Tips on Moving to a New Climate: How to Make the Transition

Mountain Range

Whether you are a native to a hot weather or cold weather area, or even somewhere in between, transitioning from one climate to another can be a jarring process. For some, an increase in elevation can lead to altitude sickness; for others, stepping outside in a high-humidity area can be a biological shock. No matter where you decide to move, it is crucial to be prepared for what you’re about to be walking into.

1. Do Your Research

The chances are good your new home destination was one chosen after much deliberation and data gathering. You know why you have chosen this place, and you are ready to start making a list of the best long distance moving companies.

However, it is a common oversight to not take into consideration the full importance of understanding the climate you are moving into. Everyone knows that Florida is “hot” and Alaska is “cold,” right? What else is there to know?

Simply knowing the general temperature of an area is merely a tiny glimpse into the greater climate and its many eccentricities. So, rather than take the big step with eyes half-closed, make sure you do your research correctly and completely. This way, there will be fewer surprises waiting for you on the other side.

2. Understanding Elevation

Far too often, individuals choose to move to a new area after listening to friends, family, or the news telling them how great and wonderful a place it is to live. They pack up their car and head out, eager to reach their destination. When they get there, their first impression is how beautiful the area is. Off in the distance, a gorgeous mountain range stretches across the horizon. All around there is opportunity and excitement.

Only, as time passes (say a day or two), these individuals suddenly realize they are having problems breathing as deeply as they are used to. Their heads are aching, and they feel as if they haven’t slept in weeks. Full of concern, they might run to the nearest hospital in search of help.

Altitude sickness is a nasty condition that enjoys blindsiding the unaware and unknowing. Even for a native of high elevations, moving to an even higher elevation can cause these symptoms and leave one feeling drained and miserable. In Colorado, for example, the average elevation throughout most of the state is around five to six thousand feet above sea level.

According to Dr. Benjamin Honigman, the professor of emergency medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, it can take upward of three months for the human body to adjust to higher elevations because it has suddenly become necessary for your body to start producing more red blood cells to carry more oxygen. Therefore, if you’re moving from a low to a high elevation, it would benefit you to understand what to expect and how you can help yourself and your family prepare.

3. Cold Climates

If you’re moving into an area where “cold” is a common weather pattern, make sure you stock up on warm clothing. This may seem like a given, but, seriously: stock up. Individuals who are used to the more moderate temperatures of coastal Southern California will be in for quite the shock if they choose to move somewhere with frigid winters or persistent precipitation.

When you stock up, make sure you are purchasing the right cold weather gear. A heavy jacket for beach weather may serve as nothing more than a light long-sleeved shirt in colder climates. Every cold climate area is different, and it is crucial to understand what to expect year-round so that you can plan your clothing transitions accordingly.

winter road and snow with landscape of trees with frost

It’s not just the cold that you need worry about. In places like Alaska, expect plenty of sunshine. Surprising, right? Summers in Alaska tend to have long days under a sun that provides more burn potential than heat.

Moving to a radically different climate can cause a number of emotional and physiological challenges in addition to the physical. Ask yourself: Are you ready to deal with deep snow several months out of the year? Are you ready to tackle the challenges of living in an area where plant growth may be extremely limited (especially if you are the gardening type)? Are you ready and able to invest in all-weather or snow tires, or possibly a new car that can handle this dramatic change in climate?

In other words, prepare yourself for this transition, so you don’t end up freezing your fingers and toes off once you make the move.

4. Hot Climates

In certain states, air conditioning is not always a given when you move into a house or rent an apartment. Areas with moderately longer winters or milder summers often don’t waste the time, money, or energy on AC because it really isn’t necessary. A fan in the living room is enough to keep things cool if the weather outside gets a bit warm.

If you are moving to a notoriously hot climate, however, understand that this carefree attitude is not feasible. Whether it is a dry heat like Arizona or a humid heat like coastal South Carolina, be prepared to learn a lot about keeping your AC running—especially in the summer.

Just as with cold climates, one of the first steps you will need to take is gearing up for this change. If you are moving from a colder or more moderate area into a hotter one, you might find yourself inundated with heavy jackets, long pants, and numerous layers to keep things toasty. While it is always a good idea to hold on to a few of these for vacations and the occasional “cold” day, it’s also a good idea to consider a yard sale or donation center where you can unload your cold weather clothing.

beach with calm water

On average, hot climates require lighter clothing and a lot of hats and sunglasses. Thin long-sleeved shirts and long pants can be beneficial, insofar as preventing sunburns and deterring biting insects, but, depending on where you move, you should consider the possibility that you will not want to be outside too often.

For example, in 2017, Arizona reached 116°F three days in a row; its all-time record high temperature was 128°F in 1994. So you’re going to want to prepare yourself for long summers that can border on scorching and nights that just refuse to cool down.

Moving to a new place can be exciting and fun, but never more so than when you prepare yourself by doing the research and intrinsically understanding where you are going. After that, it’s just a matter of sorting your things, with the help of packing and moving companies, and hitting the road. Bon voyage!