We moved back to Vermont. California is fantastic but there was always a virtue to Vermont, a timeless charm that lives in pages of vintage Vermont Life magazines. A snaking fly line on the surface of a quick brook, the jungle summer flora dressing its rugged Appalachians, sturdy barns atop multigenerational farms, ski hills that look like Norman Rockwell’s “Ski Skills”, Cedar canoes trimming down mad rivers. Even modern Vermont is idyllic. With its nearly unnecessary number of breweries, the food scene elevated by a commitment to elegant local ingredients and happily raised proteins, the cheese, the quality of life is nearly without comparison.
Because of this, and it being the most rural state in the union, Vermont relies heavily on tourism to support its economy. This also, especially in the last thirty years, has created a feedback loop, encouraging more and more Vermonters to enter the tourism and hospitality sector, driving the rarefication of our food and beer, our hotels and recreational sites, and our cost of living.
Vermont, I’m afraid, is akin to a place like Bali, a truly magical, beautiful place where tourists flock for it’s simple ease and gorgeous land. A place where locals can’t own the property where they work, can’t stay in the hotels or eat in the restaurants. A place where one must be independently wealthy to live well or submit to a economic ceiling with few career options. Vermont isn’t particularly for Vermonters anymore. One must sacrifice to live here.
This isn’t true 100% of the time. There are still family farms that don’t need to supplement with sugaring tours or Air B&B’s. There are industries of technology, advertising and consumer goods. There are education and day jobs. But Vermont is increasingly difficult to live in, opportunities hard to come by and most of the wealthy residents are transplants from elsewhere.
Vermont is still that place captured in Vermont Life but to enjoy it, it will cost you.