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Old 06-18-2014, 11:45 PM
 
2 posts, read 11,568 times
Reputation: 23

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So let me get this out of the way. I was born in an uber-liberal section of California. I'm one of those douchebags who fashions himself a non-partisan libertarian. Because of the nature of my job, I have lived in seven cities in the past 10 years. I'm in my early 30s and I'm married to an awesome wife. As of this time, I have no children.

When I was working in Chicago, I got a call from my company asking (really, begging) me if I would be willing to relocate to Birmingham. Always up for an adventure, we moved to Birmingham. This is my first time living in the South. I have lived here for 8 months. I apologize in advance if any of this offends people who have grown up here or are sensitive to some of the criticisms I have about Alabama. I hope people moving to Alabama will find this helpful.
-------------------------
Alabama Grades

1. Renting - D
I have to give Alabama a "D" for renting. I would recommend buying if you plan to stay here for some time. I had the ambition to rent a SFH with a backyard. I tried myself to find this house. My budget was $900/mo - $1200/mo. I was absolutely appalled at the condition of houses shown to me in the Southside, Crestline, and even Homewood areas. I really think this was bad luck and my experience was very unique. Having talked to people who have moved to the area, they had better experiences, but still relayed stories of being shown houses in poor quality.

Using an agency, I was able to find a house in Calera, AL for $1100. The house is STUNNING via the eye test. It is located in a very safe sub-division. I would highly recommend being very selective about your agency if you go that route. They were incredibly nice when we were being shown the house. Once we moved in, the agency (which also manages the properties) treated our problems as us bothering them. We have contacted them about 4 times in 7 months. These problems included breaking/broken blinds, a malfunctioning central Air system, a rodent issue, and an issue with hot water. I was shocked at the level of disrespect shown to us by the management company. We were even told that we were responsible for these issues and therefore pay for it. Only when we challenged them, did anything get done. We have a sterling rental history and have never had one issue in the past with our landlords. We report problems, as that is our duty as renters. We do not ask for refunds or rent reductions. All we ask are that the problems are fixed within a reasonable timeframe.

If you are renting, move into a complex with a good reputation. If you have kids, buy a house. I would highly recommend not renting a house. You are generally inheriting someone's neglect. Even in a nice sub-division with beautiful homes, a 10 year old home can have some pretty big issues. If you must rent a home, test all the utilities first and make sure there are no issues. The rental agents will absolutely brush everything concern off when you are being shown the house. They will make up some lame excuse on the spot and lie to your face. I thought the rental agent was so nice and trustworthy, that I believed her lies. DO NOT IGNORE RED FLAGS!! I cannot wait until this lease is over. We plan to move to an apartment complex and hope for better results there.
_____________
2. Things to Do - B+
I have found that there are diverse and unique things to do in Central Alabama and Birmingham. I truly believe that there is something for everyone in this area. You can do all your outdoor activities and there is just enough entertainment to come through town. While not on the level of a major city like Chicago, I feel as though I learn something every single day about this region that fascinates and excites me. The history is very interesting. Birmingham is the perfect launch point to exploring the South. You can get to most major destinations within 7 hours. If I didn't have to work and spent my days exploring this area, I would be very happy.
_____________
3. Commuting - F
I commute on the 65 north to Hoover from Calera. 95% of the drivers are fine. The other 5% are unbelievably dangerous. I believe that this is because you simply must have a car to get around. I think 5% of people are emotionally or mentally unable to operate a complicated machine like a car. But the lack of a decent public transportation system puts these people on the road. It is a difficult

You will get used to the lack of a turn signal quickly. You will learn to leave plenty of space for chronic lane changers. You will encounter a higher amount of drunk drivers than what you are used to. You will see close calls almost every day and occasionally you will have a close call as well. You will learn to give up and just get out of the way of excessive speeders. I highly recommend keeping a commute to a bare minimum. Here is what I have had happen in 8 months:

*Ran over a muffler that had fallen off a van two cars ahead of me.
*Barely avoided a ladder that had fallen off some guys truck
*Had someones blown out tire hit my windshield and I basically had to drive blind for 10 seconds.
*Narrowly missed an accident with an F250 that was swerving due to an overloaded cargo trailer. That one was really close.
*Run off the road by a trucker - twice

You'll pass by quite a few abandoned cars/SUVs as well. You will probably see a car on fire every now and then. You'll encounter numerous accidents. You simply must be a defensive driver out here. Bottom line. MOVE SOMEWHERE THAT IS CLOSE TO YOUR WORK!
_____________
4. Work Ethic - C
It's a very interesting work ethic out here. You have folks who go above and beyond. People who strive to get better and have a laser focus on what there job is. Then you have the other side of the work ethic. There is a culture of laziness that can infect a business out here. It's not a racial thing, it goes across all spectrums. Especially in the $10/hr - $16/hr range. Because unemployment is so low in the area I work in, it's really no problem for the lazies to get fired. It takes a looooong time to re-fill the position in that wage range, and the pool of talent is unimpressive with ZERO ambition. It happens higher on the economic spectrum as well. I've had to terminate 4 salespeople in the $40 - $60k range for not following up with the basic functions of the job. This included not sending out contracts, not contacting clients, lying about what tasks they have completed, and not showing up for work.

