There are 4 major cities in Alabama:
Huntsville: A bastion of culture and intelligence adrift in a sea of rural decay. High tech firms in aerospace and engineering are centered here. Most of the glowing answers to this thread probably come from this area.
Birmingham: A jewel set in a rusting iron crown. The wealthiest Alabamians by far with CEOs from banks and biotech and healthcare live neatly segregated from a number of poverty stricken areas. A poster child for 'the rich get richer, the poor get poorer". Recently declared bankruptcy for defaulting on sewer debts.
Montgomery: The state capital and home to the politicians.
Mobile: Picturesque city on a bay in the Gulf of Mexico. At times it tries to be New Orleans. Its got lots of sun and surf but the economy is based on fishing and tourism.
-Weather: Lets face it, its terrible. Anyone that says otherwise is lying or doesn't know better. There are 3 seasons here, Hot, Hot and humid, Brown and cold. Notice I don't say summer, fall, winter, because they don't always happen that way. I have had to cut grass in December and wear gloves in May, you just never know. You can literally drive 1 hour east into Georgia and the humidity will drop 15-20%. And the humidity isn't just a problem in the summer. Its the winter humidity that nobody tells you about. It makes 45 degrees feel about 10 and no amount of clothing will warm your hands. Growing up in Michigan I remember standing at the bus stop relatively warm at 18 degrees out. In AL it feels like death if it drops below 32. We also get killer tornadoes and Hurricanes in the spring AND fall. Weather is a BIG deal here.
-Food: Its great if you love BBQ and not much else. Don't get me wrong, the BBQ is the best anywhere I have ever had. But if your palette is more worldly, well, its a wasteland. The southern idea of Italian doesn't go much farther than Macaroni grill. Although the Chinese, Mexican and Japanese cuisine is good in the Birmingham area thanks to the immigrant population. There is a notable lack of Indian, South Asian, true French, Greek, British, Eastern European and anything resembling middle eastern or African food anywhere but in Huntsville.
-People are not as nice as they claim to be. Overall its about average to anywhere else in america. People are people. Its just that in Alabama they dress it up with a veneer of shiny happy smiles so you are never quite sure how they really feel. Unlike New York or Jersey where you KNOW where you stand, for better or worse. Its almost sinister. They will likely smile to your face and talk bad about you the minute you are out the door.
Driving: Alabama has terrible drivers. Some of the worst anywhere. There is no mandatory drivers training to get a license, just a test and off you go. People literally don't know the rules of the road. I see traffic accidents nearly DAILY on my 15 mile commute to work. When it rains, its even worse. And if god forbid it should snow, just stay home. Its like Armageddon and the zombie apocalypse all in one. People literally abandon their cars in the middle of the road and walk home.
-Sports: Football is king, baseball is queen, soccer is for kids, what other sports? Growing up in Michigan we had every major league sports team plus 2 very formidable college football teams (in the 90s). When someone in Alabama asks "Who ya for?" and you answer anything other than Alabama or Auburn or that you like Hockey, or even professional sports, you are often met with a blank stare. It is quite a shock coming from almost anywhere to a state with no national professional sports teams.
-Nightlife: Well, there is none. Outside of a roughly 1 square block in Birmingham called five points, there is generally nobody on the streets past 8pm. Even on weekends. The music scene is greatly exaggerated. Big name acts schedule Alabama stops between Nashville and Atlanta just in case they want to take a night off. I have had more big name acts cancel their shows than show up in the last 10 years. Its far better to buy tickets for Nashville and Atlanta concerts which are never cancelled and just make a weekend of it.
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