You can't eat the view - 4/23/2007
Vermont is undeniably a beautiful state. I enjoy the views and hikes, the quaint cultural events. What I don't enjoy: higher cost of car insurance, car maintenance, lack of public transportation, heating fuel, electricity, education, housing, limited choices of public recreation, high ticket prices for most events, lack of career advancement opportunties...
Climate wise -- it stinks! I love the snow - but the perpetual cloudy days -- uggh!
The living expenses are quite high in comparison to potential wages. Vermont is a great state for those who are rolling over huge house equity from a more expensive market (even if the bubble is leaking); they'll be able to find something decent in the market. Most new housing is in the "McMansion" category. Vermont also has the 2nd largest growth of 2nd homes in the country, i.e. rich folks from NYC, Boston, Philly coming here to build their pastoral dream. While the governor's focus has been on lowering income & property taxes to retain young people (Vermont is an "aged" state, demographically), no one has addressed the lack of affordable housing.
My husband and I bought a small home (3 bed/1bath/slab) on a dirt road 10yrs ago. On our wages, we would not be able to qualify for a loan to purchase it now. We'd like to move back to town, but can't afford it. Our property taxes are about $3500/year for 1400 sq ft ranch. Part of the problem is low population density. There's a big economic tradeoff for the increased tranquility. School expenditures are among highest in the country. That doesn't translate into more services or better outcome for students, but is simply how expensive it is because of low student census and fewer people to share the costs of running a school.
Skiing, boating, etc. is fun, but too expensive for most people who live here.
The university is quite good, with excellent faculty (somewhat underutilized by many of the students who party a bit too much), but it doesn't have as much going on for the community as been my experience with other town/gown communities.
Overall, the quality of life is high for those who can afford it, but a drive around the state will reveal how many people are struggling. Federal poverty levels are inadequate measure when one figures in the high cost of living.
My husband is not an occupation that has much mobility, so we'll hang on by our fingernails, and hope that we can retire someplace ELSE a little cheaper, sunnier w/ access to good hea[read more...]