The Relaxed Life

One of the things I noticed on this last trip up to Idaho from Texas is how much I yearn to return to an older, more relaxed style of life.  To be sure, this was triggered in no small part by the very frequent glimpses into small-town life Mark and I encountered as we drove up (more on this later), but lately I’ve been hankering to get further away from not only cities, but also the suburbs, “ex-urbs” and their concomitant lifestyle.

Everyone here knows, of course, of my love for older things, be they cars, guns or manners, and maybe it’s time for me to talk with New Wife about reverting to an old-fashioned lifestyle, where life is simpler and just… easier than the rat race we have to deal with now.

It doesn’t help that Mark and his wife recently left metropolitan Houston and moved far away to a small town in South Texas.  His description of their new life made me, in a word, jealous.  He and his wife are much younger than New Wife and I, so he can handle the more physical aspects of a small farm whereas we couldn’t.  And I wouldn’t want to do that even if I were younger;  I’m still a city boy at heart, but I have to think that I would be prepared to sacrifice proximity to gourmet restaurants and Central Market in exchange for a more relaxed lifestyle.

New Wife has often expressed her desire to live in a small English village, in a cottage like this one:

(Lest anyone wonders how, I should point out that our current 2BD 2BA apartment is about 970 sq.ft., so we’ve already downsized.)

We’re not going to do that, of course — we could, as she’s a British citizen — but no, because of all the usual reasons:  expense, upheaval, weather and of course British gun laws.

She’d also prefer to live on the coast somewhere (I wouldn’t mind), but to be honest, cost is a major deterrent.

Another problem is weather.  I’ve come to absolutely loathe Texas-type hot weather, and neither of us could handle the work of living in extreme cold in, say, northern Idaho or Montana.  Somewhere, there must be a happy medium, but damned if I can find it without some serious other negatives.

It’s also gotta be reasonably pretty.  I’ve had enough of flat Texas and, both of us having grown up in hilly Johannesburg, we yearn for that kind of scenery again.

So far, the rural states which occur to me are Kentucky and Tennessee — and by “rural” I mean that part which isn’t called “Nashville” or “Lexington”, and in each case also means “eastern”, as far as I can tell.

So, O My Readers:  talk to me, in Comments and by email, and tell me where I might find that kind of life as expressed in the picture at the top of this post.


  1. 16 years ago I couldn’t stand southwest FL suburban life after living there for 40 years, and the heat, my gah the heat. So we moved here to Brown County in south central Indiana. “The Hills O’ Brown” and we’re fairly content. Our only child, our son, had moved out already and moved on so we downsized our house and we are on 4 acres in the deep forest. The closest neighbor is about 600 feet away (still too close as far as I’m concerned) and all of the neighbors are shooters and all of us have small to medium size shooting ranges on our properties. My only wife and I have been married 38 years and at 67 I think I’m about the same age as you, Kim. It gets too cold here at times, and in the summer too hot at times. But the heat is nothing like southwest FL. There is no perfect place but having people around you (neighbors) that you can get along with makes all the diff. The quality of your life is improved all the way around when you get away from the masses of people. We hear an emergency siren maybe once every 2-3 months and it’s at least a mile or more away on one of the 2 lane highways. All property prices are on the moon now, so prepare yourself for wallet shock.

  2. I’m looking at East Tennessee too (along with North Georgia), and I’m only 37… The problem is that, since COVID, land prices just about anywhere rural have skyrocketed as tech employees from Out West have fled those hellholes and relocated to more rural climes. My family owns a little land in Union County, GA, and I’ve had my eye on a nearby property for several years, just to gauge prices. When said property sold in 2016, it was $250,000 for 36 acres in the mountains. It just sold again this past December, and went for $920,000. And this is in a tiny little community nestled in the mountains, where city sewer and high-speed internet are both rare and unreliable.

