When it came time to start a family, my husband and I went back and forth as to where we were going to raise said family. Both of us have traveled; Both of us have lived on the east and west coasts, respectively; Both of us have fallen in love with piers, beaches, back roads, and boutiques all across the country. Still, after much discussion and debate, we realized that all of these journeys lead us to the same place: The South. There are just some great things about raising kids in the south that you can't find anywhere else and, in the end, the south was home.
My partner and I both grew up in Tennessee, so we're undeniably biased towards "The Volunteer State," but every conversation about relocation, every state and every city that we ever seriously considered, all happened to be in the south. Coincidence? Yeah, not so much. There's a reason celebrities like Reese Witherspoon, Taylor Swift, Keith Urban and Nichole Kidman, Jack White, and most recently, Justin Timberlake and Jessica Beil, have decided to sew some roots in the south. They know what so many of us from here have known all along: that's is kind of amazingly awesome and one of a kind and just an all0around great place to raise kids.
From the people, to the scenery, to the amazing food, to the values; the south truly is a one-of-a-kind place, and is arguably the most amazing place to raise a family. Am I biased? Absolutely, but there really are a million good reasons to raise kids in the south. For the sake of time, I'll only share a few:
All The Friendly People
The Huffington Post voted Nashville, Tennessee the second friendliest city in the country. Since I spent some time living in Music City myself, I've experienced the friendly faces firsthand. However, it's not just Nashville that's known for its sociable people; it's the south in general. We don't know a lot of strangers around here, which is great when it comes to raising kids, because the more people that are looking out for them, the sounder parents are able to sleep at night.
The Weather Is (Mostly) Awesome
During the fall and the spring, it's typically sunny and in the 70's down here (depending on which part of the south you live in) on a very regular basis. Winters are typically pretty mild, with a few weeks of freezing temperatures and an ice storm or two, and summers can get pretty hot, though they're mostly tolerable, too. Basically, our kids can play outside almost any day of the year without the fear of extreme weather interfering with their fun. We're able to enjoy the outdoors year round, which we most definitely do.
It's Just So Darn Pretty Down Here
The seasons in the south are absolutely stunning. From the leaves changing from green to red to gold in the fall; to the typically mild winters; to the beautiful blooms of the spring; to the lush trees of the summer, every day is a pretty day in the south.
We've also got beautiful, southern antebellum homes, rolling hills and fields, mountains, beaches, and plenty of untouched land that's been left to thrive and grow on its own. Mother Nature really outdid herself.
You Won't Go Broke Living Here
Many cities in the south are ranked as some of the most affordable places to live in the entire country. Home prices are reasonable and small businesses typically thrive down here, thanks to the men and women that prioritize supporting local entrepreneurs and grants offered to small business owners. What does this mean for raising a family? Well, with the cost of living being more than reasonable, parents are able to somewhat elude some of the stresses of financial burdens and you can spend more time enjoying their family. You don't typically have to work 70 hour a week to keep a roof over your head.
The Food Is Ah-Mazing
Cooking a meal from the comfort of your home is kind of a big deal in the south. Many of us grew up covered in flour, standing in the kitchen next to our mothers and grandmothers, learning how to cook from scratch. We know how much work goes into making a meal for a family, but the results are amazing and the effort doesn't go unnoticed. Our kids will likely grow up with some of the same memories, and that is something that we will never take for granted.
We Keep The Faith
The south may be home to the bible belt, but that doesn't mean that other forms of religion or spirituality aren't welcome, too.
One thing that pretty much everyone believes in in the south, is football season. It's rare to find anyone that doesn't count down the days until football season begins, because down here we live for watching football on the weekends. No matter who is cheering for who, watching football is a family affair. Our kids don't have to play football to love it, but they will learn (from an early age) that wearing team colors on the weekends isn't optional.
Both The Beach And The Mountains Are Within Driving Distance From Almost Anywhere
There is a beach or a mountain range within driving distance from almost anywhere in the south. I'm a little farther to the north of the southeast region, and I can get to the mountains within a few hours, and a drive to the beach is around seven hours. Seriously, they're amazing. Both options make for the perfect family vacation spots.
Freedom To Roam
The city life in the south is just about as lively as it is anywhere else in the country, but we've also got countless country roads and open air to explore here. The south is a place where you can truly let kids be kids,; they're free to roam and discover without the fear of busy streets or lurking criminals. We have both of those things too, obviously, but it's definitely less of a concern here.
Incredible Healthcare Facilities
Vanderbilt, St. Thomas, and St. Jude Children's Hospital all call the south home (just to name a few). No one ever wants to need the services provided at a healthcare facility, but it's especially reassuring to have them available, just in case the need were ever to arise. The south is home to some of the nation's top hospitals and healthcare facilities, which also means that amazing employment opportunities are available to those in the healthcare field. The healthcare industry is booming down here, and that's a good thing for both patients and employees.
We say "please" and "thank you" and "yes ma'am" or "no sir" without even thinking twice about it. We open doors and pull out chairs; we help the elderly load their cars; we give our neighbors a hand whenever we're able. Living in the south feels like living in a giant community of friends that are all willing to help out anyone that needs it. We have been raised from a very early age to treat people with respect and dignity, and using our manners is a very important part of that. So if someone from the south calls you ma'am, it's not because they think you've reached an appropriate age to do so, it's because their grandma taught them how to use their manners.