There’s a the age old question everyone thinks about when they decide to move to a city in Alabama:
Should I buy a place or rent?
Well, we aren’t here today to solve that problem for you exactly. We are just assuming you’ll do the right thing and a buy a place 😉
And while we are happy to tell you the best place to live in Alabama, this analysis is going to tackle the question of the best place to buy a house as an investor. That is we are going to try and determine the up and coming cities in the Heart Of Dixie.
To do that we are going to look at places in Alabama that are growing faster than average, but where home prices are below average. In every day terms, the ‘deals’.
The best deal in Alabama at the moment? That would be Clanton according to our analysis.
Here’s a look at the top ten places to buy a home in Alabama:
- Clanton (Homes)
- Glencoe (Homes)
- Fort Payne (Photos | Homes)
- Scottsboro (Photos | Homes)
- Smiths Station (Photos | Homes)
- Sylacauga (Photos | Homes)
- Oxford (Photos | Homes)
- Eufaula (Photos | Homes)
- Muscle Shoals (Photos | Homes)
- Hartselle (Photos | Homes)
The methodology that wen’t into this can be a bit complicated, so we’ll break it down for you in as much detail as we can below.
How do you determine the best places to buy a home in Alabama?
We were in real estate for almost five years and have been working on this site for another three. Suffice is to say, we’ve put a lot of thought into what goes into finding a good place to buy a home.
So all that thinking has come to this moment where we get to spell out how we’d approach finding an up-and-coming place to live in Alabama. Put differently, the analysis will try to find places in Alabama with undervalued homes relative to pent up demand.
To do that we looked at the most recent American Community Survey Census data for 2012-2016 and compared it to the previous vintage (2011-2015). Specifically, we used the following criteria:
- Y-o-Y Change In Population (People want to live here)
- Y-o-Y Change In Median Home Prices (People are willing to pay for it)
- Home Prices Relative To The State Average (It’s still kinda cheap)
We want places that are growing, have seen home prices increase in recent years, and are still ‘cheap’ for Alabama with the following caveats:
- Home prices had to be within 20% of the state average (Much lower than that and you get to some of the more dangerous places)
- Home prices increased in the last year, and
- Above 5,000 people (Bigger cities have more data points)
So of the 574 cities and towns in Alabama, only 20 places made it through our initial filters to even be considered.
We then ranked each place from 1 to 20 for the criteria mentioned above with 1 being the best for that criteria. We averaged the rankings to create a ‘best place to buy’ index with the place having the lowest index being the best.
Turns out that Clanton is the best potential gem in the not-so-rough in the Heart Of Dixie.
Read on for more on these places.
The town was founded by Alfred Baker in 1868, when Chilton County was formed. Clanton was named in honor of General James H. Clanton, a brigadier in the Confederate States Army, and was incorporated on April 23, 1873. Baker was also elected first mayor of the town. Nearby Lay Lake Dam and Mitchell Dam became Alabama Power’s first two dams in the state, bringing economic improvements to the area. Immigrants played a part in starting the county’s peach industry more than a century ago. Today, the peach industry is the number one industry in Chilton County, not only bringing fame to the county, but also millions of dollars to the local economy. The city of Clanton constructed a water tower in the form of a peach in 1993, becoming a landmark for travelers along Interstate 65.
3. Fort Payne
In the 19th century, the site of Fort Payne was the location of Willstown, an important village of the Cherokee people. For a time it was the home of Sequoyah, a silversmith who invented the Cherokee syllabary, enabling reading and writing in the language. The settlement was commonly called Willstown, after its headman, a red-headed mixed-race man named Will. According to Major John Norton, a more accurate transliteration would have been Titsohili. The son of a Cherokee adoptee of the Mohawk people, Norton grew up among Native Americans and traveled extensively throughout the region in the early 19th century. He stayed at Willstown several times.
Prior to Scottsboro’s founding, the area surrounding the present-day city was inhabited by the Cherokee Indians. While the Tennessee Valley did not have large Native American settlements at the time of the first white settlers, there was a Cherokee town named ‘Crow Town’ near where Scottsboro is located today.
Smiths Station was first settled in 1826. The Central of Georgia Railway was extended through the community from Columbus, Georgia to Opelika, Alabama in 1845. The depot was named for Mr. Broadus Smith, a prominent early settler who lived near the city’s current location.
The first settlers in the Coosa River Valley were the Creek Indians whose later encounters with the Spanish and French had a significant influence on the history of Sylacauga. Events that occurred between these three groups were partly responsible for the settlement of the village of Chalakagay in 1748 by Shawnee Indians led by Peter Chartier.
Founded in the early 1850s, Oxford was the first city in Calhoun County to be incorporated, in 1852. The name ‘Oxford’ was due to the presence of a narrow crossing of Chocolocco Creek that allowed farmers to ford cattle from one side of the creek to the other. Since 1970, Oxford has annexed large amounts of land to the south and west, including the communities of Coldwater and Bynum. In 1970, it was all in Calhoun County, but today it includes areas in Talladega County.
The site along the Chattahoochee River that is now modern-day Eufaula was occupied by three Creek tribes, including the Eufaulas.:3 By the 1820s the land was part of the Creek Indian Territory and supposedly off-limits to white settlement.:4 By 1827 enough illegal white settlement had occurred that the Creeks appealed to the federal government for protection of their property rights. In July of that year, federal troops were sent to the Eufaula area to remove the settlers by force of arms, a conflict known as the ‘Intruders War’.:4
The city is one of four municipalities known as the Quad Cities, the others being Florence, Sheffield and Tuscumbia, all in Alabama.
There You Have It – The Best Places To Purchase A House In Alabama
There’s our analysis of the best places to buy a house in Alabama. And, to be clear, we aren’t necessarily saying these places are the best places to live, just that it looks like they might be in a couple of years based on the data.
In fact, every place in the following table meets our criteria, so even though it may not look super long, remember we started off with all 574 places in the state.
So if we’d could rent or buy in these cities, we’d definitely buy.
For more Alabama reading, check out:
Detailed List Of The Best Places To Buy A Home In Alabama