Photo of the Mobile Bay at sunset over the bay and Causeway

Top 15 Best Places To Live In Alabama

Carla Ayers8-Minute Read
September 09, 2022

If you’re thinking of packing up and planting your roots in the sunny South, look no further than Alabama. From the stunning peak of Cheaha Mountain to the sugar-like sandy beaches of the Gulf shores, there is something for everyone to enjoy in Alabama.

Alabama has a deep appreciation for its natural resources, and it shows in the pristine state and national parks you’ll find across the state. Throw in affordability and southern hospitality and it’s hard not to fall in love with this southern gem.

Come with us as we explore some of the best places to live in Alabama.

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Best Major Cities To Live In Alabama

Alabama’s metropolitan areas offer city living at a fraction of the cost of most other cities in the country. If affordability isn’t reason enough to start packing, we’ve done the research to help you decide where to live. Here’s what you can expect from five of the best major cities in Alabama.

1. Huntsville

Bird's eye view of downtown Huntsville, Alabama.

Located in northern Alabama, Huntsville, also known as the Rocket City, is home to the largest space museum in the world. Huntsville is also home to several Fortune 500 companies ranging from high tech, U.S. space research and development, and defense. This mix of industries provides unique and diverse job opportunities for the area. Add in a lower than average cost of living and you see why living in Huntsville provides a quality of life second to none.

When you’re ready to relax there’s plenty of activities and attractions to keep you busy. There are several farmer’s markets, theaters, museums, and secret art trails to keep you loving where you live in Huntsville, Alabama.

Population: 215,006

Median household income: $56,758

Median home value: $185,400

Cost of living: 10.3% less expensive than the rest of the United States

Check out homes for sale in Huntsville and explore real estate trends to learn more.

2. Birmingham

Birmingham, Alabama cityscape with a bright orange sky.

Birmingham is Alabama’s second largest city and played a pivotal role in the American civil rights movement. The city of Birmingham was at the epicenter of the fight for civil rights that helped shaped the America we know today. Tour nationally recognized landmarks along the civil rights trail and learn about the rich history of change that started in Birmingham. With its diverse cultural offerings and lower than average cost of living, Birmingham is a great place for young professionals and their families to call home.

Don’t worry, you’ll never run out of things to see and explore. The culinary scene is filled with global fusion, craft cocktails, and local brews that will satisfy any craving. With mild weather all year round, you might want to take that meal to go and enjoy the great outdoors of Birmingham with a picnic at the botanical gardens.

Population: 200,733

Median household income: $38,832

Median home value: $97,500

Cost of living: 32.1% less expensive than the rest of the United States

Check out homes for sale in Birmingham and explore real estate trends to learn more.

3. Montgomery

View down a street in Montgomery, Alabama, with the state Capitol at the end of the street.

If you’re looking for a small-town feel with the resources of a big city, look no further than Montgomery. Montgomery is not only the state capital but the third-largest city in Alabama and home to many historic sites from the civil rights movement.

Like other parts of Alabama, Montgomery averages over 200 days of sun a year, giving you plenty of blue skies to enjoy the great outdoors. Visit the Montgomery Zoo and see animals from five different continents. End the day with dinner by the riverfront or a cruise through downtown on a pedal pub. The choice is yours and you’ll have a lot to choose from in Montgomery.

Population: 200,603

Median household income: $49,608

Median home value: $109,300

Cost of living: 29.4% less expensive than the rest of the United States

Check out homes for sale in Montgomery and explore real estate trends to learn more.

4. Mobile

Mobile, Alabama city skyline with skyscrapers at sunset or sunrise.

Residents say that Mobile was “born to celebrate,” and the city does not disappoint. Many may not know, but Mobile is the birthplace of Mardi Gras in the United States. Festivities begin two and a half weeks before Fat Tuesday and include parties, balls and over 40 elaborate parades with floats, masked marchers and flying beads, trinkets and Moon Pies.

If you don’t catch the celebration in February, the Mobile Carnival Museum is open year-round. When Mobilians aren’t catching beads, they’re living the simple life with farm to table meals, live music, and family-friendly fun. If you need plans to ring in the New Year, come to Mobile for the annual New Year’s Eve Moon Pie Drop!

Population: 187,041

Median household income: $43,456

Median home value: $149,600

Cost of living: 20.6% less expensive than the rest of the United States

Check out homes for sale in Mobile and explore real estate trends to learn more.

5. Auburn

View of the top of Samford Hall with an overcast sky in Auburn, Alabama.

Auburn is located in eastern Alabama and is home to Auburn University. This college town is one of the state’s fastest-growing cities and, if you come on a day the Auburn Tigers win a game, you may just see the town covered in toilet paper – a time-honored and famous tradition.

With warm weather year-round, you can spend your free time working on your golf swing at the Robert Trent Jones Grand National golf course. Open year-round, you can experience 54 lake-hugging holes, surrounded by lush well-maintained greens, even in the winter. If you are considering buying a home in Auburn, you’ll be conveniently located near Atlanta, Birmingham and Montgomery.

Population: 76,143

Median household income: $49,028

Median home value: $273,900

Cost of living: 2.5% less expensive than the rest of the United States

Check out homes for sale in Auburn and explore real estate trends to learn more.

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Best Towns And Suburban Neighborhoods To Live In Alabama

If bustling cities aren’t what you’re after, Alabama’s small towns have plenty to offer new residents. When looking for the best place to live in Alabama, we can’t forget the smaller communities with big personality. Here are a few of our favorite small towns in Alabama.

6. Hoover

Located in Jefferson County, Hoover is located near the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. With plenty of parks and hiking trails, you can slow down and get back in touch with nature in Hoover.

