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Sweet Home Alabama is a pretty fitting saying for a state that surpasses most other Southern states for its beauty and all-around charm.
When you have the Gulf Shores and the Talladega National Forests in your backyard, it’s quite a super place to live.
But where is the best place to live in Alabama? That’s what we set to find out based on the most recent FBI and Census data.
Using science, we analyzed everything from crime, education, weather and amount of income per household to find out, once and for all, the best cities to make a home in the Yellowhammer State. Apparently, living in the greater Birmingham region is a little slice of heaven.
And since Alabama is one of the cheapest states to live in America, you’ll definitely be able to afford a great place to live.
After analyzing almost 99 places, we came up with this list as the top ten places to live in Alabama. So grab some fried catfish and bbq and read on.
What’s the best place to live in Alabama for 2022? According to the most recent FBI and Census data, Mountain Brook ranks as the best place to live in Alabama for 2022 based on general quality of life factors.
It seems that none of the largest cities in Alabama made the top ten, but their suburbs are apparently more desirable, according to scientific data.
No one can argue that, overall, almost every nook and cranny in Alabama has something special and awesome about it.
For more Alabama reading, check out:
- Best Counties To Live In Alabama
- Cheapest Places To Live In Alabama
- Best Places To Raise A Family In Alabama
The 10 Best Places To Live In Alabama For 2022
It’s hard to know where to begin with a city as awesome as Mountain Brook, which appears in the top five statewide for just about every category we measured. The economy of Mountain Brook is as solid as it gets, with the 2nd lowest unemployment rate and 6th lowest poverty in Alabama, at 1.1% and 4.3% respectively. There’s also very little to fear in terms of criminal activity, seeing as Mountain Brook has the 3rd lowest crime rate in the state. And if you do run into an unfortunate situation, you should be just fine, seeing as Mountain Brook has the highest rate of health insurance coverage in Alabama at 98.7%.
Education is also taken very seriously in Mountain Brook. The city spends about 20% more than the statewide average per student and it shows. Of the six schools in Mountain Brook’s district, half have received a Blue Ribbon award. And that love of learning isn’t just for the kids; over 40% of adults living in Mountain Brook have a master’s degree or higher. This obviously raises the earning potential of residents, who enjoy the highest median household income in the state, $152,646/year. Which is good when homes cost about $666,500, the 1st costliest in Alabama.
There are some other perks that come along with being a Birmingham ‘burb. The first of which is that Mountain Brook employees enjoy the 2nd shortest commute time in the state at just 17 minutes. The other is having access to the best of B-ham, like the Vulcan Park and Museum, without having a weaker economy and more crime.
Another affluent Birmingham suburb, Vestavia Hills has held the top spot on this list more than once over the years. For starters, it’s one the safest places in Alabama, so there’s no need to fear Amazon porch pirates here. If you’re moving here with children, you’re in luck, because GreatSchools gave Vestavia Hills public schools an average score of 9/10.
Of course, all these awesome things don’t come free of charge. Homes in Vestavia Hills are the 2nd most expensive in Alabama at $380,600. Residents don’t sweat it much, though, since they also earn a median household income of $110,478/year, the 2nd highest in the state. And it’s not like Vestavia Hills leaves some people in the dust while the 1% celebrate, because at 4.3%, it has the 5th lowest poverty level in Alabama.
Not to mention that, with the Birmingham Zoo right down the road, you’ll always have something to do when out-of-towners come for a visit.
Our 3rd best city in Alabama, Homewood, is a suburb of 25,170 located between Mountain Brook and Vestavia Hills. The median age in Homewood is 30, making it the youngest city we’ll be covering. That’s part of the reason we named Homewood one of the best cities for singles in Alabama. It also helps to have great things to do around, like hiking in nearby Red Mountain Park.
Homewood is also the 2nd most densely populated city in Alabama, so you know you’ll never lack for action here. It also cuts down on commute times, seeing as Homewood residents have an average commute of just 17 minutes, the 1st shortest in the state. Just be warned that Homewood comes with a steep price tag; by housing costs, Homewood’s cost of living is nearly triple the Alabama average.
