A Guide to “The College Life” in New Hampshire

(Where better to go off to college than a state with the motto of “Live free or die.”)

University of New Hampshire

Welcome to college in New Hampshire. Whether you’re brand new around here or you’ve been “Livin’ Free” all your life, you’re in for a real treat.

If you choose to stay after college and buy a house, make sure you're covered with an affordable home insurance policy.

To help get you all settled in and ready for the road ahead, we’ve put together this guide to prep you for life around the state that puts the extra in extracurricular. So, let's get into it.

Chapter One: New Hampshire Conversation Starters

Now, easily the most important thing to do once you get to New Hampshire is make some new friends. However, in order to make friends with real-life New Hampshirites you gotta know a thing or two about 'em first. You can't just spout off a bunch of facts from the state's Wikipedia page on population and state birds and all and expect to fit in — you gotta go for a way, way deeper dive. 

When trying to assimilate to local culture, try a few of these conversation starters out:

  • “What’s sales tax?” New Hampshire is one of only five states that does NOT charge sales tax. It’s a shoe shoppers dream come true.
  • “Grab some socks from the draw.” We didn’t misspell that, folks around here leave the “-er” off the end. Not sure if it’s to save time or just an adorable little quirk, but it is a thing.
  • “You can’t beat the colors along the Kanc.” New England is known for its fall foliage. Folks from out of town flock to the area in fall to check out all the trees and their incredible fall colors. The Kancamagus Highway is a 34.5-mile stretch that’s considered the crown jewel for all of fall’s “leaf-peepers.”

Chapter Two: Where To Crash

If you’re not already set on living in the dorms, you’re going to need to know where to lay your ever-growing head at night. So let’s talk about the hot rentals around the area.

The home of Dartmouth College, Hanover, has one-bedroom apartments going for about $1,466/month. In Manchester, home to Manchester Community College, you’ll be paying a little less at  $1,391/month. But of course that’s right inside the city, and you can probably even find lower prices out in a number of nearby cities for less.

PRO TIP: If you put, like, two to three bunk beds in every room and grab a bunch more roommates, your rent will be dirt cheap!

Chapter Three: What's with These Locals?

To live among the folks of New Hampshire, it’s best if you understand them. You'll find that the people here are "honest" and "hard-working" with a bit of a New England edge.

New Hampshirites are also said to have a holistic approach to their health, and life, in general. A real healthy bunch if you ask them. You'll find a lot of locals are pretty outdoorsy and spend much of their time skiing, hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, or swimming. Residents just can't get enough of this gorgeous landscape.

As the fifth-smallest state in the country by land area, it ranks as the 42nd most populous and the 21st most population-dense. So you'll have plenty of room to get away from others and breathe in that fresh mountain air. 

When it comes to food, a favorite local dish is "chop suey," but we’re not talking the Chinese-American fusion staple. This version mashes up macaroni with ground beef, onions and green peppers in a type of tomato sauce. 

But when it comes to the action, you can’t beat Manchester around here, or  "Manch-Vegas" as it’s been called. The name came about years ago when there were hundreds of illegal gambling sites all over the town, but has been reborn as a way to refer to the local nightlife and great shopping.

Chapter Four: Where To “Study” Around Town

Now that you’re getting all nice and settled into New Hampshire life, it’s time to focus on those studies. But everyone knows how distracting roommates, video games, and fridges can be when you’re trying to focus. So why not try some of the great sights and local hot spots for a little study sesh? Here are a few places we recommend:

  • The Basin: So back in the Ice Age, a small pebble fell into a crack in a rock, where thunderous, icy blue water churned and churned and churned some more. Today, you get a large, 30-foot bowl of beautiful water with a waterfall continuously pouring even more into it. It’s a great, peaceful place to get some studying done and reflect on how a little constant work can turn into something incredible over time. Whoa, that was deep.
  • Andres Institute of Art and Sculpture Garden: Art can lead to inspiration when you least expect it. So grab your books, your laptop and head to Brookline, where you'll find 60+ sculptures from artists 'round the globe decorating a group of hiking trails. Hike a bit, take a break to study, then hike a bit more, and repeat. 
  • Ice Castles: If a little cold doesn’t bother you, Lincoln has some pretty cool caves, tunnels, fountains, and slides all made from ice. At night, the attractions are lit up by bright neon lights. Just cuddle up with a blankie and your books and let the cold keep you from dozing off.

Chapter Five: No FOMO Weekend Activities around New Hampshire

One of the best things about college is the weekends. And New Hampshire has plenty of incredible things to do, see, smell, and eat, to rest your mind from all that studying you’ve been doing. Here are a few of our favorite local things to do:

  • American Classic Arcade Museum: In Laconia, the Funspot arcade has been transformed into the largest arcade museum in the world. What was already the largest arcade now holds more than 200 vintage cabinet games, featuring everything from KISS pinball machines to Tetris. They even host annual classic video game and pinball tournaments here. Leave your Xbox at home and bring your baggie of quarters for this one.
  • Cat Alley: This public alleyway in Manchester was transformed into an arts scene featuring nothing but kitties (full-grown cats, too). It began as a campaign to revitalize the street, and the resulting project came about through several local artists. So if you wanna see some cat-tastic artwork, take a stroll down the alley.
  • Exeter UFO Festival: This annual festival commemorates the state's most infamous extraterrestrial event. In 1965, a local 18-year-old hitchhiker reported a sighting of strange bright lights to the police. He was so deeply affected by it that he convinced the cops to come check out the strange and disturbing sight with him, and they saw it for themselves. Though the “event” never repeated, locals still gather to honor its memory each year.
  • Clark’s Trading Post: In Lincoln is a museum dedicated to old-time Americana and the roadside attractions of yesteryear. Take a little train ride and get chased by the Wolfman, and best yet, there’s a real black bear that rides a scooter and plays basketball. No joke, and all for a love of ice cream.

Chapter Six: The Post-College Job Scene

Maybe you know exactly what you want to do after graduation, or maybe you’re still undeclared. Either way, we’re so sure you’re going to want to stick around after the ceremony that we should probably talk about the local job market and which careers are hot right now around town.

First, New Hampshire currently has an unemployment rate of 2.6%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is super-low. Way to go, New Hampshirites! It's worth taking into consideration, however, that the minimum wage is only $7.25/hour, the same as the federal minimum.

Of course, you're probably wondering about specific career fields. Well, the state’s fastest-growing jobs currently include: nurse practitioner, home health aide, physical therapist, web developer, machinist, medical technician, and industrial mechanic. 

Quite the nice variety of growing job fields, we'd say. But let's get to the juicy stuff—the jobs that'll make you some serious green. Currently, the highest-paying jobs in the state include: surgeon, OB/GYN, psychiatrist, dentist, CEO, nurse anesthetist, and architect manager. If you possess any of these skills, you'll do just fine here (at least financially).

Chapter Seven: Say Goodbye to Sales Tax, ‘Cuz Here You Come

Alright folks, there you have it — your supremely helpful, though far-from-complete, guide to New Hampshire college life. It's true that we can't pack in absolutely everything that's important to consider before making a huge cross-country move, but we hope we helped you get the ball rolling.

Good luck. And don’t forget about that affordable home insurance policy.

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