PDA

View Full Version : What's life like in rural Tennessee?


masonite
08-18-2009, 11:52 PM
I'm an urban commie pinko fag in Seattle and I'm thinking of moving to a tiny town about 1.5 hours SW of Nashville. What's it going to be like for me?

If I can't hack the tiny town, Columbia would be the nearest small city, population about 10K. It has some amenities.

I'm a loner, but not too weird-looking. I have roots in TN but never since early childhood lived in a city smaller than 1M, nor in the South.

dgrdfd
08-19-2009, 12:42 AM
1.5 hours SW of Nashville? Jackson? I am from there so which particular community?

missred
08-19-2009, 12:45 AM
I'm in a small town on the other side of Nashville. If you do move here, we should have another middle Tennessee Dopefest to welcome you. :)

Back to the question. IME, you'll be close enough to Nashville to go to cultural events and the like. My small town (Lebanon) is pretty agriculture oriented, but close enough to the city that many of us commute (we have commuter rail service from N'Ville). And Comumbia isn't an hour and a half...more like forty-five minutes.

I'm not sure what you'll find in the GLBTQ community in Columbia, but some small towns with art, music or tourist based economies do have a few urban ex-pats. Otherwise, you may be more comfortable living closer to the city.

A lot of folks only know Nashville as a country music center, but you'll find all kinds of entertainment here, from the street fairs on Jefferson Street, the International festival in the south part of town, a few good blues bars, a couple of jazz clubs, alternative theatre, a reasonably good symphony, ballet, rep theatre and opera. It has also changed greatly from the town that twenty years ago had very few ethnic restaurants (besides barbeque and meat and three, which, by the way, are good enough to gain some serious weight on :) ) to the current melange of decent Mexican, El Salvadoran, Persian, Ethiopian, Cuban, Creole, Greek, Lao, Thai, Vietnamese...well you get the picture. If you like sports, there's the Titans, the Preds and the Sounds.

You have to look harder for variety in the small towns though. A lot of life seems to revolve around church, high school football and the local eateries / watering holes.

If you get involved with some community endeavors, folks will usually come to accept you, even if your lifestyle differs from the local norm. I've learned to accept the "Have a bless-ed day!" thing with a "You too!" for the most part, heathen that I am. I've also learned to put my foot down when the whole evangelistic thought train goes over the line.

You'll likely find that life moves at a slower pace here. If you're a person that needs constant action, you'll probably die of boredom. If not, then you'll be in hog heaven.

I can only speak from my middle aged, straight, no school kids, Yankee, agnostic, single woman's perspective, so take this with a grain of salt.

bibliophage
08-19-2009, 09:34 AM
And Comumbia isn't an hour and a half...more like forty-five minutes.I think Missred misread. The unnamed tiny town, presumably smaller than Columbia and farther from Nashville, is 1.5 hours out.

I recommend city-data.com for a broad overview of any town in America, big or small. It provides information about crime, housing costs, employment, climate, education, health care etc. They even have estimates of the percentage of households that are gay or lesbian. For example, http://city-data.com/city/Columbia-Tennessee.html and http://city-data.com/city/Seattle-Washington.html

It seems to me there are two kinds of places where you can be a loner if you really want to be. First a big city, where there are so many people around that nobody will pay attention to what any one of them is doing. And second, the back-of-beyond where there are no other people to pay attention. (If you can see your neighbor's house from your own, or if you can walk to your neighbor's house without getting out of breath, then you don't live in the back of beyond). Suburbs, small towns, and ordinary rural areas are the worst places to try to be a loner.

Claire Beauchamp
08-19-2009, 11:05 AM
As another middle aged, straight, no school kids, agnostic, single woman (albeit a native Southern one), I'll say that missred has the gist of it. I live IN Nashville and have no shortage of "things to do" culturally, etc. I wish NashVegas had more in the way of jazz, but otherwise there's music of all kinds all the time. It's not Atlanta, but for a city of its size there's plenty going on.

