Remember those halcyon days when our state was attempting to attract young “work from home” persons to live in Vermont? We offered ten grand to get them here. If it even worked it most likely met with limited success in Chittenden County where most folks from down country could see civilization that met their minimum standards. Otherwise, why bother. The rest of the state was a connectivity wasteland as far as they knew. They had no idea that any town served by V-Tel based in Springfield had the fastest internet in the state, and we’re talking tiny, isolated towns. They didn’t know. Maybe they didn’t bother to look into it or they just didn’t care.
As incentives go, ten grand is not great. Why not ten grand and no property taxes for five years? Once a prospective resident gets a look at Vermont’s average property tax rates, five years tax-free is some kind of powerful incentive! Well, this deal was a state government incentive and there was no specific town partnership or involvement so that wasn’t likely to happen. Wait, here’s a great incentive scheme:
Move here or die. We could have imprinted it on our license plates like New Hampshire. Our new state motto. Move here or die. It has a familiar ring to it while also delivering a stern, deadly warning. Especially to the New York borough dwellers. They’re already the country’s biggest terrorist target. Something bad is going to happen eventually, so get out and get up here. We didn’t have to bother. Something bad happened and it didn’t even involve terrorists. No more ten grand incentives; suddenly we’re scrambling to find seating for their children at the schoolhouse. The recycling center is inundated and has to expand hours of operation. There is now a strain on the water treatment plants’ capacity. The general store is no longer about to close, but the cell service is still crap.
This time all it took was a deadly virus. However, I have been saying it for years. We live just north of one city with eight million residents. It is surrounded by plenty of cities with millions more. Where are they going to go for a better quality of life? All we needed was a disaster that was going to happen anyway, sooner or later. The “Move here or die” fix was already in. All we had to do was be patient.
There’s an irony here, maybe some gallows humor but it quickly ceased being funny. I couldn’t tell you how many families moving to Vermont it would take to overwhelm the place. I know some towns are already there. In the long term, it’s a good problem to have. In the short term, it can be chaotic. It will test some of us far more than others. Can you imagine moving to a new state during a pandemic? You leave a dangerous place to come to a less dangerous place, but a place that’s maybe not ready for as many of you that showed up. Nothing is easy.
I know a few people who moved here recently and adapted very quickly. That is the overwhelming majority of the folks I know; the easy adapters. While not all of them originated in the Northeast, all of them have lived in New England before moving to Vermont. Still, it is an adjustment. Metro Connecticut is New England but it’s nothing like this. I’ve listened to their frustrations and offered my take on why things work the way they do here. I don’t know if anything I’ve said helps but they are all mature adults and everyone has adapted exceptionally well. That’s what life is, regardless of where you live. Every place has its quirks. However, I’ve heard “I love it here” a bunch of times, and not one dislikes it.
I’ve also seen the talents they bring here. The desire to be integrated into the community, the willingness to pitch in. One new guy is on a first-name basis with folks I’ve known of most of my life and still don’t know well enough to be on a first-name basis. I’m shy, what can I say. But my friend’s outgoing demeanor is a real uniting factor. That’s a talent he brought with him that I envy and appreciate. That’s the way it’s going from my perspective. In a way, it’s sad that disasters become the incentive for good folks to move to Vermont, but we are blessed here, so very blessed.