Real Estate

If you’re Keene on moving to N.H., feel free.

A Granite Stater offers a dose of Rye wit and tips for fitting in like a native.

Ally Rzesa/Globe staff/Adobe Stock

Welcome to New Hampshire.

No, really.

We’re a quirky state full of quirky people. As a native (five generations in the ground), I’m allowed to say so. And I do. Whether you’re here for a dooryard visit, popping in and out like a hopeful in our first-in-the-nation primary, renting for the season, or settling down, here are 10 tips for shedding that from-away aura as you mingle with the locals, especially those with tough-as-ironwood roots in this rocky, old place we call home.

1. Know where you are. Some think New Hampshire is a suburb of Boston. Nope. (Though we do love the Sox.) Neither are we southern Maine nor eastern Vermont. We have stuff in common — like lobster and maple syrup — but each state is unique. Especially us!


Rocks. Of course, the Granite State has loads of rocks. We love them so much we name them: Madison Boulder (it’s big), Frog (looks like a frog), Old Man of the Mountain (R.I.P.). Also trees. We’re the second most forested state in the United States, right behind — you guessed it — Maine. When we say we can’t see the forest for the trees, we mean it. Two lost hikers, having stumbled upon a local, ask, “What’s the quickest way out of these confounded woods?” The local just points . . . up.

Place names can be challenging. Concord is “Con-kid,” not “Con-cord,” like the grape. Boscawen, my hometown, is “Bosk-wine,” “Bosk-win,” “Boss-coin,” definitely not “Bos-cow-en.” Lyndeborough is “Lineboro.” As for the Kancamagus Highway, darned if I know: “Kan-ga-man-gus,” “Kank-a-maw-gus?” Just say “the Kank” and you’re all set.

2. Go ahead. Explore. By highway, you can travel from the bottom of the state to the top in under four hours, but try the backroads instead. Natives call it “kalluping“ —a joyful wandering. Take your sweet time. Smell the lilacs, pluck an apple, sample goat cheese at an honor-system farm stand, and — as the bumper stickers suggest — always brake for moose.


3) Learn the language.* Sometimes when kalluping, we go to East Chemung and back, i.e., we make a day of it.

Other handy words and phrases include:

“Different”: a neutral descriptor. “How do you like the poutine?” “It’s different.”

“That’s right, too”: for diffusing conflict. I say one thing; you say another; I say, “That’s right, too.” Problem solved.

“Cowt”: Be careful. As in, “Cowt, turkeys!” As an excuse for tardiness, “turkeys in the road” works great.

4. Be prepared to turn around, especially as the ruts deepen, the road narrows, and signs pop up: Pass at Your Own Risk, Dead End, Big Rock Ahead. What looks like a through road to a satellite may well prove impassable.

5. Do not trust your GPS, or you’re apt to end up in a swale surrounded by old ghosts and coyotes. It’s OK. Our eastern coyotes, though twice the size of the western ones, are more scared of you than you are of them. Same with bears. Bobcats. And bigfoot. Moose don’t give a hoot.

6. Do not try to take a selfie with a moose. If you approach a moose, either it will lumber off, annoyed. Or it won’t.


7. Don’t get over-excited. Asked, “What do you do for excitement around here?” the native replies: “Don’t know. Never been excited.” That said, when ascending Mount Washington on the Cog ( a 37 percent grade in places), go ahead and gasp. It’s expected.

If, at the sight of Lake Winnipesaukee, you exclaim, “That’s a lot of water!”, brace for the dead-pan response: “Ayuh. And that’s just the top of it.”

8. Embrace the variety. We’ve got mountains, valleys, lakes, rivers, and 13 miles of seacoast. Plus, the two largest cities in Northern New England. Manchester and Nashua are culturally and ethnically diverse. Our small towns: not so much, but gaining. Consider Hart’s Location (population 50ish); Ellsworth (approximately 90 souls); and Dummer (about 300). As they say up north: “Milan’s dumb, but the next town’s Dummer.” If you don’t get the joke, you might be a flatlander. Usually “flatlander” refers to somebody from the deep south like Rhode Island. But in Coos County (”Co-oss,” rhymes with hoss), a flatlander is anyone who lives south of the Notches.

9. Don’t drive like a flatlander. As you pass on a double-yellow doing 60 in a 45, the local shakes her head, clocks your license plate, and murmurs, “Out-a-state-ah.”

It’s not a race.

Green in New Hampshire means proceed with caution. Yellow means prepare to stop, not punch the gas. Red means stop. No, really. Don’t try to sneak through thinking nobody will notice. We do.

Feel free, however, to execute a right turn on red.


When in doubt, yield. Especially in traffic circles. Cars inside the circle have the right of way, so wait your turn. If someone inadvertently cuts you off, be thankful a collision has been avoided. Do not honk. (That’s just rude.) A one-finger salute is fine, so long as it’s the index finger, raised from the steering wheel in greeting.

10. Relax. We are a tolerant people. Have to be. We have a lot to put up with. Like February. When in doubt, just nod, smile, raise a friendly finger, and kallupe on down the road. It’s the New Hampshire way.

(*For more language tips, check out Rebecca Rule’s book “Headin’ for the Rhubarb: A New Hampshire Dictionary (well, kinda).”

Rebecca Rule is the host of “Our Hometown” on New Hampshire PBS and the author of several books, including “Sixty Years of Cuttin’ the Cheese” and “That Reminds Me of a Funny Story.” Her new book, “NH Trivia and More!”, will be released in summer 2024. Send comments to [email protected].


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