Article Overview: Living in Vermont | Moving to Vermont
Wondering about the pros and cons of moving to Vermont? I think I can help.
I’ve been living in Vermont for the past 38 years and can’t imagine being anywhere else. I’ve traveled the US extensively but something always calls me home.
I’d like to highlight some of the perks of moving to Vermont for anyone considering a similar lifestyle. Read on to learn about my personal roundup of the pros and cons of living in Vermont from a lifelong local’s perspective.
Just keep in mind that this is my personal list and not everyone will feel the same way. With that said, let’s jump right in.
Meet the Author | This guide is written by Annie, a lifelong Vermonter. She grew up in Burlington but currently calls Stowe home (along with her husband and cheeky French Bulldog, Francis).
Quick Stats About Living in Vermont
Pros & Cons of Living in Vermont
Before we dive into the pros and cons of moving to Vermont, it might be helpful to know three (neutral) things about daily life in Vermont. These are neither good nor bad — merely factual statements.
Vermont is rural (it’s one of the least populous states in the US)
Vermont is rural in every sense of the word. While there’s a handful of cities/towns, the largest one (Burlington) has a population of only 45,000. Many people move to Vermont specifically to escape the bustle of city living — as such, Vermont is extremely rural.
How rural you might ask? Well, Vermont is the second-least populous state in the country. If you’re moving to Vermont for peace and quiet, chances are good that you’ll find what you’re looking for.
It’s one of the most liberal states in the country
It might seem odd for this statement to follow the last, but it’s true. Vermont is considered the third most liberal state in the country. But because of the rural nature of the state, there’s a 50% chance your liberal neighbor will own a gun and hunt on the weekends.
Vermont is very progressive, friendly and accepting regardless of your political preference. Live and let live seems to be the common thread keeping daily life in harmony.
Is marijuana legal in Vermont?
Yes, marijuana use is legalized in Vermont. In fact, Vermont was the first state to legalize recreational cannabis through state legislature.
Medical marijuana was legalized in 2004, but it wasn’t until 2018 that recreational marijuana became decriminalized.
Locals are comfortable with the topic of marijuana, it’s it’s openly discussed without judgement. Everyone knows someone that smokes and folks are alright with it overall. Live and let live.
Pros of Living in Vermont
#1. Vermont is the greenest state in the country
Let’s start with my favorite thing about living in Vermont — we are the most environmentally-conscious state in the country. So, what does that mean for the average Joe that calls the state home?
Well, for starters, being environmentally conscious means going the extra mile to ensure your daily actions have a minimal impact on the environment.
Secondly, this type of thinking permeates into every aspect of daily life in Vermont. From the morning commute to the produce you buy. Ask any lifelong local about proper recycling habits and they’re bound to give you an A+ answer.
Personally, I love living in a state that cares so much about the environment because it improves the overall quality of life. I’m healthier, happier and more productive simply because I’m more active and eat better than I would otherwise.
#2. It’s also one of the safest states in the country
Here’s a fun fact that few folks moving to Vermont realize: it’s the second-safest state in the country. Crime is rare and well below the national average.
You won’t hear folks discussing petty or major crime often, which is refreshing for those moving to Vermont from larger cities.
Speaking from personal experience, I’ve never felt unsafe while living in Vermont. I think there’s a strong sense of community and everyone looks out for each other, which keeps suspicious activity at bay.
#3. Winter activities
Ask any local about their favorite things about living in Vermont and most will tell you it’s the winter activities. Ask any newcomer about their least favorite thing about moving to Vermont and they’ll tell you it’s the harsh winters.
The best way to describe the seasons while living in Vermont is like this: long winters, short summers. Thankfully, locals can “get with the program” and have learned to actually enjoy winter. The secret? Snow sports. You’ll find us outside regardless of the temperatures because otherwise we’d be going stir crazy 6 months of the year.
And thanks to the mountains, there’s so many great opportunities for winter outdoor recreation when living in Vermont. Everything from snowshoeing, skiing and snowboarding, to snowmobiling, sledding and ice fishing. You’re sure to find something to love if you can effectively combat the cold.
The biggest gripe newcomers have about our winters are the brutal temperatures (they are brutal!). But there’s a way around this hurdle and it starts with clothes. It’s crucial to learn how to dress properly while living in Vermont.