People who care about their job and take pride in what they do find themselves doing other peoples job a lot. I have found that people who have this superior work ethic are not born/raised in the area. The ones that are born and raised in Alabama seem to have this culture of laziness. As with everything, that doesn't mean everyone is lazy who is from Alabama.
_____________
5. The People - B
I find people from Alabama to be kind, caring, and much more intelligent than the rest of the country thinks. Alabama is often a punchline to the rest of the country, and I take major exception to that. People are willing to help you adjust to the area. I find people from Alabama to be really witty and fun. I enjoy spending my time with the people out here. They do talk behind your back, but once you realize that everyone gets that treatment, it's not really that big of a deal. People who live in Alabama are very hospitable and will go out of there way to make sure that you know where the best of everything is. They are brutally honest about their city and state, the good the bad and the ugly. They don't blow smoke up your ass about living out here.

But there is an attitude that someone else is to blame for everything. I find people don't like to be held accountable for their actions out here.
____________
6. Crime - N/A
The neighborhoods here are intricate. Some are safe and some are not. It can literally turn on a dime within a few blocks. A nice neighborhood turns into a bad neighborhood sometimes by street. There is a crime problem, but it's more limited to people who are looking for trouble or should know better. Overall, I have not had any issue with crime since I've been here.
____________
7. Healthcare - C
Very hit or miss for Healthcare. Be willing to drive a longer distance to get better care. I have found all the internet reviews for doctors to be accurate. Go with quality is my best advice, even if it costs more. Younger doctors have been much better than older doctors, who are pretty much grumpy *******s. When you get a good doctor, hang on to them.
_____________
8. Politics - B
No one gives a rats behind what your political leanings are. You might have to debate a belief once in a while, but I've found folks in Birmingham/Central Alabama to be accepting of all political beliefs. People respect those who think a certain way than those who don't think at all. It's not nearly as conservative as its reputation. I find myself laughing at the political ads here, because each politician is trying to show how conservative they are. Outside of this area and the major metros? Probably not a good idea to talk about politics
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Old 06-19-2014, 06:16 AM
 
Location: Huntsville
5,655 posts, read 5,239,072 times
Reputation: 6529
For the most part I agree with a lot of what you posted. I'm an Alabama native that has moved from a very poor town in South Alabama to Huntsville. Never lived in another state. I would however, like to make a couple of comments. Please don't take these negatively, but as constructive criticism.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alabama Transplant View Post
I have found that people who have this superior work ethic are not born/raised in the area. The ones that are born and raised in Alabama seem to have this culture of laziness. As with everything, that doesn't mean everyone is lazy who is from Alabama.

I don't think it's a fair statement to say that people who have superior work ethic are not born or raised here. I take pride in doing the best that I can possibly do at everything. I was raised in a family where we were taught to go above and beyond no matter what we do and to never sit back on our heels and let someone else take our work load. We never had anything so when we wanted something we had to work extremely hard for it. I'm 32 but was raised as if it were the 50's. There's no culture of laziness in Alabama. That's a national problem stemming from parents who never held their kids accountable for anything. Now, we do like to spend time with our families, as that is very important in the south (and probably other areas as well, I'm just not familiar with them) so we will bust our humps for some time but at some point family will ultimately come first.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alabama Transplant View Post
But there is an attitude that someone else is to blame for everything. I find people don't like to be held accountable for their actions out here.
This is again a generalized statement that doesn't necessarily hold true and is also a larger issue nationwide now. I'm 100% accountable for my actions and if I make a mistake, I own it. My wife and my co-workers are the same. Yes I see people that do this just as you said, but that might be a bit too broad of a generalization to make on everyone or even the majority of people.

The nation has become too soft as a people now. People are taught that everyone's a winner. So of course they don't work hard or take the blame because they're never taught to do so.

