8 Things You Should Know Before Moving to the Upper Midwest From California

After last weeks post on surprising things about moving to California from the upper midwest I was encouraged to write a post about a reverse situations. Seeing as many native Californians refer to Iowa as Idaho or Ohio, I think these west-coasters would have quite the shock if they moved to the upper midwest.

1. No, work is not cancelled. You wake up and low and behold, it’s white. You can’t even see past

your front door and yet you must drive in this? Yes. And so will thousands of people. In my entire life my mom, a 3M employee, had work cancelled only a handful of times.

It’s probably a good idea to carry a shovel in your car. When living in Duluth, Minnesota it was normal to need to shovel your car out if you don’t have a garage. Oh, and you’ll also want an ice scraper for the layer of ice on your car after the freezing rain. Good luck!

2. Allow for 20 extra minutes when leaving any social gathering. This is lovingly referred to as a “norwegian goodbye” which means after getting up from the table, booth or living room of your hosts you will have conversation all the way to the door, sidewalk and car. Then hugs, more goodbyes and maybe another entire conversation. Embrace it, it’s comforting.

3. Yes, have bonfires on frozen lakes. It’s a Minnesotan tradition, the lake freezes over and ice

houses start to appear. Ice Fishin’! Get together with your friends in a heated shack and have some brewskis while you drop a line down a small hole drilled in the ice. Heck, even start a fire to keep you warm!

4. Where is everyone? It’s 3:00 pm on a Friday afternoon in the summer and your office staff vaporized. Where are they? Heading north on I35 to their cabins. A lot of Minnesotans (and Iowans!) save their vacation days to take off early on Friday’s to head to ‘da lake ya!

And when someone says “the lake” that doesn’t mean the one lake in the state. That also means “the cabin”.

5. It’s okay, you can swim in it. Our 10,000 some bodies of water (most) aren’t reservoirs and therefore go ahead, jump in ‘ta lake!

6. There are 4 seasons. Fall, winter, spring and road construction. Unlike California, the upper midwest

NPR Image
Summer 2008 I-94 Construction

has 3-5 months to fit in 12 months of road construction. You will start dreaming about orange construction cones because you will see them. Everywhere. Probably plan for an extra 30-60 minutes of travel during the summer.

When I say 4 seasons, I mean 4 seasons. Mid-July it will feel like a steamy sauna when you go outside. By New Years you will need a coat that goes to your knees made of goose down to protect yourself from frostbite. Be ready to drop a serious amount of money on wardrobe changes.

7. What are miles? We measure distance in minutes. “Oh, I live about 20 minutes north of St. Paul, in Arden Hills”

8. Go to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. There is nothing else quite like this area of interconnected lakes. Need camping advice? Check out my post on 10 Categories of Camping.

Bottom line, you’re going to want to download The Weather Channel app on your iPhone and be ready for excitement with weather, snow, driving and most of all the fun people you will meet 🙂


4 Comments on “8 Things You Should Know Before Moving to the Upper Midwest From California

  1. Kelsey, I must say that I keep reading your blog and forgetting that you wrote it! Your writing continues to impress me and I will be a follower of yours until you stop writing 🙂

    • Yes! During my years at St. Scholastica there were a few times I remember bundling up and shoveling my car out! Good workout for the mornings, I guess!

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