Whenever someone asks me where I’m from, I proudly say “Austin”—the land of live music, beautiful parks, active, healthy people, art, theater, and open-mindedness. It is the little blue dot in a red state. But the further I get from home, the more specific I find I have to be. For example, a conversation had in the Bahamas a few years ago:
“Where are you from?”
“Oh. Like George Bush, right? Where’s your horse?”
So you see the problem. But Austin is not alone in this. Regular people all over the country are surrounded every day by gun-toting, cowboy boot-wearing, country bumpkins. You know the type—they’re the folks who you run into at Walmart at 1 a.m.; NASCAR is their religion; and high school was just something they did for a couple of years, like flared jeans or TiVo were for the rest of us.
Now, I don’t use this term negatively at all. In fact, thanks to Jeff Foxworthy with his hundreds of “you might be a redneck” jokes, the term has been adopted fondly, proudly, by these tobaccie-spittin’ folk. Jokes are not the only redneck litmus test, though. Turns out—and I want to get this right—yew mat just be a redneck if yew live in one of these cities:
- Atlanta, GA
- Kansas City, MO
- Oklahoma City, OK
- Nashville, TN
- Tulsa, OK
- Fort Worth, TX
- Arlington, TX
- Sacramento, CA
- Cleveland, OH
- Mesa, AZ
How We Did It
Being from Austin [Texas], I’ve had my fair share of encounters with rednecks over the years—when I’m buying groceries, walking around the city, pickin’ up ammo for my .22, etc. So coming up with criteria for this post was not difficult for me; in fact, the hardest part was narrowing it down. You see, rednecks are a surprisingly diverse folk—they love home cookin’, but they love fast food; they love their dogs, but they love their taxidermied animals just the same. In the end, though, I narrowed it down to these eight most essential criteria:
- Percent of population that didn’t complete high school
- Number of gun and ammo stores per capita
- Number of taxidermists per capita
- Number of cowboy boot stores per capita
- Number of country radio stations per capita
- Number of NASCAR race tracks close by
- Number of Walmarts per capita
- Number of riding lawn mower/tractor repair shops per capita
With this list set and my theme music at the ready, I set out to rank the 50 largest cities by population in the U.S., according to each criteria, score them from 1 to 50 (the lower, the better—or the worse, depending on how you look at it), and average those rankings to get our top 10. And since we’re already talking numbers here, let’s start with some edumacation.
I Went 2 Hi Skool
I’m sure you did, Jimmy Bob, but in order to escape the No. 1 criteria, you’d have actually had to graduate from high school.
To find the cities with the lowest high school graduation rates, I used the U.S. Census Bureau and found the percent of each city’s population that did not finish high school. Number one was actually Cleveland, OH (one of the big reasons it made our top 10), and the city with the fewest high school dropouts was Seattle. Way to go, Washington! Cleveland, this is exactly why you should stay in school.
I’d Like a Latte and a .22In some states—mine included—buying and carrying a gun seems to be as easy as ordering and drinking a latte, and to find these numbers I turned to YellowPages.com. Not going to lie, this research kind of terrified me. Mesa, AZ ranked No. 1 in its number of gun/ammo stores per capita, with its population of just about 446,000 and a whopping 132 gun/ammo stores. After all, Arizona was recently ranked the “best state for gun owners,” as you don’t even need a permit to openly carry a gun in public. New York City came in as the city with the least gun shops per capita, with just 30 stores to its over eight million residents. Not surprisingly, The Big Apple was listed the worst for gun owners—and probably for rednecks as well.
That’s Just Bill, My Stuffed Possum
With all of the guns rednecks seem to be toting around, someone is bound to get hurt. More often than not that someone is an unlucky animal, which soon turns into an even unluckier stuffed animal over the mantel. After all, how would guests know they were entering a redneck-friendly environment without the dead possum hanging on the wall? To find the number of taxidermists per capita, I turned, again, to YellowPages.com and found, not surprisingly, a pretty direct correlation with number of gun stores and number of taxidermists. Minneapolis, MN made the ranks at number one, Mesa ranked in the top three, and again, New York City came in last.
