Russellville is a small city in northern Alabama located near the birthplace and home of Hellen Keller, the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, Bankhead National Forest, and Rattlesnake Saloon, a restaurant built into a cave. While it does have its perks, there are 17 things you need to know before you pack up the U-Haul and head on out.
17 It’s a Small Town
Russellville Alabama has a population of 29,193, which actually isn’t too small, but Russellville feels small. Russellville has a pretty decent population in terms of numbers, but anywhere you go, it feels like a small town. In the subdivisions in town, houses are pretty close together, but on the outskirts of town, houses are spread out and subdivisions are separated by forested areas, making it feel rural.
Even in town, you can get the feel of the small town. The main road with all of the shopping is actually Highway 43. Highway 43 is the largest road and the main highway in Russellville. It runs north and south and connects Russellville to Tuscombia and Muscle Shoals. Most of the businesses along Highway 43 are comfortable and spread out with vegetation around them. This gives the city a comfortable small-town feel. While it feels comfortable, you’ll have to travel up to Tuscumbia, Muscle Shoals, or Florence to find some good shopping.
In town, you have all of the basics: grocery stores, Walmart, mechanic shops, hardware stores, and other essentials, but if you want to do some mall shopping or even eat at a Chick-Fil-A, you’ll need to travel to Muscle Shoals.
16 Sweet Tea and Porch Sittn’
Porch sittn’ is an iconic part of the south. While it’s a stereotype, it’s still true. It’s just the thing to do on a warm summer evening. Older residents can often be found relaxing on their patio set in the evenings about the time fireflies come out. While this seems magical and enchanting, porch sittn’ every evening can be a drag to some people…
It’s not just older folks that do the porch sittn’ either. Young adults might run over to BoJangles, pick up some fried chicken, and head back to the porch to enjoy it. Or maybe they’ll just grab a coke and enjoy the afternoon sun.
15 They use some funny words
When you get hungry around noon, it’s time for some dinner, but it isn’t dinnertime if you’re “settn’ down t’eat at 5 or 6 in the evenin’.” If you use dinner incorrectly, you might accidentally miss lunch appointments when you thought you’d be meeting later on.
If you move to Russsellville and you are ready to start getting your bedroom furnished and livable, you might go out looking for a dresser, but be careful what you ask for because you might actually just want a chest of drawers. A dresser is a whole outfit, a wide set of drawers with enough room for a mirror on top.
Fixin’ is another you’ll need to get used to. If someone is about to do something, they are “fixin’ to do it.” Fixin’ isn’t just used for the intent to act, it’s also a noun. If you’re having a good ol’ Alabama supper, you might be asked to bring salad fixin’s. That means you bring a salad or stuff to make one.
When it comes to gossip, you might hear the phrase, “bless her heart.” This phrase has spread from the south and is now recognized by most, but in Alabama it’s used unironically.
Coke is another one you’ll want to watch out for. Everyone knows what coke is, right? Well, in Russellville, a coke could refer to any carbonated beverage. Visiting a neighbor, you could be offered a coke and then be brought a Root Beer or a Mountain Dew.
In addition to the words they use, they also say their words differently. Alabamans have an unmistakable accent. For some, it can be hard to understand and can take some getting used to.
14 It’s Hot and Humid
Hot and humid is a symbol of the south. Russellville Alabama can get up to an average of 89-degree highs and 66-degree lows in August with an average humidity of 72%. Spending long hours outside in these weather conditions can take a toll on you.
The coldest month is January with an average high of 50 degrees and an average low of 29 degrees. Russellville rarely gets snow, but on the occasion that it does snow, it’s usually a light dusting, barely more than a frost.
While the heat and the humidity don’t make for comfortable outdoor time, they do make for good gardening. The spring through fall season is longer in Russellville than it is in other areas, so you will be able to grow a wider variety of plants for a longer period of time.
13 They are Stuck in the Past
In Russellville, it isn’t unlikely to go in person to pay the electric bill. They aren’t against technology over there, but they haven’t let go of old habits yet. Some locally owned businesses in Russellville still don’t have their money systems digital.
You could walk into a furniture store, pick something out, set up a finance plan, make your purchase, and leave with a handwritten receipt copied using carbon paper. Your account with the company could be on paper in an actual filing cabinet. You might have a little folder with your name on it that has your receipts from payments made and a paper detailing what was bought, what your financial plan is, and what debts are currently owed.
Most shops and places in and near Russellville do take debit and credit cards, but that might be the only electronic part of the transaction. This old-time feel can be annoying and seem less efficient, but it gives time for thought and relaxation.
12 It’s Not Bicycle Friendly
Russellville doesn’t have many bike lanes. The roads are narrow and lined with trees. There are no bicycle signs and drivers are not expecting to see cyclists on the roads. If cycling is a big part of your life, you will want to steer clear of Russellville. While it is possible to ride your bike around, it isn’t really the safest option.
11 You’ll Probably Gain Some Weight
Much can be said about the fried food diet of the south, Russellville is no different. They like their fried chicken, fried fish, fried crawdads, fried hushpuppies, fried okra, chicken fried steak, fried green tomatoes, and–well, you get the idea. Alabamans love their fried food.
In addition to a multitude of fried foods, southerners don’t watch out for their health in other ways very well. Everything could use a little more butter and a little more salt. While their eatn’ habits aren’t the greatest, a home-cooked meal from a good southern woman is sure to leave you feeling fat and happy.
10 There Aren’t a Lot of Health Food Options
While the typical diet of Russellville is pretty greasy and fatty, you still have the option to cook your own meals at home. Of course, there are grocery stores with produce sections that offer the normal slew of fruits and vegetables, but in Russellville, it can be tough to get your hands on high-quality health food ingredients.
