weekend free-for-all – July 22-23, 2017

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand. (This one is truly no work and no school.)

Book recommendation of the week: The Boy Who Loved Too Much: A True Story of Pathological Friendliness, by Jennifer Latson. I read this after reading this fascinating write-up in NYMag about Williams syndrome, also known as “cocktail party syndrome,” which makes people incredibly outgoing, extroverted, and trusting (as well as causing intellectual disabilities, physical problems, and musical and story-telling talents).

* I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

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{ 1,309 comments… read them below }

  1. belle*

    Friends! I’m moving to New Hampshire (Manchester) for work, from the south.

    Tips on surviving winters? Fun day trips around New England? What’s the best coat? mittens or gloves? Share your New England knowledge with this newbie….

    1. Me2*

      Strawbery Banke (no, neither one is a typo) in Portsmouth is a fascinating “living” museum, you can easily spend a day here. Portsmouth in general is very charming.

      1. KR*

        I agree to this – Dover, Newmarket, and Exeter are also nice towns to walk around in and Very historic. There’s an original copy of the declaration of independence in Exeter. I lived in Portsmouth for two years and grew up in the seacoast area. Portsmouth has some great bars, restaurants, local breweries, and public events. There is only something like 18 miles of coast in NH. A drive up the coast is worth it – take it from Seabrook beach, catch 1A, and drice through Hampton Beach (which is the most popular beach in NH) and up through Rye and North Hampton. It’s a super pretty drive. For the winters, it really depends on what coat you prefer but I wore a Carrhart and I found it very effective in dealing with the cold. It kept me warm, held up to the wind, I didn’t mind if it got covered with salt (as everything does evenutally in New England), and it held up to wind. Gloves are a must in the coldest part of the winter (December to February) though there’s a good chance come February you will be desensitized to the cold and the first day it’s 40° you’ll want to wear short sleeves out. If your car is very light you may have to put weight or sand in the back for the snow and keep kitty litter in the back in case you get stuck. I would recommend keeping a small shovel and a snow brush in your car. Manchester is the biggest city in NH, so it gets more crime. It’s not a bad or terribly dangerous area though in the grand scope of things. Rochester is an area with a reputation but same thing, it’s just somewhere that has had a lot of issues with addiction in recent years. Living in the Manchester area I honestly don’t think you’ll have a reason to go to Rochester anyway –
        it’s definitely out of the way. You’ll hear a lot about the opioid crisis – there are a lot of problems in NH right now with addiction and overdosing – something to be aware of since it’s all over the news and many people have been affected by it. In Manchester, I would recommend the Red Arrow Diner. It’s one of the only restaurants in NH that’s open 24hrs and it is GOOD. My favorite is the Queen Dinahs Breakfast. Dos Amigos is a American-Mexican local chain that is also super good – there’s locations in Portsmouth, Dover, Rochester, Concord, and Manchester. The nice thing about NH is that everything is close by. The White Mountains are beautiful and I love them. If you like hiking at all I would check them out because there’s some very manageable day hike mountains there. They are also pretty to just take a day driving up there and stopping to check out the sites (very assessible from Manchester, just take 93). Check out driving the Kangamangus Highway. NH’s tallest mountain, Washington,
        has an auto road you can drive up in your car in good weather (though make sure your breaks are in good shape for the down trip). There is also a lot of skiing and snowboarding and general winter in the Northern part of the state. Pawtuckaway state park is very near you and also has a small lake beach, good hiking trails and nature walks, ect. I don’t do winter sports but I loved taking drives up to the mountains in all seasons since almost all in NH there are amazing – curvy and pretty. Basically I grew up close to there and I could rant forever about how awesome it is. Happy to answer individual questions. Warning: if you’re not in Manchester, apartment housing is expensive and hard to get.

    2. Mischa*

      Not from New England, but from the midwest where it gets freezing cold, icy and snowy in the winter. I have a pair of knock-off LL Bean boots for snow/slushy weather. I love them. If it’s cold and very windy, I wear a two phase jacket from the North Face. Basically it’s an outer waterproof shell with a fuzzy inner shell. On their own, they’re not incredibly warm, but together? Fabulous. Gotten me through some negative zero weather without feeling cold. If it’s not windy I go for my wool peacoat from Land’s End. The higher the wool percentage, the warmer, IMO. I’ve had my North Face for about 8 years and the peacoat for about 5. Paying more was definitely worth it in this case, though REI usually has some great sales.

      1. Emmie*

        I second a heavy coat. I had a long North face and a long LL Bean down coat. I liked the LL Bean one better because it has an internal cord around the waist, and it goes on sale for half off. a day or two around Christmas. You’ll be shocked at the number of jackets you’ll want – lightweight early fall, moderate weight late fall, winter 30 degrees wool pea coat, and then the down coat. I also added a ski jacket for the gym. But I was pretty cold weather adverse. Also, remote start on your car is a life saver!

        1. Mischa*

          Remote start sounds wonderful! I love running in the cold so I also have a 20 degree (F) rated running jacket thing. Plus, I discovered how amazing wool is beyond peacoats. I love my wool socks and wool neck gaiter. The gaiter isn’t the most attractive or fashionable thing but man it will keep you cozy, whether you’re being active or not.

    3. Warm Coat*

      I’m from the north east and now live in the mid west, and the best coat I’ve had is a knee length down (or down substitute? I can’t remember because I bought it 6 years ago…) filled Columbia coat with a hood. The key here is that the inside is lined with a silver heat reflective material, so it’s able to be very warm and still slim – not like the super puffy Michelin man type jackets! I’ve walked to work in Chicago by the lake in the winter and gotten hot in this coat!

      1. Me2*

        Sec0nding the Columbia brand with the silver lining, my lightweight puffy one (Omni-Shield) keeps me toasty warm on the coldest days.

        1. Kristen*

          I like Columbia jackets (have owned 4 or so since my early twenties), but I keep having zipper problems with them. My new jacket is from The North Face and I like it so far. Look for jackets that have a nice liner and are waterproof (Goretex is recommended, but usually raises the price).

          I’m from MN, so I know a bit about winter. A few years ago I bought boots by Baffin (a Canadian brand that also knows a bit about winter) after finding a website that prepares people for trips to Antarctica recommended the brand. It’s difficult finding good reviews of winter gear when you’re from a very cold place (the reviews by people where the lowest temps they see are closer to 30 F than -15 F aren’t exactly helpful). I’ve been pretty satisfied so far with the boots (the fit is the only thing I’d complain about). I like having two pairs of mittens. I like cute, knit mittens for everyday use (something with a soft liner, because I think wind would chill your hands otherwise with just the knitting). I also like having waterproof mittens for shoveling and removing snow from my car.

          Speaking of snow on the car: if you don’t already have a snow brush, get one early (before the forecast calls for snow) and put it in your car right away. Just when you think you won’t need it, a blizzard will come while you’re at work and you’ll wish you listened to me. Haha. And keep it in your car until June (if you remove it at all). If you’re not used to driving in the snow, remember accelerate slowly, turn slowly, drive slowly. The goal is to keep traction with the road. This is true even when you have a 4-wheel drive vehicle. There’s nothing like being passed by a big 4-wheel drive truck and driving by them a few minutes later after they’ve gone in the ditch.

          Lastly, I hold this belief that it’s important to find things to do outside in the winter. Staying inside all winter is pretty depressing in my opinion. Winter mostly sucks, but there’s nothing like the calmness of winter either.

    4. Ruthie Rather Not*

      This may sound silly, but when you are cold, put on warm things like gloves, hat, scarf, etc. So many people are worried about looking silly, so they won’t wear them and then complain about the cold! There are so many cute options, there is no excuse for not wearing warm outerwear!

    5. Lexie Madison*

      (I’m not using my regular name for this one since I literally grew up next to Manchester) Manchester is a pretty great little city! It’s only an hour from Boston for when you want some city time, and also about an hour from the beach, mountains and lakes. The first winter might be rough, I’d recommend fleece-lined hats and gloves/mittens (unlined are useless in the wind) along with scarves and a warm water proof jacket! Also it’s not uncommon to lose power during snow storms, sometimes for days, so always be prepared with non-perishable food and water! If you have any Manchester specific questions ask away! Like I said, I lived in an adjacent town my entire childhood, went to high school in the city, and my parents still live there.

      1. Bea W*

        That reminds me! Don’t forget to keep a store of batteries, flashlights, and candles! Have a battery powered radio and fully charged power packs for your phone. I have a couple battery powered lanterns. They are easier to use and safer than candles and hurricane lamps. For extended periods without power, you can move some of your perishable foods outside in box/cooler to avoid losing them. Keep extra blankets handy as well. It will get cold af without power for heat. If you do not have gas cooking, you can warm things over a can of sterno or cook outside if you have a grill, not in the middle of a storm obviously but afterwards, while you wait for power to come back.

        If you have gas cooking and need morning coffee, get one of those one-cup coffee brewer things where you can pour hot water over coffee right into your mug. Life saving!

    6. Bea W*

      If you are taking your car, which is also from the south, make sure you have a set of good all-season tires and a battery that can handle freezing temperatures. These are the main issues my southern transplant friends have run into, having “summer tires” (This is a thing apparently. I assumed all tires made now were all-season!) and a battery that had to be jumped more often than not. You don’t need special snow tires or anything. Regular all-season tires are fine for Manchester. The northern states know how to treat and clear roads when it snows and have the equipment to get it done within hours.

      You will have to learn how to drive in winter conditions. The best advice overall is be cautious and steady, go as slowly as you feel comfortable going even when idiots around you are flying down the road. Approach turns slowly. If you skid (most likely when turning), steer gently in the direction you want to go. Do not jerk the wheel or make a hard turn. You will make it worse. Always give yourself extra distance to stop, and know what kind of brakes you have. This changes how you operate them in case of skidding or having to come to a quick stop on slick roads. If you have anti-lock brakes, you want to keep your foot on them as normal. Do not pump anti-lock brakes. The ABS does the pumping for you. You should only pump the brakes if you do not have ABS.

      Invest in a couple of good ice scrapers for your car and a snow brush with a telescoping handle. You will use the scrapers all the time, even if it is not snowing. Morning window frost is common. Keep a small shovel and a bag of kitty litter in your car. The kitty litter can be sprinkled by the wheels to give you traction if you find yourself stuck. The shovel is handy if you end up in a snow bank or otherwise have to remove snow from around the tires to give yourself a fighting chance.

      For the lovagawd clear the snow off your car completely, especially the ROOF. If it does not fly off the back and hit the car behind you, it will slide down in a huge chunk on your windshield and completely block your view. Clearing snow off your hood with prevent it from flying up on your windshield.

      Snow shovels, buy more than one, early in the season when they are in stock. Same for ice melt if you need to put it down yourself, and I will recommend having a bag on hand if you have someone doing the clearing for you. You might need to get down some stairs at your place before anyone has a chance to treat them. DO NOT wait until there’s a nor’easter headed up the coast because there’s a predictable panic run on shovels and ice melt. (Don’t ask me why! It’s a mystery!) After that you will be SOL. The same goes for groceries and gas. Never run so low on essentials that you’re forced to go to the store or a gas station right before a big storm. It’s a huge PIA. Yes, you need a shovel even if your landlord clears the snow for you. You will probably have to dig our your car, and you might want to leave your house before the landlord as a chance to dig out

      Invest in good practical, waterproof, warm boots. They should really come up past your ankles and you should feel comfortable and stable walking in them. Carry your regular/dress shoes to change into at work. I leave a pair of shoes at work also because I will forget to bring them with me. For icy walking conditions I love Yaktrax which slip over your shoes and give you traction on ice. If you have to walk much anywhere (I commute by walking/public transit) these are awesome!

