New Hampshire is one of the smallest states in the U.S., bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and Maine to the East, Vermont to the West, and Massachusetts to the south. It is the fifth-smallest by area and the 10th least-populous state in the country. There are only two significant metropolitan areas as well: Manchester and Concord.
There are several unique governing structures that you can find in New Hampshire that you do not find in most other jurisdictions in the United States. There is no personal income tax at the state or local level other than dividends or interest. It doesn’t have a general sales tax either. You are given a certain level of independence here that can be refreshing, which is representative of the state’s motto, “Live free or die.”
New Hampshire is also the Granite State because of the extensive formations that are found there, leading to the development of quarries and several job opportunities. From the time it became the first colony to establish a government independent of Britain to having the first state constitution, it has been a significant center for textiles, papermaking, and shoemaking.
If you are thinking about living in New Hampshire, then here are some of the pros and cons you might wish to consider.
List of the Pros of Living in New Hampshire
1. You have a close proximity to Boston no matter where you live in the state.
Many people commute to Boston for work because the salaries there are higher than what you will find locally in New Hampshire. Because the state is relatively small, you can almost commute from anywhere but the far north to take advantage of this benefit. Then you can save in housing costs because it is cheaper to live across the state border. You still get to take advantage of everything that is in the city without dealing with the expenses of living there on a full-time basis.
2. New Hampshire has a beauty that is uniquely its own.
You will find the same charm in New Hampshire as you do in all of the other New England states when you step outside of the city environment. The natural scenery here is abundant, with plenty of lakes, mountains, and forests to explore. Although the coast along the Atlantic Ocean is somewhat limited because of the state’s location, it is still quite gorgeous. Lake Winnipesaukee provides 40,000 acres of recreational activities that happen all year. If you love skiing, then Mount Washington is the place to be.
New Hampshire is a state that is clean, abundant in colors, and offers plenty of places where you can find peace. If you don’t like being stuck in a crowd all of the time, then living here can be a refreshing change of pace.
3. There is no sales tax to worry about when living in New Hampshire.
Property is much easier to afford when you live in New Hampshire because there is no sales tax to worry about. It is one of only four states in the U.S. which provides this benefit, with the others being Oregon, Montana, and Delaware. That’s another reason why some families settle across the border and then commute to Boston. It is much cheaper to establish a residency here, especially if this state with be your primary home. You can save thousands even when purchasing a new vehicle.
This structure also means that there are no taxes on your retirement income. If you can manage your property taxes, which are higher than Maine’s, then you can typically enjoy what life has to offer in this somewhat rural state.
4. New Hampshire provides excellent schools and advanced learning opportunities.
Two of the most prestigious educational institutions in the United States are found in New Hampshire: Dartmouth and Philips Exeter Academy, which consistently ranks as the top private school in the United States. Even the public schools in state provide you with an excellent educational resource for your children. The independent nature of the environment means that people might lean to the left or right politically, but they always look for ways to improve their local community.
If you like the idea of an independent curriculum that encourages thought and questions instead of lightly disguised propaganda, then you will enjoy what the schools in New Hampshire can provide for you and your family.
5. There are low crime levels throughout New Hampshire.
If you want to live somewhere that is safe almost all of the time, then New Hampshire is that state where you will want to live. According to data published by SafeWise, the state is far below average when looking at property crime or violence incidents. The U.S. average rate for violent crime is 4.49 incidents per 1,000 people, but the state’s rate is just 2.01. 95% of the cities in the state reported 10 or fewer violent incidents for the entire year.
The property crime rate in New Hampshire is just 13.94 incidents per 1,000 people, which is also more than 50% lower than the U.S. national average of 27.11. Nottingham didn’t report a single violent crime for the year, and the top 20 cities combined had fewer than one violent crime incident per 1,000 people with just three robberies and one murder reported.
6. Nashua is often ranked as one of the best places to live in the country.
Nashua is a small town in New Hampshire that routinely ranks as one of the most racially diverse places to live. You’re only an hour away from Boston when the traffic is good, but more importantly, the community has twice been named by Money magazine as the best place to live in the United States. The city one this title in 1987 during the first list, again in 1997, and it placed in the top 20 in 2016. That’s not bad for a town that once divided itself over plans to build a town hall on the south side instead of the north.
