20 Things You Need to Know Before Moving to New Orleans

If you are thinking about putting down roots in the Big Easy, we are happy to have you. But there are a few things you should know first.

New Orleans is one of the most cultured cities in the United States and it’s multitude of traditions can be overwhelming for newcomers. Here are a few things to know to prepare yourself for life in the city.

1. Everyday is a (food) party.

While Nola is known for its great parties and amazing food, did you know that everyday the week in New Orleans has its own signature dish? That’s right, in most New Orleans homes and restaurants you’ll find a seven day menu that includes Red Beans and Rice on Mondays and bountiful baskets of seafood on Fridays. Yum!

2. “What school did you go to?”

Identifying by the high school you went to is a rite of passage for most New Orleanians. Often times school rivalries, marching bands and mascots are used as a form of bonding within the community. So if you are new to the area, be prepared to duck the question. Oh and high school football games? Bigger than the Superbowl in the Big Easy. 

3. Everyone is a “baby.”

Around these parts, the word baby is a term of endearment that has many different uses in the New Orleans vernacular. Here are some examples: “Whats happenin baby”= Good Morning. “Hey Baby, How You?”= “Although this is my first time meeting you, I feel like I know you and I’m just genuinely nice.”

4. It’s a bird, it’s a plane…nope, it’s a dragonfly.

But we call them “mosquito hogs”. Blame it on the fact that dragonflies are endearingly called “mosquito hawks” and toss in a little bit of Creole/French vernacular and Volia! You have a mosquito hog. 

5. Ever had a “misbelief”?

Japanese Plums, also known as loquats are sweet yellow plump fruit that grows in New Orleans for a few weeks in the spring. They are called “misbeliefs” due to a skew on the Italian word for “loquat”.

6. Meet me on the “neutral ground.”

If you ever hear someone refer to a “neutral ground”, they are referring to the median in the street. This so called neutral ground is the local term for the grassy and often landscaped divide that runs down the middle of our larger streets.

7. “Making groceries”

Although New Orleans is an artistic and creative hub where people do indeed create, we haven’t quite started actually making groceries… yet. This lovely term means to go shopping for groceries.

8. Welcome to Pothole Park.

Potholes. Get used to them, love them, know them, become them. These babies line some of the most historical streets in New Orleans, and if you aren’t aware of them,  you may lose a tire and little bit of your dignity.

9. Snowballs, hucklebucks and cold drinks, oh my!

Cold confections in New Orleans have their own cute little names and are pretty tasty.

Snowballs are typically served during the summertime and are cups of soft shaved ice loaded with flavored syrup. Hucklebucks can be found at almost any neighborhood store, and consists of frozen juice in a cup. Lastly, “cold drinks” in New Orleans are actually soft drinks, because apparently those are the only drinks that are kept cold.

10. Festival season is year round.

Festivals in New Orleans used to take place only in the summer months, but now you can enjoy them year round. From Jazz Fest to the Seafood Fest to the National Fried Chicken Festival, there is definitely something for everyone to enjoy.

11. “Where did you get them shoes?”

If you ever have anyone come up to you proclaiming that they can tell you where you got your shoes from, RUN. Well, don’t run but politely refuse them and keep it moving. Turns out that this a scam and no one has time to lose a nice pair of shoes.

12. Nature trails galore

New Orleans also has many secret nature trails and hiking spots that will tickle the fancies of any nature enthusiast. There are several  hidden trails including the ones within City Park and The Audubon Nature Center.

13. Follow the second line.

Secondlines in New Orleans are a historical tradition where people take to the streets to dance and celebrate. This parade of people typically consists a brass band, followed by a group of people called the “second line”. The reasons for these impromptu parties can range from a funeral, a wedding or even just because. The term second line comes from those who follow the band just to enjoy the music.

14. What alcohol laws?

You can pretty much buy the good stuff anywhere in New Orleans, and even on Sundays.

Feel free to sample the various creative cocktails that the French Quarter and beyond has to offer because there is plenty to try. Also, don’t worry about having to finish that drink inside, you can totally carry it around the city as the liquor laws are a lot more relaxed.

15. Staying somewhere? It’s probably haunted.

Everything in New Orleans is old, really old and has a lot history. Therefore, everything is haunted. The buildings, the streets, and even the pigeons. The city offers many self tours and guided tours around the most haunted parts of the city. Try staying in a “haunted hotel” and really live it up.

16. Dance to the beat.

Take a stroll through the French Quarter, Frenchmen Street or in the Bywater to experience some free and pretty awesome music. You can hear many different types of music including jazz, hip-hop, house and reggae. New Orleans is a great place for new and blossoming artists to prosper and build a fanbase.

17. Mardi Gras is a month long event.

Mardi Gras begins on January the 6th and lasts all the way until Fat Tuesday, which is about five weeks long. Parades typically take place at night and feature elaborate floats and marching bands. You can also get king cakes during Mardi Gras Season which are cinnamon flavored cakes adorned with brightly colored sugar crystals.

18. Bouncin’ around.

Bounce music is a local style of music that is characterized by call and response dance music and energetic beats. Big Freedia is one of the most well known bounce artists and can be heard in Beyonce’s 2016 hit “Formation”.

19. Use the streetcar to save time.

The streetcar runs on three different lines which are the St. Charles Line, Canal Street, and the Riverfront Line. These cars can take you all around the city and the fares are only $1.25.

20. The weather is erratically pleasant.

Be prepared for rainstorms in July, warm weather on Christmas and random snow flurries every so often. When the rest of the United States is covered from head to toe in snow and ice, you will be nice and humid with a crawfish in one hand and a beer in the other.

Jessica Johnson