Pros and Cons of living in VT… The Sequel

So… Almost 2 years ago, I wrote a post called, “The pros and cons of living in rural Vermont.”

Shit. I can’t believe I’ve been writing this blog for over 2 years…

Anyway, that post remains, to this day, the most viewed, searched, visited and commented-on post on my blog. I get at least 10 hits a week on that post and I continue to get occasional comments thanking me for my (weird) perspective on living here.

Reading it over again, I feel like it needed a little updating, especially since there are a few things to add and a few to remove.  Just to make sure people get the right idea…

Plus, I’m hoping, that on this second day of April, if I go over again why I like to live here, I might not be so grumpy about it being 29 degrees when I left my house this morning.

First of all… Some more stuff I’ve thought of-

 

Really? I never would have guessed.
Really? I never would have guessed.

 

Cost of living is HIGH. Income tax is a bitch, especially coming from FL where there was none. Sales tax is also pretty high, but only on certain things. Room and meal tax (i.e. hotels and restaurants) is about 9%. But no tax on clothes or groceries. And the property tax is painful. That depends more on the town you live in though since it’s mostly based on municipal and school costs which are town budget things. You can also get a break on taxes based on your income. The town I live in happens to be particularly high in the range, and even with the state subsidy, my escrow payment is a bit shocking. Great fresh food and dairy is readily available, but, since most of the farms here are small, localvore food is a bit pricey. “Buy Local” is all well and good, but only when you have a grocery budget that’ll cover it. And the worst? Fuel. If you’re looking into moving here, You need to look into houses that are well insulated and run efficient furnaces or are heated by alternative fuels or pellet stoves. I didn’t and as a result, in my poorly insulated double-wide with hot air heat, a crappy kerosene furnace and an uninsulated water heater, our average combined electric, kerosene (furnace) and propane (hot water and stove) was about $400/month. Seriously. In the new house? We’ve been there 2 months (give or take) and already used almost 200 gallons of heating oil. With fairly efficient baseboard hot water heat. Now, before you panic and start looking elsewhere, keep in mind, that my old house was pretty much worst case scenario and the new one, while completely different, isn’t a whole lot better. In our search for less claustrophobia inducing space, the new house is more than twice the square footage of the old one. BUT… built in 1949 with minimal energy-efficient improvements since then. We’ve had an energy audit and are waiting for the results, but I’m guessing, with some insulation blown into the walls, we’ll see a dramatic improvement. So it’s not all bad. But yeah, it’s definitely more expensive.

 

On the other hand, the average pay rate is higher and the quality of life is much better. My starting pay at my current job was about $7000/year more than the same level job I held in Florida. And I was paying $850/m rent in a shitty 1 bedroom apartment in a crappy neighborhood. I had a homeless lady camping out on my front porch. Seriously. She suffered from fecal incontinence. I had to bleach my entranceway when the police finally got her to move on. And since you have to run the AC year-round (as opposed to only running the heat in the winter-time here) my electric bills were always high. So overall, I think it’s probably somewhat comparable.

 

 

Mmmmmaybe.
Mmmmmaybe.

 

On the previous post…

Availability of electronic communication is limited. High speed internet is not widely available and even cell phone converage is limited and in many places, completely unavailable. You know those sweet new 4G phones they’re advertising? Totally useless here. We’re lucky if we get in an area that has 3G service. I can’t tell you how much I love driving to Montpelier on route 12 which is windy, twisty, icy and frequently populated by moose (the animal kind) without the ability to call for help if I crash or something. (That was sarcastic if you couldn’t tell…)

That’s changed. A lot. There are still places in the state (mostly in the Northeast Kingdom) where you’re lucky to get one bar on your phone. But mostly, 4G is readily available, as is high-speed internet, and even my little podunk town has free wifi on Main St. Isn’t that adorable?

 

Weather? It’s a Bitch. As mentioned, April 2nd and 29 degrees this morning. Of course it’s 49 now, but really… To be fair, it’s been a crappy winter for most of the Northeast in general, but even in a regular year, the general population here is pissy and fed-up by March. There is a rather high rate of alcoholism here and it is directly related to the long, shitty winter. Really, there are studies out there. 

 

Given that, the general attitude around here is pretty laid-back. People move at a slower pace, just like the weather. To someone rather high-strung (ummm… that’d be me), this is both a blessing and a curse.

Clearly I'm not from here.

Clearly I’m not from here.