In the rural parts, you are naturally going to be further removed from that. For restaurants you're going to have BBQ and "home cooking" types in addition to some chains in your nearest bigger town. There may be a yearly festival or whatnot. Politically, yeah, the people are gonna be red state loons in large part, but, being Southern, they'll be nice and helpful and friendly on a one-on-on basis. "Where do you go to church?" will be an introductory question, followed by an invitation to go with them to their church. Don't get all riled up by it -- it's just a way to break the ice and be neighborly.

In other words ... life in rural TN, the rural South, is no different than life in rural ANYWHERE America. The question to ask yourself is ... not "what about rural TN?" but "what about rural life period?"

Now ... one thing you'll find here is that it's pretty damn gorgeous. If you like outdoor activities, you would die before you hiked all the trails and fished all the streams. Summers are hot and humid. Last I heard, Nashville gets as much rainfall per year as Seattle, it's just bunched up more.

I would encourage you to visit, if you haven't already. Spend a week or two in the area where you're thinking of moving. Drive around. Visit a spell. See if you can embrace what's different and appreciate the good things without looking down your Yankee nose, if you know what I mean.

StGermain
08-19-2009, 11:27 AM
Another middle-aged, straight, no-school-kids (Catholic) woman. I live in the country, about 50 miles southeast of Nashville. I have 14 acres and a 160-year old farm house, 6 dogs, 4 cats (that new kitten dumped in my yard last week doesn't count!) amd two horses. I work 35 miles from home, but the commute is quick (less than 40 minutes). My neighbors are friendly and helpful (plenty of people stopped when I flipped my tractor over on top of me, and my neighbor killed a rattlesnake in my front yard this past weekend) but not usually in-your-face. Neighborly. I leave my back door unlocked and open while I'm at work (which drives my cop neighbor crazy).

I don't have many non-farm, non-work related activities, but I'm close enough to Nashville (an hour's drive) to go into town if I want to see a play or meet up with Dopers or go to the flea market. Murfreesboro, the closest town, has shopping, movie theatres, regional theatre, good local restaurants and usual chain restaurants.

Taxes aren't oppressive. No income tax. Home ownership is pretty easy for most people.

Welcome to Tennessee!

StG

Jelly Roll
08-19-2009, 12:41 PM
I live in Columbia. We have more like 30,000 people living here, I believe (with about 50,000 in the county).

Frankly, there isn't really much to do around here-I go to Franklin, Nashville or Murfreesboro for entertainment. Franklin is about 20 mintues north; Nashville is about 45 minutes north; and Murfreesboro is about an hour east.

Life in Columbia is slow paced. I am from here originally (well, since I was 12, which was forever ago), lived in Dallas for the last 10 years, and just moved back a few months ago. I had forgotten how slow things move here and that has been the biggest adjustment to moving back for me. I'm used to the convenience of big city life and you are not going to find that in Columbia.

I live in the country at the moment but am moving "to town" in a couple of weeks. Our neighbors are wonderful and helpful, as other posters have mentioned. Yes, people will probably ask where you attend, and by that they mean church. No one will get upset if you don't attend anywhere.

You will like the housing prices and low cost of living. And I don't think you'll find a prettier state in the union. This area is also great if you are interested in the Civil War-I think Middle Tennessee has the most preserved battlefields in the nation and Columbia has the most preserved antebellum homes in the nation.

BTW, I'm a married female, mother of one, in my early 30's.

Feel free to ask me questions specifically about Columbia (or PM me) and I'll do my best to answer them.

StGermain
08-19-2009, 01:05 PM
Jelly Roll - You need a kitten. I'll pay to have her spayed..


StG

Jelly Roll
08-19-2009, 01:26 PM
I hate cats, so...no.

Besides, I have 3 dogs, a baby and a husband. No more room at the inn.

