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Preparing for your first American Winter in 2023

The warm weather is coming to an end and it's started to get a little cooler outside. If you're like me, you might've come from a country that doesn't get quite as cold, and this is all very new to you – so what do you need to do to prepare? Never fear, here's a handy guide for getting started. The cold can be fun if you and your apartment are ready for it.

Preparing yourself and your body for winter

The second most important thing you need to do is buy the appropriate winter gear.

You need a good winter coat

It's going to get cold, so the most important thing you can buy is a proper coat. If I can give only one tip about choosing a coat, it's that you shouldn't skimp (go too cheaply) when you pick one. Buy one that will last, and that works with everything you wear (or at least most). Get a woolen coat, or a wool-cashmere coat, or if you're headed down the parka path then look for something with a high quality down that has a “fill power” of 500+ (God knows what that means, maybe Google it).

Be sure to try it on in person, or use Amazon so that you can return it if it doesn't fit because you're going to be wearing this thing almost every day.

Buy some thermals even if you've never thought about it before

THIS is the hottest tip going around in 2017. Go to Uniqlo (I love this place) and buy yourself some HEATTECH (for men, and for women). It's the best. I like the “ULTRA WARM” stuff, but that's up to you. It's worth every penny because I basically wear them every single day under everything. Layers are the best thing you can do, and with this at your core, you're set.

You might need a waterproof outer layer

It's going to get wet and rainy as well as snow-y so you might consider buying a shell from Uniqlo or similar just for those times that you need an extra functional layer. Also get yourself an umbrella for those times where a waterproof coat isn't the stylish go-to.


A scarf and a beanie are easy additions that keep you extra warm

Again, for the best quality, stick with natural fibers because they're going to keep you warm without getting sweaty (which is a real problem when you catch the train or go into stores and it's suddenly really warm).

Invest some money in some good quality boots

From here, you're going to have to work with your own budget, but I would recommend getting something of a reasonably high quality boot. Brands that get mentioned a lot are Sorel, LL Bean, and Timberland. You're going to hear the term “duck boot”, too, and that means one of these:

Duck boots are weird
Yes, they look utterly ridiculous and I haven't bought one yet but everyone will tell you that they're the best for when it gets slushy… and it's going to get slushy.

Gloves for fingers

Do you like your fingers? Well you should get some gloves because otherwise they might fall off. Try and find one that will work with your cell phone, because otherwise you're going to be taking them on and off so often, they're basically useless.

If I can make one request, don't buy ALL gray and black clothes, throw a little bit of color in. You'll be surprised how much better you feel with a bright orange beanie, bright blue scarf or lighter colored coat!

I've got more recommendations on preparing yourself for winter here.

Preparing your apartment for winter

In my opinion, the most important thing you can do to start is to make sure that your apartment or house is all ready for the impending cold.

When it starts to get cold (or if you're extra prepared, BEFORE), be sure to check that you've cleared everything away from where the heat comes out, we don't want to start any fires. Check any filters that are in place for your heating as well, to ensure that the year of dust and gross hasn't clogged anything up.

A lot of venues throughout the city will “winterize”, but your landlord should let you know if that's something you need to worry about (it's worth getting in touch with them before your first winter to make sure nothing is expected of you). Frozen pipes = Bad news.

If you can remove your A/C unit from your window and seal up the space, you should do that

What you're really trying to do is make sure that no cold air can get into your place, ruining all that delicious warmth. If it's recently rained, be careful because it may have water in it that will then spill all over you and your floor. Similarly, if you've already had days sub-zero, it may have become frozen inside so be sure to use some caution.

Turn your fans into reverse

I bet some of you didn't know that one! When the air blows straight down, that keeps you cool, but if your fan has a reverse switch (which is sometimes found on the fan itself) it can blow clockwise and then take all the warm air that's pooling uselessly in your roof and can blow it down to you!

Check for drafts around the place

More importantly, if you can work out a way to seal them up, do that. You might have to buy one of those funny sausage logs (apparently they're actually called “draft snakes” after looking it up, here's how to make one yourself).

Don't use anti-freeze unless specifically instructed to, or if you really know what you're doing. It's dangerous to people, animals, and the environment and can lead to many more problems.

Mind your thermostat

If you have the option to change the temperature, try and keep it as cool as you can before you feel cold (put on a sweater, ta-da!). This will save LOTS of money on your heating bill, and you can then spend that on silly things you don't need instead.

I've got more about preparing your apartment here as well.

How to get out and about when it's raining or snowing

Day one: Snow falls and it's magical. It even looks nice on the garbage bags on the sides of a street.

Day two: Snow on ground is now black, and you're worried that if you touch it, it might drag you in.

Snow turns to slush FAST in a city, so you need to be ready for this. It's equal parts slippery and gross.

If you're having a lot of trouble walking on it, take smaller steps and walk like a penguin with your weight over your front foot, that'll help you from looking like an amateur.

Be ready for heating on high when you enter a building

When you walk into stores, it's going to be like you just arrived in the Bahamas, and it takes some getting used to. I walk quickly and when I arrive at meetings all rugged up, I look like I'm about to sweat through my suit.

Josh's tip: Walk slower before you arrive to your destination and start undressing outside, because then you cool down before entering a toastie-office-oven.

Avoid going out in blizzards

Adhere to the warnings, this one really should be self explanatory. If it's really gross outside, stay inside as much as possible.

Tip your delivery people more

So you're staying inside as per my instructions? Great! If you're getting food delivered now because of that, you're making some other poor person tread cycle or walk through the terrible conditions, so you owe them. Increase your normal tips for the extra bad days.

Finally, I've got my top 5 tips for preparing for winter here.


Josh Pugh

A business founding, digital marketing focused, charity driving, community builder from South Australia, living in New York City. After moving in 2017, Josh realized that there was an opportunity to curate and help the community of expats who moved to the United States – and launched America Josh.View Author posts

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