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Long to Live in a Southern Small Town? This Alabama Gem Awaits

Meet Athens, located in the heart of Limestone County. Here, you'll find incredible culture, wide-open spaces, affordable living, friendly neighbors, and a charming downtown.

By Rebecca Treon on December 4, 2021

The Broken Brush on the historic downtown Athens Square
Peter Pauley/Athens Main Street

Alabama is home to a “hidden gem” community, and it’s calling your name. Not only does Athens-Limestone County offer residents the best of small-town living in Alabama – think wide-open spaces, privacy, friendly neighbors, affordable housing and a work-life balance – but it is close enough to major cities like Huntsville for when you are looking for big-city amenities. Ready to see what all this community has up its sleeve?

“Athens is quaint, small-town America, focused around the courthouse and historic buildings, which have undergone a complete renovation in the last 10 years,” says Tere Richardson, executive director of Athens Main Street. “Our tagline is ‘Athens – classic Southern style.’ It’s the heart of our county, and the downtown area is walkable, with restaurants, outdoor dining, shops and an entertainment district.”

Downtown Athens, AL
Peter Pauley/Athens Main Street

Take It Downtown

Downtown Athens is the core of the region, and its iconic town square is a community landmark. Home to shopping and dining options you’ll love, this area is also the backdrop for some of the festivals and events you are sure to attend, such as Singing on the Square, the Athens Storytelling Festival and the Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention. A revitalization effort is underway to make Merchants Alley, which is central to downtown, a gathering space adorned with murals that provides space for outdoor dining, impromptu music performances – you name it.

New to The Square as of August 2021 and already a local favorite is Athens Alehouse and Cellar, which offers craft beers, wine and charcuterie boards. Owners Ken and Lori Hill plan to start brewing their own beer to sell next year.

“We’re right there on The Square, and we get a lot of attention. The crowds come right to us,” Ken Hill says. “Athens needed something like this – we’ve never seen anything like it, and, basically, it’s a recession-proof business.”

Here for a Career

While downtown Athens is easily one of the best things about this community, the career options in and near the region are great, especially since Huntsville is nearby.

Whether just starting out or looking to level up in your career, you are sure to excel here, thanks to the area’s robust manufacturing, logistics, health care and education sectors. Major companies like Steelcase, Mazda Toyota Manufacturing, Tenneco, Polaris and GE Aviation have operations in the region.

Spending time outdoors is a must in Athens-Limestone County.
Peter Pauley/Athens Main Street

Home & Family

One other thing you’ll love about living in Athens-Limestone County? Being able to find your perfect home. The first thing to note is how affordable it will be, as the median home value in the county is roughly $183,500, which is far below the national average of $269,000. This has allowed nearly 80% of area residents to own their own homes.

If you choose to follow their lead, you are sure to find your perfect style – perhaps a historic home, a two-story with farmland, or maybe even a waterfront property. Plus, several new subdivisions are in the works and will feature top-notch amenities.

“We’re seeing a ton of people that move in and are just astounded by the hospitality they receive here. We welcome a diverse community – we are a diverse community – and we’re
really proud of that.”

Hedy Lou Cannon | Real Estate Broker

“A lot of people are coming from out of the area, or they’re younger and just starting out,” says Hedy Lou Cannon, a former elementary school teacher who is now a real estate broker. “We’re pretty affordable, and our property taxes are better here. We’re not as fast-paced, and it still has that small-town feeling, but there are a lot of new subdivisions being built.”

And you’ll soon come to find that, like the other individuals and families who live here, you will favor the area’s safety, high-rated schools, from primary to college level, well-supported sports leagues, an inclusive, diverse community – the list goes on and on.

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