Very seldom do you get more than you pay for. But that just may be the case in Fairhope, Alabama.
Fairhope is hard to beat as the epitome of Gulf Coast living. “[T]here are few places more scenic, with antebellum homes, streets lined with live oaks, and a charming, walkable downtown. With a population of about 17,000, Fairhope sits on bluffs that overlook Mobile Bay, so you’re never far from a view of the water. It may not have the white sand beaches of the Florida panhandle, but it has a laid-back vibe that lowers your blood pressure.”
But what about the cost of living in Fairhope, Alabama?
Well, in most categories it’s about on par with the national average. And in a few categories, notably healthcare, utilities, and transportation, the costs are below the national average.
So considering what you get for the cost, Fairhope offers you a lot of bang for your cost-of-living buck.
Fairhope, Alabama, Overview
Located in Baldwin County and on the eastern shoreline of Mobile Bay, Fairhope has a population of just over 22,000. It is reputed to be one of the most charming towns in the South, where people are inviting and friendly.
Descriptions of Fairhope may often seem to border on the hyperbolic. But they are accurate even though consistently full of lavish praise. Here’s an example . . .
“On the Alabama Gulf Coast, along the eastern shore of Mobile Bay, there is a town that drips with Southern hospitality. A town that is both quaint and contemporary at the same time but has never lost its charm. . . . the town of Fairhope.
“What attracts people to Fairhope are its simple pleasures – arts, recreation, entertainment, dining – and the people who live here, never being pretentious, always warm and inviting, welcoming visitors to town as if they were family.”
Fairhope is also typically rated as one of the best places to live in Alabama. It’s a town that offers a sparse suburban feel where the majority of residents own their own homes. There is a substantial population of retirees, and residents lean toward the conservative end of the spectrum. In addition, the public schools are highly rated.
Here’s a brief description from a life-long resident . . .
“Fairhope, Alabama, is a welcoming, vibrant town full of arts, culture, shopping, and beautiful parks, all along side the view of beautiful Mobile Bay. Being a Fairhope resident my whole life, I can confidently say that Fairhope is a perfect and safe place to raise a family.”
Interesting Facts About Fairhope
As good as this makes Fairhope sound, it may be even better yet. Consider these interesting facts about Fairhope . . .
Southern Living voted Fairhope the best place to retire in Alabama. “Fairhope was established by a group of people looking to create a utopia; visiting the city now, you might just say they’ve succeeded.”
Beauty and Cultural Appeal
According to Culture Trip, this town is “[f]requently hailed as ‘the jewel of the Eastern Shore.’ [T]he picture-perfect community of Fairhope overlooks scenic Mobile Bay. Its bustling downtown, sandy beaches and friendly small town vibe have propelled it to Best Small Towns in America.”
Appeal for Nature Lovers
And there’s plenty for nature lovers to enjoy. “Fairhope, Alabama, isn’t usually on the list of major Southern destinations, but nature lovers looking for a little bit of everything aren’t likely to be disappointed by the small coastal town. Fairhope is a mere hop, skip, and jump away from Mobile Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, so boaters and water lovers have easy access to a variety of beautiful beaches. Those looking for a relaxing hike will love the 6,000-acre Weeks Bay Nature Preserve.”
Best for Families
Family Circle named Fairhope as one of the 10 best cities for families in the entire United States. Fairhope came in at the number-four spot, meeting criteria that included “low crime rates, affordable homes, quality schools, financial stability, access to health care, green space and volunteerism.”
Great Public Schools
Niche.com included Fairhope on its list of “Places with the Best Public Schools in Alabama” at the number-12 spot.
Cost of Living in Fairhope, Alabama
So Fairhope is a great place to live, but what is the cost of living, really? Well, let’s see . . .
Overall, Fairhope comes in on the cost-of-living index at 101.3. This is based on a US average of 100, which means that it is just slightly above the national average of 100, and quite a bit above the Alabama average of 82.3.
Now, let’s examine some specific cost-of-living categories for Fairhope:
- Groceries/food – 100.8
- Health – 99.2
- Housing – 119.8
- Utilities – 98.4
- Transportation – 76.5
So while living costs are a bit higher for some categories, particularly housing, they are lower than both the state and national average for others such as health, utilities, and transportation.
The only real cost-of-living drawback for Fairhope as compared to the rest of the state is the cost of housing. For Alabama overall, the index score for housing is 55.9 while it’s 119.8 for Fairhope where the median home cost is $277,000 (or $299,200, according to Niche.com). But, then, median household income is $75,197, much higher than the statewide median household income at $51,734 (2019).
But, as we’ve shown, living costs aren’t really higher when take into account how much you actually get for your money.
Why Live in Fairhope, Alabama?
Besides the many solid reasons we’ve given above, Fairhope is also a great town for walking. “[S]ome amazing walking paths and scenery can be found here. Start downtown on the campus of Coastal Community College on Fairhope Avenue and stroll along the tree-lined path of the Marietta Johnson Botanical Garden and Tree Trail. The path meanders through rows of fiery red and brilliant white azaleas, flowering camellia and hydrangea, and a variety of tree species including the rare dawn redwood.”
Fairhope also employs a full-time horticulturist to ensure the city stays in beautiful bloom year round.
And then there are the arts. “Fairhope is dotted with art galleries that feature the works of incredible local artists and national artists.”
The town is also known for its many annual celebrations, including its own version of Mardi Gras.
Really, a slightly higher cost of living is a small price to pay for living in a gem of a town like Fairhope, Alabama.