leo from Houston, TX
COMMENT ABOUT PLACE
small city to enjoy the typical southerner's life
Lived in the Birmingham for years.
The small city was divided by the historical train tracks into the north half and the south one.
The north section was the downtown of the old iron city. There are many old buildings, abandoned, but still with its charm. Some buildings are occupied by banks, as their national data-centers. People works there in the daytime. But after sunset, it's a ghost town. Across the 20 hwy, on the north side of the ghost town, many houses are abandoned. Tornadoes usually come from the southwest, and pass around the city by the north side. It doesn't worth to the fix the broken houses there.
The whole south section is the UAB campus, hospitals, clinics, and law firms. The campus area is much safer than the north section. But you still could get robbed in a garage building, if you leave too late.
Most students and apartment-dwellers live in the areas between the UAB campus and the red mountain ridge. Many students don't drive every day. They walk or ride bicycles. There are some common issues among college students, like drugs, weed, smoking.
Across the red mountain ridge, it's the residential area for families. Homewood sits in a valley. Houses are usually old and need to be maintained for the higher humidity, and frequent flooding issues. Vestavia is farther south, and has better schools. Housing costs more than Homewood. There are many old and expensive houses in mountain brook, well maintained, but with lead painting are still there. You might find children with lead problems, living in a half million house in mountain brook. Houses in Hoover are relatively new, without lead and asbestos concerns. Homewood, Vestavia, mountain brook and Hoover are all good locations for families. But nowhere is trully safe, as everyone can drive 30 min to everywhere. You can find a judgmental map, a racialdotmap and a community crime map online.
Between Homewood, and Vestavia, there is Lakeshore drive, but no lake nearby. By the Lakeshore, there is a Samford univ. It's not a misspelled Stanford.
The red mountain ridge is higher than the Homewood valley. Beautiful smoky mountain views are found at sunrise after a rainy night. The green mountains are surrounded by thick fog. The Homewood is buried in the fog. That AL number plate depicts the exact view. Gunshots could be heard almost every few weeks at nighttime. The crispy sound can travel very far, especially in the quiet night.
Birmingham is in a hilly area. Many roads are steep, not designed for icy weather. But in winter, night temperature could drop below 30F. For each year, there are 1-2 cold weeks, and 1-2 light snow drops. When the icy roads are expected, the whole city will shutdown for half or one day. Most houses are heated with heatpumps (HVAC) and fireplaces.
Tap water tastes very good, and clean. But expensive sewer fees (>$100) are charged for that infamous Jefferson County sewer scandal. Yes. There are something in the sludge. The sewer fee is based on the watermeter. People need to pay the sewer fees for watering their lawn.
The air is always fresh and sweet. The sky is always clean. My car was coated by thick pine pollen in the spring. It could be a big issue to someone.
Peoples are the typical southerners, conservative, religious, not very open to the strangers, but sincere, and polite. They pronounce "you" as "yall", in a funny way . They enjoy their isolation, weather and their southerner's life. Rude people could be found. But usually they won't bother you, if you didn't initiate it. On the highway, people don't drive in a rude /crazy way.
Traffic jams happen at the peak time. The 280 HWY should be designed with more lanes, and there is no space to widen it. Something wrong was initially at the city planning.
Five points might the only spot with a limited nightlife. There are not many shows. It's a boring city to party goers, the liberal and artists.
The living cost is low. Housing is not expensive. A safer location with good schools is possible for ~ 300K. Generally speaking, I might move back, if there were a better job offer. But their pay rates are usually lower than other cities for the same job. Most people move to Birmingham after getting a job.