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VT or bust

Emski528

Angel Diva
Vermonters-
Which are your favorite mountains? Anything locals love that doesn’t attract the big crowds? Are the roads to resorts jam packed like in CO on the weekends? We’ve been getting serious about a move to VT. Since we usually stay at a mountain I don’t know what the local experience on a regular ski day is like. We planned to spend a few weekends scouting around this winter (chatting with locals on the lift) and spring but COVID restrictions aren’t allowing for it. After 10 years in western NY we’re tired of long weekend drives for decent skiing and mtn biking. The kids are getting older (10 and 8) and are really getting into the ski/bike scene (casual, not competitive). We’ve been learning about the different school districts. We have transferable jobs.
I thought asking like-minded people for location advice would be super helpful. Thank you!
 

ski diva

Administrator
Staff member
I live in Vermont between Okemo and Killington, so hopefully, I can help.

To be honest, most of the ski areas are crowded on weekends. I think the Epic pass has actually made it worse for the now Vail-owned resorts -- Okemo, Stowe, and Mount Snow -- even with the reservation system in place. And Killington has always been a mob scene on weekends. The traffic, though, is never bad, even on the weekends, so I wouldn't worry about that. As with Colorado, your best bet is to go to a smaller resort, like Magic, if you want to ski on a Saturday or Sunday.

As for favorites, my top two are Sugarbush and Burke. Okemo, Stratton, and Magic all kind of fall in together, followed by Mount Snow and Killington. Killington has a weird layout and it's hard to get around. Plus both of them have this vibe thing. I think they get a more New York-y, aggressive crowd. Every time I go to Killington (and I was just there the other day), I tell myself I'm going to love it, and I never do. The terrain is good, though.

Mad River has a terrific reputation, but I've only skied there once (!), so I really can't comment. And I've only skied Bromley once and never Bolton Valley. Oh, I forgot Jay. Jay is very nice, but very far from everything (except Canada!).

Have you looked into Whiteface in New York? One of my favorite places to ski, and Lake Placid and the Adirondacks are awesome.

Hope this helps.
 

Emski528

Angel Diva
Thank you! That is super helpful! I definitely prefer a more laid-back vibe skiing (although I prefer to ski aggressively :-) Jay has been our favorite for many years but, you’re right, not the place to live and be near anything. We don’t need much but the further south in VT we are the closer we can be to family in Boston, Albany, CT. I know how long the drive from Jay heading south can seem on a good weather day.
We have actually booked at whiteface for the first week of March (when we usually do Jay). NYS is giant and it’s still a 5.5 hour drive for us. We can get to Stratton in 5. Isn’t that crazy? For some reason it still surprises me.
 

ilovepugs

Angel Diva
I love my town. 20-25 minutes to Mad River Glen, 35 to Sugarbush, 30 to Bolton and under an hour to Stowe. 3.5 hours to Boston; 3 to Albany. We’re at the very southern edge of Chittenden County, so the school system is excellent, and we do have gigabit internet despite otherwise clearly living in the sticks. We also have some of the best mountain biking in the state within 2 miles of my house. Housing inventory is quite sparse though.

Another option would be to look in the Mad River Valley towns of Fayston, Waitsfield and Warren. Even though Alterra bought Sugarbush, the community is still very laid back.
 

newboots

Angel Diva
I lived in Wendy’s neighborhood and can second her observations. In my tiny town of Reading, fiber-optic was coming to my house a week after I left. :frusty:

One thing to consider about schools is that Vermont enacted a school consolidation law a few years ago. Check carefully with your school system. Sadly, Reading’s school system is being painfully subsumed by a large system including towns from Woodstock to Killington. It’s very hard on Reading for attracting young families to keep the town vibrant. (Otherwise there is an active community here with dozens of town wide activities and fairs.)

I have loved Vermont since childhood, and I loved living there. But outside of Chittenden County, Brattleboro, Rutland and Montpelier, you’ve got to love rural! It is incredibly beautiful, as you know. Even the rural areas of NY right over the border can’t hold a candle to it! I think it’s the lack of billboards and litter in Vermont. Billboards were outlawed 40 years ago, and it’s a huge improvement.
 

