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Community Review: Huntsville, Alabama, USA

photo by PhillipC via PhotoRee

Huntsville Lifestyle Highlights

  • Little to no snow in the winter
  • Lower cost of living than the national average
  • Good network of urban hiking and biking opportunities
  • Handy to explore other regional interests like Nashville, TN and Lynchburg, TN, home to the Jack Daniel’s distillery

About Huntsville

Located in the Tennessee River valley, Huntsville takes up about 210.0 square miles, partially surrounded by plateaus (locally referred to as “mountains”) and large hills. It has a humid subtropical climate, with hot, humid summers and mild winters. Thunderstorms can bring large hail, heavy winds and tornadoes, with long-track tornadoes being more common here than most other places in the country. Huntsville is not especially prone to full-strength hurricanes, however, since it is 300 miles inland, but it does receive weakened tropical storms from the Gulf Coast. It does get some snow in winter, but not much, and is an exception more than a rule.

The cost of living in Huntsville can be a bit more expensive than the US average on miscellaneous costs, but food and utility costs come in lower than most other places. Overall, Huntsville ranks below the average cost of living compared to other US cities.

Huntsville is not really considered a tourist destination so doesn’t have any real big-ticket items of attraction nor is considered a real hotbed of culture and action, but there are a few things of interest. The US Space and Rocket Center Museum is located in Huntsville and is considered one of Alabama’s top tourist attractions, with its life-sized replicas of the space shuttle and the US Space Camp that is based there. The Huntsville Museum of Art brings in regional and national art exhibits as well as its own collection for art lovers.For music and theater fans, there is the Renaissance Theater which does both adult and children’s shows, Theater Huntsville which does everything from Shakespeare to Little Shop of Horrors, as well as the Huntsville Community Chorus Association, which covers choral concerts as well as musical theater productions.

There aren’t any major professional sports teams in Huntsville, but there are a few minor league teams for baseball, hockey, and arena football so you won’t be totally without sports. If you prefer playing to watching, or just getting outdoors to stretch your legs, there is a fair amount of green space available in and around the city, including Big Spring International Park, which was founded 200 years ago, and has gifts from other countries including a bridge from Japan and a lighthouse from Norway. There is a 3,400 acre network of nature preserves around the city, as well as trails and roads across the metro area that are friendly to bikers. Hiking, swimming, fishing, horse riding, canoeing, golfing and all your typical outdoor pursuits are all on offer somewhere nearby.

photo by Iguana Jo via PhotoRee

Huntsville gets some complaints from its inhabitants that restaurants are somewhat lacking in diversity and taste, but there are ethnic varieties available, including Greek, Indian, Japanese, Italian, and Thai. There is also barbecue, seafood, bakeries, vegetarian-friendly fare, Tex-Mex, wings, and southern food venues on offer around town. If you need a drink, there are plenty of bar and grills, as well as bars with live music scattered about. With various stores, shops, malls and shopping centers, there are ample opportunities for shopping and a reasonable variety for groceries and other products you will need.

Neighborhoodscout.com and cityrating.com both cite Huntsville as being above the average crime rate for both Alabama and other cities of its size across the country, however, the trend seems to be moving in a downward direction rather than increasing. As with any other large city, certain neighborhoods are better avoided while others can be much better off, so your chances of encountering either violent or property crime will largely depend on where you are looking to settle. In particular, inner city areas and the northern neighborhood are said to be the less savory areas of the city.

Huntsville has two major hospitals, including a public which has a special division for women and children, and a private one, as well as various other medical centers in the region.

Around Huntsville

photo by Exothermic via PhotoRee

Nashville, Tennessee, the “Country Music Capital of the World” is also just about an hour and a half away, and provides a lot of opportunity to learn about the history of the city and the state, and also offers a zoo and a paddlewheel boat, which includes cruises with a buffet and a show. You can also spend a night at the symphony, or listening to the Grand Ole Opry from the source.

The Jack Daniel’s distillery is a fun thing to visit for whiskey lovers, and is located only 45 minutes away from Huntsville, in Lynchburg, Tennessee.

Chattanooga, Tennessee is about an hour and a half away if you want to get your Chattanooga Choo Choo on, visit the Tennessee Aquarium or the Chattanooga Zoo, take a ride on the beautiful Southern Belle paddlewheel boat, cruise the riverwalk, and more.

For an offbeat sort of experience, you could visit Scottsboro, Alabama, which is home to the “Unclaimed Baggage Center,” where the unclaimed airline luggage of the world is for sale to the public.

Location Map of Huntsville

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Huntsville Basic Facts

Population: 182,956 (2011)

How To Get There: Huntsville International Airport is 15 miles west of town and served by several major airline carriers operating into and out of a variety of American cities, as well as internationally.

Average Cost to Buy a 2 Bedroom Home in Prime Central Area: $122,725

Average Cost to Rent a 2 Bedroom Home in Prime Central Area: Depending on amenities and whether furnished or unfurnished, a 2-bedroom apartment averages about $539

Primary Advantages Over Other Retirement Communities: Big city amenities with a more relaxed sort of feel, beautiful nature, four seasons and more than 100 sunny days per year

Primary Disadvantages Over Other Retirement Communities: Not a huge downtown or nightlife scene, the hot and humid weather can be oppressive, area can be prone to tornadoes and other unfavorable climate or weather patterns

Climate

Mean temperature and mean rainfall for each month of the year in Huntsville

Month Avg high °F (°C) Avg low  °F (°C) Precipitation in (mm) 
Jan 50.1 (10.1) 31.0 (−0.6) 4.88 (124)
Feb 54.9 (12.7) 34.7 (1.5) 4.83 (122.7)
Mar 63.8 (17.7) 41.5 (5.3) 5.20 (132.1)
Apr 72.6 (22.6) 49.3 (9.6) 4.31 (109.5)
May 80.3 (26.8) 58.6 (14.8) 5.10 (129.5)
Jun 87.2 (30.7) 66.4 (19.1) 4.29 (109)
Jul 89.7 (32.1) 69.7 (20.9) 4.04 (102.6)
Aug 89.9 (32.2) 68.6 (20.3) 3.60 (91.4)
Sep 84.0 (28.9) 61.7 (16.5) 3.72 (94.5)
Oct 73.6 (23.1) 50.2 (10.1) 3.59 (91.2)
Nov 62.7 (17.1) 41.0 (5) 4.94 (125.5)
Dec 52.5 (11.4) 33.7 (0.9) 5.77 (146.6)
Yearly  71.8 (22.1) 50.5 (10.3) 54.29 (1,379)

source: wikipedia.org

Places To Stay
There is a wide variety of accommodation available in Huntsville, from hotels and motels to RV and camping accommodations, or perhaps a stay at a bed and breakfast. For more information, visit http://www.huntsville.org/visitors/stay.

Recommended Research Links

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huntsville_alabama
http://wikitravel.org/en/Huntsville,_Alabama
http://www.huntsville.org
http://www.hsvcity.org/

Sources
http://www.trulia.com/real_estate/Huntsville-Alabama/market-trends/
http://www.huntsville.org
http://www.mynewplace.com/city/huntsville-apartments-for-rent-alabama
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huntsville_alabama
http://www.cityrating.com/crime-statistics/alabama/huntsville.html#.UaK73eCK8yE
http://wikitravel.org/en/Huntsville_(Alabama)
http://www.neighborhoodscout.com/al/huntsville/crime/#description

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