Wondering about the pros and cons of living in Vermont? I think I can help.
I’m lived in Vermont for the past 38 years and can’t imagine moving 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 person list of what living in Vermont is really like. Just keep in mind that this is my personal list and not everyone will feel the same way (I know a few folks that moved away after 2 years). 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 45,000 people. Many people move to Vermont specifically for solitude and to escape the bustle of busy 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 owns a gun and hunts on the weekends.
At the end of the day, the state has a very progressive, friendly and accepting vibe to it. Live and let live seems to be the common thread keeping daily life in harmony.
Weed is legal
A quick history on weed in Vermont:
- 2004: Use of medical marijuana legalized
- 2018: Recreation marijuana use legalized (becoming the first state to legalize recreational cannabis through state legislature).
- Fall 2022: Recreation dispensaries set to open.
Locals are familiar with weed, it’s openly discussed, data is gleaned and life goes on. Everyone knows someone that smokes and folks are alright with it overall.
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. That’s all well and all, but what does it mean? 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 your life, from the daily 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 folks 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 temps the thermometer is donning.
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 combat the cold.
Speaking of the cold. The biggest gripe newcomers have about our winters are the brutal temperatures (they are brutal!), which is why it’s crucial to learn how to dress properly. You’ll need good quality warm layers, which is why I swear by my Patagonia staples and this magic invention.
Average winter temperatures (December – March) range between 10-20 degrees (sometimes dipping into the negatives). The winter months seldom climb above freezing and take a while to adjust to.
#4. Self sustainability is huge here
A lot of folks that end up moving to Vermont are in search of a more self-sustainable lifestyle and it’s hard to blame them. That’s one of the biggest perks of living in Vermont though and it leads to less waste overall.
Unless you’re living in the cities (which are more like towns, let’s get real), most of your neighborhoods will probably own livestock. The advantage of this way of living are the great local farmers markets that abound during the weekends (especially in the summer and fall). Everyone has something interesting to offer!
Expect to find tons of home baked goods, 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 are able to boast about.
#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 scratch. Popular recreational activities around here are 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).
#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, if you’re curious) and has the rankings to show for it. Indeed, Vermont’s state schools are deemed 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. I can’t tell you how many times winter had overstayed its welcome and I promised to move out, only to be lulled by the pristine summer temperatures and striking greenery.
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 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. Needless to say, 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 start this list of the (honest) cons of living in Vermont properly: she’s beautiful but comes with a price tag. Don’t just take my word for it, Vermont is the 10th most expensive state to live in the country.
Everything is expensive while living in Vermont. From groceries and gas to restaurants, utilities, housing and self-care, everything will cost more. On average, living in Vermont is 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.
All this to say, 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 disorder that makes folks prone to getting bummed out due to lack of sunshine (this is obviously not a medical definition).
However, there are ways around SAD while living in Vermont — invest in a Happy Light (here’s the one I use daily) and try to take a vacation to a sunny place during the worst of winter.
Outdoor sports are essential to our sanity, which is why we’ve 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. It’s akin to an inside joke wherein locals say the true seasons are: 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 are more reserved and private and it will take a long time to build a friends circle. 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.
#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, 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.
Oh yeah, can’t forget to mention fall tourist season
“Downside: Vermont is very beautiful, so tourism is a big industry here. Those jobs are seasonal and generally not well paid, and (although I like the money tourists bring), some of them can be annoying.”
“Fall can be wet and chilly, but gorgeous. I don’t appreciate when leaf peepers drive up and trespass on land trying to take photographs of the leaves though.”
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.