What's it like to live in Birmingham, AL?

Raymonda Rice

Profile written by local expert:

Raymonda Rice

Birmingham, Alabama, a metropolitan area born from the iron and steel industry, is known for playing a crucial role in the civil rights movement. The region showcases its history at sites like Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. But Birmingham isn't stuck in the past. The cultural epicenter of Alabama, Birmingham encompasses art museums, theaters, concert venues and numerous festivals and events.

Home to the collegiate Southwestern Athletic Conference, Birmingham is a great place to live for sports fans. Many residents are happy to plan their springs and summers around the minor league Birmingham Barons' baseball games. And those who enjoy participating in outdoor activities will find plenty of options, from hiking the trails in Red Mountain Park to joining a kickball team.

Birmingham has many of the allures of urban life with a more affordable price tag than you'll find in many similarly sized metro areas. 


U.S. News analyzed 125 metro areas in the United States to find the best places to live based on quality of life and the job market in each metro area, as well as the value of living there and people's desire to live there.

Birmingham, Alabama is ranked:

#89 in Best Places to Live

#74 in Best Places to Retire

#2 in Best Places to Live in Alabama

#17 in Most Dangerous Places




Best Places to Live

  • Desirability
  • Value
  • Job Market
  • Quality of Life
  • Net Migration

Read how we rank places

Birmingham, AL Quick Stats

  • 1,144,097

    Metro Population

  • $47,300

    Average Annual Salary

  • 73.8° / 52.6°

    Avg High/Low Temps

  • 38.4

    Median Age

  • $171,450

    Median Home Price

  • 53.7 inches

    AVG Annual Rainfall

  • 3.6%

    Unemployment Rate

  • $831

    Median Monthly Rent

  • 26.2 minutes

    Avg Commute Time

What is there to do in Birmingham, AL?

Alabama's cultural scene includes art galleries, theaters and museums. Residents catch some amazing performances at the popular Alabama Theatre, sample a variety of cuisines downtown and enjoy the nightlife scene in Uptown. Birmingham treats audiophiles to live music at venues across the area and during festivals like Secret Stages.

For families, the zoo and the science center are big draws. One thing newcomers to Birmingham might not expect is the unofficial holiday, Magic City Classic Weekend. College football fans look forward every year to tailgating and watching Alabama State University and Alabama A&M University face off. And though Birmingham doesn't have any professional sports teams, residents are strong supporters of college and minor league sports. Also, Birmingham won the bid to host the World Games in 2021. 

What's the cost of living in Birmingham, AL?

The cost of living in Birmingham is roughly equivalent to the national average, but housing prices will vary greatly by neighborhood. However, everyday expenses such as groceries and health care are generally lower in Birmingham than in other major metropolitan areas. 

Value Index

Index Score: 7.3 /10

How we calculate this.

Birmingham offer a better value than similarly sized metro areas when you compare housing costs to median household income.

Housing Costs 2018



Housing Costs Over Time

Data sourced from Zillow median home sale price data series. Additional data provided by the Austin Board of Realtors, Houston Association of Realtors, Intermountain MLS, Omaha Area Board of Realtors, San Antonio Board of Realtors, and the Salt Lake Board of Realtors.

Buying or selling a home? Find top real estate agents in Birmingham, AL.

What's the weather like in Birmingham, AL?

Those who aren't used to the Southeastern climate learn quickly to dress in layers during the winter. 

Seasonal Temperature (Avgs)









Seasonal Rainfall (Avgs)

4.8 in


5.2 in


4.8 in


4.9 in


Monthly High and Low Temperatures (°F)

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center.

What's the best way to get around Birmingham, AL?

Many locals in Birmingham, especially those from surrounding suburbs, prefer to drive. The average commute time in Birmingham is about 26 minutes, provided traffic is flowing normally.

The Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority (BJCTA) operates a public bus system, which runs throughout central Birmingham and into the surrounding suburban areas. Unfortunately, the BJCTA Max buses don't run 24 hours, and anyone needing a bus after 11:30 p.m. will need to make other arrangements. Birmingham also offers the Zyp bike-share program, and the local government is working to make the downtown area more walkable.

The Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport is located about 5 miles from downtown and is serviced by American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines. Greyhound buses pick up and drop off in downtown right from the AT&T building. Birmingham also has an Amtrak train station.

Commuting in Birmingham, AL

Means of Transportation
Above national average

Equal to national average

Equal to national average

Public Transit
Below national average
Average Commute Time

26.2 minutes

0.2 minutes less than national average

Average Commute Times by Zip Code

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

Who lives in Birmingham, AL?

The University of Alabama – Birmingham (UAB) attracts young people from around the country with its highly regarded research facilities and medical school. Birmingham is also very family-friendly, especially the surrounding communities of Hoover, Trussville and Pelham, which offer good schools. 

Birmingham is home to people from all over the world who have shared their culture with the rest of the metro area's residents through restaurants and festivals. With a variety of cuisines from Korean to Cuban, the city's restaurant scene is just one way to experience the region's diversity.

Birmingham is not lacking in churches; you can find one on just about every corner. A significant portion of the religious population affiliates with the Evangelical Protestant church. 

Age Distribution

Marital Status Breakdown

About the same number of single people in Birmingham as national average

Data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.