Help us decide where to move to in NH
June 27, 2013 7:37 AM   Subscribe

Can you help me decide where in NH would be a good fit for us to live? Or possibly elsewhere?

I am originally from upstate NY and really enjoyed living there but the housing market stunk, and the liberal politics were not what my husband and I wanted. Moved to northern VA for a new job and have been living here the past 9 years and I like it a lot. However we find ourselves missing a decent winter snowstorm more and more and I'm having crazy withdrawals for lakes (there are no natural lakes in VA). Also, the traffic and hour+ commutes are starting to wear on me.

So we are looking to relocate, and we think we have settled on NH. It's got the snow, the lakes and mountains, low taxes, and allegedly a right leaning or libertarian mindset overall.

Here are the things that matter to me (not in any particular order):

1. Prefer living within an hour of a lake that we can swim and canoe on.

2. Love hiking and being outdoors and want to be no more than an hour from trails and mountains.

3. I love older homes with the punched tin ceilings, wide porches, wood floors, and well styled arched doorways and trimmed windows.

4. Having 4 seasons. Beautiful fall leaves, great snowy winters, flowers blooming in the spring, nice summers.

5. Summers that are not too hot too often.

6. I am an extrovert and like organizing and being involved in community social groups and events. So we need a population base of people 40+ in age big enough to support hiking meetup groups, a book club, etc.

7. I am a foodie and into the slow food movement and farmers markets and nice grocery stores like wegmans or whole foods and enjoy holding 6 course elaborate dinner parties for my friends. Potlucks too now and then. If i am in a community of nothing but jello fluff or tv dinner types i will die. love having access to wild produce too like blueberries and blackberries.

8. I like cultural events like the theatre, symphony, art museums and such but i don't have to have them in my city limits. Would like to have access to such things no more than 90 minutes from where I live though.

9. I have no trouble driving around and don't care about living in a walkable city.

10. would prefer to live somewhere that leans right or libertarian versus left.

11. would prefer a community that has at least one or two solid liturgical Christian churches. We currently attend the Methodist church and previously attended the Presbyterian church and I have some Eastern Orthodox leanings. Mostly we fit in at a church of conservative, liturgical, intellectual types.

12. Speaking of food I really enjoy food of all kinds. I got hooked on great Italian food living in NY and here in the DC metro area we have great Thai, Vietnamese, etc. A place that had decent international cuisine within the city limits would be great, but i'd take it up to an hour away for our weekly date nights.

13. Obviously as an extrovert I prefer the open friendly type of folks who are welcoming. Doesn't have to be southern ramped up hospitality but if newcomers are looked at as unwelcome or people never smile and say hello then i'm going to be unhappy.

14. we do not have children so i am not concerned with how good the schools are.

15. I am an IT consultant for a living and while I am pretty sure I will be able to continue with my current employer from no matter where I live, it would be nice as a backup to live somewhere that does have some IT jobs (especially in SAS analytics- so think places where insurance companies are, research companies, financial data centers, government offices, etc).

16. Husband does blue collar logistics work (running warehouses, etc) so a place with no industry at all will not work for his job prospects.

17. We travel a LOT for leisure both domestic and international,so i'd like to be no further than 90 minutes to 2 hours from a large airport such as Boston or NYC or whatever. Right now we really love how we are close to IAD, DCA, and BWI. It's really conducive for travel.

So that's my exhaustive list. I realize you can't have it all and it's very unlikely I'll find anywhere in the country that meets all of these qualifications but lets see how close we can get. AND BY ALL MEANS if you think this matches up with a place elsewhere in the country better than NH please to be recommending. I'm open to all ideas.
posted by TestamentToGrace to Society & Culture (26 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Doesn't meet all of your requirements, but Portsmouth is as close as you are going to get.
posted by deanc at 7:39 AM on June 27, 2013


New Hampshire is not going to be less liberal than upstate New York. Kind of the opposite, really... more conservative than metro Boston, considerably less so than a southern state like VA. ("New England Republican" is a different breed of animal than the one you're used to.)

And take a look at property taxes before you decide that New Hampshire is a "low tax" state - all that means is that most of the tax burden is decentralized. You're just paying the town's taxman rather than the state's.

