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Forbes: Birmingham is America’s most affordable city

Fireworks above Regions Field in downtown Birmingham (Photo: James Nichols)
Fireworks above Regions Field in downtown Birmingham (Photo: James Nichols)

Birmingham is the most affordable city in the United States, according to a new report by Forbes Magazine.

Forbes 2015 “Most Affordable Cities” list includes the 100 largest metro areas in the country, all of which maintain a population of 600,000 or more. The famed business magazine then calculated housing affordability using the latest “Housing Opportunity Index,” which calculates the percentage of homes in a given area that are affordable to local residents making the median income. Forbes then measured the cost of living in each city by calculating the cost of “food, utilities, gas, transportation, medical expenses, and other daily expenses in each area.”

In short, Forbes compared how much people make to how far that money can go. The South dominated the final list with 11 total cities in the top 20, including three of top five. The Midwest also had a strong showing with eight cities in the top 20.

But Birmingham topped them all.

Here’s what Forbes’ Erin Carlyle wrote about the Magic City:

Birmingham’s median family income of $61,000 might be lower than the national average ($63,900), but prices for just about everything are lower there, too. During the fourth quarter of 2014 the median sales price for a home was $130,000, and about 81.5% of homes were affordable to families bringing in the area’s median pay. Paychecks stretch further all around: groceries cost about 5.4% less in Birmingham than the national average, transportation about 13.2%, and health care 16.6%.

Birmingham may not have Los Angeles’ beaches, but it probably has happier drivers, given that the average commute time by car is a mere 24 minutes, according to Brian Hilson, president of the Birmingham Business Alliance. The metro has a strong medical research industry centered at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the Southern Research Institute, and some 70 foreign companies, including Mercedes Benz and Honda, have facilities in and around Birmingham. “You get a lot for your money to live and work and do business in Birmingham,” says Hilson. We agree–Birmingham lands the No. 1 spot on our 2015 list of America’s Most Affordable Cities.

Head over to Forbes online to check out the full list.