21 Things You Realize Upon Moving To The Midwest

Image via Shutterstock

Whether it’s the Midwest, the former Old West, or some other geographically indeterminate interior part of the country, moving inward from either coast is a strange and unexpected experience. Here is just a small sample of the things you’ll discover when exploring this new terrain — although every local area has its own unique aspects that would probably take pages and pages to explore.

1. Nearly Empty Highways

The first time, you think, “Hmm, the traffic must be light today.” The second time, you think, “I guess it’s too early for rush hour.” The third time, you think, “HIGHWAY!”

2. Higher Speed Limits


3. Everyone Smokes

The crackdown on cigarettes doesn’t seem as harsh here, making you realize how unusual it’s become to see large groups of people smoking, even if they’re outside.

4. You’ll Desperately Try Not To Think Or Say Snobby Things But Will Inadvertently Do So Anyway

After complaining about things like the speed of your wireless Internet, the lack of beaches and the inadequate supply of your specific brand of facial care products, you’ll realize you’re on the verge of being Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada.”

5. There Are Some Foods You Cannot Get No Matter How Fanatically You Try

If you live in a city, this might not be an issue — although depending on the city, it still might, and you’ll find yourself zealously dedicated to the mission of finding Thai food even though you know it’s never going to happen and people are sick of hearing you talk about it.

6. There Are Some Foods That Are Everywhere And You Really Wish They Weren’t

Where I live, people add copious amounts of celery to things and I don’t know why. There is also an annual Testicle Festival.

7. You’ll Have To Drive An Hour To Get To Target


via giphy

Again, if you live in a city, this is probably not an issue. If you don’t, however, you’ll be confronted with the reality that not all small towns immediately border larger ones like they do at home, so you can’t just take half an hour to run some errands; you’ll be taking the whole day.

8. Trees

The Midwest isn’t known for having lots of trees; the West, on the other hand, has them, but they’re mostly pine trees. It may seem like an odd (and possibly unhealthy) thing to fixate on trees, but all you know is that they’re different, and it feels sinister. A lack of trees is disorienting, while being surrounded by nothing but evergreens can really mess with your internal seasonal clock.

9. Cities Are… Different

They’re so open! And orderly! It’s almost like someone planned a small city using a grid pattern, and then stuck to that plan, so it’s easy to navigate through cities and the thought of driving through one doesn’t give you heart palpitations.

10. Everything Is Either Earlier Or Later


via giphy

When things on TV are on at 8/7 central, you realize they’re actually on at 7 p.m., but you’re in the Central Time Zone. If you’re farther west, they’re on at 6 p.m. because you’re in the Mountain Time Zone. When people call you in the morning, they’re amazed that you’ve just gotten up because it’s noon there; when they call at night, they’re astounded that you actually haven’t stopped working yet, because for them it’s 7 p.m.

11. Everything Is Cheaper

At home, the price of a nice two-bedroom apartment with utilities included made you burst into bitter, jaded laughter every time you went on Craigslist. Here, you can not only afford it, but you can actually save money in your savings account.

12. Things Close Weirdly Early

This is most prevalent in small towns, where some places close at 3 p.m. from September through May and other places are closed on Saturdays (SATURDAYS) due to religious beliefs.

13. There Is No Ocean

You didn’t quite realize how pathologically attached you were to the tradition of going to the beach every summer until you couldn’t go.

14. Guns Are A Fact of Life

It makes you uncomfortable, but everyone else thinks it’s totally normal.

15. People Wear Cowboy Hats


via giphy

Not everyone wears them, but enough do that it’s not unusual. This occurs during both casual and formal occasions.

16. The Landscape Is Way More Mountainous

You thought you had mountains at home? The West spits on your puny mountains.

17. Or Maybe It’s Way Flatter

If you’re used to anything other than a flat surface, the shock of endless Midwestern fields can be a doozy.

18. The Main Agricultural Commodity Seems To Be Cows

You’re fine with cows; you’ve seen plenty at home; you actually kind of like them. But you don’t understand where everything else comes from, because no crops are grown other than hay to feed the cows and no other animals are farmed except for the occasional smattering of sheep.

19. Casinos Are Everywhere

Primarily in restaurants and gas stations.

20. Jukeboxes Are Real


via giphy

Various places (like bars) have jukeboxes that actually work, and you keep trying to surreptitiously take pictures of them.

21. People Are Really Nice

It’s not that people on the coasts aren’t nice or friendly or polite, it’s just that somehow people are even nicer here. Instead of letting your eyes glaze over while in line at the grocery store, you might actually engage in conversation with the clerk; when strangers ask you friendly questions, you have to train yourself not to retreat like a suspicious turtle pulling back into its shell.