Utah is probably more your speed if you want culture, conservatism and cold. Salt Lake City is a significant metropolis these days.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:54 AM on June 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


Is the Hanover area out? Yeah on the face of it it would seem to be university town, liberal, etc. But Dartmouth was the home of the Dartmouth Review. When I lived in that area (Vermont side) I knew a lot of entrepreneurs, small business owners and other people who were at least pretty libertarian.
posted by BibiRose at 7:57 AM on June 27, 2013


Portsmouth is probably a good match although in some ways it might be a little more hippie/left than where you're coming from (as in "weekly oil protests in the town square"). Pease Tradeport is there, which might help your husband's job search, it has The Music Hall and an independent bookstore for your entertainment needs, and there's a Trader Joe's plus a good farmer's market. And it's pretty much as close as you can get to Boston and still be in NH.
posted by bcwinters at 8:07 AM on June 27, 2013


I'm thinking somewhere near, but not in, Concord. Goffstown, maybe? or New Boston?

Concord is the state capital, so you'd go there for your cultural fix & ethnic food. But being the state capital it's relatively more liberal. Small-town NH is where you'll find your libertarians. You want to be close enough to get there when you want to, but not so close that the town is attractive to upper-middle class commuters.

This area also puts you just south of Winnepesaukee.
posted by mr vino at 8:14 AM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've never lived in New Hampshire, but four segments of my close family do/have. I am most familiar with the area of southern New Hampshire from Nashua to Manchester to Portsmouth, and the Lakes Region.

I tend to agree that Portsmouth is as close as you'll get. I can't think of anywhere that fits all your criteria, and honestly I'd be surprised to learn of an area (in NH) that does. For instance: I'm a foodie, too, and for about a year I drove around New Hampshire meeting family for dinners at a different restaurant every week. Bluntly, New Hampshire sucks for food. There are gems here and there, but absolutely nothing like living around Greater Boston. It's the last state in New England that I would pick as a foodie.

I do think you can match a lot of those criteria in New Hampshire. Southern New Hampshire is very blue collar, and the atmosphere is more right/libertarian than left-leaning. You do need a car everywhere, even in Nashua or Manchester or Concord, and there are plenty of areas within an hour's drive of the lakes and hiking. (Although note, you cannot easily drive east-west in New Hampshire. Seriously. It's a thing. They'll never fix it.)

Also, the traffic and hour+ commutes are starting to wear on me.

New Hampshire has plenty of traffic. Commuter traffic on weekdays, ski traffic in the winter, lake traffic in the summer. You won't be escaping traffic. And living in New Hampshire, if you want to access the things you listed, you'll be driving plenty of hours. Fair warning.
posted by cribcage at 8:20 AM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Native Norther New Englander here. You're not going to find what you're looking for in most of New England. Sorry. Traffic in NH sucks because you can only drive in two directions effectively.

And the only option for the cultural stuff you want in addition to the outdoorsy stuff you want would be Portsmouth or maybe Hanover.

You could give some of Rhode Island a shot (though you'd be more ocean than lakes). There are pockets of conservatism there though the prevailing view is more liberal.

And as for "welcoming?" Well, I'm sure you'll make friends and all. But I wouldn't expect someone to bring you over a pie the day after you move in. And we don't really say hi to people we don't know until we know them --- so, there's that too.
posted by zizzle at 8:34 AM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, the traffic and hour+ commutes are starting to wear on me.

I forgot to address this part: the metro-Boston area (of which Portsmouth is a part) isn't going to help with this.

Have you considered Maine? More conservative than Portsmouth. Augusta, Portland, and Bangor are nice cities. Plenty of outdoors things. Less traffic than the metro-Boston area.

Other possibilities: Colorado, Utah, West Virginia, Pennsylvania (York area, near Harrisburg)
posted by deanc at 8:46 AM on June 27, 2013


I grew up in Plymouth, and it has a lot of the things you're looking for:
The university brings some cultural events, and lots of 40-plus educated people.
It's within easy reach of lots of lakes, including Newfound Lake and Squam Lake.
It's just outside the White Mountains National Forest, with tons of great hiking.
Lots of orchards and farm stands around - Owen's Truck Farm is one of the best.
You can find right-wingers and libertarians fairly thick on the ground.
Traffic in New Hampshire is nothing at all like traffic in Northern Virginia.
It's about an hour from Manchester airport.

