7 Things to Know About Moving South
In the years since the pandemic, in particular, people have been moving from higher-cost parts of the country to lower-cost states. For example, a lot of people from the Northeast and California are moving to Southern states like Georgia, Tennessee, Florida and North Carolina.
These states not only often give more bang for your buck in terms of the cost of living and buying a house, but some people like the weather and other appealing features of Southern living.
While there’s a lot to love about living in the South, it’s not for everyone. Here’s what you need to know:
The Cost of Living Is Lower
If your biggest priority is finding a cheaper place to live than where you are currently, the Southeast region of the country tends to be significantly less expensive than a lot of other parts of the U.S. There are a lot of reasons you’ll probably find it’s cheaper in the South if you’re coming from other parts of the country.
First, the housing is less expensive because everything is more spread out. Southern cities are sprawling, and they are designed for low-population density, so there isn’t as much competition for housing in very small areas. If you look at major Southern cities, you can really see this. Atlanta, for example, spreads out for miles and miles and is far less compact than other major cities.
Many Southern states also have low taxes. Some, such as Tennessee, don’t have any state income tax.
If you’re coming from the Northern part of the country, and had a $400,000 home there, a similar home in the south might cost around $230,000. Rent prices are lower, too.
In many places, not only is the overall cost of living lower than the national average, but groceries and transportation are as well. Keep in mind that the Southern states can come in with a higher cost when it comes to health care and utilities.
The Weather is Mild
While the South is a big area, and every state and location has its own unique weather patterns, for the most part, if you’re moving South, snow will be a rarity. In most parts of the southeastern United States, winter is mild. In Florida, it’s often nonexistent.
The weather can be a perk of moving to the South if you hate rough winters, but the summers can be incredibly hot, humid and stifling. You’ll also have to pay quite a bit to cool your house in the summer in most parts of the South.
The region can also get some pretty brutal storms, including thunderstorms, tornadoes and hurricanes—and some areas are more prone to extreme weather than others.
You Need a Car
When you move to the South, you’re most likely going to need a car. You may need multiple cars depending on who’s in your household. The South is not very pedestrian-friendly or walkable, and public transportation is almost non-existent in some places.
Since things are spread out from one another and so many of the communities are suburban or even rural, many people do have to commute to work. People are fairly courteous drivers overall in the South, but people are often going to be slower, so you probably need to give yourself extra time.
When it snows, even if it’s a tiny amount, people in the South tend not to go on the roads. When they do, there are often accidents and, as a result, a lot of things shut down, even over the threat of snow or wintery weather.
A lot of what people enjoy about life in the South is tradition. Southerners love traditional holidays, but also things like cheering on their local football team. Southern traditions tend to be centered around big meals.
Religion is also important to a lot of people in the south, and they’ll discuss it openly in many situations because the “Bible Belt” moniker didn’t come from nowhere.
People Actually Are More Friendly
People in the South have a reputation for being friendly—sometimes overly so—and that does tend to be the reality. Of course, there are exceptions to everything, but people in the South don’t use a lot of foul language in front of other people, and they do look people in the eye and say hello to strangers. These aren’t myths about Southern living.
Smiling and waving are common whether you know someone or not. For that reason, some people aren’t comfortable with the level of familiarity that tends to happen pretty quickly among people in the South.
It Can Be Isolating
Perhaps some of the reasons why Southerners are so friendly to strangers and dedicated to traditions are because, otherwise, living in the South would be lonely. It all goes back to things being sprawling and spread out. If you aren’t part of a community, then you might not get the opportunity to be around a lot of other people.
When you live in a bigger or denser city, you can go out and about and be around people any time of day or night, but that’s not necessarily the case in the South. If you don’t find something that’s going to connect you to the people around you, it can feel lonely.
There is Diverse Scenery
Finally, every part of the country has its own unique and beautiful scenery, and the South is no exception. A lot of what people do for fun involves the outdoors. If you live in the South, the coastal areas of the region usually aren’t more than a few hours away. There are the clear blue waters of the Florida beaches or you can go to the coasts of the Carolinas or Georgia. The Outer Banks in North Carolina is a region known for its rugged coastal beauty.
There are also the mountains. For example, Great Smoky Mountains National Park straddles North Carolina and Tennessee and is the most-visited in the country. There are also lakes and bayous if you prefer that type of scenery, and a lot of people in the South own boats so they can get out on the water and enjoy the mild weather.