    The biggest problem, even more that real estate prices, are the druggies. Rural communities have been hit extraordinarily hard with meth, heroin, and the like. The family cabin has been ransacked twice in the last few years, and the last time nearly destroyed by assholes pulling the copper wiring from the walls. Thankfully it was well-insured, but it still sucks, and we’re never sure about going up there now because we don’t know if the cabin will be habitable. Ugh.

  3. come visit Branson Mo. in the Boot Hills of Mo. (the Confederate State everyone forgets about).

  4. Kim,
    Wife and I retired to Cookeville, TN in 2019. Couldn’t have made a better choice! A university town with good restaurants, microbreweries that make very good beers and ales, and housing is still affordable. We lucked out and found a 10.5 acre property with a small (1500 sq. ft.) house that needed minor repairs. Our realtor says we could double our money if we sold, but honestly, this is the last move for us! I even went back to college and at my age (65) the cost is almost nothing. Finding that the young people here are strong conservatives for the most part and no chance this state goes blue in my lifetime. Check out the area online – you’ll be tempted!

    1. I’m from East Tennessee (between Knoxville and Chattanooga), but I’ve always thought the Cookeville area was pretty. One of my brothers-in-law is from Baxter and his family’s land is gorgeous. The Plateau doesn’t have the mountains I love so much, but it’s got plenty of hills and hollers. Cookeville is a lovely town that’s easy driving distance to Nashville if you want big city fun, but far enough away to avoid the big city people.

  5. I did deep rural life for 15 years, in two different locations. In both locations, everyone wanting to make something of themselves left, so the local population was a bunch of dysfunctional busybody alcoholics who got into our business like it was their job. We now live in a suburban/rural interface where there are enough people around that our neighbors have their own communities and don’t need to bother us for entertainment.

    I’m content being a hermit and could live anywhere. The wife is not, she needs to engage with people. So she gets sucked into their drama, which means I get sucked into their drama. Point being, in my experience there is an additional factor to consider in locations – what the local population is like. I will not ever move again without having rented for awhile and tested the new location first.

  6. YAIIT

    …just sayin.’ The fact that it’s the northermost town on lawnguyland to the contrary notwithstanding, its politics is ignorable, the terrain is beautiful, and it has weather rather than climate. And… those of us who remember VJ Day because it let us stay home from school have learned to put up with worse.

  7. Having done some looking myself I’d suggest either southeastern TN or upstate SC. While we haven’t found the piece of property we want yet, both areas seem to have the right mix of rural and support (healthcare being a primary consideration).

  8. I left the communist pest hole of New Jersey for Oklahoma in 1980. Some years later a good friend from high school retired from the air force and eventually ended up outside Johnson City TN. He has about 10 acres, a nice home and some outbuildings where he carries out small scale distilling experiments. He has a degree in chemistry so his product is actually quite good. Just don’t smoke around the place. Friend isn’t totally off the grid but he’s pretty self sufficient. He is close enough to town for shopping, medical care – always a concern at our age – and he has reasonable access to transportatio. I can’t speak to property costs there but I’d guess that like every place else they’re pretty high.

    All shooters are familiar with the internet’s favorite grandpa Hickock 45 (Greg Kinman I think). He’s got a place up in the hills north of Nashville and from what you see on his channel, the place looks beautiful. There is a horse’s ass who drives a truck without a muffler past Greg’s compound whenever he’s filming, but if that’s the worst that happens you can probably survive.

    Any place in the Ozark mountains is pleasant as long as you stay away from the big tourist areas like Branson, Hot Springs, or Eureka Springs. You get 4 seasons but the winters aren’t too extreme.

  9. Hill Country in Texas.

    There are a lot of small towns paralleling i35 from Waco to San Antonio. They have decent restaurants, a few have supermarkets. There’s enough tourism and hunting (lot of hunting lodges in that area) that some of the small towns have decent restaurants and stores.

    Problem I see with this is twofold – Supply and Medical care.

    I’m doubting North Texas will have the same empty shelf issues a rural area would have. And, you are an older gentleman, getting to doctors can be a hassle.

