Report from NH

Hi everyone, I'm in Nashua. Last night I was up at Dartmouth college. The night before I was in Winnisquam near lake Winnipesaukee. I've driven all around the southern half of this state. I thought I would report in my experiences, for those of you thinking about moving.

First, the weather. It's been just above freezing, mid 30s F. There are some winds now too. No snow sticking to the ground, but occasional flurries. Most of the time it has been overcast, but the sun keeps poking through for hours at a time. Honestly, the cold air feels good, and warm clothes are all you need. The wind was actually kind of fun - I needed to lean into it to stay upright at one point. The wind isn't constant, most of the time it's not very noticable. And today's weather isn't necessarily standard. I know in January/February timeframe it will be much colder and snowing a lot. Right now it's in a transition. All the leaves are off of the trees, but the snow hasn't arrived yet. People here find this time of the year to be somewhat bleak.

It actually seems just a bit like a ghost-state right now. People come for the beautiful summers, and some for the winter skiing, but right now there are few visitors, and the locals are either gone or holing up in their homes. A lot of shops don't open, or only stay open for a few hours. Several chamber of commerce offices were supposed to be open but had signs on their doors that they open when the volunteers happen to be there. Here in Nashua and up in Manchester there are more people about, and shops stay open longer. The lakes region seems the most dead. I was suprised - several strip malls and restaurants were closed, borded up, and have been closed for years. Something happened there about 12 years ago and they have never recovered. More buildings than there is need. They survive almost entirely on the summer recreation business. Over at Hanover, there is an opposite problem -- not enough housing. And the legal restrictions placed on commercial developers are aparently pretty strict, and so the only new housing is when a private owner builds a single house for him/herself.

The whole area is heavily wooded - as some of you who have been to New England already know. Lots of birch and maple and alder (I think), interspersed with evergreen trees. Even in the biggest cities there are trees everywhere. They are quite tall and thick, and rather obstruct any hope of a view... unless you are in a hilly area like the West (Keene/Lebanon) or North (White Mountains).

Real Estate is cheap. The locals complain that it has skyrocketed in the last 3 years. But you can still buy an 80 acre ranch or a lakefront home for about $300K.

Acid rain has hit this area harder than elsewhere. 100% of the lakes are under fish advisories because of the methylmercury. Most everyone uses either natural gas or heating oil to heat their homes.

95% of the buildings are classic stylings (New Englanders, Brownstones, etc). Only about 5% are of the modern strip-mall type, with industrial lighting, and those areas are pretty hard to find. Everything is pretty well spread out. Only in downtown Manchester can traffic back up a little bit. And even there, it's only a couple minute's wait, from my experience. There are several toll roads in the Southern and busiest part of the state. They are well maintained, and definately used, and I haven't seen them crouded.

Everyone is really friendly. There seem to be a lot of elderly people. The place has a slow and even sleepy feel about it. I can't imagine finding a dance club, even in Manchester,
although I'm sure there's one or two about if I dig in and search.

There are lakes and lakes and lakes. And some rivers and creeks too. Many of the lakes are very shallow, with perfectly still mirror surfaces, and look pitch black. Aparently all the falling leaves creates a rich black soil, and the thick tall trees break the wind, so you get these mirror black surfaces. The muddy bog look doesn't appeal to me so much as a rippled blue surface, though.

In my brief mentions of taxes to various people (waiters, shop keepers, hotel checkers, etc), people always mentioned that they still stick it to you with property tax. My friend in Nashua says his property taxes are about 3% per year. But everyone seemed to understand and agree that NH tax strategy is better because it doesn't put disincentives on economic growth. It's amazing -- that is just common knowledge here. Others have also mentioned to me the low crime rate, which is also well known and boasted.

State run liquor stores seem to operate smoothly. Odd thing, though, I've never seen it before. I had to walk in and check one of them out. They have official state signs on the road "NH Liquor Store - Next Exit."

People here don't seem to care too much about being healthy. If common shops are an indicator, people love doughnuts and pizza. And I heard jokes on the radio about exercising 3-6 times per week, 30-60 minutes per, and at 60-80% of heart rate. The tenor of the jokes would indicate that everyone here seems to find it rather extreme and laughable to exercise that much.

Anyhow, this is just a taste of my view of the state.


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Hi everyone, I'm in Nashua.

Thanks for the report, Mike. That sounds like the NH I love.

The lakes - at least the larger ones - do get up some character. Newfound
Lake (my biased favorite) is usually blue, though storms kick up some
mulch. And it's big enough that the wind dips down nicely, especially off
of Sugarloaf or Cardigan. Water skiing on Newfound is not without its
thrills, and there's good bass fishing in the rockier sections. (Didn't
know about the methylmercury advisory - that's a shame.) Winnepesauke gets
downright choppy on windy days.

The state liquor stores are decidedly un-Libertarian. However, the state
political environment is such that a Libertarian has been appointed to its
board before, even with the explicit agenda of opening up competition and
getting the state out of the game. I think the governor did it to keep the
other members on their toes; I'm not really sure.

- --
"Movin' to New Hampshire soon... gonna be a granite rock tycoon..."