      You will be warned about frost/freeze warnings as part of the weather forecast only once in the season, and that is when it happens for the first time. After that, it’s assumed to be a normal thing.

      In the fall (Late Sept/Oct) get out and see the leaves! Drive to the white mountains, enjoy some crisp fall air and hiking if that’s your thing.

      I keep a variety of hats/gloves/mittens/coats. You’ll want at least lighter lined jacket for fall and warmer winter days and a full on winter coat (hood recommended) for when the winter temps kick in. I have ski/snow sport type gloves and also mittens for shoveling snow and clearing my car so my hands stay dry. I have a couple pairs of warm mittens for super cold temps. I like mittens are better for going out in teens and sub-zero weather because your fingers will help keep each other warm. Do buy a few hats and scarves. I am chronically losing these things (and gloves!) or leaving them behind. I recommend always having a back-up, even if it’s some cheap extras to keep around specifically for this purpose. I find the combination of a hood pulled over a hat is the warmest for super cold (way below freezing) and windy days.

      If you have any need to check your phone outside in the cold, get gloves that work with touch screen or mittens that flip open. I do check my phone for bus and train tracking and alerts (and alternative routes) while I am out. If you are driving everywhere you might not find this essential.

      If you have ever wanted to try skiing, ice skating, snow tubing, etc NH has lots of great ski areas within a short drive. There will also be plenty of ice rinks locally. You can rent whatever equipment you need. In the summer for swimming and water fun, there are lots of lake beaches and resort areas, Lake Winnipesaukee being the largest and probably most well known vacation area, but tons of smaller lakes. Check out the “lakes region” just a bit north of you. A bit further north you have the White Mountains.

      New England states are small, and you can pretty much day trip to all of them from Manchester. You are also a short drive from Quebec. It is very easy to take a weekend road trip to Canada. Montreal is a popular weekend ski trip destination in the winter. The coast of Maine is beautiful and you can also visit Nova Scotia and New Brunswick by ferry.

      Other random things:
      Hot drinks – tea, hot chocolate, coffee, hot apple cider – soooo good when you come in from the cold!
      My nose runs like a leaky faucet in the cold weather. I bring tissue everywhere.
      Ice cream and iced coffee are year round foods.

      1. Yzma, Put Your Hands In The Air!*

        I second the extra tissues (and extra cold-weather accessories)! Everyone I know has this problem, with a runny nose from the cold. Even if you haven’t had this issue in the past, bring some for your first winter, just in case! It’s awful when you’ve just arrived someplace new and you have a runny nose and nothing to do about it.

        If you are prone to being cold anyway, I’d also recommend buying some thermal layering clothes, if you don’t have any. Something like long underwear (Under Armor is the most notable brand that comes to mind), where you can wear the thermal shirt under a sweater or something. I’d suggest planning to wear multiple layers until you get to a comfortable place with your temperature; that way, if you do get too warm inside, you can always take a layer off and still be legal 

      2. Kristen*

        I think you provided excellent advice, especially about driving. I forgot to mention in my post above the importance of braking early and slowly and knowing what type of brakes you have. Btw, is it weird that I miss my car without ABS brakes? The pulsating of ABS brakes freaks me out and I feel like I was better without it. Haha. In drivers training, I learned the squeeze method of braking (also called threshold braking apparently; done without ABS brakes) and became pretty good at it.

        Like Bea W. said, remove ALL of the snow from your car. Clear every window of snow and ice as well. Don’t be lazy about this.

      3. Artemesia*

        Two things you can buy with hand cranks — crank flashlight and crank radio. That way your car flashlight isn’t always out of batteries when you need it. They are not a real substitute for plug ins and battery flash lights, but when all else fails, you just crank them you have light or radio.

        Good waterproof and warm footwear. I have a pair of slip on Merrells that have some sort of insulation and work for me in my cold northern city unless the snow or slush is deep in which case I switch to my Merrell snow boots. If your feet are warm and dry and your hands are warm and your heat is warm i.e. good footgear, gloves and hat, you feel fine.

      4. Emily*

        Lots of good car advice! I would also recommend getting windshield wiper fluid that’s made specifically for cold weather.

        Maybe this is obvious to some people, but when I moved from North Carolina to western New York, my wiper fluid froze in the container because I didn’t realize I needed a different kind for the winter.

    7. Yetanother Jennifer*

      Welcome to New England! I’m in a small town further north, so some of this may not apply to the “big city.” Long underwear is going to be your friend that first fall and winter. I like tank tops from Cuddle Duds, especially the reversible ones, and I like anything silk to wear under pants. An extra underlayer will make all the difference. You’ll find better quality and true warmth technology in the sporty brands of outerwear: Columbia, Patagonia, Marmot, EMS, REI, Lands End, LL Bean… North Face is also good, but is an older status brand. Canada Goose is the current status brand, but it’s also high quality, and probably more than you need. A 3-in-one jacket with a zip out lining that can be worn on it’s own would be a handy first coat. (You’re about to own more coats than you ever thought possible.) Lightweight puffy jackets are popular. Boggs are great neoprene boots that can span the seasons and Great Storm is the just as good copycat brand. People up here also dress more casually than in the South. Lots of people look as though they’re about to go on a hike, and they often are. The best way to survive winter is to get out there. If you hibernate you’ll take longer to adjust to the cold and you won’t have as much fun. Same goes for summers, get out there and enjoy the warm sunshine when it lasts. Also, watch out for bright sunny days in the winter…those are deceptively cold because in your brain sunshine equals warm but there’s no clouds to hold in the heat.

      1. Yzma, Put Your Hands In The Air!*

        Also, if driving, the glare from the sun on the snow is INTENSE! Make sure you have sunglasses.

        1. NPG*

          Yes, when there is a super heavy snowfall and the sun come out it was be overpowering. You might think we’re crazy, but I use my sunglasses all the time in winter.

          Also, I don’t know about NH, but in NY it is a ticket able offense not to clean your car off of snow and ice. I think first offense is something like $300/$350. Every year there is at least one accident when flying snow from a car caused someone to go off-road or swerve into another car. Don’t risk being that person that causes an accident.

      2. Parenthetically*

        Gosh, yes to all this. Proper, waterproof, warm, lined boots and a good coat — both are WELL worth the investment of a couple hundred bucks. Target boots are useless. In really cold weather I like a longer coat — my bum gets freezing cold especially if I’m going to be sitting outside at all.

    8. all aboard the anon train*

      Definitely invest in a pair of L.L. Bean boots. I’ve known too many people who want cute or stylish boots and then have cold feet when they’re outside. Invest in some good wool socks, too. I have a bunch of SmartWool socks and tights and they’re my lifesaver when I’m walking to the subway. When it gets cold, no one cares what you look like so wear the warmest items you have. I layer up when I walk to work or the subway because even a few minutes outside in the wind and snow is bad.

      Are you moving to an apartment or buying a house? If it’s an apartment, make sure heat is included in the rent! Sometimes it’s not and if it’s an old building or one that uses oil heat it can run between $500-$800/month during winter.

      If you have a car, always keep some salt/dirt and an ice scraper in the car in case of snow. If you’re walking, be careful of black ice. I generally walk fast (the New England style lol), but I take extra time in winter. A normal 15 minute walk might take me 30 minutes because of the snow and ice.

      Snowstorms can mean losing power so always keep a charged flashlight, a lot of blankets, and some non-perishable food.

      1. Parenthetically*

        This reminds me of those grippy things you can buy to strap to your shoes to provide extra traction. I’ve never used them but I feel like they’d be a good addition.

        1. Mischa*

          YaxTracks! I don’t own any, but I am planning on getting a pair for icy winter runs. I’ve heard good things about them.

      2. msroboto*

        There is an L.L. Bean outlet north of Manchester right near Concord.
        There is a newer Bass Pro Shops near there as well. You might find some specialty outdoor items like gloves that are good for lower temps but might be more flexible because hey you’re still trying to fish / hunt temperature be damned.

    9. The Other Dawn*

      Quechee Gorge in VT; Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, MA; White Mountains in NH. I haven’t done many day trips in a very long time, but those are off the top of my head. I’m in CT, but my parents lived in NH for about 20 years. My brother and one sister are there (Claremont area), as well as my niece.

      Since I’m now in mid-state CT, I find I need warmer winter clothes. I have a Land’s End down parka that I love for snow blowing. Very warm and cozy.

      I’m still searching for a pair of gloves that will actually keep my fingertips warms, so if anyone has any ideas, let me know!

    10. Not So NewReader*

      I like to get rag wool mittens and put them on over gloves if I have to be outside for a while.

      If you see people not turning their cars off when you run in to a store to get coffee or whatever, don’t shut yours off. It’s probably bitter cold and you may have difficulty restarting. (I shut my vehicle off with a minus 80 wind chill and there was no way that car would start again.)

      If there are warnings on the radio about bare skin, heed them. Do not attempt walking the rest of the way to work if your car fails to restart. (Yes, First hand experience. I think I got about 500 feet from my car and realized I had made a huge mistake.)

      If you have car trouble in a storm or in cold weather STAY with your car. It’s easier for rescues to find your car than it is to find you. (Yes, there are probably exceptions but you will know for sure if you are in a situation that is an exception.)

      Because winters can be tough and because some areas can be very isolated most people stop to help someone who has broken down or had a single car accident. Little things like a can of dry gas, or one of those tiny space age blankets can be very helpful. You’ll think of other things. I carry a tire inflator that runs off my car battery and a first aid kit.

      Overall have Plan B for everything. Car does not start, move to Plan B. Power goes out, move to Plan B, etc. Personally, I like to buy extra food staples at the beginning of winter. I set these things to one side so I don’t accidently use them up. This means I am not running to the store hours before a storm hits and dealing with crowds of people who are buying six weeks worth of food in one shopping trip.

    11. Sparkly Librarian*

      Oh, I had a similar question, about Michigan, so I’ll post below. (And I’m soaking up the pertinent info here.)

      1. Saturnalia*

        Yeah I just came to Boston from Utah, so I “know winter” (I’m positive I don’t actually know winter) and this is very relevant!

        /continues taking notes

    12. Nathaniel*

      Patagonia synthetics are very useful… The R1 pants and sweater will make you super comfortable at home. They also offer several products for layering and have a great reputation.

    13. Emmie*

      Practice driving in the snow. In the South, the whole city shuts down for a few inches. You’ll see 10 inches and Northern cities won’t shut down. When you move, ask about their snow removal. How fast does it get removed? What are you responsible for? It’s hardest driving in an active snowstorm. You’ll need to allow plenty of time to stop. Pump your brakes- test them out. Drive slowly.

      1. Kristen*

        Not sure if anyone has mentioned it, but since you touched on it: if you’re going to park in the street, learn about the parking rules when there’s a snow emergency (snow plows are actively removing snow from roadways).

          1. OlympiasEpiriot*

            And make sure it fits easily in your trunk. You may need it to shovel out when you are *not* at home.

            1. Special Snowflake*

              Never leave it in the trunk overnight though! Yes it’s a pain for people sitting in the backseat but having a shovel to shovel out the car does you no good if you have to first get through the 6-8 inches of snow on the top of your trunk. Car shovels should be accessed through a door you can open at all times.