    1. Hill Country is hot as well as Dallas…. But medical care is easily available, with good hospitals in medium sized towns and great hospitals in Austin and San Antonio.

      But the weather in Montana’s Banana Belt (Flathead and Bitterroot Valleys) is not nearly as bad as Kim makes out: While it snows some, and gets cool, it rarely gets below 20F, or rarely gets above 85F. And health care is equally available there: The health care desert in Montana is in the east, not west.

  10. Talk with Kenny from knuckledragging. He’s been in Tennessee for a few years now since moving from California.

  11. We are moving out of the people’s republic of Washington to western North Carolina. Found a great place out in the boonies with gorgeous view of the surrounding mountains. About two hours away from Knoxville, Atlanta, Asheville and Chattanooga so culture is available. The town (about 4K people) is the county seat so has a decent size hospital and good restaurants and shopping.

    Really good people, a lot cheaper to live. Very happy with the decision.

    1. Sounds like you’re near Cherokee, NC. I’ve ridden my motorcycle all through those parts. Smoky Mountains, Deals Gap, Wheels Through Time… Awesome scenery out that way.

  12. In our late 60+ wife and I evaluated our home and location. After raising the family in 100+ year old POS house and deteriorating neighborhood we looked around last couple of yrs. Did the long roadtrips across country. Immediately realized this country is so damn beautiiful…BUT..we ruled out GD snow ! Ruled out banjo country…did that as a kid and it sucks as noted above. So suburban is fine. Needed gun FREEDOM. Soooo…at just shy of 70 we are building house in AZ. Already house prices are skyrocketing. Got in just right. Of I had more money I would do like a friend of mine. One house on an island off Washington state and one in St Augustine Fl. When seasons change then time to fly to the other house. No place is perfect. Just has to hit most of the right buttons for you and wife. In time we will all be in a nursing home or dead.

  13. In our late 60 wife and I evaluated our home and location. After raising the family in 100 year old POS house and deteriorating neighborhood we looked around last couple of yrs. Did the long roadtrips across country. Immediately realized this country is so damn beautiiful…BUT..we ruled out GD snow ! Ruled out banjo country…did that as a kid and it sucks as noted above. So suburban is fine. Needed gun FREEDOM. Soooo…at just shy of 70 we are building house in AZ. Already prices are skyrocketing. Got in just right. If I had more money I would do like a friend of mine. One house on an island off Washington state and one in St Augustine Fl. When seasons change then time to fly to the other house. No place is perfect. Just has to hit most of the right buttons for you and wife. In time we will all be in a nursing home or dead.

  14. I’m afraid I don’t have much advice to offer, just some Captain Obvious observations.

    The rural life and small towns call to me too. As a young lad, I grew up on a ranch outside a small Gold Rush town–Fiddletown, CA. There are signs along highway 20 (here in Texas) proclaiming it the “Ronald Reagan Memorial Highway”. He was California governor back then. Wife and I lived for 30 years in the small town of Chico, CA and raised out kids there. Wonderful small town atmosphere, very livable California valley floor weather.

    In 2015 we escaped what had become Kalifornia’s corrupt government and politics, following two of our grown kids to the DFW area, and our own lineage to Texas. We watched news reports of the Oroville Dam spillway debacle, and the Camp Fire that destroyed the neighboring town of Paradise. We had friends that did not survive that fire.

    So we bought our house in a cul-de-sac that tee’s into the bottom end of a dead end street. The world rushes on around us, out of sight and (mostly) out of earshot. On the plus side, everything is close by, including medical which is a real plus. I turn 69 this month, and Monday I begin daily trips for radiation treatment (yes, I am winning!). I put less than 3000 miles on my truck last year. Wife is a city girl, so she is content here.

    Our biggest blessing is that we baby sit our 1 year old grandson a few days a week. A challenge, yes, but he knows us, and breaks into a smile when he sees us. Everything is a compromise of some sort. Perhaps I am not where I would prefer to be, but I am where I’m needed.

