March 13, 2018

10 Things I Won't Miss About Living in Vermont.

     Around this time last year, I wrote a blog post entitled "Charlotte NC: 10 Things I'll Miss the Most About Living Here." A full year later- and most of those things still hold up for Charlotte! The city that I went to college in (and stayed for one year after) will always hold a very special place in my heart. Now as I prepare to move out of Vermont and head back to the South... I realize how not bittersweet this move is in comparison, and how truly happy I am to be getting the heck out of here!  Many of you know that I haven't really enjoyed Vermont culture or found that I've acclimated well here, and I am so happy to be going back South. Vermont is truly a very unique place.... it's super different even from my home state of Maine (even though Maine is just four hours away!). I thought it would be fun to reprise last year's post in honor of my move this week... but instead of 10 Things I'll Miss... I'm sharing 10 Things I WON'T Miss! I've found during my time living here that the Vermont lifestyle is kind of idolized in media portrayals and in reality is very different- so this might open your eyes a bit to what it's like in the Green Mountain state if you've never been here!

     1. The lack of cities and population in general: Shortly after I accepted my job last year, I was Googling resources about moving to Vermont. The "Move Here" page on begins by saying "It's true, Vermont is not for everyone. We're not known for high rises and an all-night club scene." I remember reading this line a year ago and thinking "Uh oh... how small is this place that I'm moving to?" Spoiler alert: MUCH smaller than I properly anticipated!
     The entire state of Vermont had an estimated population of just under 625,000 residents in 2016. The entire state! For comparison, Charlotte had a population of almost 850,000 in 2016 just within the city limits, and almost 2 million within the greater metro and surrounding counties. YIKES! That's a huge difference. I knew Vermont was going to be smaller and slower paced, but I had no idea how much of a shock it would be until I actually arrived. I am definitely a city girl and need to be in a place near large metro areas... and that just is not Vermont. I love cities because it's great to be living in a place where you feel like there is always something going on, and to me looking out over a skyline is magical. Burlington is actually the smallest biggest city in a state in the country. It really is more like a glorified large town. There is one interstate exit for Burlington. ONE! Have you ever heard of a biggest city in a state with one interstate exit?!
     Sometimes when I think back on how much I struggled in my first several months here to make friends and develop a social life outside of work, I have to remind myself of what I was dealing with. Burlington just isn't that big! 2017 was actually the first year since 2013 that Vermont saw a gain in population in census data... that means from 2013-2016 the state lost population, either to death (mainly from the elderly) or residents moving out-of-state.

     2. Terrible retail options: Being a fashion blogger, I definitely have a fond appreciation for retail. I will add onto this by saying that unlike some fashion enthusiasts who prefer to shop exclusively online, I still love the in-store retail experience. Maybe it's because I worked in retail for several years myself, maybe it's because I still love the thrill of finding a gem on the sale rack or falling in  love with a new style on a mannequin, but a day at a good mall or shopping center will always beat an online shopping experience for me. Anyways, Vermont is NOT the state for retail experiences. The "largest mall" in the state, University Mall, is a JOKE. There are so many vacant stores in the mall that there is a permanent craft fair exhibition set up in one of them. You can find all sorts of local "goodies" there... like birdhouses made out of repurposed maple syrup bottles. (I wish I was making this up...) Something else that's happened in the UMall in the months I've been in Vermont is that the South Burlington Public Library has moved into another vacant store space. Don't get me wrong, I love libraries. I also love malls. But do the two things belong together?! HECK NO!!!
     There was another mall called Burlington Town Center in Downtown Burlington, but it is currently 95% shut down for serious renovations. When it opens in a couple of years it will be beautiful and probably full of semi-decent shopping, however I will not be here to see that day. Since I moved, everything closed in Burlington Town Center to make way for the redevelopment project- so Vermont said goodbye for now to the Francesca's, Abercrombie, LOFT, Macy's, and many more stores!
     Up until Fall 2018, Vermont could (not so proudly) call itself the only state in the nation that didn't have Target. The first Target is coming to Vermont in October, but until then the only way to get to a Target is either to drive almost three hours to one in Albany, NY or Manchester, NH- OR to take the ferry boat across Lake Champlain to the one in Plattsburgh, NY (still almost an hour long trip with the driving!). I wrote about what it's like to venture to Plattsburgh to shop as a Vermonter in this blog post.
     This all goes to say.... I am VERY READY to be able to make a short drive to Target (sans boat) at my leisure again, and have access to all of my favorite stores at my fingertips! If you're looking for great shopping experiences- Vermont is not your state!

