What do I need to know when moving from Florida to Kentucky?
December 27, 2005 7:44 PM   Subscribe

My wife and I are moving from Florida to Louisville, KY. What do I need to do or know to make the transition from warm to cold weather go as smoothly as possible?

We expect to arrive around the 3rd of January, in the middle of winter, so we'll start with the worst of the weather, probably. I'm interested in web sites with tips and stuff, but even more interested in personal experience and informed wisdom from people who have been there, done that.
Also, I'm really excited about snow; but tell the truth: will I actually be miserable?
posted by superbird to Travel & Transportation around Louisville, KY (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

i live in the north georgia mountians....and base my wardrobe around them....check it out....have a good move...jamie
posted by jamie939 at 7:59 PM on December 27, 2005

I grew up in the Northeast, currently live in The Wang. I wouldn't want to go back, but if I did, I'd make sure to have a couple of ice-scrapers handy for the car. I'd also make sure to always have a sack or two of rock salt in the house for dealing with icy walkways, and a snow shovel of course. Snow is nifty, and if you're young (as I assume you are, from the site in your profile), you shouldn't be too miserable. It'll be more like culture shock. If you were elderly, you'd probably have a harder time of it.

Be wary of treacherous roads, especially black ice, and kids having snowball fights on either side of the road while you're driving (i.e., keep your windows shut). Shop around right away for a decent garage where they'll be able to take care of your car and its presumed unfamiliarity with cold-weather driving. Invest in some boots, thick socks, hats, and warm coats. And a camera for recording the lovely new scenery!

Also, watch out for Seasonal Affective Disorder, just in case. I'm not a doctor, but I do have a friend who moved back to KY from FL last year, and she experienced some...moodiness that seemed to be tied in with the Winter (cold, lack of sunlight compared to down here, etc.).
posted by Gator at 8:09 PM on December 27, 2005

I can't speak to how cold Louisville may be, but having just moved from Texas up to Chicago, I recommend the following:

some good quality long underwear for everyday wear(I love Cuddle Duds),

a wool coat that you absolutely adore (pay a little more if you must to get one that you look great in -- consider it an investment; you'll be wearing it day in and day out),

hat, scarf, gloves (be forewarned: many of the winter accessories serve fashion more than function - be sure yours will really keep you warm!),

a supersoft microfleece blanket for cuddling indoors,

and possibly - if you are particularly sensitive to the cold, as am I - a space heater.

Stay warm!!
posted by roundrock at 8:18 PM on December 27, 2005

Luckily you've run into someone else who is a Florida to Louisville transplant!

It's definitely cold right now, but it's not too terribly bad. Dressing in layers and that sort of thing helps. Pickup some nice North Face Capilene from a local outdoors stoor (like Quest Outdoors). Hats and gloves are important, especially in the morning when you're heating up your car. Ice scrapers, jumper cables and a good sense of humor are required on the particularly cold days. Be prepared for the absolute idiocy that ensues when our local weather forecast says snow. People absolutely flip their lids.

If you're moving into an older house or apartment most likely it will use gas, which right now constitutes about 60% of our energy bill. Electric heaters are your friends.

Most importantly, to blend in with Louisville natives you must pronounce it "Loo-a-vull". You might be marked as an outsider if you don't pronounce it properly, and subject to all sorts of strange and mystifying torture.

What part of town are you moving to? Need any help moving? Drop me an email if you need help with acclimating yourself to the town or finding your way around.
posted by jackofsaxons at 9:38 PM on December 27, 2005

I moved from Los Angeles, CA, to Ithaca, NY a few years ago, so I went through a similar ordeal. Here's the best of the advice I got from the locals:

-Wind is as big an enemy as cold. Make sure you have at least one jacket or fleece or whatever that's windproof. A thick but porous layer (like a heavy sweater) does no good in heavy wind.

-Layering is preferable, so you can be comfortable if the weather changes.

-Hats are a must. Make sure your ears are covered too.

