These Are The 10 Best Places To Retire In Alabama For 2018


We analyzed over 48 places in Alabama to identify the ones that offer the most to retirees.

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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:

  1. Cullman (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  2. Talladega (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  3. Hartselle (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  4. Irondale (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  5. Fort Payne (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  6. Athens (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  7. Gardendale (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  8. Scottsboro (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  9. Leeds (Photos | Homes For Sale)
  10. Jasper (Photos | Homes For Sale)

Why did Cullman take the top spot? And where are Montgomery and Mobile?

Read on to see see all the golden parachute level details. Or check out the purely worst and best places to live in Alabama.

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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.

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1. Cullman

Cullman, Alabama

Population: 15,156
Median 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.

2. Talladega

Talladega, Alabama

Population: 15,793
Median Rent: $548
Distance to Closest Airport: 38 miles
Crime Per 100k: 5,996
More on Talladega: Homes For Sale | Data

3. Hartselle

Hartselle, Alabama

Population: 14,475
Median Rent: $600
Distance to Closest Airport: 61 miles
Crime Per 100k: 2,417
More on Hartselle: Homes For Sale | Data

4. Irondale

Irondale, Alabama

Population: 12,388
Median 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

Fort Payne, Alabama

Source: Public domain’

Population: 14,101
Median 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.

6. Athens

Athens, Alabama

Source: Public domain’

Population: 24,461
Median 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.

7. Gardendale

Gardendale, Alabama

Population: 13,750
Median 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.

8. Scottsboro

Scottsboro, Alabama

Source: Public domain’

Population: 14,748
Median 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.

9. Leeds

Leeds, Alabama

Population: 11,701
Median 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.

10. Jasper

Jasper, Alabama

Population: 14,137
Median 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:

  • Prichard
  • Mobile
  • Auburn

For more Alabama reading , check out:

Detailed List Of Best Places To Retire In Alabama

City Rank Population Median Rent Distane To Airport Crimes per 100k
Cullman 1 15,156 $598 42 3,939
Talladega 2 15,793 $548 38 5,996
Hartselle 3 14,475 $600 61 2,417
Irondale 4 12,388 $909 5 3,293
Fort Payne 5 14,101 $566 86 3,574
Athens 6 24,461 $614 84 2,673
Gardendale 7 13,750 $892 8 3,927
Scottsboro 8 14,748 $572 84 4,983
Leeds 9 11,701 $736 10 5,443
Jasper 10 14,137 $629 35 7,462
Anniston 11 22,441 $596 54 10,904
Gadsden 12 36,235 $602 52 8,237
Pleasant Grove 13 10,284 $1056 13 2,197
Atmore 14 10,067 $524 122 5,026
Vestavia Hills 15 34,243 $1005 6 1,232
Sylacauga 16 12,696 $571 38 6,151
Mountain Brook 17 20,532 $1099 5 1,475
Ozark 18 14,721 $540 85 5,923
Jacksonville 19 12,827 $584 59 4,864
Hueytown 20 15,797 $774 18 3,867
Moody 21 12,464 $831 15 2,118
Florence 22 39,938 $582 101 3,996
Fairfield 23 10,937 $697 11 5,193
Fairhope 24 17,996 $1053 132 3,806
Muscle Shoals 25 13,585 $692 95 4,725
Dothan 26 68,066 $702 72 4,125
Selma 27 19,650 $552 80 9,363
Hoover 28 84,100 $1000 13 123
Bessemer 29 26,856 $732 18 11,788
Eufaula 30 12,688 $586 121 4,114
Pelham 31 22,596 $1005 16 2,434
Decatur 32 55,419 $615 71 4,969
Gulf Shores 33 11,252 $969 120 6,114
Alabaster 34 32,269 $947 24 1,812
Helena 35 17,630 $1197 20 794
Albertville 36 21,434 $601 57 3,499
Oxford 37 21,202 $786 50 4,848
Tuscaloosa 38 96,352 $791 50 4,371
Enterprise 39 28,025 $784 77 3,143
Daphne 40 24,295 $984 134 2,214
Huntsville 41 188,973 $750 78 5,918
Troy 42 18,944 $639 111 5,996
Prattville 43 35,107 $947 77 4,115
Madison 44 46,396 $864 79 2,629
Opelika 45 29,030 $701 86 5,845
Northport 46 24,544 $770 52 3,911
Saraland 47 13,778 $865 140 3,614
Homewood 48 25,652 $985 7 4,124
Montgomery 49 201,717 $827 88 5,058
Auburn 50 60,318 $835 93 2,213
Mobile 51 193,717 $783 136 6,957
Prichard 52 22,340 $708 137 7,188

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