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Old 08-18-2007, 05:48 PM
 
Location: Vermont
1,442 posts, read 5,960,893 times
Reputation: 451

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With all the posts I have read about the high cost of living (one poster said it is as high as in NYC) and the low salaries, plus the low number of jobs, I am wondering how Vermonters survive. I'm not referring to the Wall Street transplants with money to burn. I'm referring to normal people with normal jobs and normal financial obligations, living on local salaries.

I have been told that in Vermont you do what you have to do to survive. Vermont may be beautiful, but, as one poster wrote, you can't eat the scenery.

I have also spoken to people in Brattleboro and most say they love living in the area.

What do people do to survive and be happy in Vermont?

Do they do without and content themselves with less?

Do they simply accept that it is tough to make a living in Vermont and do what they can?

Do they have multiple jobs and work 60 or more hours a week?

Do they abandon their professions and work at something more lucrative?

Do they accept jobs they hate because other jobs, especially the job they may love, can't pay the bills?

Do they develop side businesses?

Do they commute long distances to have decent-paying jobs?

Do they work out of state? Do they commute to in NY, NH or MA?

Do they work so far away that they have to live away from home? I have met young mothers in New York whose husbands work hundreds of miles away and live by the job.

Do they grow their own food?

Do they take in boarders or rental tenants?

Do they engage in an underground barter economy?

Do they simply leave? Well, that can't be it for everyone or there would be nobody in Vermont.

Thinking in terms of Brattleboro, which I know better than other Vermont towns: You can save on housing costs - probably the biggest financial burden - by renting an apartment in your house, or by buying a rental property and living in one of the units. You can save on groceries by joining the Brattleboro Food Co-op or even by working there. The co-op is about twice as expensive, I think, as a conventional grocery store because of the organic food, so you pay more for groceries even with your discount. You can further save by growing some of your own food. You can save on car expenses by using your car for freelance work and taking a tax deduction on your car expenses.

I did this list off the top of my head and I'm sure I left some options out. If I move up there I'll need to consider all sorts of options, probably many of which I haven't even thought of yet.

Last edited by arel; 08-18-2007 at 05:59 PM..
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Old 08-18-2007, 06:37 PM
 
Location: Winter Springs, FL
1,789 posts, read 4,130,808 times
Reputation: 931
It's a little bit of everything you mentioned. In most cases people do with less. If you are closer to Burlington or one of the larger communities there is more opportunity, but in general you can talk with almost anyone who lives here and they do one or more of the things you have listed. It is a nice place to live and many people realize this, but because our population is so small the cost of living has to be a huge factor.
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Old 08-18-2007, 07:16 PM
 
Location: Vermont
1,442 posts, read 5,960,893 times
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What does doing with less mean? Obviously you can't cut back on food or utilities or insurance. And in Vermont you need a car.

I would have no problem doing without designer clothes, bags, shoes, etc., or high end home furnishings. I do not buy such things now. I have no interest in $3000 handbags . I do not throw expensive, catered parties. I am not a social climber. I do not need to go to expensive clubs. I enjoy eating out, but I do not need to go to high-end restaurants. I do not need a plasma TV. I do not need expensive tickets to exclusive or high-end venues. I enjoy supporting local artists.

But, even if I am not really materialistic, I still need to meet my monthly financial obligations. I need a decent place to live that I enjoy going home to. I need access to good veterinary care and diabetic supplies for my diabetic cat. I need a reliable car. I need some professional clothes. I need money to pay for emergencies like car or home repairs. I love bookstores and I like to buy books, although I don't usually buy books unless I will want to refer to them and/or mark them up.

In Vermont, what does doing without mean?

Are people obsessed with the struggle to survive?

Truthfully, I don't want to be thinking about survival. I want to know I can pay my bills fairly comfortably, with some money left over for savings and for discretionary spending. I want an income, from whatever source(s) that will pay for the cost of living.

If you are miserable trying to make ends meet, what kind of quality of life is that?
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Old 08-18-2007, 07:21 PM
 
6,764 posts, read 20,036,195 times
Reputation: 4700
Arel,
We live on Long Island and I wonder a lot of the same things since reading this. We don't have jobs yet (only started to decide on Vermont after a long road of looking at places). I live frugally now, but my husband works and makes $16/hour. We pay minimal rent to my parents and don't have a lot expenses or bills.
I figure if he gets an okay job and I get an okay job (I have a Masters' Degree so maybe I can get a 'better one') we will be fine. Our son is 9 and needs 'after school minding' but we will have to work that out.