We’re taking our first foray outside of the Birmingham area to reach our 4th best city in Alabama, Madison. A suburb of Huntsville, Madison has a much lower cost of living than the top three cities on this list, making it an attractive budget choice. Homes are a tad cheaper, but the median household income in Madison is still the 5th highest in Alabama at $94,214/year.
You may want to brush up on your trivia before making the move to Madison, though, because people here are no dummies. About a quarter of the population has a master’s degree, PhD, or professional degree, which does help explain the high pay here. In terms of entertainment, being surrounded by the rapidly growing economic hub of Huntsville does a lot for your choices. But between Rainbow Mountain and a top-notch local farmer’s market, you don’t have to leave Madison for a good time.
Let’s take a trip down the Gulf Shore for our 5th best city in Alabama, Fairhope. The median age in Fairhope is 42, making it the oldest city on this list. Depending on your priorities, this might be a positive or a negative thing. Living on Mobile Bay, however, is a positive for anyone and everyone. Who wouldn’t like shopping and strolling down Fairhope Avenue, grabbing a pint from the local brewery, followed up by catching a gorgeous sunset from the pier?
Word to the wise, though; Fairhope ranks among the most expensive cities in Alabama, so you might want to make sure you lock down a job paying $80,106/year before packing your bags. But Fairhope is worth every penny in our opinion. Evidently, people agree, because Fairhope is one of the fastest growing places in Alabama. Safe streets, top schools, and a job market that works for everyone — it’s hard to put a price tag on all that.
We’re heading back to the Mobile suburbs to reach our 6th best place to call home in Alabama, Daphne. Here you’ll find Blue Ribbon schools, low unemployment, and streets that are safe for everyone. In fact, Daphne experienced the 5th least amount of violent crime in Alabama for 2022. At $71,105/year, Daphne has the lowest median household income on this list, but that’s still about 40% higher than the Alabama average.
Daphne also has the good fortune to be on the eastern shoreline of Mobile Bay, meaning that the sunsets from Daphne Bayfront Park are truly a sight to behold. One last thing to note is that Daphne’s median age is 39, making it the second youngest city on this list. So if living in a vibrant, youthful city is a priority, Daphne might make an excellent choice.
Helena is a Birmingham suburb of 18,631 with a penchant for awesomeness. The crime rate in Helena is roughly 60% lower than the national average and ranks as the 2nd lowest in Alabama. So you won’t have to worry about scoundrels picking your pocket when you’re catching a show at the Helena Amphitheater.
The economy in Helena is super strong, with the 7th lowest poverty level and 4th lowest unemployment rate in the state. Residents of Helena are also among the richest in Alabama, with a median household income of $89,982/year. And with homes going for a reasonable $203,100, Helena also enjoys the best home price to income ratio on this list.
Next up on our list of best places to live in Alabama is Trussville, a Birmingham suburb of 22,590. GreatSchools gave public schools in Trussville an average rating of 9.5/10, so you know that you’re giving your kids the best possible start if you’re living here. In fact, Trussville has the 2nd lowest high school dropout rate in Alabama.
That level of excellence extends to all facets of life in Trussville. For example, at 97.8%, Trussville has the 2nd highest rate of residents with health insurance anywhere in Alabama. And the poverty level in Trussville is just 4.0%, the 3rd%. Not to mention that most people in Trussville are far from living in poverty, seeing as the city enjoys the 3rd highest median household income in the state at $104,976/year.
To reward yourself for living in the 8th best place in Alabama, we recommend spending a day at Cosby Lake Park; trails for hikers and cyclists, bass and catfish galore, and an abundance of delightful picnic spots make it a local favorite.
Pelham, a Birmingham suburb located 25 miles south of the city off of I-65, ranks as the 9th best place to live in Alabama. Pelham offers a fantastic blend of things to do, quality schools, a strong economy, and safety. The city is home to the largest park in Alabama, Oak Mountain State Park, which continues to grow in stature each year. Other big attractions include several high quality golf courses like Ballantrae, South City Theatre, and several community rec centers.
