Thinking About Making the Move to Vermont? Read This Guide.
Table of Contents
- Where Are The Best Places To Live In Vermont?
- How Is The Job Market In Vermont?
- How Is The Vermont Real Estate Market?
- How Much Does It Cost To Live In Vermont?
- Is Vermont A Good Place To Retire?
- What Are The People And Culture Like In Vermont?
- Some Of The Coolest Things To Do In Vermont
- The Pros And Cons Of Living In Vermont
- Vermont Fun Facts & Strange Laws
The beautiful New England state of Vermont is one of the most picturesque states in the US. Its name translates to the ‘Green Mountain State’, although throughout the year there’s a real rainbow of colors as summer turns to fall and winter gives way to spring.
One of the most interesting things about this quaint little state is its moderately low population, which right now is less than 625,000 people. To put that in perspective, the city of Philadelphia alone has over 1.5 million residents.
Although this makes Vermont a quaint and quiet state, it is not without a distinct vibe all of its own, with small-town hospitality prevalent at every turn. If you’re looking for an escape from the rat race, Vermont could be the perfect choice for those seeking a tranquil way of life away from the hustle and bustle of city living.
But before you pack up your bags and hit the road, let’s dive in and find out everything you need to know about moving to Vermont.Want a free online moving quote? See our recommendations (April 5, 2020)
Where Are The Best Places To Live In Vermont?
Yes, we know this is largely subjective, but we’ve done our best to provide you with an assortment of some of the most sought-after areas for various reasons.
Vermont is packed full of small but vibrant cities as well as quaint little towns and villages. It’s also statistically the safest state in the country, so wherever you choose, you’re certain to be a winner.
Let’s take a look at some of the best places to call home in the Green Mountain State.
Did you know that Montpelier was home to former President James Madison, you know, the guy that is touted as the “Father of the Constitution” and the “Architect of the Bill of Rights”.
Montpelier is also the capital of Vermont, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s all bright lights, big city. Montpelier actually has the smallest population of any state capital in the US, with less than 10,000 residents.
For people who love a quiet life but still want plenty of entertainment options in a place with a small-town vibe, Montpelier could be a great option. The downtown area is a charming mix of historical buildings, quaint little book stores and coffee shops, as well as interesting museums and galleries. There’s a strong music and arts scene here for such a small place, with plenty of opportunities to catch live bands on the weekends.
To add to its appeal, the Winooski River flows right through the heart of the city, and there are countless walking trails extending off into the surrounding countryside.
Although it’s a relatively quiet town, that doesn’t mean there aren’t enough jobs. There’s a low unemployment rate here, and a median income above the national average. The average home in Montpelier costs around $248k.
Burlington is the largest and most populated city in Vermont, so it makes sense that it’s also seen as the most cosmopolitan place in the state. This energetic city sits on the shores of beautiful Lake Champlain, and looks like something straight out of a postcard.
There’s a real vibrancy to this city, and during the spring and summer months, the streets come alive with colorful outdoor concerts and local festivals. The downtown area of Church Street Marketplace is full of historical buildings, interesting independent shops and restaurants, as well as plenty of bars offering live entertainment. Even though it may feel like traditional, small-town America, there’s so much to see and do here.
There are plenty of green spaces too, like Leddy Park, which is the perfect place for picnicking and family days out. There’s even a beach on the shore of the lake, and countless cycling and hiking trails, making Burlington a great option for outdoorsy types.
The school system is also well renowned here, so it’s a popular city for families relocating to Vermont. Another bonus is that it’s only 45 miles from the Canadian border, making day trips up there a breeze.
Unemployment in and around the city currently sits comfortably below the national average, and there are several major companies providing ample jobs to the local community. The median home price here is slightly higher than Montpelier, at just under $300k.
That brings us to South Burlington, which is, you guessed it, just a few miles south of its big brother Burlington. It’s the home of the headquarters of the famous (and delicious) Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, and also boasts Vermont’s biggest mall, the University Mall.
