Nothing says good ol’ southern living quite like Alabama! Enjoy barbecue and other southern comfort foods, live music, and beautiful Gulf coasts. The weather may be hot, but the people are friendly as they come. If you’re looking to move to Alabama, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 best places in the state to call home.
Housing cost to income ratio: 1.81%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 0.83%
Violent crime index: 33.9
Nonviolent crime index: 61.7
Cost of living index: 75.8
Alabama’s capital city lands as the best place to live in the state. Montgomery features plenty of activities and attractions, ranging from a zoo, museums, and riverside parks. This moderately liberal city played an important role during the Civil Rights Movement. To learn more about the city’s rich history, you can visit the Civil Rights Memorial, Rosa Parks Museum, and the Legacy Museum. Enjoy some of the best southern food around at local restaurants, many of which allow your dog to join in on the fun. Montgomery’s weather runs warm, wet, and sunny, with 51 inches of rain and 211 sunny days expected per year. With 14 hospitals in the vicinity, medical care is never far away. If you’re looking to move to the suburbs, check out popular choices like Clubview Heights, Bellevue/Tuckahoe Heights, and Turkeytown/Anderson.
Housing cost to income ratio: 1.87%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 1.08%
Violent crime index: 60.4
Nonviolent crime index: 95.2
Cost of living index: 72.5
Gadsden is a beautiful northeastern Alabama city with plenty to offer residents of all ages. The Coosa River bisects this highly-affordable city, and you can enjoy the water and scenic area by visiting the James D. Martin Wildlife Park. Other outdoor attractions include dog-friendly Bark Park and Noccalula Park. Gadsden receives 53 inches of rain per year, so on soggy days, drop in at the Central Carver Legacy Museum to stay dry, shop, and learn about history. During the hot summer, stay cool by visiting one of the local breweries and trying their newest drinks. The political climate runs moderately conservative, and you’ll find 16 hospitals and 28 schools in the area. Popular suburbs include Clubview Heights, Glencoe, and Reece City.
Housing cost to income ratio: 2.35%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 0.81%
Violent crime index: 37.2
Nonviolent crime index: 52.8
Cost of living index: 80.2
Dothan is in southeastern Alabama. Although it’s less populated than the other cities on our list, it offers just as much fun and activity. Get your blood pumping by going for a hike through the Forever Wild Trails or enjoy a leisurely stroll through the Dothan Area Botanical Gardens (and bring your dog!). From barbecue to Mexican to pizza, Dothan offers cuisine to satisfy everyone’s tastes. This moderately conservative city receives 55 inches of rain and 227 sunny days per year. For medical care, residents have their choice of 14 hospitals, so you can hike with peace of mind. If you prefer suburban life, check out neighborhoods such as Whispering Pines, Green Acres, and Brentwood.
Housing cost to income ratio: 2.62%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 1.03%
Violent crime index: 30.8
Nonviolent crime index: 67.5
Cost of living index: 82.9
If your ultimate desire is to live near water, consider moving to Mobile! Located along Alabama’s Gulf Coast, Mobile is a thriving community of just under 200,000 residents. Outdoor enthusiasts will love boating and kayaking, and dog owners can enjoy multiple outdoor breweries and dog parks throughout the city. If you’re a fan of Mardi Gras, you’re in luck; Mobile is the site of the first organized Mardi Gras movement in the country and you can learn all about it at the Mobile Carnival Museum. This conservative-leaning city is one of the wettest on our list, with an average annual rainfall of 66 inches. Mobile is home to 14 hospitals and 89 schools, giving families plenty of options for medical care and education for their children. If you’d like to live in the suburbs, popular choices include Fairhope, Daphne, and Spanish Fort.
Housing cost to income ratio: 2.76%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 0.82%
Violent crime index: 29.9
Nonviolent crime index: 59.7
Cost of living index: 87.9
Best known as being the home of the Alabama Crimson Tide, Tuscaloosa is a western Alabama city of over 100,000 residents. There’s far more to Tuscaloosa than football, of course. From the Alabama Museum of Natural History to the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center, Tuscaloosa is a cultural vault filled with rich history. Lake Tuscaloosa lies at the city’s northern edge and is a great place for boating, picnicking, and hiking. It’s Tuscaloosa is a very dog-friendly city, with 45 restaurants welcoming your pooch. The city experiences typical warm and wet Alabaman weather; you can expect up to 54 inches of rain and 210 sunny days annually. Tuscaloosa leans politically liberal and is home to 16 hospitals and 24 schools. For nearby suburbs, try Patton Place, Riverview, and Lake Crest.
