Why I Love Living in the South

The other night at the grocery store, I saw a man give his shopping cart to a young woman. It was an important moment for me, a reminder for why I moved here in the first place so many years ago.

Southern Banjo Player
Photo credit: Steve Punter (Creative Commons)

She was walking around Kroger with her arms full of food, ready to drop everything. The man looked at her and without hesitating, said, “Miss, please take my cart.”

“Are you sure?” she asked, fully aware of the fact that she hadn’t planned accordingly. Adding one more thing to the pile in her arms would have caused her to drop everything.

He didn’t hesitate. Without another word, he turned the cart over to her and walked away. Again, I was reminded: This is why I love living in the South.

I wasn’t always from the South. In fact, I spent the first 22 years of my life in the North, as a Yankee. I was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, then moved to central Illinois for college. I spent the following year on the road, traveling all over the U.S. with a music group.

It wasn’t until I was 23 that I made the move to Tennessee. My girlfriend wanted to get into the music industry, and I wanted to marry her. So she moved to Nashville, and I followed her.

At first, I thought southern culture was kind of ridiculous. Sweet tea. Lots of churches. Religious attitudes out the wazoo. Bleh. It just seemed so phony. Every corner I turned, there was an voluptuous woman in a spring, floral-print dress with too much makeup, telling me, “Bless yer heart.”

But over time, I’ve grown to love southern culture. I’ve realized there is more than meets the eye to the Confederate states. There is rich history and a hard work ethic. There is humility and faith. There is a strong loyalty to family and town and an appreciation for what we have and where we come from.

I can’t think of a better place to raise my kids than a region in which a man gives up his cart (or “buggy” as they’re sometimes called) for a young lady in the grocery store.

Why is the South an ideal place for someone to live? I have a few reasons for crossing the Mason-Dixon line:

Reason #1: The Weather

The weather here is warm and mostly pleasant.

I’m naturally cold-blooded, so the year I spent in Minnesota was practically torture. I remember during the month of January, I would hear warnings of going outside for more than 15 minutes, because you could freeze to death. That is not my kind of weather.

Living in Tennessee, I get the opportunity to experience all four seasons without freezing to death. I’d rather be sweating than shaking from the cold, and the hot summers here allow me to do just that. Fortunately, there’s enough sweet tea to help me keep cool.

Reason #2: Southern Hospitality

At first it seemed phony, and certainly there is some pretense at times, but the reality is people are generally nicer in the South. They really are hospitable.

My friend Bob used to sell encyclopedias in college and often tells me it was common for families to invite him — a traveling salesman — in for lunch. During this period in his life when he went door-to-door, he never missed a meal.

If you live in the South, you will hear your fair share of “sirs” and “ma’ams,” and in a culture where civility and chivalry are becoming all but extinct, this is refreshing.

Reason #3: Faith and culture

As with hospitality, the influence of religion on southern culture sometimes feels fake. It’s sometimes hard to see past the veneer of the Bible Belt to what people really believe.

Moreover, it’s not uncommon to hear people use words like “God” “blessing” and “Jesus” in a conversation about politics, culture, or the news. If you didn’t grow up with this, it can be overwhelming.

But there is a strand of faith found in the South that is, indeed, authentic. I love that you hear people on the evening news or morning talk show freely talk about their faith in God or that you may encounter a stranger who offers to pray for you.

While Christianity isn’t forced here, it’s not apologized for, either. As a person of faith myself, I love that.

The South may not be for everyone, but I honestly can’t see myself moving back north any time soon; I’m a self-made Southerner, through and through.

Why do you love where you live? Share in the comments.

122 thoughts on “Why I Love Living in the South

  1. I’m a southern transplant too.  Well, unless you consider the southern portion of AZ to be the South 🙂    I had to get used to people always waving at me here when they drive by.  Everybody waves at everybody.  I also love when I see family run businesses quoting scripture on the signs outside their place of business.  Don’t usually see that in other places.

  2.  As a native-born Georgian, I’ve seen that “Nawtherners” are pretty cool people, too. With values similar to mine. But the easiness, and sincerity, of our faith that comes out in our interactions is part of the stuff under the skin is what makes it home for me.

  3. I’m a native NC gal who lived in TN for 7 years, and while it may be south of the M/D line, it’s a “different kind” of South from NC south. In fact, each Southern state has it’s own flavor. VA, where I was born, has a certain sophistication about it. I can ALWAYS tell when I’ve crossed the border into SC just by the roads and the overall “look”. Huge difference. Then in GA, I can hardly understand a word people are saying!  Then you have the “deep” south…no comment, lol! I have mixed feelings about living here, but the sweet tea and the weather are enough to convince me to stick around for awhile. If I ever do move out of the South, I think I’ll move west!

      1. Oh, one more awesome thing about  NC is the BBQ (which is a noun, not a verb). Yum!!! There’s no other BBQ like it anywhere else! I remember in East TN, if you cut folks they would bleed UT orange. There was that whole “mountain culture” there too. The ATL…that’s like, THE place to be if you are African-American. Very fascinating to see all the different expressions of “southern-ness” isn’t it?

