"The Midwestern Goodbye" And 23 More Regional Quirks In The US That Surprised People When They Moved Cross-Country

The United States is a big country with a lot of regional quirks that can really surprise even people who've lived here all their lives. Recently, I asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to share things that surprised them when they moved from one state to another, and their responses honestly surprised me, too. Here's what people had to say:

1."I’ve moved a lot. One of the things I find most interesting is what unique local things people learned about in school. In Florida, we had gator safety every year. In Colorado, we spent a lot of time on the Unsinkable Molly Brown. I was also pleasantly surprised to find that in Indiana, it’s not uncommon to be served pizza with a cup of nacho cheese on the side for dipping your crusts in, of course."

Warning sign near a pond reads "Beware of Alligator, Please Do Not Feed The Wildlife." Background shows residential homes and a water fountain in the pond

—Anonymous, Indiana

Oliver De La Haye / Getty Images

2."I moved from Colorado to Connecticut, and I was shocked at all the different monikers. I had no idea what a 'package store' or a 'pocket book' was."


3."I grew up in Las Vegas, and now I live in Indiana. The craziest thing for me is the lack of lights. In Vegas, you can be around more dangerous areas, but I never felt in danger because you can see everything around you, whether it's 1 p.m. or 1 am. The lights of the strip are obviously very bright, but even just the streets the suburbs were all lit up with street lights. After moving to Indiana, I realized how little they actually have street lights at all, let alone light in the rural areas! I became very afraid of being outside because of how much more space was out there and how little of it I could actually see!"


4."In the Midwest, where I’m from, traffic lights are vertical. In Texas, where I moved for school, they’re horizontal."

Street in Austin, Texas with stop lights installed horizontally

—Tom, Indiana

Peeterv / Getty Images

5."Helped move a buddy's family to North Carolina from Arizona. After 38 hours of driving over 2.5 days, we were an hour from our destination. We stopped for gas, and I told him, 'When we arrive, I’m going to take only the rocking chair out and have some beer.' He said, 'Well, you better buy it here because I live in a dry county.' I replied, 'WTF is a dry county!'"


6."My dad lives in rural Washington state, and my mom lives in New England. I grew up bi-coastal from the age of nine. The amount of new versus old cars is something that still gets me two decades later. In New England, an old beater car is most likely from this century, regardless of rural or city. In rural Washington, there are so many more cars from the '80s and '90s still out there looking great and going strong."

"In Washington, they don't use salt on the roads, but most of New England does, so all the cars rot out faster. You can avoid that by getting routine car washes in the winter (like every two weeks at least), but you HAVE TO do the undercarriage! That will extend your car's life easily!

That and the fact that it's been 20+ years, and my dad still thinks it's weird when I say 'wicked,' but that may be a dad thing. "

—Megan, New England

7."I moved from Tennessee to Kansas, and the most interesting quirk I've encountered is what I call the 'Midwestern goodbye.' It takes forever! You visit a friend and let them know you've got to leave, so they walk you to their door to say goodbye. But the conversation continues for at LEAST another half hour! There will be pauses in the convo where I think, 'Okay, this is the end, and I'm leaving now,' but nope! Still more talking to be done. Longest goodbyes I've ever experienced, but at least it shows they like talking to you."

Two women smiling and talking by a window, one holding a mug

—Maggie, Kansas

Oliver Rossi / Getty Images

8."I moved from NYC to Chicago, and I was not prepared to actually have to worry about tornados. The first time I heard tornado sirens, I was losing it. I suffer from anxiety and wow, does this shit trigger it bad."


9."I moved from California to Virginia, and the East Coast LOVES their Timbs. Needless to say, my west coast ass has two pairs now."


10."In California (and I believed everywhere else) a milkshake is milk and ice cream blended together. When I went to college in Massachusetts, I was surprised to be served what was effectively chocolate milk. I guess they took milkshake literally; here they just combine a flavor with milk."

Milkshake with whipped cream and a cherry in a glass, placed on a table in front of a red upholstered booth

—Zac, Boston

Naomi Rahim / Getty Images

11."I moved from California to Texas, and I think the two things that I noticed the quickest were that there are churches EVERYWHERE (like one every quarter mile) and because of church-going, most everything is closed on Sunday and Monday, so you can't just go somewhere to grab something if you run out on Sunday; you'll be waiting until Tuesday afternoon (because nothing opens before 10 either)."


12."I moved from Massachusetts to South Carolina, and there are a few differences. The biggest one to me was that almost nobody locks their car doors here. I was also surprised to be able to buy beer and fireworks in grocery stores; where I’m from, liquor stores are separate and sell beer, and hard liquor and fireworks are illegal to purchase (which means driving to New Hampshire to get them)."


13."In California, they say THE freeway number, but in the Midwest, they just call it by the number. So, for example, in California, they say, 'driving on the 66,' but in Ohio, they say 'driving on 66.' I’ve also been made fun of by Midwesterners for pronouncing pomegranate as pom-uh-GRON-it rather than pom-uh-GRAN-it too many times."