Housing cost to income ratio: 2.84%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 0.79%
Violent crime index: 75.2
Nonviolent crime index: 89
Cost of living index: 75.7
Birmingham is the state’s second-most populous city, and it has the heart to match its size. This retiree-friendly city has ample museums throughout, including the Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, and Thinktank – Birmingham’s Science Museum. Other notable attractions include the Royal Shakespeare Theater, Cadbury World, and The Bear Grylls Adventure. You’ll find no shortage of good southern eats in this moderately liberal city, including over 120 dog-friendly restaurants. Prepare for warm summers and a wet season that sees upwards of 56 inches of rain per year. Birmingham is home to 21 hospitals and 51 schools, providing plenty of opportunities for medical care and education. If you’d rather live in the suburbs, check out neighborhoods like Homewood, Indian Springs Village, and Hoover.
Housing cost to income ratio: 2.90
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 0.94%
Violent crime index: 43.2
Nonviolent crime index: 66.9
Cost of living index: 97
Alabama’s most populous city comes in seventh on our list of best places to call home in the state. Huntsville is notable for being home to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, where folks can learn about space exploration and see a Saturn V rocket. From planetariums, botanical gardens, and walking tours of the historical parts of the city, Huntsville is bursting with activity and culture. Make sure you dress appropriately weather before you go outside; Huntsville’s climate is typical for the state, averaging 199 sunny days and 55 inches of rain per year. Huntsville has great breweries if you need a drink to cool down, and many welcome your dog. Huntsville leans politically conservative and has 11 hospitals and 43 schools in its vicinity. If the big city life isn’t for you, look at nearby suburbs like Madison, Athens, and Meridianville.
Housing cost to income ratio: 3.17
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 0.87%
Violent crime index: 31.9
Nonviolent crime index: 55.7
Cost of living index: 78.4
Florence is in northwestern Alabama along the Tennessee River. This close-knit community of 40,000 residents is home to the University of North Alabama, the oldest college in the state. Take advantage of 199 sunny days per year by exploring the great outdoors at Shoal Creek Preserve and the North Alabama Birding Trail. Florence is known for its live music, and on any given night you can catch a performance while savoring food and drink throughout the city. If you have an urge to hit the stores, Florence has several great shopping districts including Historic Downtown Florence and English Village. The city’s political atmosphere runs moderate, and local amenities include 18 hospitals. Popular nearby neighborhoods include St. Florian and Killen.
Housing cost to income ratio: 2.86%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 0.58%
Violent crime index: 3.24
Nonviolent crime index: 16.32
Cost of living index: 102
The Auburn-Opelika metropolitan area is a great place to call home. Whether you prefer to visit the museums and arboretum of Auburn, or the lakeside golf course and amusement parks of Opelika, you’re sure to have a good time. These vibrant cities are home to more than 30 dog-friendly restaurants, which is great news for dog lovers. If you’re seeking an outdoor adventure, try camping at Chewacla State Park, located in southern Auburn. With 54 inches of rain and 217 sunny days per year, you can expect typical warm and wet weather in this metropolitan area. 19 hospitals and 13 schools have you and your family covered for medical care and education. Auburn-Opelika has a politically moderate climate, and popular suburbs include Lee Road, Smiths Station, and North Auburn.
Housing cost to income ratio: 3.62%
Average childcare cost to income ratio: 0.99%
Violent crime index: 15.8
Nonviolent crime index: 61.7
Cost of living index: 77
Known as “The River City”, Decatur resides along the Tennessee River. Make the most of the riverside location by visiting outdoor wonders like Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, Decatur Hike-Bike Way Trailhead, and Flint Creek. Further in the city, explore the Cook Museum of Natural Science or one of the many city parks; if you have a dog, bring Fido to Wilson Morgan Park! Decatur experiences 201 sunny days and 54 inches of rainfall per year, so be sure to dress appropriately for the weather. Decatur is a politically moderate city that includes 13 hospitals and 20 schools. Looking to move to the suburbs? Visit neighborhoods like Madison, Athens, and Meridianville.
This list was compiled using statistics for cost of living, average housing costs, average childcare costs, and crime indices.
Sarah graduated from Trinity University in 2012 with a degree in International Relations and Political Science. She writes blogs on new homes, decor, communities, and more for NewHomeSource. When she’s not writing, you can find her spending time with her three cats.