        Great post! 🙂

  4. Jeff, maybe I should have realized this about you but I’m originally from  the Chicago suburbs too!  This weekend marks 1 year living in Nashville and I wholeheartedly agree with your reasoning.  I’m definitely still getting used to the South but I love it here.  If I could transport all my friends and family here, it would be perfect.  I did manage to inspire one friend to move here last month so it seems like my campaigning will ultimately be successful.

  5. I think we’re heading opposite directions on the same path! I’m from central IL, went to college in TN (and grad school in MO), and now I live in Minneapolis. I miss the South, but mostly just in Feb. And March. I love living in the Mini-Apple because everyone tries to be active all year here, and that is motivating. People are really smart, hip, and creative here. I also love water, so the lakes help too. MN isn’t that bad 😉 We’re just a bunch of survivors!

  6. I can trace my Southern roots back to the Revolutionary Way but somehow ended up in the North for the last umpteen years.  You make me homesick.  But what I really want to know is:  Did you get the girl by moving to Nashville????

  7.  Hey, jeff-
    loved your latest blog “Why i love…” actually, i missed being a “southerner” when i was about seven years old. i was born in the state of Maine( yes, Red Sox and Moxie all the way!), and my dad moved us all to Florida, thinking to start a wood working business near Orlando. the job didn’t work out, and we moved back to Maine after school ended. i’ve been living in nova scotia for a good part of my life now, but am still a Maine boy at heart, and love to hear and speak a good old fashioned Maine accent! it is said that “one can take the boy out of Maine, but not Maine out of the boy!” how true!
    i agree too, that much of  what we see in religion today is superficial, but true religion is a “heart thing” (Ezekiel 36:26-27), and manifests itself in “…visiting the fatherless and widows in their affliction, keeping himself unspotted from the world…and (offering a shopping cart to a weary, grocery laden woman)” (james 1:27)! thanks for sharing!

  8. Couldn’t agree more Jeff. Shannon and I remember laughing about some of the initial colloquialisms and just learning how to actually be *friendly* in everyday public interactions. How strange it is that we often had to adapt to this at all. You know, remembering to actually make eye contact, or even wave, at total strangers. Life is just better where sweet tea is found 🙂

  9. I moved to Franklin, Tn from Buffalo,Ny in 1995. Although I loved the culture, water, and three months of summer in Buffalo, the long winters were tough. I moved here for music but I stay because I love it here. I lime the small town square in Franklin, the hiking trails and the mild winters. It is also a creative area to live in that embraces artists, writers and musicians. Franklin is this Yankees home.

  10. Corvallis, Oregon is THE safest place in the country if you want to avoid natural disasters. So that’s pretty awesome.

    Also, I am two hours or less away from any type of place I would want to be: major city, small town, river, mountains, snow, beach, camping, desert, lake, you name it.

    It does rain a lot but that makes me appreciate the sunshine more. 

  11. I’m a girl (or I *was* a girl) born and raised on sweet tea and grits, and y’all’s post answers the question for me…but, bless their hearts, I still love my friends from other countries – like New York and Oregon. 

  12. I was raised in the north, and live in the north how.  However, for a time we lived in North Carolina and Virginia, and absolutely loved living in the south. What you say is so true. I’m longing for it again, and would move to the Nashville/Franklin area in a heartbeat if the opportunity would arise! I’ve been thinking about it a great deal lately, and your post reaffirms all the things I love about it. I love this post, and am glad you took a break from your “regularly scheduled programing.” 

  13. I’m glad that you like the South, Jeff – and I leave it entirely to you.  After last summer living in Virginia, I’ve decided that I’m a hardcore Yankee.  I like the challenge of 120″ of snow in a winter, I like all 8 weeks of summer before it gets back to reasonable temperatures, I love my lobster, and I enjoy the directness of communication that comes with being flipped off by drivers. 

  14. I miss the mountain mornings and the goodle mountain dew in Hendersonville, but I do not miss East Nashville, Greenwood, or Inglewood.

  15. You  just made me want to move back to Nashville. Not that I hadn’t already been thinking about it….. When I came back from my visit, I tried waving to my neighbor and got a strange look in return. Had to remind myself people don’t do that in California.

  16. Love it.  Seems like every morning the news will have a “survey” on the saddest state, the fattest state, state that gets the least amount of sleep, etc.  It seems that TN is always at the top.  It can get so discouraging.  Thanks for the encouragement.

  17. Jeff,

    I think it is nice that you’ve taken some time to write a note of appreciation for your adopted homeland, and wouldn’t it be nice if more people did just that!

    I am up here in the Northeast, Maine to be exact. It suits me fine. I don’t mind cold winters and unpredictable weather and it is nice to be on the coast. I have lived in Massachusetts, France, and Japan (almost eight years), and all these places had something different and unique to offer. I like to think in the home is wherever I hang my hat mode for the most part.

    I is an Earthling! and proud of it.. yeah.


      1. Hi Jeff, I think Tennesee is absolutely wonderful. Would love to live there. I’m originally from Illinois. However, I’ve been in Texas in the metroplex for 15 years and I don’t find it as friendly as Tennessee. And, it’s not all the northerners moving in – these are native Texans. Maybe it’s because they are big cities (Dallas/Fort Worth/Arlington area). If I could afford it I’d be in Tennessee.

