Is Huntsville, Alabama, a good place to live? Absolutely! Living in Huntsville, AL, offers the perfect combination of affordable living, excellent quality of life, plenty of entertainment options, and more for a variety of different lifestyles. Want to know specifics? Let’s dig a little deeper.
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Huntsville At a Glance
- Huntsville is situated in the Appalachian region of northern Alabama.
- Huntsville is commonly associated with its nickname of the “Rocket City,” as it’s home to history within the U.S. space program.
- Huntsville is the county seat of Madison County and is currently the largest city in Alabama.
- Huntsville has a total land area of around 218 square miles.
- The population in Huntsville is roughly 221,900.
- The median age in Huntsville is close to 37 years old.
1. Cost of Living in Huntsville, AL
Why are so many people moving to Huntsville? Well, with a cost of living index of 94.2/100, life in Huntsville is nearly 6 percent lower than the national average in the U.S. The total cost of basic necessities like housing, food, child care, transportation, and taxes is what factors into this index. That’s a pretty good reason to move to Rocket City, huh?
To put it in perspective, for a family of four with at least one parent working, the annual income after taxes should come in at around $65,000 to live comfortably. For a single adult without children, the annual income after taxes should come in at closer to $28,000 for a comfortable lifestyle.
2. Pros and Cons of Huntsville, AL
Like any city across the nation, there are going to be positives and negatives that come with living there. What are the pros and cons of living in Huntsville, Alabama? For starters, Huntsville is home to some beautiful weather, but it can get a little too humid for some in the warmer summer months. Here are a few more pros and cons to consider before making the move to Huntsville.
Pro: Outdoor Activities Wherever You Go
The city of Huntsville is surrounded by natural beauty, including the Appalachian Mountains. Its proximity to the Tennessee River provides numerous water-based recreation opportunities, such as fishing, boating, and kayaking. There are also several golf courses in the area, as well as parks that accommodate various types of activities.
Pro: Job Opportunities
The city of Huntsville is known for its many government and corporate organizations. Some of these include NASA and Boeing. It also has a thriving tech sector, with companies such as Cubic Corporation and F1 Solutions establishing operations in the area, which provides residents with numerous job opportunities.
Pro: Fabulous Local Breweries
Over the years, the number of craft breweries in Huntsville has increased significantly. There are also several local craft beer trails that you can explore, including the Downtown Huntsville Craft Beer Trail.
Con: Hot and Humid Weather
The subtropical climate of Huntsville translates to hot and humid summers, which means certain outdoor activities can become uncomfortable. Although it’s easy to enjoy the mild winters and the abundance of sunshine, the excessively hot summer temperatures can be unbearable. The city is also prone to severe storms, such as tornadoes and hurricanes.
Con: Limited Diversity
The city of Huntsville has a relatively limited ethnic and cultural diversity overall, yet the city is working toward becoming more inclusive. To address this issue, the city has created the Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (ODEI), which seeks to promote inclusion and diversity.
Con: Airport Traffic
Due to the existence of several small airports — versus one large airport — within the city of Huntsville, there is an increased amount of airport traffic on the roads. Likewise, if you live near an airport's approach route, you will often hear planes taking off and coming in.
(Source: John Wesley Brooks and The Brooks Family Of Realtors via Facebook)
3. Huntsville Housing Market
The average home price in Huntsville is right around $278,000, with some of the most common types of homes being ranch homes, bungalow homes, and patio homes. Compared to the national average home price of around $346,000, it’s much cheaper to buy a house in Huntsville than in many other areas around the country. In fact, Niche ranks Huntsville #5 on its “Best Cities to Buy a House in America” list!
4. Renting in Huntsville
In Huntsville, the average apartment size is around 945 square feet, typically the size of a one-bedroom apartment. The average rent is around $1,200. Of course, larger apartments, like two- and three-bedroom apartments, will offer more square footage, but they’ll also cost a bit more.
5. Best Places To Live in Huntsville
Huntsville is home to a variety of great neighborhoods that not only offer fabulous amenities but also include affordable home prices. Take a look at three of the best neighborhoods in Huntsville for young professionals, families, and retirees.
The area's most popular attractions include the three championship golf courses that were designed by renowned golf professional Robert Trent Jones. These are all well designed and pay tribute to the area's landscape with their old barns and century-old oaks, and they’re very desirable among retirees, in particular.
The area also features a variety of other recreational facilities, such as a swimming pool, a fitness center, tennis courts, and a city park.
Close to major employment areas and the entertainment district of Huntsville, there’s a variety of retailers and food outlets located nearby. And the Hays Nature Preserve, which has beautiful forests and river access, is just a short drive away.
Madison is situated near some of the most prominent employers in the city of Huntsville, making it the most ideal place for up and coming young professionals. One of these employers includes a major software company, Hexagon PPM.
Residents of Madison enjoy a comfortable lifestyle, while reaping Huntsville's lower cost of living. There are plenty of fun activities in the area for people of all ages, such as competing in a laser tag arena and catching a baseball game at a brand new minor-league baseball stadium!
South HuntsvilleSouth Huntsville is a safe, family-friendly community that’s located at the base of the mountains in the city of Huntsville, offering easy access to the outdoors.
(Source: City of Huntsville, Alabama - Government via Facebook)
6. Huntsville’s Public Transportation
Due to the area's rapid growth, there’s been an influx of people using public transportation. Thankfully, the Orbit Public Transit System operates every day of the week and covers a wide range of routes.