Things you won't get in Plymouth (or anywhere else in NH) -
High quality and diverse ethnic restaurants. Be prepared to order spices and other ingredients from the Internet.
Extroverted welcoming people - people are very reserved compared to the South or Midwest. That doesn't mean they don't like you - it's just a different style of interaction. You'll get used to it in a couple of decades.
posted by Daily Alice at 8:47 AM on June 27, 2013


Bangor, Maine might be worth a look.
posted by briank at 8:51 AM on June 27, 2013


I've lived in NH almost my entire life, and I live in Hampton now. I love living in NH, and in the seacoast area in particular. With that preface, on to your list...

1. Prefer living within an hour of a lake that we can swim and canoe on.

That's pretty much a guarantee virtually everywhere, though the quality and size will of course vary.

2. Love hiking and being outdoors and want to be no more than an hour from trails and mountains.

Again, not much of a problem, though to get to real mountains from where we are takes a few hours. However, we have Pawtuckaway State Park very nearby.

3. I love older homes with the punched tin ceilings, wide porches, wood floors, and well styled arched doorways and trimmed windows.

No shortage of those around here.

4. Having 4 seasons. Beautiful fall leaves, great snowy winters, flowers blooming in the spring, nice summers.

One of the reasons I love it here myself. The seasons are distinct and really show their colors, if you get my meaning. Winter is WINTER, summer is SUMMER, etc (and fall is spectacular).

5. Summers that are not too hot too often.

I hate, hate, hate super hot weather. We get maybe three weeks total of high 80s/low 90s with high humidity. Otherwise, summers are very pleasant.

6. I am an extrovert and like organizing and being involved in community social groups and events. So we need a population base of people 40+ in age big enough to support hiking meetup groups, a book club, etc.

The seacoast area is your best bet for that. Portsmouth and its surroundings are full of community minded folks.

7. I am a foodie and into the slow food movement and farmers markets and nice grocery stores like wegmans or whole foods and enjoy holding 6 course elaborate dinner parties for my friends. Potlucks too now and then. If i am in a community of nothing but jello fluff or tv dinner types i will die. love having access to wild produce too like blueberries and blackberries.

We're getting much better in terms of good food here, again primarily in Portsmouth. It's not quite up to Boston or Portland Maine's quality, but it's getting there. And heck, you're only an hour from Boston or Portland, so it's pretty easy to make a night of it. Some restaurants of note would be Black Trumpet, Cava, and The Black Birch (which is just over the bridge in Kittery Maine).

8. I like cultural events like the theatre, symphony, art museums and such but i don't have to have them in my city limits. Would like to have access to such things no more than 90 minutes from where I live though.

Again you'd be an hour or so from Boston and Portland, so no problem there. But there's certainly theatre in the seacoast area, including New Hampshire Theatre Project with which I'm involved.

9. I have no trouble driving around and don't care about living in a walkable city.

Yeah, unless you live in downtown Portsmouth you'll be driving.

10. would prefer to live somewhere that leans right or libertarian versus left.

Judging by election results the seacoast leans Democrat, though it definitely varies by city/town. But NH in general is very libertarian friendly - Live Free Or Die and all that. It's no Cambridge Mass or anything.

11. would prefer a community that has at least one or two solid liturgical Christian churches. We currently attend the Methodist church and previously attended the Presbyterian church and I have some Eastern Orthodox leanings. Mostly we fit in at a church of conservative, liturgical, intellectual types.

Can't help you there.

12. Speaking of food I really enjoy food of all kinds. I got hooked on great Italian food living in NY and here in the DC metro area we have great Thai, Vietnamese, etc. A place that had decent international cuisine within the city limits would be great, but i'd take it up to an hour away for our weekly date nights.

See above.

13. Obviously as an extrovert I prefer the open friendly type of folks who are welcoming. Doesn't have to be southern ramped up hospitality but if newcomers are looked at as unwelcome or people never smile and say hello then i'm going to be unhappy.

New Englanders are not known for being overly friendly, but I've never had any issues. When we moved in last year, we got cookies and other friendly welcomes from our neighbors. Nobody wants to talk to anyone in the winter, but otherwise I think we're all friendly enough.

14. we do not have children so i am not concerned with how good the schools are.

Well, it's nice to have good schools even if you're not using them. Hampton's are consistently excellent.