I wanted to throw this out there for folks who may be considering a move here. I definitely see your points and respect your opinion but I don't want other people to think we are all lazy people who don't like to work or own up to mistakes.
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Old 06-19-2014, 08:46 AM
 
3,068 posts, read 2,947,500 times
Reputation: 3997
Agree with most of your points, but also agree that some of your criticisms are anecdotal evidence that I doubt there is a high correlation of what you've implied (ie, work ethic of native Alabamians).

I think there is a slight correlation between work ethic and native people in that area across the whole country. The reason I say this if you want to get to the top of your field (and are very motivated), you probably have to move away from where you grew up. That is just the nature of the beast. A computer scientist can get good work in Birmingham, but a lot of the elite go to San Francisco or maybe Seattle. There are solid finance jobs in Birmingham, but the absolute top of the field are probably on Wall Street. And so on and so forth. If you don't happen to be born into the area where the top of your field is located and you are super driven, you end up being a transplant.
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Old 06-19-2014, 08:51 AM
 
Location: Birmingham
11,787 posts, read 15,295,858 times
Reputation: 10073
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alabama Transplant View Post
So let me get this out of the way.
Let me respond section by section:

1. Renting - D
It is unfortunate that you had a bad experience, but I don't see how you could levy a grade against the entire state. There's just not enough data here.

2. Things to Do - B+
I agree, and it is only getting better. The state gets an unfair rep as being slow, boring and banal.

3. Commuting - F
I've driven in Chicago. I've driven in San Francisco. I've driven in Atlanta. While we do have our fair share of craziness on the roads it does not compare to the above areas. We can't be an F. If we're an F then Chicago must be some new grade of fail that hasn't been invented yet and can only be expressed in a laboratory by supercomputers. People dive in, cut you off and drive super aggressively in those cities. Lots of late model nice cars with nicks and dings and battle damage just from mixing it up in the morning commute. Maybe you will get used to it and adjust, but we just do not have the same level of insanity that the country's largest metros have - particularly (in my opinion) the north.

4. Work Ethic - C
Maybe this is a combination of you being from somewhere else not being able to motivate your people properly and them adjusting to a new boss' way of doing things and expectations? Or maybe you are right and the people in your circle of influence are not motivated and are not good workers. Like the renting situation, I can't put that on Alabama across the board.

5. The People - B
A 'B' is good. But the blanket statement about accountability is not.

6. Crime - N/A
Once you are more familiar with Birmingham you most likely won't be a victim of crime. You can easily avoid the "bad" areas and live a full life without missing out on anything or taking any special care or effort to avoid them. It is not like the opponents and pundits of this city like to point out when they take their weekly drive by posting shots to try to bring us down.

7. Healthcare - C
I'll just have to take your word for it because I have never lived in another state and used any other healthcare. We are a red state that is at war with "Obamacare" so it puts the average citizen in a bind when it doesn't have to be that way.

8. Politics - B
I love this part, I totally agree with you. People assume you have to be Christian and conservative to survive here and not be pestered or forced to conform when most of the time people don't even want to talk about it. And if they do, they'll usually hear you out and engage you in a friendly discourse. But it doesn't mean you will be ostracized for thinking differently or that you have to find the right house in the right neighborhood so you can fit in. It is mostly just live and let live.
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Old 06-19-2014, 09:11 AM
 
21 posts, read 50,614 times
Reputation: 40
I know Alabama well, and Birmingham in particular. I too have lived all over. We still own property around Oak Mtn and other parts of Shelby. I was an exec for a very large regional firm based in Birmingham, and I would not disagree with most of your assessment. I did my time there and moved on elsewhere in the SE and midwest. I also lived in Naperville, and mom from Skokie, so I understand the comparisons very well. I found Birmingham is good in isolated pockets. I would not overly encourage anyone to move/transplant/transfer to Birmingham or cities such as Jackson, Montgomery or Memphis either. These places are somewhat in a time warp but trying to break out and compete. Cities like Huntsville, I found far more uplifting, better educated, with different work ethics as well. Central Alabama is nothing like north Alabama, and coastal Alabama has an entirely different cultural feel and lifestyle (most coastal towns do in the US). Yes, I know Calera as well - strange parochial little area, but at least it's far from the city, but yes a terrible drive up 65 with totally mindless drivers no doubt.


On balance, based on years of experience in Birmingham/Central AL, I'd give it a "C+"

Places like Montgomery a solid "D"

Places like Huntsville a "B-"
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Old 06-19-2014, 10:17 AM
 
Location: Birmingham, Alabama
2,056 posts, read 2,258,532 times
Reputation: 3541
Thoughtful and well organized post by the OP. Thanks for that, even if some of us don't agree 100% on your conclusions.

