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MandySue in Mississippi

Well we did it y'all, a week ago we officially made our new house in Mississippi our home. It's been a crazy six weeks and we still have a few more as we focus on not only getting unpacked and settled into our new home but getting our condo ready to go on the market but I wouldn't trade it for the world. But now that I'm in a new house I wonder - do I need a new blog name? We live at the very north part of Mississippi and our new town is still considered a suburb of Memphis and we still plan on doing things in the Memphis area so I feel like keeping the name is appropriate but then again changing it would be a little more accurate.
Pretty much my entire adult life I was convinced I would never, ever live in MS, even when I was dating and now married to a man who works in MS. Let's be real y'all - on a national level Mississippi doesn't have the best reputation - bad health, bad schools, including the confederate flag in the state flag, having to pay a state income tax (TN has none) and backwards politics all come to mind when I think of Mississippi. But, it's not like Tennessee is a shining beacon of prosperity and tolerance and while Memphis may certainly be a little liberal corner of an otherwise red state it too has many issues that come to mind - crime, bad schools, bad health, high sales tax, and challenging labor markets. I have a lot of love for Memphis as a whole and I think there are many positives and I'd never be ashamed to tell someone I'm "from Memphis" but I was never going to start my family within the Memphis city limits and so we were always only considering the Memphis suburbs when we thought about where our family home might be.
For the longest time I thought I would live in either Germantown or Collierville - two fairly affluent suburbs east of Memphis. As a teen I lived in Collierville and went to school in Germantown. Both are safe, quiet towns, both have plenty of affordable family homes, and both have top notch schools so it seemed like a no brainer. But as we looked at homes online in these towns we just didn't find anything we loved - the homes with the features we wanted were more space than we were looking for and the homes that had the right size and number of rooms just weren't our style. Occasionally we'd see a home and think, oh that's nice that could work for us but nothing made us sit up and go wow - we love it! But still I had a lot of mental hurdles to get over before I was ready to cross the state line.
1. The state income tax.
This is a big one in the area and something we've already had people mention to us. Tennessee has no income tax while Mississippi does - and because there are plenty of people who live in one state but work in another Mississippi charges income tax to anyone who works in MS regardless of where they live and to all residents regardless of where they work. Because Shaun already works in MS my income would be the only additional income we would pay taxes on. And people who bring up this criticism seem to forget that the Memphis area has higher property taxes and TN as a whole has a higher sales tax. Like any responsible financial analyst on this one I simply did the math and the difference between what we would pay on income and property tax living in TN and what we pay in MS was minimal and can certainly be made up by paying less sales tax on our spending.
2. The schools
Most people I know in Memphis send their children to private school. I don't have any issues with private school and I'd be open to it if our future child's needs cannot be met within the public school system but Shaun and I are both products of public schools and would prefer a community where schools are top preforming. Neither MS or TN is top ranking on the national level when it comes to schooling but both do in fact have good school districts within the state. In West TN Arlington, Collierville and Germantown are all desirable schools with in North MS it's Desoto Central and Lewisburg - we considered homes in both districts and know parents who live in both districts who have wonderful things to say about their children's school. Plus, a lot of TN residents go to Ole Miss or Mississippi State so looking at this long term - in state tuition! (you're welcome future child).
3. New Homes
This one is going to sound pretty weird but for a long time I was very anti new construction. I'm not a fan of neighborhoods laid out in a grid with the same four floors plans built over and over again - A B C D and repeat over and over until the neighborhood is complete. And don't get me wrong - there's a lot to be said for curb appeal but you spend the majority of your time living with what's inside your home rather than looking at it from the front yard. I'd see beautiful homes online with the charming, like a movie family lives here exterior but the inside  - meh. Meanwhile when I decided to finally look at some new construction lists my reaction was WOW. Granite counter tops, big master bathrooms, ,lots of closet space, vaulted ceilings - yes please! We got very lucky and found a home with the best of both worlds - our neighborhood is not at all in a grid, all the houses do provide a variety of character from the exterior and we're on a wooded lot but we still get all the shiny newness inside. Don't get me wrong - there's new construction home in TN too - but in the areas we were interested in the sq ft on new construction is all over 3,000sf and that was really the max space we wanted. My favorite thing about our new home is how smart I thing the space utilization is , no space seems too small or being large just for the sake of being large.
4. The Politics
So we realized we wouldn't really pay more in taxes and our future kid could go to a good school, we found a home we loved but it was still in Mississippi which means we would be represented by Mississippi politicians (Google Greg Davis / Roger Whicker campaign ads - the mud these two slung at each other, which involved bringing their mommas into it btw was embarrassing. Like I remember one ad coming on during SNL and wondering if it was a real ad or a skit level of embarrassing). One particular MS state senator posted something especially offensive on FB a few months ago and received a lot of social media backlash but one thing he posted in his comments was how most of the people criticizing him did not live in MS and while I took the time to comment how his nasty attitude turned me off from living in MS I realized something - if there's one thing I've learned about politicians it's that they like being politicians and they will do anything to get re-elected. A backwards thinking MS politician doesn't care what a California liberal thinks of them but they very much care if the people of MS stop voting for them and they heaven forbid have to get a real job. Sometimes you have to fight for change within y'all so think of us as not giving into the idea of confederate statues and stupid turn away the gays laws but two more voices saying no, we do not want this and you do not speak for us.

Overall we're very happy in our Mississippi home. Unless you have a endless budget no place is going to be perfect. You take the good, you take the bad but you have to be happy where you are.



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