Also, a scarf is nice to keep the neck toasty and keep the wind out.
posted by bargex at 11:19 PM on December 27, 2005

Another thing I remembered:

-Make sure to keep your windshield wiper fluid full. Squirting it helps you clean your windshield by softening ice covering it.

-Get some waterproof shoes. You don't need the big boots for most uses. A good set of hiking shoes is often enough.

As for being miserable - most people adjust well when changing climates, but some who've grown up in perpetually sunny climates (like Southern California) just can't handle prolonged lack of sun (though I don't know if this is as much of a problem in Louisville as it is in Ithaca).

What helps me is trying to enjoy the colder season in some way. If the cold weather can be something other than just a nuisance, it's won't be as difficult to handle. Ski? Snowboard? Build snowmen? Do something outdoors other than commuting.
posted by bargex at 11:56 PM on December 27, 2005

I've been in Louisville for a few years now, having moved from the Oregon. Honestly, it hasn't been too rough. I wear a normal wool winter coat, a scarf and a standard set of mittens. I keep an ice-scraper, a little bottle of de-icer (for the car doors) and a shovel for clearing my front path. The use of these items each year is nothing worth complaining about. I do suggest that you buy yourself a new wardrobe of winter shoes, with traction. Coming here with my little saucy shoes from the west was a farce, at best.

Last year, we had a rather decent snow over Christmas. I walked instead of drove, helped a few cars out of the muck and generally had a merry time with it. I think your mileage in this area depends on how nice your neigbhorhood is. I live in an area where I can easily walk to a bus stop, to coffee, bars, several restaurants and Walgreens. My guess is that your weather-related hardships will depend a lot on how big your commute to work is.

As for your house, LG&E gave us all a rate hike around Thanksgiving. I'd suggest making plans to weatherize your house as soon as you move in so as to save on heating costs. For us, this meant buying plastic sheeting to hang over windows with tape and closing off the rooms we don't use. Getting an electric blanket or planning to use your fireplace or woodstove wouldn't be a bad idea -- but we've never had to. As far as your fireplace is concerned, if you have any extra money, please do get it swept before lighting a fire this season. Creosote (and other random) buildup can cause a fire in your chimney if you aren't careful. Coming from a warmer climate, I had no idea about this little fact of fireplace care.

Don't stress about the weather, is my advice. I came, didn't worry too much and was delightfully surprised.

What neighborhood are you moving to? Would you be up for a Louisville Meetup with jackofsaxons, geoff and I?
posted by cior at 6:00 AM on December 28, 2005

Enjoy the winter!! As a native New Yorker I can say that there are about only two or three days in an average winter where it is too cold for me to go out. As Louisville has very similar winter weather (according to weather.com) you should be OK. It really isn't that bad.

Some more advice
Be careful while shovelling large amounts of heavy, wet, snow. it is very easy to throw your back out or worse. If your not in good shape, pay a kid to do it. If you are in shape, you can offer to do an older neighbor's walk. A great way to meet the neighborhood.

If you are running or hiking, be aware that you will warm up quickly, and dress accordingly.

Get the cheapest gloves and scarves you can find, since if you are like most people, you'll lose them or leave them places constantly. I consider gloves disposible items.
posted by xetere at 7:11 AM on December 28, 2005

I moved from central California to Minnesota for college, and like you, I had a lot of pre-move anxieties about the winter. Would I need boots? What kind of coat? Was I going to die?! etc. But once the winter started coming on, I realized that it was a natural learning process which could only take place by experiencing the winter itself. As such, I would advise against spending a whole lot of money now on fancy winter clothes that you later find out you don't like or are overkill.

