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I moved to the South from Connecticut. Here are the 10 biggest differences I noticed.




 
the author in a coffee shop holding a large white mug and wearing a beige cardigan
the author in a coffee shop holding a large white mug and wearing a beige cardigan  
  • I moved from a small town in Connecticut to a suburb of North Carolina.

  • I found there were quite a few differences between living in New England and the South.

  • I discovered new food options and saw how much my cost of living could change by moving further south.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

The weather is much nicer in the South.

Raleigh North Carolina
Raleigh North Carolina  

One of the biggest differences between living in North Carolina and living in Connecticut was the weather. While living in the South, it wasn't unusual to have an 80-degree day in October or to start pulling the shorts out of my closet come April.

On the other hand, winter in Connecticut can seemingly last from October all the way through March, and the winters tend to be much harsher.

However, when it does snow, Southerners are totally unprepared.

A North Carolina highway covered in snow
A North Carolina highway covered in snow  

While I lived in North Carolina, there were multiple winters during which the state was unexpectedly hit with a winter storm.

In Connecticut, I was used to the roads being salted and plowed almost immediately after a storm had passed.

However, in North Carolina, the suburban town where I lived simply wasn't prepared for more than a few inches of snow. My college campus also struggled to clear off many of the sidewalks within the first few days after any snow fell across the state, leading to a few slippery walks to class.

There's a lot to do in Southern cities but not as much as in New York or Boston.

the author in a coffee shop in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
the author in a coffee shop in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  

While I was living in Connecticut, New York City and Boston were always an hour or two away. When I moved to North Carolina, I was surprised to find that nearby cities like Raleigh and Charlotte had a lot to offer. There were quaint coffee shops, malls, and great restaurants within an hour of me.

However, in my experience, the options for nightlife and eating out in the South generally didn't compare to what I could find in cities like New York City and Boston.

Gas is cheaper in the South, meaning it costs less to travel around.

driving in car with sunset in window shield
driving in car with sunset in window shield  

It may come as no surprise that gas in the South is cheaper than in Connecticut. According to AAA, the average price of regular gas in Connecticut is $3.19, versus $2.94 in North Carolina.

The lower price of gas made it a lot less expensive to go on road trips with friends to travel to nearby cities, mountain ranges, shopping plazas, and more.

Rent is also far less expensive.

My apartment in North Carolina. Erin McDowell/Insider
My apartment in North Carolina. Erin McDowell/Insider  

During my first two years living in North Carolina, I lived in a college dorm that was much larger than my parents' house in Connecticut - though my room was much smaller and the room was shared with another person.

When I lived in an off-campus apartment during my junior and senior years, I paid half of the $930 rent per month to live in a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment with a roommate.

This price was a lot less expensive than many apartments I've lived in further up north, including my current apartment in New York City where I pay almost triple what I paid in North Carolina.

You also get more for your money when it comes to real estate.

My outdoor patio in North Carolina. Erin McDowell/Insider
My outdoor patio in North Carolina. Erin McDowell/Insider  

When it comes to Southern real estate, you really get a big bang for your buck. According to a previous article by Business Insider, the average cost to buy a four-bedroom, two-bathroom home in Winston Salem, North Carolina, in 2020 was $202,215, compared to $255,555 for a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home in East Haven, Connecticut.

While living in my apartment in North Carolina, where I only paid $415 a month, not including utilities, I had access to a small outdoor patio, laundry room, swimming pool, outdoor cooking areas, and more.

The fast-food options are seemingly endless in the South.

Cookout fast food menu
Cookout fast food menu  

While living in the South, I was never more than a stone's throw away from a multitude of fast food options.

From classics like McDonald's, Wendy's, and Burger King to regional chains like Cook Out, Zaxby's, Chick-fil-A, and Bojangles' Famous Chicken 'n Biscuits, North Carolinians are truly spoiled for choice when it comes to fast food.

Cook Out, by far my favorite fast food restaurant, is an unbeatable deal and the food is delicious. For around $5, you can get a tray with a burger, drink, and your choice of side.

The barbecue up north simply doesn't compare.

A person cooking barbecue. lazyllama/Shutterstock
A person cooking barbecue. lazyllama/Shutterstock  

In my opinion, Northerners simply can't beat the best Southern pitmasters. While living in North Carolina, it wasn't uncommon to come across a delicious roadside barbecue joint or be served some delicious brisket at a backyard shindig.

In Connecticut, it's much rarer to find amazing Southern-style barbecue, though it's definitely possible.

There are also certain foods or drinks that you can only get in the South.

cheerwine
cheerwine  

Ask any Northerner what Cheerwine is and they would probably give you a strange look. Cheerwine, a carbonated cherry-flavored soda, is native to North Carolina and a fixture at many fast-food spots and convenience stores.

On the other hand, certain chains - like Dunkin' - appear to be more popular up north.

Dunkin iced coffee
Dunkin iced coffee  

In the South, you're much more likely to see someone walking around with Starbucks or Southern fast-food chain coffee than Dunkin'. On the other hand, in Connecticut, chains like Dunkin' and gas stations like Cumberland Farms are favorites, and arguably institutions, when it comes to a morning cup of coffee.

When Dunkin' announced in 2018 that it would be dropping "Donuts" from its name, the Guardian spoke to New Englanders about how they felt about the company going in another marketing direction.

"I'll totally defend Dunks even though the coffee is admittedly not great," said Scott Surette of Woburn, Massachusetts. "It's the thing that binds us together."

Another well-known fact about Northerners is that the cold never bothered us anyway when it comes to iced coffee. True New Englanders know that iced coffee can and should be enjoyed year-round.

Editor's note: A previous version of this article was published on Business Insider on February 18, 2020.

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