15. I am an IT consultant for a living and while I am pretty sure I will be able to continue with my current employer from no matter where I live, it would be nice as a backup to live somewhere that does have some IT jobs (especially in SAS analytics- so think places where insurance companies are, research companies, financial data centers, government offices, etc).

There's a ton of software/IT work happening in the seacoast, to the point it's called the eCoast. This goes for the north shore of Mass as well, which is easy to get to.

16. Husband does blue collar logistics work (running warehouses, etc) so a place with no industry at all will not work for his job prospects.

Can't really speak to that, but it seems like there's a lot of industry happening at the Pease International Tradeport.

17. We travel a LOT for leisure both domestic and international,so i'd like to be no further than 90 minutes to 2 hours from a large airport such as Boston or NYC or whatever. Right now we really love how we are close to IAD, DCA, and BWI. It's really conducive for travel.

From here you'd be about 90 to Logan, and an hour to Manchester. There are regular buses to Logan as well.

MeMail me if you need more info.
posted by schoolgirl report at 9:09 AM on June 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's the last state in New England that I would pick as a foodie.

Depends what you are looking for. This statement is not true, from my experience, if you want access to farms and farmers markets. NH has a very vibrant farm scene with many excellent farmer's markets. I recently purchased a 2nd home in Canterbury NH. It is a small town about 10 miles north of Concord. It offers quick access to interstate 93, easy access to many lakes, and the mountains are less than an hour north and Boston is only about 1.5 hours south. It also has an amazing organic farm in town that sells all of their own farm products (pastured meats, eggs, CSA for produce, yogurt, cheese, raw dairy, even brick oven bread from the wheat they grow on site).

Also, don't worry about the traffic issues that were mentioned up thread. It is easy to avoid, completely, if you are mindful of the peak travel times when the Boston crowd is racing north to the lakes and mountains. It is really limited to Friday evening (going north) and Sunday evening (going south). At those times interstate 93 can be pretty bad. I didn't find the ski season traffic to be any issue at all--it was more diffuse for some reason. And I have never experienced any real bad rush hour type jams on your average work day.

Also, you could join a local chapter of the Appalachain Mtn club. That will give you quick social contacts with folks who love the outdoors/hiking etc.

I'm not sure about the politics. I haven't quite figured out NH yet in that regard. It certainly leans more libertarian than other New England states. Where that tends to reveal itself the most is that it is easier to make a living as a small independent business person--fewer hoops to jump through. Home based businesses are hugely important in NH.

The property taxes are higher compared to Massachusetts in my experience. But I have no idea to what extent that is offset by the lack of income and sales taxes in NH. I can tell you that I pay about $5000 per year in NH on property that is valued at just over $200,000.

Your meteorological desires appear to match NH perfectly.

All that said, there are other spots that could work in northern New England. Portland Maine comes to mind. I was there last weekend for a wedding and it is a great small city. The Old Port section of town was a really vibrant place--lots of bars, great restaurants, and shops that stayed open deep into the evening. I have also heard that Burlington VT has a lot to offer but I don't know much about it.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 9:48 AM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just a quick followup - I lived in upstate NY (capital district) for many years, and I am finding it hard to believe that NH is more liberal then NY. Really? BC all the reporting and political maps and such show it to be more right leaning and libertarian than NY, including upstate. Is the media just making it all up and NH really is more liberal than NY? Or maybe you all just meant NH is more liberal than much of VA, which I already knew, and am fine with. Hilariously we live in the only part of VA that's actually not rabidly conservative (NoVA) and as I work in DC I am surrounded by leftists. :) I'm expecting that most of NH will be the same if not less liberal than NoVA/DC and definitely less liberal than Albany was. Living in NY I've traveled through Maine and VT and the rest of New England (except, oddly enough. NH) extensively. It seems that NH is the most right leaning of all of New England. Again, please provide additional info if my assumptions here and observations are wholly incorrect.

When I meant I want people to be friendly I just mean like Albany, NY friendly or VT friendly or the other places I've lived, worked, or traveled in the northeast. As contrasted with Connecticut where I've found people look at you like you have a disease if you smile at them. So it doesn't have to be Virginia or the deep south friendly, but something warmer than CT hostility.

I hadn't really considered Maine b/c I want to be not too far from Boston, NYC, or similar since in addition to the mountains and lakes I like me some city shows, bustling city adventures, a large international airport and elite Thomas Keller type gourmet cuisine now and then. Maine seems too isolated for me, plus the lakes are way cold, even in the summer. And the ocean is nice, but not really a requirement of mine. And finally as far as i can tell Maine doesn't have spring. It has mud season.


