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United States of America (USA) - Alabama

Alabama is the 22nd state of the United States of America. Located in the deep south of the country, it borders Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi and the southern edge of the state lies along the gulf coast waters.

The state capital of Alabama is Montgomery, although it is often mistakenly thought to be Birmingham, which is actually the largest city in the state in terms of population. For those looking to relocate to Alabama, these two major cities are a good starting point for looking at job opportunities, with Mobile in the south being another option.

Alabama - Employment

There are many employment areas that are currently in demand in the state of Alabama, the healthcare sector being one of the largest employment areas in the whole of the state. The healthcare field is vast and also includes home carers and veterinary technicians. Those who are qualified in a particular field such as dentists or optometrists may have to undertake further exams to gain a licence to practice within Alabama, particularly those who wish to set up their own business as a private practice.

Teachers, lecturers and private tutors are also greatly in demand but again, expats may need to pass qualifying exams in order to be allowed to teach. Engineers and mechanics may find they do not need any extra qualifications to work in their field, just the ability to prove competence at the job, although electricians and plumbers may not be so lucky due to the differing standards between UK and US systems. HVAC technicians (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) are amongst the trades that are in great demand.

I.T. jobs have been in demand for years, and this is an area not expected to decline in the future. The improvements in technology mean that as long as the expat keeps ahead of the field and up to date with all changes and technological advancements, there should be no reason to struggle finding work in Alabama.

Obtaining the right working visa and licences to practice in your chosen field should mean that working in Alabama is straightforward. Never try to practice in the healthcare profession without the correct licences as this could mean the closure of the business, loss of working visa and even deportment.

Alabama - Property

For those expats looking to pick up a bargain home, Alabama is one of the best places to go at the moment. There are many homes within Montgomery and Birmingham that have fallen foul of the recent credit crunch, and are being offered for sale as foreclosures or short sale homes (short sale is basically the option before foreclosure, this is when the bank agrees to the owner selling the house for a lower value to ensure a sale, therefore the bank is taking a loss on any outstanding mortgage, although the loss will not be as great as it would be going through the foreclosure procedure).

The housing market stayed steady in Alabama for many years, and although property there was below the average price for the whole of the US, the market was still strong. Those opting to buy a foreclosed home will find that the house will probably need extensive work to get it to a standard suitable for living. Some homes need to be fixed up before being lived in, others are not so run down and can be fixed up over a period of a few months. Foreclosed homes can be bought for under $25,000, but repairs must be budgeted for sensibly.

For those not wishing to buy foreclosed or short sale homes there are many choices available. Good homes that may only need a small amount of cosmetic change can be snapped up for under $100,000 and higher end homes can reach upwards of $800,000 depending on individual budget and taste.

For an expat who is moving due to work commitments, it may be wise to rent a home for a while to get a feel for the different areas and then finally buy a home in an area suitable for their needs. Single person rentals can be found cheaply, but for a family looking for a home with several bedrooms then they can expect to pay upwards of around $600 dollars per month plus utilities.

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