Mobile, Alabama is a beautiful port city that is thriving with different industries and lovely southern city life. This makes it a great city to visit! However, there are many reasons that Mobile is not a great place to live that need to be discussed. We have listed 17 of these reasons below.
Prichard is within the same county as Mobile and is incredibly close. Prichard used to be a thriving city that worked hand in hand with Mobile. As of recently, there has been a massive shift in the culture of the city. They have filed for bankruptcy twice and have some of the highest rates of crime and drug use in the United States.
When I lived in Saraland, I often was in Mobile and saw Prichard frequently. Even when I wasn’t paying attention to my surroundings as I was driving, I could almost always tell the second we crossed into Prichard.
The atmosphere of Prichard is heavy and dark. The city feels abandoned and there are prison-like bars over nearly every store. This is due to the large prevalence of people stealing. People meander around the roads, often while high and carrying bottles of liquor. Word on the street was that gang activity was active and present in the town. I had friends who had scary run-ins with gang members, simply because they were not locals.
I’m also pretty sure I might have seen the beginnings of an illegal car race in front of a gas station. This was in the middle of the main section of town around 8 pm. I didn’t feel safe when I traveled through the city, and I often would try to avoid even passing through. Prichard’s proximity to Mobile is a big concern when it comes to the culture and crime spreading.
2. Drug Issues
Drug and addiction issues are not limited to Prichard. It is also a prevalent issue within Mobile as well. In my personal experience, I have seen drugs impact the city. I even witnessed a drug deal in broad daylight. This deal stuck out to me because it was in what looked like a family-friendly neighborhood on a Sunday. The dealer and customer were not trying to hide it, as they blocked the only road into the rest of the neighborhood for several minutes in order to complete the trade.
In 2015, for every 100,000 people in Mobile, there were around 6.2 deaths due to opioid use. Marijuana and meth are also large issues in the city. According to a news source, there is a large drug rush along I-10 for a variant of meth called “ice”. It is a common struggle in Mobile, seemingly even more so than in other areas of Alabama. Alcohol is also often misused by adults and youth.
All of these issues with drugs and alcohol taint the city.
3. Lack of Parks
For those who have children or who like having an outdoor space to enjoy, the lack of parks in Mobile, Alabama is certainly not a great thing. There are only 6 parks in all of Mobile, Alabama. To put this in perspective, this means that there is a park every 23 square miles. This points towards a general lack of outdoor activity options for people who just want a nice, free place to have fun.
Some locals would argue differently and say that there are plenty of outdoor activity options, such as hiking, running, and canoeing. However, in comparison to other cities in Alabama such as Inverness or Helena, there are significantly fewer options.
Traffic in Mobile, Alabama is really dreadful. In downtown Mobile, there are many issues with construction. Oftentimes, the construction blocks off certain streets entirely! There are also problems with road quality and design. I remember having to complete dangerous maneuvers in order to get where I needed to go.
The biggest and most common road that was mentioned as needing work was the road that connects Mobile to other towns across the bay. The traffic can be stop-and-go, the rain and wind can make the causeway scary to cross, and the tunnel is incredibly tight. Unless you enjoy sitting in city traffic, Mobile is not a good fit for you.
5. Lack of Public Transportation
Mobile, Alabama is not known for being accessible via public transportation. The main bus station, which is called Wave Transport, only has eleven bus routes and has limited hours.
To get anywhere in Mobile, it is hard to get there without a car because the main route to Mobile is along the highway. Once you get to downtown Mobile, there are sidewalks and crosswalks, but outside of downtown Mobile, sidewalks and crosswalks are limited. Beyond the occasional sidewalk and bike lane, there are not a lot of options for those without a car.
However, there is an airport in Mobile, which is definitely nice!
6. Homeless Population
The homeless population in Mobile County is pretty large. There are around 550-650 homeless people within Mobile and around 3,600 people in the county. This can be accounted to many different issues, such as the aforementioned drug and alcohol issues.
The hard part of having a larger homeless population is the variety of suggestions on how to help them and the potential fears associated with homelessness. Recently, a member of the Mobile City Council proposed upholding a fine for camping and leaving personal items in Mobile. This is meant to reduce negative consequences and health concerns, but it is also causing some contention in the political sphere.
The large number of homeless people in Mobile is concerning and the political division on how to help them is just as worrying.
7. Low-Quality Public Education
The public education offered in Mobile is rather dismal. Alabama is already ranked badly in quality of education, as it is ranked 44th out of 50 states.
Mobile, Alabama in particular is even lower than the state average when it comes to the quality of its schools. In fact, Mobile has an average math proficiency percentage of 43% and reading proficiency of 39%. Both of these scores are anywhere from four to 65% lower than the state average. This shows that low-quality education is what is available to most people there.
