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Old 09-21-2014, 02:17 PM
Location: Mammoth Lakes, CA
3,160 posts, read 6,947,398 times
Reputation: 7450


As the original poster, I did make a mistake on the route going through Woodstock. I think it's Route 4, not Route 9. Alex went to Brattleboro for entertainment because nightlife in Woodstock was pretty barren. It's only about 50 miles, that's not a long way for people used to commuting in California. He did tell me several times the places he went to in Brattleboro were full of gay people. He has no problem with that, but he's straight.

"I have always said that a place will not make you happy. If you think a move somewhere else will solve all of your problems and be utopia you are usually mistaken!"

This was not his intent at all, nor did I suggest this (sorry if I gave that impression). Alex has always been reasonably happy and had very few problems. He didn't retire to Vermont to escape from anything, he had a gorgeous home in San Clemente, CA with an ocean view, a highly respected position as a tenured professor and family/friends. He wasn't expecting a utopia, he was expecting a continuation of a happy life. At least I strongly assume these things.

As for March and April being dark and bleak, you have to consider this is coming from a native southern Californian. The sun rarely stops shining here. I have never visited Vermont except in the summer and fall, but I would gather your Spring season is not remotely as sunny/warm as California springs.

Yes, Alex is an avid Nordic skier, not downhill.

I also want to clarify something. He has mid June to mid September off every year. He didn't just vacation in Vermont, he spent three months a year there, nearly every year. He usually rented a house during that time, sometimes in Killington, sometimes in Stratton Mountain. Most people don't do this. He dotted his "i's" and crossed his "t's" in preparation for retirement to a far away state. The analogy of a Vermonter going to Disneyland and then buying a home on the beach is specious. This was three decades worth of planning and nurturing a dream.

Apparently all for nought.
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Old 09-21-2014, 02:34 PM
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
17,890 posts, read 54,220,831 times
Reputation: 30395
If he constantly visited June thru September, I can understand how he got a false impression. That is like sipping the top off a bottle of un-homogenized milk and then wondering why the rest of it is so watery.
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Old 09-21-2014, 03:33 PM
Location: in a cabin overlooking the mountains
3,079 posts, read 3,723,853 times
Reputation: 2253
Woodstock, Killington and Stratton?

So if I visit Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm, and Universal Studios this is supposed to give me an accurate picture of what it is like to live in SoCal?

Doesn't sound to me like he dotted his i's and crossed his t's if he didn't even know that the sun doesn't show itself for long stretches. Surely he had heard the saying "Nine months of hahd wintah, three months of poah sleddin' "

Call the comparison specious if it suits you, but I think you hit the nail on the head when you said he spent 30 years nurturing a dream. He would have been better off addressing the reality of living in Vermont before uprooting himself, plunking down the money for a fancy house and spending $40k on renovations only to chuck it all two years later.
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Old 09-23-2014, 10:55 AM
43,012 posts, read 92,359,957 times
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Originally Posted by Ulysses61 View Post
I have a close friend, Alex, who retired in 2012 from academia. Over the years we both have shared a great love of Vermont, vacationed there often (separately), love the lifestyle, the quiet beauty and the fact people there leave you alone.

We're both from Southern California. Now it obviously isn't the norm for someone from California to retire in Vermont, but Alex was convinced this was the right play for him. He had a six-figure income for years and a good pension and left work at 55. He felt in step with people in Vermont, as he's a liberal Democrat, into organic food and likes the fact Vermont isn't into factory farming and tries to keep Walmarts out of the state.

Bear in mind that Alex had been enamored with Vermont for 30 years. He spent a portion of every summer in the Woodstock area and also checked out Vermont in the winters and the mud season. It wasn't some casual whim he had, he had loved Vermont all his adult life. Retiring to Woodstock had been his dream and I was happy for him in 2012 when the dream was finally realized.

