16 Pros and Cons of Living in Vermont

Vermont is a state which offers an independent streak, and it is an attitude that has long been part of the culture for those who live there. You can even look at the story of the French explorer Samuel de Champlain who originally claimed the area. He had an idea that the best way to impress his allies from the Abenaki tribe was to shoot and kill a chief from the Iroquois tribe in 1609.

The Iroquois were already enemies of the Abenaki. Champlain’s actions brought down the long-term wrath of the tribe against the French as well. This once incident would ultimately cost France much of their developed possessions in the New World with the culmination of the 1763 French and Indian War.

British settlements began to arrive in 1724, which created the occasional skirmish between them and the French. After the full war ended in 1763, the Treaty of Paris gave Vermont to the British entirely. Then a dividing line was put into place between Lake George and Fort William Henry to reserve land for the tribes and settlers.

That spirit of independence continued after the Revolutionary war, as the state ruled itself as a sovereign entity until 1791. It even established its own postal services, linking to Albany and numerous communities in the region. Vermont would eventually agree to become the 14th state, the first after the original colonies, partly to serve as a counterweight to Kentucky who entered the next year as a slave state.

List of the Pros of Living in Vermont

1. You have a surprising amount of space to enjoy in Vermont.
Only Wyoming has fewer people living in its borders when you compare the population of Vermont to the rest of the United States. Even Alaska has more residents. About 625,000 people in total call this place their home, which is smaller than some U.S. cities. That means you’ll have some room to stretch out, even if you live in one of the cities, if that is one of your top priorities when moving here.

Burlington is the largest city in the state, but it only has 40,000 people who live there. You will find hundreds of miles of open space, creeks, rivers, and lakes to enjoy.

2. You can still enjoy a coastal community.
Vermont might be a landlocked state, but it offers you an incredible environment that replicates the sea if you can live near Lake Champlain. If you are used to living in a coastal location, then moving to Burlington is a choice that makes sense. There are several other small towns that dot the shore.

Then you can enjoy many of the great outdoor activities waiting for you in this state. Vermont encourages an active lifestyle thanks to its extensive agricultural sector, state forests, and nationally protected landscapes. There are parks, waterfalls, and plenty of campground for you to enjoy. Bring a comfortable pair of shoes because you’ll want to be hiking every weekend during the summer months.

3. You will live in a community which is almost always politically engaged.
Some people in the United States know Vermont because it is the home of Bernie Sanders. What they might not know is that the attitude that Senator Sanders brings to interviews and debates is what you can expect with the average conversation in this state. Everyone is engaged with the political system on some level. No one is afraid to share their views on any topic either, which can be uncomfortable sometimes if that’s not the approach you’re used to having.

The people here are willing to stand up and fight for what they believe to be true. Even if you disagree with a position, you will discover that there is still a lot of respect for your overall opinion.

4. You can’t fake it to make it in Vermont.
If there’s one thing that everyone in Vermont can agree on, it is the fact that real maple syrup is the only product of its type to use. Using something that is artificial or from a sugar product is an unacceptable substitute. You will get a lot of pushback from your neighbors even if you add the fake stuff to your cookies, candies, or baked goods.

That’s because there is a lot of pride in the Vermont community about keeping things local. Ben & Jerry’s receive a lot of support because their factory is in the state. King Arthur Flour, Lake Champlain Chocolates, and the Vermont Country Store are popular brands that you’ll see a lot after moving here as well.

5. Vermont likes to take a simple approach to life.
When you start driving the highways of Vermont, you will eventually notice that something is missing. There are no billboards on the roads which have farms stacked up next to them, one right after the other. That is because the people here enjoy living a simple life. They take pride in their ability to preserve the traditional charm that comes with the New England way of life. The state legislature passed a law banning those advertisements to make sure that things don’t change any time soon.

You’ll also discover that the state prefers more of the general store shopping experience instead of the malls or outlet complexes that you can find elsewhere. That doesn’t mean you can’t find a Walmart if you need it, but there won’t be as many to visit.

6. Housing prices in Vermont are competitive outside of the ski towns.
If you want to live in a ski town like Stowe, then expect to pay about $375,000 for the average property. That price isn’t feasible for a lot of households, which is why you’ll want to look at a town like Rutland. About 17,000 people live there, making it about half of the size of Burlington. The median home cost is only $145,000, and the cost of living is just 3.9% above the national average. You will have the unemployment struggle with which to contend, but you are also near over 140 trails and 22 ski lifts. Championship-style golf courses and over 4,000 acres of national forest are available there too.

7. The transportation infrastructure in Vermont is well-developed.
If you live in Rutland, then the Amtrak train runs directly into New York City for you if you ever want to enjoy a visit. There are two national highways that link through the city as well, and there is a large medical center to care of your health. Burlington has some traffic problems, but they are nothing compared to what you would find in the average city. If you can avoid the downtown area, then you’ll miss most of the problems.

If you have a vehicle, then a 10-minute drive anywhere can put you into a picturesque place that seems like it was taken straight out of a calendar. The cities are small enough that you can usually navigate on a bicycle or call a rideshare to manage if a bus or train isn’t available.

8. Everybody finds a way to work with each other in Vermont.
One of the most interesting things about living in Vermont is that everyone in the state tends to find a way to compromise or work together to create results. You might hear a passionate political debate at the local diner in the morning, but then you’ll see both people working at the food bank with smiles on their face later that day. You don’t need to get along with your neighbor, but there is an emphasis on tolerance here that you won’t find in other places around the country.

