It’s been over three months since we arrived in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, about a half hour drive southeast of Nashville. We moved here with our three kids and all of our belongings, though my husband had never been here before, and I had only been here on two very brief visits. We weren’t exactly sure whether we were going to like living here, but knew God was calling us to move to this specific location. It was very much a leap of faith. Three months in, I can now say confidently that we like living in Middle Tennessee. A lot. Here is a list of ten things we are really enjoying about our new home, listed in no particular order:
1. Everything is green
It seems obvious that plants and trees would grow luxuriously in a city that receives an average of 50 inches of rain a year…but the overall color of GREEN everywhere you look is truly remarkable after living near the parched (12 inches of rain a year…) California Central Valley. The first month we lived here, I continually marveled at all of the shades of green that created the landscape. There were things growing EVERYWHERE: ivy dangling off branches, soybeans covering fields, corn towering over our heads, grass that grows, and grows, and grows…unlike California, where we’d weed whack once or twice, and be set for the year. I forgot how delightful green grass feels on my bare feet.
2. Nothing is dusty
Since there is so much rain, and so much green, the dirt stays where it’s supposed to…on the ground! I have encountered a bit of mud here in Tennessee, but not that parched dust that coats EVERYTHING in California. Taking my daughter horse riding was an entirely different experience, as she rode through green pastures compared to the bare patches of hardened dirt in California. Granted, it is a bit (a lot) more humid here…but at least it’s not dusty!
3. The sunsets
I gave up the mountain views when we left California, but I gained the eastern sunsets. The rolling hills of Tennessee, coupled with the salmon, pink, orange, yellow and blues of sunset, are truly something to behold. Add in clouds that vary from night to night, and it’s truly like watching a God sized canvas being painted in real time.
4. All the shopping I could want (except Costco) within ten minutes
In California, I had two shopping lists: my local grocery list, and my Fresno list. If I could wait to go to Fresno (an hour away) for most items, I would…if not, I’d spend at least 20% more buying groceries and household goods from the local grocery store. I usually had no time to go to Fresno, or I had to tack shopping onto trips to the doctor or orthodontist…so that meant it was really hard to shop for groceries, let alone clothing, shoes, and random things my family needed. I cannot tell you how much my life has changed, having shopping a mere 10 minutes (or less) from my house. Going to the store only takes a little bit of my time, instead of ALL DAY. I can zip over to Target, buy a few things, and go home. The hardest thing to get used to with this change is the feeling that I have to fit a month’s worth of shopping into a single trip to the store. I still feel a sense of panic of, “If I don’t remember what I’m supposed to buy today, then it’ll be another month before I can buy it,” each time I go to Walmart…then the panic fades away when I remember that I now live in Tennessee.
5. Having family nearby
It’s been over 25 years since my sister and I lived in the same town. In that span of time, she had four kids, I had three, and we developed very full lives of our own. It’s been wonderful to be nearby, and to have the opportunity to spend time with her and her kids (my nieces, nephews and now GREAT niece and nephew) and get to know them on a regular basis, instead of a “once every few years” kind of relationship. I mean…my son is enrolled in school with his cousin (my great-niece). Having cousins nearby is something we never imagined having for our kids…and now they are in the same preschool class, twice a week.
6. The schools
There are good schools here. Many, many schools that are growing and changing and being built all around us. In our small town in California, we homeschooled for a number of reasons. When we moved, we decided to look at all of the options that were suddenly available to us, and ended up enrolling our kids in the local middle school. My son is suddenly in band, there are clubs join, and hundreds of kids to meet. The school day itself is very structured, the teachers have extremely high expectations for the children, and the kids all (mostly) behave. Imagine that! As a bonus, the STEM magnet high school in our county is the #1 high school in Tennessee…and my kids have hopes of attending.
7. The manners
I thought my kids had good manners, until we moved to Tennessee. The number of times I heard “Yes ma’am” and “No sir” each day was a bit shocking at first…add to that the “my pleasure” from the workers at Chick-Fil-A, and I quickly realized we needed to step up our game.
8. The work ethic
You know you’ve been living in a retirement community for a long time, when you move to a place and are surprised to see your neighbors driving to work, first thing in the morning. The fast food restaurants, the stores and the gas stations are all full of workers who take pride in their jobs, and do them cheerfully and well. The overall attitude is that a job is considered to be a blessing, instead of a necessary evil…and it makes a true difference in the quality of service.
9. The history
Civil War history; revolutionary war history; history from when Tennessee was considered to be the frontier; Native American history; Nashville history; this place is steeped in history, and stories, and legends of yesteryear. It’s magical to my storyteller’s heart.
10. The opportunities
I was born in Flint, Michigan. I spent my teenage years in the rust belt near Toledo, Ohio. I went to college in the Appalachian foothills at Ohio University. I then moved to an extremely rural part of California, where the most secure jobs were those created by the state…firefighters, teachers, highway patrolmen. I have never lived someplace like Nashville. This place is exploding with growth…houses and new stores are popping up all over, even since I moved here three months ago. There are tens of thousands of companies, corporate headquarters, small businesses and creative professionals feeding into the local economy, and it’s reflected in the quality of the local parks (There are so many! They are so beautiful!), the smiles on people’s faces, and the cultural opportunities that are able to thrive here. This is a place that provides plenty of space to learn and grow, for a very, very long time…which is exactly what my family and I are beginning to do!