He bought a lovely home right off Route 9, in the downtown area. Since he isn't handy, he didn't buy and old Colonial home, but a newer home on nearly an acre (a huge lot by California standards). Right before escrow closed, my husband and I visited him and it was just the perfect set up for him. The home, ambiance, location and vibe of the street were beyond imagination. I was so happy that Alex had realized his dream.

Fast forward to 2014. Alex emailed me about 6 months ago and told me he couldn't take Vermont anymore. He said he wanted to move back to California and live by the beach, where he grew up. We've remained in constant contact since his move east, and I detected growing dissatisfaction and frustration within him. My husband and I decided to visit him last month and we spent several days as his house guest. His home in Woodstock remains immaculate and lovely. But Alex was miserable. He had a bunch of real estate cards on his counter from realtors he was interviewing in order to sell his home.

I was stunned. To move back to California at the age of 57 would be a big hassle. He would be losing money on his house (it didn't appreciate, despite improvements to the tune of $40,000) and he would be giving up his dream. Alex didn't care, he wanted out!

Why? Here is what he told me:

1. Taxes -- of course he knew taxes were high in VT, but he really recoiled from spending $13,000 a year on property taxes alone.
2. Weather--- not just the winter. He said the winter he can accept. He couldn't take a endless darkness of Spring and the humidity of summer. Apparently the humidty has gotten worse over the years and he couldn't take it. Also not seeing the sun at all in March and April.
3. People not Accepting him-- This one was apparently tough for him. As Californians, we know that if we move to Idaho, Montana or Colorado, the natives will mostly dislike/resent us. He assumed Vermonters would be accepting. Not many were. His neighbors saw his California license plates and were friendly at first, but then quite chilly. When he attended town council meetings and tried to get into the spirit of the town, he was told, "You don't understand the nuances of the town, wait till you've lived here 20 years."
4. Boredom-- This one blew me away! Alex is active (runs, bikes, hikes), but he said the icy roads made him have to exercise indoors quite often. He said he'd go out at night and it was a dull crowd. When he went to Brattleboro for the nightlife, most people in the clubs were gay and he's straight.

He did like the Sierra Club and birding excursions he went on and felt people were warm to him then. But they could tell from his accent he wasn't a Vermonter and then cooled a little towards him (according to him).

So now Alex has his home for sale and is packing up to return to California.
I sure hope you changed the details to protect his identity, and he's not really Alex the retired professor from southern California living near Brattleboro. The man has a house to sell! It hasn't appreciated, and he is already losing the 40k he put into upgrades. Now he may have to sell it for below market value if people realize he's desperate to escape.

The property taxes should not have been a surprise, but it's a common problem for people relocating from California. Since real estate is super expensive in California, they often overbuy when they move elsewhere. Your friend did that too since you said his acre lot was huge compared to what he owned in California. What happens when you try to increase your standard of living by overbuying is you pay higher property taxes. California's property taxes are lower because the properties are assessed higher. When you move to an area with lower property values, the tax rate is higher so the government can get the money it needs to operate. As a result, Alex should have bought a property comparable to the size he owned in California, perhaps even smaller to keep his property taxes down. I wish Alex would have come to CD instead of basing his decision entirely on his summer vacations.

Vermonters aren't your typical liberal democrats. They are socially conservative on many big issues. All those high taxes he paid was for the liberal fiscal government. I'm surprised he didn't realize this after spending so many summers in Vermont. I spent a few winters in Vermont and figured out Vermonters weren't like me right away. Maybe he only talked to people who were in the business of catering to travelers. Surely he didn't make any friends during those summers, or he wouldn't have been lonely when he relocated there. They don't like outsiders. They don't want people coming in to change things. They're tolerant. If you want to live somewhere and keep to yourself without anyone interfering with your life, Vermont is for you. If you want a warm welcoming and a social life you didn't bring with you, Vermont isn't for you.