8. Hard Social Life
The social life opportunities available in Mobile, Alabama are limited. There are some opportunities, such as Marti Gras and the normal opportunities offered by bars and clubs. However, one local described it as a small town with more people. The culture in the south is known for people being incredibly invested and somewhat nosey in others’ lives. The main social opportunities come to people through the church they attend or their neighbors.
Something I noticed while living in Mobile is that the majority of people have deep family roots. People tend to stay near family, and they are incredibly tight-knit. This leads to a large amount of interpersonal history between families. It can make it really hard for people who are new to the area to mingle and create good relationships with others.
The normal weather in Mobile, Alabama is intense. The heat and the humidity are wild experiences. On average, the Mobile area gets about 15.42 inches of rain a year. It also has around 70% humidity year-round. Both of these combined make it so that being outside feels like a sauna. It is almost vital to have some form of air conditioning in order to make it comfortable through the hotter months. The good thing is that the winter months don’t typically get below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don’t like hot weather, Mobile is not a good place for you to live.
10. Natural Disaster Risks
Due to Mobile being so close to the coast, any form of a storm can lead to flooding. There is also a higher chance that hurricanes and tropical storms will occur. It happens like clockwork, and most natives that live there are used to it. However, hurricane season can be extremely dangerous.
There was a storm named Hurricane Sally that happened a while ago that was predicted to be as dangerous as Hurricane Katrina. Hurricane Sally ended up being less dangerous, but still caused a major amount of damage to the area. I remember seeing trees that crunched through my neighbors’ roofs and a lot of flood damage.
The scariest thing about the storm risks is that they can come in incredibly fast and hit harder than anticipated. Many natives won’t leave their homes, even when they are advised to. A local said it would be worth considering buying a generator. If you are not ready or prepared to potentially live through natural disasters, you won’t enjoy living in Mobile.
11. Crime Rate
As previous points suggest, the crime rate in Mobile, Alabama is alarming. According to a study, the crime rate in Mobile is higher than 94.1% of other cities in the United States. There also has been an increase in violent crime, although homicide rates have gone down since 2017. No one wants to live in a dangerous area.
12. Lower Income
Another big issue is that the income in Mobile is much lower than the national average. The national average salary is $56,310 a year. In Mobile, Alabama the average salary is $46,660. This income is meant to match the cost of living there. In my experiences living there, the cost of certain things was much cheaper than in other areas. However, it can be hard to make $46,000 to cover the cost of living.
13. Fewer College Options in Mobile
The college options in Mobile are smaller than in other cities in Alabama. Birmingham has about 10 colleges within the city and 14 more within 30 miles. Mobile-only has 8 colleges in the city and 9 within 30 miles.
The quality of public education also makes it worth questioning whether the higher education in Mobile is much better. The only university that I was aware of while I lived in Mobile was the University of South Alabama. This university is known for its healthcare and medical programs. But, even within the state, the University of Alabama Birmingham is much more appraised for the education and medical programs they offer than the University of South Alabama.
14. Fewer Job Options
Many locals complain that there are very few job options available to them outside of healthcare and entry-level jobs. On top of a lack of job variety, the employment levels are also dismal. The national average for unemployment is 8.7%, and Mobile, Alabama is incredibly close to that at 8.4%. The main employers are a shipbuilding company, an aircraft building company, a hospital, and the University of South Alabama.
15. Housing Options
Housing options in Mobile are varied. However, the gap in housing quality is problematic. There are some gorgeous homes that show southern history and beauty. Yet, there are some places available that no one should ever live in. There were homes that are basically destroyed, some that smelled really bad (even from the street), and/or were bug infested that people live in. The gap between the well-off and the poor is incredibly stark in Mobile.
16. Political Atmosphere
Unsurprisingly, the political atmosphere in Mobile, Alabama is incredibly conservative, like other areas of the south. People in the south are also not ashamed or bashful when it comes to sharing their opinions. They will fly confederate flags and Trump flags, and put political signs in their yards. People with a more liberal view might find that living in such a polarized political environment is unappealing to them.
17. Religious Atmosphere
There is a reason the southern region of the United States is called the Bible belt! In Mobile, Alabama, there are churches on nearly every corner. There are mostly Christian churches available. I found that many people decided what church they went to based on the social life opportunities they were offered there. People with differing views had a harder time due to some judgments that people were prone to make.
Oftentimes, if a person lives an alternative lifestyle, such as being an atheist, being part of the LGBTQ+ community, or simply was a part of a different Christian denomination, people might not want to befriend them.
With all of these reasons to consider, it makes it much easier to determine whether Mobile, Alabama is worth considering as a place to live permanently.