Life in the South: What to Expect
There are a number of preconceived notions about life in the south. Not everyone in Texas wears cowboy boots and hats and rides a horse. Not does everyone in the South have a gun and a truck. There are some surprises, however: parts of the south get snow and you’ll find skiers and hockey fans. Not what you thought? So what can you expect if you’re moving to the south?
It's Hotter in Summer
The heat and humidity will be out in full force during the summer months. But southerners have a plan for that. Most homes and businesses have central AC. This will allow you some relief from what may feel – at first – like sweltering heat. Many apartment complexes will also have a pool as one of the amenities. Some will even offer covered parking. The flip side, of course, is that you'll rarely suffer in winter, and you'll have four mostly-mild seasons.
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Are you Ready for some Football?
Whether you're in Texas, Alabama, Georgia or another southern state, southerners love their college football. It really is a part of the culture. Life in the South during the autumn is full of football. Fierce but fun rivalries dominate conversations, clothing and even front yards and porches. When you hear your normally mild-mannered neighbor yelling at the TV, it's probably football season.
Once your cross over the Mason-Dixon line, there is a cultural shift. People in the South are known for their hospitality. They’re known for their friendliness as well. This is not to say people from the North are unfriendly, or not nice. Northern culture is simply more reserved. Southerners will engage you in conversation at the grocery store, the mall, or any public place. Your neighbors will be interested in getting to know you. Common outdoor spaces will make this a natural occurrence.
Cornbread, southern fried steak, barbecue and collard greens are all part of Southern cuisine. Expect dishes to be spicier than northern cuisine, too. Southern food is influenced by Spanish and African flavor profiles. So, when you’re checking out that hot new restaurant in town, you might want a glass of milk with your meal, to help you handle the heat.
Iced tea will likely be sweet (heavy on the sugar) unless you order an “unsweet.” A meat-and-three is a restaurant which serves comfort-style entrees like meat loaf or fried chicken, with your choice of southern veggies (which might include apple sauce and mac-n-cheese, y’all). You’ll meet plenty of bourbon drinkers, but the craft beer craze has very much spread across the South.
Southern dialects are distinctly different from those of the North. Keep in mind that the accents do vary depending on the region. Northern Alabama accents are different from Southern Alabama accents. Louisiana accents are very different from Georgia or Texas accents. Coastal Carolina has a distinctly different sound than mountain Carolina dialects. You’ll have fun learning the difference.
If you’re used to metros with lots of trains or rail service, you may be in for a bit of a shock when you move. Southerners rely heavily on their cars. Atlanta, Charlotte and Dallas have rail service for commuters, but do some research on neighborhoods before you sign a lease, if you’re hoping for public transport options. You may be looking at the city bus.
If you’re tired of the snow and bitter cold, by all means, consider moving to the South. The culture is friendly and the food is good. Get yourself a glass of sweet tea and meet your neighbors down by the pool.