Oakminster
08-19-2009, 01:28 PM
Heh...coming from Seattle to the rural South is going to be a major culture shock in more ways than you can imagine. Guns are more common...most households will have at least one. During hunting season, you may well see dead deer in the back of pickup trucks. Football is huge...any football...high school on Friday nights, College Saturdays, NFL Sundays. Once you move in, people will knock on your door to invite you to church. You may be moving to a dry county--I think TN has a few--meaning that alcohol is not sold there. Even if you live in a wet county, you may not be able to buy alcohol on Sunday. If bad weather, particularly ice or snow, is in the forecast, go to the grocery store. That's what one is expected to do. You may as well buy orange clothing and learn the words to "Rocky Top"--unless you're going to be a Vanderbilt fan. Positive references to Volunteers or Commodores are encouraged. Do not, for any reason, upon pain of death, utter the following phrases in public: "Roll Tide", "Suey Pig", "Geaux Tigers" "War Damn Eagle" "How 'bout dem Dawgs", "Go State", "Hoddy Toddy", or anything at all positive regarding alligators. Do not hum or sing "Battle Hymn of the Republic", especially not the week of the Georgia game.

Biggest thing to remember to ease the transition--you are the outsider coming in. You will need to adapt to the local culture. The other way around ain't gonna happen.

If you piss off Skald the Rhymer, his flying monkeys can strike middle TN and still be home for breakfast.

CrazyCatLady
08-19-2009, 03:44 PM
Do not, for any reason, upon pain of death, utter the following phrases in public: "Roll Tide", "Suey Pig", "Geaux Tigers" "War Damn Eagle" "How 'bout dem Dawgs", "Go State", "Hoddy Toddy", or anything at all positive regarding alligators.

Snerk. You probably shouldn't be too enthusiastic about crocs or caymans either, because those are like gators. Stoopit Gators.

masonite
08-19-2009, 10:50 PM
I think Missred misread.

This is brilliant, and correct. I don't want to name the small town because it's, like, really small and naming it online could easily identify me if I do move there. I'm considering the possibility of taking an early retirement to take care of my mother, who is dead set on moving there as soon as she gets on Medicare (assuming she escapes the Freedom Panels for a bit longer).

She's not quite to the point where she needs somebody around 24/7, but more like daily checkups are starting to be much more in order. I'm an only child. Ever since we saw Where's Poppa she made me promise never to put her in a Home.

Biblio, your links are wonderful, thanks.

It seems to me there are two kinds of places where you can be a loner if you really want to be. First a big city, where there are so many people around that nobody will pay attention to what any one of them is doing. And second, the back-of-beyond where there are no other people to pay attention. (If you can see your neighbor's house from your own, or if you can walk to your neighbor's house without getting out of breath, then you don't live in the back of beyond). Suburbs, small towns, and ordinary rural areas are the worst places to try to be a loner.

It's not like I'm a committed, dedicated loner. It's just sort of how it turned out. I can try to get along and fit in, just not sure if I'll be at all accepted in a town where everybody knows everybody. The ultimate Mama's Boy; the Town Faggot. I'm thinking of the tiny town, not Columbia. Columbia strikes me as more like commuter-exurb, a lot of city folk around.

I live in Columbia. We have more like 30,000 people living here, I believe (with about 50,000 in the county).

Frankly, there isn't really much to do around here-I go to Franklin, Nashville or Murfreesboro for entertainment. Franklin is about 20 mintues north; Nashville is about 45 minutes north; and Murfreesboro is about an hour east.

My mistake about the population; that's nice to know. Columbia may turn out to be ideal - close enough to mom, and close enough to Nashville for big-city needs.

I do intend to take a visit this fall, scout out the whole area and just hang out for a few days.


Do not, for any reason, upon pain of death, utter the following phrases in public: "Roll Tide", "Suey Pig", "Geaux Tigers" "War Damn Eagle" "How 'bout dem Dawgs", "Go State", "Hoddy Toddy", or anything at all positive regarding alligators.
Snerk. You probably shouldn't be too enthusiastic about crocs or caymans either, because those are like gators. Stoopit Gators.

This is a sports thing, yes?

Oakminster
08-19-2009, 11:17 PM
This is a sports thing, yes?

Not just any sports thing. The Mother of All Sports Things.

