So you’re moving to Auburn, Alabama. Repeat after me: War Eagle! If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you should probably just move to another town without an NCAA Division I football team. Huntsville seems nice. But if you’re a Tiger in the making, strap on your burnt orange and navy blue and let’s get started on your apartment hunt!
It’s no secret that Auburn owes its very existence to its large university. Most of the pre-Civil War population of Auburn relocated to attend the East Alabama Male College in Auburn. The city then emptied during the war, and didn’t make a full recovery in population until the college was turned over to the state, and through land grants reopened, as Auburn University, increasing the city’s population enough to make it a functioning town once again. In 1892, Auburn University became the first four-year college in Alabama to admit female students.
Don’t get confused though. Despite its large population of transient young people, Auburn is a conservative, down-South Alabama town. Yes, young people make it slightly livelier than other cities of its size, but there’s plenty in the way of families with conservative values living just outside of campus boundaries.
What are you going to do in Auburn for entertainment? Well, I’m glad you asked. First, you will attend Auburn Tigers football games and scream that ubiquitous battle cry of “war eagle” over and over again until you hear it in your nightmares. If you’re moving to Auburn for school and you like the college life, there’s no shortage of sports bars and frat parties in and around campus.
If you’re a little more family-oriented and you’re looking for something to do in between big games, there are plenty of outdoor activities in the surrounding area, including hunting and fishing, as well as a number of city parks and Tuskegee National Forest.
If you’re a little bit, ahem, liberal, and soon to be a crime statistic (to be fair, not just liberals, but also Bama fans too), you’ll find a small smattering of activities for you in town. The Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Arts has a surprisingly adequate collection of 20th century artworks, including Lawrence (Jacob) and O’Keefe. No surprise that as a college town, Auburn is super bike-friendly, with tons of trails and events for cyclists throughout the warmer months.
Oh, and about that weather. Auburn has a distinctly Southern climate. Pleasant, mild winters are paid for with hot, humid summers. So secure an apartment with good air conditioning.
Auburn University’s campus sprawls along the southwestern region of town, and this large expanse dominates much of the city’s rental market. Like any large college campus, if you plan on living in this area, prepare for loud all-hours noise and some instances of petty crime. Two bedrooms go for $600-800.
If you’re looking for a quieter lifestyle, your biggest problem in Auburn will be avoiding student housing. Most Auburn neighborhoods have good safety records and desirable housing, with the exception of certain areas of student ghettos.
Just a few miles west of campus there are a lot of new developments that cater to a more professional crowd. A lot of teachers and graduate students tend to settle in this area due to its proximity to campus, but its distance from riotous college culture. In general, the far west side of Auburn outside of campus tends to have quieter, well-maintained rental complexes, with the exception of the area surrounding the nearby Wal-Mart – which has its own riotous conglomeration of Wal-Mart shoppers. Two bedrooms in this area generally go for $700-850.
You’ll find some of the best family-friendly housing in the north and northeast portions of town, particularly in the area between the Auburn-Opelika borders. Opelika is a quiet, family-friendly town and much of the housing in the far northwestern reaches of Auburn has a similar vibe. Additionally, Shelton Park is an area with lots of new development and rental housing. Two bedroom houses and apartments in this area generally go for $750-900.
A large college campus means flexible lease options and move-in bonuses through many area rental agencies, even in more settled, family-oriented areas. There’s a rush on many campus-area apartments in late August, so start your apartment search in the spring or summer if possible.
Additionally, overdevelopment in a lot of suburban neighborhoods has left many unsold homes available for rent. Most of these rentals are brokered through real estate agents, so if you’re looking for a single-family home you’ll need to enlist professional help.
Getting around Auburn is fairly easy, as commuters will be heading in every conceivable direction—like west into Montgomery and east into Opelika and Columbus—during rush hour. The highway systems are adequately designed to handle this schizophrenic traffic flow, so you’ll never experience much more than a slight delay in your commute.
Even though it’s a college town, Auburn doesn’t have the friendliest public transportation system. Tiger Transit provides free bus service to students and faculty around campus and to related parts of the city. However, there is no fixed route bus service for non-Tiger residents. Lee-Russel Public Transit has dial-a-ride service for a small fee weekday hours.