When I was still living near Los Angeles, a guy who parked in our neighborhood had a bumper sticker on his car that read: DON’T MOVE HERE.  Heck, I did him one better.  I left for Tennessee.

Now that I’m here, I’ve received a couple of emails and blog comments similar to this:  “Tom, welcome to Tennessee.  You seem like someone who belongs here.  But do us a favor.  Don’t tell the people in California how great it is here.  We don’t want them all moving here and turning our state into another California.”

I fully understand the fear.  California was ruined by big-government leftists, who all seem to share a peculiar trait:  they have an amazing inability to recognize the damage they cause.  Worse, they always believe the damage was caused by someone else.  They’re like the kid who pees in a wading pool, then complains that the water is a weird color and doesn’t smell so good, then blames the lifeguard and finds another pool.

For example, a friend of mine sent me this article from the Los Angeles Times, written by a woman who is mad at California for no longer being a paradise and is leaving for greener pastures.  Here are some choice quotes:

For 18 years or so, I can honestly say that I was truly in love with you, but then came your first major transgression: Proposition 13.

Oh sure, you tried to tell me that property taxes were bad for our relationship, but I knew you were lying. Low taxes, you said, would bring us closer together. You wanted to have your cake and eat it too. You said we could build schools and roads and parks without that tax money, but even back then I knew you were in denial.

Newsflash … California didn’t go broke building roads and schools and parks.  It went broke building a huge government bureaucracy that allows state workers to retire at age 50 or 55 and draw full pensions – paid for by taxpayers who will continue working at least another 10 years to support the state-government retirees.

Proposition 13 limited property taxes so longtime homeowners wouldn’t be forced to sell their homes when property values in California skyrocketed.  It’s insane to force old people to sell their homes to pay their taxes.  And despite what Miss Goofy thinks, California has one of the highest tax burdens in the country.  A lack of revenue isn’t the problem.  Runaway spending is.  Property taxes in Tennessee are low, but (amazingly) there’s no shortage of roads, schools and parks here.

We can’t pay our bills, and the phone is ringing off the hook with creditors calling from all over the world. Children across the state are losing healthcare, more than 766,300 Californians lost their jobs in the last year, and we’re at the top of the foreclosure charts. You need to change, and you refuse to admit it.

I realize most leftists have never read a book on economics, but it requires truly stunning ignorance to chide a state for going broke, not spending more on welfare programs, and losing jobs all in one paragraph.  Yes, it’s a shame that 766,300 Californians lost their jobs last year.  Perhaps that’s because big companies like Nissan (and small companies like mine) finally got tired of California’s punitive taxes and anti-business regulations and decided to relocate to Tennessee.

Newsflash number two … when employers are deciding where to do business, they don’t say to themselves, “Hmmm … I wonder if there’s a state where we could pay through the nose to support a huge bureaucracy … preferably one that requires us to provide health care for illegal aliens and build apartments for the homeless … and if we had to pay workers compensation claims for ‘stress,’ that would be awesome!”

Based on her reasons for being mad at California, it’s clear Miss Goofy is a big-government liberal.  That means she voted for exactly the type of economic illiterates who scared away employers and drove the state to the brink of bankruptcy.  And now, clueless that she was part of the problem, she’s moving to Washington state, where the economy is healthy.

By the way, Washington, like Tennessee, is business-friendly and has no state income tax.  I’ll give you 10-to-1 odds Miss Goofy’s brain isn’t capable of connecting that fact to the healthier job outlook.

So again, I understand the fears of my new neighbors.  If enough Miss Goofy types move here, pretty soon they’ll be voting for bigger state government and the higher taxes to pay for it.  Then the employers will go away, or at least stop locating here.  Then the Miss Goofy types will wake up one day and say, “What the @#$% happened to this state?!  Why did it go bankrupt?!  To hell with this, I’m leaving!”

With that in mind, here are a few reasons I would urge Californians not to move to Tennessee:

Your driving skills will plummet. The first day after moving in, I was driving in the left lane on a busy road and realized I needed to make a right-hand turn at an upcoming intersection. I put on my signal and prepared to do battle with all the me-first types who would surely attempt to speed up and get past me.  I also took the safety off my middle finger and cocked my wrist.

Then a weird thing happened:  the drivers behind me slowed down and let me in.  It’s happened again since then.  If this keeps up, I’ll lose my ability to make NASCAR-worthy maneuvers.  If I ever drive in L.A. again, I’ll probably get myself killed … or at least sit in the same spot on the freeway for several hours, waiting for someone visiting from out of state to let me change lanes.

You’ll feel no sense of victory when you finally get a table at a restaurant. When we first arrived we had no internet connection, so I went to a local Panera that offers free WiFi.  It was the lunch hour, and I felt myself tensing up as I approached the door.  What if all the tables are taken?  How long do I want to wait?  Do I really need to check my email right now?

