Cost of living -

7 Things to know and do before moving to Alabama

Alabama is a state in the Southeastern region of the United States. Every year, more and more people are opting to move to Alabama because of its beautiful scenery, friendly people, and low cost of living. Alabama is the perfect place to call home. 

It is bordered by Georgia to the east, Tennessee to the north, Florida, and the Gulf of Mexico to the south. Not only this, but it is also home to some stunning scenic mountains and beautiful beaches. In Alabama, people will compliment you, shake and wave to you, ask you how you are doing even if they don’t know you. Southern hospitality at its best.

So, if you are considering moving to Alabama, there are numerous things you need to know and prepare for, like their cost of living or simply how to notify the state of Alabama of your address change. Here are 7 things you need to know before moving to Alabama.

Moving to Alabama: Everything to know and do

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1. First steps before moving to Alabama

Find a reliable moving company, truck rental or moving container

For your move to Alabama, you will need to hire a reliable moving company or take on the move yourself. To find the best moving company in Alabama, look for helpful reviews, a professional-looking website, and years of experience.

Planning a move to Alabama? Take a look at our selection of:

Finding a job 

As of September 2023, Alabama had an unemployment rate of 2.2%, which increased compared to 2.1% in August 2023.

Jobs that are often in high demand are mental health technician, nursing assistant, cook, customer service representative and nurse Practitioners.

Finding a job in Alabama is easier if you search online for job openings. Popular websites for this include LinkedIn, Indeed, and SimplyHired.

US Bureau of Labor Statistics (Oct 2023)

Getting there 

Below are some travel options to get to Alabama from different parts of the country include:

Flying: Flying is the most convenient way to move to Alabama. Book a flight from your departure city to Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, depending on your destination within Alabama.

Train: You can also take the train with Amtrak as an alternative. 

Bus: If you want another way to travel, Alabama cities have bus services like Greyhound, and Flixbus, that can get you there.

If you are flying and require assistance with moving your belongings, you can explore options provided by reputable moving companies.

Must dos before your arrival 

Moving to Alabama may be exciting and will challenge you in many ways. By knowing these things beforehand, you will be better prepared for your new life in the city.

  • If you are moving to Alabama permanently, and you receive a lot of mail (excluding packages), you may want to sign up with USPS’s mail forwarding service. Mail forwarding allows your mail to be redirected to the right address for a given period of time. The fee for regular mail forwarding is only a little over a dollar for 6 months. If you want to extend the service, you will have to pay around $20 for 6 months more. You can begin your mail forwarding process by signing up on USPS’s website or directly at your local Post Office.
  • Moving to a new place is an opportunity to start afresh. If you’re moving to Alabama, selling or donating the items you won’t need will go a long way in making your move easier. You can sell your old household items and personal possessions, and anything that will not be useful. Pick out the items that will not be useful for you in Alabama, then decide if you want to sell them on websites like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace or donate them to a non-profit organization.

2. Upon your arrival in Alabama

Must dos right upon your arrival

  • Get familiar with your neighborhood, and make sure to take note of the important emergency numbers.
  • If you roam around the city for work or just simply checking on it, it would be great to purchase a daily pass to save money.
  • Locate the essential facilities like the nearest hospital, police station, and fire department for your safety and in case of emergency.

Options to get around in Alabama are extremely limited, it’s better if you have your own car. However, some public transit options include:

Exchanging your driver’s license

Once you move to Alabama and establish residency, you must visit the local Alabama DPS office and transfer your out-of-state driver’s license within 30 days of establishing residency. In order to transfer your out-of-state driver’s license, you’ll need to visit the local office in person with the required documents. You will also have to surrender your out-of-state license. 

The AL DPS does not require driver testing for new-to-state drivers unless your license has been expired for more than 1 year. To apply, you’ll have to visit your local DPS and submit your Social Security number, proof of insurance and other documents. You can also schedule an online appointment to book your AL driver license transaction.

Register your vehicle

If you have just moved to Alabama, you’ll have to register your out-of-state vehicle within 30 days. Failure to do so might result in penalties and additional charges. To get your car registered in Alabama:

  • Bring your vehicle title, proof of insurance, and registration fees to your local office.
  • Complete a vehicle identification number (VIN) inspection and visit the Car Registration Page to check out all the documentation requirements and details.

Change your address

Along with mail forwarding, you will also have to update your new address with the concerned authorities in Alabama, like the DMV. To exercise your right to vote in Alabama, you can register to vote online, by mail and in person.

To register in person or by mail, you need to fill out the State of Alabama Mail-In Voter Registration Form (Form NVRA-2). You can request to get mailed the form by filling out the online form request. You will have to submit the form (by mail or in person) to your local AL County office of Board of Registrars.

Changing your address with your employer, bank, doctor, insurer, and service providers so that you can avoid any complications further down the road.

Setting up a bank account 

Obtaining a bank account in Alabama is a straightforward process. You only need to present a copy of your valid state or government-issued ID, such as a driver’s license or passport. The bank with most branches in Alabama for easy access is Regions Bank. Alabama’s residents has access to a whopping 190 branches of Regions Bank in the state.

Getting health insurance

Getting health insurance is an excellent way to get peace of mind when it comes to your health. With health insurance, you will not have to worry about spending a ton of money in case of a health-related emergency. The state of Alabama proposes a website to help you with your health insurance search. Simply choose Alabama as your state and create an account.

