Hi, Gail. Montevallo really is a wonderful little town, and the university and a rather quirky populous of free thinkers, amid a more traditional group, make it ripe for the Permaculture cultivation. Among the offerings one finds in the area are two community gardens approx 2 miles from each other, with others in the planning stage, a bike share ($20 a year, week to week check out, 2.5 miles of parks trail with a eight miles in discussion), hiking trails to waterfalls, a summer farmers' market (ranked second in the state), a university with beautiful grounds (Olmsted designed), an anagama kiln (university), various recreational areas, arts Fest and walks throughout the year, free to low cost exercise programming, and really cool people in a rural atmosphere.
Walking is the way I get around most of the time. I live downtown, off main street, and we have sidewalks and trails that make it relatively easy to get to the grocery store (two:)), or just about anyplace else you'd need to go in town.
As far as affordable living goes, I think that has a lot to do with from where you're coming. Montevallo may seem higher than a few other similar places because we have a student population to drive up rent, but in comparison up most of the broader country, the US, I mean, Alabama living costs are fairly low. There are lots of smaller rental homes in the area, many in the historic areas, too, and the outlying areas (Wilton, brierfield, dogwood, pea ridge Aldridge, etc.) offer lower rents in even more rural settings than the town proper does. These areas are farther out, and may present a problem for a walking person, though.
I'd love to answer more specific questions if you have them. Alabama bred and born, I see great things in our future and hope more like thinking people will find their way here.
Please feel welcome to join Central Alabama Permaculture Enthusiasts (CAPE). We're in central Alabama, but we're interest in diverse people and perspectives.