    Hope everything works out for you, Kim. Perhaps we will yet meet at the range.

  15. I’ve lived in Tennessee for the past sixty years, most of it in East Tennessee.

    Start in Cookeville and head east toward Knoxville, then further north toward the Tri-Cities, or south toward Chattanooga, all of it along the mountains or foothills, and you can’t go wrong. You can go as rural as you like or not, and still be within an hour of a major metropolitan area. There are many pleasant smaller towns.

    Guns are not just welcomed but encouraged. The people are friendly, polite, and conservative. There is no state income tax and property taxes are generally reasonable.

    The weather is good. Winters can be a little cold and summers a little humid, but if you choose carefully, you can find a breeze most of the time. Spring and fall are amazing. You are within four to eight hours of most of the eastern USA, if you like to drive travel.

    We’d welcome you to the area!

  16. We’re currently building a log home (I’d say cabin, but it’s already the sort of cabin someone from the 1850s would have considered done) on 15 acres off of State Highway 77 out in East Texas.

    The weather is different, wetter, than here in flat North Central, more water, way more trees and hills and your soil isn’t the nasty black/yellow clay gumbo. Things grow without a damn sprinkler system.
    Life also moves slower, folks are the Texas nice I remember from when I first landed here in ’79 (Damned Yankee is an earned name, not just a joke). Admittedly I can’t just hit a curry place or get sashimi at the drop of a hat, but it’s easily worth the tradeoff.

    I ain’t gonna lie, it’s still Texas hot but so far I’ve found it more bearable, and much more scenic. Let’s face it, there’s not much terrain wise to make Dallas worth seeing.

    Living on unincorporated land, so right now on the unfinished house the property tax is $24 a year, because we have pines growing on the property that my sons or grandkids might decide to harvest in 30 years we get the Ag exemption.

    When I shoot whatever I’m shooting (as I usually hear going on around me at a distance when I’m working on the place) I can fire as many as I want, in whatever caliber I want, as fast as I want though I obviously do consider the direction of neighboring (across several acres of woods) domiciles or places where there are domesticated animals.

    It’s only 2 and half hours from Dallas, and most importantly of all right now, it’s TEXAS. I considered up around Franklin Tennessee or Prairie Grove Arkansas but there’s still snow in those places that exceeds what we’ll get here for the foreseeable future (Climate change….bullshit).

    Everyone I’ve talked to out there ain’t happy with the direction of what we used to call America proper, but everywhere you look where there’s a house there’s almost always a flag pole flying the Stars and Stripes and the Texas flag. Everyone owns a gun, everyone dares Beto to come get them along with the army he’ll need to do it.

  17. Move to where your children and grandchildren are. You’ll thank me in 5-10 years.

    1. I did that a few years ago. Almost immediately the kids decamped to somewhere else, leaving me in TX, a place I have come to love as my own. They are in CA and NY, behind enemy lines and about as far from TX as you can get. Perhaps they are trying to tell me something.

  18. I’m going to second Quentin: don’t move away from the kids and grandkids.

    Now let’s talk about Kentucky, since you asked it. I love Lexington myself, but I’m a reformed country boy who loves the city. However, Lexington has the last of the old-guard conservative Democrats. You get some left-wing politics locally, but when the BLM came to town one night (across the street from me at the AirBNB house), they were allowed their party and then politely told to go back home. We had polite, non-destructive protests and then everyone went home.

    You probably don’t want Lexington. It’s a flat plateau surrounded by pretty land in all directions, but (with exceptions) not here. If you want a metro area with stuff to drive to, I’d suggest (in decreasing order) Somerset, Ashland, Danville, Bowling Green, and Owensboro.

    The less we say about Louisville, the better.

    If you want some space and a rural atmosphere, get a pencil compass and an old-fashioned paper map of the state. Take those cities (especially Somerset and Danville), and draw a 30 mile circle, then a 70 mile circle on the map. For most of those cities, it’s worth looking in between those circles for someplace to live.