Type of healthcare

Cost

Employer-sponsored health insurance

$125.83

Non-employer-sponsored health insurance

$714.50

Gym

$31.25

Numbeo (Oct 2023) & EHealthInsurance (Oct 2023)

3. Best places to live in Alabama

Best places to live in Alabama

If you are a couple, you might want to consider living in Mountain Brook. It offers a sparse suburban feel, a thriving nightlife, a diverse culture, a safe and secure environment, and a lot of amenities.

If you are a family, you might want to consider Hoover. Hoover offers good housing facilities, some highly rated public schools, a lot of restaurants, parks (the famous one being ‘the Oak Mountain State Park’, coffee shops, shopping outlets, and it’s a wonderful place to raise a family. 

If you are single, you should consider moving to Birmingham. Birmingham is home to the University of Alabama (UAB) and a lot of great educational institutes. This is the reason a lot of young professionals live here. In addition to this, entertainment options in Birmingham are unlimited.

Setting up home services 

Setting up essential home services like electricity, water, and internet in Alabama is a straightforward process. 

  • Alabama Power is responsible for regulating electricity in Alabama. South Alabama Utilities is responsible for regulating water, natural gas and sewage to Mobile County and part of Washington County. They ensure that consumers are provided with accessible, safe and reliable services at reasonable rates. Alabama Natural Gas Association can help with setting up gas in your new home.

Should you rent or buy?

The average Alabama home value is $223,447, increased by 1.3% from 2022. Alabama’s price per square foot to buy an apartment outside the center is $146.67.

Finding an apartment for rent in Alabama is easy, utilize websites like Zillow, Apartmentguide, and Apartments.com. When seeking a house, these websites—Zillow, Realtor, and Century21—will assist you in your search for a home in Alabama.

Cost of rent in Alabama

Area/Neighborhood

1-bed apartment

3-bed apartment

Huntsville (Outside of Center)

$850.00

$1,650.00

Cost of buying a property in Alabama

Area/Neighborhood

Average home price 

Huntsville

$223,447

Numbeo (Oct 2023) & Zillow (Oct 2023)

Consider getting home insurance

Getting home insurance is essential, whichever state you are residing in. It is a kind of financial protection that will cover for your expenses if a natural disaster damages your home. Residents in Alabama are at a risk to deadly tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, hurricanes, and floods. Given the relatively frequent occurrence of these incidents, getting home insurance is a must.

4. Cost of living in Alabama

Category

Monthly cost

1 bed apt rent outside city center

$850.00

Groceries

Numbeo’s grocery list ($58.88 multiplied by 4)

$235.52

Utilities

Electricity, heating, cooling, water, garbage

$199.25

Internet with 60 Mbps

$60.00

Transit pass

$53.00

Entertainment 

Meal, taxi, movie

$64.25

Gym membership 

$31.25

Total

$1,493.27

Numbeo (Oct 2023)

5. The weather in Alabama

On average, there are 213 sunny days per year in Alabama. The highest temperature in Summers is 91° and the Winter low is 33 degrees. Alabama averages 1 inches of snow per year and 56 inches of rain. 

Alabama has one of the loveliest summers and fall seasons in the nation. Springs are also beautiful, when you start seeing a lot of white leaves on the trees, you’ll know that spring is here. The residents of Alabama experience hot summers and cold winters with a lot of rain.

6. What to do as a local in Alabama

After you are done settling into your new home in Alabama, you will want to familiarize yourself with the state and all its attractions. Some of the most popular activities and locations in Alabama include:

Oak Mountain Park – A famous destination for family bonding, playing golf, hanging out with friends, hiking and cycling.

Cheaha State Park – A perfect place to camp, hike, and enjoy the breathtaking view. It’s the highest point in Alabama. 

Gulf State Park – It has some famous beaches, campgrounds, and a lot of activities like kayaking and canoeing.

Some common grocery stores in Alabama are: Whole Foods Market, Trader Joe’s, and Publix Super Market.

The two most popular big chain stores are Walmart and Costco. 

Must-visit food places in Alabama are The Cheesecake Factory and P.F. Chang’s.

Visit the popular cities in Alabama: Birmingham, Montgomery, Mobile, Huntsville and Tuscaloosa.

7. Fun facts about Alabama

  • Fun Fact #1: Alabama was named after the Alabama River, and the people from Alabama are called Alabamians.
  • Fun Fact #2: Montgomery, Alabama, became the first U.S. city to introduce an electric streetcar system for transportation.
  • Fun Fact #3: The Vulcan statue, the city symbol of Birmingham, Alabama, is the largest cast iron statue in the world.

Conclusion

Alabama is known for its relatively low cost of living. Housing, utilities, and everyday expenses are often more affordable compared to many other states, making it an attractive option for those looking to save money. It has rich historical landmarks such as the Rosa Parks Museum and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, and locals can also enjoy fresh seafood on the Gulf Coast.

While moving to Alabama has its pros and cons, checking the cost of living is essential to making sure you will live comfortably in this city and call it home. It’s a good idea to research specific neighborhoods within the state and consider your priorities to determine if Alabama is the right fit for you and your family.

Need a trusted moving company for the area? Discover the 5 best movers in Alabama. 

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Selina Cifelli

The author

Selina is a motivated marketing intern with a keen interest in developing engaging content related to moving experiences and city life. With a passion for fashion and traveling, she brings a fresh perspective to our readers. Her talent for crafting innovative written material effectively positions MovingWaldo as a trusted resource for hassle-free and efficient moves.

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