Tvan

Angel Diva
Having bought property in Vermont in 2020 I can tell you that the market, even for building lots and rentals, is red-hot with some of the most desirable properties being sold sight unseen before they even hit the listings. This is especially true in ski towns. Case in point: The Virus Sent Droves to a Small Town. Suddenly, It’s Not So Small. - The New York Times (nytimes.com. I suggest targeting a specific area and striking up a relationship with a local realtor who can keep you updated on potential rentals and listings. Since you have children, I would also think that a strong school district would be high on your priority list. Your realtor should be able to advise. If you're serious, you need to be patient, flexible and ready to leap when something interesting becomes available.

We were lucky. Our offer was accepted on February 28, 2020, when having a forever home in Vermont was a silly idea for most of the country.
 
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Emski528

Angel Diva
Having bought property in Vermont in 2020 I can tell you that the market, even for building lots and rentals, is red-hot with some of the most desirable properties being sold sight unseen before they even hit the listings. This is especially true in ski towns. Case in point: The Virus Sent Droves to a Small Town. Suddenly, It’s Not So Small. - The New York Times (nytimes.com. I suggest targeting a specific area and striking up a relationship with a local realtor who can keep you updated on potential rentals and listings. Since you have children, I would also think that a strong school district would be high on your priority list. Your realtor should be able to advise. If you're serious, you need to be patient, flexible and ready to leap when something interesting becomes available.

We were lucky. Our offer was accepted on February 28, 2020, when having a forever home in Vermont was a silly idea for most of the country.
The rising costs have been incredible to watch. We were casually watching the last three years and are sort of wishing we'd jumped on a property we saw near Burlington a few years ago. However, you are right. Patience is important. It wasn't the right time then and we aren't in a particular rush now. Even with buying land, I can't imagine it's easy to find a builder.
The school district information is definitely confusing. Our local district is wonderful but doesn't have the highest ratings in our area so I do not put a ton of value in those numbers. Our current district is the smallest in our area but about the size of South Burlington (which I think is VTs largest).
We are planning a trip to visit in May (pending lift of COVID restrictions. I'm vaccinated but I doubt by family will be). In the meantime, I'll keep nurturing ski obsession in my daughters. My oldest just agreed to do tomorrow's online school work early so we can check out the 10 inches of snow they got 2 hours from here. My plan is working.
I'm so grateful for everyones replies.
 

ski diva

Administrator
Staff member
I

I have loved Vermont since childhood, and I loved living there. But outside of Chittenden County, Brattleboro, Rutland and Montpelier, you’ve got to love rural! It is incredibly beautiful, as you know. Even the rural areas of NY right over the border can’t hold a candle to it! I think it’s the lack of billboards and litter in Vermont. Billboards were outlawed 40 years ago, and it’s a huge improvement.

I have to second that. There's a lot of rural here. So if you love cities and all that comes with that sort of thing, Vermont IS NOT for you. But it's great if you love the outdoors, both winter and summer. And it's beautiful all the time. I moved here from suburban Philly over 13 years ago, and I absolutely love it.
 
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SallyCat

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I live in the "Upper Valley" region of VT/NH, which runs roughly from Windsor, Vermont to Lyme, NH with WRJ/ Lebanon/Hanover NH as a sort of focal point and area of denser population.

I like it because I can live in a rural area, which I enjoy, but also have ready access to amazing cultural opportunities and a bit of a cosmopolitan atmosphere in and around Hanover. Dartmouth-Hitchcock is an amazing healthcare resource, and White River Junction is a funky little place with great restaurants and a kind of hipster-ish vibe. Jumping on 91 is super easy if I want to visit family out of state or head north for a change of scenery.

Though perhaps not promoted as much as the Rochester/Waitsfield area, the mountain biking in the Upper Valley is superb, from Mt. Ascutney to Mt. Peg, Killington's DH park, ,Boston Lot and many more within an easy drive. The gravel bike riding around here is absolutely amazing as well.