You’ll need good quality warm layers, which is why I swear by my Patagonia staples and this magical invention I can’t imagine living without.
Average winter temperatures (December – March) range between 10-20°F (sometimes dipping into the negatives). The winter months seldom climb above freezing and take a while to adjust to.
#4. Locals are self-sufficient
I’ve mentioned this earlier, but I’d like to delve into the details. A lot of people end up moving to Vermont in hopes of living a more self-sustainable lifestyle and it’s hard to blame them.
Unless you move to one of the towns in Vermont, most of your neighborhoods will probably own livestock. Everyone is handy and well connected, so if your car breaks down you’ll have several folks to call.
There’s many advantages to a self-sufficient way of life, chief among them is the deep sense of community that ensues. Vermonters have each others backs, which speaks to the small town style of living.
Another way this self-sufficient/small town living shines through is in the abundance of local farmers markets (especially in the summer and fall). Everyone has something interesting to offer!
Expect to find tons of home-baked goodies, handmade crafts (like candles and soaps) and the best apple cider donuts you will ever have (fighting words, I know).
The self-sustainability culture is prevalent and brings folks together to mingle and share, giving daily life in Vermont a charming vibe that few places can offer.
#5. Great outdoor recreation
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard coworkers refer to life in Vermont as a luxury. And it’s true, we’re downright spoiled. Spoiled by the beautiful nature, local cuisine, quality of life and infinite hiking options.
Whatever your itch, life in Vermont is sure to satisfy. Popular recreational activities include biking, hiking, climbing and the snow sports mentioned earlier.
If you’re moving to Vermont with plans to take advantage of the great outdoors, I highly recommend hiking the Camel’s Hump Trail (the second tallest summit in the state) to give yourself an introduction to the area.
#6. Access to top-notch schools
If you’re moving to Vermont with kids in tow then you’re in luck. Vermont has the highest annual per-pupil spending in the country ($20,795) and has the high rating to show for it.
In fact, Vermont’s state schools are considered the third best in the country.
Likewise, Vermont is considered the fourth-most educated state in the nation. In terms of degrees, 92.7% of residents have a high school diploma (the 6th highest percentage in the country) and 38% hold Bachelor’s degrees (the 7th highest percentage in the country).
#7. Mild summer temperatures
Vermont is one of the few places in America that hasn’t been impacted by scorching summer temps exceeding 100°F on the regular. Sometimes it feels like winters overstays its welcome, sure, but the pristine summer temperatures and striking greenery make up for past transgressions.
Average summer temperatures dance between 75°F and 82°F, which makes being outside very enjoyable.
Vermont is so beautiful in the summer (and fall too, of course). Sometimes I catch myself wanting to cry tears of job because I can’t stand it. I’ve traveled to so many places in the country and have yet to find a place that compares to the beauty of Vermont.
But I don’t want to fool you, even though the summer temperatures are pure bliss the bugs and ticks will keep you humble. They’re the worst (but we’ll cover that more in depth shortly).
Also, you may notice after moving to Vermont that there’s no billboards in the state. The reason? They were banned.
#8. The craft brew scene is off the charts
One of the more recent trends that has really excited me about living in Vermont is the craft brew scene. Vermont has more breweries per capita than any other state, with 15 breweries for every 100,000 residents. Locals are spoiled for choice.
There’s (far) too many great breweries to list here, but a few of my personal favorites are: The Alchemist, Hill Farmstead and Lost Nation.
Fun fact: Hazy IPAs originated in Waterbury, Vermont. The trend is sweeping the nation by storm and it’s cool to think that it started in our little state.
Cons of Moving to Vermont
#1. Cost of living is high
Let’s kick off this list of the (honest) disadvantages of living in Vermont properly: she’s beautiful but comes with a steep price tag. Don’t just take my word for it, Vermont is the 10th most expensive state in the country.
From groceries and gas to restaurants, utilities, housing and self-care, everything will cost more while living in Vermont (17% higher than the national average).
I understand that “expensive” is a subjective term. If someone’s moving to Vermont from New York City they won’t find our cost of living astronomical by any stretch of the imagination, I get that. But here’s the thing: This is rural Vermont and are salaries can’t keep up with the high cost of living.
Here’s the kicker: Vermont is deemed the least affordable state in the country. It’s estimated that only 16% of households can afford a mortgage payment, the lowest percentage in the country.