  18. I adore the South for its food, music, and weather (albeit the humidity will steal your joy and your blowout). I like that your introductory story in Kroger was probably a transplant too since he used the term “shopping cart.” All buggy, all the time. 🙂

  19. OK, I can’t stop myself from jumping in… I’m from California, I was born here and I’ve never lived anywhere else. I’ve been fortunate to travel throughout the US at various points in my career. I’ve actually been to Franklin twice, to meet with Dave Ramsey. And yes, I agree, it’s wonderful. I’ve spent weeks in many Southern states and always enjoyed the people (and the sweet tea!). But still, I love coming home to California.

    You really can’t beat the weather here in San Diego. No raging humidity during the summer, heck, you can go through an entire Winter without wearing a jacket! You can go to the beach and take a 2-hour drive to the snow or the desert. I know, we can be a little quirky and have a lot of problems, but we still love our state. 

  20.  Reading this post was torture!  I had to move north to Philadelphia this past year for work, and I already miss my hometown.  That and I’ve gotten tired of people telling me that I talk oddly.  I miss my uncle playing the banjo and catching crabs off the dock and drinking sweet tea on the porch.  There’s nothing like it.  Needless to say, I’m looking to move down south as soon as possible.  Great post!

  21. I love living in the south for all of the reasons you mentioned above, and to me the pace just seems a lot slower and that is the way I like it. 

  22.  I love how at the Starbucks in Mount Juliet (a suburb of Nashville) there is almost always someone with a Bible, either reading on their own or doing a study with someone else. In fact, that’s common at just about every Starbucks in Nashville.

  23. We just got back from New Orleans and the Southern hospitality was obvious after we got on a taxi cab from the airport to head out to the city. Every one seems to talk with a humble tone, and they had an aura that said, “You can count on me.” It was an amazing experience that hardly anyone from the west coast really talks about.


  24. I’m actually originally from the South (particularly rural part of Alabama… not that any of it is really urban) and I couldn’t wait to get out of there! While I miss certain things about it (mainly the food! and sweet tea) as a fairly liberal and non-religious person it was absolutely stifling to me and I couldn’t wait to leave.  Maybe they don’t force religion on you in Nashville but it’s a whole different ballpark in Alabama. I’ve been “witnessed” to more times than I can count in entirely inappropriate venues… like while I was at work! (at two different jobs actually) To those people, I say leave me alone and let me do my job!
    I will say though that I never lived anywhere larger than about 60,000-70,000 people (and that was only for college; my hometown is much smaller with less than 10,000 people) so maybe in the cities, like Atlanta or Nashville, it’s different. I quite like the vibe in Atlanta the few times I’ve visited and if I ever had to move back “home” to the deep south that’s probably where I would go.

    1. I moved to rural SC from Atlanta when I was a teenager and I share your sentiment. I’ve experienced shunning and outright hostility when my views come out. Overall, it’s a wonderful place, as long as you aren’t different.

    2. Its funny reading your old post, because I’m from a backwater hick town in New Hampshire, and much of what you say is precisely why I am strongly considering moving to the South. I’m not one to push my religious views, but in all sincerity, I’d feel much more in line with like minded people. The pushiest religious group I’ve encountered are neo-pagans (although that’s not meant to label everyone of that belief system), but it happens. I don’t preach to people, but since it seems that no matter where you live you’ll encounter preaching, I’d rather have it be more in line with my own tastes. I have no issues with atheists, but a few I’ve met seem to preach more than a Jehovah’s Witness knocking at your door. One guy I worked with repeatedly preached Richard Dawkins to no end.

      I’d like to find a redneck town like mine that is more in tune with my thought patterns. I think what our posts really boil down to is different stokes for different folks.

  25. I currently live in Cheonan, South Korea.  I am originally from California but spent most of my crucial growing up years in Iowa.  Yes, that’s right, little-ole-Iowa! It was a great place to grow up and most of my family lives there.  I’ve lived in SoKo for about a year and a half now and love it.  I’m from the country and here I live in the city.  I’m from a pretty flat place with rolling hills and here I can see a mountain out my window.  Both places have four seasons, though which I am grateful for.  But I love the delicate cherry blossoms of the spring and the brilliant colors across the mountains in the fall.  I love being close to the ocean and close to one of the most populated cities in the world, Seoul.  I love being able to see and touch history…I just recently visited the DMZ and technically walked into North Korea.  AND I was able to visit all of these places car-less and relatively cheaply.  I am one blessed girl.  And most importantly, I have learned that people are people no matter where you live.  They all have needs and all can use a smile and encouraging word every now and then.  That’s why I love my job, teaching English to middle schoolers where despite the language barrier, I can make a difference.  Actually, I shared this with one of my students who will be living in Alabama for his high school career.  This will give him a little more info in a more personal way about living in the south.  Thanks! 🙂

  26. i can’t believe I found this. I am mexican and was born in California and lived there for 18 years before I moved to college on the Ohio/West Virginia boarder. I fell in love with middle america, gravy, sweet tea and freedom. Upon finishing I was offered a job in Berkeley Calif with an office view of the entire SF bay, and it was the hardest 6 months of my life. People were evil mean and violent. I said F it and moved to South Texas and decided to do a huge life change and started school again outside New Orleans. i love the Stars and bars, I love Dixie, I love the southern accident, I love hunting, I love Country music, I love fried food, and I love this great country. 

    The South Will RISE AGAIN!