As a person who has lived MOST of his life in this state, I'd say that my time to leave has come. I suppose after living in one place for a while, just the need for a change, for a personality like mine, is way past. I long for a drier climate, better job prospects, and more progressive environs. I'd like to be closer to a coast. I'd like some professional sports teams. I'd like to live in a place where I feel public education is a priority, as I have school age children. Perhaps a little less emphasis on eating and football (though I'm a fan of both ), and more on active endeavours. Love that we have the Mercedes and Rocket City Marathons. Love that I live next door to the state's largest State Park (Oak Mountain).

But overall, I need a change. COL is manageable, but not as low as some would have us believe. Pay is too low for everyone except the 1% who are overpaid EVERYWHERE.

PS, I lived in North Carolina and spent considerable time in Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida. I can't see a real big difference in those places over Alabama, in general. My relo would be out of the southeast, the east, and away from the Gulf of Mexico, as beautiful as it is.
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Old 06-19-2014, 10:57 AM
 
21 posts, read 50,614 times
Reputation: 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by ashpelham View Post
As a person who has lived MOST of his life in this state, I'd say that my time to leave has come. I suppose after living in one place for a while, just the need for a change, for a personality like mine, is way past. I long for a drier climate, better job prospects, and more progressive environs. I'd like to be closer to a coast. I'd like some professional sports teams. I'd like to live in a place where I feel public education is a priority, .

But overall, I need a change. My relo would be out of the southeast, the east, and away from the Gulf of Mexico, as beautiful as it is.
I don't blame you. With change comes growth most times. With exposure and experience comes wisdom.

The US is quite a diverse experience. Believe me, everywhere else is not like a Birmingham, Alabama, but you have to move and LIVE somewhere else to see, witness and experience the vast differences. A person can't experience life somewhere else, without actually living there (imagine that). Many people however resist change or are simply content with the status quo, or the familiar. Nothing wrong with that, but others don't choose that narrow path in life. Nothing wrong with that either. Being narrow however is not necessarily the best path for many.

I understand you "need for change". I enjoyed learning through my moves. Just a few were in Massachusetts (Berkshires), Illinois (Chi), Iowa, Texas, Georgia, Indiana, CA, Florida, NY. At every place my mind expanded through living on a daily basis. People ARE different. Culture IS different. Opportunities are different. Attitudes do shift and change. You become a much broader, educated and experienced person and citizen.

Go live !
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Old 06-19-2014, 11:54 AM
 
Location: Birmingham, Alabama
2,056 posts, read 2,258,532 times
Reputation: 3541
Quote:
Originally Posted by Magas View Post
I don't blame you. With change comes growth most times. With exposure and experience comes wisdom.

The US is quite a diverse experience. Believe me, everywhere else is not like a Birmingham, Alabama, but you have to move and LIVE somewhere else to see, witness and experience the vast differences. A person can't experience life somewhere else, without actually living there (imagine that). Many people however resist change or are simply content with the status quo, or the familiar. Nothing wrong with that, but others don't choose that narrow path in life. Nothing wrong with that either. Being narrow however is not necessarily the best path for many.

I understand you "need for change". I enjoyed learning through my moves. Just a few were in Massachusetts (Berkshires), Illinois (Chi), Iowa, Texas, Georgia, Indiana, CA, Florida, NY. At every place my mind expanded through living on a daily basis. People ARE different. Culture IS different. Opportunities are different. Attitudes do shift and change. You become a much broader, educated and experienced person and citizen.

Go live !
Post of the week! Pos rep given!
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Old 06-19-2014, 11:59 AM
 
Location: Huntsville
5,655 posts, read 5,239,072 times
Reputation: 6529
To be clear I personally have no issue with the OP's assessment. It is nice to have a transplant give their opinion of the area and be able to compare it to others and I can appreciate that. It was simply the statement which seemed to stereotype Alabamians themselves while having very limited interaction (compared to someone who has lived in AL for years) that I wanted to expand upon. And it wasn't meant as anything more than constructive criticism. Much different that these past few posts from Magas who basically berated us for responding.
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Old 06-19-2014, 12:11 PM
 
Location: Birmingham
11,787 posts, read 15,295,858 times
Reputation: 10073
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nlambert View Post
To be clear I personally have no issue with the OP's assessment. It is nice to have a transplant give their opinion of the area and be able to compare it to others and I can appreciate that. It was simply the statement which seemed to stereotype Alabamians themselves while having very limited interaction (compared to someone who has lived in AL for years) that I wanted to expand upon. And it wasn't meant as anything more than constructive criticism. Much different that these past few posts from Magas who basically berated us for responding.
Well put. The guy made 8 separate points and I agreed with 5 of them.
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