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Old 09-11-2007, 08:44 AM   #61
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I second Huntsville, AL. Tennessee river and lakes nearby, general healthy economy, far enough away from Gulf to cut humidity. You will see lots of frosts in winter and maybe one snow but signs of spring start in FEb.

Spent 20 years there, but for family reasons, now live in the snowbelts off Lake Erie.

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Old 09-11-2007, 10:10 AM   #62
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Thanks for the suggestions. Of course I had heard of the bible belt, but I thought that it was a relic of a few decades ago. If you go to the wrong church, or none at all, are you generally excluded or minimalized somehow from certain groups of people even if you cheer for the same sports teams, vote the same way, and have lots of other similar interests? Sounds like New Orleans might be kind of like that, but is it everywhere down there?

I thought of another question that is probably really idiotic. When I look at the real estate listings from the southern states, they never mention a below ground level basement in any of the houses or its state of development. Do houses there have full basements?
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Old 09-11-2007, 10:23 AM   #63
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In New Orleans, houses generally do not have basements because they would fill with water. We do not even bury our dead below ground, but have above ground cemetaries. This is not true in most of the south, but we are below sea level here.

I am an agnostic so I don't attend church. I don't follow the Saints, either. I feel like the latter is more of a problem socially than the former, so I sometimes at least pretend to care about football (whereas I never pretend to be religious). My own observations after living here for over a decade are that New Orleanians are extremely tolerant of religious differences if you are. To me they seem to be at least as tolerant as what I have seen on the east or west coast.

Frank is a lapsed Catholic (6th generation New Orleanian), and his sister was married in St. Louis Cathedral and still attends mass every Sunday with the kids. Still, his family and their bazillion friends don't care about my religion or lack of same. I have never been asked about my religion or what church I attend, that I can recall.

Although New Orleans is mostly Catholic, probably due to the many Italian/Sicilian and Irish immigrants that arrived here through the centuries, the Jewish community in New Orleans also has a long, old, and firmly entrenched tradition here as well.

I think you are more likely to be excluded due to religious intolerance in areas such as rural Alabama or rural Mississippi, for example, than in a more cosmopolitan place like New Orleans.
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Old 09-11-2007, 10:59 AM   #64
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I definitely agree that the smaller towns is where you are much more likely to see a more dominating church influence. Not all towns of course. The cities are going to be more diverse.

Basements are rare in the south, unless the land is sloped such that you might as well have a walk out basement. They are getting more common, especially in newer and bigger homes. If you were to buy one with a basement, make sure to check for any water problems. Not all builders know how to make them water proof.

I see a lot of suggestions for the southeast, but if humidity and sunshine are big factors, I think you'd like the southwest better. One possibility is hill country west of Austin. Lake Travis is just west of Austin, or there are other lakes like LBJ or Buchanan further west that should be less crowded and less expensive. (should I throw in the obligatory scorpions/fire ants/rattlesnakes/etc warnings now?)

Did anyone mention Lake Mead near Vegas, or Lake Powell in southern Utah? Powell might be more remote than you seemed to be looking for.
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Old 09-11-2007, 11:02 AM   #65
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Originally Posted by Grizz View Post
Thanks for the suggestions. Of course I had heard of the bible belt, but I thought that it was a relic of a few decades ago. If you go to the wrong church, or none at all, are you generally excluded or minimalized somehow from certain groups of people even if you cheer for the same sports teams, vote the same way, and have lots of other similar interests? Sounds like New Orleans might be kind of like that, but is it everywhere down there?
New Orleans is the exact opposite. Bible Belt most definitely does not include New Orleans. New Orleans is a wonderful place whose only problem is that it is a bathtub prone to filling up from time to time, thus drowning people and ruining real estate.

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Old 09-11-2007, 11:07 AM   #66
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Coastal and cosmopolitan cities in the south have less of this bible belt phenom, but it exists. Just always say you have a church, so they don't ask you to come to theirs. It is pretty well-meaning and mostly harmless. We call it "being witnessed" as in "watch out for Mimi in accounting...she'll witness you if she catches you alone in the breakroom".
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Old 09-11-2007, 11:38 AM   #67
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Thanks for the suggestions. Of course I had heard of the bible belt, but I thought that it was a relic of a few decades ago. If you go to the wrong church, or none at all, are you generally excluded or minimalized somehow from certain groups of people even if you cheer for the same sports teams, vote the same way, and have lots of other similar interests? Sounds like New Orleans might be kind of like that, but is it everywhere down there?

