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The Cost of Living Diaries: Southwest Louisiana

Get the scoop on what it’s like to live in the region.

By Lindsey Hyde on May 16, 2023

Paul Pettefer
Paul Pettefer

Ask any resident, and they’ll quickly confirm that Southwest Louisiana is the best place to call home. While homey and inviting, this region is also brimming with activities – day and night. Plus, its outdoor recreation, from walking nature trails to boating on Lake Charles, can’t be beat.

Paul Pettefer grew up in the area, left for eight years to attend graduate school and pursue a career opportunity with Bank of America in Texas before moving back in 2000. He is currently the owner of Paul’s Rib Shack Barbecue, a restaurant he opened in 2019.

What do you love about living in Southwest Louisiaina?

It’s home. I love the people. I love our traditions. There’s plenty to do. Great outdoors. My dad had a boat dealership, and so I had my own boat when I was 10 years old and could leave the house. “Sportsman’s Paradise” is what’s on our license plates. 

How would you describe SWLA and its residents?

It’s a bit of an “everyman’s” community. We have a lot of salt-of-the-earth people who enjoy their family, enjoy their community events and know how to rally around and improvise when the time comes, like after a hurricane. We help our neighbors. I think we lead the way in that.

What was it like buying a home in the region?

The home we bought (in 2021), I thought it was a terrific deal. It’s a beautiful home – bigger than what I had and less work for me to fix. It was great. I’m shocked with how cheap I got it. It was about $400,000.

What are some free or low-cost activities available in the area?

We’ve got a boating tradition, so you can fish, ski, take your family on a cruise or take guests on sunset boat rides. It’s fantastic.

You own a restaurant, but when you are not cooking, what’s your favorite place to eat and how much would dinner be for two people?

I would say Tony’s Pizza. The owners are all my friends. It’s a full Italian restaurant, and it feels like you’re in a movie set at a traditional Italian restaurant. The folks know my name and make it fun. It’s red benches and checkerboard tablecloths and all the nostalgia of a traditional Italian family joint. It’s fantastic. Dinner for two would be around $30.

The Bekery is a beautiful French pastry shop with sandwiches. It’s ornate, and the pastries are great. I usually get some sort of espresso drink. I think they are getting their latte-art game together, so that’s really pretty. 

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