Homewood is a little city with dreams of being one of the big guys, but not in terms of population. Moving to Homewood is easy because it is basically a city-suburb of Birmingham, making it accessible. What may be difficult is finding affordable housing in a nice part of town, and two-thirds of Homewood is nice. The other third is west of Greensprings Highway and is not-so-nice. It’s like Homewood has a split personality – upscale and oh-so-cool (at least the residents think so) on one side and down-in-the-mouth on the other.
Another spot that seems to need psychological analysis for being a bit schizophrenic is along Valley Avenue. It runs form on end of Homewood to the other. On the trendy end is historic 10-acre Vulcan Park with the world’s largest cast iron statue, commemorating the iron and steel industry, and some very nice older homes. On the other end is strip joints, fast food restaurants, and some businesses that have been around a while and were recently asked to clean up their premises (which they did).
If you plan on moving to this city, it is wise to start looking for places for rent in Homewood as soon as possible. Unless you choose to live on the West side, it can take some time to find affordable two-bedroom apartments. There are plenty of one bedroom apartments available in Homewood, but the affordable two-bedroom rentals get snatched up quickly. Many of the lower rent two-bedroom apartments are in old apartment buildings that still use window air conditioners, which can get expensive in the hot months. If you don’t mind an older apartment, there are places for rent in the $600 to $800 price range that are in the surprisingly in the best section of Homewood that is close to downtown, the new community center, and great schools.
There are various named areas in Homewood, but it’s safe to say that looking at five areas is all it takes to give an idea of where you can find the type of rental apt you have in mind. Each area has plenty of apartments and housing for rent. The real issue is finding one in the right area with the right rental amount and includes the right amenities that modern renters have come to expect.
The main fact to note is that old apartments with one bedroom apartments renting for pennies may be sitting a block away from condominiums or loft apartments renting for bricks of gold. That makes it more difficult to generalize by neighborhood. It should also be noted that there are a number of colleges and universities in Homewood and Birmingham, so some of the apartment buildings are filled with students and young professionals. That can make a difference to older, quieter renters who object to finding beer cans in apartment hallways or hidden in the bushes on weekend mornings and late night parties.
Hollwood/Mayfair: This is an old neighborhood with expensive homes. The average rental amount is close to the national average, but most of the apartments are in older, settled buildings. Renting a house will cost much more. Hollywood is within walking distance of Mountain Brook, one of the richest cities in Alabama. It is wooded and filled with a collection of stuccoed homes built between 1920 and 1969. $$$
Edgewood:Just to confuse people, Edgewood house prices are much lower than prices in Hollywood, but the rents are higher! Go figure. The average monthly rent in this area is in the high hundreds or low thousands, but that may have something to do with the fact that it is a mixture of new and old (including historic) houses and low and high-rise apartment buildings. This eclectic, sophisticated area neighborhood has lots of sidewalks and restaurants with outdoor patios. Whereas Hollywood makes you think of old and settled, Edgewood evokes visions of young and trendy. $$$$
Rosedale:This is an historic neighborhood filled with old wood siding homes and some of what can only be called shanties. However, the crime rate is very low and the neighborhood is only several blocks away from downtown Homewood. The residents plant community gardens, and neighbors know neighbors. $
Valley Avenue: The rent along Valley Avenue is on the lower end of the price bracket. Though the original housing areas are older, well-kept and priced in the quarter of a million dollar range, the apartment buildings are very mixed. There are nice high rises, but many of the buildings are run down or do not have good management. However, the rent is quite affordable and the location is convenient. It is a very diverse neighborhood with high renter turnover. Choose the apartment carefully because there are very nice property rentals available if you look closely. $$
West Homewood: The west Homewood neighborhood is completely west of I-65 and consists of properties mostly built in the 1970s and 1980s. It has a high rental vacancy rate and the average rent is similar to that in Valley Ave. However, you can get more for your money in West Homewood, like space. $$
If you live in the right area of Homewood, life is really good and even a bit Mayberry-ish. There are numerous parks and small entertainment areas like Edgewood with its restaurants, antique shops and coffee shops, right in the middle of neighborhoods. It is a health conscious city reflecting a young urban population. That prompts a word to the wise: Watch out for joggers, walkers, bikers and exercisers. They seem to think they can compete with vehicles on the road, so it’s a good thing that neon is a popular color for athletic apparel. The city is building a beautiful new community center with a fitness center, swimming pool, basketball court, gym area, ridiculously low membership rates, and activities for children. Most people drive to work but there are plenty who carpool and ride their bicycles. If you decide to rent an important in Homewood, it is safe to say that you are choosing a great place to live. There was nothing wrong with Mayberry…er…Homewood… that a few pubs couldn’t fix.