But it turned out the place was only half-full.  I felt no great satisfaction when I sat down … next to an outlet where I could plug in my laptop.  I was also able to look up when I felt like it; no need to avoid eye contact with people glaring at me, wondering when the heck I’d pack up the laptop and leave.

You’ll feel no sense of victory when you get your kid into a good school. I know it’s a lot of fun to apply at several magnet schools, volunteer for committees and schmooze with members of the school board, hoping to earn enough points to get little Johnny or Jane accepted a few years down the line.  But really, that’s just wasted effort here.  The schools are all good.  In fact, when we walked unannounced into our local grade school (ranked 10 out of 10 on state scores) to see how to get our daughter into first grade, the principal came out of her office and gave us a tour, assigned our daughter to a teacher, then took us to meet the teacher.

You will lose your anonymity. A friend of mine who’s lived here for 25 years warned me that everyone I deal with will expect a bit of conversation.  And it’s true.  When I called the cable company to get set up, I ended up spending three or four minutes discussing “True Blood” with the nice lady who answered the phone.  (She thinks Bill the Vampire is hot, by the way.)  By the time I left the bank today, I knew the account manager’s husband collects rare knives.  And she knows I once received a baseball autographed by Sandy Koufax as a gift and, being a stupid kid, played baseball with it.

You won’t be able to feel righteously indignant when you fill up your tank. Since gasoline taxes here are low, the prices at the pump won’t make you angry at Exxon.  Likewise, you won’t be able to hate the auto insurance industry (my rates dropped by half after moving here) or the realty industry (homes and apartments are cheap compared to California).

There are Christian churches all over the place. If you watch a lot of TV shows and movies produced in Hollywood, you know that nearly all Christians are buffoons, killers, or hypocrites.  The only people more likely to commit murder, in the opinion of Hollywood script-writers, are rich white businessmen.  Since this is a prosperous area with a church on every other corner, it must be full of rich white businessmen who are also Christians.  I haven’t checked, but the murder rate here has to be astronomical.  (Although I assume the killers have a nice, leisurely chat about collecting knives with their victims before stabbing them.)

You don’t want your family anywhere near these chatty, conservative, anti-tax, well-educated, polite-driving, church-going fiends.  Keep your kids in Los Angeles, where they’ll be safe.


12 Responses to “A Few Reasons To Stay Away From Tennessee”
  1. Matt R. says:

    I’ve had several interesting debates with Californians in recent years, all of them with the mindset of Miss Goofy. I’ll visit CA, but I never want to live there.

    That’s why I don’t live there anymore. The Miss Goofy types are in the majority and created the government that ruined the state.

  2. Steve says:

    Your non-economic observations hold true for my move to the Monterey Peninsula…it’s a small town, the pace is slower and friendlier, you are not in danger as a pedestrian, and people actually converse and conviviate throughout the day.

    Unfortunately, Monterey and Pacific Grove are being pushed into bankruptcy by being locked into a Defined Benefit plan for municipal employees with CALPERS. It is a disaster.

    I’m sure you can imagine how I feel about a town going broke to support government employees.

  3. The definition of a true conservative is they cut SPENDING. Otherwise, they are playing games, regardless of whether or not they cut taxes.

    Enjoy your stay in Tennessee. The South is a great place to live, ain’t it?


    Eat Well. Live Well.

    Well said. Bush called himself a conservative, cut taxes like a conservative, but spent like a liberal, thus giving conservatism a black eye it didn’t deserve. Since Tennessee is a low-tax state and isn’t facing bankruptcy like California, spending must be in check as well.

    As someone raised in the north, I feel more at home here than I would’ve imagined. It’s a great place to live and an even greater place to raise the little ones.

  4. David LaCivita says:

    Tom, I run an internet business and recently did some business with a customer who was in Tennessee. He was buying some rather high end appliances from me because he claimed the sales tax there was 10%. Any truth to that? It doesn’t sound conservative but I love the idea of linking gov’t spending to mine.

    Combined sales tax (state and local) in our county is 9.25%. We paid the same sales tax in California, plus a 9.3% income tax.

    Personally, I wouldn’t mind replacing the entire U.S. tax code with a flat sales tax that excluded food and medical care. As it is now, politicians can buy votes by promising 95% of the voters that they’ll give them a bunch of new goodies and pay the bill with increased taxes on the other 5%. Imagine how the enthusiasm for big new programs would be dampened if they meant higher sales taxes for everyone.

  5. mrfreddy says:

    dang, I was all set to move back to Tennessee (I grew up there), till you reminded me of all the damn Christians all over the place down there. What a narrow minded lot of yahoos, I want nothing to do with them! I think I’ll stay way north of the bible belt, thank you very much!

    The most narrow-minded group of people I’ve ever been around were the leftists in Hollywood. If you disagree with them, it can’t possibly be because you take the Constitution seriously and have a different view of the proper role of government … it can only be because you’re selfish and evil and want all poor people to starve. (Yet I’ll bet you $1,000 I contribute more to charity every year than most of them do.) Worst case of groupthink I’ve ever seen up close and personal. And yet they view themselves as tolerant, free thinkers.