These Boots Are Made for Rednecks
There is a common misconception that rednecks wear cowboy boots like frat boys wear loafers, i.e., all the time. But truly, cowboy boots are brought out for those special occasions—dinner, dancin’, maybe some Bingo. Nonetheless, boots and western wear are staples of any redneck fashionista’s wardrobe. In order to find the number of cowboy boot/western wear stores per capita, I again used YellowPages. Coming in first was Arlington, TX—no shock there. But number two was a little surprising: Long Beach, CA with 58 cowboy boot/western wear stores—that’s over twice the amount in Austin!
“We Got Both Kinds: Country and Western”
This famous line from “The Blues Brothers” describes the two types of music they offer in this particular bar called Bob’s Country Bunker. Now, if you watched that scene and you didn’t get the joke, well you may be a redneck, because to any good redneck, country western music is the only type of music. So I used Wikipedia’s list of U.S. Country Music stations to find out how many country music stations were based in each city’s limits—meaning the address literally needed to be inside the city. Some of them were pretty predictable: Nashville had the most with four stations based in the city, tying for second were San Antonio and Minneapolis with three, and some cities like Miami and Long Beach had zero country stations based there. Surprisingly, though, Arlington, TX and Mesa, AZ are also not homes to country music stations. Maybe they just don’t have the technology yet?
To any true, red-blooded redneck, NASCAR is not so much a hobby, but a religion. Saturdays and Sundays are sacred, filled with races on the TV, tallboys, cigarettes, and plenty of holiness (“Holy $#*@! Ya’ll see how fast he wuz goin’?”) In some the most prestigious of redneck cities, though, the joy of NASCAR is not just restricted to the TV, but can be a live action event. That’s why we took into consideration those cities that actually have NASCAR tracks close by (within 30 miles), with the help of Wikipedia’s list of America’s NASCAR tracks. Now this is a pretty particular criterion here, so most of the cities didn’t have any at all, and only half of our top 10 had one nearby. But for the lucky folks in Charlotte, Indianapolis, Fort Worth, Atlanta, and Mesa, NASCAR can be praised like it should be. Can I get a hallelujah?!
Meet Me at WalmartSomehow or another Walmart has been deemed the redneck’s everything place. Need a new lawn mower? Head to Walmart. Some ammo for your gun, sir? Walmart. Even if you are restless in the middle of the night, you can head to Walmart and be in good company (or scary company, depending on where you’re from.) So, once again, I turned to YellowPages.com to find the number of Walmarts per capita in each city. Las Vegas, Wichita, and Mesa came in at the top three with the most Walmarts per capita, while New York, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Seattle, and Boston all tied in last with zero Walmarts per capita. I guess them city folk just get their lawn mowers from someplace else.
And Speaking of Lawn Mowers
The final criterion in the great search for the most redneck cities was the number of riding lawn mower repair shops per capita. Why? Because anyone can go outside and mow their clean square of lawn with a regular little lawnmower (for you big city folks, see here); but it takes a real redneck to go so far as repair and maintain a riding lawnmower like you might your BMW. To find the cities with the highest number of riding mower/tractor repair shops per capita, I turned, again, to YellowPages.com.
If you’ve ever seen “King of the Hill,” you might have guessed that Arlington, TX, the city that the show is based on, came in first place. And if you’ve ever seen a city map, you probably know that New York came in last.
Adding It All Up (The One That Looks Like “+”)
To find our final list of the 10 most “redneckedy” cities in the good ol’ US of A, we took each of these criteria, used one of them fancy calculator things to average their rank, and came up with each city’s final score. And if yer city’s number ranked smaller than the number of cars in your yard, well, you just mat be a redneck.
Who is Movoto Real Estate, you might ask? Movoto is an online real estate brokerage based in San Mateo, CA. Our blog has been recognized for its unique approach to city-based research by major news organizations around the world such as Forbes and CBS News.