Not everyone is cut out for city life. Some people would prefer to live in the cities and towns that surround Birmingham.
So the question arises, do the suburbs maintain a semblance of the larger-than-life appeal of their more famous neighbor?
Today, we’ll use science and data to determine which Birmingham ‘burbs need a little tender loving care – the sore thumbs of the Birmingham area if you will. Realistically, you can’t expect all the suburbs to live up to Birmingham proper, although Mountain Brook certainly tries.
Of course, not all suburbs of Birmingham are created equally, which is precisely why we set out to find the best ones. So without further ado…
We examined the 25 biggest suburbs of Birmingham to find out the worst places to live. And while you won’t necessarily find them on the worst places to live in Alabama lists, these ten places are a little too far downwind of Birmingham in terms of quality of life.
Here are the 10 worst suburbs around Birmingham for 2018:
- Bessemer (Photos)
- Montevallo (Photos)
- Irondale (Photos)
- Center Point (Photos)
- Fairfield (Photos)
- Leeds (Photos)
Read on to see how we determined the places around Birmingham that need a pick-me-up. And remember, don’t blame the messenger.
And remember, there are some good places to live around Birmingham too.
Editor’s Note: If you see a slight difference between the worst in state rankings and this suburb ranking, it’s because of the methodology. We needed a way to include more places, so we eliminated crime and commute times as criteria for this analysis.
For more Alabama reading, check out:
- 10 Best Places To Live In Alabama
- 10 Cheapest Places To Live In Alabama
- 10 Most Dangerous Cities In Alabama
Determining The Worst Suburbs Around Birmingham for 2018
To figure out how bad a place is to live in, we only needed to know what kinds of things people like and then decide what cities have the least amount of those things.
We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using the most recent American Community Survey data, this is the criteria we used:
- High unemployment rate
- Low median household incomes
- Low population density (no things to do)
- Low home values
- A lot of high school drop outs
- High poverty
- High rate of uninsured families
FYI: We defined a suburb as being within 30 miles of Birmingham.
Additionally, we limited the analysis to places that have over 5,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 25 suburbs to evaluate around Birmingham.
We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 25 in each category, where 1 was the “worst”.
Next, we averaged the rankings for each place to create a quality of life index.
And finally, we crowned the city with the worst quality of life index the “Worst Suburb near Birmingham.” We’re lookin’ at you, Bessemer.
Read on below to learn more about what it’s like to live in the worst of the worst. Or skip to the end to see the list of all the suburbs ranked from worst to best.
We’ll get the ball rolling with Bessemer, the absolute worst place to live around Birmingham according to the data.
And in the world of worst rankings, Bessemer beat the competition pretty handily thanks to scoring in the bottom 15% in three major categories. Income is the 2nd worst in the Birmingham area, and to make matters worse, the city ranks 3rd worst when it comes to home values.
But hey, at least it’s cheap to live there. But there’s a reason for that… it’s Bessemer.
You won’t feel bad about not having a great income for the area, there aren’t a bunch of places to spend your money anyway.
Welcome to Tarrant. Home to KMart, Big Lots, and a lot of gas stations.
This city is 5.2 miles to Birmingham. Income levels here are the 1st lowest in the metro area, where families bring in about $26,800 a year, which doesn’t go a long ways even on a shoestring budget.
But on the bright side, there are a lot of fast food joints in the area.
Back up the highway we go for the third worst Birmingham suburb you can live in. You might have expected to see Montevallo on here. While the cost of living is low, your entertainment and work options are limited. And that’s an understatement.
In terms of numbers, it’s in the worst 15% for insurance, and the adult high school drop out rate is poor compared to other Birmingham suburbs.
But at least there are nice parks to bring the kids during the day.
If you live in Irondale, most likely you struggle to make ends meet every month. It ranks as the 8th lowest Birmingham suburb when it comes to residents making money.
Not only that, but this is the 7th worst unemployed suburb you can live in if you choose to live near Birmingham. Remember, we looked at 25 cities for this study.
Irondale is about 8.0 miles to downtown.
Midfield has the distinction of being a Birmingham suburb. Which means that’s about all it has going for it.
All snarkiness aside, Midfield has the 2nd lowest home values in the metro Birmingham area, where the median price is $75,600. To put that into perspective, in Mountain Brook, the median income is $129,777, which is the best in the area.
Midfield has an unemployment rate of 9.0% which ranks 6th worst.
6. Center Point
Center Point has 16,711 residents that probably know it’s a pretty crummy place to live when you look at the data. (Or, if you’ve ever been there, you don’t need to look at the data.)
Incomes are towards the bottom and the poverty rate sits at 26.7%.
Ah, Fairfield. You rank as the 7th worst place to live around Birmingham.
It’s the place with the 3rd most out of work residents in the Birmingham metro area (13.8%).
Hueytown is a city about 15.0 miles from Birmingham, but Birmingham probably wishes it was further away. It ranks as the 8th worst burb for 2018.
You’d be hard pressed to find a worse place to live. Hueytown has the 7th most uninsured people, 7th worst incomes, and has the 9th highest unemployment rate (7.6%) in the entire Birmingham metro area.
Homes only cost $112,600 for a reason. That’s cheap for Birmingham standards.
If you absolutely have to live near Birmingham, then Leeds might be a place for you to consider as it’s only the 9th worst Birmingham suburb.
About 4.9% of residents are out of work.
Rounding out the ten worst Birmingham suburbs to call home is Fultondale.
Located 6.2 miles outside the city, Fultondales is a real pit when you look at the data. Its residents have the 16th highest unemployment rate (4.2%), and poverty is far above the area average.
The areas around Birmingham where the dream is more of a nightmare for 2018
Well there you have it — the worst of the ‘burbs surrounding Birmingham with Bessemer casting itself ahead of the pack.
As we mentioned earlier, the suburbs around Birmingham aren’t all bad. Mountain Brook takes the cake as the best place to live around Birmingham.
For more Alabama reading, check out:
- 10 Most Ghetto Cities In Alabama
- These Are The 10 Richest Cities In Alabama
- 10 Safest Places In Alabama
- 10 Worst Places To Live In Alabama
Detailed List Of The Worst Birmingham Suburbs