has an average salary that, adjusted for cost of living, is higher than in San Francisco or New York City.
Average salary: $76,886 • Adjusted for cost of living: $86,196
Where to work
Long known as “The Pittsburgh of the South” because of its iron and steel industry, Birmingham has diversified to become a leader in banking, insurance, healthcare, education, manufacturing, and the arts. And, once you adjust for cost of living, the average salary here is $10,000 more than in San Francisco and a good $17,000 more than in New York City.
Birmingham’s growth doesn’t match the pace of Southern economic powerhouses like Atlanta, Raleigh, and Nashville, but it is Alabama’s largest city and a bright spot in the state’s economy, accounting for about 30 percent of its domestic product.
The three largest employers in town are the University of Alabama at Birmingham (23,000 employees), Regions Financial Corp. (7,100), and Honda (4,800). Mercedes-Benz U.S., U.S. Steel, and Wells Fargo are also major employers.
The city is home to the Southern Research Institute, a nonprofit where more than 400 scientists and engineers work on drug discovery and development, engineering, energy, and the environment. This gives the institute the distinction of simultaneously working to cure cancer, put people on Mars, and clean the planet’s air and water.
Birmingham locals search Trulia for homes in the 35210 zip code, which includes the suburb of Irondale, more than any other local zip code. Affordability may be one reason: Median home prices here are $147,000, well below the metro area’s $195,000 median and not even half of Atlanta’s median of $300,000. The average rent in Irondale is $1,249 a month.
Local agent Gusty Gulas says Irondale is popular for its new construction and for homes with larger lots, which can be hard to find. “First-time home buyers come for the affordability and location,” says Gulas. “Others relocate here from nearby districts with a higher tax rate.” Convenience is another draw: Irondale is just 15 minutes from downtown and the airport.
Gulas says that his clients are especially enthusiastic about Grants Mill Crossing and Grants Mill Valley, two neighboring new-home developments, as well as Crestline Gardens and Crestline Holiday Gardens, two older, closer-in Irondale developments.