My first experience in the South was 4 years ago when my husband and I were invited to attend a wedding in Tennessee. From the moment we checked into Hotel Noelle, I knew this place was different. Amazing live music in the lobby, gorgeous old historical building, a gym unlike anything I’ve ever seen, friendliest staff, cutest room decor…I could go on. Having married a traveling salesman, I’ve stayed in more than my fair share of hotels and nothing has ever come close to my experience at Hotel Noelle. (No one is paying me to tell you – I just think you need to know!) You can make a reservation here: https://www.marriott.com/en-us/hotels/bnatx-noelle-nashville-a-tribute-portfolio-hotel/overview/.

In my view, a winning feature of any hotel is having a location within walking distance to fun, safe restaurants and shopping. I LOVE just parking the car for a few days and not seeing it again until we’ve thoroughly checked out the town. Hotel Noelle is the ideal spot for just such a trip! Plan to walk everywhere, plan to hear the best accents of your life, plan to eat the best food (I mean literally, the best restaurant food you have ever had) and plan to already be planning your next trip to Hotel Noelle before you’ve even checked out!

One of my very favorite memories of my first Nashville experience was when my husband and I stopped to eat dinner at this hole in the wall restaurant with live music. (Is there even a restaurant that doesn’t have live music in Nashville?) Three young men were playing and they were AMAZING. I had the most comforting Southern food in front of me and I felt ridiculously blessed. While my husband and I scoped out the locals enjoying the music, I saw a lovely blonde woman staring at the young men singing. She had the most adoring look of love in her eyes and I said to my husband, “I bet she’s their Mom.” A few moments later when they dedicated a song to her, “Our Mom”, I thought, “This place is indeed full of lovely people!”

As much as my husband and I loved our trip to the South 4 years ago, we had no intention of ever moving to Tennessee. And yet, the Lord knew we would and He provided a beautiful trip with wonderful memories before we even knew we would call this place home. That’s the kind of God He is: sovereign and kind. It’s very important to remember that when you are considering a big move (or really doing anything at all!)

Four years later, when it was clear we needed to leave California, we flew back to Nashville and stayed in Franklin because we knew we were interested in buying a home in Middle Tennessee. We ate at the most delicious Italian restaurant Culaccino and experienced such attentive service. The waitress was so sweet she even told us to bring our kids by the restaurant to meet her once we were all moved in! (You can make a reservation or check out the menu at Culaccino here: https://www.culaccinotn.com.)

The following 24 hours were a whirlwind of viewing 8 different properties, all at different price points in our budget in several different towns throughout Middle Tennessee. (More about the details of our move can be found here: http://redstateramblings.com/new-year-new-state-new-blog/). We talked on the flight home about which property was the complete package. We wanted to choose one that didn’t break the bank, felt like a big upgrade to justify a huge move across the country, and had a grocery store no more than 20 min away. One of them fit the bill perfectly so we put in an offer and our offer was accepted!

If my husband and I had not had that time to look at each house together and talk about each one as we drove away, I’m not sure we would have made our decision as determinedly as we did. I’m also confident we would have doubted our decision after our move if we had not both been there to give our two cents and to listen to the other’s point of view. It was a tremendous gift to have that time to think and to be fully united in our decision.

Of course, not everyone is able to take a couple’s trip to research their new state and in those cases it’s so important to remember that God is still sovereign and kind. He knows just what you need and He can still equip you to make a good decision. But, while there are many things to think about when planning a couple’s trip: (Who’s going to watch the kids? Where will we stay? Does this fit into our budget?)… In my experience, it is totally worth the energy figuring those things out! Setting the tone for your move with meaningful memories of you and your spouse finding the spot, checking out the town, having uninterrupted time to think and chat (and eat!) only helps in the decision making process. (Also, can I just say I really believe Chris Stapleton wrote “Starting Over” for couples like us? Love that song.)

While I completely understand the urgency of wanting to buy a home that is literally anywhere other than California, and while it may be necessary to buy it sight unseen, a short trip to at least check out the state you’re moving to is always a good idea! if you have the budget and time to plan a couple’s trip, DO IT. So much of life seems to be combining tasks. I love working out outside because I can get my Vitamin D AND get my workout done. I always enjoy asking one of my kids to help me in the kitchen because we can get dinner made AND my kid can learn some cooking skills AND we can connect thru chatting over our project. If you know you’re interested in a certain state, why not make a little couple’s trip AND combine time to date your spouse while researching a place you think you’d like to call home? The worst that could happen is you have time with your significant other and discover you’re actually not much of a fan of that state after all. Wouldn’t that be a good thing? I think so! And you just might have to schedule another fun couple’s trip to find out if you mesh better with the next state!

To be honest with you though, I don’t understand how anyone wouldn’t mesh well with Tennessee, unless you enjoy neither wild animals nor lovely people..in which case, I don’t think I can help you.

Take a trip to Hotel Noelle and tell me if you love it!

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