By Nina Fedrizzi
One year ago, Northern California software engineer David W. got some unexpected news: his team was moving office buildings. Just five miles down the road from its original site, the relocation wasn’t supposed to be life-altering. The problem? This is California, and rush-hour gridlock plays by its own set of rules.
“With traffic, this [move] would have added 45 minutes each way to my daily commute,” says David, 38, noting that the math just didn’t add up. As avid equestrians, David and his wife, Olivia, had long been hungering for a fresh start in a place where they could pursue their passion more easily. David’s unexpected work announcement gave them the push that they needed.
“This was the perfect excuse to pursue our dream of moving out of the crush of the city and into the tranquility of beautiful Vermont horse country, where we could spend less time in traffic and more time on trails. I worked with my employer to get approval to work remotely, as long as we had a sufficiently fast Internet connection, and off we went.”
Late last summer, the couple purchased an 80-acre equestrian property just outside of Woodstock, Vermont, and in the months that followed, they quickly settled into the lush scenery and quieter pace of Green Mountain State living. “[We] are absolutely thrilled to be living the good life while still working remotely for the same great employer,” David says, and he’s not alone.
In our highly digitized society, remote work is becoming an ever more viable option for upwardly mobile millennial professionals. Many are simply looking to get away from the big city, pursue hobbies and raise a family, or find a measure of climate security in this insecure world. For these reasons and more, Vermont is a highly tempting destination.
A Changing Climate
The threats of the planet warming 1.5 degrees Celsius by the year 2040 could be significant, according to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) [Source]. Much of the United States is already experiencing the effects of our altered climate, especially in California, where an increase of 3 degrees Fahrenheit in the last 100 years has dried out ecosystems, creating abundant swathes of highly flammable plant matter that heightens the risk and intensity of even naturally occurring wildfires. [source]
In November, the consequences of those changes were apparent, when California suffered its most destructive and deadly outbreak of fires in history. The state government’s most recent Climate Change Assessment included one study concluding that if greenhouse gases continue to rise, by the year 2100, wildfire-burned regions will increase statewide by a staggering 77 percent. [source]
Though Vermont is hardly immune to the effects of climate change, its latitude works in its favor. Vivek Shandas, an urban studies and planning professor at Portland State University, told The Guardian in September that he believes areas north of America’s 42nd parallel may be the safest places to escape climate affects such as heat waves and super storms. [source] Vermont’s location at 44.56 degrees latitude, along with its mountainous topography and abundant farming and natural resources, paint an enticing picture for those on the hunt for climate-stable real estate.
Green Mountain Living
Vermont is far more than a safe harbor for riding out the storm, however. When it comes to quality of life, the state has plenty to recommend it. Among its most well known features: 250 miles of Green Mountains housing some of the East Coast’s best downhill and cross-country skiing (think: Stowe, Mad River Glen and Stratton). In the summer and fall, these same peaks provide an abundance of hiking, mountain biking, hunting, and leaf peeping opportunities. Anchoring the state, historic Lake Champlain, the 6th-largest lake in the country, offers a range of boating, sailing, fishing, and paddling throughout the year.
Since its founding in 1791, Vermont has earned a reputation for its green rolling countryside and pastoral charms. In recent decades, that idea has found a renewed focus at local family farms across the state. From maple syrup, milk, heirloom apples and artisanal cheese, to regional produce and grass-fed meats, the state’s small-scale agricultural model shapes not only its economy, but the health-conscious lifestyle of its residents, as well. Whether shopping at Vermont’s abundant indoor and outdoor farmers markets, enjoying the hyper-local dining scene, or growing and harvesting dinner from your own garden, the farm-to-table ethos permeates Vermont society at every level.
“A family wedding brought us back to Vermont, where roots run deep, and it inspired us to find a second home,” says Sabrina H., another West Coast resident who is hoping to be closer to family in New England. “We’re looking for a farmhouse with soul, where we can bring generations together to play music, pick apples, plant a small garden, and to step away from the hustle-bustle of Northern California.”
Whether your Vermont home is a historic farmstead, a lakefront family home, an equestrian estate, cozy mountain ski house—or something else entirely—here are three of our favorites:
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And check out this yummy offering from Jasper Hill, a working dairy farm with an on-site creamery in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. Wrapped in bark and truly decadent, Harbison (pictured below), won Best American Cheese At World Cheese Awards 2018.