Moving to New Hampshire! I've never been within 1000 miles of NH. Tell me about it?

We’re finally leaving Japan (yay!) and returning to the US, to New Hampshire–Portsmouth area. My husband is military and will be stationed there. Neither of us have ever been anywhere near New England, but the pictures look pretty and we’re very excited. We will not be visiting before hand–plane tickets are too expensive. We will be buying a house as soon as we get there.

So any NH people here? I read the Wiki page, of course. Anything we should know? We’re out-doorsy and youngish, and we don’t have kids yet but plan to soon. Thanks in advance!

If you ask specific questions, I’d be happy to answer them as best I can. I don’t live in Portsmouth, but given it’s only a half hour drive, I spent a fair amount of time there.

I have a question for you, too: what are winters like in Japan? The last two here got 10.5 and 9 feet of snow and Portsmouth didn’t get much less, so I imagine you’re in for a bit of a change there.

Hm. Are the highways cleared well when it snows? We’re looking at buying a house about 35 miles from where my husband will be working (up in Milton). It will be freeway all the way, but is it insane to try to drive that in the winter? Oh, also: Air conditioning. Do houses usually have it up there, or do the summers not get hot enough to bother? And basements–I’ve noticed they don’t seem particularly common, although the are in (also cold) Wisconsin. Is that because of a high water table issue, or what?

Food: How’s the restaurant scene? The restaurant scene here sucks and I can’t wait to get somewhere where actual international food (other than japanese food) is available.

We’re on Okinawa, and it doesn’t get cold here, but that’s one thing we’re looking forward to. My husband is from Wisconsin and is used to hard winters and is comfortable driving in snow, and I’m from Arkansas and am not, but I love cold weather and snow and can’t wait to have a white Christmas.

Are the highways cleared well when it snows?
The highways are cleared well. The surface streets much less so. As the winters wear on, town do an increasingly poor job of clearing the roads because they’ve used up their plowing budgets.

**We’re looking at buying a house about 35 miles from where my husband will be working (up in Milton). It will be freeway all the way, but is it insane to try to drive that in the winter? **
No, but it will be frustrating. I’m not sure what your concept of a “freeway” is, but he’ll probably be taking Route 16, and most of that is just one lane in each direction without a lot of places that allow passing, so if he’s stuck behind someone who is afraid to drive in snow…frustrating. It never hurts to leave 15 minutes earlier in bad weather.
**Air conditioning. Do houses usually have it up there, or do the summers not get hot enough to bother? **
It doesn’t get really hot, but it does get really humid. When it’s 85F and 85% humidity, you’ll want to put the AC on. You won’t need one until early July most years, though.

And basements–I’ve noticed they don’t seem particularly common, although the are in (also cold) Wisconsin. Is that because of a high water table issue, or what?
I don’t know anyone whose house doesn’t have a basement. FTR, the words “basement” and “cellar” are used here interchangably, despite the fact that there are supposed to be subtle differences to what each term means. So when you hear “cellar” don’t assume a dirt floor :wink:

Food: How’s the restaurant scene?
I think I’ll have to leave this question to another NH poster, because I’m not at all a foodie, and can’t give you any good advice there. I know a lot of people who praise the eateries in Portsmouth, though.

As for cold, you’ll get your fill!

Some answers based on having lived in NH for several years:

Varies, but snow removal is generally rather good.

No - nothing strange about that. You might have a couple of days when getting to work is challenging, and a number when it takes longer than normal.

Older houses typically don’t. You’d be glad of it a few days a year.

Strange - I can’t remember being in a house that didn’t have one. Of course, I was never in an area where the water table was a problem (not much swampy land in NH).
I really like the place and still miss it (though the winters came to seem a bit long). I love the White Mountains, and autumn colors can be astonishing (I was there in Oct. 2009, and saw some of the best ever).

Good info. I was expecting that to be at least a 4 lane road–definitely something to consider.
Interesting about the basement thing. I wonder if they’re just assumed, and not getting mentioned on the real estate listings.

Depending on where in Japan, they can get quite a bit more snow than NH. The last couple years have been sort of weak (last year especially), but the average in places like northern Honshu is usually more than New England. NH tends to have colder temps, though.

The highways have always been cleared IME. Plows run all throughout heavy storms, so the commute shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

I don’t think most houses come equipped with A/C, or at least with central air. The summers are certainly humid enough to warrant it, but if you’re talking trends, I’ve found that places either have A/C or heat, and NH needs heat much more. Basements are fairly common as far as I know. (NB, none of this applies directly to Milton, as I haven’t been in any houses there)

Portsmouth has a good music scene (plus you can get WFNX from Boston, which was one of the last bastions of independent radio. A friend told me it had been bought out, but there’s nothing on the wiki page about it) and selection of restaurants: at least Indian, Thai, and Mexican (and of course seafood) IIRC. In the summer they have free (donation encouraged) plays in Prescott Park. Portsmouth is a nice place to be.