Someone mentioned the AMC. Funny enough it was actually joining the AMC (the DC chapter) and recently going on a new member weekend up in NJ with a lot of members attending from NY and New England that made me realize how much i miss being in the northeast. To return home from that lovely weekend in the mountains to the sweltering heat of DC really sucks. I'm dreaming of a nice hammock near a lake with plentiful blueberries right now. :)

and the person who mentioned Utah- ugh. I've lived in the west (nm) for a number of years when i was younger and HATED it. i hate dry climates, lack of lakes, lack of trees, lack of squirrels, etc. I can think of few places i'd rather live than the west or anywhere up in Colorado, Utah, etc. If nothing else I go crazy with the locals asking me to repeat every sentence because i talk so fast like a "backeaster". On the other hand i did love visiting portland, seattle, and most of the pacific northwest but it's very liberal there, not enough snow, and everyone tells me i will want to commit suicide eventually because of the lack of sun and constant rain. Vancouver, CA seemed just lovely.
posted by TestamentToGrace at 10:17 AM on June 27, 2013


Oh and DC metro traffic is the SECOND WORST in the nation, so when i complain about traffic and some of you say traffic in NH can be bad I can't help but wonder if your idea of bad and my idea of bad are the same. Like I95 or the beltway can back up so that it takes you 3 hours to go less than 40 miles kind of bad.
posted by TestamentToGrace at 10:19 AM on June 27, 2013


Maybe you should look into flyover country. There are a LOT of different communities in northern Illinois and Wisconsin. The food in Chicago is insane, and having moved here from New England I can never get over how easy it is to travel around.

It still sounds like you would enjoy NH however.
posted by BibiRose at 10:25 AM on June 27, 2013


I lived in upstate NY (capital district) for many years, and I am finding it hard to believe that NH is more liberal then NY. Really? BC all the reporting and political maps and such show it to be more right leaning and libertarian than NY, including upstate. Is the media just making it all up and NH really is more liberal than NY?

No, because we here at MeFi are very data-driven. Look at the NY State Assembly Districts from 2008. Plenty of conservatism for you around there. Southern NH has becoming more Boston-like for a long time. But the tradeoff for you will be international access and other culture.

Portland, Maine is 100 miles from Boston. Not too far in that you don't have to get a connecting flight to a major airport when you head to Europe.

I think the upper midwest would be best for a lot of your cultural needs, but I think it is too flat for your taste-- not enough mountains to support hiking and skiing.

It's hard to fulfill "fast paced", "friendly", and "conservative" all at the same time. Conservative areas may be fast-paced upper middle class professional, but not "friendly" because they moved to that area for the job and might get transferred soon or aren't interested in "community" given the exurban nature. Or they might be very friendly, but that's because it's a very tight community, which is only able to be that way because the community is stable and people are choosing to eschew professional ambition to live there, making it much more slow paced than you would prefer.

Were it not for your requirements of lakes and lack of highway traffic, I would have suggested Loudon or Prince William Counties. If you weren't focused on New England and mountains, I'd have suggested the suburbs of Minneapolis, St. Louis, or Atlanta.

I do think New Hampshire will be "good enough." The specific areas you end up living in might not be as conservative as you fantasize, but there's enough "statewide" conservatism for you to associate yourself with. And the college towns and small cities provide enough vibrance for your extroverted ways and the proximity to Boston gives you the culture and international access you're looking for. And I would live in Portsmouth if I were a New Hampshireite. It's a neat city. (also has an Orthodox Church right in the city)
posted by deanc at 10:40 AM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Keep in mind that NH republicans are less conservative, and NH democrats less liberal, than your standard issue. So while the state flipped back to blue in this past election, I wouldn't take that as any sign it's all that liberal. It'll probably flip again soon. To the extent we have things like gay marriage and the like, it's more on libertarian than liberal grounds. There's a reason the Free State Project folks picked NH.
posted by schoolgirl report at 10:54 AM on June 27, 2013


I grew up in Portland, Maine.

Some of your assumptions are baffling --we do have spring!- but Portland is as left leaning as Massachusetts, so it probably wouldn't do good on you for that though it would do just fine on any other score.

