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.
“I’m very shy in some ways,” she says. “Obviously I’m in the spotlight professionally, but to be that vulnerable, standing up in front of people doing something so personal, that’s kind of a new thing for me and not exactly in my comfort zone.”
She adds: “There are many ways to get married and we’ll figure one out that is comfortable for both of us.”
With reporting by KAY WEST