For reference, Connecticut is the second least-affordable state, with only 21% of households in a position to afford a mortgage.
It also doesn’t help that Vermont has some of the highest taxes in the country, to boot.
#2. This isn’t a place to grow a career
Another big thing to keep in mind before moving to Vermont is that finding a gig can be a mixed bag. At 2.3%, Vermont has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country but that doesn’t necessarily mean jobs are easy to come by.
The largest employers in Vermont are: National Life Group, The University of Vermont Medical Center, Cabot Creamery Cooperative Inc, Casella Waste Systems Inc and the University of Vermont. Seems dandy enough until you notice that most of the jobs are in insurance, government, medical and education.
If you work in a creative field then you may have a hard time finding a job after moving to Vermont. What’s more, there seems to be very low turnover (this is based on my personal experience in the workforce), so connections matter more than some people realize.
My biggest advice is to make sure you have a job lined up before moving to Vermont.
#3. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Vermont often ranks in the top 10 states with worst seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is not to be taken lightly because it impacts your daily life.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression related to seasonal weather changes. It tends to keep regular office hours — opening shop in October and closing for the season come May. (This is obviously not a medical definition).
Honestly, between January – March, the gray weather and cold temperatures are a lot to handle. There’s two things that have helped me most in dealing with the impossible winter season. First, investing in this bad boy (I use it daily) and secondly, budging a vacation in February.
Likewise, outdoor sports are essential to sanity after moving to Vermont. This is why locals have come to love them. I can’t stress this enough: If you don’t pick up a winter sport while living in Vermont then you will find winter intolerable.
Local’s Tip: You may hear locals refer to “five seasons” after moving to Vermont. What they mean is this: There are five true seasons in Vermont: Foliage, Stick, Winter, Mud and Summer.
#4. Reserved locals
This goes hand-in-hand with how self-sufficient locals are but it warrants a deeper dive. Vermonters tend to be pretty reserved and private, so it will take a long time to build friendships.
Granted, it will be much easier to make friends if you’re living in one of the cities because there’s a higher chance you’ll run into other transplants.
But most of Vermont is rural and making friends requires a great effort. Locals are more observant of newcomers (which is not unique to Vermont, mind you) which seems to be the norm in most small towns.
#5. Lack of diversity
One of my least favorite things about living in Vermont is the stark lack of diversity. The state is 89.1% white, which makes is the second-least diverse state in the country.
Further Reading: How Cultural Diversity Makes a City a Better Place to Live, Work and Play.
#6. You’ll need a car to get around
Everything is spread far apart so you’ll definitely need a car while living in Vermont. Some might argue that if you live in a city you’ll be fine without a car, which is partially true but then your access to the great outdoors will be substantially limited.
And since outdoor recreation is the biggest perk of living in Vermont, I’d argue a car is a necessity. You might want to factor in rising gas prices before moving to Vermont (especially if you’re coming from a city where you didn’t own a car) because the expenses add up.
#7. Internet + cell reception is spotty at best
There’s no reason to sugarcoat this one: the internet service in Vermont is terrible, almost non-existent. Don’t expect good internet access if you’re living in the rural areas (even the cities leave much to be desired). I always mention to family and friends not to panic if they can’t reach me for a few days, it just is what it is.
#8. Mosquitos and ticks
One of the biggest cons of living in Vermont are the intolerable bugs. It seems like we have the worst of them, blackflies, ticks, mosquitos and spiders galore. The only way to enjoy the pristine summer weather at home is to have a screened in porch, because otherwise you might be eaten alive.
#9. Oh yeah, can’t forget to mention fall tourist season
The longer I find myself living in Vermont, the more I realize how easily annoyed I become during high tourist season in the fall. This probably reflects very poorly on me, but it gets old after a while.
Vermont is a stunning place so the tourism is completely warranted. Fall foliage draws in millions of people annually and there’s a good reason for that (Vermont is one of the fall color capitals of the world!). The boost in tourism also provides seasonal jobs for locals (not well paying, but still something).
The thing that seems to get most annoying for locals are the tourists that don’t respect private property and trespass for photos. So word to the wise — if you’re visiting Vermont for the fall color (as you should) be mindful of signage, it goes a long way with locals.
