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Old 09-21-2014, 09:14 AM
 
Location: Mammoth Lakes, CA
3,158 posts, read 6,936,742 times
Reputation: 7418

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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.
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Old 09-21-2014, 09:51 AM
 
2,838 posts, read 4,155,052 times
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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!
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Old 09-21-2014, 09:57 AM
 
Location: Vermont
3,329 posts, read 8,781,590 times
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Just out of curiosity where did he retire too? Woodstock is not on Route 9 nor all that close to Brattleboro.
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Old 09-21-2014, 10:21 AM
 
Location: Northeast
1,887 posts, read 1,792,204 times
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"When he went to Brattleboro for the nightlife, most people in the clubs were gay and he's straight."

I find that hard to believe as Brattleboro is one of the Hearts of skiing country in Vermont where hard core skiers enjoy to ski and spend their time. I've spent many a time there and scene the complete opposite of described. Laid back ski bums and
chillin is what it's all about. And not to imply people are Bums....it's a place where skiers rich and poor ski and enjoy all it has to offfer.

Maybe if you don't SKI one may find and see it for what it's not. There are plenty of woman their and the culture i find very
attractive...and that comes from someone who's been skiing from the age of 4. and lives a state over and have spent much time in Vermont in the past and currently there on a monthly basis.

Does your friend Ski?

That would be my first question in regards to your post.

I will say that Native Vermont folks are different kind of people who r untrusting of "outsiders"..

ID consider myself an outsider as I live wthin X amount of miles to vermont..and get the culture there. Nothing moves to FAST!! It's LAID back to the core.

Last edited by brienzi; 09-21-2014 at 10:24 AM.. Reason: spelling
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Old 09-21-2014, 10:37 AM
 
Location: Northeast
1,887 posts, read 1,792,204 times
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It sounds to me that your friend thought Vermont would be utopia but in the end just another state with their own issues and such. Cali to Vermont is like water and vinegar...

And the the no sun in march in april is false as there is sun, it's just that the days in general around that time are shorter in regards to sunlight.

In closing your friend had good intentions and thought Vermont would be the place for him but in the end until you live there and TRULY experience the culture u never know. I wish your friend luck and hope he finds a comfortable place to retire.
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Old 09-21-2014, 10:49 AM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
17,851 posts, read 54,121,626 times
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Woodstock is just plain different than Brattleboro even discounting the effects of Norwich. I'm guessing he moved to BB because he knew Woodstock would not have enough night life?

Taxes: You buy a big fancy house, you get to pay big fancy taxes. Perhaps going into retirement paying for a Titanic wasn't a good choice. That has less to do with Vermont than realistic expectations.

Weather: OH YEAH. People see all the loverly pictures and think "what a gorgeous state!" Those dark days with dirty snow are certain to bring up a certain amount of gorge. If you like to see the sun somewhat regularly and want to live in Vermont, you had better live in Burlington or Charlotte where there is a meteorological effect from the air dropping out of the Adirondacks over Lake Champlain that allows the clouds to dissipate a little. One of the things that finally got to me was one winter where it was over two months before I saw even a glimpse of blue sky.

Acceptance: The natives are distrustful of outsiders with money and plans or desire for changes. In smaller communities, the "nuances" can go back a generation or two and the families involved may go back more than that. If there was acceptance at first and then shunning, my guess is that a few toes were stepped upon.

Boredom: As a kid growing up in Vermont, I was bored out of my skull. It wasn't until I began taking night classes that I found people who weren't so stuck in their own lives and patterns that they were willing to interact and entertain new ideas (admittedly in a structured and safe environment.)

If he retired from academia, he might have to retire to a college town (where the college or university is a major factor in the makeup of the population) to feel comfortable.
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Old 09-21-2014, 11:33 AM
 
Location: Western views of Mansfield/Camels Hump!
1,942 posts, read 3,235,281 times
Reputation: 1085
I find it odd that the lack of sunlight in March and April was an issue - for light reasons, I would think January would be far worse. Maybe it's more the fact that while most people are experiencing spring in those months, we're usually still in the midst of winter.

But it is a testament about how different it is to live here than it is to vacation here. I will say that my experience has been quite different - but of course there are so many factors involved it's impossible to gauge what makes it work for one person and not another. For me, I hope I never have to leave.
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Old 09-21-2014, 11:51 AM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
17,851 posts, read 54,121,626 times
Reputation: 30315
Quote:
Originally Posted by tkln View Post
I find it odd that the lack of sunlight in March and April was an issue - for light reasons, I would think January would be far worse. Maybe it's more the fact that while most people are experiencing spring in those months, we're usually still in the midst of winter.
The issue is SADS and weather patterns. January often has many more clear days. With SADS, it starts really kicking in late February, which is part of the reason you'll find Vermonters taking vacations in Florida or cruises during Feb thru April. Loss of vitamin D is part of it, I think.
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Old 09-21-2014, 12:37 PM
 
Location: Western views of Mansfield/Camels Hump!
1,942 posts, read 3,235,281 times
Reputation: 1085
Ahhh okay that makes sense. I always thought people took vacations during that time period because they were sick of winter by then lol!
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Old 09-21-2014, 01:54 PM
 
Location: in a cabin overlooking the mountains
3,079 posts, read 3,719,415 times
Reputation: 2253
As sorry as I am to read about this major disruption in your friend's life, there is also a part of me that says he could have seen this coming. As a middle-aged academic one can presumably make one's own life decisions such as moving 3000 miles to buy a house and spend the golden years of your life without having to reconsider after only two years..

Saying he spent a portion of every summer in Woodstock and then bought a "lovely home right off Route 9, in the downtown area" is about like saying a native Vermonter enjoyed his annual vacations at Disneyland (Anaheim) so much, he decided to buy a house on the beach in Santa Monica. And then get upset over sand, sunburn and water rationing. Sorry he wants out and is taking a hit on his house, but if he spent $40k on it just after buying it, that is his own fault. Many of us who are FROM here want out and are taking hits of 25-33% on real estate compared to sales prices in 2000 just to get gone.

Maybe he should have gone to Hilton Head or Myrtle Beach if he has a thing for the east coast. At least the beach will be more familiar to him. Or he can join the parrotheads down in the Keys.

Lesson learned.
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