May 03, 2018

Student Insights: Which Birmingham neighborhood is right for you?

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Southside: Emma Thompson

  • What is the general price range of the area?
    • One of the reasons I chose this area is because I was seeking an affordable single bedroom. There are a variety of apartments and houses in this area, and while those that are newer may necessitate you finding a roommate to split the cost, there are several options for those who are looking for a studio or one-bedroom that won’t break the bank. I’m currently paying $800 for my one-bedroom.
  • Do you live in a house or an apartment? Are both available in the area?
    • I live in an apartment complex, but there are also historic houses in the area for rent and sale—just keep a keen eye on Zillow/Apartment Finder/etc.
  • What are some of the benefits of the area?
    • My apartment is so close to campus! I have a fourteen-year old standard poodle, so in looking for an apartment, I really prioritized a quick commute. From where I currently live, I can attend lecture, then head home to have lunch and take my dog out before returning for evening studying! The walk is only about fifteen minutes, and the drive is barely five…another random fun fact is that I’m just down the street from Dreamland BBQ…yum!
  • Any downsides?
    • The area has a wide range of housing from residential and family housing to college/fraternity housing. The upside of this is that it’s a lively neighborhood! . . .the downside of this is also that it’s a lively neighborhood. My apartment walls can get kind of thin which has been a minor nuisance to me during late night studies. This all depends on exactly what area of southside you end up living in!
  • How close is the nearest grocery store/market?
    • There’s a local grocery store, Western Market, just a five-minute drive from my apartment, and there’s also a walkable corner store for any impromptu purchases. When I’m looking to do a week’s grocery shopping rather than pick up a few things, I tend to hop on 280 and head to Target in Brookwood Village (~15 minute drive).
  • Commute to Volker? Do you drive or walk?
    • The walk is probably about fifteen minutes, but I give myself twenty minutes to walk which has saved me from being late to class on more than one occasion. I sometimes study at Volker during the evening, and when I do that, I drive onto campus and park in the parking deck—that way I’m staying safe and saving a bit of travel time
  • What kind of general parking is available in the area?
    • My apartment complex, Apartment 26, has a parking lot that always has open spots, so I’ve never had trouble with friends coming over to visit. There’s also an on-campus parking deck just down the road which I use when there’s adverse weather or if it’s dark out.
  • What is your favorite thing about the area?
    • The housing is affordable, and the proximity to Volker can’t be beat.
  • Is it a pet friendly area?
    • I cannot speak to the family friendly aspects, but I can confirm there’s plenty of sidewalks and green space to keep my dog happy during his daily walks.

Highland Park: Reza Atras

  • What is the general price range of the area?
    • I'd say for an apartment, the price range is around/upward of about $700 per room. 
  • Do you live in a house or an apartment? Are both available in the area?
    • I live in an apartment, but there are plenty of both apartments and houses available around Highland Park.
  • What are some of the benefits of the area?
    • It's a bit cheaper than living downtown, which is cool. It definitely has more of a community vibe than other areas in Birmingham. 
  • Any downsides?
    • The only downside is that walking to school takes about 35 minutes, so I typically drive. Parking at school is....challenging.
  • How close is the nearest grocery store/market?
    • There's a Piggly-Wiggly and Walgreens nearby (~5-10 minutes), and Publix is just a short drive downtown.
  • Commute to Volker? Do you drive or walk?
    • Driving to Volker takes about 8 minutes, walking around 35, and biking takes 15-20 minutes. If you're driving, you'll have to add a couple minutes for walking from your parking space, unless you park right outside.
  • What kind of general parking is available in the area?
    • There's typically plenty of room to park, often in designated spaces or just on the street. 
  • What is your favorite thing about the area?
    • I live right around the corner from my favorite BHAM restaurant, Rojo. Being able to walk there from my apartment is one of my favorite things about Highland Park.
  • Is it a pet friendly area?
    • Both! Highland Park is a dog/dog-owner's dream. There are four pet-friendly parks in the neighborhood, which is awesome for dog-walking and/or dog-spotting. A lot of these dogs have human families, so I think the area is pretty family friendly as well.