I thought of another question that is probably really idiotic. When I look at the real estate listings from the southern states, they never mention a below ground level basement in any of the houses or its state of development. Do houses there have full basements?
In many parts on the south it is hard to find homes (especially new homes) with basements because of the red clay soil we got around here. Too hard to dig up, but if the house is on a hill side, you might get a basement.

As far as religion goes, yes the bible belt is alive and well. You might be shocked by the number and size of churches down here. People are very open about their religious beliefs and will want to know about yours. Personally I am not a very religious person (though I do consider myself a christian, I don't believe in organized religion), so it was a shock when a few days after moving into our house in Alabama, several of our new neighbours showed up at our door to "grill us" about our religious beliefs. They invited us to join their various churches, but we declined politely and they never mentioned it again. Other than that I haven't felt much pressure to "convert". But religion permeates many aspects of life down here (from politics to alcohol sales) but it really doen't bother me much and I don't feel the pressure to fit in at all. People let me be and I let them be.
My wife and I were told once that" for people who don't attend chuch, we were nice". We replied: "for people who do attend church, you are nice too"...
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Old 09-11-2007, 12:34 PM   #68
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Hi Grizz.

DH and I have also toyed with the thought of buying some real estate down South but decided against it given the various complicated factors involved. If we were planning on moving to the States permanently, we would do it, but we're planning on being Snowbirds instead. We'll most likely downsize our house in Calgary and just rent a place for a few months down South every year. That way, we don't feel obligated to keep going to the same place year after year after year. And, we don't have to worry about maintenance etc.
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Old 09-11-2007, 12:36 PM   #69
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Almost forgot - I lived in Tulsa for a couple of years and, yes, the bible belt is alive and well. I had a few co-workers try to talk me into attending their church....sheesh. :confused: Of course, they hate it when you turn it around and invite THEM to attend YOUR church
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Old 09-11-2007, 12:38 PM   #70
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When real estate is listed here, the advertised square footage doesn't include the basement, so if you have a bungalow of 1000 sq ft, you actually have 2000 sq ft of living space, and if you have a 2 story house of 1000 sq ft you actually have 1500 sq ft of living space.

Do the listed sq footage #'s of southern houses include all levels above ground or just the ground level, and if there does happen to be a basement, is it included in overall sq. footage?
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Old 09-11-2007, 12:56 PM   #71
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Hi Grizz.

DH and I have also toyed with the thought of buying some real estate down South but decided against it given the various complicated factors involved. If we were planning on moving to the States permanently, we would do it, but we're planning on being Snowbirds instead. We'll most likely downsize our house in Calgary and just rent a place for a few months down South every year. That way, we don't feel obligated to keep going to the same place year after year after year. And, we don't have to worry about maintenance etc.
I can appreciate your snowbird strategy, but since you are from Calgary, you must also see that the pace of life has gone into overdrive here, and this oil boom has caused the place to get dirtier and more congested by the minute, not to mention the cost of living is skyrocketing with terrible service being the norm. I know, cup half empty...

I've got school aged kids, so for now, we'll stay here, but I hope that I find the south to be my cup of tea so that I can buy an investment property to rent out (and hopefully gain equity) until the kids are out of the house, then spend just the winters without frostbite(snowbird), and then hopefully a total relocation with trips back to visit family and friends, oh, and ski in the Rockies of course.
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Old 09-11-2007, 01:04 PM   #72
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The listed square footage represents the TOTAL inhabitable area (it must be finished, and it must be insulated). So it includes all floors, it includes the basement if it is finished and livable, it might also include rooms attached to the garage (bonus rooms, storage rooms, work shops) if they are finished and insulated. The garage is not included in the square footage.