Population: 92,606

Median household income: $92,984

Median home value: $298,400

Check out homes for sale in Hoover and explore real estate trends to learn more.

7. Madison

When looking for a place to call home, consider Madison. This tight-knit community is located adjacent to Huntsville and the Huntsville International Airport. The areas largest employers are a mix of high-tech, service and retail, providing higher than average incomes and steady employment. This family-friendly community is ready to welcome you home.

Population: 56,933

Median household income: $94,214

Median home value: $263,800

Check out homes for sale in Madison and explore real estate trends to learn more.

8. Vestavia Hills

Vestavia Hills is known as Alabama’s premiere place to live, shop and work. A suburb of Birmingham, Vestavia Hills has a highly ranked school district and is surrounded by impeccably maintained parks, gorgeous museums and unique local cuisine. With a strong economic infrastructure, Vestavia Hills continues to grow and attract young professionals and families.

Population: 39,102

Median household income: $110,478

Median home value: $380,600

Check out homes for sale in Vestavia Hills and explore real estate trends to learn more.

9. Homewood

Consistently listed as one of the best places to live in Alabama, Homewood ranks high when it comes to the public school system, diversity, nightlife and overall quality of life. Located on the southeast side of Jefferson County, you’re just a quick trip from the city lights of Birmingham.

Population: 26,414

Median household income: $84,418

Median home value: $379,800

Check out homes for sale in Homewood and explore real estate trends to learn more.

10. Daphne

Many families and young professionals are drawn to Daphne, with its top-rated school system and high employment rate. It’s also consistently rated one of the safest cities in Alabama. For those who want to escape the quiet, small-town life for just a bit, the city of Mobile is just a 20-minute drive away.

Population: 27,462

Median household income: $71,105

Median home value: $218,900

Check out homes for sale in Daphne and explore real estate trends to learn more.

11. Helena

Helena is located in Jefferson and Shelby counties near the southern foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Surrounded by rolling hills, a drive through Helena will take your breath away with its natural beauty. Once the center of steel production and coal mining, today’s Helena is far more diverse with job opportunities in service, manufacturing and other professional services.

Population: 20,914

Median household income: $89,982

Median home value: $203,100

Check out homes for sale in Helena and explore real estate trends to learn more.

12. Mountain Brook

Another suburb of Birmingham has made the list, beautiful Mountain Brook. This family friendly community is an ideal place to raise a family. Enjoy the botanical gardens and the area’s parks and trails year-round. With a higher-than-average median income and lower-than-average cost of living, this small town delivers big value.

Population: 22,461

Median household income: $152,646

Median home value: $666,500

Check out homes for sale in Mountain Brook and explore real estate trends to learn more.

13. Alabaster

The city of Alabaster is nestled in central Alabama’s Shelby County. Drawing in families and young professionals with a lower-than-average cost of living and affordable home values. Alabaster has a highly rated school system and a close-knit community perfect for a growing family who appreciate the great outdoors.

Population: 33,284

Median household income: $80,871

Median home value: $178,300

Check out homes for sale in Alabaster and explore real estate trends to learn more.

14. Fairhope

Fairhope is where southern hospitality and small-town charm collide. That’s one reason the city is said to be a great place to retire or raise a family. The area is also famous for its jubilees. A jubilee is when an extraordinary number of fish, crab, shrimp, and other sea life show up along the shoreline. This phenomenon is said to happen in only two places in the world – the eastern shore of Mobile Bay and Tokyo, Japan.

Population: 22,477

Median household income: $80,106

Median home value: $321,900

Check out homes for sale in Fairhope and explore real estate trends to learn more.

15. Pelham

The laid-back community of Pelham is one of the best places to live in Alabama because of its central location and the amenities it offers. Spend your days exploring the hiking trails of Oak Mountain State Park. When you’re ready to cool off hop in one of the many swimming ponds around and end the night with a bonfire with friends. Life is simple and sweet in Pelham.

Population: 24,318

Median household income: $79,268

Median home value: $198,500

Check out homes for sale in Pelham and explore real estate trends to learn more.

What Is It Like To Live In Alabama?

Alabama is home to some of the most affordable housing markets in the United States. Its low cost of living, tax rates and home prices make it an attractive option for homeowners looking to get the most for their money. The median home price is $222,377 as of February 2022, compared to the national average of $357,100 in January 2022.

If you want to enjoy a diverse landscape that offers both mountains and waterfront recreation, Alabama is the place to call home. Or maybe you’re a big college football fan looking to tailgate with friends hollerin’ “Roll Tide” on game days. Whatever your motivation, Alabama can accommodate your lifestyle.

If you’re seriously considering a move to Alabama, be aware that like the rest of the country, Alabama has a critically low inventory of homes for sale. Low inventory tends to drive up competition and home values. So be mindful of these shifts in the housing market when you’re ready to start your home search.

The Bottom Line

From bustling cities to small towns with big southern charm, Alabama has a lot to offer with a lower cost of living than many other states. Alabama experiences more than 200 sunny days a year, making it an ideal location for active retirees looking to connect with nature and the great outdoors. The low cost of living and mild winters has made Alabama a destination for young professionals and families looking for an affordable fresh start.

Learn more about Alabama real estate by reaching out to a Verified Partner Agent.

*A number of statistics in each listing were sources from the U.S. Census Bureau, including 2020 populations estimates, 2016 – 2020 median household incomes and 2016 – 2020 median occupied home values.

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Carla Ayers

Carla is a freelance writer and Realtor with a background in marketing, communications and property management. She attended Eastern Michigan University where she received a Bachelors in Arts Marketing and a Masters in Integrated Marketing & Communications.