Downtown: Payton Davis

  • What is the general price range of the area?
    • I live downtown, so it’s a little more expensive than a lot of areas near school.  Rent usually runs around 700-1300 depending on if you want to have roommates or wish to live alone. These numbers are ballpark and may be a little bit high since I only shopped around for two/one bedroom apartments.
  • Do you live in a house or an apartment? Are both available in the area?
    • I live in a condo, but there are a ton of apartments around the downtown area.  As far as I know there are no houses around here though, those are more towards Southside.
  • What are some of the benefits of the area?
    • The biggest benefit is that school is a short (10-15 minute) walk away.  It’s so much more convenient not having to deal with traffic, and finding a parking spot every morning.  The best part is that on rainy days you can just cut through the hospital and almost completely avoid the bad weather.  Another benefit is that there are a lot of restaurants/breweries just a block or two away which is super convenient and easy to get to on a whim. 
  • Any downsides?
    • I would say the biggest downside is that you will spend a lot more money for less space if you choose to live downtown.  Also If you want to have friends over parking can be a pain in some places at times.
  • How close is the nearest grocery store/market?
    • Publix – it’s just a block away.
  • Commute to Volker? Do you drive or walk?
    • Usually I just walk to Volker which takes 10-15 minutes.
  • What kind of general parking is available in the area?
    • Most condos/apartments will have assigned parking with some limited guest spots (which are practically always full). If you have friends come over they are most likely parking on the street but at least that’s free after 5/6 pm and on the weekends.
  • What is your favorite thing about the area?
    • My favorite thing about living downtown is probably how easy it is to get to and from places.  Everything is just a short walk or 5 min drive away which is great since time is the most valuable commodity in medical school. 
  • Is it a pet friendly area?
    • Having a family downtown would be a little harder since space will be limited, however some of my neighbors do make it work, so it really depends on how efficiently you use the space you have.  As for pets, that depends greatly on who owns the condo/apartment complex.  I personally don’t know anyone who owns a pet and lives downtown but I’ve seen dogs in being walked in the rea.

Homewood: Olamide Larinde

  • What is the general price range of the area?
    • Living in Homewood is very cost friendly. Rent ranges from about $600-$1200 for a two bedroom apartment.
  • Do you live in a house or an apartment? Are both available in the area?
    • I currently live in an apartment complex called Valora at Homewood. Both houses and apartments are readily available in the area.
  • What are some of the benefits of the area?
    • Safety and proximity to stores and restaurants.
  • Any downsides?
    • My least favorite thing is just living a driving distance from school but this applies pretty much anywhere off campus. It’s generally just an issue during evening rush when trying to leave on University Boulevard because all the workers and students are heading home for the day. My solution for parking is to come to school really early so I can park close or park a few blocks away and get in my daily steps. My solution for the evening rush is to try and avoid the 5PM time slot.
  • How close is the nearest grocery store/market?
    • There are groceries stores like Walmart and Publix and also restaurants within 15 minutes walking distance or a 2-5 minute drive. Everything I need is super close!
  • Commute to Volker? Do you drive or walk?
    • My apartment is really close to Vulcan, and it only takes about ten minutes to get to Volker. There has never been an inappropriate time to leave home for Volker; however, I try avoiding the 7:30-7:50 am morning rush because it takes me an extra 3-5 minutes to get to school.
  • What kind of general parking is available in the area?
    • Parking has never been an issue as my complex has parking for residents.
  • What is your favorite thing about the area?
    • My favorite thing about living at Valora at Homewood is how safe, secure, and family friendly it is. We have a security car constantly roaming the complex at night, and I haven’t had any problem with safety since my time here.
  • Is it a pet friendly area?
    • Homewood is both a pet and family friendly area.

Hoover: Bryan Mott

  • What is the general price range of the area?
    • Prices in Hoover range from about $120k to > $400k
  • Do you live in a house or an apartment? Are both available in the area?
    • I live in a 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom house with a big backyard, but condos and apartments are available in the area
  • What are some of the benefits of the area?
    • It is very convenient to everything – mall, food, activities and downtown.  Plus you can get a house with a pretty sizable backyard, if that is something that is important to you.
  • Any downsides?
    • People will say that traffic is a downside, as I-65 into the city can get slow sometimes.  Personally I’ve never had much trouble and can get downtown or get home in about 25 minutes.
  • How close is the nearest grocery store/market?
    • I could walk to a Publix, and a Whole Foods is 1 mile away.
  • Commute to Volker? Do you drive or walk?
    • I drive and it usually takes 20 mins to get to school. For parking, there is plenty of free parking to find a few blocks South of campus, or you can get a parking pass for the on-campus garages and lots. Total transit time door to door is ~30 mins.
  • What kind of general parking is available in the area?
    • I have a driveway and a two car garage, so plenty of free parking 
  • What is your favorite thing about the area?
    • The accessibility to everything and the ability to have space.
  • Is it a pet friendly area?
    • Very family friendly (I have a 16 month-old daughter) and pet friendly (we also have 3 large dogs, hence the large backyard).  There is a park with a pond ~100 yards from my house.

