- Hollis Johnson
- I moved from New England to the South, and back up north to New York City over the course of the last five years.
- While living in North Carolina, I thoroughly enjoyed taking in everything the slower-paced lifestyle had to offer.
- After moving to a bustling metropolis like New York City, I never thought I’d miss the South, but was surprised to find out that I do.
- Here are the 13 things I miss about Southern living, from the delicious food to the classic Southern fashion.
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As a born and bred New Englander, I was excited but anxious to move down south to attend Elon University, a small private university just outside of Burlington, North Carolina.
As I grew acclimated to the Southern lifestyle, I truly fell in love with the beautiful temperate weather, delicious food, and charming Southern style. I never thought I would miss the slow-paced Southern lifestyle after moving to a city like New York, which offers a melting pot of cultures from all over the world.
However, I soon realized that there were quite a few aspects of Southern living that I really missed.
I miss the delicious regional Southern food, despite having access to every kind of cuisine in New York City.
What New York, for the most parts, gets wrong when it comes to cuisine can be summed up in one word: barbecue. Truly nothing can beat Southern barbecue, and North Carolina has many spots that simply can’t be competed with. Not only are restaurants like Lexington Barbecue and Smokey’s BBQ Shack regional favorites, but it’s not uncommon to run into a roadside stand offering the best barbecue you’ve ever tasted.
Not only is the barbecue meat in North Carolina and other southern states smoked and seasoned to perfection, but Southern pitmasters also know their way around a delicious gravy, loaded potato salad, creamy mac “n” cheese, and mouthwatering coleslaw – AKA, the only sides I ever want to see at a barbecue spread.
The weather in the South truly can’t be matched.
If there’s one thing I miss about North Carolina, it’s probably the mild, temperate weather. Unlike warmer states like California or Texas, North Carolina actually gets all four seasons – and they’re all gorgeous. North Carolinians really only have to brave the harsh winter cold for two or three months out of the year, December through February, compared to what feels like six months in New York City.
As someone who’s experienced every time of year in North Carolina, it’s safe to say that Southern summers can’t be matched.
It’s really easy to get around in North Carolina.
- Pam Susemiehl/Getty Images
Getting around North Carolina was a straight shot – literally. Practically everywhere I ever wanted to get to in North Carolina can be reached by the main highway. I found that most of the things I needed were an easy car ride away. That’s definitely not something I could say after moving to New York City, where I mainly rely on walking and public transportation.
I miss having easy access to cities, mountains, and tons of beaches, without even having to leave the state.
- Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group/Getty Images
In North Carolina, I had easy access to gorgeous mountain ranges, bustling urban cities, and beautiful beaches. Some of my favorite memories from college include road-tripping to Asheville, hitting up the Wilmington beaches, and taking in everything Raleigh-Durham or Charlotte had to offer.
While the cities in North Carolina may not compare in cuisine, nightlife, or overall excitement to New York City, it was nice knowing I was only ever a stone’s throw away from gorgeous nature as well. North Carolina has close to 50 beautiful beaches across the entire state, while New York City boasts only a handful. Plus, since the weather in North Carolina sometimes stays warm long into October, I could visit the beach much later into the year than I could while living up north.
There are so many hole-in-the-wall café’s, restaurants, and shopping centers — and they’re practically never teeming with people.
- Daniel B./ Yelp
In New York, the best restaurants in town usually have a mile-long waitlist, if you can even get in. In North Carolina, there are tons of hole-in-the-wall coffee shops and restaurants that only the locals know about, so it’s hardly ever crowded. Lower populations may just equal less time waiting for your cappuccino or glass of wine.
I miss the cheaper rent — you could get so much more for so much less.
- Flickr/Håkan Dahlström
As you can probably guess, rent in Burlington, North Carolina is drastically less expensive than in a huge city like New York. When I lived in my college apartment, I paid half of the $930 rent per month to live in a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment with a roommate. Now, I pay hundreds more to live in a four-bedroom apartment with one and a half bathrooms.
When it comes to Southern real estate, you really get a big bang for your buck. The average cost to buy a home in North Carolina is $275,000, compared to $425,000 in New York.
I surprisingly miss the over-the-top Southern style.
