more. All major cities contribute their own city-specific information on a regularly updated schedule.
Will you be hiring a professional moving company? Stick to the ones that have been pre-screened, are licensed and bonded, and offer full US moving services. All reputable moving companies will give you a free quote for your move, so it’s important to call a few first to get the best price.
When moving to Alabama, be sure to check with your new neighborhood area or building landlord for any specific parking permits you will need. If possible, it’s a great idea to get these permits ahead of time to avoid any unnecessary parking tickets once you arrive and begin to get settled.
It’s important to alert the USPS to your new address as soon as you know it. This can be easily completed online. Additionally, a moving packet is available to pick up at any US Post Office.
Cities and Metro Areas
Moving to an Alabama metro area doesn’t mean you’ll have to give up any of the pleasures you may be accustomed to in your previous state. Alabama’s major cities offer all of the amenities available in perhaps larger, more densely populated cities. Huntsville, Birmingham, Montgomery and Mobile are the four largest cities in Alabama, with the state capital residing in Montgomery. These major cities are spread almost evenly throughout the state; interspersed with many rural areas, farming lands and countless tiny towns.
Full City/Metro Area Report
Cost of Living
The cost of living in Alabama is lower than the national average by about 12 percent, and has remained relatively stable over recent years. However, keep in mind that the average salary tends to be lower here as well. Huntsville has one of the highest yearly salary averages in the state, while Gulf Shores has one of the lowest.
Alabama’s minimum wage ($7.25/hr.) has not changed in four years, and is equal to most US states. The biggest difference you may find in Alabama is that if you are a tipped employee (meaning the majority of your wage is based on tips), your hourly wage is $2.13. This can mean a huge income difference for someone who, for example, is coming from Oregon and receives the full minimum wage ($8.80) plus tips.
Highways and Public Transport
Five major Interstate highways converge within Alabama: I-10, I-20, I-59, I-65 and I-85. It is generally easy to navigate throughout the state; all major roads are well-kept and laden with easy-to-follow signage. Commuting through major cities is comparable to the national average. On the whole, Alabamians carpool less than other states, and prefer to drive themselves to and from work. The Birmingham-Hoover metro area is Alabama’s largest economic area, and it can take longer to navigate through rush hour traffic there.
Commuting from rural areas will take longer than from city/suburb dwelling, but no more than the national average. Be especially careful in these rural areas, as they tend to be without street lights for miles, and with few street signs and markers. The good thing about Alabama’s rural areas is that they’re very flat with few curves, eliminating some of the potential danger of poorly lit roads.
Driving between suburbs will usually consist of long stretches of flat freeways and a lot of shrubbery where animals often hide. It’s really important to keep your vehicle maintained with working headlights, good tires, etc., because not only will the weather create driving/visibility issues at a drop of a hat, the Alabama State Patrol are also sticklers for pulling over vehicles with expired tags, burned out head lights and other visible issues. Also, watch your speed! Traffic patrols are always in full force, looking for speed demons and illegal activity. Be particularly careful when driving through neighborhoods, and adhere closely to the posted speed limits within them. Alabama State Patrol officers are not generous with warnings, even for small offenses.
When looking to relocate to Alabama, bigger cities will mean better opportunities with higher earning potentials. In the Northeast (Huntsville, Decatur), Midwest (Tuscaloosa, Birmingham) and West (Mobile), job prospects are up a staggering 20 percent from previous years for college graduates. The Southeast (Montgomery, Dothan) shows the smallest increase in job potential. Those with degrees in business, engineering and accounting can expect to find favorable job prospects with competitive pay within the state. Graduates with Medical and Communications degrees are also in demand, as both of these fields are projected to increase.
Job Search and Relocation Advice
Alabama climate in a nutshell: hot, humid, with heavy rainfalls and frequent, extreme weather storms in the form of hurricanes, thunder and tropical storms. Most parts of the state also see the occasional tornado. Rain often comes in a torrential downpour, but usually only lasts for a short while before the sun and humidity take over again. Hurricanes, tropical storms and tornadoes are all common, frequent occurrences, but locals are well informed on how to prepare properly. Warnings and drills are regularly performed to keep you up-to-date on proper safety precautions and evacuation routes when necessary.
Temperatures, total rainfall and storm frequency differ greatly between the northern (Birmingham, Huntsville, Tuscaloosa) and southern (Mobile, Dothan, Montgomery) parts of the state. Winters, for the most part, are cool and mild with rare occurrences of freezing and snow, especially in the southern half of the Alabama.
Many Alabama elementary and high schools have risen considerably in ranks for the national averages in math, science and reading. Alabama boasts not one, but two highly competitive colleges, which will forever be the topic of football rivalry: University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and Auburn University. Also included on the list of top five colleges in the state are University of Alabama at Birmingham, Samford University (a private, Baptist-affiliated University), and Troy University, which works closely with the American Armed Forces to offer satellite campuses in 17 states and 11 countries. In Alabama, Troy’s main campuses are located in Troy, Dothan, Montgomery and Phenix City. It’s also an excellent choice for those who prefer distance learning, or do not live near a campus.
The following are the top high schools in Alabama:
- Loveless Academic Magnet Progressive High School (Montgomery)
- Mountain Brook High School (Mountain Brook)
- (Tied) Brewbaker Tech Magnet High School (Montgomery) & Ramsay High School (Birmingham)
- Booker T. Washington Magnet High School (Montgomery)
- Vestavia Hills High School (Vestavia Hills)
- New Century Tech Demo High School (Huntsville)
- Arab High School (halfway between Gadsden and Decatur): Up in the ranks from #11 last year
- Piedmont High School (near the Atlanta, GA border): Up in the ranks from #57 last year!
- Daphne High School (Daphne, near Mobile): Up in the ranks from #14
Moving to a state that you are unfamiliar with can be a daunting task, so take advantage of the valuable government resources that has been made available online. The following are a few helpful links to help you tackle necessary moving tasks—from getting an Alabama driver’s license to registering to vote in your new home state.