  27. I was born and raised in NJ and moved to SC when I was 15, I’m now 27. I have absolutely NO plans on ever moving back up north. My question (weird it may be) is, will I always be considered a Yankee, or will I eventually be considered Southern? Just curious…

    1. You’re a Yankee. I moved from Ohio to the South when I was 14. I lived there until I was 40. Married a southern woman, whose friends all referred to me as her Yankee husband.

        1. I don’t know if it’s just me, and I am not a racist, but anywhere blacks live in the South it is really poor, versus the places where white people live. Plus, in small towns it is super shitty, unless it’s a white town. From being in TN, I noticed that people in small towns talk to you with a tone of suspiciousness, like they don’t trust you, especially if they notice you sounding like you are from Cali. Also, I saw the South as very poor with huge class contrasts (rich vs poor). In the West this difference is not as pronounced. The religious thing isn’t that bad and people are more open and less sly. One thing I hate about NV is that employers can ask you to come to an interview even though they already know who they are going to hire. They waste your time and lead on. In the South it seem more fair in this department. I like how the people there are open, although at times kind of blunt. Over all, the south remind me of my home country (Ukraine) more than the West or the East, but still a bit different. Also, I have never heard anyone call me sir unless I am at Bank of America, which for some weird reason was freaking hard to find (I was in Memphis). But overall, Memphis is a depressing city though, which left me with a bad impression of TN (maybe other cities are better). I didn’t really think they had a huge accent there, at least not in the city. Arkansas had a pronounced accent though, and I was ask where I am from, which never happens in NV because I’ve lived here since I was a kid and had a western accent. 

          1. In the South Poor is a state of mind..until the government stepped in people had no idea they were Poor..as long as you had a roof over your head, health, food and family that was all you needed. They worked for everything they had and were happy. People used to talk to neighbors now with the crime it’s becoming harder and harder to trust people. I have not been to Tennessee but I have lived in South East Texas my whole life and was considered by today’s standards as poor..but I never felt that way because all my needs were met. Here everyone pretty much says Sir and Ma’am it’s drilled into us from birth. When I visit NY or NJ I am like a local tourist attraction because of the way I talk..they know right away that I am from Texas. I assumed all Southern people said Ma’am but according to them it’s Texans who who use it on a regular basis, which why they are able to identify what part of the South I am from. Every race has it’s poor areas and roots run deep in the South especially with Blacks. When they move to a neighborhood they live there for life. that house is passed down to the next generation. Which is why it can seem segregated at times. In the South we were taught from a very early age that you can be anything you want to be but you have to work hard to get it. Some of us have worked harder for what we have were others have not..I know people who make 50k a year and look like they make 10k a year..it also comes down to priorities, to some people a home is not as important as a nice car,ect.. so you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.

          2. When slavery ended in the late 1800s, it wasn’t until the late 1960s that blacks were given rights to be educated in public schools, seek treatment in most medical facilities, be hired for higher jobs that earned a decent wage and so on…My point is not to rehash things just give perspective. When you say things about blacks living in worse areas there are very deep and true reasons. I don’t think it’s possible to recover from 400 years of severe oppression in 40 years. But the South is a wonderful, ever evolving place and things are improving with time.

      1. What if a person is born in the South but raised in the North ? For example someone is born in Alabama but they spend their whole life in Brooklyn, NY and act and talk like a Yankee. Are they really a Southerner? Southern to me is more than just where you are a born.

        1. To me a true Southerner is someone who has deep family roots from both sides who are from the South with very little or no traces of family roots outside of the South. Also someone with family who fought for the South during the War of Northern aggression.

  28. I grew up in Georgia and have always wanted to move back.  I have found plenty of nice people up here in Illinois but there just always seems to be something missing.  For me, those days I spent in the South were a true dream.

  29. I have lived in the south my whole life and I love it. I go and visit my grandparents in Wisconsin every summer for 5 or so weeks and everyone thinks that I’m weird because I am generally nice to people because that is how I was raised. I have a strong southern accent, so no matter where I go people can tell I am from the south. I live in a little town In Tennessee called White House and we all know everyone and we are all very nice to people. I recently went to Pennsylvania for my great grandmother’s 90th birthday and after ingot home I told my mom “I never want to leave Tennessee”, because the people up north are very rude and don’t care about other people. I was born in the south and I will never leave the south.

  30. I very much enjoyed reading this and thank you for sharing. I’ve lived away from my home state of Mississippi for the past 10 years or so over in England and Scotland. I’ve lived an amazing and wonderful life  in these 10 years- visiting so many cool European cities whilst living my childhood travel dreams. I also met and married the love of my life 3 years ago and am delighted to say that happiness and peace arrived at once!

    My thoughts have recently been of the South. For all of the wonderful experiences I’ve had, there is still something missing. Every time I visit my parents, I am overwhelmed with how genuinely kind everyone is. I love calling up my local bank just to get that great southern customer service. 