              1. Kristen*

                This sounds kind of silly, but what you said reminds me of something I do. Before I open the car door to start my car and grab the snow brush, I sweep snow away from around my door with my mittened hand (near the crack around the top of the door mostly) to keep a pile of snow from falling right on my car seat. Maybe this is common sense and something everyone does.. not sure.

    14. OlympiasEpiriot*

      Make the trip to the LL Bean store in Maine, worth the trip. Learn to love wool, wear it (lambswool or merino) or silk against your skin in the winter, layers over that. Don’t wear cotton in winter, bulky cotton sweaters are a suckers game–they look cozy and don’t help at all.

      Get snow tires and have ’em put on in October, take ’em off in March or April, depending. Don’t live with all-seasons. They aren’t ALL season. Just budget for the snow tires and the changes and know they don’t last as long as regulars.

      If buying a place, see if you can get a blower test done on the home before buying. Insulation is more important than looks. Trust me.

      In the winter, you prefer a shorter driveway, trust me on this, too. Lots of people move to NH/VT thinking they want to be in the woods. The woods are great, I have lived there (am in a huge city for *my* work now) and have no trouble with the rougher aspects, but lots of people who have been neighbors to me have fallen for the ideal/fantasy when house hunting and not thought about the reality.

      In a perfect world, look at your prospective homes in the worst weather. Ice, glum rains, blazing hot days with a drought.

      1. OlympiasEpiriot*

        PS: Don’t think a 4-wheel drive car will solve your winter or mud season troubles. I actually have never owned one. Have driven in lots of rough environments, though, just with chains on the tires.

        You can stick yourself EXTRA well with 4-wheel drive.

        If you travel up a bit towards VT, check out Farm-Way in Bradford VT for clothes and garden tools and have lunch at the Colatina in town. Or drive up 5 from there to Newbury and get lunch at the Village Store. They do good sandwiches.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Agreed about 4wd vehicles. I had a well-known 4wd and when the 4wd failed, it was worse than a regular car. Even the 4wd when it was working was not that impressive. Maybe spring for studded snow tires instead. Just watch the calendar because they can be restricted use.

    15. JulieBulie*

      There are open-fingered gloves that have a mitten-like “hood” that flips over the top to cover up your fingers, but then you can flip the hood back to expose your fingers to use your phone or whatever.

      There are also mittens where you can flip the top on and off.

      Highly recommended.

    16. Sled Dog Mama*

      As a fellow southerner who has spent the last four winters in Cleveland I’ll echo what has been said about coats, hats, scarves and gloves. The biggest thing I had to get used to is that you must zip/button up the coat before leaving the house, none of this throwing it on and leaving it unzipped.
      Several companies make dressy wool socks, get some, wool socks are amazing. I’m currently in love with Darn Tough (made in Vermont) but Ibex, and Smartwool also make good socks.
      In addition to all-season tires for your car remember that you are going to need to wash it in the winter (otherwise the salt, sand and road treatment chemicals will build up and can damage the paint) so be on the alert for which car washes have an undercarriage wash included and which are heated, and consider doing an under coating on your vehicle to provide some extra protection.

    17. Former NH resident*

      I lived in Lincoln, NH for several years, up in the White Mountains, and loved it. Check out the Kancamagus Highway between Lincoln and North Conway for a beautiful scenic drive. Great all year but especially in the fall (although much more crowded then too). There are so many scenic drives up in the White Mountains, especially through the notches – my favorite was Franconia Notch between Lincoln and Littleton. The Mount Washington Auto Road is well worth doing, in my opinion. And if you don’t mind either a very long day or an overnight trip, head to the area in the very northern part of the state called Moose Alley, on route 3 from north of Pittsburg to the Canadian border – it’s as close to a guarantee as you’ll get to see moose if you go in the right season – I used to head up there yearly and once saw eight in an evening. Enjoy, I really miss living in New Hampshire.

    18. Belle di Vedremo*

      Lucky you! NH is gorgeous. You’ve got lots of good advice already, so I’ll add mostly warm/outdoor gear thoughts.

      Surviving winter climate:
      First, if you tell people there you’ve just moved up from the south you’ll get sympathy and some combination of accommodation and advice. It will help a lot to be moving this summer so you have the fall to begin adjusting. You can expect to be cold this year, as you adjust, it won’t be as bad the next. Generally folks in New England keep their homes & work places cooler in the winter than folks do in the south. You’ll figure out what you need to be comfortable where over time. And winter will seem to go on and on and on… spring comes much earlier in the south, and even having grown up in the northeast it was a shock to have to wait so long for spring after years in the mid south. You’ll be amazed at what temps feel “warm” by early spring.

      Layers. Layers are essential – with the caveat that you’ll likely want to be able to remove some indoors, so don’t rely solely on long underwear and tights. Eg, leg warmers have sorta come back into style/use, and you’ll want some.

      Wool, silk, and “technical” fibers are your friend, barring any allergies. Acrylic and even fleece won’t keep you as warm. Down coat for the coldest days, and probably a down comforter for your bed. Jackets and coats: partly it’s a question of preference, and partly a question of your cold tolerance. Second hand shops are a great resource, and are very common in New England. Start there, and see what works best for you at less than full retail prices. You can get Gore-tex and similar shells at second hand shops for great prices if you time it right; those are water proof and breathable, and a little bit warm. Get one big enough to wear over a sweater. New they are very pricey. You’ll want a coat or jacket for temps in the 40s-50s, especially if you’ll be returning home after dark. You’ll probably want another for temps around 25-40. And you’ll want at least one more that’s WARM. You want windproof most of the time, waterproof too if you can. For your regular winter coat, you’ll want one that comes down below your knees, and is down filled or equivalent. If you use a store’s “scale” for temperatures, remember that those are based on fit young men doing physical activity, not anyone standing or sitting around. Know that people in New England will mostly have coats for warmth and comfort so the standard for looks will start there. Most will have plenty of peeling to do on arriving indoors – coat, boots, hats/scarves/mitts.

      Hats/scarves/mittens/gloves: multiples of each, as you’ll be putting one set up to dry and reaching for another more often than you might expect.
      Hats will depend on what is comfortable and stays on your head. Wool knit shows up in a wide variety of options, wool felt will too. You won’t find many hats that are waterproof, though dense wool can be remarkably water resistant.
      Scarves will be under the coat/jacket, and fabric won’t matter as much here. I have a lot of fleece scarves, as well as wool, wool/silk blends, etc. They fill in the natural gaps between sweaters and coats, etc; without them you’re much more likely to get snow or sleet on your neck.
      Mittens & gloves: mittens are warmer because you have your fingers together instead of separated. I have fleece mittens and gloves for fall, wool for cold, and technical fabric with waterproof and windproof for *cold.* You’ll want to try them out; you want ones that will be warm enough and that will stay warm even if your hands are sweaty. I keep a couple pair of gloves or mittens in the car all year; little cotton ones for when the steering wheel is too hot to handle, fleece for when the temps are cooling off fast in the fall, wool and warm for the winter just in case. It’ll be harder to find these (hats/mitts/scarves) at second had shops.

      Boots. You want warm, lined, waterproof boots with treads that go up to your shins or higher. Ankle high boots pretty much mean wet ankles and feet if you’re walking in snow or shoveling out your car. Leg warmers: put them on, put on your boots, and have the leg warmers start over the boots and them come up onto your legs. Covers the gap that can let snow/sleet in, and makes a significant difference in how warm your legs stay.

      Socks. Warm socks make a world of difference. Wool, silk, technical fabrics. Cotton holds sweat and becomes cooling. Wool can hold heat even if wet.

      Bedding. You’ll want a warm comforter. You may want flannel sheets. I kept a fleece shawl to pull over my head on the coldest nights.

      Pets: if you have pets, they’ll be adjusting too. I recommend getting a couple of the pet beds that are fleecey with a heat reflecting interior that can be thrown in the washer and dryer. And don’t be surprised if you find them on the bed/under the comforter. If you have a dog, they now make little booties to help protect paws from ice/salt outdoors.

      Note that most winter gear will be on sale by Christmas and harder to find in stores by mid January, even tho it’ll be cold yet for another 6-8 weeks. We had significant snow storms where I am by mid November last year, so plan to be ready in early November.

      Get tourist info from NH and the other NE states! You can order it online and have it sent to your new home (so you don’t have to move it) and get general information to supplement what you’ll get here. States (other than Maine) are comparatively small, it’ll be easy to go visiting. It’s such a beautiful part of the country, and one that will look and feel pretty different from where you are now.

      Lastly, New Englanders are friendly but much more culturally self-contained than southerners. Everyone looks like an introvert at first, but it’s mostly a cultural difference.

      Good luck with the move, and enjoy your new place.

    19. D.W.*

      Hi— fellow southerner from Alabama here! I moved to NYC last year. Please get waterproof boots and a waterproof, warm coat! I don’t know if it’s windy up there, but also invest in a hat/earmuffs to protect your ears and head from the wind. I love LL Bean and Columbia.

    20. Cereal Killer*

      Welcome to New England! I’m a fellow southerner (GA native) who has lived in the Boston area for the past 10 years. I love NE and being so close to so many cool places to visit. Everyone above gave you some great advice on clothing. A couple winter survival tips that haven’t been mentioned yet (I think)…
      – There are lots of old houses here with old heating systems- including lots of houses that still use oil heat, which can be $$$ as the market raite for oil prices go up. It’s not always avoidable, but something to be aware of as you look at houses/apartments. I rent and will only rent places with oil heat if heat is included in my rent.
      – Also along the lines of heat and old houses is radiators- my first place had steam heat which was/can be noisy when it turns on. I slept with ear plugs in the winter.
      – Ask landlords or property managers about snow removal and who is responsible (as mentioned above). Don’t ask them about pest control! I asked my first landlord about frequency of pest control service because bugs are just a way of life in the south and have always had to deal with this. I think I scared my landlord into thinking I will be a difficult tenant that calls them for every ant or fly in my apartment. Turns out you don’t really need regular pest control service up here, unless you have an actual infestation.
      – The cold and snow were far less a shock to my system than the sun setting at 3pm in the winter. That is a hard transition to make. Some things that helped me is buying a natural daylight lamp for my home and scheduling regular activities for after work so I don’t have the urge to go to bed at 6pm every night!

      1. Bibliovore*

        Everything that has been said .Here is what I know.
        Wool, wool, wool. I am a Merino fan as I am very sensitive to itchy fabric.
        Layer- Cuddle duds for around 40 degrees and under, silk for dress up, Smartwool leggings and longsleave zip first layer.
        mittens.
        If you are buying place- gas fire place- I love mine.
        slippers. I like hafflingers for around the house.
        Heated seats in your car.

      2. teclatrans*

        Oh, the light! Definitely look into some full-spectrum lighting. I spent a winter in a far-northerly European country one year, and the late dawn/early dusk was the hardest (especially in Nov/Dec when it was mostly overcast).

    21. just another day*

      Snow tires are worth every penny, leave three times the stopping distance you think you need (especially during the first storm of the year – everyone has to re-learn how to drive in the snow again), and the underside of bridges and overpasses freeze first, so even if the roads are clear the bridge /overpass can be icy.

