Discover 10 Small Alabama Towns with Great Livability

Discover 10 Small Alabama Towns with Great Livability

Alabama is a tapestry of vibrant cities, big and small, woven with the colorful threads of small and rural cities and towns to create a unique pattern of places where anyone could love to live.  While cities make headlines, small towns more quietly go about the business of providing a sense of community, safety, and prosperity.  Here are 10 small or rural Alabama towns you should discover.  There are, of course, many more across the state that offer similar qualities.  These 10 were chosen based on safety, quality of life, cost of living, population, and schools.



A vibrant small city of 8,800, in south central Alabama, Andalusia doesn’t feel small when it comes to community life and activities.  Among the city’s most popular annual events are Christmas in Candyland featuring snow and treats attracting visitors from across the region, and the World Championship Domino Tournament brings is competitors from across the country.  Andalusia is home to Lurleen B. Wallace Community College and its own city school system.  Cultural offerings include the notable Andalusia Ballet which features classical ballet performances including the annual Nutcracker.  Nature lovers will enjoy the nearby Conecuh National Forest, Sepulga River, and Gantt Lake.  Bonus fact:  Country music legend Hank Williams married Audrey Sheppard in Andalusia at a local automotive garage.



Described as a magical, musical place with a historic downtown, public parks, and top-rated schools, Brewton (population 5,288) also offers an attractive cost of living, low crime rate, and family-friendly atmosphere.  The south central Alabama city -- just 60 miles from the Gulf -- hosts year-round recreation programs as well as art programs, STEM sessions and guided wilderness tours.  Brewton is proud of its school system and a branch of Coastal Alabama Community College.  Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy W.S Neal Park and kayaking in the Perdido River.  Brewton, home to the annual Alabama Blueberry Festival, has been voted one of the best 100 small towns in America.



Called the fastest growing town in fast-growing Shelby County, Chelsea (population 16,193) is considered a suburb of Birmingham.  The town has four public schools which are part of the Shelby County school system.  Residents enjoy a wide array of recreational opportunities including city parks, festivals, and nearby Oak Mountain State Park and Lake Purdy.



Cullman (population 17,892) is in the heart of north Alabama.  The city is home to beloved attractions like Ave Maria Grotto at St. Bernard’s Abbey and Clarkson covered bridge.  Seven parks, including Smith Lake Park, are favorites of Cullman residents and visitors.  Smith Lake Park offers access to one of Alabama’s most beautiful lakes via a free boat launch.  Visitors also can enjoy several festivals hosted at the park annually.  Cullman has its own city school system and is the home of St. Bernard College.  Nearby, in Hanceville, is George C. Wallace Community College.



Situated on a peninsula at the southernmost point of the Tennessee River in north Alabama, and surrounded by 69,000 acres of Lake Guntersville, the city of Guntersville is like a picture postcard.  With 1,000 miles of shoreline, the city (population 8,559) has stunning views of the lake’s bright blue water from almost any vantage point in town.  Guntersville is proud of its state park situated atop an Appalachian foothill.  The city has its own school system and higher education is available nearby.  Arts and cultural activities are abundant through the Mountain Valley Arts Council.



Hartselle, (population 15,308) has been featured in the book, '100 Best Small Towns in America'.  Located in north central Alabama, the city may be small but its amenities are not.  Hartselle has four city parks and an aquatic center featuring a large swimming pool, two water slides, and a lazy river. The city is proud of its highly rated school system with three elementary schools, an intermediate and a junior high school, and a high school.



Best known as the home to Jacksonville State University, Jacksonville (population 13,076) is located in northeast Alabama in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains and on the border of the Talladega National Forest.  The city has two parks, a public swimming pool, community and fitness center, athletic fields, and a walking track.  An 18-hole public golf course is just south of the city.  Jacksonville City Schools are comprised of two schools, K-6 and grades 7-12.  



A rapidly growing central Alabama city, Millbrook (population 17,096) is considered a suburb of Montgomery, where many residents are employed.  The city is bordered by the Alabama and Coosa rivers which offer fishing and boating.  A downtown city park hosts several annual events including the annual Mardi Gras celebration which attracts thousands of revelers.  Under construction is a massive sports complex, The Fields at 17 Springs.  Phase 1 recently opened with multipurpose turf fields, a grass field, 12 tennis courts, and 12 pickle ball courts.  When completed, the massive 120-acre complex will include basketball and volleyball courts, track and field area, football, softball and baseball fields along with a concession complex.



American Village, a living center of American history and the University of Montevallo are the most prominent features of Montevallo (population 6,958).  Located in central Alabama – literally – Montevallo is the geographic center of Alabama.  American Village attracts thousands of students each year to its living classroom of reenactors and replicas of historic sites.  Adjacent to the village is the 479-acre Alabama National Cemetery.  The city’s Orr Park is famous for its carved trees along the Tinglewood Trail.  The park also has baseball and softball fields, a walking trail, football and practice fields.  Shoal Creek runs through the park where visitors may fish, canoe, or kayak.


Muscle Shoals

Music lovers know Muscle Shoals (population 15,979) as the creative center of American music.  Some of the country's most famous artists recorded there, including Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Cher and the Rolling Stones.  Muscle Shoals is home to the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, Fame Studios, and the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio.  Situated on the picturesque Tennessee River, the city has its own school system and a campus of Northwest-Shoals Community College.  Muscle Shoals has three municipal parks and two sports complexes. Among the city’s festivals are the W. C. Handy Music Festival and Muscle Shoals Music City Fest.