    When I think of dying or being buried, there is no place I can think of being other than under a magnificent magnolia tree beside my beloved in the warm southern sun. I hope to move back one day soon….for now, I keep reading Southern Living and reading wonderful posts such as this 🙂

  31. Oh man, I was born and raised in eastern Oklahoma and my ancestors came directly from Arkansas, Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama. Yeah, I love the South. Southern people are charming and have a wonderful culture, one that is full of comfort food (biscuits and gravy), an unmatched humbleness, and a down-home-laid-back attitude toward life.
    I have lived in So. California and No. New York state…people outside of the South are different. The way they talk to one another, the way they look at you, even the way they talk to each other on the phone. Culture is just a reflection of attitudes of a particular group. People from up North are just different, as different as we are from them. For example; while living up North, I opened the door for a woman I worked with (just like I always would for any woman), and she stopped at the opened door, turned to me and said “I don’t need a man to open the door for me.” I really was shocked. I told her that she could blame it on my Southern upbringing and that I was just doing what daddy taught me to do. I still don’t understood the hard-ass attitude of Northerners. It really is kinda’ strange.

  32. I love The South, too! You asked why we loved living where we do. Well, I live in New England, Boston specifically. I love the hustle and bustle of rickshaws, taxis, trolleys, street cars, all manner of odd and small sized vehicles, like half police cars. I love that we New Englanders preserve our environment and bicker for months over whaty design lampposts go here or there. And the food is amazing, The South and New England really having their own food cultures–but also the endless ethnic varieties. I’ve got over 100 Italian restaurants in my neighborhood, and they are almost all different. I love seasons, New England beaches and the coastal vistas, as well as the quaint beauty found in town after town. When you leave the biggest cities here, you find awesome towns right away, one after other. So I love the options. And the people are surly and speak funny. But when you show respect to the neighborhood or twon, you are treated like gold. Here in Boston, we finalized what is known as the Internet, with MIT being a driving force in its invention. Beyond the artificial heart, genome project and being a research capital, we have countless technological and scientific achievements under our belt. I love the sense of community and the colorful characters. As for The South, for me, it is all about the food, most of the people, the music of course and the topographical beauty. I wouldn’t live anywhere but New England or Down South as we call it. Thanks for the nice piece.

  33. Man, I loved reading this post and I fell upon it my accident. I lived in the South for a real long time. When the economy fell and I moved to the north near a few family members, I never realized just what I left behind. I have never quite adjusted to the culture shock of living amongst so many liberals who only care about self and prestige. Life is worth living and the hustle and bustle the Yanks force themselves to be a part of truly demeans the whole value of life. I truly wish I could be back but finances have me stuck up here…I will say that if the South ever did stand up for their rights to be constitutionally independent again, I would not even think twice, even if I had to grab my dog, my bible, and the clothes on my back and drive down…again, thanks for the post…

  34. The south is by far the best place to live i just wish people would really get to know the place and how wonderful it is! living in the north now feels so different and i just dont feel at home by any means. i dont fit in i dont like the cold at all and yes i miss the southern food! everything seems so expensive up north and people are def not as friendly. it seems so awkward to walk by somebody and not even acknowledge them, i was not raised that way people are so different. Nobody retires and moves up north, thats just a fact! lol

  35. Loved your post. I am from New Orleans, but lived most of adult life abroad. One thing I’ve never lost is my accent, my openness to strangers and my love of my family and of being a Southerner.

    Being from south Louisiana adds another dimension to “southernness” since NOLA and bayou country have their own, distinct cultures that so many non- Southerner people didn’t appreciate until after Katrina. Typical of human nature, I suppose. You don’t really appreciate something until you (almost) lose it.

    It was interesting to read about your own pre-conceived notions about the South. I find the prejudices about Southerners many northerners harbor to be as insidious as the prejudices the summarily accuse Southerners of possessing.

    I encountered blatant “anti-Southernism” when I moved to Cleveland. I’ll give you an example, When wanting to show someone something, we often say, somewhat excitedly but certainly not commanding, “Come see!”

    After about a month in my new job for which I had transferred to the north to take, an officemate marched over to my desk in anger, stating, “I’m tired of you ordering me around.” “Excuse me,” I replied rather stunned. “You keep saying ‘come here’ or ‘come see’ and I’m tired of your orders.” She then turned on her heels and marched back to her desk. Funny thing, she didn’t like me saying “y’all” either.

    Although that moment occurred 30 years and many miles ago, it has stuck in my mind like glue as an example of how difficult it is for some Northerners – ok, let’s say it, Yankees – have in understanding the rather familiar nature of southerners.

    Compare that with my experience living and working in Switzerland for over 20 years where I never experienced any anti-Southern prejudice (ok, here and there some anti-American prejudice, but that’s another story). Quite the contrary. My accent was considered quaint, they were intrigued about my hometown and appreciated that New Orleans was one of the most historically significant towns in America (to them at least).

    One thing in your post that made me squirm a little is your reference to the “Confederate States.” I’m a mutt – part French (Cajun), part Irish (N. Ireland) and half Sicilian, the latter being the strongest influence and the part of my family I spent the most time with growing up. They were immigrants in the late 19th century. Poor, immigrant Sicilians wanted to find their dreams in the United States, not the “Confederate States.” Like so much of the immigrant population of NOLA, they arrived long after Louisiana was a member of that “country.” They merely wanted to be Americans.

  36. Having been born and raised in Texas, I was unaware with just how different things were in other parts of the country. I have to say it was quite a shock to my system when, as a young newlywed, I spent a few months living in Cleveland, Ohio. In the South, you smile and say hello when passing someone on the street. In Cleveland, people rushed past me like I wasn’t even there.

