Compare Birmingham, AL and Asheville, NC. Begin.
December 9, 2020 12:56 PM   Subscribe

Have you moved from Birmingham to Asheville? How would you compare the cities? What is different better? What is different worse?
posted by John Borrowman to Society & Culture (6 answers total)
Best answer: Haven't moved from anywhere, but I live in AVL and have been to Birmingham. Some clear differences: Asheville has a MUCH colder climate (thank GOD! I have never been hotter than my visit to Birmingham) and feels way less Southern- there are a ton of transplants from NYC and California and all over here. There is a much more outdoors-ey nature-ey vibe in Asheville, as well as a definite tourist town feeling in many areas. Not sure about Birmingham, but AVL is in the middle of a gentrification/construction boom for good or for ill. Among other things, this has pushed out much of the African American community here who are now priced out of their old neighborhoods.
posted by genmonster at 2:17 PM on December 9, 2020

Best answer: Birmingham is much more urban, Asheville has much better "outdoors activity" opportunities.

Birmingham has better/more comprehensive shopping in the metropolitan area, but also has worse traffic overall.

Birmingham has a more diverse economy, leading to a wider variety of employment opportunities.

Birmingham has a wider range of housing by price point, but lower-price-point housing in Asheville is nicer than lower-price-point housing in Birmingham.

Birmingham's metropolitan area has a fragmented collection of small-municipality governments, a system that emerged from efforts to duck desegregation efforts. It makes "regional progress" difficult, especially around equity in education. Asheville has a standard setup -- separate from what your opinion might be about the people who are in power, it's just less complicated systemically.

Birmingham has better airport service, Asheville has better live music. (Apologies to The Nick ...)
posted by mccxxiii at 2:40 PM on December 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: For the post-COVID world in which air travel is a thing again: Birmingham is a much shorter drive to the airport, but the closer airport is smaller and serves fewer international destinations. Asheville is over 2 hours away from the Charlotte airport, but it's a major hub with many international and domestic flights.
posted by rhiannonstone at 3:51 PM on December 9, 2020

YES, I should have been more clear about my airport judgement ... rhiannonstone has it exactly right. Birmingham has better connecting-flights airport service right in town than the similar option that's available in Asheville ... BUT driving 2 hours from Asheville and flying out of CLT is vastly preferable to driving 2.5/3 hours from Birmingham and flying out of ATL.

That comparison is actually helpful in the bigger picture, too ... Asheville is about an hour closer to Charlotte than Birmingham is to Atlanta. Of course, Birmingham is plenty big enough that you don't really NEED to go to Atlanta very often, but if you are enthusiastic about professional sports, national-level touring performances, etc. that might be something to think about.
posted by mccxxiii at 12:14 PM on December 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

That comparison is actually helpful in the bigger picture, too ... Asheville is about an hour closer to Charlotte than Birmingham is to Atlanta

A three-hour drive from Birmingham to Atlanta didn't sound right to me. Checking Google Maps right now, I show 2:16, 147 miles from Birmingham to Atlanta (2:19/153 to the airport) and 2:10, 126 miles from Asheville to Charlotte (2:00/123 to the airport). The mileage is shorter but the most direct route isn't all-Interstate. That being said, when I've driven from Atlanta to places beyond Birmingham it seems like there's often traffic on I-20 west of Atlanta.
posted by madcaptenor at 1:21 PM on December 10, 2020

I drove Bham to Atlanta once a month for 10+ years ... with traffic/roadwork I rarely made it under 3:00, caveat of course is where you are starting/going. If by "Birmingham" you mean Leeds and by "Atlanta" you mean Six Flags, you might consistently get 2:15/2:30. OTM Birmingham to Buckhead ... different story.
posted by mccxxiii at 3:56 PM on December 10, 2020

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