SEC FOOTBALL

It's like a secondary religion. Even if you don't watch it, you will be aware of it.

lshaw
08-19-2009, 11:27 PM
Isn't it also predominantly white? What's it like if you are a minority and you move there? Are there any ethnic restaurants? Would people regard you as some kind of exotic vase (serious question... I've been to rural parts of CA where people stared at me unabashedly as if I were an alien)?

missred
08-20-2009, 12:08 AM
Isn't it also predominantly white? What's it like if you are a minority and you move there? Are there any ethnic restaurants? Would people regard you as some kind of exotic vase (serious question... I've been to rural parts of CA where people stared at me unabashedly as if I were an alien)?



No...you're likely thinking of the mountainous part of the state.

Middle and west Tennessee are culturally part of the Old South, ethnically salt and pepper. In Davidson (Nashville) and surrounding counties, there has also been an influx of light industry and call centers in the past thirty years, bringing in even more diversity. In the seventies and eighties, a number of churches sponsored immigrants from SE Asia for resettlement as well. Fort Campbell Army Post is only an hour from Nashville, and Davidson County is home to one of the largest (if not the largest) Kurdish populations in the USA. There are quite a few Somalis in the area too.

In my workplace, I am actually a minority majority (if that makes sense) in that I'm an American born caucasian.

Zoe
08-20-2009, 02:57 AM
If you get bored and want something to do, you probably won't be too far from The Farm (http://thefarmcommunity.com/) at Summertown, Tennessee. I think National Georgraphic did a piece on them once. I've been told that it's a really cool place.

Lynchburg is fun to visit. You have to get a reservation to eat at Miss Mary Bobo's before you even plan your trip. Then you go and eat and then take a tour of the distillery where Jack Daniel is made. It's in a dry county though. If you are ever going to go there, send me a PM and I will tell you about someone famous who lives there.

I taught in integrated schools here in Nashville and many races seem to get along very well. You will find racial bigots anywhere though if you are looking for them.

There aren't mountains in this part of the state, but it is lush and green in the summer -- with rolling hills and lots of trees. Sometimes fall colors are pretty. Last year was particularly pretty. If there is an inch of snow on the roads, schools are closed. It doesn't snow often. In the summer you will need air conditioning.

I hope that you like it here and can make yourself comfortable.


Missred, never in a zillion years would I have thought that you were born a Yankee. You have embraced Southerninity as much as anyone I know!

Claire Beauchamp
08-20-2009, 12:26 PM
Nashville has the largest Kurdish population in the US. As with most places in the US, there is also an exploding population of Hispanics. Nashville is also known as one of the places where "lost boys of Sudan" were brought to settle. It's a surprisingly diverse city, and diverse in unexpected directions. Check out: http://wnpt.org/productions/nextdoorneighbors/index.html

missred
08-20-2009, 04:51 PM
>
Missred, never in a zillion years would I have thought that you were born a Yankee. You have embraced Southerninity as much as anyone I know!

Zoe, not just a Yankee, but a damnyankee, as I came to stay! :D

PunditLisa
08-20-2009, 05:25 PM
I'd proceed with caution. I'm a suburbanite and own a vacation cottage in rural Kentucky. My neighbors are the salt of the earth, but they are not exactly tolerant. It is the Bible Belt, after all.

Socially, there's not a whole lot to do, even in town. We do have cinemas and a drive-in and the county fair is a huge deal. We're literally a half an hour ride from the nearest crappy hospital, and more than two hours away from a decent hospital.

Also know that much of Tennessee is dry.

Me? I love Kentucky but would never move there full-time.

StGermain
08-20-2009, 06:39 PM
According to Wiki, this is the list of dry counties in Tennessee.

Tennessee
The consolidated city-county government of Lynchburg and Moore County, Tennessee, is a dry county, notwithstanding that it is home to the Jack Daniel's distillery. (A special state law allows the distillery to sell small, commemorative bottles of Jack Daniel's whiskey to tourists, but not on Sundays.)

Campbell, Cumberland, Hancock, Sevier, and White are also dry counties.

StG

notfrommensa
08-20-2009, 06:49 PM
Dry Counties in Tenn was a culture shock to me when I moved to Bradley County in the mid 80's. I thought Dry counties turned "wet" when The Andy Griffith Show was canceled.

Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor
08-21-2009, 05:01 AM
Rural Tennessee is insanely boring.

