Moving to a new place is always tough. Moving to St. Louis has its own learning curve. Knowing these 10 things will help you as you adjust and assimilate. St. Louis is a great place to live, it can just take some time to feel the warmth of our city. Read below to see what you should know.
1. When asked, it's important to you know where you live.
If you moved to Oakville you would assume you live in Oakville. You don't. You live in an unincorporated county of St. Louis. Oakville isn't a town or a city. It is a census-designated place, there are 10 such places in the St. Louis area. These places have no mayor, city government, or police force of their own. St. Louis County provides these services. St. Louis is a city and a county. Or you might live in one of the villages, towns, or a city within the 8,458 square miles of the Greater St. Louis area.
2. We're a connection-based city. Where did you go to high school?
We are famous, or infamous, for asking this strange question. Why do people ask? St. Louis is all about connections, finding something in common to build friendships upon. So, if you didn't go to school here you might find it hard to make new friends. But you will! Make your own new connections by joining a group or volunteering. Give it time and you find that the friends you make here are forever friends.
3. Even global positioning satellites can't navigate the roads here.
Roads, routes and highways in St. Louis can be very confusing. They often have more than one name. They often notoriously change names while you are driving on them, and with no warning you are not on the same road anymore. And they have an annoying tendency to end abruptly, leaving you to try to figure out where to go next. If you are new here there is no easy fix to this. And don't trust that GPS either. Just keep driving, and soon enough you won't be wondering where you are and how you got there.
4. Good road time management is a must here.
Most of the places you will go won't be more than 20 minutes away from where you started. But there are times when a 20 minute trip will take double that time. This why we gauge miles in minutes here, because the time of day you are going someplace changes how long the trip will take. So, if you are new here the best plan is to always leave earlier than you think you need to.
5. Don't speed through any towns, cities, villages, or counties.
Of course, everyone should always obey the posted speed limits. In St. Louis you want to look for the signs as you drive. Here you can be on a road that is posted 55 mph one minute, then find yourself in a village where the speed limit has dropped to 20 mph. Look for the signs. You will most likely get a ticket if you don't slow down.
6. Be prepared for weather that changes seasons daily.
St. Louis weather can, and does, change by the day. The largest one day temperature drop was recorded in 1911, when the temperature dropped 60 degrees in one day. It is always a good idea to keep an emergency cold weather pack in your car. This would include a blanket, candles and a lighter, non-perishable food, and anything else you think you might need. A sunny day can, and has, turned into a blizzard, and you'll find yourself trapped in your car.
7. Why you will see the same foods on every menu and why you will learn to love that.
While we are open to trying new things here in St. Louis, we are true to our old standbys. Chicken wings and toasted raviolis are evidence of this. You will find them on menus from the fanciest restaurant, to the newest food truck. Much like looking up and seeing the arch still standing, we just want to know they are there. If you stay here long enough you too will find comfort in the tried and true.
8. What's in a name?
If you make plans to meet a new friend at St. Louis Bread Company, you need to know that you may actually be looking for a Panera Bread instead. Due to their amazing food, great coffee, and outstanding service, St. Louis Bread Company expanded across the nation as Panera Bread. Perhaps it goes by a more universally-recognized name now, but it's one no St. Louisan will ever use. It is and always will be St. Louis Bread Company to us.
9. Why you need to buy a snow shovel. Right now.
At the first warning of a snow storm the stores run out of snow shovels. Every time there is a snow storm this happens. Every time. Three snow storms in the same month, the stores will still run out of shovels. What everyone did with the last snow shovel they bought is a mystery. It's best if you just pick one up now and beat the rush.
10. So you don't have to ask, they are called flounders.
Created by the industrious people who helped form this city in the 18th and 19th Centuries, these homes are called flounders. Why they are called that and why they were built in this shape have been lost to history. Folklore says that the design was to keep from paying taxes by only building half of a house. Now you know as much as we do about these oddly shaped homes.
These 10 bits of wisdom will help you as you learn how life works here in St. Louis, Missouri. In no time you will consider yourself a St. Louisan too.
Do you have more bits of wisdom to pass along to new comers in our city? Share them with us!