What should I know about Vermont living?
May 23, 2012 3:06 PM   Subscribe

What should I know about living in Vermont?

I'm considering picking up and moving to Vermont in the early fall.

Let's say that I will have at least $3,000 (hopefully more like $5,000) when I make the move. I am mid 20s, enjoy theatre, music, farmer's markets, libraries, crafts, and some outdoorsy things (I've never been skiing in my adult life, but I'm willing to change that). I'm not a big drinker or bar-goer, but some nightlife wouldn't hurt. I'm considering getting my master's in something in the next couple of years.

I have a bachelor's in business and have a certificate in european baking and pastry arts. I'm qualified to do most office jobs, as well as some baking, dessert, or pastry type jobs. I wouldn't even mind retail or a B&B (that sounds fun, actuallly!).

Where in Vermont would you suggest I go, and what should I know about living there? Do I need four-wheel drive? How is the job market (yay for the 4th lowest unemployment rate!)? What about apartments/real estate? Are winters as bad as people say they are? Are the people as nice as they say?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions or advice!
posted by firei to Home & Garden (20 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Where will you be moving from?

Vermont is great - very pretty, tons of outdoors stuff to do, but there's a reason for that low unemployment rate - it's also the most rural state in the US.

Fortunately, you have a pretty awesome skill (pastries!) which could totally be put to use at one of the dozens of resort-type B&Bs, ski area businesses or even country-type shops.

I suggest checking out the Waitsfield and Montpelier areas - beautiful, quaint towns with lots to do in the summer and close enough to mountain resorts like Sugarbush to attract business in the winters. This area is also relatively close to Burlington so if you are interested in further pursuing a degree later. Learn to love Cabot cheese, Magic Hat #9 beer and maple syrup!

As for the winters...it's New England. You don't need 4-wheel drive, but you do need to respect that the roads turn to crap at times. Make sure your apartment (which will most likely be a unit in a restored older home depending on where you end up) has adequate heat and precautions in place so the pipes don't freeze (many old homes that are converted don't have this). Get yourself a decent pair of goretex boots, parka and a shovel. Learn to embrace that the weather can change in 5 minutes.

People are as nice as they say. Have fun. Vermont is awesome! :)
posted by floweredfish at 3:27 PM on May 23, 2012

I grew up hearing about the snow that covered the first story windows of my great grandparents' place in Bridgewater, VT. My friends in VT all have 4wd vehicles... I hope you like snow. And mud.
posted by blaneyphoto at 3:29 PM on May 23, 2012

Response by poster: Should have mentioned : I'm moving from lower NYS.
posted by firei at 3:33 PM on May 23, 2012

Best answer: King Arthur Flour has a shop and they have baking classes in Norwich, VT. I went to college in VT so my memories are rose-tinted but it's very pretty and a cool place to live. If you don't like winter you will hate it but otherwise it's 4 great seasons- actually 3 since Spring is usually muddy and gross from snow melt but the other three are awesome. One of the Whitest states in the Union which may or may not matter to you. That link is to their job openings btw
posted by karlos at 3:37 PM on May 23, 2012

I moved from MD to NH in March. Is there any reason you're picking VT? NH has no state income tax and low taxes in general.
posted by zephyr_words at 3:48 PM on May 23, 2012

My sister moved to Vermont in her 20s and found that there weren't that many apartments and they were fairly pricey.
posted by Area Man at 4:05 PM on May 23, 2012

I love Vermont, but some things that you'll want to consider:

- there aren't a ton of jobs
- there is an excellent culinary school (NECI) that has a good pastry program, so the market might be flooded.
posted by k8t at 4:06 PM on May 23, 2012

Best answer: what should I know about living there? Do I need four-wheel drive? How is the job market (yay for the 4th lowest unemployment rate!)? What about apartments/real estate? Are winters as bad as people say they are? Are the people as nice as they say?

I love it here so much.

Winter is serious though this past winter wasn't so bad. Most roads get plowed by commuting time and you can get by without 4WD if you are a smart driver and/or stay off the roads when they are super shitty and/or don't live up a dirt road someplace. Job market isn't great here, same as everywhere and NECI is pretty terrific. That said there are a whole bunch of interesting food-type things going on around here. We even have people in my town [Randolph] milling their own flour. It's an exciting time to be into food and living in VT. Apartments are cheap outside of Chittenden County, sort of expensive/market rate within Chittenden County. Really depends what you are looking for. Houses are basically free if you don't care where you live. People are nice in a New England way which is to say they're often a little reserved, but there are ample opportunities to meet people.