     3. A state of bedroom communities: I've shared on the blog before that I became a morning person during my year in Vermont. While all in all I think this was a positive lifestyle change and I have grown to love mornings, I kind of became an early bird without a choice. Vermont is an entire state of bedroom communities. Minus some things geared for college kids that live here to go toUVM and a couple other schools  in the area (which is a nighttime scene I wanted no part of obviously), there is non-existent nightlife and things to do after like 7 pm in Vermont. Your nighttime options are going to the movies, a few weird bars downtown which are mostly full of 18 year olds with fake IDs or sketchy older people... and well, that's it! People aren't really into going out at night, especially in the colder months. When my hours at work switched this fall and I started getting out of work at 7 instead of 4:30, whatever chance I had at a weeknight social life was 100% shot. Back in Charlotte, I didn't really do super exciting things on weeknights, but it wasn't uncommon to go to a friend's apartment to hangout, or to go run and get fast food late at night. That just like wasn't apart of my life here in Vermont! I'd come home from work, make dinner, watch TV, go to bed, and do it all over again on both weeknights and weekends.

     4. EXPENSIVE living costs: Oh my goodness... it is so expensive to live in Vermont!! You are paying Boston prices without getting a Boston quality of life or Boston amenities. When I first accepted my job, I genuinely thought for awhile that I'd have to live in an extended stay hotel on the outskirts of town for awhile when I first got here, because it seemed hopeless to find a safe and comfortable apartment (sans roommate) in my price range. I finally did find a very nice apartment, but it was a lot more money than I'd wanted to be paying for rent. And despite the high cost it still didn't have some of the amenities that my Charlotte apartment had either- like pools or a tennis court! (And I definitely didn't live in a luxury apartment complex in Charlotte.) It's not just rent that's high in Vermont either. For those that do decide to buy property here, the housing market is exorbitant, and property taxes are high. Scratch that- all taxes are high in Vermont! There is a high tax called "Meals and Rooms" (for dining out and lodging), and gas is also very expensive here! Another thing that's a lot of money in Vermont are driving associated costs. Not only are snow tires a necessity, but getting a Vermont license was more than double the cost of my North Carolina one, and annual car inspections here cost four times what they did back home in Maine. So this is not a cheap state to call home, and I wish I had done more research about that before accepting my job.

     5. Depressing for dating: I got the BIGGEST kick out of the fact that so many holiday Hallmark movies are love stories set in Vermont, and also that the Bachelor spin-off show Bachelor Winter Games was set in Vermont this year. (Although in that show's defense, it was filmed about three hours from where I lived- so maybe Southern Vermont is where it's at?) I won't go into too much detail on this one, but this is NOT THE PLACE to find love if you're a single girl like myself. By this fall, it became evidently clear to me that if I stayed in Vermont long-term... I better start praying to have a miraculous healing from my cat allergies because #CatLady was the future that awaited me in this place....
     However- if you are looking for dating app matches who list "organic farmer" or "aspiring musician" in their bio- this is definitely the place for you!! Lots and lots of men to choose from!  (In my defense, my Christian faith is very important to me and where I'm looking for someone who shares that, I knew that dating options would already be more limited in a more secular area like Burlington. But even taking faith out of the equation hypothetically.... still TERRIBLE guy options! Lol.)