    The deep woods areas of Eastern and Western KY (30 miles east of Richmond and 30 miles west of Bowling Green, and on), are incredibly beautiful, and you can get land in abundance. And the need to drive 2 hours+ for anything. And neighbors who are meth heads. And no local economy to speak of. Only the school teachers move back, for a reason…

    For what you’re wanting, I bet the Somerset area, and the surrounding counties to the west and north especially (Wayne, Lincoln, etc.) are what you want. The area around the Cumberland Parkway is probably a close second.

    1. I would also look a bit further to the west on the BlueGrass parkway.
      Southern Nelson county is wonderful.

    2. Huge +1 for Somerset. Hot rod capitol of the USA, sweet lake life, mild winters (except for the one we had just before we left), say Hi to Dave’s gun barn, great fellow. 20 minutes from the Tennessee border, constitutional carry. And flat out the nicest people on the planet. I lived 25 years in the USA before moving to Australia and I’d say I saved the best till last. Somerset, just gorgeous.

    3. We moved to Wayne County, Kentucky from East Tennessee and that’s where I went to Junior High and High School. The Lake Cumberland area is one of the most beautiful places in the US, as far as I’m concerned. Plus, both Pulaski County (Somerset) and Wayne County (Monticello) are no longer dry counties as of a couple of years ago.

  19. Have you considered “snowbirding?”

    My grandfather had a home in Idaho Falls where he’d spend spring, summer, and early fall, and he had a long-term rental in Saint George in southern Utah where he’d move in late October until March or so. He never made much money in his life, but since both places were decently rural (at the time, anyway) he could afford to do it easily enough.

    It’s only about 8 hours of driving between the 2 places so it (both are on I-15, so it’s a nice straight shot with 80 mph speed limit most of the way) can be done in a single day easily enough, but the temperature differences are enough to make a huge difference for summer/winter living. And both are low-humidity areas too, if that’s a consideration.

  20. Texas Hill Country has been good for us, we moved from Dallas to Boerne, Texas, about 30 minutes NW of San Antonio off of I-10 in 2013 to be in the same town with grown kids and grandkids, bought a nice little 1,250 sp ft home on the NE side of town and we do like living here. The temperature here in our part of the Hill Country is usually eight to ten degrees cooler than Dallas and in the evening it cools off even more for nice outdoor, backyard living. We have a delightful community and the only drawback is that it is growing fast, our town has doubled in size since 2010 and the county with all of the gated communities was a bit over 30K in 2010 and it is going to be close to 50K at the end of this year so we have a bit of rush hour traffic and instead of 8 min to go across town at busy times it takes up to 14 min. The plus side of our growth is that the small house we bought which we could afford in 2013 has about doubled in value and our property taxes have been locked for the last 12 years, that Texas thing for over 65 years old. This is a nice friendly Texas area for us and it will be interesting to see if we can hold our conservative values with the new folks coming in, so far things seem to be solid with gun loving decent people right across from our plaza on main is a huge Black Rifle Coffee shop next to a gun store that sells mostly AR style black rifles. We have several home brew beer places and some real decent vineyards with wine tours, lots of great places to eat and well tended parks and stuff. My suggestion for finding a place to relocate is to get on the front edge of growth in a community, we were close to the front and kind of slid into home plate but there is no way we could afford to buy a home here nine years later, we would have to look further North and West which would not be too bad. demographics for Kendall County ~

    1. .52 acre. lol
      about the size of my workshop
      srsly, that is waaaaay too little land

  21. I had the dream house in Patagonia, Arizona. 1200 sq ft. 2 bedroom, 2 bath on just under 40 acres that backed up to millions of acres of national forest. No neighbors in line of sight (and I was at the top of a hill). About a mile to the town of Patagonia, and 18 miles to Nogales, 55 minutes to Tucson. Great weather 365 days a year. Green as Ireland in the monsoon season.