      1. just another day*

        One last thought:
        Early in the season it is so easy to sit back and appreciate how pretty the snow is and to work around any snow that is in the way / minor inconvenience, but by if you don’t move it during those early storms it’ll harden all the way through and you’ll be stuck with it until March/April, so the snow we get in November and December is definitely the time to get out there and not be lazy no matter how much Netflix and hot chocolate is calling you!

        1. just another day*

          (and it piles up and up and up and that minor inconvenience can eventually block walkways and doors and then you can’t get your car in the garage or the mail carrier won’t deliver your mail). Living in New England is mostly wonderful, but we basically spend all year living through winter or preparing for it.

      2. oldbiddy*

        Amen to snow tires. A front wheel drive sedan with a low center of gravity and snow tires will often fare better than a big SUV without snow tires. I’m from CA originally but now I live in an areas with hills and snow. I drove my old Camry for 5 winters using snow tires. No problems. When I replaced it I got a Subaru but still ended up opting to buy snow tires after the first storm.

      1. D.W.*

        Great advice! I’m in a building with central boiler heat and when the temps dropped below 70 I was freezing!! Our building doesn’t turn on the heat until the temp is below 60. Buy a space heater.

    22. Diluted_Tortoise_Shell*

      I moved from NC to Maine and got stuck there 3 years. I say stuck because hubby and I pretty much instantly wanted to move away, but couldn’t afford to for a few years. NE is very expensive compared to the south, even the coasts have much lower prices then up there. Winters weren’t a problem for us (wear layers and keep a blanket in the car) but the culture just wasn’t for us (He is from the midwest, I”m from the south). We are both very liberal atheists so were honestly surprised that we struggled in this way up there. The main struggle we had, is that NE has a very different approach to strangers. At least in Maine 9 out of 10 folks wanted absolutely nothing to do with us for the 1st year. It made for a lonely and challenging living. It’s also dark from 9am to 4pm for a large block of winter – that was honestly harder than the snow for us since we got practically no sunlight. It was not the time for me to learn that I am more dependent on the sun for my mood than the average person!

      I also had a bit more trouble with the culture, because for some reason the civil war/slavery got brought up a surprising amount (think someone hangs up after speaking with a customer with a southern accent and then the civil war/slavery/southerners are all idiotic bigots conversations would start up). It was very upsetting to constantly be torn down because of where I am from. Some workplace incidents were so bad (Portland, Maine) that I even turned folks into HR and they received warnings and diversity training. Eventually I just stopped trying to correct folks on their misconceptions – in their mind we were all hillbillies riding around with confederate flags and shotguns in our pick-up truck windows and that was that.

      I have heard good things about New Hamshire and Connecticut, that they are a bit more open to strangers compared to other places in New England. I also believe NH has much lower taxes then ME so hopefully that will help with the costs. Just be sure to research and budget, because food alone was a struggle for us in ME. Case in point I took a 10% pay cut to come to Missouri with hubby but my take home pay was 5% more because of the lower taxes and my disposable income went way, way up. Our grocery budget, rice, beans, mostly frozen fruit and veggies and some meat and fresh fruits/vegetables for 2 was $100 per week in Maine. $100 per week were we live now would cover prime rib, sea food, and organic fruit and veggies. Rent was also very expenses. We were dropping $800 per month to live above a methlab in one bedroom apt. Got a two bedroom down here in the revamped downtown for $600. Gas was just at $2.00 when we moved here, and we were paying $3.80 up there. Even state parks charged an entry fee in Maine, something I never saw in NC. If you want to spend the day hiking be prepared to drop a $40 entry fee, even more when we had out of state plates.

      1. KR*

        The state park thing in NH varies by state park but a lot of them have an entrance gate and then a back way in that you don’t pay. I lived in NH and rarely paid admission to any state park. NH has no income tax and no sales tax, but can have higher property taxes depending on your town. Rent is very high and it’s not a good market for renters.

      2. Red Arrow Diner*

        in their mind we were all hillbillies riding around with confederate flags and shotguns in our pick-up truck windows and that was that

        Wait, you’re not?

    23. NicoleK*

      Everyone has provided good tips for you already so I’ll only add one more suggestion. Make sure you don’t run out of windshield wiper fluid.

    24. another person*

      Second pair of pants for winter! That’s my key for really cold (Chicago) days when I have to be outside for a while (either walking dog or public transit waits). I look a little ridiculous, but honestly, even just throwing a pair of sweatpants on over my normal pants is a 1000x improvement in warmth levels (I mean, also with coat and scarves and hat). I can get to work and not be shivering for the next hour and instead actually get work done. I also recommend double gloves (I need gloves because I can’t walk the dog in mittens, which are supposedly warmer).
      Also puffy knee length coats are good. And thick scarves. Honestly, I can bundle up appropriately and not even be cold for half an hour of 0 degree (F) weather just fine. It’s the second pair of pants that does it and I recommend it 1000%.

      1. firebolt*

        Yes! I have a pair of pants that I wear over or instead of my regular pants just to make the walk to work. The first day I wore them, I wasn’t sure how well they worked–until I changed into just regular pants and walked across the street and felt the icy chill! If anything, they can be too warm (I wore them on a plane one time and suffered for that choice; I wouldn’t wear them indoors if there’s any heat). I’m sure there are options, but I have a pair from Uniqlo. They look like this but have the HEATTECH (doesn’t look like you can buy them right now, though). I’ve only tried the pants but they’re so great that I’d recommend anything from that collection.

        pants look like this: https://www.uniqlo.com/us/en/women-leggings-pants-400549.html?dwvar_400549_size=SMA002&dwvar_400549_color=COL08&cgid=women-leggings-pants#start=2&cgid=women-leggings-pants

        HEATTECH collection: https://www.uniqlo.com/us/en/women/heattech-collection

        I’ve been here five years and this last winter was the first year that I felt like I was completely satisfied with all my winter wardrobe items (partly because I didn’t have the money the first few years to get quality stuff). If you’re cold or uncomfortable, it’s probably your gear! Good luck!

  2. Anon for medical stuff*

    Yay got in early! I have a crooked toe problem and trying to decide if surgery is my best option. Basically, the third toe on my left foot is bent so that it swerves left and then back right, so it presses up against the second toe really hard to the point where the skin is constantly raw if I don’t wear bandaids around between them.

    I’m considering surgery, which the foot doctor said I would probably need at some point, sooner than I’d planned because I met my insurance deductible for the year already and wouldn’t have to pay for anything.

    Anybody have experience with similar issues or advice they could share? All is much appreciated!

    1. Namast'ay in Bed*

      I don’t have specific experience with this type of medical issue, but all I can say is that you shouldn’t live with constant/regular pain if you have a way (and the means) to fix it.

      I’ve had ankle surgery to fix something I thought “oh maybe I can live with this, do I realllly need to put myself through surgery”, and I don’t regret it one bit. You spend a lot of time on your feet, don’t force yourself to live with pain. Especially if it’s something the doctor says you’ll eventually need surgery for- that probably means it might get worse, fixing it now may mean you avoid a bigger procedure in the future.

      1. Anon for medical stuff*

        Thanks, it helps to hear from people who had more elective surgeries and don’t regret it! I’m mostly gritting my teeth at six weeks out of work, but I think it will be worth it in the long run.

    2. Undine*

      It’s good to do it when you max out your deductible, but plan for some additional expense that insurance won’t cover.

      1. Anon for medical stuff*

        Good point! I’ll be sure to check with my insurance company on exactly what will be covered.

    3. fposte*

      I don’t have toe stuff, but in general something like this can have effects all the way up–it’ll change your gait, and over the long term it can affect your back. So surgery earlier than later might be worth considering on those grounds.

      1. Anon for medical stuff*

        Yeah, that’s my bigger concern. It doesn’t hurt constantly, and it’s not bad when it does, but I’m concerned about it getting worse (my grandma has several really bad hammer toes that cause a lot of pain, and doctor said she really can’t do surgery at this point. Hadn’t really thought of back issues, but that scary too and something I definitely want to avoid. Thanks for the suggestions!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      You could check with a chiropractor to see if chiropractic will help. To save time/effort I would call and ask before making an appointment. You can frame it as, “Has the doctor had any experience with toes that are extremely crooked?” The answer you hear back should be a good, solid answer not a general, “Well, we can check you….”.

      1. Anon for medical stuff*

        My regular doctor (not the one I saw for my foot) also has a chiropractic office that I visit regularly, so I’ll ask about that next time I’m in. Appreciate the suggestion!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Maybe it’s a long shot but I like to try the non-invasive stuff first. Good luck! You will have to let us know how it goes.

          1. Anon for medical stuff*

            I would definitely rather avoid surgery, but the hang up is that I would need to have it by the end of September at the latest, due to some other scheduling factors, which doesn’t leave a lot of time for experimenting :/ I’ll keep you post though!

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Be sure to let the doc know the kind of time frame you are dealing with. He may shorten your learning curve on this one by telling you to go directly to surgery OR he may tell you that he can help you and he has had success with previous patients. A good chiro will tell you upfront.

    5. Cookie D'oh*

      My mom recently had surgery for a bunion and her second for was overlapping and laying on her big toe. The surgery too care of the bunion and straightened out the other toe.

      The first week she was in a cast up to her knee and had to use crutches and a knee scooter to get around. After that she got a boot and is able to get around better because she can walk by putting weight on her heel.

      She’s about 4 weeks into the six week recovery time and after that she gets physical therapy. She goes back in November for her other foot.

      She wishes she had gotten it done sooner than later. If you’re able to get the surgery and it’s covered by insurance, I would reccomended it.

      1. Trixie*

        I am contemplating bunion surgery but I’m not experiencing any real pain for discomfort. Just thinking corrective surgery is easier now than waiting. I think some folks get both feet done at the same time but maybe it depends on how severe the situation is.

        1. Cookie D'oh*

          My Mom’s situation was pretty bad. She’s a teacher and on her feet all day and was in as lot of pain at the end of the day. She’s on summer vacation now and should be healed up by the end of August.

          From seeing her, I think doing both feet at once would be difficult. I think you would need a wheelchair to get around. My Dad has some mobility issues himself so it would be difficult for him to help.

        2. Artemesia*

          Note that the magic word for insurance coverage is ‘pain’ as well as functional disability e.g. difficulty walking. Things that are not causing pain are often considered cosmetic and not covered.

      2. Anon for medical stuff*

        Ahh ick, recovery sounds not fun :( Walking is a pretty big part of my job, although I’m pretty sure my boss will be happy to give me s much desk work as he can to get me back sooner, but sounds like I’ll be out of work for quite a while. Best wishes for your Mom’s recovery!

    6. Andrea*

      Husband just had hammetoe surgery on his pinky toe two months ago. It caused him pain for years and he developed a bone spur on top of it-FUN!. With toes, the tendons and the bones can get out of whack and it only gets worse.

      His surgery was on a Wed. He was off his feet that weekend, seen on Monday and cleared to go back to work in a boot and with a cane. The healing is slow, but he now can see his foot not constantly hurting.

      Good luck.

      1. Wendy Darling*

        My younger brother had a hammer toe. A horse stood on his foot. It miraculously fixed his hammer toe.

        I do not recommend this course of treatment, alas.

        1. Anon for medical stuff*

          Ha that’s hilarious! And way cheaper- if mine was arched up, I might give it a shot, but it’s more cockeyed sideways. Maybe I should try playing soccer or something.