It’s population sits right around 18,773 people, most of whom, according to census data, seems to be doing well. The unemployment rate here is consistently low, and the majority of residents own their own homes.
South Burlington has a happy mixture of age demographics, with as you might expect, plenty of retirees, but also a growing younger community, with many young professionals moving in from elsewhere around the state and further afield.
The area has a tightly packed suburban feel, with plenty of restaurants, coffee shops, and bars, plus some wide open green spaces and well kept public parks. Despite the suburban landscape, it’s also a relatively walkable city, meaning that there are quite a few opportunities to leave the car at home and take your route by foot.
The median home value here is considerably cheaper than Burlington, at just $268k, making it a great choice if you don’t mind a short commute into the larger city.Need cheap moving supplies? Fast free delivery (April 5, 2020)
The little city of Vergennes ticks a lot of “boxes” in terms of being an ideal location to move to. It sits between Lake Chaplain and the Green Mountains, and is close to the city of Burlington and the prestigious Middlebury College, making it both scenic and tranquil while having easy access to a wide range of amenities.
The downtown area is a gorgeous mishmash of colonial buildings, cute little bars and restaurants, and independent stores. In the heart of the central zone is the beautifully restored City Hall and Vergennes Opera House, which was opened way back in 1897. Today, you can still catch a concert or movie here anytime throughout the year
It may be small (just 2 square miles in size) but Vergennes was actually Vermont’s first-ever city. This means the place is steeped in history and has many tales to tell from the past.
The city has the 6th highest median income in the state, as well as an unemployment rate below the national average. A home here is much more affordable than the likes of Burlington and Woodstock, costing an average of around $220k.
Named after the famous biblical city, Jericho is another great example of a typical, too-pretty-to-be-true, New England town. It’s located close to Burlington, just 30 minutes away, so if the quiet life gets too much, you won’t be too far from the action.
That being said, there’s still plenty to do in Jericho. There’s a great selection of cute little cafes, bars, and restaurants, as well as some incredible hiking trails that extend into the surrounding nature. Jericho has three parks that are perfect for picnics and family gatherings. In fact, Jericho has been ranked as one of the best towns to raise a family in Vermont.
During the summer months, there’s an awesome farmers market where you can buy local produce and sample local delicacies such as farm fresh cheeses and of course, maple syrup.
The unemployment rate here is the 2nd lowest across the whole state, perhaps due to its proximity to Burlington. The average house price here is currently $264k.
Woodstock is easily one of the most picture-perfect towns in Vermont, and it’s certainly one of the highest-ranked places to live in the state.
It’s a little gem of a town, filled with old school charm that beats most places in the rest of the state. It’s been named the “quintessential New England village”, and it’s easy to see why. There’s a classic Vermont style covered bridge smack bang in the center of downtown, and the streets are lined with beautifully restored Georgian and Greek revival homes. There’s even a village green which serves as a meeting point in the middle of town.
Woodstock tops the charts in Vermont in terms of the low unemployment rate and average annual salaries, and so it’s also the most expensive place to buy a home in the state, with an average price of just under $400k.
Waterbury is located in Washington Country, slap bang in the center of Vermont. The town itself also encapsulates a village of the same name.
While it’s a super charming place to be during the summer, Waterbury really comes alive during the winter months, as it’s located right on the edge of Vermont’s ski country. There’s a choice of several great skiing and boarding sites within a stone’s throw of the town.
Waterbury is also home to the Ben and Jerry’s factory, so even if you’re just stopping in for a visit, make sure you take a tour of this now world-famous ice cream mecca.
Waterbury is such a peaceful little place that it boats one of the lowest crime rates in the whole of the state, making it statistically one of the safest places to live in the country.
An average home here costs $234,100, so it’s one of the most affordable places to live on our list.
WE MOVED TO VERMONT!
“As born and raised Southerners, the prospect of moving to Vermont with 3 teenagers was ambitious to say the least! Add doing a complete Career Change for both of us, one might think we were crazy! Crazy and ambitious turned out to be the best move of our life!
