It really depends on what part of town you work in and how much time you're willing to spend in the car. I live in Chelsea and work at Trinity and Princeton Medical Centers. We love Chelsea. The city is far enough out to feel like you are away from a big city and close enough to have everything you need within 10 mins away. Good school systems and very safe. Other areas to consider while looking at budget, safety, & schools: Gardendale, Fultondale, Trussville, Cahaba Heights (actually zoned for Vestavia), Pelham, Alabaster and Helena. All of these have good school systems. The "best" school systems in the area are likely Mountain Brook, Vestavia, and Hoover. These are all City school systems. These are large schools (especially Hoover) and the cost of living in those areas are at a premium. The best county school system is Shelby County. It is the fastest growing and best financed county system in the area. Hope this helps.