      2. Anon for medical stuff*

        The worst part is that I walk 4-5 miles a day for my job, which means that I would be out of work for ages (or at least it would feel like that since I’m currently at my parents’ house) and I’m not looking forward to that part. But then it will be done!

    7. Sled Dog Mama*

      I had bi-lateral 3rd and 4th mallet toes and 5th hammer toes. I had surgery to correct them 12 years ago.
      If the joints are not yet frozen (meaning that if there is still any flexibility when you use your fingers to straighten out the toe) I’d explore non surgical options like splinting. I was stuck with surgery because by the time I saw the doctor for it my joints were frozen, they also ended up shortening my toes as one of the contributing factors was my very long toes, they were all the same length.
      The best thing I can tell you is the recovery varies. I had both feet done in the same surgery but one hurt considerably more than the other and swelled more.
      You totally should not have to live with this issue though so and I have never regretted having my surgery.

      1. Anon for medical stuff*

        I can straighten it with my fingers, but there’s kind of a lump that still cockeyed out the side that I think is bone. When I saw a doctor and had it x-rayed, she said I would need surgery at some point, sooner than later.

        1. Sled Dog Mama*

          It sounds like you need the surgery to deal with that bony lump. Could you schedule the surgery for as late as possible, do non surgical between now and then to minimize the joint issue and have your doctor only deal with the lump.

          Something I forgot in my previous comment is make sure you know what they are going to do in surgery, the solution for a mallet toe is to fuse the joint. Also my toes had pins that keep them straight as they healed (held both joints straight) because my doctor used bio absorbing pins rather than the removable kind it took several years for me to get full range of motion back in the unaffected joint which had an effect on my gait.

    8. Belle di Vedremo*

      Are you at all interested in medical care a bit off the beaten path? I’d look for a physical therapist (or even a massage therapist with the right training) who does manual therapy for soft tissue alignment issues. Sometimes surgery is the best option, but once things are cut you can’t go back. I’d try other things, first. I’d look for training in cranio-sacral therapy, myo-fascial release, or orthopedic massage. Most (not all, but most) medical doctors don’t have experience with this kind of work so don’t think to recommend it. PTs and massage therapists often do have this training; the PT is also licensed to do evaluations in ways massage therapists often aren’t. Access to PTs varies by state; some are allowed to see patients directly, some are allowed to see only patients with a prescription, sometimes they can see you for X appts before needing a prescription, etc. A PT is more likely to take your insurance, too.

      Had a frozen shoulder for which surgery was suggested; was told I could expect to be able to lift my arm up over my head but not straight up afterwards. I went the other route and have full rotation again.

      If the best answer is still surgery, you’ll know you checked out other options. Once things are cut, there’s no going back.

      1. Anon for medical stuff*

        I am interested in trying other things, but a little short on time since I need to schedule the surgery for mid September at the latest to ensure that most of the follow up care would also happen before the end of the year, which only gives me about six weeks to try other options, so it’s kind of a now or never thing with surgery, unfortunately. :(

  3. LazyCat*

    My husband and I put an offer on a house on Thursday, and got a counter offer this morning! (Minor, acceptable changes) Now I’m looking at the calendar and realizing our probable 7 day due diligence period includes his birthday and his sister’s visit from out of state, and kicking myself for not asking for ten days of due-diligence. Oh well, it’ll work if it had to!

    1. Anna*

      If you haven’t accepted/rejected the counter yet, you can add the 10 days as well and have the agent pass on the explanation.

      1. LazyCat*

        That’s what we ended up doing! (no answer yet) The sellers were openly flexible about the changes they’re requesting, so hopefully they’ll be open to this change too.

      1. Anna*

        That is where you have a home inspector come out and look for termites, code violations, leaky roofs, and other stuff that needs to be fixed. You make a counter offer after the inspection of things you want to be repaired prior to closing or if you want a price break.

    2. Sled Dog Mama*

      Glad you realized that. We’re in the middle of selling our house and because of how everything has worked out everything got signed late on Friday and the due diligence period included the weekend and a national holiday. Our buyers didn’t get some of their reports until three days after the end of the period (fortunately nothing came up soot was a non issue) but it’s not like they didn’t know when they submitted the offer Thursday night that the following Tuesday was a national holiday.

  4. Lynn*

    I generally only lurk on this website, but you all are so well informed I’m going to throw this out into the internet and see what comes back.

    My husband and I are under contract for a house purchase. A few weeks after the contract was ratified (and, of course, after we terminated our lease in anticipation of moving) we learned the seller has a reverse mortgage obligation that is 30k more than the sales price/appraisal price of the home. We’re being told that our contract is being submitted to HUD for approval, and a new appraisal will be done.

    My internet research this am suggests that a seller can owe no more than 95% of the home’s value in a reverse mortgage situation, so as long as this new appraisal is within a reasonable distance of the appraisal we had done by our mortgage bank.

    Anyone have any thoughts? Or insight as to how long it takes for HUD to review something like this? This is our first home purchase, and we feel pretty out of our depth for what our options are. All we know is that we probably aren’t actually closing on Monday!!

    1. Blue Anne*

      I haven’t done one of these myself, but I’m a little bit of a real estate investor and have seen a number of other people do them.

      Short sales can take a really long time to get approval from the lender. It is totally ridiculous that you weren’t told about this situation before you even looked at the house. If you end up out of pocket a lot on getting housing lined up, I’d be looking for the seller to cover that cost, frankly.

      You may want to post this question on the BiggerPockets forum. There are a ton of people there with very specific knowledge on this.

      1. Lynn*

        Thanks – I definitely will. It’s easy to find information on short sales, but less common when the shortness is due to a reverse mortgage and even less so when the seller entered into a contract first!

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      So it’s a short sale? If so, those can take months to get approved by the seller’s lender. Your agent should be explaining all this to you, and advising you on what to do!

  5. Hometown Bound?*

    I have to decide soon whether or not to move back to my hometown and…I’m really torn. I’ve been telling people I will be moving back this year and my family are all really excited. And I thought I was, too. Until I took a trip back to visit them.

    See, my family has problems. I am very different from them (I am liberal, they are conservative, I am middle class they are all deep in poverty – as was I growing up, they are religious and I’m not, so on and so forth). There are also some pretty unhealthy relationships. My mother lives with my grandparents to take care of them but she is deeply unhappy there but won’t leave because my grandfather is our Patriarch and has a strong hold on the family. I’m very close to him but I think our relationship would suffer if I was there, in person, for the same reason’s my mother’s relationship with him has. My sister suffers from severe mental illness and drug addiction and is homeless. My extended family isn’t much better.

    The thing is, I want to be part of their lives. I miss my mom and my sister and my grandparents and my nephew is growing up largely without knowing me. That is all why I decided to move back to my hometown despite 10 years of living away. But, I am worried about how I will handle all of this if I go back. I can distance myself from their troubles and the worry and stress it causes me by being physically distant. I live about 12 hours away and work keeps me from going back more than once or twice every two years. But if I am in town I’ll be expected to see everyone every few weeks.

    I just feel torn. I know I don’t want to stay in the town I live now but if I move somewhere else that isn’t my hometown, I feel like they’ll be disappointed and I’ll be letting them down. But if I move back to my hometown I worry I’ll be unhappy.

    1. CityMouse*

      For what it’s worth I don’t think you have to live in the same town as your family to be involved in their lives. I live on the other side of the country from my sister and we still talk on the phone multiple times a week and go on trips together. My nephew spent the summer with my parents and so they still spend time with him, even though he lives far away. I would also say I am very close to my aunts/uncles who I only saw 1-2 times a year when I was a kid. I still have relationships with them as an adult.

      I know a lot of people who actually have a better relationship with their families at a distance, and it kind of sounds like you are one of those people. Moving home could potentially damage your relationship with them if it becomes too much and you end up fighting with them.

      1. Hometown Bound?*

        To be fair, I do talk to them regularly on the phone with the exception of my nephew. He was born deaf and so we cannot talk on the phone and he’s too young for texting, etc.

        I don’t think we would fight…I think it would just stress me out to an extreme degree.

          1. Paquita*

            Second this! If you don’t sign it’s a good time to learn. If he isn’t learning to sign that is a problem.

    2. Junior Dev*

      Can you move to a city that’s an hour or two drive away from them? Them you could visit on weekends but wouldn’t be quite so tied down to them.

      1. Hometown Bound?*

        Unfortunately it is either that town or 6+ hours away. There is nothing else in any direction except farmland and desert.

        1. Turtlewings*

          I was thinking exactly what Junior Dev said, sad that it’s not exactly an option, but hey, 6 hours is still a lot closer than 12. You could still be available for serious emergencies, 3-day weekends, and much easier for planned visits. I’ve been at 6-hours-from-parents and am now at 12-hours-from-parents and the 6-hour distance was WAY easier to work with. It would be easy to say you couldn’t get a job any closer (heck, it might even be true).

          Fwiw, I really sympathize with your dilemma. I’m very close to my family and miss them a lot, and yet it’s a relief to be further away from all their drama, especially as we grow further apart politically.

          1. teclatrans*

            I used live 6 hours from family I am very fond of, and I was able to visit 4-5 times per year. (3-day weekends were too intense for round-trip solo drives, but 4-day weekends worked, YMMV.) I think you would see a major increase in your ability to be present in your family’s lives over living 12 hours away.

            I think your gut and other indicators are telling you not to move home, while wishful thinking is trying to paint over the cracks.

            Will you enjoy living and building a life (career, partner, family, if any of those are your goals) in your hometown on its own merits, or is family all it has to offer? Do you like who you are when you are with family? Do you have the tools to set good boundaries and not be drained by family dynamics? Could you really go 2-3 weeks without seeing family, or would they expect more from you? What roles will they try to draw you into, and how will you deal with that?

        2. nonegiven*

          My son is 7 hours away and his cousin is 5 hours away and they both visit more than twice a year.

    3. Bibliovore*

      Okay- we moved back to my husband’s home town to be closer to family. We are sucked into the all of the drama and are seen as the emergency fund for all monetary crisis. Go to six Alanon meetings to see if that program is for you. If you can, delay the moving decision until you have reasonable boundaries that you can live with. What caught my eye was this “if I move somewhere else that isn’t my hometown, I feel like they’ll be disappointed and I’ll be letting them down.” I know this sounds harsh but “so what?” Imagine what your life will be like back in the home town. Your drug addicted sister living on your couch and you supporting her. Your mother’s health failing and you care-taking your patriarch. Your extended family surrounding you with disapproval about every belief at odds with their own.

      1. Hometown Bound?*

        No, I get it. It sounds miserable and I think it would be. But on the same hand: my mother is alone and struggling emotionally and physically with worry for my sister, care for my nephew and care of my grandparents. My grandparents are getting old and we’ll lose them one day probably sooner rather than later and my sister is literally homeless because no one else can take her in. This is my conflict: do I take care of the people that raised me and sacrifice my peace for their wellbeing as they did for me – or do I put my own sanity first and sacrifice them for my peace and wellbeing?

        I know to many people the answer would be obviously put myself and my health and sanity first, but I can’t help but feel horrible for that.

        1. Jerry Vandesic*

          Would you be OK with taking in your sister if you move? Since “no one else can take her in,” but you could, it sounds like you will be expected to provide for your sister. You should be comfortable with that, or willing to take on the conflict that could arise if you don’t take her in.

