Hayden Panettiere and Wladimir Klitschko Want to Settle Down Southern Style

Hayden Panettiere’s putting down some Southern roots… permanently.

The Nashville star and her hubby-to-be Wladimir Klitschko are planning more than just a wedding. They’re ready for yet another big step in their relationship. Buying a home.

The New York native and the Ukranian-born boxer have gotten used to the Southern hospitality of Music City.

“That’s a big investment and a big commitment for something that can be very fleeting,” the 24-year-old actress told PEOPLE at the CMT Artist of the Year awards Tuesday of her co-stars making the Tennessee capital their home.

“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!” she added. “But I have amazing friends here and this just feels good as a home base.”

Despite his overwhelming stature (he’s 6’6”-tall and she’s 5’-tall!) Panettiere’s positive the heavyweight champion will blend in just fine: “He fits in anywhere. He’s a very worldly man!”

Since the couple reunited earlier this year after breaking up in May 2011 and confirmed their engagement in October (with some massive bling) she’s pictured her dream day, but nothing’s set in stone: “There are many ways to get married,” said Panettiere, “and we’ll figure one out that is comfortable for both of us.”

(Photo: Splash)

“With both of our schedules, it’s crazy trying to schedule anything, much less a wedding,” she said, adding that being the center of attention is something she’ll have to get used to.

“I’m very shy in some ways,” she said. “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.”