So a 2000 sq. ft. house with no basement could have a first floor with 800 sq ft of living space, a second floor with another 800 sq ft, and a 400sq ft bonus room above the garage.
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Old 09-11-2007, 02:48 PM   #73
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Here's a place I love so much that I bought a home there: St. George, Utah. It's a retired person's paradise and has all requisites you mentioned, except the greenery. The scenery is spectacular in the city and within a short drive to Snow Canyon State Park, Kodachrome Basin State Park, Zion Nation Park, Bryce National Park, Cedar Breaks National Monument, and many other locations. The active lifestyle (running, cycling, triathloning, boating, swimming, walking, hiking) is second to none. The city itself caters to retired people. Las Vegas is only 1.5 hours' drive away. The summers are very hot (like Arizona and Las Vegas), but it's perfect in an air-conditioned home and in the shade by the pool! If you're worried about a Bible-belt place, you might worry about a Mormon town in Utah. Of course your Mormon neighbors might try to talk to you about their church, but it's easy to just say no, if you choose. My non-Mormon friends there love the place. They even like the Moromon environment because of the cleanliness, safety, general honesty, and extremely low crime rate. Besides, no matter where you live, you have to learn to say no to lot's of people, no matter what they're selling, even religion.
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Old 09-11-2007, 05:20 PM   #74
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Living in the South

A buddy sent me this today. Probably belongs in the joke section but appropriate here with the on going discussion.

You have to live in the South to appreciate this ~
May 30, 2007 :
Just moved to Huntsville, Alabama from Chicago, Illinois.
Now, this is a city that knows how to live!
Beautiful sunny days and warm balmy evenings.
What a place!
I watched the sunset from a park while lying on a blanket.
It was beautiful.
I've finally found my home.
I love it here.
June 14, 2007 :
Really heating up.
Got to 100 degrees today. Not a problem.
Live in an air-conditioned home, drive an air-conditioned car.
What a pleasure to see the sun everyday like this.
I'm turning into a sun worshipper.
June 30, 2007:
Had the backyard landscaped with western plants today.
Lots of cactus and rocks. The yard is a breeze to maintain!
No more mowing the lawn for me. Another scorcher today, but
I love living in Huntsville .
July 10, 2007 :
The temperature hasn't been below 100 degrees all week.
How do people get used to this kind of heat?
At least it's kind of windy, but getting used to the heat and
humidity is taking longer that I expected.
July 15, 2007 :
Fell asleep by the pool. >
(Got 3rd degree burns over 60% of my body.)
Missed 3 days of work. What a dumb thing to do.
I learned my lesson, though.
Got to respect the ol' sun in a climate like this.
July 20, 2007:
Morgan (our cat) sneaked into the car when I left this morning.
By the time I got to the hot car for lunch, Morgan had died and
swollen up to the size of a shopping bag and stank up the $2,000
leather upholstery.
I told the kids that she ran away.
The car now smells like Kibbles and shits.
I learned my lesson, though. No more pets in this heat.
July 25, 2007:
The wind sucks.
It feels like a giant freaking blow dryer!
And it's hot as hell!
The home air-conditioner is on the fritz,
and the AC repairman charged $200 just to drive by and tell me he
needed to order the parts.
July 30, 2007:
Been sleeping outside by the pool for 3 nights now.
The monthly house payment is $1,500 and we can't even go inside.
Why did I ever come here?
August 4, 2007:
It's 105 degrees. Finally got the air-conditioner fixed today for a
cost of $900.
The temperature gets down to 78 degrees,
but this freaking humidity makes the house feel like it's about 95
degrees.
I hate this stupid city.
August 8, 2007:
If another wise ass person cracks, "Hot enough for ya today?" I'm
going to strangle him. Damn heat.
By the time I get to work, the radiator is boiling over, my clothes
are soaking wet, and I smell like baked cat!
August 9, 2007:
Tried to run some errands after work.
Wore shorts and sat on the black leather seats in the ol' car.
I thought my ass was on fire.
I lost two layers of flesh and all the hair on the back of my legs and
ass.
Now my car smells like burnt hair, fried ass, and baked cat.
August 10, 2007:
The weather report might as we ll be a damn recording.
Hot and sunny. Hot and sunny. Hot and sunny.
It's been too hot to do anything for two damn months,
and the weatherman says it might really warm up next week.
Doesn't it ever rain in this damn desert?
Water rationing will be next, so I might as well watch $1,700 worth
of cactus just dry up and blow into the damn pool.
Not even cactus can live in this damn heat.
August 14, 2007:
Welcome to HELL!!!
The temperature got to 105 degrees today.
Forgot to crack the window and blew the damn windshield out of the
car.
The installer came to fix it and said, "Hot enough for you today?"
My wife had to spend the $1,500 house payment to bail me out of jail.
Freaking South.
What kind of a sick demented idiot would want to live here?

