Those of us who do, in fact, call "Sweet Home Alabama" our home have known for a while. Alabama is a great place to live, work, play and visit. Now several studies, surveys and national lists are letting the rest of the country in on our secret. Check out why increasing numbers of people are moving to Alabama and why they are adding Birmingham and other cities in the state to their vacation plans.

The "Annual 2020 United Van Lines National Movers Study" listed Alabama as the 8th most popular location where people are moving, joining the list for the first time with an inbound percentage of 60. A survey conducted as part of the study examined the reasons people move. 40% of residents indicated they moved for a new job or job transfer (down from prior years), and more than one in four (27%) moved to be closer to family (which is significantly up over prior years).

Image via United Van Lines

Alabama ranked 22nd on the list of "2020 Migration Trends: U-Haul Ranks 50 States by Migration Growth." The annual list ranks the rate of moves to all 50 states, with Alabama up 6%. Two Alabama cities made the list as "Top U-Haul® Growth Cities in America for 2020." Auburn-Opelika, AL showed up at number 4 with 12% growth and )Huntsville, AL at number 15 with 13% growth.

Travel + Leisure named Birmingham, Alabama one of The 50 Best Places to Travel in 2021. The Magic City comes in at number 5 on the annual ranking, behind Alaska’s Coast, Astoria, Oregon, The Berkshires, and Big Sky, Montana. Typically a compilation of international destinations, the travel authority took a cue this year from the impact of the pandemic on mobility to highlight 50 destinations that are all located within the contiguous United States. Rounding out the top ten are The Black Hills of South Dakota, Buffalo, New York, Burlington, Vermont, Cape May, New Jersey, and The Catskills.

The Birmingham section of the the feature highlights the impact of native sons and daughters leaving town to learn from the masters in other cities and returning to add to the unique patchwork of revitalization that have taken hold in the Magic City. Spotlights include Chef Adam Evans, head of Automatic Seafood & Oysters, Red Cat Coffee House, Paper Doll bar, the Rendezvous Kitchen Co. food truck, The Pizitz Food Hall and Edgar's Bakery. Homewood's new Valley Hotel is featured as helping the city meet the demand for luxury lodging. Railroad Park is credited with transforming downtown with green space and outdoor events and the future looks to Protective Stadium and its accompanying entertainment district set to open this year.

In its annual list of "150 Best Places to Live in the U.S. in 2020-21," U.S. News & World Report rates Huntsville, AL at number 15. "Once a sleepy farming town, Huntsville gained national recognition during the Space Race of the 1960s and is now the fastest-growing metro area in Alabama," the site states. "The U.S. government relocated a team of German rocket scientists to the area and opened a NASA center that would design the Saturn V, the rocket that sent Apollo astronauts to the moon."

The website AreaVibes, which ranks the livability of cities in given states, lists the "Best Places To Live In Alabama 2021." While Huntsville neighbor Madison, AL ranks number one, Birmingham area suburbs Vestavia Hills, AL, Brook Highland, AL, Hoover, AL and Homewood, AL follow. Among the reasons Vestavia Hills ranks second, with a livability score of 89/100, the site states crime rates are 58% lower than the state average and real estate prices are 170% higher than the Alabama average. Notably, Mountain Brook, AL, Chelsea, AL, Meadowbrook, AL, and Helena, AL--all surrounding Birmingham--round out the top ten along with Daphne, AL. Those of us who do, in fact, call "Sweet Home Alabama" our home know well what makes Alabama such a great place to live. Several recent surveys, studies, polls and lists reveal to the rest of the country why the state is growing in popularity as a both a tourist and relocation destination.