When Sam and I announced a few months back that we were moving to the White Mountains of New Hampshire, most people said:

“Why?!”

And a choice few said, “You’re crazy!”

When we explained that we were drawn to the magnificent outdoors, including more National Forest with hiking and cross-country skiing trails than we’d ever seen in our lives (New Hampshire is the second most forested state in the country, after all!), a job promising work-life balance, the gazillion things to do (Ski? Hike? Mountain Bike? Kayak? Canoe? Shoe-show? Tubing? Oh yeah. So covered.), affordable (ish) housing, tax-free income ….

You get the idea.

But still, after stating our case more than once or twice, more often than not, we were still met with: “Why?” Or, for those that understood our reasoning, then next question would be, “But what about the winter?”

Winter Wonderland Walks, New HampshireThis was an excellent question. It was also the one thing that made us tremble in our flip-flops. After years of living near New Orleans and then overseas in mostly tropical climes, we were headed for basically the exact opposite. That was scary.

In preparation for moving to the great unknown, I’d done hours and hours of research on this matter. The trouble was, we couldn’t really get much information on winters here except the helpful admission that it gets “really, really cold.”

After researching historical weather trends and prowling more message boards than I ever knew existed, we came to the conclusion that the winter could be a fun experience if we just tried to make the most of it. And we both admitted that we weren’t so afraid of the cold as we were of the lack of sunlight. Turns out, the sunlight issue has been a pleasant surprise so far.

Walking along Shelburne trails after first snow, December 2016Now, when I sat down to write this post, I had originally thought I’d do a post about our first New Hampshire winter. But then, I realized it was a bit premature. It’s only the end of February, after all. I need to wait until at least the end of March or else I’ll just show my complete naivety as to what a winter consists of. So that post will have to come later.

What I thought I’d share in this post is what it has been like thus far to live in the White Mountains!

Firstly, I’d say that after being here for three months, I have yet to get over how beautiful it is. And this is during the winter time!

Shelburne Farmstead, New HampshireWe arrived at the end of November, days before the first snowfall.

And even though this was at the tail-end of Autumn, I look back over the zillion photos I’ve collected since that time and marvel at this new experience of living in a true four-season environment. The changes in the landscape over such a short amount of time are truly magical.

To give you an idea, here is a view from the summit of Mt Crag in Shelburne. This was my first hike when we arrived.

View from Mt. Crag, Shelburne NH

And here is a panorama from Mt Crag, taken a week or two later:

Winter panorama from summit of Mt Crag, NHFor the most part, though there have been some truly nippy days where the wind kept my adventure tamped down, for the most part, living here in the White Mountains has not disappointed. It is a true outdoors wonderland, and even if you’re not into outdoor activities, the scenery you take in during your daily commute is, to us, reason enough.

Shelburne, NH Pre-Snowfall, December 2016

Downside? Yes, there have been a few. An extremely frustrating house-hunting experience being the foremost, but mostly it is difficult to move anywhere in the middle of winter and live out of suitcases for months on end. Also, it’s not ideal to be so far away from friends and family. Finally, it is rather remote where we are, but that’s what comes with living in such a pristine environment. There are a few other negatives, as there would be for any place, but perhaps I’ll save that for another post: The Pros and Cons to Living in the White Mountains!

4 thoughts on “On Moving to the White Mountains of New Hampshire

  1. I live in Ohio and am 74. I strongly desire to live in the White Mountains. I would prefer a2-3 bedroom rental. My only concern is finding a primary physician. Otherwise nothing can stop my desire to live in the mountains. I was born in New London, Connecticut and my parents lived in New London and Groton until moving to the Midwest. I have always considered myself a New Englander.
    .

    1. Hi Ross!

      Apologies for the delayed reply. I agree that the White Mountains are a lovely place to live. So much to do (if you like the outdoors) and it is beautiful … pretty much everywhere. Since most of towns within the White Mountains are pretty rural, you’ll probably have better luck looking for house-apartment rentals rather than looking for what one normally thinks of apartment rentals (i.e., a complex). Check out the local papers; often rentals are listed in the classifieds.

      As for physicians, I know that can be a tricky thing, depending upon what your health needs are. I’ve been pretty happy with my healthcare choices thus far, although I did have to drive two hours once to see a specialist! But we have some good hospitals up here, and I may be biased, but I can think of one excellent FP in the area, too.

      Best of luck!

      Cheers,
      Jesse

  2. Jesse,

    I am really interested to hear how your adaptation to New Hampshire has been.

