Although Minnesota has beautiful springs, summers, and falls, everyone knows winter in this state can be rough. If you’re considering living in Minneapolis, then you probably already know about all the wonderful things the city has to offer. However, if the thought of enduring your first Minneapolis winter feels daunting, here are some tips locals follow to not only survive the cold but also thrive in it.
Prepare your house for the cold
If you are considering buying a home in Minneapolis, or you already own a house in the city, you’ll want to prepare your property for the reality of a Minneapolis winter. Extreme cold can wreak havoc on a home and your wallet, so get everything in shape ahead of winter to avoid unnecessary maintenance and expenses.
1. Trim your trees: The reason? Weak tree branches can break under the weight of snow and ice, damaging nearby structures or injuring people. The last thing you want to deal with when it’s cold is a broken window or a hole in your roof. The best time to trim your trees is in September because there’s usually at least one freak snowstorm in October before winter settles in for good.
2. Seal windows: Speaking of windows, make sure yours are in good shape before temperatures drop. Old, leaky windows can cost a fortune to make up for with your furnace, so it’s best to invest in getting them sealed, fixed, or replaced. It’s also smart to purchase thermal or insulated curtains and keep them closed when there’s no direct sunlight coming through the window to provide some solar warmth.
3. Consider installing solar panels or a geothermal heating unit: If you’re ready to make an even bigger investment up front, look into installing solar panels and/or a geothermal heating unit. Not only can they save you money in the long run, but you’ll also be shrinking your carbon footprint, too.
4. Turn the thermostat down and bundle up: Another way to save money on utility bills is by setting your thermostat to a comfortable 68 degrees or so when you’re home and wearing warm clothes to make up the difference. (If you have a programmable thermostat, set it for a lower temperature during times you know you’ll be out of the house or sleeping and have it start heating up an hour or two before you’ll want it toastier.) It’s a lot cheaper to buy some cozy sweatpants, shearling slippers, a few fleece blankets, and a heating pad or space heaters than it is to keep your furnace cranked all the time. Check out more affordable ways to heat your house in the winter.
5. Allow faucets to drip: If you know a big temperature dip is coming, avoid burst water pipes by setting faucets to drip slowly so the water in them doesn’t freeze.
Know how to weather snow storms
You should have several things on hand before you endure your first winter weather advisory.
1. Invest in a snow shovel and salt: For less than 6 inches of snow, all you’ll probably need is a good broad snow shovel (or even better, a snow blower) and salt for de-icing the sidewalk and driveway.
2. Stock up on essentials: There are always a few storms a year that seem like they’ll never end and could even knock out power. For those, you might need to batten down the hatches for a day or two. Whether you live in a house or an apartment in Minneapolis, if you’re truly snowed in, you’ll be glad to have a small stockpile of nonperishable food and water, extra gas, candles, batteries, flashlights, and a radio. It’s not a bad idea to refill prescriptions before a storm, either.
3. Bring pets inside: If you have any furry friends, keep them inside. Their paws can get frostbitten in below-zero weather, and a small dog or cat could even get buried in a snow drift.
4. Travel with caution: If you’re going to brave the snow, make sure to allow extra travel time. Roads may be closed or dangerous due to ice and snow, parking can be tricky due to city-specific rules for snow plows, and even if you’re using public transportation, you may encounter delays.
Keep your spirits up
Perhaps the most important consideration for surviving a Minneapolis winter is knowing how to maintain your well-being and residents clearly have some secrets for lightening the dark days of winter. Here are a few.
1. Let the light in: During the darkest part of winter, daylight lasts for only seven or eight hours. If you leave for work before the sun is up and head home when it’s already down, that can get depressing. Obviously, the best option is to get some natural light every day, but if that’s not feasible, get a light box that mimics the sun’s rays and tricks your brain into thinking you’re in Tahiti! Okay, it may not be that effective, but it certainly won’t hurt. Just make sure you don’t use it at night, or it could disrupt your sleep pattern. Learn more tips for a bright home or apartment.
2. Get outside whenever you can: Studies show that being in nature is wonderful for mental health, even if it’s only for an hour a day. You’re probably thinking, “but it’ll be too cold!” Well, if you’re going to move to Minneapolis, you need to know this Scandinavian saying: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” There’s a reason the flannel-and-stocking-cap look started in Minneapolis. Add in some comfy boots and a pair of choppers, and you’ll be all set to enjoy one of the 274 parks in Minneapolis alone.
3. Get moving: Even if you’re just walking in a winter wonderland, it’s still beneficial for your health. Making time during the winter months to move your body is a great way to de-stress, increase your energy levels, and strengthen your immune system. If it’s too cold to go outside, you can still get your heart pumping by swimming in an indoor pool, going to an indoor skating rink, or even walking one of the Mayo Clinic Mile walking paths inside Mall of America.
Looking for other places to walk? The St. Paul Winter Carnival is a well-timed outdoor festival to combat the post-holiday blues. If you’re up for something more adventurous, try cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or even dog sledding.
4. Practice hygge: Another term you should familiarize yourself with is hygge (pronounced “HOO-guh”), which basically means “coziness” in Danish. Minnesotans don’t hibernate all winter, but they do know how to settle in and make the most of a calm winter’s night.
Stock up on such hygge essentials as hot chocolate, candles, fuzzy socks, and some recipes for cozy food like stew or the Minnesota classic tater tot hotdish. Then, when the first snow falls, you’ll be ready to put on some mellow music and snuggle up with the pet or human of your choice. After all, Minneapolis is the second most romantic city in the U.S.
Become a winter person
Follow these tips, and you’ll be set to take any weather Minneapolis can throw at you in stride. In fact, you might not even want the Minneapolis winter to end.