Most houses will have basements. You need to dig down at least 5 feet for any permanent structures in NH for frost depth. So, it doesn’t make much sense if your digging anyway not to include a basement. Older homes may have only a crawl space. There are houses built on slabs but those are pretty uncommon.

AC is very common you’d find very few businesses that don’t have any. Homes depend on when they were built and their type of heating systems. Window units for 3 months out of the year are pretty common.

Restaurant scene in New England is very good. It will take some time to find the best ones though. Independent restaurants are successful and more common then chains. Many do not advertise though so you need to find them by word of mouth or reviews.

NH has no sales taxes and makes up for it in property tax so when buying a home make sure your home buying budget takes the prop tax into account.

Awesome! We love little independent restaurants. Do you have any favorites?

I am from the South but I have lived in New Hampshire. It is one of my favorite states and underrated in my opinion. It is very pretty and the people tend to be quirky but friendly. The native accent is pretty entertaining but not everyone talks like that.

Most of the state is very rural or semi-rural. If you like that type of thing, you can live out in sticks with not many people around to bother you. Portsmouth is a small city but I guess it depends on your definition of a small city is. Even Portsmouth proper is pretty small by many people’s standards. There are tons of outdoor activities to be had spanning all four seasons. It is more expensive than some other states but way cheaper than the greater Boston area which includes a different part of Southern New Hampshire. You should be aware that it is the second whitest state after its neighbor Vermont. The neighboring state of Maine closer to where you will be is also very white. There just aren’t many minorities around except in isolated pockets.

It looks basically the same in real life as it does in the photos. Photographers don’t have to cherry-pick from just a few scenic areas. Most of the state really looks like that. It is very clean and you can always drive to Boston for a day-trip if you want to do something in a big city.

Welcome to New Hampshire! As other posters have mentioned, no sales or income tax, but the property tax is steep. Remember that when you buy a place.

Portsmouth is a nice little city. I don’t go there frequently, but I have enjoyed the Coat of Arms Pub, and the Portsmouth Brewery; both have good beer and good food. There’s another place I have been that was very good, but the name escapes me at the moment. The seafood in Portsmouth (and most of NH) is great; try the chowders or lobster. There are quite a few shops and restaurants in Portsmouth, and of course lots to do around the area. The ocean is right there, and the White Mountains - which offer some wonderful hiking and sightseeing - are only about an hour away. I would suggest living closer to Milton if possible; I wouldn’t want a 35 mile commute in the winter here, but of course YMMV (literally).

Hampton is the “tourist” town on the coast. It’s loud, filled with interesting people and shops, and always busy during the summer. The Hampton beach casino is one of the best venues I have ever been to for concerts; it fits about 1,000, so it’s very intimate. Enjoy Hampton beach when you can, but I don’t “beach it” there. There are far better, less busy, and more importantly, cleaner beaches to enjoy. (If you like fishing: fresh water fishing requires a permit; salt water fishing does not.)

For night life, Manchester offers some adventures. It’s the biggest city in NH but is still quite small - something like 130,000 if I recall correctly. Quite a few bars and restaurants, many of them international. There’s a great Brazilian Steak House there; I’ll try to find the name. The local sports teams have two great arenas: the Verizon Wireless and Merchant’s Auto Stadium. I would highly recommend either a NH Fisher Cats (minor league baseball) or Manchester Monarchs (minor hockey). The tickets are cheap ($10-20), the atmosphere welcoming, and the play exciting.

I lived in Hanover for two years as well, and there are quite a few good restaurants and things to do up there. Dartmouth brings in a considerable amount of performances, speakers, gallery showings, and the like. If you are up there, have breakfast at Lou’s. It’s fantastic.

Boston is only an hour or so away from most of southern NH, and is another great city, but I’m sure you know at least some about it.

The best advice I can give you: when you first get here, take the state highways around on the weekends. I still do this occasionally, and am always finding new places and people, and I’ve lived here most my life.

Feel free to PM me if you have more questions! :slight_smile:

While NH has pretty good plowing crews, take care. I got caught in a 60+ car pile up on I-93 last year. If you’re going to be commuting 70 miles round trip it pays to invest in a set of snow tires and to count on drives taking longer than you expect.

Portsmouth is a great town, but it’s fairly small in the grand scheme of things. The restaurant scene is IMO the best in NH, but again, the bar isn’t set too high. When I lived in southern NH I turned on the A/C maybe once a year, for a day or two.

The Portsmouth Gas Light Co is great, it’s where we usually eat when in Portsmouth!

Welcome to NH!