    I feel incredibly blessed to have been born in Texas and have never taken it for granted since that time in my life.

  37. Oh Jeff, I knew I really liked you before, but now you’ve pricked at my heart. I was born and raised in Knoxville and am a faithful Vol alum/fan in my dad’s footsteps. (You wanted a life story, right?) Now here’s where our paths get similar. After college (quite a few years before yours) I went on staff with Campus Crusade/Cru in their music ministry/Keynote and traveled with a band for the next 10 years. That amazing time in my life also introduced me to my husband AND moved me to the midwest. I’ve spent half of my post college life (30+ years) in Indy and half in Holland, MI doing music ministry, including a couple of church plants. BUT my heart still fully belongs in Tennessee (ask anyone) – especially the E.TN hills/Smokey Mountain areas. (Really good friends in Nashville, too.)

    Now, both Indy and west MI are mild/conservative for the “north”, but the culture shock was strong. I was SO very aware that people weren’t hugging or touching me at all at first, and strangers sure didn’t talk to me in the grocery store. Tough for a 22 year old away from home. And yes, people still snicker at my “buggy” in the grocery store, the “eyes” on my stove (that may have come from my Alabama mom, not sure), how everything’s “coke”, and my constant “y’all” that I refuse to give up. But my family and friends down there are slightly annoyed that my “i” now has a diphthong and I no longer “warsh” or say several other things that would keep people from taking me seriously up here.

    I admit that I was taught growing up that all northerners are rude, and that’s obviously just not true. (Hey, I married a Michiganian with the most precious parents ever.) I’ve traveled enough to learn quite a few cultural differences around our U.S., and if I can’t have my Tennessee, then I’ve been blessed by my time in Indy (after all, Peyton followed me there:-) and the beautiful west coast of Michigan (where there’s also a church on every corner, just not Baptist).

    Thanks for sharing your love of my south. I know you’ve been welcomed with open arms – literally. Blessings!

  38. As a bluegrass musician, I too am a lover of all things southern, though I suppose bluegrass is more Appalachian. Ironically, the folks at Gold Tone that made that banjo are dear friends of mine in Florida. Pretty cool to see one of their’s show up in one of your posts. How funny.

  39. Sorry, I have to interrupt your love for the South. I will say right away, no, I have never been to the South, but I dream of going one day..to see what it is really like. How could there be “southern hospitality” in the midst of utterly religious narrow-minded homophobia, racism, and xenophobia? Look. I am a SoCal liberal – atheist and open-minded (even to religion). Yes, I am a democrat. And don’t get me wrong, I am fine with religion!..as long as it does not affect others. But in the South, it does: gays are not given rights. Blacks are abnormally indigent. And immigrants regularly are regarded with disdain by locals.
    Please, somebody tell me how people who run states like those in the South could be anywhere near hospitable? Note – I find Northerners to have their own set of faults, not singling out Southerners.

    1. Dear Evan. As a born, bred southerner whos currently studying in the extremely liberal Massachusetts, I find you to be quite narrow minded yourself. As the author pointed out here, we don’t force our religion onto you, we just dont apologize for it. Our faith is a keystone for our culture, and it doesn’t make us “narrow-minded, homophobic, racist, or xenophobic”. (in case you’re wondering, im black. I dont doubt there is some racism, but that’s everywhere. In fact my first time being racially profiled was here in the north). We dont prance around calling people insulting names or demeaning them, but we don’t expect that to be done to us either. There’s a misconception about us that we “hate” anyone who is different, which is not true. What is true is that we are firm on our culture, perhaps a bit stubborn, and that’s not up for debate. We are quite hospitable, and will welcome any soul into our presence, as long as they don’t act as if our beliefs are inferior to their.

      1. Amen, Brother! I have lived in New Jersey for over 30 years. I’m constantly being told how ignorant, racist, and narrow minded Southerners are by Northerners who are putting on an incredible display of ignorance, racism, and narrow mindedness themselves.

        Don’t get me wrong. I love New Jersey. I consider myself a Southern belle Jersey Girl. A lot of people have been very good to me for the past 30 years.

        But to all those narrow-minded bigots who trash my home to my face, I can only say one thing…..BLESS YOUR HEART!

      2. Amen. Having grown up in that foreign place called Massachusetts, and now living in North Carolina, i can testify that these liberals who critisize the south have been drinking too muckh koolaide given them by the pied piper of propoganda.

        They also simply reveal their hatred for our judeau/christian heritage as well as Constitution( especially that 2nd Ammendment)

        From my perspective now living in the south, i percieve this as an attack from satan on all conservative values, critsizing southerners as being intolerant, narrow minded , racist, etc.

        Praying for your studies to finish soon, so you can get out of the facist state of Mass. And come back to America….in the beautiful south!

      3. If I understand you correctly, are you saying that if I come to Tennessee I should expect a Christian coming to me and say “Repent and accept Jesus or burn in hell”? I’m not a Christian; I’m a Buddhist. My culture doesn’t have concept of sin and salvation like Christianity. Based on what you say, I should put up with whatever Christians say to me in the South if what they say is biblically justified, shouldn’t I, since it’s not up for debate? Is that what you are trying to say?

        1. Not exactly. I have never had anyone approach me (except for the Jehovah Witnesses once every 10 years or so) and try to convert me to any religion. So, no, you didn’t understand them correctly.