As for skiing, I frequent Okemo, which is normally great on weekdays but an absolute zoo on weekends. But I'm also within an hour of Magic, Killington, and Sunnapee. For a change of pace, I also enjoy some of the smaller, more community-oriented ski areas such as Whaleback and Ascutney.

When I was getting ready to move here, I really wanted a community, not a ski town, and I feel that I made the right choice/got lucky ending up where I am.
 

Skivt2

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
The droves of people moving to Vermont now is really frustrating. My husband and I decided we wanted to live in Vermont 10+ years ago. About 8 years ago we started spending about half our time there and got a yearly rental. We decided my husband should change careers so he could work there and follow his heart to be in the medical field. He spent the past 3-4 years getting all his classes taken and finally got accepted to a nursing program In our state so in 2022 he will graduate. At the time we decided to do this it was insurance against me eventually losing my corporate job as I expected to ask to telecommute and figured eventually I’d get laid off for being out of site and out of mind. Then covid hit. Now I am remote and am fairly sure that won’t be a an issue going forward but we are still 18+ months out from being able to execute on our dream because he needs to graduate. the plan seems further away and harder to achieve as real estate is now a ridicules bubble with prices way above what makes sense given Vermont’s make up. We have been skiing 100+ days a year in VT the past 5-6 years and know we want to live there forever. All our friends live there. To add insult to injury now our landlord wants to cash in and sell our condo. The market is tight even for seasonal rentals and we could literally be shut out of even being in VT at all next ski season. We sometimes wonder what will actually happen when he graduates. Will we be able to find a place to live? Housing is becoming a really issue in Vermont. I don’t think finding a job will be an issue at all since VT needs trained medical professionals. But housing is going to seriously constrain the ability for folks like us to make a move. I think 5hat ought to be a bit of a concern for Vermonters since normal people with needed skills are going to be shut out at the same time as there are more people who need those services. Personally I hope all the city slickers with an idealistic idea of Vermont living decide it’s not for them quickly. The winters are long and harsh If you don’t completely love it. Mud/black fly season is something to behold when being outside requires head nets and mesh clothing. It’s almost as cloudy as Seattle and it’s not like more urban areas with shopping etc easy to access. And it’s true that school systems are WAY different in Vermont. And of course real Vermonters absolutely HATE flatlanders as has been painfully obvious in social media since Last march. it seems our only hope now is that once Covid is over people miss the city, warm weather and sunshine and move back to wherever they came from. Ps...if anyone has a line on a rental for next year pm me
 
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SallyCat

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I hope that the housing market calms down soon and you are able to move here, @Skivt2! Like you, I think that those who bought into "pandemic" housing market may eventually cool on the reality of living here. (Although between you, me, and the wallpaper the reality of living here is pretty freaking awesome if you like to be active outside! :smile: ).

I would not say that social media is *entirely* representative of the way Vermonters feel about out-of-staters, though it's definitely been a heightened issue this past year. (Of course the loudest and ugliest views tend to be expressed the most noticeably online.) VT is rural, and it has all of the problems that tend to go along with that (low wages, lack of economic opportunity, opioid abuse and all of its attendant issues, and shrinking and consolidating school systems as the population continues to age, etc.).

Despite all of that, I can say anecdotally that I really like it here; my town is a special place with a strong sense of community and an incredibly wide variety of outdoor opportunities along with vibrant and friendly groups to plug into for those opportunities. Our local elementary school has an outdoor-education focus, and there is an active core of younger families determined to continue and expand that focus.

I moved here three years ago and found very affordable housing in an out-of-the-way former ski town with a sort of eclectic vibe.