Todd put a hold on his 26 year career in television and Kristie gave up her own small business to purchase the Stone Hill Inn, a 9 room luxury bed and breakfast in Stowe, VT. We loved the idea of moving our family to Vermont. We were both enamored with New England and Vermont is the Pinnacle state in the region in our opinion. Our kids now attend one of the top schools in the United States, Stowe High School.
The benefits for our family are ample. From the aforementioned great schools to the air and water quality, the four seasons with abundant outdoor activities and festivals, the small town charm, the sense of community, the close proximity of nationally recognized Universities, the focus on local farm to market goods and production of organic food, the slower pace of living with less stress, the lack of traffic, and above all the unmatched glorious natural beauty of the state! Come for a visit and stay with us! You will never want to leave because Vermont is not only a great state, but also a way of life!”
Kristie and Todd Roling at Stone Hill Inn
How Is The Job Market In Vermont?
You could be forgiven for thinking that since Vermont has such a small population, the job market is probably struggling. In fact, such a small population can be a good thing, meaning less competition, and can work in your favor when it comes to finding work.
For example, Vermont has an impressively low unemployment rate of 2.8% which is considerably less than the national average. A strong indication that anyone with any talent is scooped up for work right away.
When it comes to pay, Vermont scores pretty high in that category as well. The state-enforced minimum wage is $10.50 per hour, which is well above the federal minimum wage, so it’s an especially great place to earn money for those starting out in their careers or entering into low skilled work.
Top Industries across Vermont
Some of the most prevalent industries across Vermont are manufacturing and production related, especially in areas such as breweries, ice cream manufacturing (people love Ben & Jerry’s), logging, coffee & tea manufacturing and of course, maple syrup, which is one of Vermont’s biggest exports.
Quick Breakdown of Top Industries (in no particular order, according to Vermont.gov):
- Health Care
- Social Assistance
- Full service restaurants
- Educational services
- Professional, scientific and educational services
- Consulting and management
- Manufacturing and production
The largest employer in the state is the University of Vermont in Shelburne, which employs a total of 5,380 people at last count.
Coming in at a close second place is tech giant IBM, which is based in the village of Essex Junction. They employ around 5,300 workers in the field of semiconductor component development and manufacturing.
Fletcher Allen Health Care is another large employer, with currently around 4,835 employees. They, like many of the top employers in the state, are based in Burlington.
Also based in Burlington is restaurant operator Bruegger’s Enterprises Inc, which employs 2,400 people from their headquarters.
How Is The Vermont Real Estate Market?
When it comes to homes currently on the market, zillow.com says the median price of a house in Vermont is currently $259,000, which is up 3.6% over the past year.
Experts predict this number will keep on climbing upwards, as there’s some serious housing construction happening around the state, especially up in the north around cities like Burlington and Montpelier. These larger, newly built homes are taking over the majority of the 1980’s builds, meaning prices are set to rise.
If you’re looking to buy a house in the main hub of the action, Burlington, then expect to pay more. The average price of a home at the end of 2019 was $328,856, which is up 3.4% from the previous year.
VT Real Estate Statistics and Facts:
- 70% of residents are homeowners
- 30% of residents are renters
- 50% of real estate is represented by single family homes
- Total appreciation rate of property since 2000 = 102.8%, averaging 3.67% a year
The Best Time to Buy a Home In Vermont
The Vermont real estate market has been hot the last year, making it a “seller’s market” with increased competition for attractive homes that move fast and command higher prices.
That said, capitalizing on certain seasonal trends may give some of the power back to home buyers at the negotiation table. Based on past data, home buyers looking for a better deal should avoid shopping for a home during the competitive summer months, and instead postpone their search until fall and winter when sales prices tend to begin a downward trend.Want a free online moving quote? See our recommendations (April 5, 2020)
How Much Does It Cost To Live In Vermont?