List of the Cons of Living in Vermont

1. Even the people who love winter don’t always enjoy it in Vermont.
There is no question about the fact that Vermont is a beautiful state. The summers are cool, autumn is exceptionally beautiful with the changing colors and rustic communities, and spring is nice enough if you can get past the fog and some of the rain. Winters are a different story. Describing them as harsh would be giving that season a kind description. There is plenty of snow, ice, and cold temperatures that can be challenging to manage. Expect highs to stop going above freezing in January and February unless you get a warm spell.

That means you’ll need to add the expense of winter clothing for you and the family into the higher costs of living that you are going to find here.

2. The economy of Vermont is a mixed bag of success.
You will discover that there are several areas of Vermont that are thriving right now, but there are other parts of the state that don’t have many job opportunities. Cities like Rutland have also been hit hard by the opioid issues that have affected much of the eastern seaboard of the United States. Because of this disadvantage, there are many households in the state who work seasonal jobs instead of finding full-time, year-round employment.

If you see someone working at one of the ski resorts in Vermont, then there is an excellent chance that they do some landscaping in the summer. You’ll want to find a job before you make the move to ensure that you can support yourself upon arrival. The cost of living might be advantageous, but it won’t matter if you’re not making any money.

3. You will want to ask your future neighbors about Mud Season.
The winters can be harsh in Vermont, but mud season can be even worse. Once the melting process begins, the ground becomes exceptionally wet. This process leads to an extensive amount of mud throughout the state. If you start shopping for homes here, you’ll find that many houses have a formal mud room that lets people take off their shoes and clean up from being in the outdoors.

If you don’t have a mud room, it will only take you one season to see why one is necessary. Even a covered porch outside is better than bringing in all of the stuff into your home when spring first arrives.

4. The cost of living in Vermont is higher than average.
If you plan to live in Vermont, then you will need to come with a healthy checkbook. It costs about 11% more to live here each year when compared to the national median. Your income taxes will be up to about 9% depending on what you earn, and retirees need to know that their Social Security income is usually taxed as well.

Those are just the statewide averages to consider. If you want to live in a resort community like Stowe, then the cost of living if 42% higher than the national average. When you can get by on $50,000 in a place like Texas or Wyoming, you’ll need about $80,000 to do the same if you start living in Vermont.

5. Housing might be affordable, but renting is not in Vermont.
The rental market in Vermont can be rather pricey because the apartment and condo supply is low, but demand levels are high thanks to the presence of some excellent educational institutions. During the average year, the monthly cost for rent is about 30% higher throughout the state than it is nationwide, and that rate gets even worse when you need to move to Burlington. A one-bedroom apartment in the city can easily go for $1,200 per month – if not more.

Your best option might be Montpelier for cost. It is the state capital, but only 7,500 people call it home. You can find a small apartment here for around $600 without much difficulty. You’ll need to be proactive on your applications to make sure you can get into one though. The available inventory moves rather quickly.

6. Some retailers like to experiment with new gimmicks in the state.
Target opened a small-format store in South Burlington in 2018, which was the company’s first store in the state. It offers fulfillment options, an order pickup counter, and drive up services for cars, motorcycles, and bicycles. There is even same-day delivery as an option thanks to Shipt. The brand incorporated several sustainable features into the design as well to encourage local visits based on surveys about what values were important to the community.

Because of the small population centers, you’ll find that there are new ideas tried out on you here (for good and bad) that can make life a little uncomfortable. That’s why you can find people going into New York, New Hampshire, or even Canada to handle their needs.

7. The rural nature of Vermont makes winter driving a headache.
You can’t avoid the snow in Vermont. It’s going to happen. The only question is if the fluffy white stuff comes early, late, or right on time. Unless you live in Chittenden County, there is an excellent chance that you’ll be driving an extensive amount of time to get to where you need to be for errands and appointments. If the roads are frozen, that means you’re staying home. There are times when living in this state means that you are at the mercy of the weather completely.

Even if you put chains on the tires to get moving, your speed is limited to 20 or 30 miles per hour as your drive. You’ll want to plan ahead for this time commitment when you start living here. Snow tires are a definite investment that you’ll want to make.

8. Vermont is not much of a melting pot for cultures.
You won’t find much in the way of international culture if you decide to start living in Vermont. Although you can find young people around the educational institutions, most of the youth leave the state to pursue opportunities elsewhere. If you want a decent meal from a Japanese or Mexican restaurant, then you’ll need to go somewhere else. There isn’t much of a nightlife either, although you can also go down to visit the neighborhood bar for a drink and a laugh.

Verdict on the Pros and Cons of Living in Vermont

If you want to live a quiet life or retire in style, then Vermont is a state which has a lot to offer. Although the cost of living is higher here than in other parts of the country, the beauty of the forests and the tranquility of Lake Champlain make it a wonderful place to call home.

There are plenty of outdoor activities for you to pursue. It is also the most rural state in the country, which means employment can be an issue. If you like Vermont, then you’ll need to get used to the snow and mud too.

The pros and cons of living in Vermont all depend on your perspective. You don’t need to own a four-wheel drive vehicle to live here, but you do need to take some precautions to ensure your home stays warm and your pipes don’t freeze. With a little extra planning before you make the move, living here can be a wonderful experience.

Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.