If you're inclined, feel free to PM for more details.
 

lisamamot

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I am from VT - grew up just south of Burlington and moved just east of Burlington in high school. Went to UVM and moved out of state for work when we graduated. Sadly never made it back. All my family is still in northern VT. Smugglers Notch has a very chill vibe and seriously hasn’t changed much since I was young. My sister’s boys raced there and one coaches there; she lives north of Burlington and it is still where she skis. VT is not inexpensive; that said there are plenty of communities that are doable drives to the mountain and to Burlington. Depends on what you are willing to do for a ski commute. Yes, school systems need to be considered, but motivated students will find their way...I expect you know your kids so can gauge their needs.
 

ski diva

Administrator
Staff member
The rising costs aren't just a problem for people who want to move here from out of state: it's a problem for Vermonters, too. I live in Vermont, and I have friends who'd like to buy a house but can't because they're being priced out of the market. Stuff is selling sight unseen to out-of-staters for crazy prices. Hopefully, when the pandemic is over, things will calm down.
 
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Skivt2

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I completely understand. I sort of live in VT. I’ve been in limbo for years. I have a year round condo, a P.O. Box, green plates and I sleep in VT more than any other state each year ie 165 days a year. Prepandemic times we only went to CT if I needed to be in the office or he needed to be in a class in person. We frequently got up in VT in the morning and went straight to work then stayed a few days and drove back: We were in VT at least 4 days a week except in July and August when we were visiting my mom on cape cod 3-4 days a week instead. My entire social circle is in VT. I spend so little time in my legal state that if I needed help moving something heavy in my house there I would not have anyone I could call. But in VT I can think of 50+ people I could ask for help and they would be there that day. I consider VT my home and unfortunately I am losing my home. And I’m pretty sure that until my husband graduates we can’t afford to replace that home. And once he does graduate I think it’s going to be very hard to find what we need.
 

lisamamot

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
The pandemic has certainly exacerbated the housing cost issue, but this is happening in resort areas all over the country. The cost of living in VT was high when I left 30+ years ago...there is a reason we landed where we did to build our careers. If I came back now, I could fall into the out of stater category....buying at a crazy price.

It doesn’t matter where I go, I am seen as not belonging. Living 30 miles outside of Boston, in a town without a grocery store, we have seen our housing prices triple in the last 27 years. The locals here complain about everyone that moved here too.....pushing up their housing prices. I fall in that category as well, lol, although I have been here since 1993.
 

Skivt2

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
The frustrating thing is going to be waiting out all the people who have just moved to VT and driven up the prices but who will get tired of it and move away. I hope they are in and out pretty quickly. While I love VT, I know it’s not for everyone.
 

MissySki

Angel Diva
The frustrating thing is going to be waiting out all the people who have just moved to VT and driven up the prices but who will get tired of it and move away. I hope they are in and out pretty quickly. While I love VT, I know it’s not for everyone.

It's not just Vermont, it's everywhere. MA is the same, the suburbs have seen an explosion in housing prices (though not to the full extent of the northern states that were pretty depressed previously) it's really hard to buy here right now as the competition is fierce from what I hear. I am so happy NOT to be looking for a new primary residence anytime soon. In another market we might consider selling since our value has gone up so much, but on the other hand I have no desire to try and compete for another home if we did sell so we aren't doing that. Instead we refinanced into a significantly lower rate this past summer and will stay put. (This is the exact issue causing the problems with low inventory and high prices right now, it's a viscous cycle causing low inventory). My coworker just sold a house in Stow, MA and had a huge frenzied bidding war, went WAY over asking, and had people giving earnest money deposits in 6 figure increments. Craziness, he was blown away by the demand and happy he had already done a private deal for where he was moving to ahead of time.

Maine and New Hampshire are crazy too, prices around Sunday River have skyrocketed. Some condos on the mountain are selling for close to double what they were priced for at the end of last season. With so many more people having the newfound ability to work from home after Covid, it'll be interesting to see how things go with real estate. Many are not ever going back to full time office life, hopefully including me. It's an intriguing thought from a business standpoint too. The talent pool is huge if you can recruit from anywhere instead of just a certain radius around the city that people are willing to drive in from. I find this piece really exciting since it expands the boundaries so much on where you can live and work going forward.