Large/small cities are you best choice.

bannerrefugee
08-21-2009, 05:24 AM
I have a great deal of experience living in large cities and small towns in the Southern and Midwestern US.

Unless you are already a Baptist or don’t mind becoming a Baptist do not do it. Large cities in the US south can be OK. Nashville, Memphis, or Atlanta for example smaller places-sorry but do you like making friends at church?

leander
08-21-2009, 06:16 AM
Do not do it.

I have some friends from rural Tennessee and have visited a few times. You will not fit in. As an urbanite "fag" you will be completely ostracized and alienated from everyone.

You will have a very hard and lonely life.

Shirley Ujest
08-21-2009, 07:10 AM
Tennessee is dry?

Forget it.

Jelly Roll
08-21-2009, 09:03 AM
Most of Tennessee is NOT dry; Maury County in particular is not.

Most of my friends are not Baptist. Many do not attend church anywhere. And yet somehow we all manage to get along. No one has tried to convert me to their religion, nor have I tried to convert them to mine.

My experience (from actually living here) is that people live and let live for the most part. Are you going to run into the sterotypical Bible-thumping Southerner who is convinced you're going to Hell? Yeah, probably. But that type of person definitely isn't in the majority and they probably think I'm going to Hell for one reason or another too. And frankly, you can find that backwards mentality in every state-we don't own the monopoly on that.

You said you were going to come down for a visit, which I think is a great idea. My family visited several times before actually making the move (when I was a kid). I hope you have time to hit several spots in Middle Tennessee. If you find you don't like rural life, come spend some time in Columbia or Spring Hill. If those towns are too small, visit Franklin and Nashville.

Claire Beauchamp
08-21-2009, 10:05 AM
Some people are happier in cities; some people like and even prefer the slower life in the sticks. That's a basic dichotomy no matter what part of the country or even the world you are talking about. What one person finds "boring" another may find tranquil and expansive. What the OP needs to think about, in part, is if he can make a transition from one to the other. Maybe yes, maybe no, but that's a personal matter, not one any of us can tell him.

As for TN being dry ... as Jelly Roll said, no, of course not. Some COUNTIES are, but there are only a few. As with other places, liquor laws are an odd patchwork with strange restrictions based on the power of the liquor wholesaler lobby. For example, wine can only be sold in liquor stores, not in grocery stores. This is true of New York City, too, so there ya go.

I live in a blue county in a red state, and even I get weary of the conservative mugwumps. Still, again as JR said, most people are live-and-let-live on a personal basis. (Some of the legislators could take a lesson there, but hey ... it will be good to have more blue voters in the area! heh.)

Like a lot of things, when moving to an area that is not like where you are from, whether you like it or not depends a lot on your attitude going in. I've seen people come here with a positive attitude and fall in love with the place, and I've seen people who come in convinced we're all Daisy Maes and Boss Hoggs and see only those things that reinforce those views. The latter are miserable -- they also bemoan the fact that they can't get "real NY style pizza" or "real sushi" or whatever, and say that Southern food literally scares them. (No joke, I've seen this comment on Chowhound.) So, you can choose to embrace what's different, or you can wallow in homesickness no matter where you go.

masonite
08-21-2009, 09:23 PM
To the naysayers: thank you, I need to hear that. This plan may be totally insane; that's why the next logical step is a leisurely visit.

I know Nashville quite well, by the way. I could certainly live there with ease. Perhaps the tiny town will NOT work at all. That leaves me wondering mostly about Columbia, which is equally convenient to N'ville and the tiny town - is it large and semi-urban enough for me to fit in a little? Realize, of course, that I don't really fit in ANYWHERE, so I'm not expecting a bed of roses, just hoping to avoid being actively shunned or harassed. As a best-case scenario, I'm thinking of Oliver and Lisa in Green Acres, who remained forever outsiders but got along anyway. I will not, however, be acquiring a pig.

Zoe
08-22-2009, 12:30 AM
One of my childhood friends is gay and has remained in rural West Tennessee in a town of 2,000. It's probably different when you grow up there and are much loved as a kid.

You would have a better chance of finding friends and acceptance in Columbia -- and more things to do, certainly.

