I graduated from college in May 2019. Starting approximately June 1, 2018, I was asked this question over, and over, and over again. You know the one: “So, what’s next?” Now, this was certainly well-intended and asked out of genuine curiosity. However, for a senior in college with no clue what they’re doing for spring break, much less with the rest of their lives, it can be a bit panic-inducing. College students, post-grads: have no fear! I’ve got your answer to the dreaded question right here- keep reading to find out!
When it came time to start looking for jobs, I didn’t really know where to start. My requirements were as follows:
- Somewhere I could get a job
- Ideally not on the other side of the country
- A city with things to do
- Somewhere cool and artsy (this really was on my list)
That was it- all I had to go off of. I had visited the Birmingham area a couple of times and knew it definitely fit those specifications. So, I started applying for jobs and ended up accepting the best job ever, producing for Bham Now! Since I moved here, the “Magic City” has lived up to every expectation I had- and much, much more.
Without further ado, all you 20-somethings out there- here are 10 reasons your next move should be to right here in Birmingham, Alabama.
Jobs are ranked #1 on this list because they’re #1 on the minds of the average post-grads. I knew I wanted to move to this area, but the thing that actually got me here was a job offer. Listen- finding a job straight out of college is HARD. If you’re reading this article, you probably know that.
Good news!! Indeed.com, the “#1 job site in the world” ranked Birmingham #4 on their “Best Cities for Jobseekers” 2019 report, beating out every other city in the southeast. Read more here about the report and how Birmingham made it to the top!
P.S. – If you’re tired of getting emails recommending wildly irrelevant positions, check out Bham Now’s list of featured jobs or subscribe to our newsletter! Every Tuesday, we’ll send you a list of real, open positions in the Birmingham area.
2. The Living Situation
In Birmingham, you’re not going to have to choose between an hour and a half commute OR paying upwards of $1800/month in rent. The Birmingham metro has a ton of neighborhoods and suburbs with great amenities and personalities. The best part? Rent is affordable for a one-bedroom apartment, even one located 15 minutes from downtown.
My rush hour commute to downtown has yet to take me more than a half-hour, a far cry from the 1.5-2 hour commute my friends in other cities complain of frequently.
3. The Food Scene
If you’re a person who eats and/or enjoys food, you should probably check out Birmingham’s nationally-renowned food scene. You don’t have to take my word for it, though.
Wine Enthusiast Magazine published a highlight of this Magic City called, “Looking for Top-Tier Drinking & Dining? Try Birmingham, Alabama” in which some of the area’s best restaurants and bars are highlighted.
Birmingham’s food scene has exploded in recent years, gaining national attention from more than one publication. It was named an “up and coming foodie city” by TripAdvisor in late 2018.
You can find pretty much any type of food under the sun in Birmingham- and it’s. all. good.
4. You Can Stay Connected to College Friends
For me, this was by far the hardest part of graduating. I was going to miss game days, sure, and having Fridays off, and my college town. However, the thing that made college great for me was the people. I know I’m biased, but I’m pretty sure I had the best college friend group of anyone, anywhere.
Most college students have similar difficulties leaving their best friend, roommate, or friend group for the “real world.” After we walked across that stage, my friend group scattered all across the southeast. One of my favorite things about Birmingham is how centrally located it is.
- 2 hours to Atlanta, GA
- 2.5 hours to Nashville, TN
- 3 hours to Jackson, MS
- 3 hours to Memphis, TN
- 1.5 hours to Huntsville or Montgomery, AL
- 2 hours to Chattanooga, TN
If your friends scattered a bit farther than driving distance, Birmingham has a very centrally-located international airport, with daily flights to Dallas, Houston, Charlotte, Orlando, Detroit, Chicago, and more.
5. The Free Events
All college students have the same favorite word: FREE. Turns out, post-grads like that word as well. Here are a few free activities in Birmingham not to be missed!
- Check out The Market at Pepper Place – named the best farmers’ market in Alabama by Delish.
- Wander about the Birmingham Botanical Gardens – ranked as one of the top three free attractions in America by USA Today.
