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nowyano

Best City in AL, GA and Pan Handle of FL (other than ATL)

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I have lived in Boston for most of my life, I went to college for a few years in the South spent time living in Columbus, GA and Atlanta, GA. My wife and I are looking to move back down South from Boston, and I need a city. I like Atlanta, which in my opinion is the only true metropolitan city in that area, but she doesn't like it.

So I figured I'd ask what are some other decent sized Metro areas in Alabama, Georgia and the Pan Handle of Florida that are worth looking at?

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If you guys like the coast, Mobile and Savannah would be good options. I don't know if Jacksonville is properly referred to as being in the Panhandle, but if so, that's another great option.

Otherwise, my vote goes to Birmingham.

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It would help to know what there is about Atlanta she doesn't like.

She thinks that it is dirty and also too spread out, another of our issues is we are sort of, public transportation snobs (ie hate driving), but we already know that most cities in that area, other than Atlanta, have little to no light or heavy rail

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Are you looking at a large, mid-sized, or small city? Or are all options open?

Here's what I would pick:

Large (1M+): Birmingham (I think thats the only one :) )

Medium (500K-1M): Huntsville (believe me, check it out)

Small (less than 500K): Pensacola/Fort Walton Beach, FL (except for the occasional hurricane, great towns)

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We're looking either a medium or large sized city, decent sized musuems, arts scene, stuff to do. The lack of options was basically my main problem with Columbus, there wasn't a whole lot to do other than shop. Also a city that is easy to navigate via car or decent public transportation.

My wife's mother mentioned something to us about Destin, FL, anyone ever heard of it?

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Birmingham gets my vote.

But Mobile, Savannah, and Tallahasse are also great cities.

My wife's mother mentioned something to us about Destin, FL, anyone ever heard of it?

Destin seems to be a very popular beach destination for people in Greater New Orleans. I've been there a few times, it always looked great, had a nice atmosphere, and I always had a great time. But I dont know what it is like living there.

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Unfortunately, I'm not aware of any cities in your target area with decent public transportation.

"...A medium or large sized city, decent sized museums, arts scene, stuff to do..."

In the specified area, I expect Birmingham easily comes closest to what you're looking for, simply because of size, though the "too spread out" nature like Atlanta might figure in negatively. I realize this is an "urban" forum, but some of Birmingham's best inner suburbs like Mountain Brook and Homewood do have some walkable neighborhoods, and there are nice amenities like the zoo and botanical gardens nearby.

Destin's a fun little tourist beach resort town that I have visited many times over the years, and the Gulf beaches are extremely scenic. There isn't any "city" feel at all, though, if that's what you're after.

I own a vacation place in Gulf Shores, AL, which is much smaller, but rather on the same order.

If you like the beach and a relaxed vacation style of life, any of the Gulf coastal towns can work.

Of the mid-sized options, Savannah might come closest to meeting your goals, as there is "historic tourism" stuff there, with some art scene and so forth. The economy overall is not especially robust, so if employment is a major consideration, somewhere like Huntsville would be a better bet.

All that said, if you're used to places like Boston and Atlanta, even Birmingham is going to seem small, and Birmingham's built environment seems like NYC compared to most of AL, FL Panhandle, and GA-away-from-Atlanta.

Personally, I really dig college towns like Tuscaloosa, Athens, and Tallahassee, but I'm used to the slower pace of the smaller towns.

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We would also have to know a little more about you guys professions. While personal, it could help in steering you to a proper location. I would assume with you guys living in Boston that you are professionals. While living in some of these towns, like Savannah and Destin are romantic, romance doesn't pay the bills. Your wife is going to have to balance her wish list with her needs list. While the south has experienced an increase in jobs, many of these jobs have landed in the major metros.

If your jobs are government in nature or you can easily transfer to such a configuration, I would suggest Tallahassee. If engineering is your expertise, you can always try Birmingham. Medical can lead you to Augusta or Birmingham as well. You can align yourself with the medical schools in the area. While Jacksonville is not in the panhandle, it's not too terribly far away and if I was looking for a relocation are outside of Atlanta in your target area, I would choose Jacksonville.

Don't get caught up in the romance of an area. Remember, you still have to live. Set a list of priorities and rank them. You are not going to get the best public transportation. This is the south afterall. If you found Atlanta's public transportation system bad, you are going to be in for a rude awakening. If museums and culture are to your liking, Birmingham as a wonderful museum ooooooor you may want to stick to college towns, i.e, Athens, Ga.

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If you want a walkable city with an arts scene, Savannah has a very large art school downtown. It is literally spread all troughtout downtown. While I would not consider it major class, it also has a decent art museum. It has a lively livable downtown. Beaches are close by and it is far less likely to have a Hurricane than any of the other areas mentioned near the cost.

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We would also have to know a little more about you guys professions. While personal, it could help in steering you to a proper location.

my wife is an office manager for two doctors and two nurse practitioners just outside of Harvard, I am a teacher at an innercity middle school in South Boston/Dorchester.

I used to go to Birmingham when I was in college so I'm sort of familiar with the area. I also noticed that a few people have mentioned Jacksonville and Tallahassee I am not too familiar with either although my wife's family lives about an hour away from Tallahassee. As for Jacksonville does anyone know about their monorail system? I know I heard awhile back that they were planning on extending it but that was about a year ago and I haven't heard anything on it.

And DruidCity thanks for the info on Destin.

