Where to move in Vermont?
October 18, 2007 1:42 PM   Subscribe

I'm thinking of moving to VT. Which towns would you recommend that have the following qualities:

- A sustained sense of community
- An active, family-friendly town center, ideally with decent bookstore(s) and restaurant(s)
- Welcoming to strangers: I've heard the state is cold metaphorically as well as temperately. Is that generally true? I'd be willing to hear about towns that are welcoming relative to other VT towns, as opposed to, say, Savannah, GA. I'm a New Englander anyway, so my expectations may be low.
- On the youngish side (I suppose I'm not so young, but to be clear, I'm not looking for a place to retire to)
- World-aware: residents who are a mix of broad-minded, well-traveled, articulate
- Technically welcoming: a town that's planned or poised with all mod cons
- Eco-oriented: actively supportive of or leading in alternative energy applications
- And, because what's a question without bonus points: within biking distance of an excellent hardware store

I'm looking for smaller towns that I haven't heard of, but if Burlington and Middlebury are right on target, feel free to Nth them.

For reference, I've read these.
posted by cocoagirl to Travel & Transportation around Vermont (23 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
posted by alms at 2:15 PM on October 18, 2007

Jessamyn lives in Bethel and (would seem to) take visitors on occasion.
posted by phrontist at 2:21 PM on October 18, 2007

i liked burlington when i visited. if it wasn't so durn cold in the winter, i'd love to live there.
posted by thinkingwoman at 2:29 PM on October 18, 2007

I think your ideal Vermont town would be Hanover, New Hampshire. But Norwich is right across the river and features Dan and Whit's.
posted by backupjesus at 2:37 PM on October 18, 2007

I lived in Waitsfield. It was okay, but little to do. Bethel's okay. Rochester's okay. In the end I had to move to Bton out of boredom and lack of employment.
posted by k8t at 2:44 PM on October 18, 2007

Montpelier isn't bad either - more employment for sure.
posted by k8t at 2:47 PM on October 18, 2007

My wife and I visited Montpelier a couple of years ago, and were charmed. If fits the restaurant bill especially well, because it's home to the New England Culinary Institute.
posted by jon1270 at 2:58 PM on October 18, 2007

I moved to New England from Ohio. My parents were born and raised in Vermont and New Hampshire, so it felt like home. People here are more reserved. It took a while to make friends, but those friendships have lasted. If you plan to stay, the 'coldness' may not be a big deal in the long run.

I think you'll find that University and College towns will be more likely to have the atmosphere you describe.
posted by theora55 at 3:15 PM on October 18, 2007

montgomery, st albans, st johnsbury, vergennes.

my bf says: if there are 3k plus people, it'll meet your needs.
posted by k8t at 3:18 PM on October 18, 2007

It's true that Hanover NH has many (all?) of the things on your list...but it's full of students, and the town is teeny and thus dominated by the college in a way that say, Burlington isn't.

Woodstock's kinda touristy, but has restaurants and bookstores and whatnot. Probably wicked expensive, though.

Years ago I had friends in Putney - loved it when I visited.
posted by rtha at 3:24 PM on October 18, 2007

Bethel doesn't come close to meeting cocoagirl's requirements, although it has it's charm.

I'd also vote for Montpelier, although that's only based on many day trips, I never lived there. Having NECI there is a big bonus to the food scene.

Stowe could be interesting if you can stand not being able to get through the center of town during the height of tourist season. It does have restaurants and lots of community events. And a young crowd who work the bars and hotels in town. Waterbury is next door, and probably easier to live in day to day, with trips to Stowe for shopping and restaurants.