          1. Perhaps I misunderstand southern culture. I really don’t mind Christians expressing “I’ll pray for you” or “God bless you”. I don’t like their assumption about what I believe, especially when I clearly look Asian. It’s not like I’m another Caucasian man. However, I don’t make a fuss about it. I only feel insulted when Christians keep projecting their belief on me when they know I’m not a Christian.

            If this is what southern culture is like, that’s fine. That doesn’t mean I will put up with it just because I’m a minority. If Christians respect my personal space, they can do whatever they want in public sphere. I don’t care if they want 10 commandment monument display. Leave me alone and I’ll leave them alone. Do you think Christians from the south are capable of doing that?

    2. Hey Evan
      I too am a “damn liberal” from the North(West). I grew up in Oregon my entire life, and before visiting the Southern states I had quite a few prejudices towards them. My boyfriend is in the military and moved to Georgia about a year ago. Since then I have visited him twice, and I am pleased to inform you that I love Georgia much more than I anticipated. It’s beautiful, the people really are the kindest I have ever met, and the FOOD alone makes the trip worth while. It is an area with a very diverse (and yes, controversial) history and it is refreshing in a way that they do not hide their connection to the past. I have experienced racism and discrimination in Oregon despite it’s hippie reputation. Our prejudices are less “out in the open” so to speak, but as Americans, we cannot escape the blame due to our geographical location. For example, wouldn’t it be worse if the Southern states plowed over their plantation homes instead of preserving them for an open dialogue surrounding OUR country’s history with slavery? Yes, “our” country went through decades of controversy. As I recall, California was guilty for “Americanizing” Hopi tribal children in the 1800s and imprisoned their parents on Alcatraz island for revolting against it. My point is, there is MUCH more to the Southern states than their political tendencies. Don’t knock it ’till you try it.

    3. Hi Evan!

      I looked up the definition of bigoted and I thought I’d include it here. Maybe this will help you in your efforts to understand other peoples and cultures.

      “having or revealing an obstinate belief in the superiority of one’s own opinions and a prejudiced intolerance of the opinions of others”

      Please keep this definition in mind when you are making sweeping assumptions and generalizations about a large area of the country which you have never visited.

      Bless your heart!

    4. Lol!!! Typical liberal…..”utterly religious narrow minded homophobia”

      Southerners get that from the originator of your so called narrow mindedness…..Jesus Christ

      ” I am the way, the truth and the life, no one cones to the father except by me”

      “He that has the Son, has life, he that does not have the Son, does not have life”

      “There is no name under heaven in which a man can be saved” ( the name is Jesus Christ)

      “Unless you be born again, you will not inherit the kingdom of God” (only way to be born again is through jesus christ)

      No, you are not fine with religion….you are fine with every religion except Christianity. Please tell me you are not fine with the “religion of peace” (islam) who commands its followers to behead those who refuse to submit to islam.

      You say “you are fine with religion..as long as it does not affect others” LOL!!!

      SO, based on your comment, you should hate islam, and you do not understand Christianity…..Christianity IS supposed to affects others….affect them to repent of their rebellion to God, and come to a life changing, life giving realationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

    5. The answer to your initial question would be – there is no “utterly religious narrow-minded homophobia, racism and xenophobia”. If you have never been there, how exactly would you know these things? The answer to that would be – “because I enthusiastically drink the Kool-Aid being fed to me by the media and others that say so”. Lies. There is no more tolerant place. Why? Because it was forced a damn long time ago. See the South has faced its ugliness and dealt with it. All the rest of you stand pointing fingers. There is more of those ugly things in the northern and western states than there is in the southern ones.

  40. I like the South. I don’t care much for the North. For reference , the South = The 11 Former States of the Confederacy. That leaves out the border states of Maryland, Missouri, and Kentucky.

  41. I live in California and I hate it here! Both of my parents are from Tennessee and have lived there their whole lives except when my dad went into the movie business and made me love in California… I wish so badly
    to move back! People here are rude, And very unkind. Now granted not everyone I meet is like that but 9 times out of 10 that’s the way it is. Now I’m only 14 but if I can see the difference in manners Californians must be doing something wrong. While reading your article it almost brought me to tears because that’s the life I have dreamed of having!

    1. my man i knw how you feel im 16 and experiance the same thing only difference is im from the lone star

  42. I’m from Washington and moved to Alabama at age 20. I experienced the same things as you did …I think the best weather ever is the pacific nw though. It’s very hard to get outdoors in the South without being bit by fire ants, mosquitos or poisonous snakes, we have 6 kinds here! I think the weather is better than the NE but nothing beats pnw.. especially if you like being outdoors.. and people are nice there too, love to do fun things and actually make and keep plans there! I’m ready to go back. Plus I’m sure you’ve seen your share of the horrible rudeness the south has.. and just no open mindedness at all. Don’t get me started on the stray pet population probs. I bet Nashville is better though.

    1. alabama good?

      im no yankee but alabama is a blot on not only the south but america its still a festering cess pool of racism. no ive never been there but my parents lived there for a year before i was born. if you ask my mom what the prettiest thing she saw in alabama was shed say “alabama in my rearview mirror” (BTW im a pure bred Texan)

    2. “No open mindness”……it makes me laugh when i hear a non southerner say this. For me, what that really means is , not open to be politically correct and kiss everyones ass as to not offend or discriminate. I am from new england, and now live in the great south, and your comments reveal that you do not like absoulutes or anyone that stands firm in their beliefs, rather, you would have everyone be sooooo open minded that we toss or heritage, Christian heritage, and tolerate anyone and everything.