I am also curious what people know about Mobile, even during my time in school I only visited Mobile once on my way to New Orleans, so I don't know too much about it other than it has a mall and a good Mexican restaurant, and I have never seen Huntsville does anyone have any info on any of those cities (Tallahasse, Jacksonville, Mobile or Huntsville)?

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"Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Mobile or Huntsville..."

I've driven through Tallahassee a good many times on vacation, and know a couple of people who graduated from FSU. As a state capital and major college town, it has a little more going on than some other cities of comparable size.

That said, it is very isolated, as there's no other good-sized city within 150 miles.

Mobile - My father grew up there, and I still have relatives there. My brother taught at the university there for a few years, and still leases out his old house. Mobile has an interesting history, and is on the bay.

There are efforts recently to improve tourism downtown (cruise terminal, planned maritime museum), and business presence (tallest building in AL is under construction now). Mobile also has the advantage of being a short drive from beaches, an an hour's drive from the Mississippi casinos (which will be rebuilt bigger and better than before). Unless things have changed significantly in the last 5 years, property in Mobile is generally VERY CHEAP, too ! Some of Mobile's older neighborhoods have the great live oak canopies, and remind me somewhat of New Orleans' Garden District, but without the streetcar.

The problem is that the economy isn't too strong. The average income lags even Alabama's other sizable cities, and Alabama is a poor state. On the other side of Mobile Bay, though, a suburban area called "Eastern Shore" (towns of Spanish Fort, Daphne, Fairhope) in Baldwin County is absolutely booming with residential and retail development. Coastal Baldwin County has always had a huge % of transplants from other areas, including a fairly sizable contingent from the Midwest.

Huntsville - "New money" city, fueled by a huge % of engineers. Huntsville's built environment "isn't there yet," as the city sprang up from "town" status about 50 years ago, but it is close enough to take weekend trips to places like B'ham, Nashville, Chattanooga. Huntsville enjoys Alabama's highest average income levels , and is well-positioned for growth. At this stage, though, the population density is lower than AL's other sizable cities (and even some of our smaller cities, for that matter). 5 or 10 years from now, it will probably be much more built up, but "not there yet."

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Huntsville is a great place to live, but as DruidCity already said, we lack the dense and historical areas that other cities our size have. They are here, but they are not as large.

I'll try to keep this short. Huntsville has a metro area of over 500,000 people, has good schools, homes are still affordable, traffic is relatively light, and 1 out of every 13 people here are engineers. Public transit could be better, but is improving....slowly. And, Huntsville has a very large transient population, many of them from the North.

This website might help as well: www.huntsvillealabamausa.com

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As for Jacksonville does anyone know about their monorail system? I know I heard awhile back that they were planning on extending it but that was about a year ago and I haven't heard anything on it.

does anyone have any info on any of those cities (Tallahasse, Jacksonville, Mobile or Huntsville)?

The Skyway unfortunately has no plans to expand though it badly needs it. Because elevated systems like that are cost prohibitive over a wide range, we are going to begin a massive BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) system and are studying the possibilities of light rail.

Jax is currently one of the fastest growing cities in the nation (in fact, one of our metro counties is the second fastest growing in the nation) and has dozens of major projects under construction, approved or planned in down town. Residential projects downtown will be adding over 7,400 units.

Check my sig for more info.

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Destin....its a NICE beach town that is basically booming - like most Florida cities. It's situated on some of the cleanest and whitest beaches in the state. There is no real downtown to speak of but for some reason it doesn't take away from the area...the city is really split into older Destin (west) and new Destin (east).

Old Destin is centered around Destin Harbor and is where it all started way back in 1918 or whatever, it is where all the fishing fleets start their day and u will find a lot of your more local atmosphere here as well with great restaruants, local boutiques, some clubs, bars and lounges and whatnot. This is the middle class side of town.....

New Destin is where its tourist, tourist and well more tourist....this is where we have all the hotels, condos, major shops, golf courses, million dollar neighborhoods, some celeb homes, and - well its just manicured and downright beautiful.

Fort Walton Beach/ Destin brings in millions of tourists a year and becuase of that u should not have trouble finding something to do......

okay that was my plug......if i were u I would prolly go to Mobile, Tallahassee, or u can try NE Fla and do Jax for they are much bigger and clearly have more of what u are maybe looking for.

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you should check out the Pensacola MSA.. close to 500,000. and growing. Escambia or Santa Rosa counties. There is a push for people to move back in to downtown Pensacola, there are I believe four or so mid-rise condos at 10 floors being built now. Besides that, there are many charming neighborhoods to live in. Great area to move to.... great people.

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You don't want to live in Atlanta for various reasons, yet you want to live in a city with a good arts scene. In the area you're looking at, Atlanta has the biggest arts scene. And there are several public transit plans in the city and metro as well. But still, the only place where you can walk places and use a lot of public transit in the city of Atlanta. You just seem to have conflicting interests. I don't know what to tell you.

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You don't want to live in Atlanta for various reasons, yet you want to live in a city with a good arts scene. In the area you're looking at, Atlanta has the biggest arts scene. And there are several public transit plans in the city and metro as well. But still, the only place where you can walk places and use a lot of public transit in the city of Atlanta. You just seem to have conflicting interests. I don't know what to tell you.

Sounds like Savannah's the best bet to me. It has a great art scene and is very walkable.

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Savannah for me too.

And by the way guys i wouldnt consider Jacksonville to be part of the panhandle of Florida. Not really peninsular either....just northeast Florida.

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