New Resident’s Guide to Life on the Tundra: Practical Things You Should Know When You Move to Minnesota

There are some things about living in Minnesota that are really good to know. Moving here is not like moving to a normal place because of the extreme weather. When you move here they should give you a manual. We had no such manual, but thought it might be useful to share what we have learned through experience.

1. You should shovel your roof.  If you don’t religiously shovel your roof, or install a gutter heating system, you will develop ice dams. And those are very bad, very, very bad. They can cause your roof to leak at which point your husband may shout “D*M@  ice!” (not that mine has done this…)

2. When the temperature drops suddenly you may hear loud bangs on your roof.  And I mean LOUD, like someone dropping a heavy box on the roof.  Have no fear.  This is a result of the sheathing freezing and pulling away from the nails that hold it to the roof joists.  That’s right, your roof is freezing off.

3. Snow tires are a very good investment.  If not snow tires, buy tires with aggressive tread. These will prevent your car from entering 180’s on the highway. An event even more frightening when traveling with your 4 children.

4. Your children need to bring their snow pants and boots to school.   They will continue to have outside recess every day unless it gets “too cold” which will be somewhere below 0.   They may even be able to sled during school.  Our kids had to learn the sledding hill rules and then were given a sledding license which allowed them to sled at recess. In the spring, send them to school with their snow pants and mud boots since they will continue to have outside recess during the messy, muddy thaw.

5. Buying snow boots from Target is fine.  Your kids’ feet will be warm because the Target boots are rated to -25 and you will save yourself some money.

6. That siren you hear is not for the firemen to come to the station, it’s the tornado siren.

7. Minnesota has more tornadoes than any other state, they just aren’t usually as deadly.  So, when you hear above mentioned siren please have a plan and act on it.

8. Your water is hard, you need to soften it.

9. Be sure to get your car to the carwash frequently as the road chemicals are apparently bad for it.  But you must do so before the temp drops below 0.  The carwashes close when it gets too cold.  And the lines are REALLY long once the temp comes back up.

10. When you are having dinner guests and they offer to bring a salad, they may actually mean a jello mold consisting of jello and any myriad of ingredients including jello, fruit, nuts, snickers, cottage cheese, vegetables, and occasionally tuna.  Please clarify what they mean so as to prevent any surprises at your door.

11. On Halloween they don’t Trick or Treat til dark.  So tell your kids to wait until the sun goes down or your neighbors may get annoyed and think you are rude.

12. In the summer the sun starts coming up at 4 and it doesn’t get completely dark til 10.  This is great but you may need room darkening curtains to help yourself or your little ones sleep.

13.  In the winter, the sun does not come up…Ok, not really but it feels that way until mid-January when the days start to feel longer and you’re no longer going to work and coming home from work in the dark.

14.  When at a four way stop, the rule is that you wait your turn.  I’m not sure if there are actual laws of right of way governing these intersections, but if there are those clearly don’t matter.  Just wait your turn, you’ll be glad you did.

15.  Put your Christmas lights up in October so you don’t freeze to death doing it in December.  And don’t stick yard ornaments in the ground unless you really like them and realize they will freeze into the ground and be there all winter.  We spent our first winter with candy canes lining our driveway til May.

16.  Last but not least, if you have neighbors who seem to be doing quirky things to their homes that you don’t understand, you may want to watch carefully and do what they do.  Minnesotans know how to make it here on the tundra.


4 thoughts on “New Resident’s Guide to Life on the Tundra: Practical Things You Should Know When You Move to Minnesota”

  1. Pretty practical stuff. But we don’t shovel our roof-haven’t had leaks, and we don’t have popping on the roof, either.
    Having the kids go outside every day does a lot to cure cabin fever-we should have an outdoor break for adults sometimes, too! Do you not use all weather or snow tires in the East? Hate jello salad as much as you do…..yuck.
    Good advice overall. Sorry you’ve had to learn it the hard way.
    There is a book from a few years ago that was called “Bring warm clothes”. It was advice from those who had moved to Minnesota and were writing to friends and relatives coming to visit or stay. Your list sounds like a modernized version of that. You could write the new book!

  2. lol! I like your guide.

    4-way stops are a pet peeve of mine here in Ohio. There are rules/laws and most folks don’t know them so it can get a little crazy.

    I kind of like that they don’t trick or treat until after dark. That’s how it used to be. Now I never know when trick or treating is because they not only do it in the afternoon, but they change the date!

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