    My family and I are strongly considering moving to the area around Plymouth NH (Rumney, Campton Thornton). I am from California and have been a surfer my whole life. My wife (from NY) and I met on Maui and worked in Costa Rica for a while before moving back to California and getting married. After we had our first child we moved to TX (where my wife has some family) but found the heat and lack of outdoor activity stifling. We currently live on the southern outer banks of NC. I love the untouched wilderness that still exists here, uncrowded surf and weather but the hurricanes are becoming more and more of a dealbreaker. We have three children now and would like to live somewhere rural within driving distance to my wife’s family in NY. I love skiing and the White Mountains look beautiful but I am scared I wont be able to adapt to the gloom and cold. I love fishing, hiking, skiing, hunting, diving and above all, surfing but I think the sun may be setting on my surfing days. We want to find a good place to raise a family within driving distance of my wife’s family in NY and I think Id rather move to NH than TX again.

    What’s the long term report? How have you adapted to the New Hampshire weather and way of life?

    1. Hi JT!

      I’ll try to address your questions here.

      I am often surprised by this myself, but I honestly can say I have never enjoyed living anywhere in the US more than here. It is extremely outdoorsy. We are a 10 minutes’ drive (through gorgeous scenery) from a beautiful cross-country ski/cycling/trail running area, 12 minutes from a small alpine resort. I can literally ride my mountain bike out of my barn and be on some AMAZING trails in 5 minutes. We have so many hiking choices it is, quite frankly, overwhelming. Hiking, snow-shoeing, skiing (glade, alpine, Nordic), mountain biking, trail running, kayaking … so many options. Amazing swim-holes in the summer as we have rivers and lakes all over the place (more rivers and streams than lakes up here, but the lake district is under 2 hours south, and we’ve got a few lakes and ponds locally, too). Lots of hunting and fishing (fly-fishing is big here), too, but as I don’t do either of those, I can’t really speak to that.

      What we don’t have: surfing and diving. BUT, the NH and Maine coast have surfing (I am sure it doesn’t compare to CA, Costa Rica or Hawaii, though). The selling point? You can live in pristine mountains and then be on the coast in about 2 hours. Plus, Boston has some enticing flights to surf-worthy destinations.

      Because we live in such a pristine, rural area, there are things that come with that, like a lack of stores. I drive about 45 minutes if I need to go to a “big box” store, but as I try to avoid those anyway, it’s not a big deal to me. And Amazon Prime is super convenient. We have a Walmart, and we’re working on a grocery store for our town. We have a few restaurants (two are award-winners), an Opera House that hosts some fun music acts, a fabulous farmer’s market. But if you want that window-shopping, milling-about-the-city feel, you won’t get that here.

      We don’t have kids, but it piqued my interest when you mentioned your family, because–no kidding–one of the first things I lamented when we moved here was, “We are finally in a place that would be great to raise kids, and we don’t have any!” From what I have seen, it is so much nicer to have a family life here. Kids walk to school. I personally have never felt unsafe. Stuff does happen, but having lived in other places in the US, I’ve never felt so safe as I do here. I go hiking and cycling by myself all the time. Also, we purportedly have really good schools here, so there is that.

      Winters: They are long. Like, seven months. I grew up in Southeast Asia, if that gives you any perspective. It gets very windy up here in the winter–that came as a bit of a shock. And we get SO MUCH snow. For a few months, our days are short (it gets dark by 4 around December, I think, but starts to lengthen again after about a month). Presently, it gets dark a bit before 6. But our summers are bright until 9 at night. We do have our fair share of gloom, but since I work from home, I get to “chase the sun” more than most people, and I would say that the sun does make an appearance for an hour or two most days, and when the sun is out all day, it’s like the prettiest place you’ve ever seen. I have family that live in the Colorado Springs area, and I would choose living here hands down. The snow stays white all winter long. I guess the skiing is purportedly not as good due to the snow texture, but there are a gazillion skiers and so many ski resorts here, so it can’t be that undesirable. Also? Even when you look out the window and think, “bleh, too gloomy,” once you get out into the snow, it all changes. It’s like sunlight coming from the ground and everything is so pretty. So, all that to say, winters were our biggest concern, too, but it isn’t the gloom that we struggle with as that turned out to be not really a problem to us. When we complain, it is probably about the length of the season (but I don’t think CO is any better) and I hate the super-short days that set in for a little while.

      Whew! That was long. If you or your wife have more specific questions, feel free to reach me at jesse(at sign)tongatime(dot)com. Best of luck!

      Cheers,
      Jesse

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