Thinking About Relocating to Birmingham? Read This First

Birmingham has admittedly come a long way in recent years. The city’s culinary scene is booming and downtown is witnessing a long overdue renaissance. Large corporations are claiming skyline real estate and plenty of movers and shakers are calling Birmingham home these days.

However, the Steel City still has its drawbacks. If you’re thinking of making the move to Alabama’s largest city, keep these shortcomings in mind.

 “Dixie Alley”

If you’re not a fan of stormy weather, you might want to think twice about moving to Birmingham. Tornadoes regularly touch down in Alabama from March to May.

We’ve become so synonymous with the windy cyclones that meteorologists have started referring to the areas of Alabama and Mississippi most affected by tornadoes as “Dixie Alley,” as to separate us from our neighbors in the Southern Plains. To make matters worse, Alabama is one of few places in the world that has a secondary tornado season that happens in the fall (November and December, specifically). Birmingham and Tuscaloosa made national headlines on Aril 27, 2011 when a massive tornado outbreak plagued the state — leaving flattened buildings and several deaths in its wake. Needless to say, if you decide to move to Birmingham, you might want to invest in a storm shelter (and those don’t come cheap).

Political Corruption

Alabama’s political leaders have had their share of scandal. From Governor Robert Bentley’s alleged sex scandal to Alabama Supreme Court Chief Roy Moore’s multiple bench removals, our state doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to clean politics. And, because Birmingham is the largest city in the state, we often become the face for Alabama’s political wrongdoings.

You could say our dicey political landscape began with former Alabama Governor George Wallace who infamously said “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” in his 1963 inaugural address. Since then, Birmingham, and the rest of the state has worked to move past its reputation as a backwards, narrow-minded region. However, national perceptions don’t die overnight. Get ready to defend Birmingham if you make the move — because chances are, outsiders will chastise you at some point.


It’s been reported that about 29 percent of Birmingham residents lives in poverty. That’s roughly double the national poverty rate. The typical Birmingham household brings in an average of $32,378 a year, which is more than $23,000 below the national median household income.

A declining population and poor job opportunities are two of the main culprits contributing to Birmingham’s lack of cash. Over the past decade, Birmingham’s population decreased by 3.3 percent — a telling sign of a struggling economy, especially given that most other urban areas have grown in recent years. So, make sure to lock in a secure job when you make your Magic City move, because the numbers are not in your favor.

Highway Construction

The I-20/59 bridge, located near the heart of downtown Birmingham, is undergoing a massive overhaul — and it’s a pain. Worst part? The Alabama Department of Transportation predicts it will be more than a couple of years until the madness ends. That means locals will have to continue enduring bumpy rides to and from downtown.

We know the bridge replacement is necessary, but it sure makes getting in and out of Birmingham a mess. Couple that with high traffic and you have a recipe for angry drivers, frequent car accidents and just an overall miserable experience.

Football Obsessed

If you’re not into football, you might want to consider moving to a different city. In fact, you may just want to move to another state, because Alabama is obsessed with football. Come fall, it’s all anyone can talk about.

And, since Birmingham is a short drive away from the University of Alabama, you can expect heavy traffic on I-459 until the last game of the season is played (which, let’s be honest, will probably be the national championship because the Crimson Tide sits on the SEC Conference throne and its king — err, coach — Nick Saban shows no sign of stepping down from his kingdom anytime soon).

So if you can’t carry a conversation about who’s starting in the next season or who made the winning touchdown in a game played ten years ago, then you might want to consider moving to a different city. Because Birmingham, just like the rest of the state, is big on football.

Sarah Cook