Decatur: A Grand City on a Charming Scale
Welcome to Decatur, a friendly little town in northern Alabama with a rich history. Here you’ll find a lot of down-home Southern hospitality in a thriving community. Now, let’s get started on your apartment hunt so you can settle down in your new town.
We’re All Friends in Decatur
Located about 25-miles southwest of Huntsville, Decatur is anything but a suburb. Developed as a strategic port city and railroad depot, the city’s historic district stands testament to the rich Southern history of the town.
Many Decatur residents—long-term or otherwise—laud the city’s reputation as being a family-friendly, community-oriented place that is not Huntsville. “In fact,” your new neighbors will say, “a lot of Huntsville residents come here to work!” This is true. Decatur has an interesting mix of industry—everything from manufacturing cat food to technology and aerospace engineering.
Okay, so Decatur has a lot of industry. You can see a lot of it along the otherwise lovely Tennessee Riverfront. Thankfully, it also has a lot of affordable housing in new developments and old historic homes, particularly compared with its big city rival, Huntsville. Is there anything that Decatur doesn’t have? Well, actually, yes.
For instance, shopping. Though Decatur doesn’t consider itself a Huntsville suburb, a lot of chain stores do, so you’ll have to head northeast to hit up big box stores. This does, however, benefit a lot of local businesses, so Decatur is home to a large number of great “mom and pop” type restaurants, bars and stores.
What Decatur lacks in amenities it makes up for in community spirit. Truly a small town, it won’t be long after you move in that you know all your neighbors’ names, their kids’ names, and the overall health and well-being of their entire extended family.
During the summer months, Decatur draws in a lot of tourism during its festivals, including the Alabama Jubilee—the state’s largest hot air balloon race—and the Spirit of America Festival, where they crown Miss Point Mallard. The summer is, in fact a great time to live in Decatur, due to the close proximity to outdoor sports and recreation activities. Additionally, just across the Tennessee River, you’ll find the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, which has great nature trails.
The thriving community spirit, small population and great housing market have kept most Decatur neighborhoods highly desirable, affordable and safe. Whether you’re looking for urban living in a historic home or a simpler, suburban lifestyle, you can find something great in your price range.
The most notable Decatur neighborhood is the Old Town/Albany district located close to the city center. Some of the oldest structures in the state are located in this vicinity, including the oldest bank and opera house. Many of the homes here are available for rent, too. Prices for a two bedroom in this area generally range from $500-600.
Slightly further out, but still close to the city center, the northeast portion of town has several desirable rentals and single-family homes located along the waterfront, just across from the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. Though much of the waterfront is blemished by industry, the southeast portion of it—particularly in the Point Mallard Estates and Burningtree areas—has lots of highly desirable rentals. Two bedrooms in this area range from $600-750.
Much of the remaining city sprawls out southward from the river. Here new development means plenty of affordable rentals in well-maintained complexes with great safety records. Though these neighborhoods do have a distinctly suburban feel, neighborhoods are still close-knit communities despite their appearances. Two bedrooms in the suburban south, including desirable neighborhoods like the area around Red Bank and Beltline Roads generally range from $650-800.
Many of Decatur’s rentals are operated through property management agencies, particularly in the suburban subdivisions. If you find an area you like, contact an agency and they can point you in the right direction in terms of available rentals.
Overall the apartment-hunting process in Decatur will be as friendly as your new neighbors, which is to say “friendly” (incase you didn’t pick up on that). Several owner-operated rentals and apartments in smaller complexes can be found via online apartment searches. Expect to pay around $30 for your background and credit checks, and your first month of rent up front.
Getting Around Town
Whether you’re commuting around town, or into Huntsville or other nearby Alabama cities, Decatur prides itself on its great highway system with little-to-no traffic. Especially when compared with nearby Atlanta, getting around town on Interstate 67 or State Highways 67 and 36, will be no big deal.
If you don’t have a car, however, transportation will be a bigger issue for you. Decatur has no public bus service, so you’ll have to walk, take cabs or use the city biking trail. Morgan County Area Transportation System does provide on-demand bus service to Decatur residents for a small fee.
That does it for our guide; how’s about you get started on that search? Good luck and happy hunting!