That said, here are a few things I learned about winter:
1) It's not really cold until it gets down below 30, or the wind is blowing.
2) Hat hat hat hat hat!!! You must keep your head warm when it gets below 30 by wearing a dorky looking knit hat. Forget about fashion.
3) Unless you're working outside or carrying things or maybe driving, gloves are actually not that important. You can keep your hands warm enough in your pockets. If you do want to keep your hands warm outside of your pockets, mittens are much more efficient.
4) The hardest thing to keep warm is your legs, but somehow it doesn't seem to matter that much if your legs get cold, as compared to your head or hands or toes.
5) If you have to be outside for a long period of time, you need to bundle up from the very beginning and keep yourself from getting chilled. Otherwise, once you get chilled you'll never be able to get warm again until you go inside and get in bed or take a hot shower.
6) There's no need to stay inside in the winter! I now adore the winter and get outside whenever I can. Granted, I'm not in Minnesota anymore...
posted by footnote at 8:00 AM on December 28, 2005

Kentuckian here... I second what jackofsaxons said--the most relevant piece of advice in addition to preparing for the weather change is adopting the proper pronunciation "loo-a-vull."

Something that may be interesting to you climate-wise is that you will now get to experience each of the 4 seasons equally and fully. Winters are snowy and frosted, summers are blazing hot with ample humidity, and fall and spring are just as they should be with glorious, colorful foliage and fresh, moderate temperatures. There is much to look forward to in that sense, so don't fret too much about mittens!

Also, be sure to read up on horseracing and UK v. UofL basketball!
posted by superfem at 10:23 AM on December 28, 2005

As a lifelong, winter-hating Minnesotan, I can tell you that overkill is your enemy. The Hat advice, above, is conventional wisdom; but I have not worn a wool hat since I graduated High School, and almost never but never wear a hat at all (then only a leather fedora to keep the snow out of my face). I typically just wear sneakers outside, but then I never do anything involving walking off the shoveled path.

For a Floridian, the chill will take some getting used to; but once that process is done, a good sweatshirt, scarf, and heavy jacket should be more than enough for a Kentucky Winter. And Gloves, of course. A really heavy (but especially LONG) coat should be available for windy, stormy, or subzero days).
posted by BigLankyBastard at 10:44 AM on December 28, 2005

Our weather is highly variable, but there's usually advanced warning of what we'll get. We do have actual cold, so you'll want a real coat, even after you've acclimated.

We don't actually see much snow, and it doesn't happen often. When it does everyone panics and if there's much accumulation (more than 3 inches, or with ice) most work and schools will be canceled. We do get ice sometimes, and it's much more difficult to get a quarter inch of ice off your car than to deal with three inches of snow.

Basic stuff (assuming you've never lived anywhere that gets cold): Get an ice scraper - preferably the long handled kind that has a brush along one side. if you get snow, clean off the whole car - the roof, hood, trunk, and windows, not just the windshield. (The BBC has pictures of a snowstorm in England right now, with cars on the road with big piles of snow on the hoods, so it may not be as commonsense as I'd have thought). Many people leave big, hardened sheets of snow on their car roofs anyway, and those sheets come flying off on the Interstate, and you'll hate them. As mentioned above, keep your washer fluid full, but be aware that sometimes it just freezes on the windshield until the car has warmed up. Get de-icer for the locks (and sometimes you'll want it to use it for other parts of the car). If you know the weather is going to be bad, take the de-icer and scraper inside with you. They don't do you any good frozen inside the car when your locks freeze. I found that out the hard way.

If it gets really cold - in the mid- to low teens, for instance - leave your water faucets running a trickle, both hot and cold. If you don't, the pipes can freeze, and then they'll burst when they thaw. (You can ignore this if you live in a large apartment building, but in a small building, or a house, you need to remember it).

There are warm spells throughout the winter, and we're having one right now, but there won't be a real spring. I've lived in the south and it's nothing like what happens here. If you've been used to things suddenly being beautiful and warm and everything's started to bloom one day - forget it. Don't start to get your hopes up when we get warm spells. It will alternate between warm and rainy and cold and rainy, then we'll edge into summer and it will be hot (the SO wishes me to amend that to add "and humid, with lots of mosquitoes", but since you're coming from Florida you'll know how to handle that already).

And for warm weather - depending on where you live, you probably want Oaks Day off. Go ahead and ask for it now, your co-workers already have. You can ask around to find out what it is later.
posted by dilettante at 1:23 PM on December 28, 2005

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