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Old 09-11-2007, 05:51 PM   #75
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LOL!! very funny, Dawg.

Actually Huntsville seemed cool and pleasant to me after New Orleans, when Frank and I visited there a couple of weeks ago. Temperatures were higher, but with lower humidity and a little breeze it really wasn't THAT bad... We enjoyed sitting outside under a tree on a sunny afternoon.
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Old 09-11-2007, 10:17 PM   #76
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Up over a few hills yonder - Fort Payne, AL, Ms Blondie says it's kinda hot and the drought has killed the tourist trade(the Crappie Capital) on Lake Weiss. Water way down there also.

Hasn't been making noise about moving back to New Orleans - lately.

heh heh heh - Huntsville was nice living 1974 and 1975 - and great to visit on business for the next decade on and off.
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Old 09-12-2007, 01:11 AM   #77
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Dawg, I roared at this. You just have to experience living in an oven to understand.

Ha
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Old 09-12-2007, 10:59 AM   #78
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Dawg, I roared at this. You just have to experience living in an oven to understand.

Ha
Soooo - don't visit my friend in Mesa, Az (another Katrina refugee) - even if there is water within driving distance.

hot, hot, hot - my personal worstest can't get the smell out was letting a milk shake dribble on car carpet and not noticing - right up there with the 'forgeting seafood in the vehicle stories' I heard in New Orleans.

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Old 09-12-2007, 12:38 PM   #79
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Dawg, your post was hilarious, but to me it was funny because the guy is a complete idiot even though his story highlights some truths about southern living. I added in bold the thoughts that came through my mind as I was reading the story:

May 30, 2007 :
Just moved to
Huntsville, Alabama from Chicago, Illinois
.
Now, this is a city that knows how to live!
Beautiful sunny days and warm balmy evenings.
What a place!
I watched the sunset from a park while lying on a blanket.
It was beautiful.
I've finally found my home.
I love it here.

June 14, 2007 :
Really heating up.
Got to 100 degrees today. Not a problem.
Live in an air-conditioned home, drive an air-conditioned car.
What a pleasure to see the sun everyday like this.
I'm turning into a sun worshipper.

June 30, 2007:
Had the backyard landscaped with western plants today. That’s because I thought
Alabama was in the southwest. As it turned out it’s in the southeast, but you know we have a shortage of maps in America according to Miss South Carolina, so I couldn’t know… Anyways we planted
Lots of cactus and rocks. The yard is a breeze to maintain!
No more mowing the lawn for me. Another scorcher today, but
I love living in
Huntsville.

July 10, 2007 :
The temperature hasn't been below 100 degrees all week.
How do people get used to this kind of heat?
At least it's kind of windy, but getting used to the heat and
humidity is taking longer that I expected.

July 15, 2007 :
Fell asleep by the pool.
>
(Got 3rd degree burns over 60% of my body.)
Missed 3 days of work. I am so stupid. Apparently staying in the sun too long could result in severe sunburns… Everybody else seems to know about it but nobody warned me… That would never happen back in Chicago

I learned my lesson, though.
Got to respect the ol' sun in a climate like this.


