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Old 08-28-2006, 09:36 PM
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Hi, I'm new here and considering relocating to Vermont from California. My wife and I have three kids 7, 5, and 2 and want to move to a small town but want some of the culture and excitement that a college town brings. Some of the places we are looking at are Brattleboro, Montpelier, and Middlebury. We want to buy some land (5-20 acres) with an old house. We will probably be homeschooling our kids. I know there is not really a college in Brattleboro, but what about Montpelier? Is there much of a nightlife? Any help would be appreciated. Also, if there are any other cool small college towns that I have not discovered, please let me know. BTW, Burlington is larger than we want, although I know it's a great college town.

Thanks, David
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Old 08-29-2006, 06:05 AM
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If relocationg from California- which is mostly a dry subtropical temperate climate- you will have to do some major adjustment to the climate/weather changes if you move to Northern New England.

Vermont winters though 'milder' then 20-30 years(because of climate change/global warming) ago are still too cold for me living in Connecticut. The snow and cold can be a bit much for me- for you and your family the change may be either refreshing or overwelming.

Middlebury (pop. 7600) is a charming New England town- home of the renowned Middlebury College- very nice Main Street. much culture for its size- nightlife here will be confined to the local pubs and college cafes and Inns. Some interesting local eateries in the Inns.

Brattleboro, in the southern part of the state on the Connecticut river (pop 12300) is a nice town, with many improvements to the downtown and Main street. A fair amount of shopping locally, coffee shops, cafes, organic supermarkets and some very good ethnic restaurants, and lots of recreational opportunites for all seasons. Has a 'bohemian' feel- very liberal. Nice town to raise a family like Middlebury. Some local pubs in the eateries and Historic Inns. There is in an historic hotel (The Latchis) on Main Street with a bistro cafe, brew pub and more-all which offer a nice amount of nightlife at a subdued but not boring pace.

Montpelier is the only state Cap in the USA without a McDonalds (well actually one is over in the neighboring town of Barre)
Nice Main street again, very charming town of perhaps 8,000. Quiet however.

Brattleboro has its famous 'retreat' and is closer to Mass. Further south by less then an hour is Northhampton(pop 29000) and Amherst (39,000) with its numerous colleges; Amherst College, Hampshire College, and the University of Massachusetts. While Smith college is in Northhampton. There is much in these towns for culture, nightlife and more. Northhampton has a wonderful downtown with coffee shops, cafes various ethnic restaurants of high quality and a very progressive atmosphere.

Middlebury is probably the most attactive town of the three in Vermont - but Brattleboro is certainly nice- and has quick access to the Pioneer Valley in Mass. May I also suggest Bennington VT- in the southwestern part of state (home of Bennington College) Very charming town of 16,000.

Again be forwarned of the weather! Good luck- we have many ex Californians choosing the quiet corner of eastern Connecticut to live as well.

Last edited by Dragondog; 08-29-2006 at 06:50 AM..
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Old 08-29-2006, 08:06 AM
Location: Vermont
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Dragondog gave you great info. Not much nightlife at all in Vermont unless you're in Burlington. Middlebury is my favorite of the three as well.
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Old 08-29-2006, 01:54 PM
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Thanks for the responses. Yeah, I know the weather will take some getting used to, but I think we're up for it. We don't really need a lot of nightlife, just enough so if we want to get out, it's there. One of my travel books describes Montpelier as "a vibrant college town", which has not been backed up through other research. I really like the terrain around both Brattleboro and Montpelier. It seems as though there are more rolling hills than around Middlebury. Is there much action in Brattleboro? I don't want to end up in a super quiet town where everyone is asleep by 8:30. I'm planning on taking a trip out there in a month or so to check all these places out, and I'm trying to narrow it down a little before I get there. Thanks a lot for your help.
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Old 08-29-2006, 02:20 PM
Location: Vermont
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Middlebury is in the Champlain Valley, hence it being fairly flat. Drive 5 miles east though, and you're in the foothills of the Green Mountains.
There used to be a college in Montpelier called Vermont College. Norwich University took it over and moved the school to it's campus in Northfield. The New England Culinary Institute is in Montpelier and I believe they are moving into some of the old Vermont College buildings.
The two towns have different feels. Not only is Middlebury home to Middlebury College, but Addison County is the biggest farming county in the state so there are a lot of agriculture related business/events in the area too.
Montpelier, being the state capital, is very busy with politicos when legislature is in session (January to June generally). Most jobs in the Montpelier are...you guessed it....government jobs.
If you have any other questions, please post!
Regarding "everyone asleep at 8:30"...speaking for Middlebury, I can tell you, that aside from the movie theater (2 screens) or the college or town hall theater having an event, things are pretty quiet by 8:30, especially during the week!
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Old 08-29-2006, 03:53 PM
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Good luck David in coming east- what part of the golden state are you in?
Brattleboro from my recent visits had much in the way of 'entertainment' and shopping then more sedate Middlebury and Montpelier.

Brattleboro has some nice eateries and pubs- and the downtown has many interesting bakeries, coffee shops, and interesting cafe's. So of three towns, Brattleboro would have more evening opportunities then the other towns mentioned.

The mountains that seem to surround the time are wonderfully green in the summer- and snow covered in the winter, giving the town a real nice physical beauty.

Brattleboro has the 'Brattleboro Museum' a fine place with various art exhibitions with very nice views of the Connecticut River.

The Latchis Movie theatre part of the Hotel offers film and live events in its nice auditorium, as well as a brew pub/bistro in the art deco hotel on Main street.

