A Guide to Moving to: Vermont

(It’s time to brush up on those tree identification skills)

So you’re considering a move to Vermont, huh? Well you came to the right place, friend. We've compiled a bite-sized guide to all things Vermont that touches on some of the biggest factors worth mulling over before a big move. 

No matter where you choose to move in Vermont, you can find affordable home insurance within our trusted network.

This guide is full of all sorts of facts, both helpful and weird, and should give you a good foundation to work with before ultimately deciding if Vermont is the state for you. Time to grab a bottle of maple syrup, this is gonna be fun.

Vermont in a Nutshell

The Green Mountain State has been likened to living inside a brochure thanks to its breathtaking scenic landscapes. They’re absolutely perfect for taking sweet panoramic photos and posting them to your social media sites.

People-wise, though, it's a bit on the quiet side. In fact, the current population is only 623,960, which makes Vermont the second-smallest state by population, right behind Wyoming. In fact, Montpellier is the nation's smallest capital city, with less than 10,000 people located there.

But don’t let those numbers scare you. What Vermont lacks in people, it makes up for in epic wilderness. And trees are known to be way nicer than most people. The state has a vibe of its own, and can be thought of as almost a different world compared to the rest of the country—almost like stepping back in time. 

But before you go all-in and make the time warp to Vermont, let’s talk about some numbers and other fun facts.

Job Market

With such a small population, it could be easy to feel concerned about the job market in Vermont. In fact, Vermont has only three cities with more than 10,000 people, and Burlington takes the gold medal with a current population of 42,000. But that also means that there are fewer Vermonters who do whatever it is that you do, which means fewer obstacles between you and your ultimate success.

With a current unemployment rate of 2.8%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Vermont is definitely working hard. And Zippia lists Vermont’s fastest-growing gigs as: psychologist, taxi driver, marketer, personal care assistant, software developer, management consultant, massage therapist and computer technician. So there’s no shortage of diverse options out there, which is nice. 

But what about the pay? Well, for starters, the state’s minimum wage is currently $10.50/hour, which lies well above the federal minimum. And on the opposite side of the spectrum, Zippia also mentions the highest-paying positions as anesthesiologist, surgeon, OB/GYN, psychiatrist, dentist, CEO and architect manager. So there really is something for everyone.

Housing

Once you've landed in Vermont to stay, you’ll probably be on the hunt for a new place to live. So let's take a lil’ dive into the housing market to see what you’ll be working with.

To start with, the median value of Vermont homes is currently $195,000. Home values have shown a nice little rise recently, increasing 1.8% over the past year. And as for homes that are currently on the market, the median price is right around $259,000, with the majority being built in the 1980s. 

But if you're dead-set on finding a brand-new place, don’t worry, because there is a crazy amount of new construction popping up all over the state—like seriously, tons. Most of it, however, is centered throughout the north, in/around Burlington and Montpellier, followed by some development further south, around Manchester. 

But what if mortgages aren’t your thing? No problem. According to bestplaces.net, you can get a one-bedroom apartment in Montpellier at a crazy-low $737/month. Jackpot! Otherwise, for a comparable one-bedroom in Stowe, you’ll pay around $825/month, and Burlington will set you back about $953/month. Which is pretty incredible still, considering Burlington is like THE hotspot in Vermont. 

So if you're dreaming of finding a new place, you'll be in luck in Vermont. Home values are on the rise and there’s an abundance of affordable apartments available, too. Are you feeling inspired, yet?

Culture and Natives

A quick visit to city-data shows that people have plenty to say about Vermonters being "wonderfully nice" folks who love the beauty and simplicity of their state.

Residents take pride in having families that have remained in the state for several generations, calling themselves "real Vermonters" and the rest "flatlanders," but in a super-endearing way. There's even a local saying, "Gotta have four in the ground," which refers to having all of your grandparents being buried in the same place. Now, while that may seem a bit extreme, it just reinforces their home-state pride and loyalty.

Part of Vermont's appeal is the many miles of unspoiled environments where urbanization has been kept at bay. Residents find it refreshing to not see fast food chains on every corner of their town. In fact, there are only five Walmart stores in the entire state, with the first one built as recently as 1996. Perhaps even more interesting/impressive, though, is the fact that Montpellier is the US capital city without a McDonald's—looks like someone’s not "lovin' it".

Being a state full of only small towns, many feel Vermont has a neighborly, helpful vibe throughout the state. Still, there are disputes over what the people here are actually like. What some locals refer to as "matter-of-factness" by neglecting to sugarcoat anything, others call "rudeness." Well, you can’t please everyone. Think of Vermont as one part small-town feel, one part east coast ‘tude.

