Posted 08 June 2012 - 06:17 AM
My 2 cents, I lived in a few places in eastern NC most of my growing years, Monterey, Cali for a total of about 2.5 years (2 different times), middle of Texas 6 months, Hawaii 6 years and Australia now going on 2 years (with the military post-NC). My wife was stationed in San Diego for a year of my time in Monterey and I drove down every other weekend to spend the weekend with her. She's from NY, so I've spent extensive time there visiting her family and stuff. I have family in Florida, and my Dad lived there for a while recently and I've spent lots of time in Fla. I visited SF a number of times while stationed in Monterey. I don't have much experience in the middle of the US, I just did bootcamp in Illinois which I wouldn't even count because I wasn't among the general populace. I spent a weekend in New Orleans while stationed in Texas (pre Katrina).
Growing up in NC, of course I saw racism. No one can deny it exists. But it honestly wasn't any more than I've seen in NY, Texas, California or Hawaii. It's between different races in different places. Whites and blacks in the South. Everyone vs everyone in NY. Latinos, blacks and whites in Cali. Islanders and non-islanders in Hawaii. Same thing, different shades.
San Diego is the only place in Cali I'd even hesitate to say "Hell no" to settling down after the military. San Diego is pretty nice, the weather is nice and the people are far and away the coolest and nicest people in Cali.
I did some traveling around Texas while I was there, and my impression is Texas is pretty meh. Didn't have great or terrible experiences with people there. I'll give them one thing though, they're polite drivers. Texas was the only place I've seen people pull over into the shoulder to let you pass if you're coming up behind them driving faster than them. When I went to NO, it's a fun town with good food but I'd be damned if I'd want to live there. It stinks there and the people were kind of assholish to you if you're not giving them your tourist dollars.
Hawaii was nice for the first 6 months or so, but like NO the people lose all of their famed niceness if you're not a tourist giving them money. It also has the worst drivers I've seen in my entire life, from Fla to NY, from NC to Cali, from Australia to all over Asia I've never seen worse drivers. At least the bad drivers I've seen in Asia have an excuse, poorer driving education and more populated roads.
The people in Australia put everywhere else to shame in politeness and overall friendliness, but the Southeast isn't that far behind.
For an unbiased point of view, my wife and kids stayed with my family for a year while I was training in another state at one point, and she was impressed by how she was treated by strangers. She wasn't accustomed to the default attitude being polite and warm.
In summary, the only place my wife and I have discussed living other than NC is San Diego. I like Fla well enough, but my wife doesn't want to look like the stereotypical NYer moving down to Fla so that's out of the question. San Diego is nice, the nicest place in the US I've been other than NC, but give me NC any day.