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8 Best Places to Live in Alabama [2024]

April 15, 2024
From Huntsville to Daphne, find the best places to live in Alabama when it comes to economic opportunities, rent prices, landmarks, and more.

Alabama, often known for its rich history and Southern hospitality, also boasts a dynamic and diverse rental market. Whether you're a young professional seeking a vibrant city atmosphere or a family looking for a peaceful and affordable community, Alabama has something for you.

This blog dives into eight of Alabama's most renter-friendly cities, highlighting what each location offers in terms of affordability, lifestyle, and unique charm. From the exciting aerospace industry to the coastal serenity of Fairhope, this guide unveils Alabama's hidden gems, helping you find the perfect place to call home in your apartment hunt.

8 Best Places to Live in Alabama

How We Chose the Best Cities in Alabama

While what constitutes the "best" city or town can vary widely, we made our selections based on consideration of economic opportunities, rent prices (presenting a mix of both high-end and affordable neighborhoods), overall desirability and trendiness of an area, transit scores/location, and features of a neighborhood that make it either appealing or outstanding.

Also, a note about data: All of the rental data included here comes from the current listings on our website. Where possible, we have included averages, and if averages aren’t available, we defer to starting rents. Transit scores come from walkscore.com and census information comes directly from the U.S. Census website.

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1. Huntsville, AL

  • Best for: Aerospace & Defense employees and job seekers
  • Average 1 Bedroom Rent: $1,349
  • Average 2 Bedroom Rent: $1,682
  • Median Income: $67,874
  • Walk Score: 24
  • Transit Score: 11
  • Bike Score: 40

We chose Huntsville as our favorite city in Alabama because, in our view, it offers the best mix of job and rental opportunities. Huntsville, nicknamed "The Rocket City," is a major hub for the aerospace and defense industries, thanks in large part to the presence of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. Additionally, the city's growing tech sector offers a variety of career options. The school system is strong as well, so if you’re a young professional in tech or aerospace, particularly with a family, Huntstville is a great option.

Beyond its economic strength, renters can enjoy a variety of festivals, concerts, and cultural events throughout the year. The city also has a rich history, with landmarks like the U.S. Space & Rocket Center offering a glimpse into America's space exploration endeavors.

Browse our Huntsville listings now to learn more about the rental market.

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2. Birmingham, AL

  • Best for: Urban-dwellers looking for restored historical neighborhoods and buildings
  • Average 1 Bedroom Rent: $1,468
  • Average 2 Bedroom Rent: $1,731
  • Median Income: $42,464
  • Walk Score: 33
  • Transit Score: 21
  • Bike Score: 31

Birmingham, Alabama, also known as the "Magic City," snags second place on our list thanks to its revitalized downtown core brimming with trendy restaurants, shops, and art galleries. Renters can choose from a variety of modern apartment complexes located in the heart of the action, offering convenient access to the city's vibrant nightlife and cultural scene. Additionally, Birmingham's revitalization has extended to many historic neighborhoods, providing charming and walkable areas with unique rental options.

On top of a great atmosphere, Birmingham offers a significantly lower cost of living compared to the national average. This translates to affordable rents, allowing renters to stretch their dollar further and enjoy a comfortable lifestyle. Beyond affordability, Birmingham blends a youthful energy and a growing entrepreneurial spirit with a rich and powerful history.

Check out what's for rent in Birmingham right now.

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3. Mobile, AL

  • Best for: Beach-goers and urban-dwellers looking for coastal views
  • Average 1 Bedroom Rent: $1,346
  • Average 2 Bedroom Rent: $1,499
  • Median Income: $48,524
  • Walk Score: 32
  • Transit Score: n/a
  • Bike Score: 34

Mobile, Alabama, nestled along the Gulf Coast, joins our top three cities because it boasts some of the most affordable beach rentals on the Alabama coast. From charming beach bungalows to modern apartment complexes with water views, renters can enjoy the laid-back beach lifestyle and stunning beauty without breaking the bank.