Let's hope car insurance is cheaper than here!!

The way I see it, if I had to move tomorrow to a place on Long Island, I would never be able to swing it. We only have one car right now and rents for a 2 bedroom in a 'not so good' area are over $1200 or more a month. (nothing included).

I am fed up with the crime here, the vacuousness of life (shopping is NOT my passion), and the sheer 'rut' we are in. We thought Vermont was lovely, the area we looked at was well kept and there DO seem to be jobs near by, even if they are not fabulous. I also plan on doing some 'giving back' by volunteering once we get settled.

Eventually my husband wants to work for himself or have a part-time (additional) business and I will probably do the same, in addition to a job. We'll be busy but you know what? It's better than sitting around wondering 'should I have tried?'
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Old 08-18-2007, 07:47 PM
 
1,134 posts, read 3,664,583 times
Reputation: 653
Gypsy....16.00 an hour ?!?!?!?
That is a DREAM SALARY in VT. !!!
As I have written many times before...Count on
making 1/3 less than you make in civilization.
I cannot think of any area outside of Burlington
that is going to have 16.00 an hour jobs available.
A Masters in education or mental health gets you
15.00 if you are lucky enuff to get it.
In the rural areas of VT., 10.00-12.00 is considered
a good pay to the masses. Employers know that
there will never be a shortage of people to take any
job for that salary so thats where it stays almost everywhere.

Go to ------> JobsInVT.com - Local Vermont jobs, careers and employment (Home) (broken link) or Rutland Herald: Rutland Vermont News & Information
and look at job types and what they pay.

When it was clear my plans to start my own business werent
going to happen I took anything I could get. I ended up with a
"good job" according to the locals. I will NEVER work like that
again in anyones life ! Horrific working conditions. Since a lot of
them dont have any frame of reference as to what a real, good
job is they dont know better.
People do anyting to survive and its usually not good if you do
know better. Obviously there is a certain population who does
make good money but coming in as a 'whiteplater' I would
count on not being able to get anything that resembles a
good job in your world, now.
Again, not trying to be a downer, just realistic.
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Old 08-18-2007, 08:30 PM
 
Location: Winter Springs, FL
1,789 posts, read 4,130,808 times
Reputation: 931
Quote:
Originally Posted by KoZmiC NinJa View Post
Gypsy....16.00 an hour ?!?!?!?
That is a DREAM SALARY in VT. !!!
As I have written many times before...Count on
making 1/3 less than you make in civilization.
I cannot think of any area outside of Burlington
that is going to have 16.00 an hour jobs available.
A Masters in education or mental health gets you
15.00 if you are lucky enuff to get it.
In the rural areas of VT., 10.00-12.00 is considered
a good pay to the masses. Employers know that
there will never be a shortage of people to take any
job for that salary so thats where it stays almost everywhere.

Go to ------> JobsInVT.com - Local Vermont jobs, careers and employment (Home) (broken link) or Rutland Herald: Rutland Vermont News & Information
and look at job types and what they pay.

When it was clear my plans to start my own business werent
going to happen I took anything I could get. I ended up with a
"good job" according to the locals. I will NEVER work like that
again in anyones life ! Horrific working conditions. Since a lot of
them dont have any frame of reference as to what a real, good
job is they dont know better.
People do anyting to survive and its usually not good if you do
know better. Obviously there is a certain population who does
make good money but coming in as a 'whiteplater' I would
count on not being able to get anything that resembles a
good job in your world, now.
Again, not trying to be a downer, just realistic.
You are sadly correct. In a past life I was an electrician and when I first moved up I did many, many side jobs to try to get by. Many people can't afford much outside of basic living expences. Home maintenence sufferes a great deal and many people try to repair what they can on there own. You couldn't beleive the death traps I would walk into from time to time from people doing things themselves to save money. People need cars, but many are old with high miles. I don't know how some people survive. My wife and I do better than most in our town and we struggle. We have far from a fancy lifestyle. We grow most of our own produce in the summer. Also, expect to pay about the same in rent. I have property that I'm renting and that's the price I get. Nothing included.
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Old 08-18-2007, 08:35 PM
 
6,764 posts, read 20,036,195 times
Reputation: 4700
Well $16 here is a joke, really, when your average home is $400,000. Rents are $1200 plus car insurance that easily runs you $250 a month and more..