7. There are several significant employers present in New Hampshire.
You will find that there are several employers in the state which have a significant presence, including some who are in Nashua. Oracle, Fidelity, UPS, and BAE Systems are all robust employers for the region, paying a competitive wage with benefits that can stop the commute to Boston each day if you want. You can also take advantage of the local shops, franchise restaurants, and other similar opportunities to earn a living when you first move to the state. Since the unemployment rate is so low, almost anyone who wants a job can find one. If you have specific income needs, then you might want to look for a job before you move to ensure that there is a secure offer in place.
8. Almost anyone can afford to purchase a home in New Hampshire.
If you are moving to New Hampshire on a limited income, then Berlin is one of the best places to live. It ranks higher on the affordability index, by the annual property tax is about $3,000 – which is 50% lower than most of the other cities in the state. The average annual mortgage payment in the community is just $4,200 as well. There are numerous communities in the north where you can find a property for $50,000 or less.
If you’ve been saving up to put a 20% down payment in a more expensive market, you might find that living in New Hampshire could let you pay for the property in cash.
9. There are several commercial zones to enjoy throughout New Hampshire.
Although the northern part of the state tends to be rural and focus on small-town life, you will find that there is a heavy emphasis on commercialized development in the southern part of the state. Pease Air Force Base closed near Portsmouth in 1991, but it was redeveloped into a zone that supports high-tech companies today that are working to boost real estate prices and the health of the local economy.
You still have the traditional sources of economic revenues active in the state as well. The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, which is actually in Maine where it sits across the harbor, continues to anchor the community and the indirect jobs it produces.
10. You have access to the Atlantic Ocean and all of its benefits.
The fishing industry in New Hampshire might not be as robust as it is in Maine, but you will still have plenty of fresh seafood to enjoy when you start living here. You can even go swimming in the ocean in some spots if you want, although the water stays cold throughout most of the year to the point where your lips will turn blue.
If you have enough wealth, you can take advantage of the seacoast placement throughout the year. One-bedroom condominiums that give you this access typically start in the $300,000 range, rising to as much as $900,000 if you want space by the river. Since there are strict regulations on what can be built thanks to the presence of Historic District Commissions, the way of life that you find here receives a significant amount of protection.
List of the Cons of Living in New Hampshire
1. Unemployment levels can be challenging when living in New Hampshire.
Unless you can start a profitable business with your talents and skills or work as a professional in a high-demand industry, there are not many employment opportunities waiting for you when living in New Hampshire. Working in a creative field, such as marketing, is especially challenging in this state. Even with those challenges though, the actual unemployment rate in the state is just 2.4%. That’s one point lower than Maine and two points lower than New Jersey.
If you work in the public sector as a police officer, social worker, or a similar position, you will find that the salary offers are going to be lower than in other states as well. The cost of living in New Hampshire is also lower, but you’ll need to find a way to live within your means if you’re used to having some extra cash every month.
2. If you don’t like winter, then you are not going to love living in New Hampshire.
The winters in New Hampshire can last for up to four months in some years. If you’re not a fan of snow or don’t do well in the cold, then living in New Hampshire will be a miserable experience. When the weather does warm up, it tends to get muggy, sticky, and hot in the state, which encourages the ticks and mosquitoes to come out to play. The summer cologne or perfume is always repellant here.
Since most homes don’t have air conditioning because of the northerly location, you will want to have a screen on your windows and doors to keep the bugs out during the warmer months. The high humidity and heat only last for a couple of weeks in most seasons, but it isn’t a very pleasant experience.
3. There is not much diversity to find in New Hampshire.
When you start living in New Hampshire, you will discover that everything feels American here. There aren’t ethnic cuisines or interesting little shops to visit. Everyone is all kind of the same, especially if you move away from the coast or the southern border. The culture, restaurants, and galleries all kind of follow the same pattern. If you enjoy having some bubble tea, eating some pad-thai, or finding a fun new cultural offering, then your best bet is to take a road trip into Boston.
