Birmingham, Alabama

Magic City

The Best Thing About Birmingham?

The Buzz

Cheap housing and short commutes to a buzzy little city. There are baseball games, breweries, art, old theaters and a foodie scene worthy of national attention.

Birmingham is located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, which lends itself to some pretty incredible scenery and there’s lots of good, live music being played in the plentiful venues, juke joints and festivals.

Here's a local's pov on the city: In the past 10 years Birmingham has gone through a radical change. More jobs in medical and tech. Important to this revival is the restoration of historic areas like Downtown, Southside and and Avondale. They have the vibe of Austin or Portland. If you live in those areas it's a friendly, eclectic environment. Worth a look. To maybe further refine the answer, in general if you're a very conservative person, and prefer an environment where most people you’ll run into are roughly identical in outlook, the suburbs are best. Homewood, Vestavia Hills, and North Shelby county. If you're conservative but happy to hang with liberals, liberal but happy to hang with conservatives, libertarian and open to pretty much anything, find the occasional Millennial with spiked hair to be interesting but not at all offensive, and like funky locally owned coffee shops instead of Starbucks..Downtown, Southside, and Avondale are ground zero. We preferred the latter to the former.

The Worst Thing About Birmingham?

Politics/Religiong

Local, county and state government is a mess. While Birmingham is a liberal bastion and has reinvented itself after a painful and ugly past, politics and corruption can still be problematic and transplants are not as common as some other southern cities so the welcome may not be quite as warm. But the summers certainly are hot and humid. If you get even just a little bit outside the city, life is going to slow to a Pabst-swilling crawl.

When you're in a blue spot largely surrounded by red things like politics and religion can get a bit tense. Here's a transplant with a pov on these topics: It's definitely the most religious place I've lived. Everywhere else I've lived I just assumed that anyone I met that was my age was not religious, that strategy has failed me pretty consistently here. That being said, I'd say religious people in the millennial-and-younger age bracket are still the minority and we've met plenty of like-minded people as ourselves. I wouldn't say it's different enough from the rest of the country to be a major decision-making factor. Take this with a grain of salt, this is all anecdotal.

Despite AL's political position at large, Birmingham is pretty blue. Like most metropolitan areas in the country, you'll find a pretty diverse mixture of political beliefs but urban areas tend to trend more liberal and Birmingham is no different. You'll find this less true the further you go from the city.

Lifestyle Of Birmingham

B’ham is a city of distinctive neighborhoods—the bustling Southside with its towering buildings and the UAB campus; industrial downtown, now being renovated into lofts and cool restaurants; hipster-centric Avondale with its artisanal breweries and coffee shops all accessible by foot.

With about a million people in the metro area and just over 200,000 in the city itself, Birmingham’s big enough to have an international airport, The Birmingham Museum of art and its own version of the High Line (Railroad Park) and a bustling food hall (Pitzitz.) It’s small enough to be much more affordable than Atlanta or New Orleans. A five to fifteen minute commute is about all you need to live, work and play in Birmingham.

Homewood is the best of liberal Birmingham but more expensive and the housing market there is very competitive for renters and/or buyers. A similar vibe can be had in Crestwood, Forest Park and/or parts of Avondale.

The Atomic Lounge is James Beard noteworthy for its crafty/wacky cocktails, like the Sex Panther, an old-fashioned riff made with bourbon, rum and Cynar and garnished with a temporary panther tattoo, all while wearing one of the full-body animal costumes the bar keeps available upon request.

If you want to check out all the shenanigans locals get up to here is the calendar of festivals and events: https://www.birminghamal.org/festivals-and-events/

Why You Should Move Here Now?

Threading The Needle

Birmingham threads a tight needle: It’s small, but diverse. Charming, but sophisticated. The city hasn’t grown so fast that there’s outward sprawl. Entrepreneurs and residents can still grab historic downtown factory space and other creative space affordably.