     6. The priciest airport: Travel is another one of my huge passions, and it's something that I crave getting to do every few months. I didn't realize until I finally got to Vermont how far away Vermont is from everything. There is only one commercial airport in the state. Let's just say that growing up in Maine, I always thought the Portland airport was the smallest airport ever. I WAS WRONG!!! The Burlington International Airport is the tiniest "biggest" airport, and it is exorbitantly expensive to fly anywhere. When I traveled to Indiana for New Year's... it was over $500!!! And that was for not-direct flights, booked months and months in advance. Had I traveled over the same dates but flown out of a larger airport like Manchester or Boston in New England, I could have saved between $200-300. It sadly didn't make sense for me to drive the long distance to those airports (in the winter) for such a brief weekend trip, but that price difference made me angry and is INSANE!!!! (I don't even want to tell y'all what the cost was for my last-minute booked interview flight to Virginia from Vermont....) Where travel is such a love and passion for me, it's important that I live in a place with a variety of airports to choose from, and a place where travel just isn't so expensive or hard to come by!

     7. The severe lack of chain restaurants: I can't help this, and I own it. I love me some chain restaurants, and there's several that I'm very loyal to. Don't get me wrong- I don't exclusively eat out or eat fast food (I love to cook, and I also enjoy trying local restaurants when I travel) but I definitely appreciate my favorite national restaurants for when the cravings hit. If you move to Vermont, expect to say your forever goodbyes to Chick Fil A, Dairy Queen, Waffle House, Sonic, Krispy Kreme, (and two of my Carolinas favorites, Bojangles and Cookout). Sit-down chain restaurants are limited here as well. There are a few chains in the South Burlington/Williston area, but a lot of my favorites didn't make it up here, like On the Border, Macaroni Grill, Maggiano's, P.F. Chang's... and the love of my food life, The Cheesecake Factory. Out of all of these.... Dairy Queen is probably the one I have missed the most!! Nothing like a Blizzard, y'all.

     8. Worst highway driving: Vermont's Interstate 89 has to be the worst interstate I've ever driven on- ever. I have always enjoyed highway driving, ever since I first learned to drive in high school. A lot of my friends were scared of highway driving when they first got their licenses, but it was always my favorite! When I moved to Charlotte, I actually really liked having major city interstates to drive on. I'm weird I know. Anyways, I-89 up here has almost killed my joy and love for the American Interstate System. In the Burlington corridor (if you can even call it that... remember that earlier in this post I taught you that Burlington, the largest city in the state, only has one highway exit!), the speed limit on I-89 for several miles is 55. 55!!! And the cops will pull you over for going 60+! They are always hanging out in the median, just waiting. Clearly because Vermont is so boring and has no major crimes or anything exciting going on, so catching drivers cruising down the highway at 65 mph is a priority.
      Once you're out of Burlington either north or south, the speed limit on I-89 does increase, but the driving conditions get low-key terrifying. There is NOTHING on this highway. It goes to 10-20 miles between exits. And there is NOTHING between exits. Sometimes you may see a farm on the side of the road if you're luck- that's it!! It's just trees, trees, more trees, maybe some mountains, maybe a river, and TREES. No cities, no town, and no billboards because Vermont is one of four states (my home state of Maine included) that they're illegal! A lot of stretches on I-89 also have little to no cell phone service because it runs through such secluded parts of the state. It's TERRIFYING. Once you cross from VT into NH there is a decent sized town on the border, and then it becomes New Hampshire nothing-ness for a lot of miles again.
     A lot of people have asked me why I didn't try and go home to Maine more while I lived in Vermont. Part of it was due to my insane work schedule, but part of it was due to the fact that making the drive from Vermont to Maine solo on I-89 terrified me! Like what if something every happened to my car on one of the stretches that was 15 miles between exits?! And again- this is coming from someone who genuinely enjoys interstate road trips.... but not here!! I'll just say thank goodness Vermont didn't have tolls. It did have that going for it I suppose!

     9. The not-hot summers: I'm not going to list Vermont winter as one of my list items because everyone knows Vermont winter is snowy and cold. That's not an earth shattering fact or a surprise... and that was something I knew when I moved here. However- something I was not expecting was how not-hot Vermont summer's are. It barely got out of the 70s at all last year! The midwest is also known for having brutal cold and snow-filled winters, but many midwestern states also have very hot summers so they at least get a true summer season. Vermont does NOT. Pretty sure it only hit over 90 degrees for five days in 2017? Most of summer was in the 60s and 70s... and after a few years in North Carolina that is April weather to this girl- not July weather!!!

