My Short Answer After Moving To The Town of Brattleboro in Southern VT in 2008.
Generally – A great state! I find myself amidst the voluntarily lower middle class. My friends and colleagues are mostly relatively happy hippie-ish democratic liberals who are into protecting the environment, education, local community support, and healthy living. There are also lots of retired folks, republicans, a few rich, a more poor. There’s the few homeless (more in summer) and those suffering visibly from psychological issues and drug and alcohol abuse.
The tone I experience here is somewhere between New Hampshire’s “Live Free, Or Die” independent, self-sufficiency, and the West Coast’s hippie-dippie liberalism and innovation.
Under that, I sense a deep commitment to community, family and education that crosses political lines. Most Vermonters I know seem to be able to agree on being there for one’s neighbors, supporting good public schools, farming, effective social programs, healthy local food, being outdoors, and spending time with family and friends.
Finally, it’s a very small state, less then 700,000! So scale back the numbers in all your factoring.
- Have quick plans for food you can make for pot-luck dinner socials. So many pot lucks! And you’ll waste money if you always buy prepared food or bring booze. Sometimes I wish someone would just host a dinner, just once…
- Even one job with low salary, but full benefits, is very valuable here. Then the other person can freelance, farm, finagle, etc.
- Lock you car during zucchini season if you have out of state plates. If you don’t it will be full of folk’s surplus zucchinis that they are trying to get rid of.
- Join the COOP
- Find a CSA for local veggies and/or meat
- Get a big freezer for blueberries and homemade pesto all year!
- Join a board *but not too many.
- Vote and go to town meetings and public hearings.
- Trim your expenses and dept.
- Get some tools
- Plant a garden
- Get really good snow tires in the winter (Michelin X-Ice for example).
- Draft proof and insulate your house (consider a heat pump with Efficiency Vermont help).
- Find the swimming holes.
- Okay, on the snow tires…With an AWD cars, some say you don’t need ’em, but I got kids now and they make a huge difference. If you don’t have AWD, get ’em for sure.
- Get wool socks, sweaters, hats, and wear layers. But wait for a sale if you can, at the end of winter.
- Keep a blanket, water, and a flashlight in your car in winter.
- Keep a swim suit, towel, blanket, sun screen and water in the car in summer.
- Leave time to drive on the little back roads when you can, there’s so many cool little discoveries.