    Sold it last March. My late wife passed away a few months before I retired from the Navy and never got to set foot in the house. I kept it as a seasonal rental for another 9 years, but the Last Wife has two boys still in college and wouldn’t live the isolated, high desert lifestyle anyway. She’s also almost 15 years younger than I am, and has a medical practice here in NOVA. As much as I hate it here, it looks like the only way I leave this house is feet first.

    My Mom’s people are from Clinton, TN, about a half hour from Knoxville. My aunt and uncle have a lot on the Clinch River that I’ve been lusting after for 30 years. I’d love to put a cabin with a big front porch right there.

  22. Do not overlook Missouri. I would not suggest Branson or Lake of the Ozarks region, however, unless you enjoy being overrun with tourists. I’m partial to the “Little Dixie” area, NW of Columbia, Mo., myself, or along the Missouri River, e.g. Jamestown, Booneville. Prices are not skyrocketing there yet.

  23. I would suggest looking at Northern Nevada, especially Elko off I-80 or Ely off Hwy 50. There are some nice areas closer to Reno, but it probably to much like desert, and not rural enough. Ely is close enough to Salt Lake City if you absolutely need to go to the big city. Taxes are reasonable. In this day and time I am not sure of land prices. I could live in either place easily.

  24. Southwestern Colorado, in the San Juan National Forest. Lovely country. Yes, it gets cold, but the climate is dry enough that it has to get down below 20° or so before it’s really uncomfortable.

  25. Western NC is pretty nice. I lived in Sapphire for a few years and loved it. It was pretty far out in the woods then. Brevard was a nice small town and we were an hour or so from Asheville. Of course Asheville was such a nice place it attracted Austin types and they’re doing their damndest to turn it into a shithole.

  26. NORTHERN Idaho doesn’t have too extreme weather. Once you get north of the Palouse it’s fairly mild temps, although every decade or so you get one winter that dumps a load of snow. There’s still some places south of CdA that won’t kill your bank account and it’s close enough to Coeur d’Alene that you can do your shopping.

    Flagstaff AZ is pretty temperate, but you’re way high in altitude.

  27. Hear me out here… we invade San Diego, forcibly relocate all the libs to Los Angeles, and start a new free state. Ocean, hills, wonderful temps year around, it’s got it all.

    I’m going to second the notion of becoming snowbirds. My grandparents retained their house in Wisconsin for the summer, but purchased a house in Phoenix for the winters. They appreciated having much easier weather to deal with, and golf year around.

    I would also recommend western Montana in the summer, and either staying in DFW or the hill country in the winter.

  28. I agree with DMan, but would also add NW Montana especially around Flathead lake. It’s a peculiar microclimate in one of the Rockies’ fold valleys and it extends up into BC, Canada where I have a cottage. But you can’t do Canada because you’ve got more guns than our whole damn army.

    Anyway, warm, sunny and dry in the summer, mostly cool but not cold in winter. Eureka is nice but small, Kalispell is up to maybe 26,000 people which makes the locals crazy – they say that’s way too big. Kalispell is the local service down for the smaller rural places so it’s got big box stores.

    Flathead lake itself is a jewel beyond price.

    1. Kalispell is freaking gorgeous. And the I-90 corridor from the Idaho state line to Missoula is just one mountain-lined slice of heaven. Although the I-90 corridor gets a bit more snow than Northern Idaho, but damn… and no sales tax? Yes please.

  29. I moved from Memphis (highly active knife and gun club if, with most shooting done in the sideways gangbanger grip) to Knoxville 400 miles to the east.

    I still live there most of the time, and it’s still a fine city.

    If my wife would let me, though, I would move to Johnson City in a heartbeat.

    Or to one of the quaint hamlets in between (e.g. Rogersville or Sneedville) or even to the northeast corner of TN in Mountain City.

    They are all cool places to live.

    Guns are celebrated throughout East TN.