     10. Burlington parking costs: You can see my frustration with this illustrated in one of the photos above- lol! Burlington, like many other cities around the country, has very limited free parking. There are a couple public garages (TBH I was amazed Vermont had parking garages), some lots, and many meters throughout downtown. My gripe about paying for parking in Burlington is that Burlington isn't like a city at all and really is like a glorified large town, so there is nothing there worth paying for parking! Sure, it was annoying to pay for parking in Uptown Charlotte, but Charlotte is a real city and when I'd go to dinner in Uptown with friends, it felt like a real night out on the town, and worth it to spend a few dollars to park and treat yourself. There is nothing city-like feeling about Burlington... so why on earth should I pay Charlotte parking costs to go there?! Some of the lots are truly ridiculous in what they charge. Once when my parents were visiting, I changed my mind on a restaurant I wanted to take them to because the lot closest to it was charging so much that day!
     Some good news related to Burlington parking: all the city meters are free on Sundays, so that is a plus. And a couple of the garages are free for the first two hours, so if you have quick business to do downtown and keep track of your time, you don't have to pay. But still very annoying!!


     Thank you for making it through this list of grievances about my time in Vermont!! You might be wondering with all these things that I won't miss- if there's anything that I will miss. The answer is yes! I will definitely miss going for nature walks at my favorite trail in Vermont, the Colchester Causeway. This summer I was walking there as much as 3-4x weekly! (The photos for this blog post were shot on the trail there!)

     I will also miss a few wonderful friends that I have made here in Vermont. I have truly met some incredible people here. It was very hard to make friends when I first moved to Vermont, and figure out how to have a social life with my weird and crazy work schedule, especially since I worked both Saturdays and Sundays for my first five months here. Around the holidays, it finally hit me one day that I finally had made a few good friends here, and that was an amazing revelation to have! Although I am SO EXCITED to be leaving for Virginia, I will treasure the friendships I did make during this year, and I have no doubts I will keep in touch with everyone. I might even expect a couple Vermont visitors to Virginia in the next year or two!

     I can't believe that I'm just a few days away from moving day- eeeek!

     God Bless,

     xoxo Annaliese



  1. Oh girl, I feel like I could write the same post about my time here in Iowa!! Not that I'm counting down, but we have 28 months left!!! I'd say about half of my complaints are due to Andy's job and the other half are due to living in a rural Midwestern town. This assignment here has reaffirmed our decision to move South when Andy leaves the Army. Also-- It's so chilly here in Iowa even in the "heat" of summer. There was ONE day in July that actually felt warm-- the rest of the time I was wearing sweaters with my tank tops. What's funny to me is Iowans say it's "so humid" here. I look at them and ask, "Have you ever BEEN to Kentucky or, worse, Louisiana?!"

  2. UGH! Sounds like you for sure are happy to get out of there and by reading your post, I don't blame you one bit!!

  3. AWE YAY for putting it alllll behind you!! Haha i had no idea it was like that! but then again i literally knew nothing beyond romcoms and the winter games like you mentioned when it came to vermont haha! I'm so excited for you to move!!

  4. I'm more of a city girl myself so I can totally understand some of your frustrations!

    xo Deborah
    Coffee, Prose, and Pretty Clothes

  5. never heard of bedroom community before but a lot of these sound like something i reaaallly wouldn't love xD but most of all because most of these are things i won't miss about living in my small college town right now either xD

  6. I've always wanted to visit Vermont because it looks so gorgeous, but I don't think I'd enjoy living there. I don't like being landlocked!

  7. It sounds like you're so excited to get outta Vermont lol!! I could never live somewhere so far from a "big" city, or not near the beach.

  8. I love Vermont as a tourist, it's beautiful in the fall and winter. However, I totally understand where you're coming from. It doesn't look like the greatest place to live.

    Felicity |

  9. wow, I would have never known most of these prior to reading this. you made me laugh though, I cannot imagine!

  10. The lack of shopping real does hurt my soul!! So much so that I'm driving to NY next week just to shop!

  11. I can't imagine living in such a small place! Houston has almost 4 million people!

  12. Oh this hurts my heart as a Vermonter. But I totally get it. It’s a culture shock to live here!

    Best wishes in your new home :)


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