If you are like me you have become accustomed, and likely taken for granted, easy access to everyday luxuries such as shopping malls, Starbucks, bookstores, restaurants, entertainment, etc. Never did I think I’d consider a life without these amenities around the corner.
I’ll admit, when I began exploring the possibility of moving from Bangor, Maine to rural New Hampshire I googled the Target locations. As a 35-year-old mother of two under 10-years-old, I am as much a part of the cliché as any. For years I have enjoyed the occasional afternoon perusing Target aisles with Starbucks in hand, so I was shocked to be considering a job in a location an hour from the closest Target!
As an HR professional in higher education, the opportunity to work for an Ivy League institution was exciting and attractive. The team I’d inherit at Dartmouth College was dynamic, talented and all transplants themselves learning and embracing the uniqueness of the Upper Valley in New Hampshire. I decided to take the leap. Afterall, I could plan weekly or monthly shopping trips to Target, and without the sales tax, there was even more incentive than ever to continue my shopping habit.
Six months into my tenure at Dartmouth College I was given the opportunity to recruit additional members to the team. Hopeful that one-hour-drive to Target wouldn’t be a dealbreaker, I offered a Talent Acquisition Consultant role to Rabia Gandhi, a recent Northeastern University graduate. Rabia grew up in India and has only been in the United States for two years. The Target locations were the least of her concerns!
I asked Rabia some questions about her experience coming to New Hampshire:
What was most important to you when considering relocation to New Hampshire?
“I wanted to make sure I had a stable job that involves doing what I am passionate about. Moving to the Upper Valley after living the city life for 25 years was not going to be an easy change. But I felt it was a good time in my life to make this move so I could have a better quality of life, breathe clean pollution-free air and enjoy the countryside. I knew I was moving to a small quiet town but since I was assured that it was going to be much safer than the cities I had lived in previously, it felt like the right move to make. It mattered to me to have direct connectivity to the two major cities: Boston and New York, so I knew I would never feel like I was going too far. Being a part of an elite college town, I knew, was going to be a huge step forward for my career development and overall growth.”
What preparation did you do in anticipation of relocating to the Upper Valley?
“I made sure to have the right gear for the winter as I knew the snowfall was going to be much heavier than what I was used to. I made sure I understood how the city transportation operated and got access to all the maps, bus schedule lists, etc. I surveyed the most popular places for affordable grocery shopping and all Indian stores/restaurants, so I didn’t feel deprived of my own food. I learnt about the food apps people use and the main sources of entertainment/attraction in the area for the weekends!”
What has surprised you about living in New Hampshire?
“I realized how New Hampshire has a variety of fun and affordable activities to offer regularly throughout the weekend. When I initially moved, what particularly amazed me was the fascinating cooking classes in the area and the fun outdoor activities for every season! I find the people living in the Upper Valley to be extremely polite, simple and very well mannered. Relocating to New Hampshire has been a huge life-altering decision but I can happily say that I have no regrets!”
Over the past several years I have been at the helm of supporting people with their transitions and relocations across national and international borders. Through this work I have realized it is not always the most obvious reasons one ultimately decides whether to uproot their lives and move to a new place. In northern New England we tend to assume winter and snow will be a challenging sell to many (and sometimes it is!), or those in urban city centers will be reluctant to relocate to an area with less shopping options or night life (also, sometimes the case). We forget that we live in an area that’s generally very safe, beautiful year-round with a lot of opportunity for recreational exploration. And most importantly there are so many communities that undoubtedly fit various lifestyles and provide people with choice. The latter, in my experience, has weighed heavier on the decision. My first year in New Hampshire has been nothing short of amazing and my family and I have embraced the community we now live in.
And, at the end of the day at least there’s a Starbucks in Hanover.