Tennessee has 95 counties and most of them are not dry. If you live in a dry county, just drive a few miles to the next county to buy what you want.

There are many other churches besides the Baptist church in Tennessee. The United Methodist Publishing House is located in Middle Tennessee as are many of its churches. There is a different kind of Presbyterian Church on every corner. The Cumberland Presbyterian Church was founded 200 years ago in Middle Tennessee in what is now Montgomery Bell State Park. There are Episcopal Churches, Roman Catholic, Luthern and other mainstream churches. Some of these have become more tolerant of homosexuality. Even a Baptist Church near where I live has a lesbian minister. There are also more fundamental churches available. It is true that a lot of social life is through the church.

Episcopal church choirs give the best parties.

Bosda: Rural Tennessee is insanely boring.

Paul McCartney chose a small town in rural Middle Tennessee -- Fairview -- to do some writing for a few months. Peter Jenkins, the man who wrote A Walk Across America chose to settle in Middle Tennessee. The people from The Farm that I described weren't just born there. Rugby, Tennessee is a Victorian village that was founded by British author Thomas Hughes so that the "second sons" of British aristocracy -- those who didn't inherit the titles -- would have a special place to call their own. (They built the tennis courts before they built a place to sleep.) There are mighty fine vinyards down the road a bit.

If you are bored in rural Tennessee, you haven't been working on your novel or learning to play another instrument.

masonite
08-22-2009, 01:06 AM
There are many other churches besides the Baptist church in Tennessee.... It is true that a lot of social life is through the church.

Episcopal church choirs give the best parties.

In Columbia, I would probably go to the Episcopal church nearest me. And I know all about those choir parties. There was this certain baritone....

If you are bored in rural Tennessee, you haven't been working on your novel or learning to play another instrument.

I'm a musician, thinking about starting to write ... rural or semi-rural life may suit. I'm not trying to reproduce my current existence in this new locale. Not looking for a big social circle, just hoping to be able to do my thing and not be too bothered by the neighbors, if any. "Nothing to do" in a small town or countryside is a non-issue for me, so long as I can drive into the big city once in a while, and not get beat up at the corner store back home.

Face Intentionally Left Blank
08-22-2009, 03:38 AM
As a middle-aged, straight, single male in Tennessee with no children, I'm really getting a kick out of some of these replies. :D

I'm a Northerner, born and raised. I find Tennessee way too freakin' hot and humid for too many months. Thank Og for central air. Nashville seems fairly nice. It reminds me of Pittsburgh - a river(one is enough), and a little town feel with big town entertainment & conveniences. Pittsburgh, with more tornado warnings. Don't know what's up with all the tornado warnings, but they seem common.

If you want to see live entertainment, you're going to need to go to Nashville, or enjoy whatever local bands/theater are in your area. National acts won't be visiting your backwater town. Rural life in TN is much like rural life anywhere, I suppose. Entertain yourself, enjoy the simple things, or get used to going into the 'big city'. Expect a low cost of living relative to many big cities, which is good, because many jobs will pay you with that in mind.

Zoe
08-22-2009, 03:55 AM
A sense of humor helps -- and I see that you have one. Sounds like Columbia may be just right for you. Be careful not to buy or rent a place too close to the Duck River. It floods. Keep that in mind. Columbia can be classy for a small town and it won't take you too long to get into Nashville.

A copy of The Nashville Scene will tell you everything that is going on all over town -- including live music. It's not all country music. Bits and pieces of local theater. Our local arts cinema is the Belcourt Theater. When you make your move, let me know and I will send you a link.

I think you are going to do just fine.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: [email protected]

Send comments about this website to:

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

Best Topics: fish bowl gravel knick knack games toaster fork huffing rush ya vull livys route uv transmission glass zipperless fuck big whiskey wyoming ay mamacita can coughing cause blood in urine black people with natural red hair and freckles what do scotsmen wear under kilts malcolm in the middle cancelled shock collar on humans how often do women get horny car ac only works when driving maiden name first or last wood on wood lubricant whats the difference between dark and light brown sugar did they have helicopters in world war 2 pb&j otter wiki