    Gun shows are frequent occurrences, gun stores are ubiquitous and there are plenty of ranges

    Plus, people are friendly.

    This ain’t Nashville, after all.

    We also have 4 distinct seasons.

    Come give us a look.

  30. NE Alabama/NW Georgia/SE Tennessee area is nice(Chattanooga area). Higher the elevation, the lower the summer temps, yet it’s not brutal cold.

    Bath county and Highland county in Virginia is a lovely area, I spent a couple of weeks there some years ago. VERY rural. Mountains, wildlife.

  31. Living in Kansas now (a lifer, actually) but could happily relocate to northeastern New Mexico, say Cimarron-Springer-Raton area, but for me it’d be primarily for the fly fishing and big game hunting. And the Whittington Center.

  32. Spent 18 months in Vermont in a rural area near a ski resort. It was awful. The economy was dreadful while the rest of the country was thriving.

    Everything I heard about Kentucky and Tennessee have been far more positive. Eastern Tennessee has been booming for years for retirees. I liked the area when I drove through. You can be out in the hills in a short drive from the cities. Kentucky was nice but I hear that their pension and welfare payments are very high.


  33. Speaking as a Kentucky native who has travelled throughout this beautiful state and those surrounding it I’ve gotta say that while I have been many places, this is in my mind the best for living. You said that you want to stay away from a lot of the build up areas while still remaining near upscale opportunities for dining and the like, and if that is what you want, I would probably suggest moving to one of the counties surrounding Fayette (Lexington).

    Bourbon county is where I was raised, and there is a lot of rural beauty in that county.
    Jessamine county is also beautiful, but becoming very built up and will likely be subsumed into the Lexington-Fayette conglomerate some time in the next ten to fifteen years.
    Scott county is also beautiful, and is nicely rural despite getting somewhat built up.
    Woodford county is obnoxiously gorgeous despite having some of the highest home/land costs in the state due to the multiple horse farms and limited amenities.

    If you go further east you start finding problems with amenities such as power outages in the winter that go on for possible weeks, and lack of hospital/emergency support. If it were me moving to the state, I would probably look at Scott County, and maybe the environs around Georgetown KY.

    About our pension and welfare as referenced by JQ… eh, no? We have some of the lowest cost of living in the country in this state. Yeah there is a lot of “poor” in the state, but most of that is eastern and southern KY.

  34. Here’s another recommendation for the Missouri Ozarks. Bonus: it’s not East of the Mississippi.

  35. Anywhere within about 30 miles of a line drawn from Hohenwald, TN over to Monteagle, TN will meet your expectations happily. Great scenery and good people. The climb up to the Cumberland Plateau just before you come into Sewanee, TN is pretty spectacular as well.

    Cookeville, TN is a great location as well for the reasons mentioned above. Again, anywhere within 30 miles of a line drawn from Cookville over to Rugby, TN will probably fit the bill also.

    Most of East TN from Knoxville to Chattanooga is pretty full-up with tourists; although, it gets less so the further South that you go. Chattanooga is very underrated for what you get, but it is gentrifying to beat the band, so prices might reflect the same. Think of it as Asheville, NC was 20 years ago. Cleveland, TN just to the East of Chattanooga is a gem waiting to be discovered, and it’s a college town to boot. Even better, the college is a pretty old-school religious institution, so no CRT or BLM craziness (I think).

    This is a bit out of your original specifications, but Huntsville, AL is a really nice city: big enough to have lots of decent cultural things to do, small enough to still have plenty of rural amenities. That’s where a lot of gun companies are relocating to lately. It’s a quasi-military town full of engineers, so common sense tends to prevail.

  36. Moved to outside Bowling Green , KY 20 years ago for work. It reminded me of childhood. People are friendly and civil. Taxes are 1/3 of what I paid in PA. The city has townhouses and apartments and the county has plenty of small ranchers. Rarely snows or has 100 degree days.

    BTW, Home of the Corvette, you must mention that or be fined I think.

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