10 Things Northerners Can Expect When Moving Down South

Updated on June 14, 2019
Jackie Zelko profile image

After growing up in New Jersey, moving to North Carolina for college was a culture shock. Here are the main differences I've found.


I was born in North Carolina, but I grew up in New Jersey for 16 years of my life. Moving back to North Carolina for college was surprisingly a culture shock for me. I had been down to North Carolina to visit family more times than I could count, but it was completely different when I was living on my own and interacting with people my own age. Here's what you can expect if you make a similar move.

1. Accents

If you are from the North, or you spent a significant amount of time in the North, more than likely you have a Northern accent. Be prepared for people to pick on you for it when they first get to know you. Also, be conscious of how fast you talk. Although my Northern accent has withered away over the years, I still find myself talking at lightning speed sometimes. It is a habit that I try my best to be aware of so people do not get lost in conversation with me.

2. Dialects

You guys
I thought it was so funny!
I got so tickled!
I got yelled at!
I got fussed at!
AppaLAYCHEN Mountains
AppaLAHCHEN Mountains
Water Ice
Italian Ice
Mom and Dad
Mama and Daddy
I'm not trying to be mean, but...
I'm not trying to be ugly, but...
What the heck!
What in tarnation!
Have a good one!
Have a blessed day!
Related to
Kin to
I was getting ready to go...
I was fixin' to go...
You poor thing!
Bless your heart!
Well, I'll be damned...
Well, I declare...
*Note that some of these words and phrases may vary depending on if you are living in an urban, suburban, or rural area.

3. Mannerisms

All of these mannerisms are something I am still trying to get used even after living in the South for eight years.

  • Men: All men will hold the door open for you.
  • Strangers: It is okay to look them in the eye, smile, wave, and say hello to them on the streets. You will even notice strangers doing this in their car as they drive by you.
  • Language: People do not cuss excessively like they do in the North. Make sure you turn it down a few notches. You will most likely offend older people.

4. Religion

You are in the Bible Belt now. People will talk about God in their conversations, and that is okay! People in the South are big on family, praying before every meal, and going to church almost every Sunday.

5. Pace of Life

It is a slow pace of life in the South. People talk slow, walk slow, and work slow. Sometimes it can feel nice, and other times it can be frustrating. You can forget about going in and out of a grocery store. The floor workers and the cashiers will talk to you until no end! I love my conversations with them, but sometimes I just want to make a quick trip.

6. Drinks

  • Sweet Tea: If you do not specify that you want unsweet, you will get sweet tea. It will not be just a teaspoon of sugar in it either. It will have so much sugar in it that you should see it swirling in your cup. That is the only way to drink it in the South.
  • Cheerwine: This is a cherry soda and one of my favorite discoveries of the South. It tastes best in a glass bottle.
  • RC Cola: It is equivalent to a Coca-Cola.
  • Nehi: This is your ordinary soda that comes in many different flavors.

7. Food

The South is home of the fried chicken, biscuits, and barbecue! The following are fast food places that you will have to try at least once.

  • Cook Out: They are known for their chicken strip trays, chicken wraps, and milkshakes.
  • Bojangles: Their cajun chicken biscuit sandwich, chicken supreme tenders, and Bo Rounds are a must.
  • Biscuitville: They are known for their freshly made biscuits, and they even have little bone shaped biscuits for your dog!

8. Stereotypes

Depending on where you are from in the North, there may be a stereotype that comes along with it. Since I am from New Jersey, I received many comments towards me about the MTV reality show called, The Jersey Shore. People assumed that I had been to that beach and watched all of the episodes of that show; I had done neither of those things. It would get extremely frustrating for people to say that I looked like one of the Jersey Shore girls or that I had "that Jersey look" as soon as they heard I was from New Jersey. Always keep an open mind because you may have some preconceived notions about Southerners just as they do with you.

You may be expecting Southerners to act and look like what you have seen in television shows, movies, or even on social media. These are stereotypes for a reason, and they have been exaggerated for entertainment purposes. Not everyone you meet in the South is going to have a thick accent and wear flannels with a cowboy hat and boots. Just like anywhere, the people vary depending on the area you are in.

9. Driving

  • Turning Signals: No one uses their blinkers in the South. It is one of the most bizarre things that I still do not understand to this day. Always drive with caution, and always be on the lookout for someone to turn unexpectedly
  • Snow: Even if there is no snow on the ground, stay off the roads when it is snowing. You may know what you are doing on the roads, but other people are clueless. You will get in a car wreck due to someone else's lack of knowledge of how to drive in the snow. If you know it is going to snow, even just a little bit, make sure you go to the grocery store as early as you can. The bread, milk, and eggs will comically be all gone from the shelves, and the lines at checkout will be long.
  • Road Rage: Leave it in the North.

10. Cost of Living

Buying a beautiful spacious house in the South is way more affordable than it is in the North. What would be a $400,000 house in the North, will most likely be a $230,000 house in the South. This goes for renting apartments too! Taxes are also a lot less.

Enjoy Yourself!

The weather is warmer for more months out of the year so enjoy yourself! It may be quite the adjustment from the fast pace life of the North, but the friendly people and the little quirks that go with it can make you feel right at home in no time.

© 2019 Jackie Zelko


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    • AudreyLancho profile image

      Audrey Lancho 

      13 months ago from North Carolina and Spain

      This is my favorite of all your articles!

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      13 months ago from UK

      I have read your article with great interest. Our niece has stayed with friends in the south and described her experiences, which we have listened to with interest. In the UK, people talk of a north/south divide. As a northerner I certainly noticed differences visiting relatives in the south.


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