When most people think of calling it quits on a career, they immediately think of a move to Florida.
But not everyone wants to spend their golden years in Florida; some of us want to stay close to friends and family and within the great state of Alabama.
But where exactly in Alabama? Well, there’s only one place to go for the answer — data.
To that end, we have tried to identify the places in Alabama that are safe, affordable, and have plenty of things to keep you busy well into retirement.
What did we find after pouring through all the data? Let’s just say we hope folks in Cullman don’t mind us spreading the word.
Here are our top ten places in the Heart of Dixie to retire for 2018:
- Cullman (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Talladega (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Hartselle (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Irondale (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Fort Payne (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Athens (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Gardendale (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Scottsboro (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Leeds (Photos | Homes For Sale)
- Jasper (Photos | Homes For Sale)
How We Determined The Best Places To Retire In the Heart of Dixie
To create our list of the best places in Alabama to retire, we first used Census data to find all places in the Heart of Dixie with a population of at least 5,000 that aren’t townships.
This left us with 52 places from across the state.
For these 52, we looked at the following criteria taken from the Census, the FBI’s Crime Report, National Weather Service, and OpenFlights:
- Low cost of living as measured by rent
- Low crime
- Things to do (Museums, Colleges, and Libraries in town)
- Nice weather
- Distance to the closest international airport
- Other retirees (High median age)
We then ranked each of these places for each criteria from one to 52, with the lowest number being the best.
Finally, we took the average rank across these criteria. The place, in this case Cullman, with the lowest average rank was crowned the best of the best, a place for you to start your second careers.
Population: 15,156Median Rent: $598
Distance to Closest Airport: 42 miles
Crime Per 100k: 3,939
More on Cullman: Homes For Sale | Data
In the time before European settlement, the area that today includes Cullman was originally in the territory of the Cherokee Nation. The region was traversed by a trail known as the Black Warrior’s Path, which led from the Tennessee River near the present location of Florence, Alabama, to a point on the Black Warrior River south of Cullman. This trail figured significantly in Cherokee history, and it featured prominently in the American Indian Wars prior to the establishment of the state of Alabama and the relocation of several American Indian tribes, including the Creek people westward along the Trail of Tears. During the Creek War in 1813, General Andrew Jackson of the U.S. Army dispatched a contingent of troops down the trail, one of which included the frontiersman Davy Crockett.
Population: 12,388Median Rent: $909
Distance to Closest Airport: 5 miles
Crime Per 100k: 3,293
More on Irondale: Homes For Sale | Data
On October 5, 1887, the town incorporated as Irondale (after Irondale Furnace).
5. Fort Payne
Population: 14,101Median Rent: $566
Distance to Closest Airport: 86 miles
Crime Per 100k: 3,574
More on Fort Payne: Homes For Sale | Data
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.
Population: 24,461Median Rent: $614
Distance to Closest Airport: 84 miles
Crime Per 100k: 2,673
More on Athens: Homes For Sale | Data
Founded in 1818 by John Coffee, Robert Beaty, John D. Carroll, and John Read, Athens is one of the oldest incorporated cities in the State of Alabama, having been incorporated one year prior to the state’s admittance to the Union in 1819. Limestone County was also created by an act of the Alabama Territorial Legislature in 1818. The town was first called Athenson, but was incorporated as Athens after the ancient city in Greece. The town’s first mayor was Samuel Tanner, and the Tanner area, south of Athens, was named on his behalf.
Population: 13,750Median Rent: $892
Distance to Closest Airport: 8 miles
Crime Per 100k: 3,927
More on Gardendale: Homes For Sale | Data
A large farm settlement near the area today known as Gardendale was settled around 1825. Some years later, other settlers began to move into the community commonly known as Jugtown, a name given to the area based on the presence of a large jug and churn factory that operated in the area. Some years later, Hettie Thomason Cargo, a school teacher, would lead a campaign to change the name of the community. In 1906, the name Gardendale was selected, and in 1955, the City of Gardendale was officially incorporated. Today, with more than 13,000 residents (estimated), the city of Gardendale has grown to include more than 400 businesses, 4 schools, and 24 churches.
Population: 14,748Median Rent: $572
Distance to Closest Airport: 84 miles
Crime Per 100k: 4,983
More on Scottsboro: Homes For Sale | Data
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.
Population: 11,701Median Rent: $736
Distance to Closest Airport: 10 miles
Crime Per 100k: 5,443
More on Leeds: Homes For Sale | Data
The War of 1812, geography, geology, and three cultures shaped the history of Leeds. Lying at the crossroads of desecrated ancient Native-American paths in the center of Alabama, Leeds drew European and African-American settlers to a land of fertile growing seasons and rich sources of coal and mineral ore. The early settlers built churches and schools with many remaining in Cedar Grove, Oak Ridge, Ohanafeefee and Mt. Pleasant. The principal survey of Leeds was entered into Jefferson County Map Book 10, page 21, in 1908. The settlement, dating to 1818 and incorporating on April 27, 1887 as ‘Leeds’, has existed along the banks of the Little Cahaba River; beside an historic stagecoach route; and along two large railroads for the greater part of American History.
Population: 14,137Median Rent: $629
Distance to Closest Airport: 35 miles
Crime Per 100k: 7,462
More on Jasper: Homes For Sale | Data
Jasper, named in honor of Sergeant William Jasper, an American Revolutionary War hero, was settled around 1815, but was not incorporated until August 18, 1886.
Maybe You’re Not Ready To Retire Yet…
So there you have it, the best place to retire in Alabama goes to Cullman.
If you’re not ready to hang up your office apparel yet, then these places might be up your alley:
For more Alabama reading , check out:
- 10 Best Places To Raise A Family In Alabama
- 10 Worst Places To Live In Alabama
- 10 Best Cities For Singles In Alabama
Detailed List Of Best Places To Retire In Alabama