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Moving to Vermont

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Jan 2000

We're considering moving to Vermont. My memories of this state is limited to a few days I spent there in the summer many years ago. I'm wondering if anyone (preferrably someone who has lived/spent some time there) can tell me a) which areas of the state are more diverse/open minded than others. b) which areas/cities are less vulnerable to those wicked winter storms that I've been reading about? and c) what are some general comments about living in Vermont. Thanks much for any feedback related to these questions.


Annie

I grew up in Vermont, stopped living there 14 years ago, but have kept in touch with friends who are still there. You ask about open-mindedness, and there are two answers to that question. One is, most places in Vermont are *very* open-minded, most people who live there are fairly liberal. The second answer is, the places/people which are conservative are of the "I'll mind my own business, you please mind yours" variety. So it's kind of a win either way. Let's face it, the legislature just voted in domestic partnership laws, and they very cleverly based it on the state constitution to avoid overturning in federal courts. And I believe Bernie Sanders is still their U.S. senator (third party fellow, naturally, and was the mayor of Burlington when I lived there).

I grew up in Northern Vermont, living in a rural mountain farming (dairy) village, an island on Lake Champlain, and the city of Burlington. Much has changed since I lived in any of those places. The rural village is no more; the farmers have all gone and the land is quite developed -- many, many houses. Yet, it's all still nestled among the hills and rivers, so it maintains much of its beauty. The islands used to be very rural, mostly dirt roads, very isolated (at one time, most of the residents were either inter-related or could trace their lineage back to Ethan & Ira Allan and the Revolutionary War :). Today, much of the islands are simply a bedroom community for the Burlington area -- again, gone are the dairy farms and the fruit orchards. And again, the beauty of the landscape still shines through all the nonsense. Burlington is Burlington is Burlington. As cities go, it's a very nice one, perched on a long slow hill by the lake. And it has that college-town atmosphere; aside from the University of Vermont, there must be at least 6 or 8 other colleges of one kind or another in the area. It's bustling, and the cultural center of the state. I'm also somewhat familiar with central Vermont, the Montpelier area. The pace there is slower, the development not so heavy. It's the state capital, so of course the atmosphere is charged with that. And yet, there is a sleepy quality to it that Burling lost long ago. As for the weather, I'm not sure what your worries are. If you just don't like the cold -- well...

No one area of Vermont seems subject to worse snow storms than another, unless you're thinking of living right up by the Canadian border. It tends to be a little colder and snowier there. But in any case, here is the thing: the state highway department is prepared. They take storm warnings seriously and prep the roads *before* it hits, then keep the roads plowed throughout the bad weather. Also, most people there are used to driving in snow and ice; you just don't see the wacky accidents that you would in say, D.C., where they hardly get snow and no one knows what to do. I remember, as a kid, we always kept emergency supplies in the trunk in the winter -- sleeping bag(s), flashlight, etc. and (in the days before cell phones) usually we had a CB radio in the car. I should note, we never had to use those things, but it would have been silly not to have them. Many people who live there buy cars that can switch from 2- to 4-wheel drive. Subarus sell like hot cakes. I don't know what the current thought is on global warming, but I can tell you, the reputation Vermont has is probably much worse than the reality. In 1968-74, sure, we got piles of snow, and for about two weeks in mid-January, the temperature would drop to -10 or -20 F, and stay there. Never mind the wind chill factor! We jokingly said that Vermont had five seasons: fall, winter, mud season, spring ... and August. It got very cold, and it never seemed to really warm up till August, and then it only lasted about 5 weeks. :) But by the time I left in the late '80s? It was raining all winter long, and temperatures would sometimes hit 85 F by May. There has been more snowfall the past few years, but really, it tends not to stick around. And I'll say it again, Vermont road management is superb. I can't say much about southern Vermont, except perhaps that the communities there differ, being made up in part by people from the Boston and New York areas who are looking for vacation homes or possibly retirement homes. Well, that was probably much too long, but I hope it helps.


To the person interested in moving to Vermont. I grew up there and hope to move back with my husband and son in the next year or so. I grew up in Windsor, which is on the Connetticut River,just south of White River Junction and Hanover, NH (where Dartmouth is). Vermont is much more open-minded than most people imagine. Just look at the recent VT Supreme Curt decision regarding Gay & Lesbian marriage. The towns in and around the major colleges (Bennington, Brattleboro, Middlebury and of course, Burlington) are generally more socially-aware just because of the influx of students. However, I've found that interesting, socially conscious and aware folks can be found in any town in Vermont. One difficulty newcomers face is breaking through the "crusty" exterior. My mom moved to VT in 1969 and is still considered an "outsider" even today! However, once you make one friend, more follow. Neighbors are supportive and a great help in times of need (providing a jump-start, plowing the! ! driveway, chopping wood). 2. The weather is pretty harsh the closer you get to Burlington because of Lake Champlain. The wind is brutal! However, the Green Mountains really look great in snow. Like many states, it can snow a ton in one area and in another (only 10 minutes away) can get very little snow. A case in point, Windsor got 12 inches last weekend, and Springfield Vt (15 miles away) got less than 6.

I loved growing up in Vermont and the rural life. I have a 14 mo.old child and my husband and I hope to relocate before he is of schooling age. We're looking to live within a 30 mile radius of a larger town (Bennington, Brattleboro, Hanover, Montpelier, Rutland). Be prepared to drive everywhere because the grocery store may be 10 miles away, the movies 15 miles etc. However, the roads are quiet, the scenery stunning and traffic jams non-existent. Vermont has changed in the last decade or so with the hugh influx of out of staters buying second homes. It's possible to find espresso in most towns and Thai restaurants. I think visitors are surprised that Vermonters actually want and like such things. The cost of living is much cheaper (check out realtor.com for houseing prices) and the quality of life (in my opinion) is that much better. The state passed Act60 which related to education and equalizing the amount spent on each school. It has caused quite a stir, but the bottom line is that schools are better funded throughout the state. Of course I am biased, but I think Vermont is a lovely place to move.


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