The South is undeniably unique — quirky, perhaps. Ask anyone who moved here from another region, and they’ll be quick to tell you all of the things they find interesting or odd. And yet, these are by and large the very same things that born-and-raised Southerners don’t bat an eye at. Given the large number of transplants who have made their way to the South, we decided to ask around and see what folks wish they knew before moving here. Here’s what they had to say.
What I Wish I Knew Before Moving to the South
“I’m not sure if it’s just being in a smaller city, or being in the South, but I wish I had better understood that some areas of the country do a better job of supporting taking the time to smell the roses and being with your family. I’m from the suburbs of Washington, D.C., and being too busy to embrace what’s in front of you seemed to be far more prevalent than in Nashville, TN. But, that may just be because everyone was stuck in traffic for much longer … so while I didn’t know this, I sure am glad that it is alive and well down South!” — StyleBlueprint Cofounder Liza Graves, from Washington D.C. suburbs, living in Nashville, TN
“Never show up empty-handed to a cocktail or dinner party. In Savannah, that meant you brought a small gift for the hostess (candles, cocktail napkins, notecards), and in Nashville, you bring a bottle of wine, the dessert or some other course of the meal.” —Blogger Bailey Rae, from Steamboat Rock, IA, living in Nashville, TN
“I wish I would have known that humidity will destroy two hours of hard, mousse-infused work with one opening of the front door, “Bless your heart” is actually a diss with a smile, and sweet tea is a panacea that cures all ailments.” — StyleBlueprint contributor Melanie Preis, from Arizona and living in Atlanta, GA
“I think I wasn’t prepared to have so much help. People have offered to pick up my kids, run an errand, bring food, etc. My initial reaction was suspicion, and I wish I had known that people are just like that here — very willing to help you out, and they expect nothing in return. They are just being good neighbors! And nothing can prepare you for the slower pace. Ha!” — Interior designer Michelle Workman, from Los Angeles, CA, living in Chattanooga, TN
“How to act like a Southern lady. Southern men still seem to have no idea what to make of me, what with my colorful language, loud laugh, chronically escaping hairdo, sweatpants at the mall and inability to locate the correct fork at dinner.” — Attorney Amy Everhart, from Mott, ND, living in Nashville, TN
“I wish that I had understood the seriousness with which Southerners approach SEC football. Before starting at Furman University in South Carolina, I had never heard the term ‘SEC,’ let alone in reference to football. But it’s a much bigger deal than I had previously realized, and I’ve learned to tread with caution. I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen my husband more angry with me than when I poke fun at his unbridled affections for the Tennessee Vols. Experience is the best teacher!” — StyleBlueprint Memphis Client Success Rep Martha Dickerson, from Thousand Oaks, CA, living in Memphis, TN
RELATED: The Tastiest BBQ in Every SEC City
“I wasn’t prepared for how often I’d be asked what church I attend when I meet new people.” — Teacher Dustin Helmer, from Newport, NY, living in Birmingham, AL
“My good friend married a Southerner and moved to Greenwood, MS. There I met her mother-in-law, a true Southern baker whose caramel cake I often dream of. Yes, my grandmum certainly served a ridiculous rhubarb pie, but from the strawberry cakes to cheese straws, Southern baked goods are on a whole ‘nother level.” — Kates Potempa, from Acoaxet, MA, living in Nashville, TN
“After 20 years of living in the South, one thing that still amazes me is the great American drive-through. Bad hair day? No worries, you never have to leave your car. The bank, the pharmacy, the coffee shop, your sausage biscuit, the car wash, kids drop-off at school, the dry-cleaners, the post office, all without unbuckling your seatbelt once!” — Kobie Pretorius, South Africa native living in Nashville, TN
“Depending on what state you move to, it is likely that you will not be able to buy wine or liquor on Sundays. Make sure you’re prepared for your Sunday drinking at least a day in advance.” — Reid Cifrino, from Arlington, VA, living in Nashville, TN
“I wish I would’ve known how humid it is! I also wish I would’ve known how much slower things seem to go here. I’ve grown to love it — it’s a very calm place to live, but I was definitely surprised at the change of pace.” — StyleBlueprint Birmingham Client Success Rep Bailey Torkelson, from Scottsdale, AZ, living in Birmingham, AL
“One thing I had never experienced was the honey/sweetie/sugar/darlin’ phenomenon. Ohio folks were not totally unkind, but were more of a ‘Here ya go’ type. When I got down here, I was floored by all the nice check-out ladies who talked to me like they were my grandma.” — Lou Kinney, from Dayton, OH, living in Nashville, TN
“Sweet tea is crack. It isn’t like what they try to pass off as sweet tea up north — like when they give you unsweet tea and a sugar packet. That granular garbage is not sweet tea. My college-age daughter is so hooked and concerned she won’t be able to get real sweet tea at college in California. She is trying to find ways to get it shipped.” — Attorney Tricia Herzfeld, from Union Lake, Michigan, living in Nashville, TN
“There are seasons! And temperatures besides sunny and 70-80 degrees!” — Suzanne Gentry, from Garden Grove, CA, living in Nashville, TN
“That ‘Rocky Top’ was a real song. I had always thought of it as a joke song, like the stuff by Weird Al. We went to a UT game, and when they released that hound dog with ‘Rocky Top’ blaring on the intercom, I doubled up laughing because I thought it was a joke. I quickly stopped laughing when the orange overall-clad man in front of me gave me the stank eye. Also I literally thought only military said sir and ma’am.” — Lisa Quinn, teacher from Augusta, Montana living in Nashville, TN
“Coming from Michigan where we navigate with turn signals and always drive over the speed limit, I was not prepared for the change of pace nor the amount of defense required on the road. The upside is that Southerners extend hospitality onto the interstate; in the north we fight to see who can merge first!” — Jennifer Masley, restaurateur from Michigan living in Nashville, TN
“I wish I knew I would be teased 23 years later for still saying ‘pop.’ I also wish I knew that the phrase ‘bless his/her heart’ negates any criticism of a person. And when I moved here from Detroit, I remember working with a group of teens, and I used the phrase ‘you guys.’ One of them asked me with awe in his voice, ‘Are you from Canada?’ I think that influenced my only conscious change — I now say ‘you all’ (I still can’t master the y’all) instead of ‘you guys.'” — Cheryl Mendez, from Detroit, MI, living in Nashville, TN
“That a ‘Coke’ means any type of soda, not just a Coca-Cola!” — Stylist Kate Workman, from OH, living in Nashville, TN
There you have it! If you know someone who is moving to the South, be sure to share these wise insights from those who came before them. Here’s to Southern living!
Keep up with all things Southern — subscribe to StyleBlueprint for the best in Southern foods, fashion, events and more.