Russellville doesn’t have any health food markets like Sprouts or Trader Joe’s. You’ll have to travel to Huntsville or Birmingham to find your health food goodies. Organic, gluten-free, and vegan options are really hard to come by in Russellville, whether you’re looking at restaurants or ingredients at local stores. Walmart is probably the best bet for healthy food in Russellville. While Walmart isn’t known for their organic, free-range meats and their gluten-free options, they still do have a selection there.
There are a lot of gardeners in Russellville, though and they are generally willing to share their extra produce. And just like any other town, there are farmers’ markets and produce stands where you can purchase fresh produce.
9 Southern Gossip
Southern Gossip is real. If you move into a neighborhood and you seem a bit out of place, people might start talking, particularly the ladies. Generally, the gossip is pretty harmless and won’t affect your life too much, but be wary, it’s easy to fall into the same trap as the avid gossipers.
When you get together with the ladies for lunch, you might hear about what Ms. Carrie’s neighbor is up to. You might hear about this scandal or that. While gossip in other areas can be pretty detrimental, it’s a part of the culture in Alabama. Gossiping is just what you do. While some may be offended by the gossip, most expect some talking behind their back because everyone is doing it.
8 Going for a Run is Considered Weird
Exercise in Russellville mostly comes down to hard labor jobs. You get your physical activity in while you work. If you are spotted running on the side of the road, a kindly neighbor might pull over and offer you a ride.
If you are into fitness and you want to stay in shape by running or doing other outdoor exercises, you might be seen as a bit peculiar.
7 There Aren’t Any Private School Options
Aside from a few Bible preschools and daycares, there aren’t really any options for private or charter schools. If you are willing to commute to Muscle Shoals, there are more options, but in Russellville
6 It’s Easy to Get Lost
While GPS has essentially eliminated this issue, you may still find yourself on a long county road that seems to stretch forever. The closest interstate is 65 which goes to Birmingham and up through Decatur. Often, traveling will be via highways and county roads.
In addition to feeling a bit lost in the open stretches, you may find yourself confused by the way people give directions. When people give directions, they often use familiar landmarks, like “the red house with the tree out front.” This can be confusing to the new kid in town. Most Russellville folk don’t use street names to let you know where to go unless it’s Highway 43.
5 People in the South Don’t Usually Leave the South
People who live in the south have generally lived there their whole lives. Many have moved around a bit, but they’ve never left the south. While it isn’t necessarily a bad thing to have never moved from the south, you could feel like the odd one out if you move to Russellville. People may ask with incredulity why you chose to move to Russellville of all the places in the nation.
Because of the hot, humid weather of the south, bugs are pretty common.
In Russellville, you’ll have to watch out for mosquitos, wasps, flies, and after a quick walk through a wooded area, be sure to check for ticks. Also be wary of bed bugs, as conditions in Alabama are perfect for bed bug breeding. These aren’t the only bugs you’ll have to watch out for though, Alabama is home to the American Giant Millipede, Fire Ants, Assassin Bugs, Banded Netwing Beetles, and a whole assortment of venomous and harmless spiders. (source)
Aside from wasps, flies, and mosquitos, bugs won’t typically be an issue if you don’t spend much time in the dirt, but you could experience the benefits of the wide insect diversity. Russellville also flaunts a variety of butterflies, damselflies, dragonflies, and moths. Butterflies can be found pollinating the wild blackberries and raspberries or around planted gardens. Dragonflies and damselflies like to spend their time around ponds and lakes, occasionally skimming the surface.
3 Water Moccasins
Northern Alabama isn’t known for having alligators and you’ll likely go your whole time living in Russellville without seeing a single alligator, but it’s possible there are a few alligators in some rivers, lakes, or ponds. You shouldn’t be concerned with alligators though, the real scare is the Water Moccasins.
A Water Moccasin isn’t a soft-sole, leather shoe made for trudging upstream, but rather a snake that swims. Their venom is very dangerous and can be deadly if medical attention isn’t obtained right away. They generally won’t bite unless provoked, so they aren’t too scary, but you should still watch out for them.
It’s common in Alabama to go jump in a lake. Summer activities usually include a drive down to the lake for a swim. Just beware of snakes. Water moccasins aren’t a big threat in Russellville, but you should still be careful near water. They can also slither up on land, so you should be careful around marshy areas too.
Almost everyone who has lived in Russellville has worked at Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation. Pilgrims is a chicken plant where chickens are grown, butchered, and processed into chicken nuggets and other chicken products to be sold in stores.
While it’s a steady job and it provides a decent wage for Alabama living, it does come with some pretty big downsides: long hours, repetitive work, chicken stink. Usually, the knives are dull too. No one has to work at Pilgrim’s, but it’s a big company and they’re always hiring employees.
It’s not just Pilgrims that you have to watch out for though. Most of the jobs available in and near Russellville are factory jobs where you will work long hours on assembly lines. When it comes to employment in Russellville, you will either be a clerk at a grocery store, an associate at another retail place, or you’ll travel 20-30 minutes and work in a factory.
For some, this type of work is ideal, or at least tolerable in exchange for housing prices. For others though, a position in their career may be difficult to find in Russellville.
1 Low Average Income
In Alabama, the median household income is $43,358 compared to the nation’s $67,521 median household income. In Alabama, you can expect to earn less at any job, but the cost of living is substantially lower. The median value of a house in Russellville is $92,700 and you could easily rent a small house for under $600 per month. Russellville is a pretty affordable place to live, but wages are also a lot lower. (source)