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Things You Should Know Before Moving to Birmingham, AL

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Located at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Birmingham is an affordable Southern city known for its prevalence in the historic fight for civil rights and its legendary influence on jazz music. It has also been named one of the most livable cities in the country--a low cost of living combined with high salaries and low unemployment rates make Birmingham a great place to relocate!

If you are planning or considering a move to The Magic City, there is plenty you will need to know before you hit the road. This guide will provide you with important information about the city and how to make your move there a happy and successful one.

Birmingham Climate

The city has a humid subtropical climate, with plentiful rainfall and hot, sticky summers. Winters are mild, with temperatures rarely falling below freezing, and highs typically in the 50s. Snow is quite scarce in the region.

Spring and fall bring pleasantly moderate temperatures, but volatile weather such as twisters and severe thunderstorms. The city is located in Tornado Valley, and can also experience occasional hurricanes due to its proximity to the Gulf Coast. Be sure to prepare your home for tornadoes and other severe weather after relocating to ensure your family remains safe.

Birmingham Neighborhoods

Neighborhoods in the city range from mansion-laden upscale districts to areas that are a bit dangerous with high crime rates. Neighborhoods such as Red Mountain, Redmont Park and Forest Park contain multi-million-dollar homes and beautiful parks. The city's historic Highland Park neighborhood was named one of the American Planning Association's "10 Great Neighborhoods" in 2011.

The Southside is the city's center for dining, nightlife, and attractions, as well as the location of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. It is the city's melting pot, boasting the most diverse community of residents of any neighborhood in the area.

However, there are some districts in the city that you will want to avoid. The West End, North Birmingham, Woodlawn and Ensley are all areas known for gang and other criminal activity.

Registering Your Car

Once you arrive in the city, you will have 3 days to register your vehicle in the state of Alabama. You will need your car's title, proof of insurance in the state, and proof of identity. You will also need to have your vehicle inspected before you can register it--they can do this for you right at the DMV. You will also have to pay a fee of $23--however, additional fees may apply depending on your situation.

To transfer your driver's license, you will need your previous out of state license, another form of approved identification, and your Social Security card. You will have to pay a $5 transferring fee and a $23 fee for your new license. If your out of state license is valid or has been expired less than one year, you will not have to take a driving test.

You can find more information on these processes as well as DMV locations near you at Alabama's DMV website.

Birmingham Schools

If you are relocating to the city with a family, your children will be enrolled in the Birmingham City School system. The district operates 67 facilities serving 30,000 students.

The Birmingham metropolitan area is known for having the best high schools and colleges in the state of Alabama. Jefferson County International Baccalaureate School, located in the suburb of Irondale, was rated as the No. 1 high school in America by Newsweek in 2005. Notable institutions of higher learning in the city include the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham School of Law, and Samford University.

Birmingham Employment

The city is often referred to as the "Pittsburgh of the South" due to its prominence in the steel industry. Steel production and processing, while not the key component in the city's economy that they once were, still play an essential role. Major steel manufacturers located in the city include American Cast Iron Pipe Company and McWane.

The city is also a major finance and banking hub-- home to Regions Financial Corporation and BBVA Compass. Nearly a dozen smaller banks are also headquartered in the city, such as New South Federal Savings Bank and Cadence Bank.

The medical and biotechnology sectors are also experiencing growth in the city and contributing greatly to its economy due to investments in the University of Alabama at Birmingham and its associated hospital. UAB is the region's largest employer, and the second largest in the state.

If you have decided to relocate to the city to find employment or seek a new career, you have made a wise choice. The Birmingham metropolitan area has been continually rated as one of the nation's best places to find work and earn a living based on the average salaries, living expenses, and unemployment rates in the region.

Living Costs in the City

Living expenses in the city are low--11 percent under the national average. Housing is the most budget-friendly cost you will incur--typical rates are a staggering 25 percent less than most American cities. If you plan to rent, you can find a one-bedroom apartment for the reasonable price of $646 a month, or a two-bedroom for $671 a month. If you plan to acquire a mortgage instead, the median home price in the city is $74,900.

Healthcare costs are also quite affordable, at 18 percent below the national average. Transportation and grocery expenses are low as well--11 percent and 7 percent less than average respectively.

Birmingham Moving Resources

There are many moving and storage companies located in Birmingham that are waiting to help you relocate to your new home. Be sure to do your research and obtain estimates from several different services before choosing one for hire. You can compare online quotes from many different moving companies and other services to aid you in your move, whether you are coming from the next city or overseas. Visit the following pages here at Movers.com to get fast quotes for the following services:

Birmingham Transportation

If you are planning on residing in the city sans vehicle, you will have to become familiar with the public transportation system. Mass transit in the city is served by the Birmingham-Jefferson Transit Authority. The system operates 19 buses on 38 routes. There is also paratransit services for the elderly and disabled and "vintage trolleys"--rubber-tired buses made to resemble electric streetcars.

If you will be owning a car after you relocate, the city has one of the most extensive highway networks in the Southeast. There are four major interstates serving the area--I-20, I-22, I-65, and I-59--as well as numerous other roadways. Purchase a map or a GPS to help you find your way around until you become familiar and adjusted.

Culture and Contemporary Life

The city is home to many museums, galleries, theatre, performance venues and exciting festivals celebrating art, culture and its historic influence in the Civil Rights Movement.

The Birmingham Museum of Art is the largest in the Southeast, and features a diverse array of artwork representing a variety of cultures, including Native American, Pre-Colombian, African, European and Asian. The Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in Carver Theatre features exhibits commemorating legendary jazz musicians that hailed from the state. The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is a history museum with educational exhibits highlighting major milestones and contributions related to the fight for civil rights in the region.

Opera and dance also have a huge presence in the city--Birmingham is home to the major ballet, opera and symphony companies Alabama Ballet, Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Birmingham Ballet, Birmingham Concert Chorale, and Opera Birmingham.

Birmingham Relocation Tips

  • Research the neighborhoods. Birmingham has some areas that are unsafe and high in crime. Before relocating, do thorough research on any neighborhood you are considering making your home to ensure that it is a safe and secure place for you and your family.


  • The city can fall victim to severe weather such as hurricanes and tornadoes. Be sure to have emergency kits prepared, a designated safe haven in your home, and a plan of action in case of any dangerous storms.


  • Make a moving checklist of everything you will need to accomplish before you make the trek to Birmingham to stay better organized and be prepared! Things to include are: researching movers and comparing quotes, packing, making airline arrangements, changing your address, and hooking up utilities.

Nicole La Capria  Posted by Nicole La Capria on June 3, 2013

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