- Getty/Michael Loccisano
Though I never much prescribed to typical Southern style – I was more into Doc Martens in college than Jack Rogers – I did appreciate the over-the-top and largely feminine style I would see people wear to sports games, the grocery store, and beyond. Southern women certainly know their way around teased hair, tailored clothing, and a set of pearls.
As someone who grew up in New England, and recently moved to New York where all-black is the uniform of choice, I strangely miss the Southern fashion sensibility.
I was never more than a stone’s throw away from basically every fast-food restaurant.
- Hollis Johnson
In the South, fast food is king. From classics like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Burger King to regional chains like Cookout, Zaxby’s, Chick-fil-A, and Bojangle’s, North Carolinians are truly spoiled for choice when it comes to fast food. Cookout, by far my favorite fast food restaurant, is an unbeatable deal and the food is delicious.
For around $5, you can get a tray with a burger, drink, and your choice of side. Though the Cajun fries were usually my go-to, the hush puppies and onion rings are also incredible. Cookout also sells barbecue favorites like pulled pork sandwiches, plus more than 40 flavors of milkshakes.
Even though there are incredible coffee shops in New York, I do miss my favorite local coffee shop in North Carolina.
- Dan Lacher/Flickr
Don’t get me wrong, there are incredible local coffee shops in New York City. In fact, there might be too many to count. However, whenever I travel back down south, there’s something especially nostalgic about visiting my old favorite local coffee shops.
One, in particular stands above the rest – The Blend and Co. in Burlington, North Carolina has the most delicious spicy Mexican mocha latte I’ve ever had. Plus, after picking up my coffee in the morning, I could always walk outside and enjoy the calm, beautiful weather of North Carolina, instead of the looming skyscrapers and dirty city pavement of New York.
I miss being able to say “ya’ll” instead of “you guys” and not get any weird looks.
- Hero Images/Getty Images
As a New Englander and now a New Yorker, I say “you guys” to refer to a group of two or more people. However, since moving out of the South, I do find myself slipping “ya’ll” into my everyday vocabulary. While I do get the occasional funny look when I say it, as I do not have a Southern accent in the slightest, many are actually endeared by this Southern phrase – myself included.
Thrift shopping in the South is on a whole other level.
- Business Insider/Mary Hanbury
“Thrift shopping” in New York City is a total paradox. Despite trendy vintage and thrift stores popping up left and right all over the city, I’ve found that much of the merchandise they sell is overpriced, at least compared to thrift shopping in North Carolina.
While living in the South, not only could you shop at huge thrift stores like Goodwill or the Salvation Army stores, but also smaller hole-in-the-wall church thrift stores and independent shops that offered beautiful clothing at an incredible price. Throughout college, I was known to hit up the local “dollar day” deal at my local Salvation Army – something I haven’t ever seen at trendy New York City thrift stores.
I miss how friendly and polite everyone is in the South, although it could be almost annoying at times.
- Kevork Djansezian, Getty Images
Southern hospitality isn’t a myth. People in the South are generally really friendly and nice, from the fast-food worker handing you your Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich to the couple out walking their dog by your apartment. In New York City, most people avoid eye contact altogether with others on the street, but in North Carolina, it’s not uncommon to smile, wave, or pick up a conversation with the people around you.
In fact, people are so polite in North Carolina, they will hold the door open for you even if you’re ten or more feet away. As a New Englander not used to this level of Southern hospitality, I often felt the need to run to the door more quickly when people would do this.
Though it might have been a little annoying at times, I definitely appreciated the sentiment.
More than anything, I miss the slower-paced lifestyle of living in the South.
- Dudarev Mikhail/Shutterstock
In the South, like it or not, people take their time. While this isn’t always the most convenient fact about living in the South, it was nice to not have to hustle and bustle every time I left the house. In New York, the fast-paced lifestyle can be extremely draining. Sometimes I do miss wandering the aisles of a grocery store without being in anyone’s way, going out for a slow Sunday drive, or simply taking time to read or write.
On my college campus, students would often hang up hammocks on the trees all over campus or lay out on blankets in-between classes. I do miss that slower-paced lifestyle – especially when I’m running to and from the subway platform every day.
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