On the numbers side of things, Pelham City schools are ranked #1 by Niche for the Best School Districts in Shelby County and earn an A grade. The median income in town stands at $79,268 and the average house costs $198,500. And the crime rate is 25% better than the national average. Add it all up and it’s easy to see why Pelham landed a spot on this list.
Pleasant Grove’s inclusion on this list means that more than half of the best places to live in Alabama are in Jefferson County, so that’s definitely a good place to start looking if you’re moving soon. At $157,400, this Birmingham ‘burb has the cheapest homes you’ll find on this list. In fact, the overall cost of living in Pleasant Grove is only a hair higher than the statewide average. And with the 4th lowest poverty level in Alabama, you’d better believe that everyone gets in on the good times in Pleasant Grove.
We also named Pleasant Grove one of the best cities for families in Alabama. Things live having great schools, the 6th lowest crime rate statewide, and access to family-friendly activities like the The Market at Pepper Place all work to make Pleasant Grove an awesome place for kids and parents alike.
Mapping The Best And Worst Places To Live in Alabama
The Pressing Question: Size
Before we even started to collect data, we had to answer a tough question: Is it fair to pit Montgomery with a population of 199,054 against places with a population of 18?
We firmly decided no, that just isn’t fair.
So to create our ranking, we broke places to live into three tiers:
- Cities — Populations over 5,000
- Towns — Populations between 1,000 and 5,000
- Small Towns — Populations below 1,000
This left us with 99 cities, 198 towns, and 214 small towns.
We then decided, no matter how much anyone loves their town, the best cities to live in Alabama have more of everything and therefore you need to have over 5,000 people to truly be ‘the best’.
You can see those two top tens at the bottom of the post.
Methodology: How We Calculated The Best Cities To Live In Alabama
Now that we had our set of cities, it was time to rank them.
We ranked each place in Alabama across a number of criteria from one to 99, with one being the best.
We then took the average rank across all criteria, with the city posting the lowest overall score being crowned the winner of the title “Best Place To Live In Alabama”.
The criteria we looked at were:
- Median Home Values
- Median Income
- Population Density (Higher better)
- Unemployment Rate
- Commute Time
- Education Levels
- Health Insurance Coverage
- Poverty rates
After the dust settled, what was the best place to live in Alabama? That would be Mountain Brook.
If your city or town isn’t among the top 10, jump down to the bottom of the post to see a detailed chart of the best places in Alabama.
Otherwise, buckle up for a ride down good living lane with Mountain Brook at the end of the cul-de-sac.
Summary: The Best Places When It Comes To Living In Alabama
If you’re looking at areas in Alabama with the best economic situations, where there’s lower than average crime, and a lot to do, this is an accurate list.
Mountain Brook made a strong showing to take in the overall number one spot for the best place to live in Alabama for 2022.
Best Towns To Live In Alabama
- Highland Lakes (Pop. 4,860)
- Indian Springs Village (Pop. 2,529)
- Lake View (Pop. 2,801)
- Priceville (Pop. 3,060)
- Mount Olive CDP (Jefferson (Pop. 4,237)
- Kimberly (Pop. 2,840)
- Shoal Creek (Pop. 1,448)
- Blue Ridge (Pop. 1,414)
- Trinity (Pop. 2,110)
- Springville (Pop. 4,199)
Best Small Towns To Live In Alabama
- Stockton (Pop. 687)
- Mooresville (Pop. 69)
- Sweet Water (Pop. 332)
- Lowndesboro (Pop. 95)
- Magnolia Springs (Pop. 740)
- McIntosh (Pop. 339)
- Eunola (Pop. 362)
- St. Florian (Pop. 429)
- Coker (Pop. 817)
- Grant (Pop. 961)
If you’re curious enough, here are the worst places to live in Alabama according to the data:
- Talladega (Pop. 15,405)
- Bessemer (Pop. 26,063)
- Tarrant (Pop. 6,216)
For more Alabama reading, check out:
- Best Places To Retire In Alabama
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- Safest Places In Alabama
- Worst Places To Live In Alabama
Where Are The Best Places To Live In Alabama?