• Vered DeLeeuw moved from Palo Alto, California, to Memphis, Tennessee, for her husband's job.
  • She was hesitant at first and found it challenging to adapt to suburban life and find restaurants.
  • Nine months in, she's learned to embrace the slower pace of life and the nearby nature.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Vered DeLeeuw, a 52-year-old food blogger in Memphis, Tennessee. The following has been edited for length and clarity.

I moved to Palo Alto with my husband in 1999. We were recently married and living in Tel Aviv when he got a job offer to lead a software-development team at a company in California. He's a software engineer, so saying yes to working in Silicon Valley was an easy decision for both of us.

I was excited for a major life change myself. I was an attorney but was slowly falling out of love with the profession. I figured that moving to California would give me the opportunity to rethink my career, and it did.

Shortly after we arrived, I got pregnant and decided not to return to work. Instead, I started a food blog, and over time turned it into a full-time job.

We lived in the Silicon Valley area for over 20 years

I thought it was an amazing place. Many of the people I met there were also foreigners — we had friends from Israel, India, and Europe. We enjoyed going to the theater, eating at different types of restaurants, and exploring the unique neighborhoods of nearby San Francisco.

Nine months ago, my husband was offered a new job as the managing director of the Memphis hub of Alchemist, a startup accelerator. This time, I was reluctant to move because I didn't know much about Memphis, but I support my husband and his company's mission, so I said yes.

Memphis has been a major change from Palo Alto. Here's what relocating has been like.

Life in Memphis is more relaxed than the hustle of Silicon Valley

Many people in Silicon Valley have a lot at stake professionally, like start-up founders who are eager to make it. Because of that, there's a constant sense of urgency. We ate dinner at 6 p.m. because everyone goes to sleep early and wakes up early for work.

The speed of life in Memphis feels much more relaxed and slower-paced. At first, this drove me crazy, but now I don't feel like it's such a bad way to live. The people I've met here don't seem as high-strung or stressed as people did in Silicon Valley.

Crime is on the rise and it's very noticeable

When I drive into downtown Memphis, it's hard for me to see anything but a city that's overridden by crime. When we make plans with friends at night, we typically go to areas like Germantown because we feel safer.

I wasn't used to living in a city with such high crime rates. Palo Alto felt like a generally safe place to live, but Memphis has become an increasingly more dangerous place to live, though I do feel safe where I live in the suburbs.

The kind and welcoming people are my favorite part of living here

In California, people I knew mostly kept to themselves and were polite but distant. The people I've met in Memphis are warm and friendly. We've been here less than a year and have already developed quite a few close friendships. There's a strong sense of community.

Southern charm and hospitality are real. People will smile, wave at you from across the street, and make small talk in the elevator.

"Ma'am," "sir," and "y'all" are used as signs of respect and friendliness. Addressing a woman, especially if she's older than me, as "ma'am" feels polite. My heart melts when young teenagers address me as "ma'am" and my husband as "sir."

I've also noticed that the people I've met here are very loyal to their families and often choose to live near their parents or grandparents. I come from a world where young people leave home for college and never look back. Families stay together here, and I deeply admire and envy that.

Memphis didn't win me over right away

When I used to drive around Silicon Valley, I'd see great urban architecture and lots of cool bars, restaurants, and stores. The first couple of days in Memphis, I felt like all I noticed were strip malls and huge parking lots.

My husband and I love to eat at trendy, sit-down places with a vibrant atmosphere and a creative chef in the kitchen who cooks innovative, high-quality food. At first, we struggled to find options like this in Memphis, but after a few months we did start to find restaurants we like.

The live music scene here is a big perk. Even local restaurants in the suburbs have live music on the weekend. That entertainment doesn't ever get old.

We live in a bigger home here that was much less expensive than a comparable one in Palo Alto. Day-to-day life is also much more affordable. Groceries, restaurants, and even utilities are less expensive and Tennessee has no state income taxes.

Having a lower cost of living enables us to save significantly more each month compared to in California, where we could barely save anything.

It took me a few months to find Memphis' charm

I joined Nextdoor and local Facebook groups to learn about hot spots and events and meet new people.

After I got over the initial shock of living here, I started to immerse myself in the city. I met neighbors, found a local theater, and discovered a favorite barbecue place. If you have an open mind about a city, it helps the place slowly start to feel like home.

We discovered a beautiful nature trail near our house and now walk there daily. It's very quiet here, the air is clean, and we get to see lots of wildlife including deer, rabbits, and turtles on our daily walks.

I don't know if we'll live here forever, but I'd be happy to stay here for another few years.

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