Resources: Notes on Life and Language in the United States

How to Pack for All Four Seasons in the Northeastern U.S.

Posted by Lindsay McMahon on Tue, Oct 16, 2012 @ 08:22 AM

how to pack for international professionals coming to Boston, New YorkRecently we have had questions from students who are moving to the Northeastern cities of the U.S. about how they should pack and prepare for their new life abroad.

In cities like Boston and New York, the weather changes every season. I think this is great because it gives you a chance to wear different clothes and take part in different activities based on the season.

In today's post, I will describe each season in the Northeastern United States and I will give you some tips about what you should pack to be ready for those seasons.


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1) The Fall:

how to pack for fall in Boston, New York

Fall is my favorite season and it is absolutely beautiful in Boston and New York.

It lasts from mid or late September until late November or early December.

The temperatures in the fall can range from 50 degrees F (10 degrees Celsius) to 65 or 70 degrees F (18-21 Celsius) depending on the day.

This is an in-between season so the temperature can also change a lot from day to day.

The cooler days are usually a nice change from the intense heat in the urban centers of Boston and New York.

This is a great season for long walks through the park, hiking and mountain climbing as well as camping!



What's unique about the fall?

  • pumpkinsFoliage (leaves changing color). You can see the foliage by taking a walk through Central Park (New York) or by taking a road trip north to Vermont or New Hampshire and visiting some small rural towns. 
  • Back to school
  • Apple picking, apple cider
  • Halloween, carving pumpkins
  • Thanksgiving
  • Black Friday


How should you pack for the fall?

  • Light sweaters
  • Sweatshirts with a hood (also called hoodies)
  • Light jacket (leather, denim, etc.)
  • Rain jacket
  • Blue jeans (one casual pair and one nicer pair for going out)
  • Casual boots for going out
  • A light scarf



2) The Winter

 snowmanOk I will not lie. It is true what they say. Winter in the Northeastern United States is long and cold and sometimes painful.

However, there are some great things about winter in the Northeast and there are some ways that you can actually enjoy it.

Winter lasts from early December until late March or early April. Yes, it is long but you don't have to stay in your apartment all winter! There are lots of fun things to do.

How cold will it get? Pretty cold! Temperatures range from 25 degrees Farenheit (-4 Celsius) and 45 degrees Farenheit (7 degrees Celsius) with a typical day in January being about 30 degrees Farenheit (-1 degree Celsius). Yep, it gets cold.


What's unique about winter?

hot chocolate

  • Skiing, snowboarding, sledding in New Hampshire or Vermont
  • Ice skating in Bryant Park (New York) or Boston Common (Boston)
  • Hot chocolate
  • Snowstorms and walking through Central Park after a snowstorm
  • Holiday parties- Christmas parties, Hanukkah, New Year's Eve
  • Christmas tree lighting festivals (Rockefeller Center)


Coming to the Northeast in the winter? How to pack:

  • Lots of layers!
  • A wool hat, mittens and a scarf or a collection of scarves (heavy and light, fashionable)
  • Winter boots for walking around the cities
  • A big, sporty winter jacket, preferably with warm material such as goose down
  • Long johns (for extra layering)
  • A fashionable winter coat, many people in the cities have a long, dark-colored jacket for going out in the evening
  • Leather gloves
  • Wool sweaters



3) The Spring

 dancing in the rainAh springtime in the Northeast! There is nothing like it! One good thing about a long and cold winter is that when spring finally comes, there is a sense of euphoria that sweeps over the city. 

People feel less constricted because they don't have to stay in their tiny apartments.They don't have to wear itchy wool sweaters anymore. There is more space on the sidewalks without those 3 feet of snow!

You will find people out in the street, walking, laughing, dedicating themselves to getting in shape with daily jogs and having lunch at sidewalk cafes.

Sometimes mother nature is tricky, though. It is not uncommon to have 3 or 4 weeks of warm weather (45-60 degrees F, 7-15 degrees C) and then to have one last huge snowstorm. I remember this happening as late as early May, but more often it will happen in early to mid April.


What's great about the spring?

  • boston red soxThe smell of freshness and life in the air
  • Growing grass
  • Longer days (beginning of Daylight Savings Time)
  • No more snow on the sidewalks
  • Leaving your heavy jacket at home
  • The beginning of baseball season (NY Mets, Yankees and Boston Red Sox)
  • Graduation parties


How to pack for the spring:

  • Raincoat
  • Rainboots
  • Light fleece jacket
  • T-shirts and light, long-sleeve shirts



4) The Summer

 summer shadesSummers in the Northeastern cities can get hot.

On some days in July and August, the temperatures can reach 95 degrees F (35 degrees Celsius). Most people consider Memorial Day weekend to be the official start of summer and summer ends with Labor Day weekend.

In the big cities, The sun feels intense because of the miles of pavement and tall buildings that block the wind. But summer is a great season with plenty of things to do.

One piece of advice, especially if you live on a top floor of a big, urban apartment building: invest in an air conditioning unit. You will need one!



What's special about summer?


How to pack for the summer:

  • T-shirts, tank tops and shorts (jean shorts, khaki shorts, etc.)
  • Beach gear (bathing suit, towel, hat, sunscreen, etc.)
  • Sandals (it is acceptable to wear sandals around the city but make sure they are comfortable)
  • Sunglasses
  • Sweatshirt or light jacket for cool evenings (May and early September)


Want to learn more about all four seasons in New York in a conversation between two native speakers? Check out New York English: A Weather Lesson


I hope that this post has given you a better idea of how to pack when you move to the United States. Remember, it's ok if you don't bring everything you need at first. You can always do your shopping after you arrive, when you get a better sense of what the weather is like. Good luck with your move!

If you are moving to Boston soon, download our e-book to get advice on how to learn English and communicate with American people.

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 Photo credits: jayneandd, starshaped, Roger Blackwell, eviltomthai, Klearchos Kapoutsis,    ellen benton,    Robert Couse-Baker, Highways Agency,   Randy LeMoine



Topics: Expatriate Support, Life in Boston, Life in New York

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