Have you started dealing with a rental agency yet for next year? Might be good to get on that asap if your current place is being sold. In Maine anyway I've already started getting emails from the local agencies who are beginning to put seasonal rentals up for the 2021/2022 pool. I thought it seemed kind of early since seasonal renters usually have until April to decide if they are renewing their leases. I'm not sure if that means that they are actually available or if they are trying to build a backlog, I know at least one of the agencies will put them on their website and then tell you that they won't know if it's available or not until a certain date. Worth a shot to start earlier than later though I'd think.
 

Skivt2

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
It's not just Vermont, it's everywhere. MA is the same, the suburbs have seen an explosion in housing prices (though not to the full extent of the northern states that were pretty depressed previously) it's really hard to buy here right now as the competition is fierce from what I hear. I am so happy NOT to be looking for a new primary residence anytime soon. In another market we might consider selling since our value has gone up so much, but on the other hand I have no desire to try and compete for another home if we did sell so we aren't doing that. Instead we refinanced into a significantly lower rate this past summer and will stay put. (This is the exact issue causing the problems with low inventory and high prices right now, it's a viscous cycle causing low inventory). My coworker just sold a house in Stow, MA and had a huge frenzied bidding war, went WAY over asking, and had people giving earnest money deposits in 6 figure increments. Craziness, he was blown away by the demand and happy he had already done a private deal for where he was moving to ahead of time.

Maine and New Hampshire are crazy too, prices around Sunday River have skyrocketed. Some condos on the mountain are selling for close to double what they were priced for at the end of last season. With so many more people having the newfound ability to work from home after Covid, it'll be interesting to see how things go with real estate. Many are not ever going back to full time office life, hopefully including me. It's an intriguing thought from a business standpoint too. The talent pool is huge if you can recruit from anywhere instead of just a certain radius around the city that people are willing to drive in from. I find this piece really exciting since it expands the boundaries so much on where you can live and work going forward.

Have you started dealing with a rental agency yet for next year? Might be good to get on that asap if your current place is being sold. In Maine anyway I've already started getting emails from the local agencies who are beginning to put seasonal rentals up for the 2021/2022 pool. I thought it seemed kind of early since seasonal renters usually have until April to decide if they are renewing their leases. I'm not sure if that means that they are actually available or if they are trying to build a backlog, I know at least one of the agencies will put them on their website and then tell you that they won't know if it's available or not until a certain date. Worth a shot to start earlier than later though I'd think.

That‘s the frustrating thing. I’ve been lining up my work for a few years to get them ready to be Ok with me working remotely. And we sent my husband to college at become an RN as an insurance policy where he could support us if I got laid off and had to get a less lucrative local job. Now of course my whole company is remote and everyone is moving north while we are stuck for a year finishing up our 5 year plan. It’s a bit frustrating to see so many folks be able to live the dream I planned out but having them get in ahead of us. I feel like we did all the responsible things and then missed the boat. It’s exciting that I won’t have as much worry about losing my job if I am remote and the job market is much more open to me since I can work for many companies remotely. I am in the tech industry. So that is one silver lining.

i did already contact the local realtors that deal in seasonal rentals to get on the list and hopefully at least be ahead of that curve. I contacted folks two weeks ago as soon as I knew the condo would eventually be listed. It’s excellent advice to get in early. In the past we have paid half our annual rent as a deposit in March for a lease that did not start until June 1st. And I will have that same chunk of cash sitting waiting for an opportunity to use it this March. But I am getting the impression that there will not be much inventory. i think it looks like we will be lucky to find a seasonal at all and if we do it may cost more for 6 months than we were paying for 12. Everything for sale is being snatched up and turned into Airbnb’s. Most people only rent seasonally if they can’t sell and also can’t make bank with or deal with short term rentals. But the economics have changed. Everyone can sell if they want and those who are buying are either using it themselves Or converting to an STR. My friends are all reaching out to folks they know with rental units to see if they would consider a seasonal with impeccable references from our current landlord. But so far the answer is always the same. They can make more through Airbnb.

i know I’m whining for my situation but for folks reading this and looking for a seasonal next year as well, I think it’s going to be super hard to get in.
 

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