Renting vs Buying a Home
So far we’ve taken a look at the cost of homeownership, but what if you’re looking to rent? The great news is that renting in Vermont is pretty cheap, with a one-bedroom apartment in the hotspot of Burlington costing just $953 per month. That’s way below the national average of $1220. Move away from the city and head over to smaller Montpelier, and a 1 bedroom apartment there costs an average of only $737 a month. Not bad!
Healthcare is important, especially for those with families or who already have medical conditions to contend with. The good news is that health-related expenses in VT come in at 7.7% above the national average.
Utilities include heating, cooling, gas, electric, cable/satellite and other necessities for running a home. According to data collected by BestPlaces.net, utility costs as compared to the national average come in at 17.4% higher.
This includes public transportation as well as gas/diesel. Those who normally spend a lot on travel and transportation can save big, with the costs of transportation in the state coming in at 22.1% below the national average.
There’s no way to sugar coat it, Vermont’s taxes are pretty high. In fact, Vermont is the state with the third-highest tax burden for its residents. Unlike some states, high earners are taxed much higher than low-income earners, so if you’re not on a huge wage, there’s probably not much to worry about.
Property taxes are also pretty high, so make sure to factor this in when planning your home buying budget.
There is a silver lining though; sales tax in Vermont is low, at just 6%. That’s significantly below the national average.
Food and Groceries
Food is a necessity we can’t go without, making it a key component of budgeting for a new move. As compared to the national average, grocery expenses in Vermont are about 6.7% higher than the national average. Whether or not this will be an increased cost for you will depend on your current location.
Summary Regarding Expenses
Although the costs of many categories are higher, those that move here can expect to save a whopping 11.5% on housing and 22% on transportation, two very significant expenses that, coupled with competitive salaries in the state, can balance things out quite nicely.Need cheap moving supplies? Fast free delivery (April 5, 2020)
Is Vermont A Good Place To Retire?
Due to higher taxes in Vermont, many retirees may be put off moving to the Green Mountain State.
It may be a reasonable price to pay though as retiring in Vermont comes with a number of other added benefits. There’s a real opportunity to enjoy outdoor living and embrace nature in places like the Green Mountains, Lake Champlain and, in winter, the many ski resorts.
Many retirees will also love the slower pace of life that comes with living in a less populated state. Even the cities manage to retain a real small town feel, and people tend to know their neighbors well, which isn’t the case in many places elsewhere.Want a free online moving quote? See our recommendations (April 5, 2020)
What Are The People And Culture Like In Vermont?
People in Vermont are well known for being friendly, helpful and welcoming, even to newcomers moving in from elsewhere. There’s a real sense of home-state pride, with many families having remained in the state for several generations.
One of the most wonderful things about Vermont is its distinct lack of over-commercialization. It’s one of the few places in the US that hasn’t been taken over by an abundance of fast food chains and Walmart stores. In fact, one of Montpelier’s claims to fame is that it’s the only US state capital without a McDonalds. Instead, there’s a much bigger focus on local, independent businesses, which tend to thrive within the state.
Vermont overall is a generally liberal and left-leaning state, which makes sense since Bernie Sanders held office as Congressman and Senator there for years. When it comes to social issues, Vermont is often at the liberal forefront. In 2000, it became the very first state to allow civil unions for same-sex couples, and later went on to legalize same-sex marriage in 2009.Need cheap moving supplies? Fast free delivery (April 5, 2020)
Some Of The Coolest Things To Do In Vermont
Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour
This tour is every ice cream lover’s dream. Take a tour around the factory in Waterbury, and get a behind- the- scenes look into how it’s all made. You’ll even get to see the “Flavour Graveyard”, where actual tombstones memorialize discontinued flavors. Perhaps the best part of the whole tour is (you guessed it) the samples, which they liberally dish out.
Cabot Creamery Visitor Center
For another delicious sampling of Vermont’s famous produce, head over the Cabot Creamery visitor’s center, where you can learn all about their cheese-making process and taste their full range of cheeses alongside some special limited edition cheddars and other artisan products from the local area.