Your comment that Sierra Club members were warm to him but cooled off after they noticed his accent doesn't even make sense. The accent would have been identifiable immediately. Something else about him caused them to become cold.

For eternity, I wanted to leave my city and move elsewhere until I realized I live in a really great place. Pittsburghers are very friendly and tolerant. We're into personal freedoms, and we don't care about other people's lifestyles as long as they aren't infringing upon us. Vermont has that, but Pittsburgh has the friendliness to go with it. Vermont is really just small town. That's not a bad thing. But if you live in a large metro area like Pittsburgh, nobody cares if you're from California or anywhere. Outsiders aren't taboo here.
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Old 09-23-2014, 11:15 AM
809 posts, read 678,888 times
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I think it's usually a mistake to move someplace and expect it to be convivial. You have to both adapt yourself to the unwonted changes you encounter AND put yourself forward to re-shape your chosen community in small but personally significant ways. I wouldn't ever think of moving to a place because I found it charming or relaxing; it's always been a matter of engaging to make the community more of what I like about it.
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Old 09-24-2014, 07:17 AM
Location: Vermont
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the weather is tough - you need to suck it up and get out there to stay sane.

13k taxes. i am sure woodstock taxes are more than here. did this person have the opportunity to file homestead rebate taxes (not sure how that works in retirement.... is it based on how much you pull out?)
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Old 09-25-2014, 03:10 PM
148 posts, read 126,543 times
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This is really sad. I think the mistake was trying to live all year in one place after spending all those years doing the exact opposite. He should have settled for a much smaller place and then went back to California or elsewhere for at least part of the depressing winters.
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Old 09-26-2014, 07:48 AM
1,644 posts, read 2,110,810 times
Reputation: 1431
I'm honestly sorry it didn't work out for him but I'm also not terribly surprised given the details you've shared.

• June to September is arguably the best weather we have. it does not prepare you for the dregs of winter, or the never ending mud of spring.

• Woodstock and Brattleboro literally could not be more different in demographic, poverty rate, and pretty much every single other metric. Falling in love with one but settling the other really was a recipe for disappointment.

• $13k in property taxes means he had a really big place, probably not the smartest choice for retirement.

I go through this with Florida regularly. I love to visit and have friends there. On paper, it looks so inexpensive compared to Vermont. But then I hear about all the other stuff going on, the oppressive summers, the crime, the bugs, etc. etc. and I realize that what seems like a vacation paradise for me 2 weeks a year is really not a great place to live year round for me.
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Old 09-27-2014, 09:32 AM
1,135 posts, read 1,842,671 times
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Sorry that your friend has not acclimated as he had hoped in the past 2 years. Coming from Houston the N. NH then N Vt, I can honestly say it took me about 5 years to TOTALLY "get" the change. I also happen to be totally positive, exuberant,hard working, accepting and go out of my way to help everyone. Personality traits aside.....it takes a while. You have to totally redefine your "new you". However, this time around it hasn't been formed over years of your life. Your "new you" has to take into consideration others influence. While he might think he is getting a "new" life? It's not totally up to him. Maintain truth/values but everything else must be modified to his new environment/peers. Best to sit back and keep quiet a few years until you "get it".

I guess retirement anywhere new would be tough since one might think it's time to do whatever/whenever....but in a foreign place? Not so. I would say after the tremendous investment, both financially and emotionally? Ride it out a bit longer. As for property taxes? That might change since he's been here a short time and it's based on CA income. Next year might look a lot different without the big income.
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Old 09-27-2014, 10:40 AM
1,135 posts, read 1,842,671 times
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Oh, a ps for the taxes issue that might seem "off".....My houses burned to below basement and that year I paid twice the taxes as the year before. Mind you...I'm looking at an empty lot, but taxes are based on PRIOR years earnings. It all came out ok the next year but ,man, I hated writing those checks looking at a flat piece of earth. Next year I had a new house with hardly any taxes....VT taxes are different than a lot of places.
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