Crestwood: Rebecca England

  • What is the general price range of the area?
    • Most apartments in the area that I live in are a solid $200-300 less per month than their counterparts in more expensive areas, like Homewood. Because a lot of the neighborhoods are currently undergoing revitalization, it’s also a good time to purchase a house, if you plan on being in Birmingham for all four years (and possibly beyond). We purchased a house and have found that the challenges of home ownership are totally manageable in the MS1 year! Both apartment and house rental options will range in monthly rent from ~$400-700 if you’re willing to have some roommates
  • Do you live in a house or an apartment? Are both available in the area?
    • I live in a house but both are readily available in the area.
  • What are some of the benefits of the area?
    • The whole area has a tight-knit community vibe that I didn’t anticipate finding in Birmingham. It is also super close to restaurants, parks, and necessities!
  • How close is the nearest grocery store/market?
    • Where I’m situated is very close (as in, a one mile radius) to a Publix, Walmart, and Winn Dixie, in addition to plenty of restaurants and parks!
  • Commute to Volker? Do you drive or walk?
    • My drive to Volker is usually 12-18 minutes, depending on the departure time. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t recommend riding a bike unless you’re willing to get up early and ride on kind of busy streets
  • What kind of general parking is available in the area?
    • Many of the houses have driveways and apartments have lots, but street parking is also available.
  • What is your favorite thing about the area?
    • The community vibe! As someone who lived in Birmingham before medical school, I’d say it’s one of my favorite neighborhoods, and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone!
  • Is it a pet friendly area?
    • I would definitely say it’s a pet-friendly area, you’ll often see people taking their pets out for walks or to nearby parks. Also some of the houses have built in fences.

Avondale: Courtney Rentas

  • What is the general price range of the area?
    • I would say about $1,000/month per person for a 2 bedroom apartment but it's obviously variable depending on where you live. I think rates are pretty comparable to rates downtown Birmingham.
  • Do you live in a house or an apartment? Are both available in the area?
    • I have an apartment but there are a lot of houses in the area as well. 
  • What are some of the benefits of the area?
    • It's really close to everything! I walk to the Piggly Wiggly when I need groceries and I am less than a 5 minute drive from a ton of bars and restaurants like Five, Slice, Babalu, Moe's etc. 
  • Any downsides?
    • I think the biggest downside for me is the commute to campus; it's less than 10 minutes driving, but there are a lot of red lights along the way and depending on when I leave for class in the morning, my commute can take up to 20 minutes. Then, as you may have heard, parking on campus is a nightmare. So it definitely takes me a little bit longer (I budget for about 35 minutes) to get from my apartment to Volker every morning, but it's definitely worth it. 
  • How close is the nearest grocery store/market?
    • Literally across the street; I walk there every weekend when I buy groceries! There's also a CVS a few blocks away and it takes about 15 minutes to drive to Publix or Target from where I live. 
  • Commute to Volker? Do you drive or walk?
    • I drive and it takes about 20-35 minutes to drive there, park, and then walk to Volker every morning. 
  • What kind of general parking is available in the area?
    • My apartment complex has a garage, but there's also a ton of street parking since there are so many bars and restaurants near me. 
  • What is your favorite thing about the area?
    • I would say the proximity to everything. I am surrounded by some of the best restaurants in Birmingham and I live right across from Highland Park which is a beautiful place to take a study break. On the other hand, I'm less than 10 minutes from The Summit, Railroad Park, and the rest of downtown. I can make it to Volker pretty quickly if I wake up late for class but I also get to leave the downtown area for a more relaxed setting every night when I come home. 
  • Is it a pet friendly area?
    • It's really family-friendly and pet-friendly! It is full of dog-walkers and little kids all the time. My apartment is pet-friendly and has a dog park attached to it and there are a lot of little kids and young families who live in my building. 

Living at Home/Mountain Brook: Miller Sisson

  • What is the general price range of the area?
    • I live at home in Mountain Brook with my parents and two of my siblings. It’s really nice because the rent is free.
  • Do you live in a house or an apartment? Are both available in the area?
    • In a house. There are some apartments available closer to downtown Mountain Brook, but I’d say the majority of the residential area is houses.
  • What are some of the benefits of the area?
    • There are plenty of choices for grocery stores and restaurants nearby.
  • Any downsides?
    • The biggest downside is that I can’t study at home because there are always people around. But, there are plenty of coffee shops and libraries close by if I want to get away from Volker and still study.
  • How close is the nearest grocery store/market?
    • Within 10 minutes or less!
  • Commute to Volker? Do you drive or walk?
    • I drive to class every day and my commute is 8-10 minutes depending on the traffic.
  • What kind of general parking is available in the area?
    • There is plenty of parking because most people have driveways.
  • What is your favorite thing about the area?
    • I enjoy the neighborhood feel – I can go for a run or take my dog for a walk anytime. I definitely encourage you to consider living at home if you have the option!
  • Is it a pet friendly area?
    • Yes – I enjoy the ability to take my dog for a walk easily due to the access due to sidewalks, etc.
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