          1. Toxic Relative Survivor*

            Seriously, you need to step back and look at what you just wrote. OP’s sister is severely mentally ill, and you’re suggesting “would you be OK with taking in your sister if you move”? Due respect, but you need to think about the utter, unending Sisyphean hell that is living with someone who is that mentally ill. OP will never, ever get a respite if she does this. And outsiders like you who say, “oh, the ill person is family, you need to accommodate her” just don’t get it. Just because you’re family doesn’t mean you have to tolerate abuse.

            1. Julia*

              I don’t think that’s what Jerry meant. They asked if OP had a way of dealing with the expectation of taking sister in if OP moved closer.

            2. Jerry Vandesic*

              Slow down Toxic (very appropriate handle, BTW). The point is that others will be expecting the OP to take in the sister, and the OP will have to deal with that expectation. OP can deal with it by taking in the sister (not a good idea in my opinion, but I don’t think OP should move back in first place), or by dealing with the fallout from the family if OP doesn’t take her in. Neither are good options, which is why I would recommend not moving back.

        2. Undine*

          You likely can’t save them even if you sacrifice yourself. There are ways to help, and you are probably doing some of them. If it feels like it’s not enough, it’s because nothing will be enough. And you will never stop feeling guilty.

        3. Belle di Vedremo*

          What would an answer that puts yourself, your health, and your sanity first and then for what you can for them after that look like? It’s in the “put your own oxygen mask on first” category, which isn’t the same as “sacrificing them for my peace and wellbeing.” I can’t see a way to sacrifice yourself that is helpful to them in the long run; to be helpful you’ll need to be in good shape yourself.

          Have you thought about a consultation with a CPA with experience helping individuals looking at elder care and other family issues, to get ideas about pathways to take care of yourself while setting aside money for others in ways that are sustainable?

          Have you thought about a consult with someone with experience helping others through the kinds of concerns you have for your own family, and finding ways to walk with them, not for them? What kinds of things might be most helpful for your mom, for your sister, etc? Are you willing to house your sister for the rest of your lives? Are you willing to kick her out if you feel you have to? I see the second as a lot harder on both of you than helping her to an alternative in the first place.

          Your concerns are valid and important to consider, for your own wellbeing and that of those you love. Getting support and advice is smart, generous, and kind. Good for you for asking these questions, and good for your family, too.

          They raised you, and want the best for you.

        4. nonegiven*

          You can’t support the whole family. There is home health, assisted living, hospice. You don’t have to be the one providing all the care, you can help without getting sucked in.

          I have a cousin that has been on drugs so often, her own mother won’t let her visit for even a few minutes. Can you get your mother into alanon? You will have to draw a hard line with your sister and don’t let anyone push you over your line.

        5. Bibliovore*

          I hear what you are saying so…that is why the Alanon meetings. Just try six meetings. In my mid twenties, I was living in MY home town. I had no life of my own…caring for my baby niece, care-taking my drug addicted brother, care-taking my emotionally fragile mother, anxious, and depressed when I walked into those rooms for the first time. It did take six meetings before I understood that- I didn’t cause this situation, I can’t control this situation, and I can’t cure it.

        6. neverjaunty*

          You are weighting the question to make one answer (moving back) seem like the only moral choice. Ask yourself why you have to push so hard to make this seem like a good decision.

        7. teclatrans*

          Did they sacrifice their peace for your well-being? Did they make you feel like a burden? Do you feel like you got away to save yourself, but that was the selfish choice and now you have to go back and take up your burden?

          Those are all just stabs in the dark, but I agree with others that there may be some boundary issues at play.

          I think I can relate to some of your dilemma. My mom spent years looking after my grandmother while holding a full-time job, and they both involved lots of commute time. She is on her own and I am far away, and I sometimes felt guilty that I wasn’t more of a help. But she never laid a guilt trip on me, and I contributed when I visited. What helped was that she is an independent, capable woman and when things were too much, she looked into options (eldercare, hiring someone to come in for a couple of hours three times a week to clean and handle other light work, etc.) Are you in a position to help pay for that kind of support? If not, could living in the 6-hour location help you begin to meet a goal to get into that position? And if your mom and/or grandfather reject these solutions because it’s the daughter’s/granddaughters duty, then that’s on them, a choice they are making that’s rooted in patriarchy and possibly codependent — you are allowed to offer the help that keeps you sane, and set limits.

          One last point. I think the modernist emphasis on the individual can have some problematic aspects when it comes to the relationship of the individual to the collective. I think it is admirable that you are considering the needs of your lived ones, and it sounds like you have strong positive feelings for your family despite the issues that weigh on you. But you do not have to, in fact you just not, sacrifice yourself at the altar of family. That will eat you up, grind you down, and leave you struggling too. There is a description if sympathy vs. empathy that seems apt here — one is lying at the top of the hole and calling down to give comfort and help them climb out and/or get help, while the other is climbing down into the hole with them. From your description, it sounds like moving home would be climbing down into the pit with them?

        8. Toxic Relative Survivor*

          @Homeward Bound: your mother and other relatives *made a choice* to be where they are. Your life is yours. Being a family does NOT mean entering into a suicide pact.

          This decision should be an easy one. You have mentally ill family who are begging you to move to a hometown that, frankly, sounds isolated, without a lot of economic opportunity. Don’t kid yourself. You’re going to get sucked into their drama. You are NOT going to be able to rise above it. Mentally ill people have to WANT help.

          You are NOT going to maintain that middle-class lifestyle you mentioned above, because the economic opportunities are likely not there, and your skills will atrophy, and employers are NOT going to be forgiving about mentally ill relatives .

          You should not make this move. You know this (“it sounds miserable and I think it would be”), and people ’round these parts are unwilling to tell you so bluntly for fear of appearing rude or unkind or rocking the boat.

          You know how on pre-flight safety demos on airplanes they always say, “put on your oxygen mask first, then assist others.” That’s what you need to do here. It is NOT horrible to put your own well-being first. On the contrary, that honors the sacrifice that your family made to get you OUT of that environment. If you reinsert yourself into that environment, that sacrifice and your accomplishments until now will have been in vain. I implore you: don’t do this.

          I’d suggest you check out a book called TOXIC PARENTS by Susan Forward for a much lengthier treatment of issues like this.

    4. MissDissplaced*

      Run. Stay away. Or if you must, move to a large city within the region that is “close enough for holidays but far enough for everyday.”

      I’ve been there, done that. Remember why you left in the first place?

      1. Hometown Bound?*

        I wish there was a closer city that wasn’t there. That would be a good option but, as is, I’m in the nearest city and I’m nearly 12 hours away. Everything else is desert and farmland.

        Most of these issues have come up since I left. When I was there I was a lot like them. I changed after I left and I like who I am now but it means I don’t fit with them. But how do I not go back and help them when it is so clear they need help?

        1. WellRed*

          If these issues have cropped since you left, do you have any experience of daily life with an addict, one so bad she’s actually homeless? Ymmv, but expect heartbreak, frustration, manipulation, and money drain.

          1. Hometown Bound?*

            I do have that experience and, unfortunately (fortunately?) her homelessness is a result of her mental health issues – addiction came tertiary as a result of looking for ways to “cope.” Not that it changes the end situations which is a mentally unstable person, homeless and addicted to drugs, but….

            My heart breaks for her daily. My heart broke when I told her she couldn’t come live with me where I live now unless she was willing to immediately enter intensive treatment for both drug addiction and mental health care. I had to stop sending her money years ago because it never went where it was supposed to go. I know if I end up back there she will be my biggest hurdle. My grandparents I can manage – I just want to see them more before I lose them. My mother really just needs a little relief and I can help there (and goad the rest of the family in a way she can’t or won’t into helping more) and everyone else is easy enough to ignore.

            1. TL -*

              If she won’t go into therapy to live you with and get stable, she’s not going to get better because you’re closer, either. It’s unfortunate, but honestly, it sounds like the most you can do is offer support for the decisions to get healthier and you can do that just as well from 12 hrs away as 5 minutes away.

              1. Toxic Relative Survivor*

                ^One thousand times this. Your sister is a drowning person. Like many drowning people, they’ll clutch onto anything they can, including you. She’s a drowning person WHO WILL TRY TO TAKE YOU WITH HER. Don’t let that happen.

                You have ZERO moral obligation to let that happen. ZERO.

            2. Em*

              Do not discount that fact that offering to let her live with you while undergoing treatment is HUGE. AND SHE SAID NO. They need help, you want to help, but will they accept the help you are willing to give or will they insist on help that drains you and doesn’t get them out of their situations?

        2. Rebecca*

          I think you should stay away. Trying to help them will pull you down. There are agencies that can help with elder care. In PA, it’s the Office of the Aging. The grandparents could get a caseworker, and they can get help with care. You can’t fix your sister. She has issues well beyond your ability to care for her, and this is a terrible thing. Again, maybe you could help to find a caseworker, could she get into a group home, that type of thing?

          I’m not being heartless. Yes, it’s clear they need help, but I don’t think you are obligated to the the one providing the actual help. There are agencies who can address the issues, and maybe that’s how you can help the most, by getting the family members in contact with those people.

        3. MindoverMoneyChick*

          I can’t speak to all of the issues your family is facing, but here’s one thing I know for sure. There’s nothing you can do to truly help your sister with the addiction. You can pour all of yourself into her, and it will just drain you with no benefit to her. Maybe there is something you can do that would truly benefit your mom – it’s hard to tell. But think long and hard about that. If you trade your peace and sanity to help them, will it actually help them in a substantive way as opposed to making everyone feel better for the moment.

          You seem quite clear that this would be a sacrifice on your part, something you would do for the greater good, but at a personal loss. Make sure there really is a greater good to be gained.

    5. But first, coffee*

      My family and I are very similar to yours in terms of socio-economic status and political and religious beliefs.

      I actually did move back to my hometown a few years ago. It didn’t take me very long to realize that it was not a great move. I was deeply unhappy but kept trying to make everything work. I am one of those people who does have a better relationship with her family at a distance, and vice versa. I moved last year and I’m currently thriving in my new city (close to the distance you currently live).

      I’m not saying that moving back to your hometown would be a mistake; if anything, I think you should reflect on this carefully and take what CityHouse said into consideration. Moving 3 hours away where you can still visit on occasion may be a better option for you. But the one thing I want to point out is that you are concerned with disappointing them, which means you feel guilt about not fulfilling an expectation they have or that you think they have. That’s people pleasing, and it’s not a way to live. You have to make yourself a priority. Yes, it may involve slightly valuing yourself over your family but bending over backwards to cater to their needs and expectations will likely wear you down and make you unhappy.

      1. Hometown Bound?*

        I know and I agree. It is a weird dynamic in our family. We are very much raised to always put The Family first. In everything. Always. At all times. It was a big break for me to move away – no one else ever has and I can tell when I talk to a few cousins they want to, but won’t. It has been 11 years now and I still feel that draw.

        1. But first, coffee*

          Good for you for being the one to make the leap! You aren’t responsible for the members of your family who choose what they choose. You are responsible for yourself, and you can make decisions for yourself. I imagine that your family was probably hurt when you did move away. Maybe someone or several people tried to guilt trip you or said things that made you feel guilty shortly after you did move. But at the end of the day, they are your family and they will love you no matter what decisions you make. I mean, you wouldn’t stop caring about someone in your family for a decision you didn’t agree with, would you?

          1. Hometown Bound?*

            The guilt didn’t come when I first moved away. I first moved for college and I was the first in my family to attend so there was a lot of pride/pressure to succeed. The guilt came when I didn’t return after college.

