5 Things to Learn Before Moving Somewhere Cold

Here in Los Angeles, we don't really know 'cold weather.' Sure, we have cold days. Sometimes it even snows, at least in some parts of LA County. But cold days are a far cry from living in an area that can get as cold as 5 degrees below zero or colder—and if you're planning on moving to one of those places, well, there are a few things you should know.

1.) It's Better to Layer Up Than Dress Warm

In LA, our idea of dressing up for a cold day is wearing a thick sweater or a big down jacket. However, surviving in truly cold weather requires a lot more forethought, and ideally a lot more clothing. The secret to dressing warmly isn't in having one or two thick layers—it's in having three or more layers that combine to trap your body heat.

Your average winter outfit should consist of the following pieces:

  • Base layer - long johns, thermals, or long wool undergarments.
  • An insulating layer - a sweater or fleece.
  • A shell - a waterproof coat of some kind.

Note that this is in addition to your regular clothing, like jeans or a shirt. In total, you're looking at around five layers of clothing total.

2.) Keep Emergency Supplies in Your Car

Us Los Angeles natives have it pretty good. On 9 out of 10 days, if our car breaks down on the side of the road, we'll be okay. It might get pretty hot (and you might need to keep some spare water around), but for the most part, our lives won't be in danger. In cold weather climates, having your car break down in the middle of a snowstorm or a cold snap could actually endanger your health.

(It is also, as far as we hear, a lot more painful).

To build your emergency car kit, think about what you would want if you needed to spend a couple hours in your car during a blizzard.

Here's what we'd pack:

  • A flashlight
  • Thermal blanket
  • Whistle
  • First-aid kit
  • Jumper cables
  • Flares
  • An ice scraper
  • Road salt (kitty litter also works)
  • High-calorie snacks (like protein bars)

Having your car prepared for a disaster is always a good practice, but during a cold snap, having some blankets and a way to signal passing cars could save your life—or at least make your suffering a lot shorter.

3.) Learn to Love the Cold

People who are new to cold climates try their best to stay indoors as long as possible. Unless you're a hermit or a professional recluse, staying inside won't be feasible 24/7—you'll need to leave eventually. That's why it's vital you learn to love the cold season. In cold places, sports, social life, festivals, and local traditions will all take place in (and revolve around) the cold season. Your future neighbors will all be spending at least some of their time playing and living in the cold, so you should too!

Enjoying the cold (at least enough to go out every once in a while) will make it easier for you to enjoy the winter, and it will prevent you from getting cabin fever for three months straight. That alone is worth the cost!

4.) You'll Need to Buy Artificial Sunlight

If there's one thing Los Angeles natives take for granted, it's sunlight. We don't really understand how much people in other places crave sunlight every winter; after all, we get just as much sun in November as we do in July. However, in places further north of here, up to 12 hours of the day is completely dark—and that's assuming sunny weather during the day!

In other words, when you experience your first winter, you'll miss the sun. Not just emotionally, either; your body will miss a lot of the vitamins and benefits the sunlight provides, and it may even affect you psychologically. The solution here is simple: buy a sun lamp. Sun lamps imitate the sun's effect on your body, which can raise your mood and offer some of the benefits us Southern Californians take for granted.

5.) Protect Your Tiny Extremities

Rookie cold-weather mistake: forgetting to protect your ears and neck. When you're in an exceptionally cold place, it's not just your torso or legs that will feel the full brunt of the climate: it'll be your fingers, your nose, your cheeks, and your ears. Protecting the small bits that we often forget to cover up will vastly improve your quality of life. Buy neck warmers, ear warmers, gloves, and even ski masks to keep your face and hands protected.