Kentucky...SUCKS! I wouldn't advise a move here. I'd suggest Tennessee or Texas, instead.
I'm a native, and I've lived in four four distinct and different regions in KY, geographically and culturally. I've been to, whether as a visitor or by residence, 95 of our Kentucky counties, spanning from Prestonsburg in the far east to Fulton in the far west. I know this state. I've been to 19 other states and Washington, DC. Let me emphasize this: UNLESS you find a good job in Louisville, DO NOT move here!
Louisville does not have a thriving job market, but it's not decrepit, either. The primary population growth in KY is now occurring in the Louisville metro area. Louisville-Jefferson Metro County now has 705,000 residents. Suburban Oldham and Bullitt Counties are each expected to jump from their current figures (60K and 75K, respectively) to 100K residents in the next 15 years. These are mostly new transplants leaving Louisville for the suburbs, though. Elizabethtown-Hardin County (also part of suburban Lou.) is now its own metro area. You're still not that far from Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Nashville, St. Louis, Chicago, and even Atlanta, Birmingham, and Memphis for good weekend trips. Plus, Louisville has a great park system--you'll fall in love with places like Cherokee Park, Seneca Park, Jefferson Memorial Forest, and Waterfront Park. It has Thunder over Louisville, the Kentucky Derby, and when current arena, highway, and private office projects are complete, let's just say that $10+ billion will be invested in downtown Lou. in the next ten years.
So, it sounds like I'm an advocate for Louisville, but I'm really not. Louisville has needed these improvement projects for the last 10 years. The city's leaders and people are afraid to utilize their tremendous resources and capital and take the first steps to becoming America's next great metropolis. State legislators in Frankfort saw the need for rehabbing the highways, and it's been outside developers who have really invested in the city. It could be so much more than any other city in the midwest, minus Chicago, but it's not. Literally 1/4-1/3 of Jefferson County is run-down and not suitable for good, safe living. While people there are polite and on-the-surface friendly, it's very hard to be accepted if you're not a native.
Lexington? Don't let a population of 270,000 fool you. The job market is stagnant, if not slightly declining. Sure, there is a lot of commercial development, but most of the people moving there are either from Ohio (which you want to get away from) or po-dunk eastern Kentucky (which will scare the crap out of you.) The traffic is horrendous for a small city, and invokes complaining from people from larger locales (even Chicago.) Even at 9pm, the traffic sucks there. And the people? Snooty, pretentious, I've never felt welcomed there at all. On the upside, you'll love the gorgeous beauty of the surrounding horse farms and rock fences.
Boone County in northern Kentucky is just a growing suburb of Cincy. That's it. Kenton and Campbell Counties aren't doing anything. Frankfort, Owensboro and Paducah: nothing, they've just plateaued.
As for Bowling Green, it's an overrated town, and I don't know why so many people are moving there. It's run-down, the road system is horrendous and confusing, and some random redneck approached me one time who wanted to buy my boxer pup so he could use it for breeding other pups. Seriously!
I've been places where people are generally polite starting out and really warm up to you once they see you're a good person. There are some places (i.e. - Texas) where people are much bolder in their friendliness. Kentucky has neither of those qualities. You're either accepted, or you're not. If people can't determine your kinship or VERY close relationship to one of their townspeople, you're just out of luck. My "hometown" in central KY doesn't feel like my hometown, even though I moved here from west KY 16 years ago, and that's because people have told me I'm not "one of their own." I guess part of the reason they say that is because I don't have the stereotypical and annoying KY accent. On the upside, though, KY is truly a beautiful state with geographical diversity and millions of acres of beautiful aquaculture paradise. Plus, I personally like the Nappy Roots, Ale-8-1, and the Louisville Cardinals, but these are the ONLY things I'll miss about KY when I leave!
Would I suggest Tennessee? I'd suggest it over Kentucky. You'd be more likely to find a job in Nashville, and Memphis and Knoxville aren't doing too shabby in the market, either. Plus, if you ever wanted to advance educationally, consider your options: the University of TN and Vanderbilt are two excellent schools just in TN. You'll find the "awesome South" you're looking for in TN. It's also the prettiest state in the South, and you'll find the people there to be generally polite, kind, and helpful. Oh, there's no income tax, but the sales tax will kill you (8-11?
Ultimately, I'd recommend Texas, though. I've found those people to (mostly) be almost friendly to a fault, and it has one of the best job markets of any state south (or, in this case, southwest) of the Ohio River. You have six very large, distinct, and diverse cities just in one state, and just think of the good schools: Rice, Texas A&M, Univ. of Texas, SMU, and Baylor, namely. No income tax here, either, and the property values are cheaper than Ohio. But property taxes will kill you. This is where I want to move!
Just consider your options, strongly examine what you're looking for in life, and why you like the South. Visit Kentucky and Tennessee, and see which is the best fit for you.
Answered By: BlanketyBlank - 7/3/2007