Helena Ranks Third In State

Six Shelby County cities are among the best in Alabama for homeowners, according to a list compiled by a national consumer advocacy website.

On its list of the best places for home ownership in Alabama, website Nerdwallet.com named Chelsea first, Calera second, Helena third, Pelham fifth and Alabaster seventh. Leeds, which is partially in Shelby County, ranked 10th on the list.

The list ranked Alabama cities with more than 10,000 residents based on three criteria: Available homes, home affordability and growth in the area.

Nerdwallet touted Chelsea’s growth over the past several years, and said the city’s 2012 population of 10,161 was more than double what it was in 2000.

“Chelsea is in Shelby County, about 20 miles southeast of Birmingham, the largest city in the state,” read the city’s entry on the list. “Residents who live near Birmingham have access to job opportunities all over the region.”

The website also praised Calera’s growth of 11.6 percent from 2010-2012 as the highest on its list.

“Calera High School was recently named the 15th best high school in Alabama by U.S. News and World Report,” read Calera’s entry. “Calera is also home to the Shelby County Airport and features weekly summer farmers markets.”

Nerdwallet said 91.7 percent of homes in Helena are occupied by owners rather than renters.

“Vulcan Materials Co. is one of the city’s largest employers and the company describes itself as the nation’s largest producer of construction aggregates — crushed stone, sand and gravel,” read Helena’s entry.

Helena AL real estate

Pelham’s population increased by about 4.8 percent from 2010-2012, and is central to a plethora of offerings, according to the website.

“Pelham is nestled in the foothills of Oak Mountain and is close to Oak Mountain State Park,” read Pelham’s entry. “The Pelham Civic Complex features an ice-skating rink, banquet hall and arena.”

At just 23.4 percent, Alabaster boasts a low percentage of household income spent on monthly mortgage and utility costs, according to the list.

“Alabaster is home to the (Propst) Promenade Alabaster, the largest retail center in Shelby County,” read the list.

Leeds homeowners pay an average of $1,121 per month on home ownership costs, which is the second lowest on Nerdwallet’s Alabama list, according to the site.

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Single mom? Hoover ranks #16 best in nation.

Hoover Alabama Ranks #16

on list of best city for single moms.

Hoover AL single mom

For most single mothers, it would seem that the bigger the city, the better the opportunity—more jobs, better public transportation systems and a larger community for support.

But a NerdWallet survey based largely on U.S. Census Bureau data has found places outside America’s largest cities seem to offer more for single moms to thrive: social stability, economic opportunity and affordable child care.

The growth of single-parent families in the U.S. is well documented and deeply debated. Less discussed is what kind of communities are best at supporting the nearly 25 million children being raised primarily by one parent. To find out, NerdWallet analyzed U.S. communities with populations of more than 50,000 residents against several key factors that affect single mothers the most.

Our analysis sets out to answer three main questions:

  • Can a single parent make enough to cover rent (or mortgage) and child care? As every working parent knows child care costs are astronomical. So we considered each community’s median income, median housing costs and average day care costs for an infant and a 4 year old. We found wide variations in average day care costs from state-to-state using a 2013 study by Child Care Aware of America and the Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R).

  • Is the community stable? Poverty is a major issue for single-parent families. The census estimates that nearly half of all families living with single mothers (who make up nearly 85% of single parents) are living in poverty. We gave more weight to communities such as Towson, Maryland, which had the lowest number of single mothers below the poverty line—just 4%. The city with the highest number of single mothers below the poverty line was Delano, California, near Bakersfield. There, 68.2% of all single mothers are raising their children below the poverty line.

  • Can single parents have a decent quality of life? We also looked at other key quality-of-life indicators for single moms: commuting times (knowing that longer commutes can raise child care costs and hurt quality family time,) the overall strength of schools—based on data from Greatschools and whether you would be likely to find other families with similar structures for support.

And what about dads? NerdWallet took the same methodology and swapped in data points relevant to single fathers. There were some limitations, since census data doesn’t count the percentage of single fathers living below the poverty line, but our analysis still offered some insight into the lives of single fathers. Check out our list for single fathers.

Trends and takeaways:

  • Single families represent a major demographic shift for communities everywhere. The number of families with children under 18 headed by single parents in 1960 was 8.2%. By 2012, 28% of all U.S. children lived in a home headed by single parents, according to census data.
  • Income opportunity and stability are major concerns for single parents: Nearly half of all the 20 million children living with one parent live below the poverty line, according to 2013 census data.
  • The city with the highest percentage of single fathers versus the entire population in our data set was Hanford, California at 2.1% of total population.
  • The city with the highest percentage of single mothers versus the entire population was Camden, New Jersey at 7.9% of total population.

For more information on the full ranking click here.