The thing that I think is interesting to me about living in a small town in Vermont is how you basically have to sort of get along with everyone. You don't have to like or love them all but if your neighbor has a bunch of barky dogs you find a way to work it out with them if the noise makes you nuts. If they're Romney supporters and you're an Obama supporter [or vice versa] you still find ways to work together at the food bank. People have a concept of being neighborly even with people they may not share a lot in common with. I think that's small towns anywhere, but if you haven't lived in one it's worth pointing out.

And prepare to drive a lot unless you live in Chittenden County. I had to make peace with the fact that I drive a lot more than I did in Seattle. I can walk most places in town but I have to drive to get to an Indian food restaurant, to see a movie other than the ONE that plays in town, to get a burrito or to go to the dentist. Cultural options other than going out to eat are few and far between but there is a lot of social stuff and people doing volunteerism, so it would be easy for you to hit the ground running doing SOMETHING, might take a bit to get paid for it.

But hey you're on MetaFilter. If you know how to use a computer and you live in a small town there are often lots of opportunities to help people with websites and/or computer stuff if you're decent and patient. I do a lot of that in addition to my MeFi work and I work with a lot of local libraries helping them with stuff. Vermont has an amazing amount of libraries and not as much tech know-how as they maybe should, so there are options. I could basically talk forever about this, so feel free to drop me an email if you have specific questions I could help with, and welcome.
posted by jessamyn at 5:04 PM on May 23, 2012 [4 favorites]

>Learn to love Cabot cheese, Magic Hat #9 beer and maple syrup!

I didn't experience much of a learning curve for any of these... :D
posted by skbw at 5:07 PM on May 23, 2012

Best answer: Vermont is great.

Contrary to what was said above, given your interests and future plans I think you really need to plan to live in or near Burlington. It's a great college town, with the state flagship university, with a quiet but vibrant downtown and convenient to the outdoorsy stuff you like.
posted by gerryblog at 5:53 PM on May 23, 2012

Best answer: And prepare to drive a lot unless you live in Chittenden County.

My mom moved to Vermont this past year and the amount of driving seems absurd to me, who has only ever lived in built-up areas. In buying stuff to set up the house, they managed to drive to both New York and New Hampshire and have to drive into Burlington or to New York to buy some stuff. (There's no Target in Vermont. The closest Wal-Mart to my mom is in New York. Now, in principle, this is perhaps a good thing. But that doesn't mean there's somewhere you could buy, I don't know, a vacuum cleaner.)

My knowledge of Vermont is kind of weak, but I have the impression that if the cultural stuff is a priority for you, Burlington is the way to go.
posted by hoyland at 6:09 PM on May 23, 2012

Best answer: Plan to spend more than you expect on housing. Due to a variety of factors including land use laws, college populations and a relative lack of sprawling development there is not much available housing close to desirable places to live. Burlington in particular has a ridiculously low rental vacancy rate which drives high costs for substandard units. You may well do best to plan to live with roommates.

The job market is mixed. Vermont has very low unemployment, but also little in terms of employment vacancies. You aren't too far to try to line something up before planning a move. Also, expect to make significantly less than you could in downstate NY or the southern New England States.

As others have noted, plan to drive a fair bit. No matter where you live, something cool is happening between ten and forty miles away. If you don't mind long commutes you can save housing costs by living remote from where you work.

All that sounds negative, but living here is awesome! You just need to come into it with eyes wide open and willing to have a different set of priorities. I sleep in Montpelier and work in Burlington so if you do decide to head to this neck of the woods drop a memail and I'd be glad to share more specific ideas.
posted by meinvt at 6:19 PM on May 23, 2012

Best answer: I've been in Brattleboro, VT, for the past nine months, from NYC. I like Vermont a lot. I live close to downtown and don't have a car. Whatever I can't get in town, I buy online. I'm here for circus school, so that and the grocery store are the only places I really need to get on a regular basis. So, a car is very helpful (instead, I have friends with cars), but not actually required, though I'd want one if I were settling in here for good.

Also, compared to NYC, apartments are CRAZY CHEAP. just my perspective.

Your interests make it sound like you'll fit in here just fine.
posted by nevers at 6:35 PM on May 23, 2012

Best answer: I’ve never lived in VT, but my parents and their siblings are from there so I’ve visited probably two dozen times since I was a child.

Taking into account where I spent most of my life (Central Valley California) and from my limited experience actually being in Vermont, here is my pros/cons list:

Pros: Nature everywhere. Fresh air. Very quiet and peaceful. Community members seem to be very close and have deep ties. People are incredibly warm and friendly. Great locally brewed beer. Good hunting and fishing (or so I hear). Autumns foliage is AMAZING.