        2. Toxic Relative Survivor*

          So you have to decide what’s more important: tradition, or your own well being.

          At the risk of an armchair diagnosis, some people in this situation (“put The Family first”) may be suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It’s not uncommon for people with NPD to suffer from other mental illnesses as well.

          While it’s said that mental illness is not contagious, I actually disagree in many ways. I can’t pin this one on science; call it my one faith-based initiative. But you would not move into a house with live Ebola patients; so you shouldn’t move into a house with live NPD patients, either. “Family” does not mean “suicide pact.”

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Sometimes when we are not there to see the day-to-day we can tend to idealize what living nearby would be like. Use that trip back as a reality check.

      You can be a part of their lives with the phone and Skype. You can have your nephew come stay with you for a week during the summer.

      While it is true that they will feel let down if you chose not to move, please consider the ways that they have let you down. A big one was your need to move away in the first place.

      If your goal is to see them every few weeks you can make more of a point to call them or email them. They are who they are and they are not likely to change. You are who you are and it’s reasonable to think that they will expect you to change.

    7. Liz*

      Run. Spend the money to have the neice’s and nephews visit you. It will open their eyes to what is possible. And visit more, but don’t live there. Usually I don’t give adcice this so strongly, it is your life, but find other ways to be in their lives.

      Read Hillbilly Elegy. Support them from a distance and be the role model the author of this book never had.

      1. Hometown Bound?*

        Man I wish my nephew could come stay with me. That would take out a lot of the guilt I feel. I feel like he’s some innocent in this family of chaos and I’m not there to provide some stability. Unfortunately due to a nasty custody situation he cannot leave the state and I live out of state.

        Thanks for the recommendation to read the book – I’ll pick it up.

        1. TootsNYC*

          He cannot leave the state even for a visit? That seems weird.
          If you want him to come for a one-week vacation (or two-week), look into pushing back on that. I can’t believe the courts wouldn’t allow it.

          Or, if he can’t, then arrange to spend that same time with him, but visit some other city in his state. My best friend takes her nie-phews on trips to other cities.

          1. Hometown Bound?*

            Yea it is a really complex and ugly situation involving multiple levels of custody disputes and state appointed guardians. Things got ugly really quickly and given that neither of his parents are at all qualified to raise children, they never really got better.

            1. TootsNYC*

              He’s 11–very, very soon it’s going to become a very compelling argument that this restriction is grossly unfair –to him–.

              He is a human being who is being hampered by restrictions on HIS movement. I can’t believe a state-appointed guardian–especially one whose role is to advocate FOR HIM (as opposed to for his parents, or grandparents, etc.)–couldn’t make that case.

              Age 12 is often a time when judges start to pay attention to a child’s wishes (as opposed to his guardians’). And a wish on his part for a VISIT out of state could be argued as having a far lower stake than permanent residency or custody.
              And the older your nephew gets, the more he will be able to argue in front of a judge for what HE wants, and against the restrictions this ruling places on HIS choices for HIS life. (A summer spent with you at age 16–working, perhaps? bagging groceries at the local grocery store in YOUR neighborhood?–could provide him with a huge boost to get away from the dysfunction and to see how the rest of the world works. If he had a plan like that, I can’t see how the courts coudl argue against him. Note: him, not you, not parents or grandparents. Him. This is his life, and restricting his travel is something he’ll be able to increasingly argue against as unfair to HIM.)

              If you move back, you won’t be able to provide that sort of stability, alternate-relative surroundings.

              Just something to think about.
              And of course, maybe you can go on vacation in-state! It would still be a concentrated dose of time with you to build that relationship.

        2. neverjaunty*

          If you’re there, you will not be proving stability. You will be sucked into the drama and miserable. You will be a living example to your nephew that there is no way out; even you, the one who got away, came back. You will not be able to have texts or chats from Somewhere Else and you will not have a place he can go visit.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Agreed. There are more of them than there are of you. The odds are stacked against you.

          2. Toxic Relative Survivor*

            +1111111. If there’s truly no way out of the guardianship situation now (I’m mildly skeptical, but what do I know), have him come to you the instant he turns 18.

        3. Perse's Mom*

          From the sound of it, there’s not much of anything you can do for the vast majority of your family – addicts need to WANT help (you offered, she decline), you can’t cure their poverty by beggaring yourself, and unless you convince your mother to move in with you in your current town, you can’t alter her situation enough to significantly ease her burden.

          On the other hand, have you considered or explored the possibility of trying to gain custody of your nephew yourself? If neither of his parents are considered qualified by the state, perhaps the state would be happy to have a close relative who lives well outside of and away from the ugly situation raise him?

          It would maybe complicate relationships with other members of the family (though some of them might be grateful, too!), but it sounds like you’re pretty well immunized from all but the guilt simply by being so far away, and it would benefit your nephew SO MUCH to be with someone who loves him and prioritizes his well being and can provide for him.

          1. Jean (just Jean)*

            This might work out well for the nephew–if it’s also truly workable for you, Homeward Bound. Maybe a good social worker or family lawyer can advise you re what to expect, how to prepare for it, and maybe even whether there’s any financial help available…?
            Perhaps it would give your relatives (other than the nephew’s father) some comfort to know that he is with family rather than strangers…but I could be way off the mark here. All I know about addiction is that it can produce badly tangled thinking. (So can depression.)
            I also want to send you good wishes, and to second Perse’s Mom’s comment that “you can’t cure their poverty by beggaring yourself.” I would add that this should mean both financially and emotionally beggaring yourself. You can’t destroy yourself trying to save other people.

    8. As if*

      I used to live on the other side of the country from my family. It was too far. I now live about 2.5 hours away and it works well. I can drive over for the day, and I do so about once a month. But I’m far enough away to avoid the drama.

      I also second the suggestion for boundary setting. I used EAP through work for a few sessions with a therapist to help me process what boundaries I needed, and strategies for enforcing them.

      It’s hard to be away from family, but I hope these responses encourage you to think of alternatives to hometown vs. 12 hours away.

    9. Nynaeve*

      1. Aside from your family situation, do you like your hometown? What are the work opportunities like? Do you like the neighborhoods? Does it have the types of entertainment and shopping options you prefer?

      2. In an ideal world where you get to choose, how much contact, and what kinds of contact, do YOU want with your family? It sounds like you want more contact than you have now. What do you miss? Parties and get-togethers? Conversations? Hanging out? Updates on family news? Maybe you could send postcards or schedule calls every couple of weeks. Maybe find a new job that would allow you to attend more of the reunions. Maybe host a picnic at a park halfway between your respective cities, if transportation would be feasible for them.

      It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing situation. Compromise is a part of life. Just don’t feel like you have to be the only one doing the compromising.

      1. Toxic Relative Survivor*

        “It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing situation. Compromise is a part of life. Just don’t feel like you have to be the only one doing the compromising”

        With due respect, “compromise is a part of life” is wonderful if you have a normal family. With mentally ill relatives, it’s quite different (and really, in all honesty I wish you’d bone up on what survivors of toxic family situations go through before you offer platitudes like this). No contact or very little contact — not “compromise” — is often the best solution in these cases.

        And if likes her current job, she should DEFINITELY not be “finding a new job” to inject herself into the drama.

        OP, you ESCAPED from this situation. You have nothing to be ashamed of. On the contrary, that’s something to be PROUD of.

    10. Sam Foster*

      What am I missing? I see nothing compelling about your family that you would want to spend time with them. I understand if you are missing intimate bonds to worthwhile people but you should find those elsewhere instead of hoping your family can be that.

      Regardless, you’re already unhappy even considering this, it’ll only get worse from here if you choose to pursue it.

    11. Temperance*

      What do YOU want to do? This doesn’t sound like something that will make you happy, just something you might do out of guilt.

      What are your career prospects there? Will you be forced to become a caregiver? Will you have opportunities for friendships and romantic relationships there?

    12. Nana*

      One thing I find helpful is to sit down, calm down…and try to picture your life in five years. Where would you like to be, both physically and emotionally, at that time. What kind of relationship would you like to have with them in five years? How much responsibility (physical, emotional, financial)?

    13. nonegiven*

      You have to live where you can work. If you want to be closer but you’re afraid of getting too close, look for work in a larger city that’s close enough you can visit more often but not so close that you have to visit every weekend.

      My son thinks he has just the right distance. He comes up for 3 day weekends, Thanksgiving and Christmas. He isn’t really close enough to drive up every weekend, it would be have dinner, hang out, go to bed, get up, have breakfast and get back on the road. Not really worth the trip.

    14. buzzbattlecat*

      Captain Awkward has some wonderful, detailed advice about boundaries, families and self care.

    15. Peanut*

      Hometown Bound, I have read through the 38 comments, from others (100% against your moving back home) and your responses, and it struck me that perhaps you are seeing a return home as being greeted with thanks and praise by your family.

      You sound sure that you will be personally unhappy if you return; you also sound like you think that is an acceptable sacrifice, in order to exchange their guilt trips on you for their approval.

      Listen carefully, Hometown Bound: no matter what choice you make, it will never be the right one for your family. You will never be doing enough. You could give and give, and they will still want more.

      Don’t believe me? Try this: instead of moving back home, for one year just live the 6 hours away. You have halved your distance to them, so double your usual number of visits. Heck, triple them or more – visit home once or twice every two months, instead of every two years. Is your increased engagement with your family greeted with thanks and happiness? I think it won’t be, and that instead you’ll get deep sighs and, “if only you could be around all the time.”

      Moving back home will not make them happy and satisfied. It will only make you unhappier.

      1. Hometown Bound?*

        I actually don’t think there will be anything like thanks and praise. That simply isn’t how we operate. But I think I would feel less guilty because at least I’d be there? Trying to help?

        1. Bibliovore*

          So the question is…why the crippling guilt? Why do you think you are the one who can “fix” this situation? Your super power seems to be empathy. Can you take vacation time and give your mom respite from caretaking? Can you throw some money at the situation? How old is the nephew? Can you set up a fund to help with his health and educational needs?

        2. Bagpuss*

          I can understand the impulse, but like others, I think you would be sacrificing your own peace of mind and happiness and in a ll probability, you wouldn’t significantly improve things for other family members.
          Also, bear in mind that as things stand (and also if you move to the 6 hour distant city) you are setting an example for your younger family members. You are showing them that there is a way out of the poverty and other issues, that it is possible to succeed and move on. I think that’s a valuable thing.

          I don’t see anything in your posts saying that you want to go back, just that you feel you should. I think that there is a real risk that if you do move back, you are going to end up feeling resentful and unhappy because you’ve sacrificed yourself , and even if your family have not explicitly asked you to go back, you’re likely to feel resentful of them because they are why you moved.

          I’d suggest that you move to the nearer city so you can visit more frequently, but don’t move back to your old hometown.

          Consider whether there ware things you can do to help your family, as you clearly feel that you should – this might involve (for instance) paying for help such as respite care or cleaning, to give you Mom a break, or allow her to visit you (and if necessary supporting her to encourage your grandfather to allow her to accept that help), inviting relatives to visit you. (If you move to the 6 hours away city, would that be in state?)

          You were unhappy going back for a visit. Don’t put yourself in the position of moving back full time,. It won’t get better.

      2. Toxic Relative Survivor*

        “Listen carefully, Hometown Bound: no matter what choice you make, it will never be the right one for your family. You will never be doing enough. You could give and give, and they will still want more.”

