Plenty of good information in this thread on finding a place and such...let's work on your country social skills a bit...
- As hortnut
mentioned, dress like the locals. Country folks are working people and they are dressed down most all the time. If they're dressed up, they're going to either a baptism, wedding or burial. If you're messing with the local girls, could be either or both of the latter.
- Read the local papers. Find out what is going on in the community. Participate in local events. Go to the local high school games and root for the home team. Have fun doing so...country locals support their school teams, if not by money then at least by doing so in spirit.
- Treat womenfolk and their children with respect and civility. Open the door for them and such when appropriate without making a 'show' of it. (Hint: If you find yourself in a position where the whole family is together, you need to allow the man of the family to take the lead in 'taking care of his own' (coming out the door of the market, for example). Of course, a circumstance might arise where it is more appropriate for you to do so, so don't hesitate. It's a fine line...but you'll have milliseconds to decide so don't worry.
) Watch your language. Good manners go a long way in the country. Make your mama proud to have raised such a fine son.
- Go to the local farm and hardware store for tools, supplies and such. Don't say "I can get that at teh Home Depot for cheaper!!" or you'll find that your money is no good in town and you'll be driving the 150 miles to HD for your stuff...forever. Ask questions even if you know the answer. Ask them what their thinking is on this and that. Ponder on the answer for a moment or two before moving on to the next question. Don't be in a 'big city rush'.
- Learn to drink what the locals drink, if you find yourself in that situation. If they're all drinking piss-water beer, you are too. Don't ask the bartender for something "better". Remember, you're trying to blend in. Microbrews, fruity drinks and wine spritzers are pretty much out.
- Go to the local farmer's market during the spring and summer. You'll see things that you don't see in the supermarkets and it's a good opportunity to chat and get to know the locals. Buy something.
- Go to the local fund raiser pancake breakfast for the local volunteer Fire Department. Make a contribution to their efforts above and beyond the cost of the breakfast. Meet the Chief and thank him for the hard work and dedication of his group. Same with the local Sheriff. Remember, these are your (new) friends and neighbors...they're not faceless JBTs like in the city. You'll find a different attitude in the country with respect to law enforcement.
- Learn what your neighbors drive and acknowledge them with a short hand wave as you pass on the road. It gets them wondering who YOU are. After a while you're 'that nice man who lives down the road who always waves'. Don't drive too fast...you never know what might be right around the bend. Take your time...you moved to the slower-paced country to enjoy life. Zoom-zooming is counterproductive to that objective.
- Take all the bumperstickers and that crap off your car (if applicable). Get a truck...even if it's a beater. You're going to need one anyway. It doesn't need a lift-kit, fancy paint, lightbars, decals and other stuff like that. It does need a trailer hitch, though. If it ever hauled manure, that's a plus.
- Leave the urban slang and such in the city when you leave. If you have tattoos, piercings, etc., cover them up. Nothing screams "murdering dope-fiend gang member" to country folk like those things, even if you're not..
- This might rankle some here, but get a gun (if you don't have one). Guns are a common tool in country life. Most people have one. A .22 like the Ruger 10/22 is fine...learn to use it properly and appropriately. You'll need it when the country predators come and kill your chickens that you raised from little peepers (you'll want some chickens since they keep the bugs down). I have a wood-stocked gun and leave the black guns at home when I go out to shoot with the locals. If nothing else, at least be conversant with the shooting sports and don't pass around any 'gun control' petitions.
- Find the local cemetery and take a look around. See what the family names are. Remember, we're all in-bred bastards in the country and we're all related.
Speaking ill-will of one will have far-reaching repercussions.
- Go to the library and read newspapers from ten years ago and work your way forward to get caught up on the local 'recent' history. No need to become an expert...just get the lay of the land, so to speak.
- Get this book
and read it. It's an easy read and will get you up-to-speed on a lot of things right away. Money well spent...
Even though I lived in the big city, I was fortunate in that I worked out on dairy farms, seed and grain farms and wood mills (as a service electrician) before I moved to the country. It made it easy for me to fit in. Only took five years before they started treating me like a local. That might be a record of some kind...--
No amount of force can control a free man, a man whose mind is free. You can't conquer a free man; the most you can do is kill him. Well, you can try to...