  6. agnostic says:

    Speaking of Washington state not being so loony, I was surprised to see this NPD press release showing that Seattle is among the cities where people care the LEAST about having “healthy” items on restaurant menus (i.e. Provencal soyburgers), unlike the Stuff White People Like cities:


    Maybe the popular conception of Seattle or Washington in general is out-of-date, based on the grunge era and knowing that it’s on the West Coast. I guess all the losers who weren’t doing anything moved elsewhere, like Portland, which now boasts one of the highest unemployment rates — it’s puzzling, given how brainy and productive all the culture studies majors I’ve met have been, compared to, say, engineers or financial quants.

    And the sad thing is, most of the people who want more “healthy” choices think that means more soy milk and tofu burgers, as opposed to the foods humans living in natural environments actually consumed.

  7. KD says:

    “That means she voted for exactly the type of economic illiterates who scared away employers and drove the state to the brink of bankruptcy. And now, clueless that she was part of the problem, she’s moving to Washington state, where the economy is healthy.”

    I live in LA, and a friend, who is a hardcore liberal and surely voted Yes on the proposition to build new metro lines at the cost of raising the sales tax to 9.75%, actually had the gall to COMPLAIN about how high the sales tax is now. I mean… seriously? Is there NO connection to the two in people’s brains whatsoever?

    Me, on the other hand… I can complain all I want, because I voted no on it.

    Sorry to say, but no, she probably doesn’t make that connection. I once had friends who voted straight Democratic ticket every election, but after their business took off, they re-incorporated in another state with lower taxes. They didn’t even seem embarrassed while telling me this.

  8. Ryan says:

    I’m laughing at the idea that Washington has a healthy economy and is business friendly. Sure, we don’t have an income tax (yet) but the regulations and other taxes are completely out of control. Why do you think Boeing left?

    Washington has become “Northern California” because of all of the Miss and Mr Goofys that moved here from California and now vote for every liberal candidate they can.

    So you fully understand why I don’t want them moving here.

  9. Aaron says:

    I was with you until #8, about all the churches. That alone, that the majority of folks believe in ridiculous ancient superstitions, will keep this Atheist living in LA and out of Tennessee.

    I grew up in WA state, and while the ‘no state income tax’ is nice, unfortunately Seattle and the I-5 corridor have the same idiotic politics as Hollywood. I like the New Hampshire Free State movement, although I understand it can get cold up there.

    I’m not particularly religious myself, but religious people don’t bother me at all, as long as they don’t try to convert me, which pretty much never happens.

  10. Bucky says:

    Hey Tom,

    I know this post is old…but, it turned up on my google search for relocating a business from CA to TN.

    I am strongly considering moving back to TN. I grew up in West Tn (Luray to be exact). See if you can find that on a map. I currently live in Orange County, CA. I work in central Cal. So, I drive, drive, drive… I have a side business, actually it’s an S Corp. So, I am paying, paying, paying. I pay $800 each year even if I don’t make one sale. Don’t forget all the other taxes, taxes, taxes.

    I am done here. I think it is time to say goodbye to Gov Moonbean and head home to TN. I have 3 children who live here in SoCal. The youngest is 18 and about to go off to college. So, I think it is time to make my escape.

    I am thinking of moving to the Nashville area so that I can get my city fix every now and again. Also, I do love me some TN Titans, so season tix may be in order.

    Thanks for the article and helping me solidify my decision to move back. By the way, what area of the state do you live in? Maybe one of these days I could buy you a cup of coffee (or take y’all fishin’).

    I apologize for my slow replies to comments. It’s been a busy week.

    I remember paying that $800 annual fee for the privilege of maintaining an s-corp in California. It’s $25 per year here in your home state, by the way.

    Get out of that state before it tanks. Tennessee is running a surplus despite no personal income tax, and pretty much everything is cheaper. When we moved here, I calculated that my cost of living had dropped by more than $1,000 per month. Hundreds less for insurance, auto stickers, you name it.

    We live in Franklin, just south of Nashville, on a 5.7-acre property with a 2500 sq.ft. house that cost less than the selling price of our 1250 sq.ft. townhouse in Burbank, which didn’t even have a yard. I wouldn’t go back to SoCal for anything.

    I’ll take you up on that cup of coffee someday.

  11. Chris Gatens says:

    The stupidest people God has ever created. I just transplanted New Yorker I can’t wait to the day which is coming soon to To Tennessee in my rearview mirror. Functionally retarded people function maybe retarded people

    • Bill Kennedy says:

      Obviously syntax/ sentence structure wasn’t high on the list of things taught in NY schools.

      I spent 27 years working in the Northeast with the last seven in PHL. and I’m grateful to be in Central Tennessee. Don’t let the door hit you in the butt on the way out Chris.

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