How's life in Burlington, VT?
July 22, 2008 8:01 AM   Subscribe

How's life in Burlington, VT? I was in Burlington this past weekend and was very pleasantly surprised. Ignorant and judgmental as I am, I was sure it would be a bummer hippy-town where dreadlocked kids would crowd the sidewalks, using falafels as hacky sacks. Instead, I felt like the place had some soul. It certainly felt alive, with lots of different kinds of people in the downtown area. And while I did overhear a tourist couple ask the woman serving them coffee where they could buy a glass pipe, I didn't see any head shops. But I did see some decent looking restaurants. So - can anyone fill me in? Is Burlington on the upswing? What's like like there (or around there) for the post-college, pre-retirement set? Thanks in advance.
posted by subpixel to Society & Culture (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Here are the head shops, if that's important to you to worry about.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:19 AM on July 22, 2008

Yeah, and if your scared by people asking for glass pipes, wait until the You're really gunna love the "soul" there as everone and their grand-mother will be looking for some thing LIKE that....pipe's, papers...i love Burlington!
posted by TeachTheDead at 8:31 AM on July 22, 2008

Burlington is a really nice town, it has great pubs, nice people and easy access to many great outdoor locations in all seasons. Plus parking downtown is like 10 cents for 1 hour.
posted by Vindaloo at 8:40 AM on July 22, 2008

We live nearby and go up to Burlington quite frequently, and like it, but it has this problem that all the other quaint little towns in Vermont and Western Massachusetts have -- there's no real way to make a living. There's no significant industry, few big companies. If you're a nurse, teacher, or cop, or some other profession where your degree makes your career you can probably do okay but as much as we'd love to move up there, with no real cities and a slew of people who want to pay $35000 a year or less for work with any technical underpinnings (web work, analyst type stuff, programming etc.) I don't see how we'd survive, much less buy a house. It's not like everything is way cheaper.

So, cute, yeah, but we've never been able to figure out what people do up there. Everyone can't be making goat cheese and selling maple syrup to tourists.

Maybe someone can enlighten me, because I'd love to live there. It always just seems totally impractical--like, dammit, I'm moving to Vermont and starting an organic snail farm.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 9:03 AM on July 22, 2008 [2 favorites]

I live in Burlington. There are three breweries within walking distance of my apartment. I can think of no reason to live anywhere else.

(Well, unless someone knows a good town with four breweries within walking distance of a nice little apartment.)
posted by The Man from Lardfork at 9:11 AM on July 22, 2008

I have some friends who live in Burlington, and I've always had a good time going up there to visit. It's the kind of place I'd love to live, if there was any work in my field ... which there isn't.

If you can find a job there that'll pay the bills and allow you to live comfortably, I'd say go for it. But unfortunately that's kind of the catch with a lot of otherwise-nice places (particularly in Northern New England); they're great places to live if you can find work.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:35 AM on July 22, 2008

Best answer: I lived in Burlington for a year from January 2007 to January 2008. The people were great, and it's a nice little college town. Unfortunately, as an early 30s single guy I found the pace of life a little slow coming from a 600k-1m population metropolis. If you enjoy things like art museums, broadway style shows, trendy dance clubs, meeting a lot of other like minded adults, then Burlington may not be the place for you. The closest you can get to those things is either a 90 minute (plus customs) drive to the north to Montreal, or a 3 hour drive south east to Boston.

If I had kids, and was married, then Burlington would be an ideal place to live. The school systems are great, and the overall infrastructure is top-notch. Again, the people are fantastic. I very much enjoyed my time there, but am happy to be back in a major metropolitan area with +1m people.
posted by xotis at 10:05 AM on July 22, 2008

Best answer: Well, there are a couple of semiconductor fabs up there, and a few aerospace firms, a medical school, a substantial campus that employs PhD's a-plenty, but certainly no jobs for someone educated (... I am being sarcastic.) If you have some skill worth selling, you probably will be able to find a place there to work that doesn't involve menus or beer. Of course, that's true anywhere, isn't it?

Bring money. Vermont isn't cheap. Property taxes and heating costs are high, but by my standards, housing is reasonably priced. Lake Champlain and the college have an effect on the Burlington real estate market, making it a little more desirable and expensive than for instance, places in the North East Kingdom (i.e., extreme NE Vermont).

To 'real Vermonters', the sprawling nature of Burlington is somewhat of an affront. Like several towns in Vermont (i.e., Stowe, Middlebury, Woodstock, Manchester) it is a winter destination for folks with fashion designer down accessories, Mercedes-Benz SUVs, and primary residences in Connecticutt. There are some trustafarians there, but winter chases off a lot of those folks.

Economic cycles tend to get here last... in either direction.

One nice thing about Vermont, unlike Asheville, NC where I used to live and grew up, is that winter sort of assures that there won't be a rush of retirees here to screw it up. It is not, as my wife says, for pussies. You'll freeze to death here if you aren't careful.

Burlington is where the closest Home Depot is from my house, 60 miles south. Also, it's where the next MacDonald's is. (My interstate exit has the dubious distinction of having a MacDonald's. Phew!)

Good luck with your move.
posted by FauxScot at 10:19 AM on July 22, 2008

Best answer: If anyone is curious, here's a video about life in Burlington.
posted by lubujackson at 11:22 AM on July 22, 2008

We lived in Burlington for years and loved it. There were a million upsides, as you saw during your trip. Downsides? There are NO JOBS.
posted by k8t at 11:39 AM on July 22, 2008

My boyfriend's take:

The majority of Burlington residents are not interested in job creation because they fall into one of four categories: student, retiree, living off government benefits (his words - not mine) or urban refugee with money.

The cost of living is higher than local salaries. Housing is expensive because of imports from NYC, Boston, etc. Dining is 30% higher than it should be. (Not to say that the dining isn't great!)

He says "Temper your ambitions."

The company that he worked for often hired new employees (engineers, etc.) and many left after 1 year because their spouse couldn't find work unless s/he was a teacher, doctor, etc.
posted by k8t at 11:45 AM on July 22, 2008

Response by poster: ask.metafilter rules!
posted by subpixel at 10:26 AM on July 23, 2008

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