Mobile, founded by the French in 1702, is also the oldest city in Alabama. This rich history translates to a vibrant cultural scene. Mobile residents can explore historic sites like Fort Conde and explore the city's unique blend of French, Creole, and American influences. The city also boasts a thriving arts scene with museums, theaters, and a variety of festivals throughout the year.

Visit our Mobile apartment listings to learn more about the rental market.

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4. Montgomery, AL

  • Best for: Families, history lovers, and state employees
  • Starting 1 Bedroom Rent: $617
  • Starting 2 Bedroom Rent: $600
  • Median Income: $54,166
  • Walk Score: 26
  • Transit Score: 16
  • Bike Score: 33

Montgomery, Alabama, the state capital, offers a charming blend of Southern hospitality, historic significance, and a surprisingly affordable rental market. Montogmery boasts a revitalized downtown with a growing selection of affordable apartments. These central locations offer convenient access to museums, theaters, and a burgeoning restaurant scene. And that’s good news because one of the appeals of Montgomery is that it’s steeped in American history, particularly its role in the Civil Rights Movement. Residents can explore landmarks like the Rosa Parks Museum and the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail.

Montgomery is also a great place for families thanks to excellent schools and lots of spacious and affordable houses for renters in quiet neighborhoods. Additionally, Montgomery boasts a network of parks, trails, and green spaces, offering ample opportunities for outdoor recreation and enjoying the Alabama sunshine.

See our Montgomery apartment listings to find out what's on the market today.

best-places-in-alabama-auburn

5. Auburn, AL

  • Best for: Students and fans of Auburn football
  • Average 1 Bedroom Rent: $2,012
  • Average 2 Bedroom Rent: $1,619
  • Median Income: $55,509
  • Walk Score: 28
  • Transit Score: n/a
  • Bike Score: 38

Auburn, Alabama, home to Auburn University, offers a vibrant and youthful atmosphere perfect for renters seeking a dynamic lifestyle. Auburn's college town atmosphere translates to a lively and energetic rental market. Renters can choose from a variety of apartments, student housing options, and even charming bungalows close to campus. This proximity allows for easy access to sporting events, cultural activities, and the energy of university life.

While Auburn is undeniably passionate about Auburn Tigers football, the city offers much more for renters. A growing arts scene, complete with galleries and performance venues, caters to creative minds. Additionally, a strong focus on sustainability and green initiatives makes Auburn an attractive option for eco-conscious residents.

Our Auburn apartment listings contain a lot more information about the rental market.

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6. Fairhope, AL

  • Best for: Nature and art lovers looking for a quiet coastal town
  • Starting 1 Bedroom Rent: $1,550
  • Starting 2 Bedroom Rent: $1,275
  • Median Income: $85,456
  • Walk Score: 79
  • Transit Score: n/a
  • Bike Score: 64

Fairhope, Alabama, another beautiful coastal town on our list, is a little bit quieter than Auburn, but it boasts a charming downtown area with art galleries, boutiques, and a strong focus on local businesses. The downtown area itself is quite walkable, and while Fairhope embraces a slower pace, the city isn't isolated. Mobile, with its wider range of amenities, is a short drive away, offering the best of both worlds for renters.

Fairhope is renowned for its thriving arts scene. Renters can immerse themselves in art walks, festivals, and galleries showcasing local talent. Beyond the arts, the town boasts beautiful beaches, parks, and nature preserves, offering ample opportunities for outdoor recreation and relaxation.

You can view Fairhope, Alabama apartment listings to learn more about the area.

7. Opelika, AL

  • Best for: Historical, small town vibes
  • Starting 1 Bedroom Rent: $1,235
  • Starting 2 Bedroom Rent: $1,505
  • Median Income: $55,218
  • Walk Score: 18
  • Transit Score: n/a
  • Bike Score: 29

Opelika, Alabama, a charming city steeped in Southern history, offers a friendly atmosphere and a rich history evident in its beautiful antebellum architecture and historic sites like the National Voting Rights Museum. Renters can find safe neighborhoods with excellent schools and a variety of family-friendly activities. However, Opelika isn't stuck in the past. The city has a growing focus on entrepreneurship and innovation, fostering a dynamic and exciting atmosphere for young professionals and those seeking a place with potential.