My brother has lived in Johnson for 15 years, which is a small college town, but too far north for most people.
posted by saffry at 3:28 PM on October 18, 2007

I'd say White River Junction, if you're looking for something a little less pricey than Hanover/Norwich. It's the next town over, more artsy, less of a college influence. The whole area is very bike-friendly. I'm living there now, drop me a line if you're in the area and want someone to show you around.
posted by strikhedonia at 3:33 PM on October 18, 2007

I know you asked for Vermont, but seeing how Hanover has been mentioned, I'm going to throw Portsmouth, NH out there too... I lived there for 10+ years, and it has everything you're looking for (and no income tax!).
posted by MiaWallace at 3:33 PM on October 18, 2007

I was born and raised and live in Brattleboro.

I think it matches all of your criteria.

If you want to learn more and get a feel for the community, the Brattleboro Town Website and iBrattleboro are good places to start.
posted by doomtop at 3:43 PM on October 18, 2007

Based on your criteria, I'd rank the towns of Vermont thusly:

1. Burlington
2. Montpelier
3. Brattleboro
4. Waterbury
5. Middlebury
6. White River Junction

Burlington is head and shoulders above the crowd, though. Bethel, St. Johnsbury, St. Albans and Vergennes are great towns (I used to live in Vergennes) but do not meet your criteria.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:54 PM on October 18, 2007

I moved to Vermont about four years ago, and -- having decided to stay a while -- I'm looking at much the same criteria. I landed initially in Williston, but knew that it was a temporary locale while I searched out somewhere more permanent.

I'd certainly rank Battleboro and Middlebury high on the list, and Burlington, too... though I would note that, as Vermont's largest town, Burlington has some of the same concerns that face (much) larger cities.

I'm very fond of Montpelier, and while it's likely to top my list, I suspect I won't buy there... property taxes in Montpelier are obscene. If you're a renter and not a buyer, this may not be a problem.

I'm currently focused on the Waterbury / Waitsfield / Warren corridor.
posted by deCadmus at 6:11 PM on October 18, 2007

Thanks for all the answers. Several towns here I wasn't aware of and I'm looking forward to exploring them deeper. I've spent a fair bit of time in Putney and Brattleboro, and was looking to expand the options, but I agree they are great towns. Something about NH has never sat right with me, but I'll look into Hanover & Portsmouth out of fairness and curiosity.
posted by cocoagirl at 7:20 PM on October 18, 2007

if you end up in Waitsfield, Waterbury or Rochester. I'd happily put you in touch with some folks.
posted by k8t at 7:26 PM on October 18, 2007

If I were you I'd go with Montpelier or Middlebury, for the community, younger crowds, and overall sense of perhaps being able to "make it" - decent availability of jobs, more people = more opportunity to make friends, etc. I've lived in Woodstock, Rutland, and Killington, and while I loved each for certain reasons (well... Rutland less so), they are tough towns to move to. They are a bit "cold", if you don't know people before hand or work in a certain environment (like the ski area - and btw, DON'T do that), but are lovely to live in proximity to and visit on occasion.

Actually, thinking about it more, Middlebury would likely be my choice. It's very pretty. But I also love college towns :)
posted by AthenaPolias at 9:00 PM on October 18, 2007

cocoagirl: I live in Portsmouth (actually .8 miles outside, but you get it) and would be happy to talk to you about it, or host a look-see visit.

It does have everything you want. Before I moved here, I had a weird odd feeling about NH (all white, conservative, starched, Yankee Republicans is what I thought) and I was about 180 degrees wrong. This small city with a lot happening is a well kept New England secret.
posted by Miko at 9:13 PM on October 18, 2007

I've lived in NH, too, and Portsmouth (along with Newmarket and Durham, just outside of Portsmouth) are the only towns that meet your criteria. Even so, I wouldn't rank them higher than 5th or 6th on my listing above. Also, keep in mind -- if you follow/participate in local/state politics at all, New Hampshire will want to make you punch yourself in the face on a regular basis.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:36 AM on October 19, 2007

Just be sure you know what you're getting into in regards to the weather and your job situation.
posted by DarkForest at 6:07 AM on October 19, 2007

Do you need a job? Woodstock fits many of your criteria, but it's difficult to make enough money there to live there.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:11 AM on October 19, 2007

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