And Portland is also larger and more diverse with things to do and places to go and options to eat in than Portsmouth and has tons of access to mountains, lakes, oceans, as well as city action. So other than the political stuff, it would do you quite well.

And, yes, NH may APPEAR more conservative as they do vote more republican than other New England states do, but your average NH republican is not anything like your republicans from real red states. And democrats are nothing like Boston democrats, to be sure, but I wouldn't say NH is conservative --- as compared to many other conservative states. NH fits that definition of moderate.
posted by zizzle at 11:12 AM on June 27, 2013


I have also heard that Burlington VT has a lot to offer but I don't know much about it.

Vermont is significantly more liberal than New Hampshire.

I think the upper midwest would be best for a lot of your cultural needs, but I think it is too flat for your taste-- not enough mountains to support hiking and skiing.

The Upper Midwest isn't that flat. Minnesota would do as long as you don't insist on downhill skiing. It's more than fine for other outdoor activities. Outside of Minneapolis, St Paul and Duluth (the cities themselves, not their suburbs), it's probably conservative enough for the OP. It may fail on friendliness though--people are superficially nice, but not terribly interested in additional friends.
posted by hoyland at 11:12 AM on June 27, 2013


Vermont routinely votes in a socialist for national office, just to give you an idea of how opposite Vermont is of NH.
posted by zizzle at 11:15 AM on June 27, 2013


deanc: it makes me laugh, what you wrote, because i currently live IN prince william county. :) And i love everything about it here except for the traffic, the hot summers, and the lack of real winter and lakes.
posted by TestamentToGrace at 11:37 AM on June 27, 2013


I grew up in Maine (4 miles from the border of NH) and now live in the DC metro area.

I see a lot more friendly chatter between strangers and eye-contact here in the south than I ever did in Maine. I often feel like people in the north are much more reclusive and like to keep to their own business. When I first moved south, I was definitely taken aback by the number of strangers striking up conversations with me in elevators or on the bus. I mean, it's hard to say whether people in New England are more welcome to newcomers than in the South because I grew up in the north, but whenever I went somewhere new in the state and needed help, people were always more than happy to help. Personally, I'd like to think that people in the New England country side are probably more friendly than people in the New England cities.

Big snow storms in New England are not just a novelty, they are a life in the north. There are usually 3 or 4 big snow storms every single year, and the snow often times won't melt until May. One of the biggest jokes where I grew up was that Maine only has 3 seasons: Winter, Spring and Fall. The temperatures break 90 dregrees maybe a handleful of days over the summer, and it isn't unusual for it to start snowing in October. While it's 90 degrees here in Maryland right now, I remember my high school graduation in Maine in the month of June being 45 degrees outside, which was pretty average for June in Maine. Most houses in Maine (and probably New Hampshire) don't have central A/C because it doesn't get hot enough to need it.

Maine and NH are great for natural beauty and lakes/ocean, but you are not going to find diverse culture up there. You are more likely to find a lot of white French Catholics, or just Christians in general. To give you an idea of the general demographics, my high school had about 700 students in it and we only had 2 African-Americans and 1 Asian in the entire school. I lived in a town, so I can imagine that demographics in a city are a little more diverse, but you aren't going to find a lot of immigrants in New England, except for probably Canadians. According to wikipedia, New Hampshire is 93.9% white, compared to Virginia being 75% white.

This said, you probably aren't going to find many Thai and Vietnamese resturants. Sure there are some, but not like the DC metro area where there are ethic cuisines on every street. DC is filled with culture and diplomats from foreign countries and it's really awesome-sauce to hang out with people who grew up all over the world and experience their food and goods. Beware that New England is quite the opposite of that.

Yes, there's traffic in New England, but NOTHING like DC. When I hear my friends complain about traffic up there in Maine, I laugh. Washington D.C. is a constant traffic jam 24/7, and takes up about 1 hour out of my life every day communting to and from work (I live only 12 miles from work). I hear DC even rivals Atlanta and LA as being the most congested city in the US, but I can't really verify that as I have never been to either of those cities. Don't worry what other people say about the traffic in New Hampshire, it won't be anything like DC. The worst is probably Boston, but even that is pretty mild compared to DC.
posted by nikkorizz at 12:34 PM on June 27, 2013


Vermont routinely votes in a socialist for national office, just to give you an idea of how opposite Vermont is of NH.