July 20, 2007:
Morgan (our cat) sneaked into the car when I left this morning and I locked him in there for 4 hours after failing to notice during my 30 minute commute that there was a cat with me in the car (actually I noticed but I was late and I did not want to turn around and bring him back home. I figured, he’d be OK in the car until I can drive him back home at lunch time). Who knew you were not supposed to leave an animal in a hot car for a few hours? Back in Chicago
I used to lock my kids in the car while I was going to the store and they never died!
But,
By the time I got to the hot car for lunch, Morgan had died and
swollen up to the size of a shopping bag and stank up the $2,000
leather upholstery. I feel the need to tell everyone how much I paid for the leather upholstery because it is important to understand that I am more bothered by the fact that my expensive upholstery is now stinking than I am by the fact that I killed the family cat.
I lied to the kids and said she ran away because I did not want them to think their dad was a complete moron.
The car now smells like Kibbles and shits.
I guess that’s what happens when you bake a cat to death.
I learned my lesson, though. No more pets in this heat and perhaps ever since I am completely unfit to take care of them.


July 25, 2007:
The wind sucks. we did not have wind back in the windy city… I am so not used to that nice refreshing breeze… It’s horrible!
It feels like a giant freaking blow dryer!
And it's hot as hell!
The home air-conditioner is on the fritz,
and the AC repairman charged $200 just to drive by and tell me he
needed to order the parts.


July 30, 2007:
Been sleeping outside by the pool for 3 nights now.
The monthly house payment is $1,500 and we can't even go inside.
Why did I ever come here? But I’ve got to tell you, I noticed something funny: my neighbors don’t seem to be sleeping by the pool when their A/C breaks down. They use those “window unit” things in their bedroom. I don’t know, it sounds like black magic to me… We sure didn’t have that back in Chicago!


August 4, 2007:
It's 105 degrees. Finally got the air-conditioner fixed today for a
cost of $900.
The temperature gets down to 78 degrees,
but this freaking humidity makes the house feel like it's about 95
degrees.
I hate this stupid city.


August 8, 2007:
If another wise ass person cracks, "Hot enough for ya today?" I'm
going to strangle him. Damn heat.
By the time I get to work, the radiator is boiling over (note to self, maybe I should maintain my stuff better and not wait until they break down, that includes my A/C unit at home), my clothes
are soaking wet (maybe I could turn on the air conditioning in my car? Nah, A/C is for fools!), and I smell like baked cat! (I think it might be the cat’s way to make me pay for the gross negligence that killed him…)


August 9, 2007:
Tried to run some errands after work.
Wore shorts and sat on the black leather seats in the ol' car. I have never heard of black leather upholstery getting hot when I park my car in the sun! I am calling my lawyer and suing Ford…
I thought my ass was on fire.
I lost two layers of flesh and all the hair on the back of my legs and
ass.
Now my car smells like burnt hair, fried ass, and baked cat.


August 10, 2007:
The weather report might as we ll be a damn recording.
Hot and sunny. Hot and sunny. Hot and sunny. (now that’s hell on earth. By moving down south I wanted cold and rainy, cold and rainy, cold and rainy…)
It's been too hot to do anything for two damn months,
and the weatherman says it might really warm up next week.
Doesn't it ever rain in this damn desert?
Water rationing will be next, so I might as well watch $1,700 worth
of cactus just dry up and blow into the damn pool.

Not even cactus can live in this damn heat. . (or maybe it is because Cactuses belong in Arizona and not in Alabama? I wouldn’t know, I am so stupid I never noticed that my neighbors don't grow cactuses in their yard… Would they know something I don’t)



August 14, 2007:
Welcome to HELL!!!
The temperature got to 105 degrees today.
Forgot to crack the window and blew the damn windshield out of the
car.
The installer came to fix it and said, "Hot enough for you today?"
My wife had to spend the $1,500 house payment to bail me out of jail.
Freaking South.
What kind of a sick demented idiot I am to think I was intelligent enough to live here or anywhere else for that matter?
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Old 09-12-2007, 02:10 PM   #80
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Yeah, I thought the same when I read it. I've lived in the south all my life but I can't remember many days in June where the temps reached 100. Usually around the end of July before you see any of those. Very hot here this summer but I think we only had 4 or 5 days where it reached 100. Of course with the humidity, 95 can easily feel like 100. BTW, the temp as I type this here in central MS is 79. Very nice on the golf course this morning.

So not a perfect story, but some truth to it too.
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