Michigan to Wyoming...Culture Shock? (Cheyenne, Casper: transplants, sales, power lines)
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My husband is thinking about transferring within his company from where we live in Michigan, which is a fairly well populated township (30,000) just outside of Toledo, Ohio, to Riverton, Wyoming. Where we live now, we are right next to a fairly large city with a mall within 15 minutes of our house and all kinds of restaurants, Wal-Mart, etc. We also live about 45 min. from Detroit for when we want to go to a really big city.
My question is, would it be a real culture shock to go from living in a highly populated area near two cities, to living in Riverton? I have done a little bit of research, and I realize that the nearest mall is probably in Casper, and that there is a lot of wide open space out there and that we would be hours from the nearest large city. Has anyone experienced a move like this? Was it hard? We are not afraid of change or of being out in the "boonies", so to speak, but I still wonder.
Where we live now, we are right next to a fairly large city with a mall within 15 minutes of our house and all kinds of restaurants, Wal-Mart, etc. We also live about 45 min. from Detroit for when we want to go to a really big city.
You'll still have 2 *-Marts (Wal and K) in town, but only a small handful of restaurants that have digestible food. My wife and I over in Lander eat out about 1 meal a month on average. Not only cheaper, but tastier food... in most cases (there are a couple favorites we have). But you're a 3 hour round trip drive from Sams club or the closest mall and 6 hours one way from the nearest cities (Salt Lake, Billings and Denver are all about the same drive).
So I can see culture shock if you're used to always going out to a mall or into the city to entertain yourself. And I can see you being fine if you're used to entertaining yourself near home. The movie theaters here are a HUGE dissapointment if you're used to multi-plexes (my wife loves to go to the movies but refuses to go here), for whatever it's worth.
So, how do you normally entertain yourself? That will be the deciding factor.
Based upon my seeing a fair number of Michigan folks coming ... and then leaving very quickly, within 6 months ... I'd say that you're in for a very severe "culture shock".
Consider, if you will, that your Michigan "township" would be the 3rd largest "city" in Wyoming. Our two biggest cities are only 50,000 people ... Casper and Cheyenne. So there's no "big city" nearby with the many cultural events, movie screens, theaters, restaurants (including chain franchises or local quality places), shopping, or competitive services. Many small towns here have only one or two options for your essentials, if at all.
I think the biggest culture shock I heard from the transplants was their disappointment over the entertainment options here. Even though they were "big" outdoors fans (hunters and fishermen), they couldn't get over how few choices they had for entertainment. They simply weren't used to having to entertain themselves ... nor were their families able to adjust to the limited options. Many also couldn't take the severity of the Wyoming climate ... it's more brutal with the intense wind gusts and low temps than they were used to "back home" ... all has a lot to do with the altitude here compared to Michigan, and the long distances between home and shopping and schools and recreation.
Even in the city of Cheyenne, most folks head to Ft Collins or Denver for their major shopping.
In Gillette, they head to Rapid City. Similarly, the folks in the north part of Wyoming head to Billings.
Another aspect of culture shock: "work ethic". Not trying to insult the MI workers, but they seem to have a difficult time understanding that employment here means you show up to work and pull your share of the load. Apparently, that's not what they had to do "back home". I've seen WYDOT hire a lot of workers from MI and they didn't like having to do the work, even though it was similar in nature to what they were employed to do "back home". I understand that over half of the MI workers brought into Wyoming DOT have left in very short order to go "back home" even though times were very tough back there.
I moved to Lander Wyoming from the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St.Paul suburb to be exact) as a 28 year old single mom and yes, there was a little culture shock involved. Give yourself at least 6 months to acclimate... the biggest thing I missed was not the shopping but the "Greenery".. you will be moving to a desert/mountainous area and it does take some getting used to the lack of deciduous forests that are abundant in the mid-west. Even though I had to move back to MN for medical reasons, I've missed Wyoming ever since and am planning to move back as soon as a job opportunity arises in my field of study (English teacher-graduating in May).
As far as mall shopping I know many go to Billings MT(no state sales tax), or down to Colorado or Utah for that sort of thing, but with a super center Walmart, most if not all of your major chain fast food joints, and a few local places for eating out, and as Brian pointed out- Kmart, Pamida, Walgreens, and Alco (no Target, sadly)... Riverton has a lot to offer for your general shopping needs. There is also a community college in Riverton which puts on plays and other cultural events. The outdoor recreation opportunities are boundless...
As for the movie theatres, I can only say I visited the one in Lander so no idea how Riverton's is, but right now I live in a small northwestern Minnesota town of 7500 so I don't think it would be too much of a shock moving from here versus the twin cities.
If you want to private message me I'd be happy to share any more insights/experiences with you. Good luck with your decision.
I'll disagree with Sunsprit regarding the weather. After one and a half winters here, I've come to the the conclusion that Wyoming's "harsh winters" are a story that the locals tell to keep outsiders from moving in.
Casper and Detroit are comparable, winter-wise.
Casper has "cold" temperatures of 10 below. Detroit has cold temperatures in the single digits.
Casper has strong winds and sunny skies most every day. Detroit has miserable dampness and overcast skies for weeks at a time.
Casper has some snow, but it's real light and fluffy (almost like the fake snow in the mall's Christmas display) and it mostly just blows away. Detroit has wet, heavy snow that just keeps coming. I've shoveled my driveway twice this winter so far. It was easy, because the snow's so light. In Michigan, I gave up shoveling years ago and just hired teenagers to do it. That wet, heavy snow is much worse than what I get here.
Skunkape.. keep in mind that the last 4 years here have been REALLY mild due to the 15 year drought that's going on. The winters were far worse in the 80's and early 90's when I was growing up here. The longer you've lived in WY, the more memories of Really bad ones you'll have. Last winter (not sure if Casper had the same as Lander/Riverton) was GREAT! It was the perfect winter... this one, by contrast, is about as lame as they get. Bad was 1990-ish... we got socked in with an inversion, HIGH temps were in the -10s for about 3 weeks straight. I remember another where we got socked in for several days with massive snow fall and downed power lines. People spent their whole day digging to the wood pile and stocking up the house. Thankfully our neighbors had a gas range that made cooking possible. Made for great memories.
Brian_M - I'll keep that in mind. Winters have been mild in the midwest recently, too (until this year, that is.) I still remember the blizzard on '76, in Ohio. When I was a kid, we'd walk eight miles to school through six feet of snow, uphill both ways. We'd wear onions on our belts, and be dang proud of it. For Christmas, we'd each get a piece of coal. If it was a mild year, we'd get to hold it for a few minutes before we threw it into the fire.
I'm not too concerned about downed power lines out here. Back home, the trees would get iced up and branches fall off and take out the lines. We've only got two trees in Casper, and they look pretty sturdy.
/still ain't falling for the "harsh winter" spiel
//tell it to somebody else
///ain't moving back - you're stuck with me
Sorry, SunkApe ... but Riverton isn't Casper when it comes to climate. The OP was asking about Riverton, I believe. There's a huge difference in weather severity between sea level cold weather (with the humidity) and winter at altitude when severe weather moves in.
My wife grew up in WI, which also has "lake effect" cold snaps with moisture. She says that those winters were a lot easier to deal with than what we have in Cheyenne. Our average wind energy density in this region is a lot higher than the MidWest.
Typical Weather for Detroit, MI - Normal High / Low / Average Temperature for Detroit, MI (http://www.accuweather.com/us/mi/detroit/48201/forecast-normals.asp?partner=accuweather&traveler=1&zipChg= 1 - broken link)
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