Yep, we usually call them the anarchist/libertarian twins up here (I am from Vermont). I do not think you would like Vermont. Not a lot of population centers, very little cultural diversity (and ethnic food, etc), people are nice but I would not call them "open" I like it very much but am looking for different things. However I know what you mean about Connecticut and pretty much all of Northern New England is not like that. Not chuipper/friendly but not judgey either. You might also want to consider Central or Western Massachusetts. Close(r) to population centers, all the seasons, lots of community stuff, smaller towns with so-so schools (and other towns with great schools but I know what you mean about maybe not wanting to pay a premium for schools, another reason VT will not be for you because there is a lot of equalization of tax stuff).

It's a real task, however, finding places. There are a lot of pockets of some of the things you are talking about but maybe not enough of it. You might want to look into the smaller towns surrounding the Hanover/Lebanon NH area (like Etna, technically in Hanover but more small town feel) or a second vote for Plymouth. Both places sound smaller than you might appreciate and they will have less diversity than you might be looking for, but there's a good mix of the more cultural stuff because of the university folks but also industry and places with industry etc. I also live in Central VT and frequently travel down to Boston via public transportation from the Hanover area which is a minor miracle. It's sometimes easier (though longer) for me to get to Logan than it is for me to get to Burlington so I'd think about that a little as you're looking for places.
posted by jessamyn at 2:18 PM on June 27, 2013


I live in the Belgrade lakes district of Maine, about 20 minutes from Augusta. Tons and tons of houses for sale up here. Also, there are lots of churches but I am not sure of their slants.

People have been very welcoming here, and I do feel there is a right-ish slant, but not overly so. I guess people aren't going to care or make fun of you no matter how you lean. There is a nice farmer's market in Winthrop, lots of farms around here, it's very lovely. I grew up here as a kid and moved back.

There are several finger lakes, but very wide: Maranacook, where I learned to swim as a child, and one day a moose ran down Main Street to jump in the lake to cool off! Cobbosseecontee, and Annabessacook, where I live. Everyone will tell you their lake is better, but of course, our lake is the best, it's quiet, and we live in a sort of cove where loons drift past every morning and eagles fly overhead. Yet, we're 20 minutes tops from Augusta. Maybe an hour from Portland.

Another locale you might consider is Sebago area, tho' they do get a bit of traffic in the summer. Our area is much nicer.

Down in Hallowell, just south of Augusta by about a few minutes from the traffic circle (aka roundabout), they have some really nice restaurants there. Cafe Bangkok has Thai food and sushi, and there is an Italian restaurant in the same building.

I guess we do have some French Catholics up here, my mom was one, yes. But my dad's side was also Episcopalian. I am not sure what a liturgical church entails, exactly. Really, we are a mix though, so it's not like the entire state is French Catholic and well, the ladies at the St. Vincent de Paul give you a discount if you speak French to them, so there's that. I think if you moved here and were friendly and decent to your neighbors, no one is going to give you the CT freeze (I have CT rellies myself).

Also consider that from Portland, Maine, there is an Amtrak to Boston, as well as the very nice Concord bus line. They show you a movie on that one.

There are some paper mills, like in Jay, etc. and I know there are warehouses in Portland. I am not sure NH is the best place, I mean, we have our pockets in Maine too, maybe you should pay us a visit here in the lakes area and talk to some people at Sully's in downtown Winthrop. It's pretty diverse, I'd say.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 4:40 PM on June 27, 2013


I lived in Portsmouth for a long time until fairly recently, and I feel pretty sure that the one thing on your list you really won't find there is a strong sense of conservatism. That exists as a statewide community but definitely not as a strong, dominant local sensibility on the Seacoast.

Also, there is a terrific food scene - much better than many people seem to think - with one of the most active Slow Food chapters in the country, a very strong commitment to supporting local farmers and food producers, and lots of annual events and food-related organizations and options for buying. However, it really is super focused on supporting local food producers, not really on creating a diversity of different cuisines. It is not a diverse area and the restaurant scene is also not diverse. Seafood, pubs, new American/rustic, pizza, and some Tex-Mex are about the size of it.
posted by Miko at 8:24 PM on June 27, 2013


*though many of those places are very good at what they do.
posted by Miko at 8:34 PM on June 27, 2013


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