Each town is said to have its own distinct personality. Many say that Burlington, despite being the biggest city, is not an accurate representation of Vermont as a whole. But it does have a bunch of super-cute shops and convenient conveniences that are well worth the often-short commute from your hometown. 

Green Mountain State Trivia

 Vermont’ has built a nice little reputation as being a pretty liberal-leaning and politically progressive state. In fact, liberal leaders Bernie Sanders and Howard Dean, who’ve both held office in Vermont, made separate runs for President of the United States. 

The state’s motto, “Freedom and Unity,” has held true since its inception. In 1777, Vermont became the first state in the nation to outlaw slavery. And in 2000, it became the first state to establish civil unions for same-sex couples, with same-sex marriage legalized in 2009. Always good to see a state practicing what they preach, eh? All that love has even earned them notice as the state with the least amount of violent crime, too.

Vermonters are also known to have some strong agricultural roots. In fact, even today, farmers markets are like a way of life for Vermonters. They’re all over the state–large pop-up tents where vendors can sell their wares, from produce to Vermont’s finest dairy products. 

And speaking of the state’s award-winning cow-based products, next time you find yourself in Healdville with a hankering for a wheel of cheese, the Crowley Cheese Factory is a must-visit. Founded in the Crowley’s kitchen in 1824, it’s America’s longest-running cheesery. A visit here is like a smooth slice of aged cheddar, filled with history and a bit of elegance. 

And if you’ve ever had boy troubles, you definitely know Vermont’s famous friends, Ben & Jerry. Their ice cream magic began in Burlington in 1978, and the main factory remains in the town of Waterbury. A tour here is definitely worth it for the samples alone.

Like we mentioned earlier, the scenery here is gorgeous. There’ are photo ops galore in this state. Vermont has over 100 rustic covered bridges, and odds are pretty good you'll see someone with a painter’s easel set up in front of at least one. You could even put together a pretty great personal tour for yourself by searching the locations online and following the maps. 

The scenery here is arguably the most beautiful in fall, with all of the autumn leaves creating an overwhelming atmosphere. But many locals take the other side in the debate, claiming that winter is the winner of this beauty pageant, with its snow-capped trees and mountains. However, not many put up much of an argument about Vermont’s third season, non-affectionately called "mud season." This is when the snow all melts and turns dirt roads and driveways into a sloppy brown mess. Ew.

Residents mention that the small population has one huge advantage—little to no traffic. Which is great here, since the lay of the land has you pretty much driving 10 miles or more for simple errands. But even if you do somehow find yourself stuck in a traffic jam, at least you have one of the greatest nature channels to watch as you sit at a dead stop, and that ain’t half bad.

Can't-Miss Vermont Fun + Activities

Whether you’re looking to make the move to Vermont for good or just stopping by for the cheese and the bridges, Vermont has plenty to see and do.

Here are just a few of the state's main attractions:

  • The Penguin Plunge: Started in 1996 during the Burlington Winter Carnival, it’s a very popular fundraising event for Vermont’s Special Olympics organization. Basically, a bunch of daredevils and folks who’ve lost a bet jump into Vermont's frigid waters after being financially supported by others in the community. We’re not sure we’d be brave enough to take the plunge, but we'd happily stand by and watch those that did.
  • Vermont Maple Festival: This three-day annual event takes place in St. Albans in late spring. It's basically a giant maple syrup love fest, which Vermonters are absolutely crazy for. There are craft shows, exhibits, a parade and of course a pancake breakfast (sorry if waffles or French toast are more your thing). And what kind of festival would be complete without royalty—yep, they even crown a Maple King and Queen. 
  • Magic Hat Mardi Gras: Held in Burlington annually, this is Vermont's version of Mardi Gras. There's a parade with floats, performances, food and of course beads—though it’s much more family-friendly than the New Orleans version. 
  • Stowe Winter Carnival: Each January, the town of Stowe hosts its annual carnival/ode to ice and snow. It features ice carving competitions, sporting events, "Snowgolf" and "Snowvolleyball" tournaments, events for kids and more. Just be sure to bundle up.
  • The Dog Chapel: Remember the kids' movie All Dogs Go to Heaven? That's basically the theme of the Dog Chapel, which sits atop Dog Mountain in St. Johnsbury. The chapel's walls are lined with photos of beloved dogs who have passed on, with love notes from their owners. There are also dog-themed pews, stained glass windows and angel statues. The chapel hosts events for dogs and their owners to gather, including ponds, hiking trails and agility courses—all dedicated to canine appreciation. 