I appreciate the candor on the board. I will keep researching.
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Old 08-18-2007, 10:45 PM
 
Location: the matrix
212 posts, read 264,486 times
Reputation: 52
after going to vermont i sensed prototypical atmosphere among a certain portion of its population. many people are trying escape the monotonous
corporate world in favor of a higher quality of life.trying to change entrenched political and financial systems is difficult if not impossible.
entering into a new life style can force one to face a reality that these institutions have insulated them from .becoming independent and self sufficient requires overcoming psychological and physical obstacles that some people find too hard and uncomfortable.unless you are wealthy a cost of living /quality of life equation should be considered.generally places with higher quality environments unfortunately are being reserved for the upper 10%. so what do we do ? master simplicity! the other option is continue working for the man and take what you get.
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Old 08-18-2007, 11:26 PM
 
Location: Vermont
1,442 posts, read 5,960,893 times
Reputation: 451
I guess Vermont provides a very different lifestyle from that provided by NYC.

I'm not a corporate type, but I do work in the field I trained in. I suppose I could do more lucrative work, but I like what I do. I tried sales, thinking I could make more money, but it felt totally wrong for me and I was no good at it. I chose to go back to what feels right and what I do best.

Social workers do not make real "professional" salaries, such as those made by doctors, dentists, or lawyers. Nurses make more money, and they often have less education. But social workers do not make poverty wages unless we allow ourselves to. And in NYC, there is the security of knowing that there are plenty of agencies. There will be at least one to defect to if necessary.

The posts on this thread are genuinely discouraging. I can have a better standard of living in NYC, at least in terms of salaries in sync with cost of living. I can't escape the air pollution, but I can escape a lot of the other negatives of the city.

I do not want to work for poverty wages. Maybe, if I can, I'll just buy rental property and live on rental income. If I do that, at least I'll have control of my time.

My heart goes out to people who have to work horrible, demoralizing, backbreaking, dangerous jobs just to stay afloat. Those of us with more education have a few more options, but in Vermont, I don't know how many.

Yet, people I have spoken to in Brattleboro have, almost to a person, said they love the place. Some people have more tempered views, but overall the response is positive almost every time I ask.

What's the secret?

Prioritizing and making the necessary sacrifices?

Making the best of a bad situation?

Working online, either by having an internet business or by telecommuting?

Feeling solidarity with other who are in the same boat?

Are the sacrifices worth it?

I don't want to live in NYC and escape to Vermont every weekend. It's a pretty long trip. And I want to really travel and explore when I have a vacation, not go to the same place again and again. If I love the place enough, I can live there and explore it daily.

Ugh. Sometimes I can't wait to move up to Vermont. If I lived there, I would certainly be spared the effort of a foliage trip in the fall and a ski trip in the winter. Summers are great. Spring is wonderful anywhere, although mud season I could live without. Other times I dread the thought of leaving Brooklyn.

Still other times, I dread the thought of staying in Brooklyn.

Other places to move to? Burlington, Middlebury, Montpelier, Portland, York (Maine), Northampton, Amherst or elsewhere in the Pioneer Valley, New Hampshire, Connecticut. Rhode Island (I have friends there. I once lived there and didn't like it, although I liked living in a small town.)
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Old 08-19-2007, 02:06 AM
 
Location: Winter Springs, FL
1,789 posts, read 4,130,808 times
Reputation: 931
The big issue with the state of Vermont is it's population size. On one hand some say that's a plus, but on the other hand it's a big negative. When you have a small population then you have fewer choices and less competition. When you have competition you have lower prices on goods and services and higher salaries. I work in health care and I have no choice in what I make. It's the only hospital within about 40 miles and on top of that it's the highest paying hospital in the state. If I want more money I have to move to another state. To a degree I feel that the administration knows that. Another example would be gym memberships. I pay double what I payed for a membership in CT. If there are only 5000 people in a town, then that town would most likely only be able to keep one gym in buisness. Another example, I'm looking at the Burlington Free Press classifieds and for the whole town of Burlington (pop 38,531) there are 14 listed properties for rent. The rent range is from $1050-$1860. My stepson and his room mate pay $1100 for their place on St Paul St. If it were me I wouldn't give them $500 for that place.

I don't want you to think I'm being discouraging. I'm stating the facts that I, my family, and many of my freinds deal with. We all know it's a nice place and has clean air and is a safe place to live, but if you are going to struggle to make ends meet and work long hours to keep your head above water, how is your life any better when you can't appreciate anything that you moved here for. If you were financially secure I would say don't hesitate and move asap. I'm the type that feels guilty if someone does something that I told them to do, and it fails.
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