updated 12/04/2013 AT 3:00 PM ET
•originally published 12/05/2013 AT 11:20 AM ET
She was born in New York, but Nashville star Hayden Panettiere is becoming a down-home country girl.
The 24-year-old, who’s engaged to boxer Wladimir Klitschko, is buying a home in Tennessee.
While a lot of her fellow cast and crew were buying homes in Nashville “pretty immediately” after the show began shooting, Panettiere tells PEOPLE that she wanted to take her time.
“That’s a big investment and a big commitment for something [like a TV show] that can be very fleeting,” she explained at the CMT Artist of the Year awards on Tuesday.
“But after a year and a half of living here, I felt that I had enough personal investment here, that I want to have a grounding here, even if something happens to the show. Knock on wood it won’t! But I have amazing friends here and this just feels good as a home base.”
When asked how her 6’6”-tall Ukranian fiancé will adjust to life in Nashville, she smiled and said, “He fits in anywhere. He’s a very worldly man!”
As for any wedding plans? “With both of our schedules, it’s crazy trying to schedule anything, much less a wedding,” Panettiere admits.
But she does have her perfect dress – and perfect day – in mind. “I can picture it,” she says, but admits she’s a bit uncomfortable about having all the attention focused on her on her big day.