Cons: Depending on where you are, you’ll probably have to do a lot of driving to get anywhere (this doubly sucks in the winter when the roads are frozen and your ability to go anywhere is completely at the mercy of the weather.) Winters are an absolute bear (though being from NY you may be more used to them than this California boy.). Cow sh*t smell. There are not many immigrants and thus there isn’t not much of an international culture scene (good luck finding decent, authentic tasting Mexican or Japanese food). There aren’t many young people around, unless you’re near one of the universities. Not much of a night life, either.

I know nothing about the job market there, other than that I have four or five cousins in VT that have graduated in the last decade and none of them had any trouble finding work.

If you end up finding work in or near Arlington and are looking for a place to stay, MeMail me. My parents recently completely renovated a cabin on their property there and are looking for tenants.
posted by Kevtaro at 8:04 PM on May 23, 2012

Best answer: If you do move or go to check it out, hook up with the great people at Slow Food Vermont.
posted by Miko at 8:16 PM on May 23, 2012

Best answer: Vermont is awesome. I move here from NYC about two years ago and haven't regretted it.

Driving. Yes. More of that. My snowtires and front wheel drive get me by on a town-maintained dirt road. I have made it through two mud seasons this way.

There is mud season. This baffles my NYC and Boston friends. A whole season? For MUD? Yes. It is why you spend "May away" to the extent possible. May to VT is August to NYC.

Jessamym has it right with community.

Oh? You want to rent a 1 bedroom in Burlington? Be prepared to pay Brooklyn prices. $1200 a month or so. Everywhere else? Rent is cheap.

Learn to ski.

Memail me and I will buy you a six pack of magic hat if you bake me some pastries and tell you all about VT. (VT has a bit of a six pack economy. You mechanic did a good job on your car? He gets a six pack. The guy who tunes your skis kicks you a local's discount? He should see some Long Trail headed his way. The goodwill comes back, and when you find your own fridge loaded with more malt and hops and yeast than you know what to do with, you know you too are loved and appreciated within the community).
posted by slateyness at 9:54 PM on May 23, 2012

Best answer: I love Vermont and although I now nominally live in NYC I spend at least 3 months per year there. Personally I find Addison County to be the most exciting place in the state -- you have the money/excitement of Middlebury College along with some of the most fertile agricultural land around. You end up with a bunch of really interesting food-related things going on. I'll be up there all of June and July, in fact -- if you get up there for a visit, MeMail me and I'd be happy to show you around.
posted by rossmeissl at 10:12 PM on May 23, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks to all! I have to make plans to visit and figure out what's feasible, but I'm excited at the idea. :) I may well take some of you up on the memailing for info later on in the summer.
posted by firei at 5:36 AM on May 24, 2012

Best answer: VT is super cool and it sounds like it would be a great match for you. I grew up here, never left, and seriously- there are many many places that would fit your needs.

I suggest that you investigate Montpelier and Burlington if you want any sort of nightlife. Burlington is just SUCH fun city! There's outdoor concerts, street festivals, plenty of awesome shows.. it's a great place for a twenty-something (IMHO). There are plenty of small towns with liberal enclaves scattered throughout the state, but Jessamyn is right in that you would really want a car and it can get pretty rural.

People are friendly, especially in the bigger cities you should find people to live with once you've been here a bit. Chittenden County (Burlington) is pretty expensive but elsewhere in the state is not bad at all. I'd say the normal range for a Burlington room in a shared apt is $450 (pretty rare) to $700 (pretty nice).

Jobs are kinda tight, but once you get to know people there are jobs to be had.

Good luck! I hope it works out for you! If you have any questions or need info feel free to me-mail me, especially about the Burlington area.

Let's say that I will have at least $3,000 (hopefully more like $5,000) when I make the move. I am mid 20s, enjoy theatre, music, farmer's markets, libraries, crafts, and some outdoorsy things (I've never been skiing in my adult life, but I'm willing to change that).

YOU'LL LOVE IT! come on up! :)
posted by pintapicasso at 6:10 PM on May 24, 2012

Most of the advise in this thread is spot on, with the exception of Magic Hat. Most locals don't drink it, especially now that it is no longer owned by a Vermont company. If you have any questions, feel free to MeMail me too. And if you are in town in mid-August come to our party and you can meet many locals who can help you make your decision.

One bit of advice, If you are single and don't want to remain so, and still want to be in Vermont, live in Burlington. You will pay top rent dollar, but you are more likely to meet people in their mid-20s. If you are okay with being single then be more adventurous, and realise that Vermonters celebrate multi-generationally.
posted by terrapin at 7:01 AM on May 30, 2012

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