A green highway sign reading "Interstate 5 North Sacramento" with mountains in the background

—Katie, Ohio

Mccaig / Getty Images/iStockphoto

14."Cannot buy any liquor at all on Sunday in central Arkansas EXCEPT in restaurants and bars. But don’t drink and drive!"


15."I moved from Illinois to Texas, and what really shocked me was that there aren’t many basements in Texas. In Illinois, houses have basements, and I liked that. But when I moved to Texas, I was shocked to learn that houses in Texas do not have basements. Now, I kind of regret moving to Texas. Basements were nice."


16."I moved from Wisconsin to Georgia in my early 20’s. I had to quickly adjust and learn 'southern twang' as a second language. My first introduction to this was how folks would pronounce my name. It’s very simple and only spelled with one Y, but when Georgians (born and raised) said it out loud, they’d drag it out and add an additional five Y’s. I also found out that the term 'ma’am' can be used in three different ways in the South."

Atlanta skyline reflected in a lake

17."I moved from northern New York state to Kansas City, Missouri, and honestly, the weirdest thing to me is that 1) people out here use the word 'ornery' all the time and 2) they pronounce it 'onnery.'"


18."Moved from Rhode Island to Michigan about three years ago, and there were some small things, like finally being able to buy alcohol at the grocery store and getting used to longer drives (anything over 20 minutes in RI? Bring snacks). But the biggest thing to me is how Midwesterners simply do not care about bad/severe weather. The 'Midwest dads staring out the window to watch a tornado' stereotype is pretty real! I remember I was hiking down to the beach one day on my favorite trail and saw lightning over the lake. I started hightailing it back up the trail because it’s been burned into me that you get inside when lightning strikes."

"I saw another couple heading toward the beach and warned them about the lightning. They just said, 'Okay, thanks!' and kept it pushing. When I finally made it back to my car, there were people just starting their hikes, lightning clearly visible! I’d like to think I’m pretty well acclimated at this point, but still, nothing makes my New England come out faster than the weather that midwesterners otherwise DGAF about."

—Anonymous, Michigan

19."Moved from Ohio to Virginia. People wear long sleeves, hoodies, and even coats in the warmest weather! It’ll be 60s, 70s, 80s out, and people will be in pants and sweatshirts in the sun! Where I’m from, shorts season starts at 60 degrees."

Woman wearing shorts on a sunny day

—Dana, Virginia

Westend61 / Getty Images/Westend61

20."The South truly embodies and oozes Southern hospitality. Back in California, I never really knew any of our neighbors. Other than the occasional head nod from time to time in passing. In the south, while moving into our new home, neighbors greeted us with cases of water, hand written notes, baked goods, genuine friendly greetings, and well wishes and offered up helping hands, all while everyone was out and about in the neighborhood like a damn Hallmark movie walking their dogs and pushing babies in strollers. My wife teared up as we watched in utter disbelief."

—Cory, Charleston

21."Moved from Utah to Pennsylvania. Pennsylvanians are oddly passionate about their gas stations (Wawa vs. Sheetz); there are a million fall time activities compared to Utah, and it's shocking how buying beer is more restricted here."

—Ann, Hershey

22."I moved from Northern Virginia to Los Angeles 20 years ago, only to find the evening news in L.A. could be about nothing but a car chase. After witnessing 20 years of these chases on any local network, I can’t believe there are still dopes who think they’ll avoid being caught, even though there are five media choppers broadcasting every turn they make."

Police car driving on an empty city street near government buildings, palm trees and a landscaped area

—Beth, Los Angeles

Mattgush / Getty Images

23."In Chicago, we have lingo that only true Chicagoans speak, and when we use these words, people who are not natives or locals are puzzled. Grachi is garage key, sassage is sausage, da is the, soda is pop, over by dere is over by there (what over object it is), jeet yet is did ya eat yet, frunch room is front room, sneakers are gym shoes, down by da Jewel is Jewels grocery store, a Chicago staple, can I go with is I want to go too."

"Past the circle downtown to the post office is traffic report for the circle or bowl, where 90, 94 and 290 intersect downtown with the connections forming a circle shape. Inbound refers to traffic going into the city, whereas outbound is traffic that is out of the city (you’d be surprised as to how many people, especially tourists, can’t figure this out). Our pizza is best when it is in a white bag with a picture of Italy on it, washed down with a cold RC pop.

Finally, and this is a SIN: ketchup on hot dogs. Chicagoans consider this an act of inappropriate behavior of varying degrees, and you will get WTF looks if you are caught participating in such despicable acts. I live in Wisconsin and part-time in Chicago; I’ve always considered myself a Chicago girl and never fully a Wisco. Last summer, while attending an event at the United Center, I put ketchup on my hot dog, and it was delicious. Then again, I’m a Wiscagoan (a WI-Chicago blend), so I deserve a pass for that."

—Dani, Wisconsin and Chicago

24.And finally, "I grew up in New Mexico, but when I graduated college, I moved to South Carolina. On my first trip to the grocery store, the clerk at the checkout asked me to give her my 'buggy.' It took me a while to realize that she was asking me to push the shopping cart forward so she could put the bagged items in it."

—Marc, New Mexico

What funny regional quirks have you encountered in the United States? Tell us about them in the comments!