View what's available for rent in Opelika, Alabama right now.

8. Daphne, AL

  • Best for: Retirees and those seeking a peaceful coastal life
  • Starting 1 Bedroom Rent: $1,075
  • Starting 2 Bedroom Rent: $1,295
  • Median Income: $80,657
  • Walk Score: 15
  • Transit Score: n/a
  • Bike Score: 27

Daphne, Alabama, situated on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay, offers a relaxed coastal lifestyle and abundant opportunities for outdoor adventuring. The city boasts beautiful beaches, perfect for swimming, sunbathing, or water sports. Additionally, Daphne offers access to boat launches, marinas, and waterways, ideal for exploring the surrounding bays and islands. Beyond water activities, Daphne has a network of parks and trails, perfect for hiking, biking, or simply enjoying nature.

You can check out apartments in Daphne to learn more about the rental market there!

Find Your Next Apartment in Alabama

Now that you've explored the best places to rent in Alabama, it's time to find your perfect apartment! Apartment List is your one-stop shop for everything rental-related in Alabama.

Search by city, filter by price range and amenities, and browse photos and details of countless apartments across the state. Let us help you find your dream home in Alabama – start searching today!

Best Places to Live in Alabama FAQs

What Are the Pros and Cons of Living in Alabama?

Pros:

  • Affordable Cost of Living: Alabama boasts a lower cost of living compared to the national average. This applies to housing, groceries, and utilities, making it an attractive option for budget-conscious renters.
  • Beautiful Natural Scenery: From pristine beaches to rolling mountains, Alabama offers a variety of stunning landscapes to explore.
  • Rich History and Culture: Alabama played a significant role in American history, and the state boasts numerous historical landmarks and cultural experiences.
  • Southern Hospitality: Alabamians are known for their friendliness and welcoming nature.
  • Thriving Job Market in Certain Areas: Cities like Huntsville and Birmingham offer strong job markets in sectors like aerospace and technology.

Cons:

  • Hot and Humid Summers: Alabama summers can be quite hot and humid, which can be uncomfortable for some people.
  • Limited Public Transportation: Most cities in Alabama are car-dependent, with limited public transportation options.
  • Lower Wages Compared to National Average: While the cost of living is lower, wages in Alabama also tend to be lower than the national average.
  • Potential for Severe Weather: Alabama is prone to tornadoes and other severe weather events.

Is It a Good Idea to Move to Alabama?

Whether or not Alabama is a good fit for you depends on your priorities. Here are some things to consider:

  • If you're on a budget: Alabama's affordability can be a major perk.
  • If you enjoy outdoor activities: The state's diverse landscapes offer year-round opportunities for exploration.
  • If you value history and culture: Alabama is steeped in rich history and cultural experiences.
  • If you need strong public transportation: This might not be the ideal location.
  • If you prioritize high wages: Alabama might not offer the highest salaries depending on your field.

What Is a Good Salary to Live Comfortably in Alabama?

We use a budgeting rule that says rent should not be more than 30% of your income to determine what salary you need to live in an area. As of February 2024, the overall average rent in Alabama was $974. At that rate, you would need to earn around $40,000 a year to live in the state.

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Dr. Katherine Blake
CONTENT EDITOR
Dr. Katherine Blake is a content editor with Apartment List, where she helps ensure our renter and rental management content is fresh and informed by the latest data. Read More
Tristian Brown
SENIOR CONTENT ASSOCIATE
Tristian Brown is a Senior Content Marketing Associate at Apartment List, where he manages high-quality content that helps modern renters find the perfect home. He brings an immense wealth of knowledge to the team, having earned a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing and European Management from the University of San Diego and EM Strasbourg Business School. Read More

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