Pros & Cons of Living in Vermont (Post Summary)
In sum, here’s a quick roundup of the pros and cons of living in Vermont.
- Vermont is rural (it’s one of the least populous states in the US)
- It’s one of the most liberal states in the country
- Weed is legal and enjoyed
- Vermont is the greenest state in the country
- It’s also one of the safest states in the country
- Winter is what you make it
- Local community (self sustainability)
- Access to top-notch schools
- Great outdoor recreation
- Mild summer temperatures
- The craft beer scene is off the charts
- Cost of living is high
- This isn’t a place to grow a career
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
- Reserved locals
- Lack of diversity
- You’ll need a car to get around
- Cell reception is spotty at best
- Mosquitos and ticks
- Fall tourist season
I hope you enjoyed reading my list of the perks of moving to Vermont. Don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments below if you think I missed anything.
Tom W says
It has nice fall colors for a few weeks but so does literally every other place. That doesn’t make up for the rude, snobby, nosy locals, the sheer nastiness of Vermonters (the reason they say there’s no crime is that the cops literally just shrug and say “the DA won’t prosecute so we don’t bother making arrests” – ask me how I know).
The pointlessly high taxes, the lack of literally anything that isn’t mediocre at best, the bad roads. Not even a small stretch of coastline like New Hampshire has. Nope, Vermont isn’t the best.
Tom was triggered lol
Paolo Coppini says
Dear Tom, I’ve been to Vermont, but I absolutely didn’t find what you describe, in fact I would say quite the opposite. Sure, at the beginning I found a little mistrust since I’m a foreigner, but it only took a few days to become excellent neighbors with such sympathy and kindness and there was no lack of collaboration, if someone needed something. What happened to you to describe Vermont so “violently”?
Paolo Coppini says
Thanks a lot for your helpful article.
I like Vermont and probably I’ll come living in your beautiful state shortly.
What do you think about the north and south portion of Vermont? I visited almost all state, but I prefer the north zone, because I felt a cleaner air than the south zone.
Paolo Coppini says
Dear Annie, thanks a lot for your article: it’s a very useful guide to learn how the life is in your state.
I already know the Vermont state because I have friends that are producers of organic maple products (Excellent quality and yummy) near Richford and all years I order thier products. More and more often I think of coming to live in your state, away from all the hodgepodge of daily life.
I’m Italian and I’m writing to you from Switzerland, where I have live since 10 years, but here in Europe everything has become as a pandemonium and, although I have infinite patience, (Above all because as a doctor I am I see and hear everything and more with my patients) I’m getting really tired of not spending a single day with a minimal serenity: everyday I hear malice, violence, political hodgepodge that only lead to trouble, fewer and fewer patients listen to me and more and more attack me, there should be a collaboration between colleagues and instead I’m now in a snake pit where colleagues harm each other.
I’m quite good at making Italian bread, pasta and other typically Italian food, so much so that it’s not the first time I think of coming to your state and opening a small house workshop to offer you real Italian food produced by real Italians, so that I can even earn something to live on in a life still on a cordial human level that no longer exists here . The only argument I haven’t seen in your article is about the bureaucracy in the Vermont state.
How is the bureaucracy in your state? Efficient? Accurate? Quick? Or perhaps, like the Italian one, everytime you need something it makes you crazy? I don’t keep writing to you, otherwise I would have so many things to say to you that I would write a novel, but I would be happy if we could keep in touch and maybe next time I come to Vermont we could even say hello (I can tell you my e-mail). Thanks so much again for your very helpful article.
Leslie Fergusson says
Thank you for a fantastic and very informative article!
Stanley Powell says
Chittenden county and Stowe are very different from the rest of the state. Vermont is diverse look at Newport vs Brattleboro. Know different parts of the state are very different, have different ethics
I generally agree with your assessment.
Cathy Gaffney says
Just spent 2-1/2 months in Morgan, VT & your article is spot on. But one big con is the lack of medical facilities that are close to any town in case of an emergency. No one wants to drive for hours to a good hospital. That would be my #1 reason for not moving there. As perfect as VT is in every other aspect, this is a big concern.
ECFiber broadband is one of the successful CUDs providing high speed affordable Internet access to Vermonters who live in very rural areas. Also, my wife and I have found out neighbors very welcoming. After only a few months we knew our VT neighbors better than folks we’d lived next to for years in MA.