        Bingo. This is absolutely how narcissists operate.

    16. Anonymous Prostate*

      I, too, read all the comments here. I do not mean to “pile on”, but it feels like you need support for not moving back. I think you really don’t need help deciding whether or not to move back. You need help coping with the guilt you’re feeling about deciding not to move back.

      Trying to be objective:

      – if you move back, you will not be enhancing your ability to help them.

      – if you move back, you’ll be unhappy. Perhaps profoundly unhappy. Belle De Vedremo mentioned putting on your own oxygen mask first. I believe that is a completely apt metaphor.

      – You mentioned that moving back might damage your close relationship with your grandfather. Frankly, this alone would count as a very good reason to not move back.

      I think I understand your sense of obligation to your family – I’ve been shocked to see how casually some people will cut off a relative over something trivial. But that is not the case here with you.

      Honestly? I think you need to find a friend or counselor who will help you deal with the guilt that is being dumped on you. And perhaps this friend can help you develop an effective plan for you to help your family that does not require your unhappiness.

      Again: you’ve asked whether or not to move back, but I think the answer is a fairly obvious “no”. I think the real issue is that you need support for making a correct but unpopular decision.

      Good luck with this.

      1. Windchime*

        Counseling is a great idea. I have a family situation that is very similar to yours, HB. I have a mentally ill, drug-addicted sister, another sister who has been sponging off our elderly parents for years, and a drug-addicted nephew who is in and out of jail, steals, lies, punches holes in walls, and doesn’t see or support his preschool children. It’s a huge mess. I used to try to help with money, support, listening to the endless sad stories and excuses on the phone, etc. But not any more.

        There isn’t enough love or money in the world to fix this problem. If love were enough to fix my sister or my nephew, they’d have been fixed long ago. If money were enough, they’d all be stable and working and contributing to society. I realized that parts of my family are like drowning people who are compelled to stay in the deep water; if I go out to try to save them, I will be pulled under as well. And because the constant drama of being around people like this is so exhausting, it’s possible that I would be of no help shortly after arriving.

        I understand the feelings of guilt. I struggle with it daily. But as others have said, maybe your way of helping will be to make arrangements for social services or treatment or whatever. But no matter how much love and money you pour into this situation, it will never be enough. And that’s a sad truth.

  6. Ruthie Rather Not*

    We have to put a new roof on our house and I’m feeling so bummed that we can’t use that money for something more fun – like upgrading our kitchen or bathroom. Anyone have any tips on how not to be resentful about things that have to get done?

    1. self employed*

      Sounds silly, but reframe it with gratitude. I’m grateful I have the money to put on a new roof! Yes, it would be more fun to do something else, but it would be worse to go into debt for it…

      1. Bibliovore*

        yes. often my list of gratitudes consist of –
        I have a roof over my head
        food in the fridge
        and clean clothes to wear

        1. nep*

          Amen. Same. I say every day — hey, I woke up and I’m getting around fine. House. Food. Grateful.

      2. TootsNYC*

        in that list of things to be grateful for:

        Be grateful that you found out about fixing the roof now, and not later when the roof beams and ceiling beams had rotted.

        And one last thing: You can’t slap a new coat of paint on a roof and fix what’s wrong with it. And few of us can do the repairs to a roof ourselves.

        But you can freshen the bathroom w/ new paint or new fixture, and a kitchen with new appliances or a new set of kitchen towels.

        Some people can even learn how to set tile themselves, and do a new backsplash, a new floor, or maybe even their entire bathroom.

        1. Nx*

          My sweetie taught himself to lay tile through research online and YouTube videos. A lot of how-to stuff is more accessible than ever before.

    2. blackcat*

      I’m still upset about spending 5k on a sill plate. At least a roof is something you can look at….

      So, no, no tips. Just commiseration.

        1. blackcat*

          No, that’s the cost of having the house put up on jacks, a giant, rotted, giant piece of wood taken out, a bit of foundation repair, a new, giant piece of wood put in, and better drainage done around that side of the house to avoid a recurrence of the problem.

          Most of the costs was labor (carpenter, masons), and that was a level of home repair that we really needed experts. It actually wasn’t that bad compared to some prices I saw online.

          1. fposte*

            Aha. I figured it probably was a domino-effect thing, but I didn’t realize that “sill plate” was the technical term for that big ol’ horizontal piece of framing. That makes more sense.

    3. Thlayli*

      My husband once said to me when I was freakin’ about house stuff “it is not in the nature of a house to ever be finished”. When I was freaking about wedding stuff he said “its in the nature of a wedding for things to go wrong”.

      I can’t really articulate why but for some reason Both of those things made me stress far less.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        It’s the change in expectations.

        Houses break.
        Cars break.
        Weddings have things go wrong.

        When we change our expectations to include what really does happen, instead of looking at some ideal, we can let go of that ideal easier.

        My husband was a techie. He said when you buy a machine LOOK around first to see who will be repairing it. Machines break, that is what they do. It’s nice to have a good machine, but it’s critical to have a good repair person/department. I loved this because like you are saying here, I calmed right down about making major purchases.

        1. fposte*

          This is so true, and so hard to internalize. I think it’s also really easy also to assume that “perfect” is the general norm so that we’re being particularly hard done by to deal with imperfection, when in reality nobody’s experience is flawless.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Am chuckling. Sometimes I think all of life is a test, “How well do you handle it when things do not go the way they should?”

    4. danr*

      For the roof, think of all the rain that won’t be dripping or pouring into the house. It’s a grin and bear it situation. You’ll do the other renovations next year. :)

    5. Mela*

      Do you plan on selling in the next 10 years? Resale value? Knowing it’s done and it’ll be good to go for the next 20+ years?

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I hope this helps.

      I live in a 180 school house. School houses are famous for being slapped together and having all kinds of problems later on. My poor school house needed all kinds of help. So much so I did not know how to prioritize the work.

      My friend, who is contractor, had this pearl: There is a hierarchy, pecking order to repairing homes. You start with the foundation, make sure it is solid and make sure the beams under the house are solid. This is because there is no point to remodeling anything if the house is shifting around because of a bad foundation.

      Then you go to the roof. This is because there is absolutely no point in doing inside repairs/renovations if you have rain coming in on the new work. He also braced the roof in places that it needed help.

      We can’t see money we did not waste. If you repaired the bathroom and later found it raining in the bathroom you would realize how much money just got wasted on the repair. Take pride in knowing that future renovations are protected by a good roof.

      Your contractor should be able to tell you how long the roof will last, 25 years? maybe longer. And there should be a warranty on the work. So if you have a problem within a year you can get it repaired for free. If you do have a problem BE SURE to call him back. This is part of how you get the most value for your dollars spent.

      If you think of house repair as a check list and think of it as working down a check list it might make things easier for you.

    7. Gaia*

      Well, if you spent the money on a kitchen instead of a roof, think of how ruined your fancy new kitchen would be when the roof failed?

    8. kms1025*

      Look at it this way…if you did your kitchen, or any other interior makeover, your bad roof would ruin it. You’ve got to secure the outside before you can improve the inside.

    9. TootsNYC*

      If you ever sell, you can say, “new roof!” Which could translate into a higher price, or a faster sale.

      And remember that you are preserving the integrity of the structure itself. So it’s like you’re taking care of a serious health problem, but not buying jewelry.

    10. TootsNYC*

      Can you find something inexpensive but fun to do in either of those rooms?

      A fresh coat of paint, maybe in a new color, or new kitchen towels?
      Something that -seems- splurgy but isn’t?

      Or something low-level splurgy? Like a new backsplash, or an inexpensive but not-dinged counter?

    11. Ruthie Rather Not*

      Thank you all for the great advice. Shifting perspective helps, and a little splurge to freshen up the rest will help too!

    12. Lady Bug*

      When I had to get a new oil burner, I took pictures of it and demanded my friends tell me it was pretty. I also made a few look at it when they visited to tell me it was pretty. At least you can see a roof when you are outside. Go up and hang out on it once and awhile (if its one story). It’ll be a new outdoor space!

      1. TootsNYC*

        Bonus: Some of your friends may need the information or background you provide.

        But yes, treat it like the major achievement it is–something to be proud of.
        Look at you–you are like 1950s homeowners!

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Your oil burner is GORGEOUS! Wow. What a great oil burner! ;)

        I just got a new one too. Yeah. I had to put in a new chimney liner… then I found the oil tank was leaning….
        You know what, I have a GORGEOUS oil burner also! ha! It’s going to reduce my heating costs by 40%. This will be my oil burner’s Christmas present to me every year.

  7. This too shall pass*

    So I have been diagnosed with shingles. It was caught early. The meds worked but I still have debilitating pain. The medical advice is to take pain meds and avoid stress. So the weekend is sitting on the porch reading the new Michael Connelly and AAM.
    Big work stuff coming up next week. Trying to stay in today. Any light netflix or hulu recommendations? I like tv shows like law and order and ncis, but not criminal minds. I like science fiction but don’t have the patience or attention span to catch up on Dr. Who. I loved shows like Eureka and Warehouse 13. Is there anything new like those shows or old that I might have missed.

    1. CityMouse*

      SciFi:
      Stargate SG1 – occasionally dark, but often a more fun Sci-Fi show. The tone is significantly different from the movie it’s a spinoff of, you might consider just reading the plot of it on Wikipedia. A lot of “planet of the week” episodes.
      Dark Matter – against sometimes dark, but mostly fun science fiction show about a group of people who wake up on a spaceship having lost their memories.

      Mysteries:
      Psych – People are pretty divided on this, you either find the main character annoying or not. But a very silly mystery show.
      Death in Paradise – Very light fluffy BBC murder mystery series that takes place in the Caribbean.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          Atlantis is a bit less intimidating than SG1 since it’s only 5 seasons of 20 episodes each.

          1. Bibliovore*

            Stargate is right on the money. I have seen them all years ago but might be just what I need for short attention span and distraction

          2. CityMouse*

            True, I’d just be slightly concerned that it relies on a bit too much knowledge of SG1. But I do enjoy that show.

      1. Turtlewings*

        Ooh, seconding this!
        Also Brooklyn-99, which is on Hulu. Cop show, very light-hearted and funny, can be surprisingly deep. I think of it as “Scrubs for cops.”

      2. CorruptedbyCoffee*

        It took me 3 episodes to get into the swing of miss fisher, but then I loved it. I can’t wait for the movies :)

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Sliders is an old 90s show that is fun. It’s about a group of people who end up transporting themselves to alternate universes, but they are always in San Francisco in the same year. There’s one where the US never got independence and one where Germany won WW2 and all sorts of other ‘what if’ type situations.

      Bones is pretty similar tone-wise to NCIS. Mysteries of Laura was also a good, if short-lived, detective show.

    3. Rebecca*

      Love Michael Connelly! I’ve listened to the entire Bosch series (plus the Mickey Haller and Terry McCaleb books), and am more than half done with “The Late Show”. There’s a new Bosch novel coming out in October, BTW. Have you tried John Sandford’s Virgil Flowers series?

      1. Bibliovore*

        I don’t read a lot of “non-work” material. My go to are dog mysteries- I started with Susan Conant. Loved Carol Lea Benjamin. I look forward to every Chet and Bernie mysteries. Also David Rosenvelt.

    4. Awkward Interviewee*

      White Collar and The Grinder are on Netflix and have a crime/law theme with comedic twists.