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Old 04-05-2011, 09:36 PM
 
36 posts, read 114,410 times
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My family is going to move to Birmingham in this summer. We have two kids, and will work in UAB. I currently live in NY. No doubt this move is the best decision I've made in my life time. I'm excited about the new life in Alabama. I'm tired of the snow and expensive living in NY.
Now, the big question is where should we buy the house, Hoover or Vestavia. I know both are good districts, in terms of community and schools. Vestavia is a little bit closer to my office. My biggest concern for Vestavia is that there is no school bus in Vestavia. That means parents have to drive and pick up kids everyday. Is that right? Is that a big problem? Somehow I heard that roads in Birmingham are pretty congested in rush hours.
I'm told that schools in Vestavia is a slightly better than Hoover, is that true? Or is the difference meaningful?
Would love to hear all comments and suggestions,
Thanks,

NY2AL
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Old 04-05-2011, 10:44 PM
 
Location: Albuquerque, NM
1,566 posts, read 3,261,104 times
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Vestavia has a higher average income than Hoover, and fewer low-price options for living. The "cheap" part of Vestavia would be Cahaba Heights, which was annexed several years back. But it's still not inexpensive. It's going to be a largely homogeneous student body, and competitive academically. Vestavia can be a bit cliquish, but not like Mt. Brook. Other than the Liberty Park development outside 459, so you will be looking mainly at existing homes built in the 60s-80s.

Hoover is a bigger school system and much more diverse racially and economically. You can spend $2 million and live in Greystone, or live in an apartment on Lorna Road that caters to Hispanic laborers. It's all Hoover. Also, if you are zoned for Hoover High rather than Spain Park High, bear in mind that it is a very large school. If your child is coming from a smaller school or a rural school, there could be a problem transitioning. Hoover is still growing, so there is plenty of new construction to be had, if that's your thing. I would say that Vestavia is more of a "community" and Hoover is more a conglomeration of older neighborhoods and new self-contained developments.
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Old 04-06-2011, 09:02 AM
 
Location: Birmingham
11,787 posts, read 17,594,039 times
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^That's a good description.^

The main thing to take away from all this is that both "cities" have a wildly skewed quality of life and living and are sprawled out because both have annexed non contiguous areas. Hoover, more so then Vestavia because like he said Lorna Road life and Greystone/Ross Bridge life are on opposite ends of the spectrum, but Vestavia has almost just as much diversity from Cahaba Heights to Liberty Park.

As for the buses, I'm not sure - it doesn't seem like they have them for the elementary school kids, but they might have them for middle and high school aged children.
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Old 04-06-2011, 09:06 AM
 
28,896 posts, read 53,866,031 times
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Here's my 2 cents.

First, welcome to Birmingham. Find the right neighborhood and you'll love living here.

Either Vestavia or Hoover would be a good choice. I don't have a definitive recommendation, but here are some things you need to consider...

1) Lack of a school bus in Vestavia. I know that's the case.

2) Commute. If you are driving daily into Birmingham during regular rush hours then I do NOT recommend living in the parts of Hoover where highway 280 would be your regular commute. After all, you are making this move as much for lifestyle reasons as anything, which means you really don't want to be living in your car.

So, in that sense, I would offer that Vestavia or the sections of Hoover closest to downtown, particularly the ones where you have the option to commute in on either 65, 31, or Green Springs Highway (Otherwise known as Old Columbiana Road. Birminghamsters sometimes call streets differently than how they appear on maps. For example, everybody knows the Elton B. Stephens Expressway by the Red Mountain Expressway). As far as the schools are concerned, I would give Vestavia an edge, but not a big one. Hoover schools are extremely well-funded and much larger.

Liberty Park, by the way, might be a good choice. It's a new neighborhood and you would wind up driving in on 280, but it's not as bad from there. The only drawback to Liberty Park is that retail hasn't quite caught up to the residential development. There are a few places to eat and some basic services like groceries, but you have to drive 3-4 miles to really get most of what you need. On the other hand, it's a quick drive to The Summit, which has excellent shopping.

Cahaba Heights is a Vestavia neighborhood I recommend a lot. It was unincorporated for a long time, so there are parts of it that look a bit bedraggled, but there are also many more nice neighborhoods. More importantly, because it was recently brought into Vestavia, you can get Vestavia schools at a lower price. Plus it's incredibly convenient to just about everything. Downtown is a quick drive in, the Summit is practically in your backyard, you have a Whole Foods up the street, etc. etc. etc. In my opinion, Cahaba Heights is pretty much of a steal at this point, and will probably see a big increase in property values over the next several years. Any realtors here who disagree?

Ross Bridge is a neighborhood of Hoover that's definitely worth a look, by the way. It's beautiful and a relatively short commute to downtown.

As far as the cliquish label is concerned, I think that can be fair depending on what neighborhood you choose. In the older, established sections of Vestavia, that's definitely the case. Meanwhile in newer sections such as Liberty Park or Cahaba Heights, it's not. But even then, I tend to not buy into the clique argument that much. Southerners tend to be a pretty embracing bunch as a whole. That is, if you understand that it's a different culture down here and respect how they do things. Think of it like moving to Japan, except that they speak English and drive pickup trucks.