- Catch a concert under the stars during the warmer months- like Symphony in the Summer performed by the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, or Jazz in the Park performed by Magic City Smooth Jazz.
- Enjoy Art After 5 the first Friday of every month September-April at the Birmingham Museum of Art. Take a gallery tour, sip a specialty cocktail, and listen to some live music.
In Birmingham, there’s never a shortage of concerts, festivals, celebrations, openings, and more to attend. Every Friday, Bham Now publishes 50 events happening over the weekend. Subscribe to our newsletter and that list will pop up in your inbox every week. Or you can follow us on Instagram and keep an eye out for our Friday stories highlighting some of our favorites!
6. Birmingham the Beautiful
Birmingham is located in the rolling foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, which lends itself to some pretty incredible scenery. The largest state park in Alabama is located in Birmingham and was recently highlighted by Outside Magazine in the U.S. of Adventure online series.
In addition, Birmingham boasts many parks, reservations, and stunning views. Outside Magazine named Birmingham in its “25 Best Towns” list and cited its many opportunities for trail running, bouldering, mountain biking, etc.
You don’t have to go far to find it, either. Railroad Park is comprised of 19 acres in the heart of downtown, where you can find food trucks, yoga, bike sharing, running trials, skyline views, and more.
7. There’s Something for Everyone
Lover of the arts? Head downtown to check out a world-class art museum full of extraordinary pieces from every culture and corner of the world. The Birmingham Museum of Art is host to one of the most impressive collections in the nation, and ranks #1 on Southern Living’s Best Museums in the South. The best part? General admission is free!
Craft beer enthusiast? Birmingham is a hidden gem of craft breweries and great local beers. Check out Bham Now’s guide to 9 Birmingham breweries.
Live music fanatic? Rarely does a night go by without some good live music being played in the Magic City. Whether you’re jamming out at one of Birmingham’s many music venues or enjoying dinner and a show at the Pizitz summer series, music fans will never be disappointed here!
8. Weekend Road Trip Heaven
As mentioned above, there is never a shortage of great activities to get out and enjoy in Birmingham. However, if you’re like me, sometimes you just need a weekend road trip. In Birmingham, you have the best of both worlds to choose from.
In just 4 hours, you could be hearing the waves crash on some of the most beautiful beaches in the world! The Gulf Coast includes popular destinations such as Orange Beach, Destin, and Panama City.
My personal favorite, however- my beautiful hometown of Pensacola, Florida.
Now, some people (for reasons I’ll never understand), do not deem themselves “beach people.” Fine- you’ll just have to check out my second-favorite weekend destination.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is host to some of my most treasured childhood memories. It’s a spectacularly beautiful region of the country, as well as being America’s most visited National Park!
One of the most sought-after vacation destinations in the country- and only 4.5 hours from Birmingham!
9. The Resources for Young Professionals
Anyone else sad to leave behind those “student discounts?” I know I was. Luckily, there’s an equivalent for post-grads!
Young Professionals of Birmingham is a local organization with a mission to help young professionals in the Birmingham area connect, socialize, and network. They offer everything from kickball teams to after-work happy hours. Not to mention, you can get discounts at many Birmingham restaurants and businesses with your YPBirmingham membership card!
10. Don’t Believe Me?
I’m not sure why you wouldn’t be convinced at this point that Birmingham is THE place to be as a post-grad/young professional. If for some reason, I have not sold you, perhaps these people will change your mind.
Thrillist claims it’s time to put Birmingham on your radar
“…it’s home today to flourishing arts, culture, food and drink scenes…”Thrillist
Vogue told everyone how best to spend a weekend in the South’s Magic City
“Young people are flocking home to open up restaurants, bars, hotels, shops, and startups—and it’s as if this Southern city has been waiting just for them.”Vogue
Condé Nast wrote that “Alabama’s biggest city makes you want to stay awhile”
“We aren’t looking at Alabama’s biggest city through rose-colored glasses. Birmingham has arrived. Again. It’s a destination—for historic architecture, old theaters, James Beard award-winning Southern food.”Condé Nast