“When I told people I’m moving to New Hamsphire, they think I’m going to Dartmouth,” said Michael Megliola in a New York Times interview. He’s a former bond trader who became a software engineer. “The seacoast doesn’t fit the mental picture of a seasonal resort area.
4. Public transportation in New Hampshire is laughable.
You are not going to find any trains available for daily use when you start living in New Hampshire. Manchester and Concord run a bus system that can get you to your destination, but that is about the extent of the system. If you want to take the train to access the rest of New England, then you’ll need to connect with the Amtrak system in Boston. You can also grab a Greyhound bus at a variety of stops throughout the state.
That means you’ll likely need to purchase a vehicle to manage your transportation needs when living in New Hampshire unless you can live and work in the same area in one of the towns. If you’re not in a position to purchase a vehicle right now, then it might not be the right time to make the move.
5. If you want nightlife options, New Hampshire is not the place to be.
Outside of what you can find in Manchester or Portsmouth (and maybe Concord if you stretch it), there is very little to consider as nightlife outside of a visit to the local bar. You are not going to find places with fancy menus or unique venues. The people here come in after a long day of working, order their favorite beer or beverage, and then discuss the events of the day. There might be a few snacks added to that conversation.
If you want fine dining options, then farm-to-table opportunities are your only real option. Even when you look up the list of the best restaurants in the state, you are going to find pizza, sandwiches, and beer strongly features.
6. There might be no sales tax, but there are high property taxes.
State governments need to make their money somehow. Since there isn’t an income tax in New Hampshire and they don’t charge a sales tax, that means your property taxes are going to be very high. The state has the second-highest rate in the nation when you look at the levies that are in place. If you own a small three-bedroom home near the University of New Hampshire, then you could pay upwards of $7,000 each year.
Although the rate is similar to what you will find in New York and some other New England states, it can take a high income level to pay for this expense if you are using your mortgage payments to manage your taxes.
7. The opioid crisis has hit New Hampshire very hard.
Even with a task force in place and proactive interventions trying to fight this epidemic, the opioid crisis has its headquarters set up in New Hampshire. It is especially prevalent in the small towns and rural areas of the state. When the weather turns awful or boredom strikes, the influence of drugs and alcohol can devastate families here. You will want to take steps to protect yourself from this issue by talking to your kids about the dangers of abuse. It also helps to take up a home-based hobby, such as photography, painting, or similar hand-crafted works to keep yourself occupied.
8. Working in Boston means paying the income tax there on your income.
You can move to New Hampshire and commute to Boston if there is a high-paying job available for you, but the average person will not want to do this because of the income tax situation. If you earn the national median for wages, which is about $60,000 per year as a household, then about 10% of your income will go to your property taxes. Another 30% or so will go to your mortgage, and then you’ve got the percentage to the other state to factor in as well.
That’s why home-based work is one of the fastest-growing sectors of employment in the state right now, since you can earn what you’re worth without the local cost-adjustments that reduce the value of your labor.
9. You are going to be dealing with high levels of traffic in the summer.
People come out to New Hampshire in the late spring to the color season in fall because they want to get away from the frenetic pace of city life. The weekends during the peak summer month travel window, which is generally Memorial Day to Labor Day, can cause traffic jams coming in on Friday nights and leaving Sunday evenings. You will need to get used to the patterns to ensure you stay outside of those driving windows when running your errands.
Verdict on the Pros and Cons of Living in New Hampshire
If you can manage your expenses widely, find reasonable employment, and rent instead of own property, then you can reduce your exposure to the tax structures that are in New Hampshire. Although it might cost a little more to live here than in other parts of the country, it is far more reasonable than being in Boston or trying to commute from somewhere else.
When you live here, then you are within an hour’s drive to the beach, the mountains, or Boston unless you live close to the Canadian border. You will find yourself spending more time outside, the kids can play in the neighborhood, and the world seems to shrink and get a bit smaller.
The pros and cons of living in New Hampshire are ultimately about the perspective you have on the situation. There are some great places to live here, where diversity is present, and the towns are still quiet. Some people might also feel like some of the areas are a little too vanilla for their taste.
Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.