It’s definitely a good thing for me to slow down a bit, but the lackadaisical attitude by folks around here can be infuriating when I want to get something done. Like say some repairs in our new house. “Mudding” a dinner-plate sized hole in the wall just should not take 4 days. The guy would show up around 4, leave around 6 for 4 days. Granted, he had another job, and the completed job was excellent, but the pace at which it was done was making me absolutely fucking crazy crazier. Pinning down a time for him, or any of the other guys doing work on the house was just this side of impossible. The electrician? Did an excellent job. For an extremely reasonable price. And he actually did complete his work in a timely manner. But it was kinda difficult to plan around him needing to come in and rewire the basement when he called me the night before and told me, “Ya, so I’ll be thur ’round 8 in the morning.” Um… Ohkay? Despite all this, they were all honest and straightforward. the estimates they gave were (mostly) on target. One of the estimates was over and one was under so we came out even. Honestly, I couldn’t even get mad at the breezy, “So, we ended up cutting through that wire there. There wasn’t no sparks or nothin’ so I don’t think it was hooked up.” It was. I have no idea why they didn’t get electrocuted since the fuse hadn’t been switched off. But they didn’t seem to be concerned.

 

Additionally, while there may not be the variety of cultural enrichment here as there might be in a more populated state, there are some amazing crafters, artisans and local artists here. Go to any farmer’s market in the summer, and you’ll find amazing farm-fresh fruits and veggies, eggs, cider, organic beef and pork and course, maple syrup. In addition, you’ll also find breads, cakes and pies that would make the most hardcore Atkins dieter fall off the wagon. Hand-woven Alpaca scarves, sweaters and shawls. Hand-lathed wooden bowls. Jams, jellies, dressings, marinades, rubs and mixes made with the utmost care and worthy of the kitchens of any 4-star restaurant. Lotions and soaps, made from goats milk and lavender and lemongrass that would cost you $60 in any department store. Pottery and baskets and knives and batik printed dresses. Artisan beers, Ben&Jerry’s, Green Mountain Coffee… You can’t find this stuff, made with such care and attention to quality and detail anywhere but here. There’s a reason the “Made in Vermont” sticker gets misused by manufacturers. It’s because the stuff made here is good.

 

Ben&Jerry's... Suck it Florida.
Ben&Jerry’s… Suck it Florida.

 

I must again stress the safety of this state. Although Gov. Shumlin’s State of the State address this year was devoted in it’s entirety to the growing epidemic of opiate addiction, there is still SO much less violence. Top news story here today (courtesy of WCAX)

Fire damages Burlington apartment house

Posted: Apr 02, 2014 12:05 PM EDT

Updated: Apr 02, 2014 12:05 PM EDT

BURLINGTON, Vt. – Fire damaged an apartment house in downtown Burlington early Wednesday morning. Crews were called to the building at the corner of Pearl Street and North Winooski Avenue at about 3:40 a.m. They found flames coming from the top floor. All five residents of the building got out safely and no one was hurt. Most of the damage appears to have been contained to the upper two floors. “Well right now it’s hard to say; we’re still investigating. At this point, there’s not a lot of structural damage except for the third floor. Second floor has a fair amount of fire damage, water damage everywhere,” said Joe Keenan, the assistant fire marshal in Burlington. Seven firefighters had been on route to Boston to attend the funeral of a fallen firefighter when the second alarm forced then to turn around and respond to the scene. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

As opposed to Tampa(tbo.com)

Car of Pinellas man, 84, stolen hours after he was attacked

The 84-year-old Pinellas Park man who was attacked, beaten and stabbed Tuesday told police his attackers wanted to steal his car. Later that night, someone stole Charlie Clark’s Ford from the front of his condominium building on the 5000 block of 76th Avenue, Pinellas Park police said. The vehicle, which was taken between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m., was recovered Wednesday morning in St. Petersburg, police said. Police said they are looking for a suspect. Before 10 a.m. Tuesday, Clark sustained serious injuries when three teens — two males and a female — attacked him as he returned to his condo from a store, police said. Clark told police he thought the trio was trying to steal his car. He said he had just exited his vehicle in a parking lot when one of the attackers grabbed him from behind. As he struggled to break free, Clark said, he knocked one of three to the ground while struggling with another. During the struggle, Clark said the attackers didn’t make any demands, but he was stabbed at least twice with a knife that police recovered at the scene. A witness came to Clark’s aid, and the suspects fled on bicycles, police said. After the attack, Clark was taken to a hospital, treated and released. Investigators released surveillance videos from a nearby store that shows three people on bicycles shortly after the attack. Police said they want to talk with them. Police described two of the suspects in the attack as black males, one in his late teens with dark skin and average height and weight, and the other in his early to mid-teens. The female suspect was described as Hispanic in her early teens, with a heavier build and red-brown hair, wearing a gray hoodie.
 
 
 
I can’t think of a more convincing reason to live here, instead of there. I’m still grateful to have the chance to raise my kids here.

 

 

 

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: The pros and cons of rural Vermont | newlifeinvermont
  2. Rose
    Sep 09, 2014 @ 14:09:06

    Dear Newlifeinvermont – priceless, absolutely priceless. Both this post and the one from 2012. I was laughing so hard at some of your comments in your posts that i was crying! I mean that sincerely not as a poke at you or your situation, especially the winter of 2012 and dealing with your driveway and your parents. Truly appreciate your honesty and the tell it as you see it aspect of living in Vermont.

    Reply

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