Brattleboro Farmers Market
Vermont is full of farmer’s markets, and the Battleboro Farmer’s Market is one of the very best. Every week more than 50 vendors gather to sell their fresh, local produce. This is one of the best places to pick up some local maple syrup, as well as artisan dairy products, free-range meats and fresh, local eggs. Top off your visit by stopping by the historic Creamery Covered Bridge which is just next door.
While we’re on the subject, let’s look at Vermont’s famous collection of covered bridges. There are more than 100 of these mostly mid 19th century bridges dotted around the state, with the oldest one, Pulp Mill Bridge in Middlebury, dating back to 1820. The most famous and best example of these bridges is the Cornish-Windsor covered bridge that crosses the Connecticut River between Cornish, New Hampshire, and Windsor, Vermont. Spotting these landmarks adds a little more fun to any road trip through Vermont.
Middlebury Tasting Trail
This 5 mile tasting trail takes you through the stunning scenery of the Green Mountains, while you sample wine, beer, and liquor from in and around the town of Middlebury. There’s seven in total; Lincoln Peak Vineyards, Woodchuck Cider House, Otter Creek Brewery, Whistlepig Distillery, Stonecutter Spirits, The Appalachian Gap Distillery and Drop In Brewing. In order to make sure you don’t miss out, consider visiting on a Saturday, when all seven producers are open at the same time. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon, especially if you’re not the designated driver.
Rock of Ages
This massive granite quarry is an incredible sight to behold, so incredible in fact that it was once used as a location for a Star Treck movie. After you’ve seen the granite extracted from deep inside the earth in front of your very eyes, you can take a tour through the processing plant and see the granite transformed into various new forms. There’s even a granite bowling alley to enjoy after the tour.
Lake Champlain is a huge, beautiful lake that spans across two states and even dips into Canada. Most of its 587 miles of shoreline is situated in Vermont, where visitors come in hoards to enjoy life by the water. It’s a haven for kayaking, fishing, sailing and bird watching. The lake even has its own version of the Loch Ness Monster, a 20-foot serpent-like creature called “Champy” who may or may not be lurking in the deep waters.
Simon Pearce Ceramic and Glass Blowing Workshop
See talented craftsmen create works of art, blowing glass and sculpting ceramics in the basement of a restored 19th century mill. The building itself is still powered by the Ottauquechee River which runs by it’s side. After seeing the workshop demonstrations, head upstairs to the showroom where you can browse the beautiful glass and ceramic pieces displayed there. There’s also a great restaurant serving up delicious local food that overlooks the waterfalls.Want a free online moving quote? See our recommendations (April 5, 2020)
The Pros And Cons Of Living In Vermont
Now that we’ve taken a look at all Vermont has to offer, let’s cover the pros and cons of moving to the Green Mountain State.
- Incredible Scenery – Vermont has some stunning landscapes to explore, whatever the season. Many locals say their two favorite seasons are fall, when you can witness the famous red and orange colors that blanket much of the state, and winter, when the snowfall across the rivers, lakes and mountains looks like something straight out of a fairy tale.
- Less Traffic – One of the major advantages of living in a sparsely populated state is that you spend less time waiting in traffic jams. Even in places like Burlington, the largest city, being stuck in traffic for more than a few minutes is a pretty rare occurrence.
- Less Commercialization – Although Vermont has a few big box stores, strip malls, and fast food outlets, on the whole, the state’s focus is on supporting smaller, independent family-run businesses.
- One of the Safest States in America – Vermont has such low crime rates; it’s consistently at the top of the charts for safety. This makes it a great place for families, retirees and pretty much anyone looking for a secure and safe place to live.
- Low Housing and Transportation Costs – Those buying a home instead of renting may benefit most, as will those that typically spend a lot on transportation or commuting.
- Low Unemployment Rates – If you’re seeking employment or opting for a career change, VT has a lot of opportunities and a low unemployment rate that is favorable.