If you happen to be somewhere near the University of Alabama’s Huntsville campus, the campus shuttle also makes stops at various retail and grocery stores. The campus shuttle typically runs on Fridays, between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m.
And with the Access program, senior residents get specialized door-to-door demand response transit service.
7. Schools and Higher Education in Huntsville
There are currently 6 high schools, 2 junior high schools, 4 middle schools, and 21 elementary schools in the Huntsville school system. These schools provide education to more than 24,000 students.
Among the institutions in the city of Huntsville that offer graduate and undergraduate programs are the University of Alabama at Huntsville and Alabama A & M University. The University of Alabama is known for its cutting-edge research in areas such as defense technologies and space exploration, while Alabama A & M University is focused on providing opportunities to minorities.
These establishments help to maintain the city's cultural and intellectual life, and they provide graduates and students with avenues for employment, research projects, and internships.
8. Huntsville Sports
If you're a sports fan, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to support professional and semi-professional teams in the city of Huntsville. Some of these include the Rocket City Trash Pandas, a minor league baseball team, and the Huntsville Havoc.
The Von Braun Center Propst Arena is the main sports venue in the city. It features various events, including exhibitions and professional games, and it serves as the home of the Huntsville Havoc and the University of Alabama at Huntsville's football team. Another impressive facility is Toyota Field, which is home to the Rocket City Trash Pandas.
9. Weather in Huntsville Throughout the Year
The climate in Huntsville is generally warm and humid. During the summer season, persistent thunderstorms and warm temperatures are most common, while the winters cool off quite a bit. Temperatures during the course of the year can vary from around 33 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter months to over 90 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer.
The weather is typically pleasant and dry during the fall season, with low air masses allowing for cooler temperatures and fewer thunderstorms than in the summertime. The dry air also helps with the harvesting of hay and cotton crops, which are vital to the local economy.
U.S. Space & Rocket Center
(Source: U.S. Space & Rocket Center via Facebook)
10. Huntsville’s Unique Space Exploration Hub
In 1945, aerospace engineer Dr. Wernher von Braun and his team came to the U.S. under a military contract to develop ballistic rockets. After inspecting some of the Redstone facilities in Huntsville, which were used during World War II, Dr. von Braun and his team proposed a guided missile center be built in the city.
After moving to Huntsville in March 1950, the von Braun team collaborated with a group of rocketry experts in the U.S. They would eventually create the world's first satellites and rockets, such as the Saturn V rocket that carried the astronauts of the American Apollo to the moon.
Huntsville’s U.S. Space & Rocket Center is the largest museum of its kind in the world. It features interactive exhibits and rockets, as well as various artifacts and scientific instruments. The Marshall Space Flight Center is also the federal government's center for space propulsion and rockets, and it currently serves as the largest facility for NASA.
11. A Variety of Local Restaurant Favorites
The people of Huntsville, AL, are lucky when it comes to getting fantastic local food options. Everything is made with the finest ingredients that come from farms all around the area. A couple of our favorites include:
- Commerce Kitchen: This establishment offers a contemporary and sophisticated take on southern cuisine. It also features a variety of drink recipes that are perfect for family and friends.
- 1892 East Restaurant & Tavern: This place serves up global menus that feature local ingredients and a variety of vegetarian options. It's an upscale locavore restaurant that offers a comfortable bar and grill.
12. The Strong Sense of Community in Huntsville
What are the people like in Huntsville, Alabama? There’s a strong sense of community among the residents, as evidenced by their cultural events, like the Christmas Parade and Panoply Arts Event held each year. In fact, Huntsville is referred to as an “event-full” place to live, as there are a variety of festivals, concerts, farmers markets, and even food tastings that take place within the city throughout the year. Spring is one of the best times to get out and about in town to explore signature events like the Huntsville Blooms and guided historic district tours.
13. Parks for Kids and Adults Throughout Huntsville
When it comes to fun things to do in Huntsville, AL, you should know that there are over 65 parks that have over 3,000 acres of space. These parks range from small green spaces to large multi-use areas that feature various equipment and activities — most of which provide recreational fields and play areas for kids. Some of the most popular parks include Beirne Avenue Park, Archer Park, and Bell Mountain Park.
Residents in Huntsville also enjoy direct access to popular walking trails from many of the city’s parks, and you can find close to 30 miles of various greenways for both local pedestrians and cyclists to enjoy.
The Electric Belle at Stovehouse
(Source: Stovehouse via Facebook)
14. Huntsville’s Entertainment Scene
When it comes to fun things to do in Huntsville, AL, you can’t go wrong with the activities and entertainment offerings of Downtown and MidCity. There are plenty of clubs, bars, and quiet lounges. The area's growing enthusiasm for craft beer has also resulted in the building of several breweries and brewpubs, which serve high-quality drinks and offer local cuisine. And did we mention how great the live music shows are at Stovehouse?
Plan Your Move to Huntsville With PODS Today
Now that you’re more familiar with some of the most essential information about life in Huntsville, it’s time to start preparing for that big move! No matter how close to or how far away from Huntsville you are, learn more about how PODS can help you get there.
(Source for image featured at top: Huntsville-Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau via Facebook)
Editor’s note: For ease of reading, monthly rental prices were rounded to the nearest $25 and home values were rounded to the nearest $100.