      This is the attitude that turned New England into a liberal, leftist toilet.

      You think southerners are not “open minded” because we stand firm on Biblical truth, and do not apologize for mentioning Jesus Christ, and hold the Constitution to high esteem.

      You being from the libetal state of Washingtob says it all. Please stay in the PNW !

    3. ” It’s very hard to get outdoors in the South without being bit by fire ants, mosquitos or poisonous snakes,” this a bizarre statement and makes me think you arent being very truthful.

  43. I am a Brit and travel to the US several times a year for work. We have business partners all over the country but I have to say I do rather look forward to Georgia and Louisiana. Mostly for the reasons given in the article.

  44. I got teary-eyed while reading this. I miss Texas! (Pearland) I’m currently staying up north (Virginia) and my first impression was Tunnel hahaha (kidding) but people don’t even say Hi or greet you. There was once while I was at a grocery store and overheard a couple they were having a hard time picking which brand of vermicelli noodles is better and being part asian and portuguese I grew up eating lots and lots of noodles LOL!! so I gave my unsolicited 2 cents… the old lady gave me a weird look and her husband picked the one I suggested without even saying thank you or none at all…. been here for 3 months and I’m still adjusting to it coz it’s so different from where I came from. I wanna make friends but people here seems so uptight 🙁

    1. Virginia is not the North!!!! I am from Virginia and my family has been here a long time, and we are Southerners. Texas is not the South. Its out West.

        1. No, I am not a Yankee. Do you think people from Kentucky are Yankees? Virginia was the birthplace of the South! I live in the longest running capital of the Confederacy- Richmond, Virginia. I am an 11th Generation Virginian. Not only do I have ancestry in Virginia, but all over the South-Mississippi, Arkansas, TN, NC, etc. All my ancestors fought for the Confederacy. When people think of “The South”, I guarantee they are more likely to think about Virginia than they are Texas. Texas is not the South.

  45. “Southern Hospitality” is mostly a learned response in the South and generally very insincere and one-dimensional. For instance, you will hear a lot of “sirs” and “ma’ams” in the South, but the people are generally much more insular and closed to outsiders than say the West coast where people may not use their manners as much, but are more open and less suspicious of outsiders.

  46. My mother is from Red Boiling Springs, TN, my relatives live in Nashville, and I was born in Texas. I spent all my summers visiting my grandparents in RBS. So, I had the reverse reaction when my dad’s work transferred him to the Philly area when I was 10 years old. Cold. Unfriendly. Dirty city. Hated it. What was this thing about putting mustard on pretzels? Ugh. Where were my homemade biscuits with sausage gravy? As an adult, I’ve lived in many cities for many writing jobs, liked some better than others, but my heart will always be in Dixie. Away, away down South in Dixie.

  47. Born and raised in L. A. (Lower Alabama). I love the region for every reason that you listed, but struggle sometimes with the “small-town” part of small town Alabama. However, my small town does have the National Peanut Festival going for it. It’s a pretty big deal in our area. 😉 Have you learned to like boiled peanuts yet, Jeff?

  48. I know this article has comments from many years ago, but I have to join in. I was born and bred in PA and moved to North Carolina for four years with my husband. We also lived in Virginia for a year. We both agree that VA was more like PA than NC was. We are now back on the other side of PA and I have to say I miss the South so much! There is something about how friendly people are, the warm sunshine and the beautiful low country beaches and areas. I am daydreaming about moving back there as soon as our lease is up! We have family here but it is not the same as the South….plus I hate the cold!

    1. Virginia is a lot like NC. My family is from Richmond, Virginia. Its definitely Southern. Its not the North, except for DC Metro!

  49. Virginia is not the North. Y’all gotta be crazy. Its the oldest Southern state. The first recipe for sweet tea, birthplace of Country Music. As a Virginian , I have more in common with people from the Carolinas than NJ. Virginia is very friendly, except for the many transplants that come here from other states. I am shocked at anyone thinking Virginia is the North. It really isn’t.

  50. Very interesting. I grew up in Oregon and am considering moving to Tennessee. Sounds like I might feel like I moved to a different country! Lol. I think it’ll be nice though – more laid back than other places maybe.

  51. YES I AGREE.
    I was in New Orleans for a Convention in 2013, I met several people from Jackson, Mississippi t5hat asked me to please come and check us out with :
    Yes, I did visit in 2014, O LOVE it o much that I came back again and looked for a RUN DOWN YET COMING BACK PART OF JACKSON.
    YES, I own a one floor in SOUTH JACKSON ( ALTAWOODS ) what a sad thing to find VERY AFFORDABLE BIG HOMES FOR A FRACTION OF THE COST.
    WHY SO ?

  52. I totally agree. I just recently moved to the south and was overwhelmed by how often I see a church within a miles range. But i feel myself when I’m in a room full of successful people and they talk about their faith in God that just means so much to me.

  53. It’s “Southern” culture (uppercase for “Southern”) – check the AP Stylebook (and “Stylebook” is all one word).

Comments are closed.