I’ve lived here my whole life. Currently I live outside Manchester and commute to Portsmouth every day. It’s 50 miles one way and I cover that routinely in 1 hour. Last year was a particularly snowy winter, resulting in 2+ hour commutes now and then.

Here are my observation on NH:
Weather - it’s always different (like the saying, if you don’t like the weather in New England, wait a few minutes). For instance, today is in the 50s and sunny (feels like spring).

The autumns are incredibly beautiful with the foliage and the cool, crisp air and blue skies. Summers are humid and hot, and winter can be very cold (a few -10F days last year). But spring makes up for it as everything comes alive before your eyes.

**Travel **- Boston is only an hour away. NYC is just 4 hours from Boston. Maine is a beautiful state with nice beaches. Portland, Maine can make for a fun day trip and allows some walking in the Old Port. Vermont is very beautiful and filled with farm land and mountains. Given the small size of NH, a day trip can usually put you at any interesting destination.

Taxes - No sales or income taxes. But, as someone else pointed out, this is made up with property taxes.

NH towns - pick any Saturday and go North, South, East or West and you’ll find an interesting place to see. And restaurants are everywhere, and mostly very good.

Nature - We have the oceans on the east and beautiful White Mountains to the North.

The commute from Milton may be a pain, as was posted. But, Dover is close by and an interesting city.

Feel free to ask for more specifics.

And find a good car wash. NHDOT uses a huge amount of salt on the freeways.

Pick a route that avoids the tollbooths they have on every freeway, too, if you can. If not, get an EZ-Pass to get a discount and avoid the backups.

AC only helps a couple of weeks a year. You can do fine with a window unit or two.

Basements depend on location. A lot of New England has granite ledge right up to the surface or near it, and houses on ledge rarely have them. At least frost line doesn’t matter on them. Older houses tend to be small (to retain heat from woodstoves) and poorly insulated, so don’t be too attracted by quaintness.
Property prices will be high right along the coast, but will drop considerably a little inland. Temperatures will also be more moderate along the ocean, though.

Portsmouth is nice and quaint in a New Englandy way, you can walk around it, and it’s known for nice restaurants. If you find it confining, well, it’s really still suburban Boston (and you can even get all the Boston radio stations there). You might be surprised how close everything in New England really is.

Portsmouth is a very pretty city, filled with boutique stores of various kinds and lots of restaurants. It’s a nice place to visit and shop. Unfortunately, the many used book stores that used to be there have pretty much disappeared.

Strawberry Banke is there – it’s a historic village, practically in downtown Portsmouth. They originally tried to make it all Colonial, but I guess they couldn’t get enough Colonial houses, so they’ve branched out into a 1940s section, as well. It’s expensive, but worth an occasional visit.

One of the homes at S.B. Thomas Bailey Aldrich’s House. His book The Story of a Bad Boy was one of Twain’s favorites, and arguably a model for Huck Finn.

Across the river is Kittery Maine, with a gazillion shopping outlets. A little south of town is Water Country waterslide park. You’re also on the (very short) New Hampshire shore, and not far from any of the beaches. Portsmouth is a little over an hour from Boston, which isn’t bad. You’re also within striking distance of lots of New Hampshire’s odd historical (Canterbury Shaker Village, Robert Frost Farm) and natural (White Mountain Forest, Crawford Notch, Frankonia Notch, Like Winnepesaukee) sites, and its weird tourist places (America’s Stonehence, Polar Caves, Canobie Lake Park). Not to mention lots of skiing (Too many to list). And you’re near the North Shore of Massachusetts, where I live
, with all its historic and interesting towns (Gloucester, Rockport, Salem, Topsfield, Newburyport)

You’ve got no sales tax and fireworks are legal, but you have other taxes to make up for that. They plow pretty well for snow in the winter, but you’ll have a lot of winter. Not as much snow, or lasting as long, as in northern NH, which has both altitude and latitude making it seem longer.

I would NOT buy a house in Milton if he will be working in Portsmouth. In 2002, we did something similar (moved to NH - got a house in Warner which is 35 miles from where I worked in Manchester. We moved away in 2006, and would have moved sooner if we could). A big factor in wanting to get out was the crappy commute to an isolated town. Portsmouth itself seemed like a nice town - can you live there? What about Dover? How about Kittery, Maine?

Oddly enough, it’s legal to buy fireworks, but every damn town has their own laws regarding whether or not it’s legal to use them - in most towns it is not legal to use them. We can’t here, though it’s a-ok to wander over to Seabrook and buy them, and it’s even okay to own them in town…as long as we never use them.:dubious: here’s an article from the Portsmouth Herald about that.

Are you planning on Portsmouth proper? I lived in Newmarket for several months a few years ago (for work) with my young daughter and I LOVED it.

People have mentioned most everything, but welcome! If you like huge portions of barbeque, hit Muddy River.

And come visit Vermont–it’s not far at all!