The Vermont Theatre company in town is a fine community theatre offering plays and muscial shows on a regular basis

The Windham art gallery on Main street -fine art gallery of local artists and more

The Metropolis Wine bar - upscale wine and martini bar fine restaurant with entertainment-

The Moles eye cafe entertainment fine food and wine

Flat Street Pub local brews lounge

Mocha Joes -Great Coffee and more on Main street

Adagio Trattoria on Main street- Fine Mediterreanean food wine and more

Amy's Bakery and arts cafe

39 Main Eclectic restuarant serving fine food at reasonable prices

Brattleboro Food COOP 18000 square foot store- Organics, fine foods, Wines, imported Cheeses, Baked goods

Just a few of the options available in town.

Last edited by Dragondog; 08-29-2006 at 04:38 PM..
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Old 08-29-2006, 08:10 PM
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Wow! This is great information. This is exactly what I've been looking for. We're in Sacramento which is about two hours to the coast and two hours to Lake Tahoe. There's getting to be a lot of ugly sprawl and lots of smog. We really just want to live in a small town, slow down and enjoy our life. I do computer animation from home so we can live just about anywhere in the country. We really want four seasons, a more liberal or progressive area, somewhere where we can grow a lot of our own food, and meet some great people. My oldest son loves to fish and kayak and we love to ski in the winter.
I'm surprised that Brattleboro has more going on than Middlebury. Are there a lot of families in that area? It sounds that if it has all the things mentioned that there must be a fairly large percentage of younger people (we're in our 30's). Any other info you guys can think of is much appreciated.
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Old 08-30-2006, 04:35 AM
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Southern Vermont has many recreation clubs, for those who ski, hike and I have seen kayaking on the Connecticut and west rivers.

The population of Brattleboro is very diverse, with old Vermonters, Ex New Yorkers, young people, single and married and escapees from southern New England, the east coast megalopolis and even from California.

An interesting piece from Wikipedia on Brattleboro;

Windham County, Vermont, United States. The population was 12,005 at the 2000 census. Brattleboro was chartered on December 26, 1753, and is located in the southeast corner of Vermont. The town is situated along the Connecticut River, at the mouth of the West River.[1] It is the headquarters of the Holstein Association.

The town's most densely populated location is in the downtown area that can be found at the very bottom of the valley. Because of the area's very mountainous terrain, with steep grades, and relatively little flat land, residents have had to build houses practically on top of each other and on mountain sides. It's this topography that has helped to create the chic and urban atmosphere of the downtown area that its residents love and tourists admire.

There seems to be a certain thought among wealthy New York and Connecticut tourists that Vermont is a perfect weekend getaway with an image of being decidedly rural. However, most tourists don't want to be too far from their main residences and still want some urban amenities while on vacation. Brattleboro, being the first major town over the Vermont border on Interstate 91, offers this to all the tourists that visit.

Because of the typical chic and upscale clientele that visit Brattleboro, the town has been able to foster the growth of many luxury establishments that dwarf even Vermont's largest city, Burlington. Notable restaurants include Capers, Peter Havens, 39 Main, Max's and the superlative T.J. Buckley's. The fanciest bar in the area is the Metropolis Wine bar with its pricey, powerful martinis and extensive wine list. The local brewpub, MacNeils, brews some of the best strong beer in the country, though it's uneven batch to batch.

Brattleboro is a host to a number of art galleries and stores including Vermont Artisan Design, the largest store of original artworks in the area.

The Brattleboro Food Coop is among the best quality general supermarkets on the east coast.

Brattleboro's 'proximity' to more urban southern New England (just 18 miles or so from the Mass. border on I 91) and nearby Northhampton and Amherst - is placed in a more favorable geographic location-and as the Wikipedia article above show's it offers much sophistication of a larger urban envirionment with a population of just over 12,000! With mountains and expansive rural landscape close by. Middlebury is further to travel to by at least 100 miles in northern Vermont, a wee more isolated. Bennington and its fine college are just to the west of Brattleboro -no more then 55 minutes. And the pleasant own of Keene New Hampshire is less then hour as well. North of Brattleboro is the pleasant very small town of Putney (pop 2650) In 2006, which was one of the first American towns to have its citizens pass a resolution endorsing the impeachment of President George W. Bush. Putney is also noted for The Putney School, one of the country's best-known alternative independent high schools.

I am sure you will enjoy Brattleboro when you visit soon.
I love California- but the conditions of increasing sprawl and air problems
in the great valley I understand.

Good luck in finding a home and land.

Peter-in eastern Connecticut-Tolland county.

Last edited by Dragondog; 08-30-2006 at 06:02 AM..
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Old 08-30-2006, 07:07 AM
Location: Vermont
3,329 posts, read 8,783,330 times
Reputation: 1996
Great info on Brattleboro! I absolutely love the co-op there.
Regarding Middlebury - it's close enough to Burlington (45 minutes) so you can take in all that the city has to offer. Lots of nightlife, live music venues, bars, restaurants, shops etc.
A big thing to do among locals in the winter is to follow the Middlebury College hockey team. They are perennial D-III powers. UVM hockey is also big. They play in D-I Hockey East. The Middlebury Snow Bowl is up the road in Hancock in case you feel the urge to take a few turns.
Middlebury also has a great food co-op store.
If you'd like more specifics on Middlebury, please ask!
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Old 08-30-2006, 12:53 PM
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Just a quirky side about Brattleboro

The west River, up along route 30 near Dummerston has a swiming hole. There are cliffs for diving, and the water is cool and clean with small beaches.

There is a 'clothed' swimming hole for the first part of the river, near the road, then further up a 'bathing suit optional' swimming area for straight couples and singles. At the far end is the gay section- which is mostly 'bathing suit optional'.....

Last edited by Dragondog; 08-30-2006 at 01:25 PM..
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