Vestavia Hills is ranked as the 2nd best place to live in all of Alabama, and if not for a few hanging chads, it would likely have taken the whole enchilada. Real estate prices reflect this desirability with median house values nearly 200 percent higher than those in the rest of the state. If you're looking to buy, prepare yourself for prices north of $300,000. Rents aren't low, either, with average monthly rates exceeding $950.
If you're not a Birmingham local, then the first step is planning your move. If at all possible, secure your employment before you arrive. That ensures you'll know your budget in advance and be able to keep up with your bills. As a bonus, landlords seem positively influenced by applicants with jobs.
Photograph and document your possessions, and place them in the capable hands of moving professionals. As an alternative, consider hiring a self-move company that drops off a container that you can fill at your leisure and then delivers it to your destination. If you can't afford the service, you might want to rethink the move. Vestavia Hills isn't Beverly Hills, but a lack of means will bite you pretty quickly here.
If you're coming without a job in place, be prepared for at least three months of living expenses, and expect to show bank statements and credit reports to verify your solidity. Get a local cell phone and bank account as soon as possible to help convey a sense of stability.
When you set out to find an apartment or home for rent in Vestavia Hills, make sure you've got your references and income verification in order. Whether you work with a real estate agent, avail yourself of an apartment locator service, or simply scour the want ads, prepare to spend a few weeks to find the best place for you.
About 5 percent of area rentals are usually vacant, meaning you'll have your pick of up to 500 available residences. Surely, you'll like at least one of them. Scout the neighborhoods thoroughly, so you know whether the sights, living pace, and atmosphere suit your needs. Consider commuting times and proximity to shopping and entertainment.
There are eight primary neighborhoods in Vestavia Hills. Here's a list:
Montgomery Highway/Shades Crest Road: If you're looking for a deal, this established neighborhood is the place to look. Demand is high and vacancies are low, but low average rental rates make search efforts well worth your time.
Liberty Park/Park Hill Drive: Newer executive homes and stately lawns are the norm in this prosperous neighborhood. Average home prices hover near $500,000, yet rental rates are surprisingly affordable.
Melissa Way/Summit Drive: Home to a load of retail shops, this community is relatively more venerable, with many houses constructed in the 1940s and 1950s. This is a pleasantly sleepy area with a bit of modern trendiness thrown in for good measure.
Cahaba Heights: This busy area comes complete with shopping plazas, established homes, urban sophisticates, and haggis. The streets are pedestrian-friendly and the nearness of everything encourages carless appreciation. If you're looking for city apartments, this is a good choice.
Panorama Terrace/Westbrook Drive: This affordable community is home to the Vestavia Hills High School, which has won national math titles 15 of the last 17 years. If your paperboy shorts you on change, rest assured that he's doing it on purpose.
Acton/Camp Horne: Convenient to Route 459, nearly half of the residents in this suburban neighborhood commute to and from work. Popular with young, single professionals, Acton features a lot of studios, apartment buildings, and modestly sized homes.
Rocky Ridge: This area features more established homes and a slew of highly educated neighbors. There are relatively few rentals among the larger single-family homes, so you may need to do a bit of searching.
City Center: You'd expect the neighborhood surrounding a country club to be spendy. You'd be right. The good news is you can wear plaid pants and goofy hats with nary a sidewise glance. Cash in some bullion, though; rental rates average over $1470.
The best thing about Vestavia Hills is that it offers an excellent, genteel base for exploring all of the sights and sounds of greater Birmingham. You'll experience the benefits of big-city living, from public services to cultural venues, festivals, museums and more.
When you're ready to venture out, check out the nearbyBirmingham Zoo, which houses more than 750 exotic animals and isa clichd delight for young and old alike. Or if you're more of a thrill seeker, take a ride on Alabama's largest wooden roller coaster at theAlabama Adventure Theme Park, which also features a heat-busting waterpark and other action rides.
There's culture, too: for a Broadway-style show, head over to the Virginia Stamford Theater. If you prefer culture that's more, um, leather-clad, get out toVulcan Bike Week,where you can show off your tattoos and custom chopper; plus enjoy drag races, good tunes, and all the fried food you can shake a handkerchief at. Oh, compulsive shoppers take note: the only Saks store in all of Alabama is located at theSummit, an upscale shopping area and lifestyle center that's open 7 days a week, all year long.