Pros and Cons of Living in the Green Mountain State

Now before you go and quit your job and forward your mail, we've got a few more details you might want to take into account. You’ve already heard what we have to say, but don’t you want to hear some pros and cons from some real Vermont residents? Of course you do.

Pros (as voted on by real-life Vermonters):

  • Close proximity to Montreal: No, seriously. If you live in Burlington, it’s less than a two-hour drive. It's pretty cool to have a major Canadian city practically right in your backyard, if you ask us. In a quick day trip, you can drive there, visit some museums and botanical gardens, learn some French, and be home before the nightly news. 
  • Out-of-this-world scenery: Vermont's been referred to as a whole other world. The "lure of the landscape" is said to have a stronger pull from the state to its residents than does the appeal of living close to family, says digital.vpr.net. Its rolling hills, forests, small towns and miles and miles of "unspoiled environments" create a delight for the senses, no matter the time of year.
  • Billboard ban: Yep, they’re forbidden. Now the Vermont road and its scenery get your full attention. Residents love that they have an unobstructed view of the foliage. 
  • Snow sports: It snows a lot in Vermont, which means that winter sports are a'plenty up in here. Locals have learned to embrace the harsh winters by diving all-in on some great skiing and snowboarding terrain. Sugarbush Resort is one of several establishments where locals love to get their Winter Olympics on. 
  • #1 in health: Vermont has been named the number one healthiest state in the country for four years in a row, according to the United Health Foundation. It's pretty easy to see why, too–with all that Green Mountain beauty, you’d want to be outside soaking up every second on hikes and ski trips. So way to go, Vermont! 

Cons (as voted on by Vermont folk):

  • High taxes/cost of living: Vermont is number eight on CNBC's list of "America's 10 Most Expensive States to Live in 2017." Food, gas prices and even property taxes are all known to be higher-than-average. Those frigid winters don’t help a whole lot either, it gets expensive heating up a home through all of that. So maybe just bring an extra blanket or ten.
  • Air pollution: When the mercury drops, fireplaces get lit. Unfortunately, the air pollution in Vermont in the winter months is said to be the worst in the entire nation, from all of the wood burning. Maybe a better solution would just be more layers? Sorry, we’re not scientists. 
  • Crazy ridiculous winters: Vermont comes ready to bring it every winter. The snow gets so serious in the Green Mountain State that locals have to shovel their roofs to keep them from leaking or caving in under the weight. Then, to add insult to injury, all those harsh winter elements lead to a terrible springtime road system. Potholes and mud everywhere. Ugh, winter just seems like a lot of work and it’s hard to look forward to spring when the roads become more like obstacle courses.
  • Lack of career opportunities:  Many residents complain that their state is seriously lacking in the way of industry. With all of the "true Vermonters" opposing change and new development, though, it might be hard to turn this around. Remember, it took them until '96 just to get a Walmart..

Weird Laws

Gather round, folks, and we shall tell you a tale—one of crazy-weird laws that still exist in Vermont. We're doing this for you, because we know you came to us to get the insider deets on all things Vermont, and we believe that includes the strange and confusing. 

Here are just a few:

  • You can't whistle underwater. We're not sure this would even be physically possible...so it seems pretty unnecessary to have outlawed it in the first place.
  • Your car must not backfire in Rutland. If you're driving around in a clunker, you better take that sucker to a mechanic, pronto, before heading into this town. We're unsure if they're looking out for your safety, or if they just find the noise annoying, but either way you should get it fixed.
  • You can't get your Picasso on during a time of war. That is to say, paintings created during a time of war are illegal. It seems totally bogus to outlaw creative expression during a time of national strife, but maybe they have their reasons?
  • You can't keep doves in your freezer. They can freeze to death outside in the harsh Vermont winters, but not in your personal freezer. Not really sure what else there is to say about this one. 
  • You must bathe every Saturday night in Barre. Talk about a hygiene fixation. Were the people here walking around all ripe-smellin’ before this law went into effect? And, really, do we even want to know?

Scalin' Up Those Mountains on Over to Vermont!

Alright folks, there you have it—our hopefully informative tiny guide to all things Vermont-y. You just might find them helpful to consider before making a permanent relocation. May this guide serve as your starting point towards a huge life choice.

Now it's all up to you, friend, to decide if the Green Mountain State is right for you. Considering the ridiculously gorgeous views, the covered bridges, the festivals, the proximity to Ben & Jerry’s HQ and the dog chapel, we think you’ve got plenty to look forward to. Just make sure you're covered with an affordable home insurance policy.

So good luck, and may the maple syrup be with you. Always. And on everything.

NOTE: if you decide Vermont isn't right for you, we've got a whole series of these guides to help you find the perfect spot. Ever thought about Wyoming?

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