For example, Southerners tend to place a great deal of emphasis on basic manners (For example, you'll hear kids say Sir and Ma'am a good deal. I thought it was weird at first, but have really come to appreciate it over time). They also are big believers in small talk as a prelude to just about everything, including business meetings. It is common to see perfect strangers strike up conversations in the checkout line at the grocery store. Meanwhile, Northerners tend to be more cut-and-dried about conversation, so what you consider to be getting down to business can be interpreted by a Southerner as downright rude. So it's important for you to observe the dynamics of how Southerners converse. If you manage that, you're in like Flynn.

Oh, and sprinkle in a few compliments about how much you love it here. Work college football and barbecue into your conversation as an opener and you'll be amazed at how the universe opens up for you like some delicate flower. I'm halfway kidding there, but it speaks to an important point: A big mistake people make when moving to town is thinking it's Cleveland or Albany with warmer weather, but there are cultural differences big and small. And whatever you do, do NOT start complaining about how people in Birmingham do things fifteen minutes after the moving van is unpacked. Southerners tend to be positive folks and don't complain about a lot of things, and look askance at people who do--particularly people who just came to town.

So your strategy? Go out of your way to meet your neighbors, even if you are the most introverted person on the planet. Prevail on them for advice as to great places to eat, good pediatricians, etc. etc. Their hospitality gene will kick in almost immediately and they'll take you under their wing.

Good luck and tell us your progress on this board. We really are a helpful bunch.

Last edited by cpg35223; 04-06-2011 at 09:14 AM..
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Old 04-07-2011, 02:33 PM
 
36 posts, read 114,410 times
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Thanks a lot for all of you, jakabedy, Tourian, and cpg35223
I believe this is the southern way how people treat other people. Your replies are really helpful. I'd never expect something so detailed in a anonymous forum in NY, people are just too BUSY here.

Now, I'm sort of leaned toward Vestavia.

For Cahaba Heights, I'm mainly concerned of the traffic because we cannot avoid 280 if we stay there. Is that an issue, cpg35223? Think about this, in the morning, we have to drive the kids to the school, then, get out, and go to downtown. I'm concerned it may take too much time. I'm somehow informed that traffic gets worse around the schools.

Thanks a lot,
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Old 04-07-2011, 02:44 PM
 
Location: Birmingham
11,787 posts, read 17,594,039 times
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280, that high up, all you have to do is get to Lakeshore and then you can get on I-65. It is not nearly as bad as trying to get from say, Valleydale Road or worse 119 part of 280 up to 459.
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Old 04-07-2011, 05:57 PM
 
28,896 posts, read 53,866,031 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NY2AL View Post
Thanks a lot for all of you, jakabedy, Tourian, and cpg35223
I believe this is the southern way how people treat other people. Your replies are really helpful. I'd never expect something so detailed in a anonymous forum in NY, people are just too BUSY here.

Now, I'm sort of leaned toward Vestavia.

For Cahaba Heights, I'm mainly concerned of the traffic because we cannot avoid 280 if we stay there. Is that an issue, cpg35223? Think about this, in the morning, we have to drive the kids to the school, then, get out, and go to downtown. I'm concerned it may take too much time. I'm somehow informed that traffic gets worse around the schools.

Thanks a lot,
As Tourian says, 280 traffic not bad in that section towards downtown. It's really after you cross over 459 that it becomes an issue.
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Old 04-07-2011, 08:30 PM
 
36 posts, read 114,410 times
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Thanks,
Then, how about liberty parK?
I took a brief tour in liberty park during my job interview visit in Birmingham. That area looks gorgeous, houses are pretty new and big, but it seems a little bit too far from the downtown area. During the rush hour, is traffic a problem? As you said, the relocation is a life style thing, I don't want to end up living in the car.
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Old 04-07-2011, 09:44 PM
 
28,896 posts, read 53,866,031 times
Reputation: 46656
Quote:
Originally Posted by NY2AL View Post
Thanks,
Then, how about liberty parK?
I took a brief tour in liberty park during my job interview visit in Birmingham. That area looks gorgeous, houses are pretty new and big, but it seems a little bit too far from the downtown area. During the rush hour, is traffic a problem? As you said, the relocation is a life style thing, I don't want to end up living in the car.
Really, you're driving up Overton Road as opposed to 280, which isn't bad. However, I don't actually make that slog every day, so I couldn't tell you for sure. My best advice is to stay in a hotel out that way (I think there's a Holiday Inn Express) and see what it's like to drive in.
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Old 04-13-2011, 01:43 AM
 
Location: Milwaukee, WI
55 posts, read 161,750 times
Reputation: 50
If you live south of downtown and must take 1-65, 31 or 280 during rush hour you will most def be spending a lot of time in your car.

If it's not that important to you to live near a glut of big box stores, do yourself a favor and look into Homewood. The commute would be wonderfully brief, the schools are good and it has quaint, charming and walkable areas reminiscent of 1950s America rather than the often garrish sprawl (and accompanying traffic jams) of Vestavia and Hoover.
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