- Cold Weather – Though it makes for a great ski season, the temperatures can drop pretty severely during the winter months. Snowfall can be heavy, so be prepared to dig out your car and driveway at least a couple of times a year.
- Higher Taxes – Income tax rates in Vermont are some of the highest in the country, and property taxes are also pretty high. Even social security and pensions are taxable in the Green Mountain State.
- No Major Airports – The only major airport in the state is Burlington, however, flights out of here are still pretty limited, with connections to only 11 Cities and Toronto. The closest international hubs are Boston and New York, so be prepared for higher flight prices and additional layovers.
Vermont Fun Facts & Strange Laws
Every state has a few odd and outdated laws that bamboozle both residents and visitors. Let’s take a look at what Vermont has to offer.
- It’s against the law to take your clothes off in public, but leaving your house, car or place of work when you’re already naked is totally fine. Apparently, some of Vermont’s less prudish residents still take advantage of this weird law, usually during the warmer months.
- Billboards have been banned in Vermont since 1968. Residents say they like keeping their landscapes free of all that advertising pollution, and we personally agree.
- It’s illegal to paint a landscape during wartime. Lawmakers way back when wanted to avoid any gruesome scenes being passed down through history.
- It’s also against the law to paint a horse–even when it’s not wartime. Painting or disguising your horse, as well as your donkeys or mules, is a no-go in Vermont.
- All residents must bathe every Saturday night in the city of Barre. Hopefully, they like to bathe on other days, too.
- It’s illegal to ban clotheslines in Vermont. We’re not sure how this law came about, but you can rest easy knowing you can air-dry your clothes whenever you choose to in the Green Mountain state.
- Putting doves in the freezer is illegal. Although Vermont’s hunting laws are pretty relaxed, if you’re caught with a freezer full of doves you’ll find yourself on the wrong side of the law.
- Women who want to get false teeth must have written permission from their husbands. We’re guessing in the state that prides itself on “Freedom and Unity”, this one is never enforced.
- It’s illegal to buy alcohol at a liquor store with an out of state license. Visitors have to show a ‘liquor ID” if they want to buy booze. Luckily, bars and restaurants don’t have this restriction, but it can take some visitors by surprise.
To wrap up our overview of moving to Vermont, let’s look at some fun facts from the Green Mountain State.
- Vermont produces the most maple syrup of any state in the US. It’s also totally delicious!
- The workers at Ben & Jerry’s give the leftover ice cream to local farmers who feed it to their pigs. The pigs, of course, absolutely love it, except for one flavor: mint and Oreo cookie. Apparently, pigs don’t like mint, who knew?!
- When you look at a ratio of cows to people Vermont has the most dairy cows in the country. That explains all the delicious cheese!
- Rudyard Kipling lived in Vermont during the 1890s and invented the extraordinary game of snow golf.
- Up until relatively recently, if residents of Vermont wanted a photo card driver’s license, they had to travel all the way to Montpelier.
- In the past, Vermont has been claimed by both New Hampshire and New York.
- Vermont was the only state in the country without a Walmart, that is until the first one was built in 1996.
- The state capitol building of Vermont, in Montpelier, is one of only a handful to have a real gold dome. A statue of Ceres sits on top of the dome.
Final Thoughts About Moving To Vermont
Vermont is about more than pristine landscapes and tourism. As a place to live it is a state boasting a high quality of life, with ample opportunities for businesses, individuals and families to thrive and flourish.
Further Reading: Looking For More Vermont Resources? Check These Articles Out!
About the Author: Kris Lippi is the owner of ISoldMyHouse.com and the broker of Get LISTED Realty. He actively writes about real estate related topics such as buying and selling homes, how-to guides for around the house and home product recommendations. He has been featured in Inman, Readers Digest, American Express, Fit Small Business, Policy Genius, Lending Tree, GoDaddy, Manta as well as other major websites. Read more about us here.