To most people in the North (or as we like to call them, Yankees), living in the South is like being on a different planet.  But us Southerners wouldn’t have it any other way.

The food, the history, the music and culture, even the shrubbery here are like nowhere else. You may call it “another planet,” but we simply call it “home.”

What is it that makes the South so special, so distinctive, and so, well, home-y?  Here are 5 of my favorite things about living in the South. Who knows? By the time you’re reading this, you might be willing to pack up your bags and move down here yourself. If not, well, it’s always nice to drop in for a short visit, if only so that when you leave you get to hear that famous phrase:

“You all come back now, ya hear?”

The Best Food in the Country

From fried chicken and buttermilk biscuits to genuine Creole gumbo, hushpuppies, grits, succotash, and beignets, the South has delicious food in its DNA. Although some of it has a reputation for being unhealthy, Southern cuisine more than makes up for it with flavor and passion. Besides, you can always enjoy it in moderation. I guess.

BBQ is probably our most famous culinary contribution and, today, every state in the American South has its own barbecue flavor. Even the Carolinas are split on the best way to prepare meat; in NC they like their meat chopped and topped with a vinegar-based, while in SC we prefer it pulled and with a mustard-based sauce.

If you ask me, you can’t beat the latter. One bite and I think you’ll agree; in fact you may not want to leave. That’s why apartments in Charleston, SC, are worth their weight in peach cobbler and sweet tea.

A Library’s Worth of History

Americans as a rule are a people very proud of their history. But no one is prouder than those who know and understand the long and complex heritage of the South. After all, this land is older than the country itself, and many Southern bloodlines can be traced back to before the arrival of the European settlers.

The indigenous people who lived here, in what we now know as the American South, have a rich legacy that today is enshrined in the countless museums and historic sites that dot the region. What’s more, as one of the most diverse areas in the entire nation, Southern culture is a veritable melting pot of traditions and histories from all over the world, from Native American to French to Spanish to African and so much more.

In the South, it’s easy to see the effects of that history on the present, mainly because it’s still with us here today. Cities New Orleans, LA, and Houston, TX, are brimming with centuries-old architecture that make even a short vacation feel like a trip back in time.

Warm Weather & Mild Winters

Let’s face it, winter sucks. Folks who live in the North really have it rough when the temperatures start to fall. Sheets of ice that make it too slippery to safely walk or drive. All-day snowstorms that leave you stuck in your house. And worst of all, when it finally stops coming down, you have to go outside and shovel it all up!

That’s not a problem down here in the South, where snow comes rarely, if at all. Instead, we get to enjoy the shining sun and warm weather year-round. Sure, the summers may be especially hot, but that’s hardly a problem when we also have miles of beaches to enjoy.

Winters, meanwhile, are so mild and easy to deal with when winter come, that some farmers are actually still able to grow vegetables. That means that many of your favorite seasonal dishes aren’t quite so “seasonal” after all, at least not around these parts.

More Fun Than a Barrel of Monkeys

If you hate being bored, then boy have I got a prescription for you. Four words: Move to the south! Now. Okay, I guess that makes it five words. Regardless, the point stands that the American South has more one-of-a-kind entertainment options than just about anywhere else. You’ll never run out of things to do, even if you try to.

Do you like the great outdoors? Try catfish noodling, white water rafting, or horseback Like live music? Memphis, TN, is the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll, and you can thank Clarksdale, MS, for the invention of the blues. Some of the biggest venues in music are located here, and musicians still come from all over to chase their dreams here.

Aside from that, we’ve got plenty of one-of-a-kind activities and events you just won’t find in the North, like the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the biggest cowboy blowout of its kind in the world.

Scenic Greenery & Landscapes

Southerners are known for their unique lingo, including such phrases “pretty as a peach” and “if the creek don’t rise.” These aren’t just cute little sayings, though; they speak to the relationship people here in the South have with the land and nature.

As alluded to earlier, farming is a huge part of life here in the South, and that’s not just because of all the ample sunshine and warm weather. It’s also because of the landscape itself, the unique qualities of Southern soil, and the network of freshwater rivers that crisscross the entire region. Together, these things have allowed the Southern states to blossom (literally!), creating a lush, green environment for all to enjoy.

Evidence of this can be seen even in the cities, many of which are home to lovingly maintained public parks and botanical gardens full of rare, colorful flowers. The advantages aren’t just aesthetically pleasing, either; the South’s abundance of green space provides cooling shade that beats the heat even in the high of summer, and also contributes to cleaner, more breathable air for everyone!