Birmingham, Alabama

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What's it like to live in Birmingham?

What is it like to live in Birmingham, AL?

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.

What is it like to live in Birmingham, AL?

Birmingham is a fabulous well kept secret in Alabama. It is amazing how many visitors from around the world and .. yes, even some from up “north” come to Alabama and are blown away by what a great place it is to live. I was born in Alabama about 50 miles southeast of Birmingham and moved here in 1978 to spend my last 2 years of college at UAB. There would only be probably 2 or 3 places in the world that can match what Birmingham has in the medial community. So many outstanding hospitals and doctors and researchers from all over the world live here.

Birmingham has several complete communities that represent specific clusters of people but there is a broad diversity in every community. My oldest daughter was married 10 years ago and of her bridesmaids - one was from India and another from China. Many of the Birmingham area great students go on to highly advanced careers all over the world.

Birmingham represents a great range of house prices ranging across the entire price range and generally well below many other cities for fantastic houses. On the upper end 7,000 + square foot homes are in the $600K and up range and we have some homes at 25,000 sq feet. Just 60 miles away to the east, south and north are fabulous lakes with thousands of gorgeous lake homes.

Birmingham has quite an advanced research and startup community with quite a bit of local funding from local VCs. There are a lot of global businesses that are based here and are quite well run.

In Birmingham, hospitality is something we are well known for. Of course, this takes a little getting used to for some people that come from more isolated cities where neighbors do not know each other.

What is it like to live in Birmingham, AL?

I grew up in Birmingham and when young, viewed it as an unsophisticated backwater. I couldn’t wait to get away. At that time the steel industry was the economic hub of the city. I did move away and returned in the 1980s. By then it had become a delightful place to live. I had a beautiful apartment in a gorgeous old house on the Southside. New trendy, restaurants with outstanding cuisine had moved into Birmingham, as the center of economic growth changed and the University of Alabama in Birmingham became the largest employer. The University attracted educated people from all over the world, creating a demand for a higher level of amenities. I moved to Pittsburgh for a year and couldn’t wait to return to Birmingham. I attended law school in Birmingham and wanted to stay, but ended up moving to Chattanooga, TN to take a job. At first I hated Chattanooga, which suffered greatly by comparison. However, over the past twenty years, Chattanooga has changed dramatically for the better. However, I would still prefer to live inBirmingham if I had the choice.

What do you like, and not like about living in Birmingham

I wrote a pretty detailed post about this a few weeks ago for someone who was moving from Charlotte, so some of the points are specific to what that person was asking. I'll include my answers here as well with a few updates:

I know I'm a little late to this post, but my wife and I moved here from a large city from elsewhere in the country earlier this year. We're early 30's also non-religious, don't have any children. Thought I'd share my experience (good, bad, and general) with moving here as it relates to some of what you've brought up and just living here in general:

It's by no means how it's portrayed in popular media, but 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.

Everything is closed on Sundays and Mondays? Pretty much other than breweries and all the normal national chains, it's difficult to find a fun place to go hang out on a Sunday or Monday.

The city is big enough so that you can find pretty much anything you're looking for here, but not so big that it feels incredibly spaced out and disparate.

Each day Birminghamsters and the roads they drive continue to impress me with how terrible they can be. This city by far has the worst drivers and roads I've ever experienced. I have primarily lived on the west-coast where roads and highways feel bigger and newer, so maybe I've just been spoiled.

The weather is pretty nice, you get all four seasons which can be a pro or a con depending on your perspective. Coming from the west, I was not prepared for how much it rains. I don't know why this isn't talked about more, but it rains a lot here. People complain about the heat but I don't think it's that bad, but I was not mentally or physically prepared to deal with so much rain.

I have never experienced tornados before, and they're definitely a thing, but not like, a defining weather thing. They're part of life to some degree but not like other parts of the tornado-range country.

The food/bar/night life scene is pretty impressive. For a city its size, I was very surprised by the diversity and quality of the food and drink available.

WHY I LOVE BIRMINGHAM, AL - Raquel Lily Vlog #6

A lot of people always ask me "Why Alabama???"

Then comes all the stereotypes, negative comments, and general misunderstanding about the place that I call home. Well, for all you who are wondering what the deal is, here is a video on why I love my city.