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


Larry Bleiberg

Profile written by local expert:

Larry Bleiberg

This laid-back waterfront metropolitan area often feels like a mini New Orleans, complete with a Mardi Gras tradition, historic neighborhoods draped in Spanish moss and a year-round "let the good times roll" attitude. But unlike its Gulf Coast neighbor, Mobile, Alabama, has a conservative Southern core.

Part of Mobile's appeal is its proximity to a number of outdoor recreation spots. Sporting enthusiasts have easy access to hunting areas like the Mobile Delta, and fishing in deep ocean water, lakes and streams. And the metro area's location on the Gulf of Mexico puts residents less than an hour away from some of the prettiest beaches in the nation.

Although racially diverse, Mobile can at times feel socially and politically divided. But the region is changing with the addition of international employers like aircraft manufacturer Airbus bringing new job opportunities to the area. Additionally, Mobile has ambitious plans to revitalize its downtown, where condos and lofts are being added in renovated historic buildings.

This laid-back waterfront metropolitan area often feels like a mini New Orleans, complete with a Mardi Gras tradition, historic neighborhoods draped in Spanish moss and a year-round "let the good times roll" attitude. But unlike its Gulf Coast neighbor, Mobile, Alabama, has a conservative Southern core.

Part of Mobile’s appeal is its proximity to a number of outdoor recreation spots. Sporting enthusiasts have easy access to huntingareas like the Mobile Delta, and fishing in deep ocean water, lakes and streams. And the metro area's location on the Gulf of Mexico puts residents less than an hour away from some of the prettiest beaches in the nation.

Although racially diverse, Mobile can at times feel divided, largely segregated socially and politically. But the region is changing with the addition of international employers like aircraft manufacturer Airbus bringing new types of job opportunities to the area. Additionally, Mobile has ambitious plans to revitalize its downtown, where condos and lofts are being added in renovated historic buildings.

Rankings

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.

Mobile, Alabama is ranked:

#121 in Best Places to Live

5.5

Overall

Scorecard

Best Places to Live

  • Desirability
    5.5
  • Value
    6.3
  • Job Market
    5.7
  • Quality of Life
    4.7
  • Net Migration
    5.3

Read how we rank places

Mobile, AL Quick Stats

  • 414,328

    Metro Population

  • $43,830

    Average Annual Salary

  • N/A

    Avg High/Low Temps

  • 37.3

    Median Age

  • $126,976

    Median Home Price

  • N/A

    AVG Annual Rainfall

  • 4.7%

    Unemployment Rate

  • $828

    Median Monthly Rent

  • 24.8 minutes

    Avg Commute Time

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

Mobile may be a growing, vibrant metro area, but its cost of living falls well below national averages, with housing being particularly inexpensive. Even homes in restored historic neighborhoods can have surprisingly low price points. Residents relocating from most areas will feel like they're kids in a candy store. And while salaries generally track below the national average, Mobile is still a bargain. From health care to gasoline, residents find their dollar goes much further here than in other metro areas.

Value Index

Index Score: 6.3 /10

How we calculate this.


Mobile offers a lower value than similarly sized metro areas when you compare housing costs to median household income.

Housing Costs 2016


Mobile
$126,976

USA
$213,127

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 Mobile, AL.

What's the weather like in Mobile, AL?

Expect mild winters and a glorious spring and fall, but beware the summer, when temperatures and humidity soar. And bring an umbrella because Mobile is one of the rainiest metro areas in the nation, although the precipitation usually comes in downbursts and may disappear as quickly as it starts. Given its coastal location, Mobile is occasionally threatened by hurricanes, but they are infrequent.

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

With limited public transportation, most residents rely on cars for commuting, shopping and day-to-day life. And that can get stressful. Located at the head of Mobile Bay and along its estuaries, Mobile is laced with tunnels, bridges and causeways, which can back up with traffic during rush hours, and throughout the day and weekends.

Downtown is beginning to boom with the addition of condos and lofts, and ambitious plans for opening up access to the Mobile River waterfront. With millennials eager for urban living, Mobile is rapidly renovating, creating a pedestrian-friendly core.

The region's airport offers connections to major airline hubs and a few nonstop destinations. Some residents choose to drive an hour to catch flights at Pensacola International Airport in Pensacola, Florida, or 90 minutes to Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport in Gulfport, Mississippi, if a routing is more convenient. Amtrak service ended when Hurricane Katrina wiped out tracks along the Gulf Coast, although regional and federal leaders are moving forward with plans to revive it. There's also Greyhound bus service, along with Megabus, which offers low-fare service to places like AtlantaNew Orleans and Orlando.

Commuting in Mobile, AL

Means of Transportation
Driving
93%
Above national average

Bicycling
0%
Equal to national average

Walking
1%
Equal to national average

Public Transit
0%
Below national average
Average Commute Time

24.8 minutes

1.6 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 Mobile, AL?

Life centers around family in Mobile, with strong allegiances to neighborhoods, schools and churches that can go back generations. Although Southern Baptists predominate, the Catholic Church has been an important part of the community since Mobile's founding by French settlers in the early 1700s. Mobile's parochial school system remains strong and there are also small, but historic Jewish and Greek Orthodox communities.

Although deeply conservative, Mobile's character is beginning to change with France-based Airbus and its suppliers bringing international workers to the region. While there certainly is old money here, there also are pockets of poverty. People generally aren't flashy – except during Mardi Gras season.

Although it's Alabama's third largest metro area, Mobile likes to keep to itself, and identifies with the Gulf Coast, not the Deep South. The only exception is college football, which is followed with religious fervor. As in the rest of the state, loyalties passionately divide between the University of Alabama and Auburn University, which come to a head at the annual Iron Bowl face-off after Thanksgiving.

Age Distribution

Marital Status Breakdown


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

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

What is there to do in Mobile, AL?

Mobile likes to tell the world that it hosted the first Mardi Gras in North America, and its social calendar still revolves around the celebration, which is an official holiday in the metro area. Streets throng with family-friendly parades, and evening balls host thousands of celebrants dressed to the nines. Mardi Gras here relies on dozens of “mystic societies,” which meet throughout the year to build floats and socialize. 

Cultural attractions include art and history museums and the expansive Bellingrath Gardens and Home, which feature public gardens, a conservatory, a lake and a historic estate. Other standouts include the USS Alabama battleship, which anchors at Battleship Memorial Park, and the new innovative and interactive Gulfquest National Maritime Museum of the Gulf of Mexico. There's also venues to take in opera, symphony, ballet and theater performances.

Outdoor lovers are drawn to the region's wildlife-rich woods and swamps to hunt duck and deer, and to its waters to fish for everything from speckled trout to Spanish mackerel. Carnival Cruise Lines recently resumed Caribbean cruises from the port. Or for a quicker break, it's less than an hour drive to beach communities like Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.