The View from Faraway Farm: Phil and Eunice - moving to Vermont

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The next time you bemoan the fact that "flatlanders" are changing Vermont, let me tell you about the wonderful couple that I know named Phil and Eunice.

I met Phil through a mutual friend who loves Vermont and comes to Saxtons River quite often to visit his alma mater, Vermont Academy. He brought along Phil, a motorcycle-riding buddy, and we both recognized each other instantly as kindred spirits. Over time I met Phil's significant other, Eunice, and their two dogs. Their stated goal was to sell their big home in Connecticut and move to Vermont.

Eunice grew up in southern Colorado, has an accounting and health care background, and is a U.S. Navy Veteran. Phil is from New York, north of the city, is a U.S. Marine Veteran and was a project manager for a construction company that built high rise buildings. The guy can actually do just about anything, including political lobbying for worthwhile causes. Phil has seen enough negative in his life to have at some point decided to devote his remaining years to offering his skills and efforts to society in meaningful, positive ways. He wants to do this in Vermont. So we've talked about that.

When I mentioned how some folks move here and attempt to turn our peaceful rural state into a northern version of the mess they left behind in New York or Connecticut, Phil got this look of horror on his face like I just endorsed voluntary lobotomies for all new residents. No street lights and paved back roads for Phil and Eunice. They would happily like to leave well enough the Hell alone, thank you. Did I mention that they've been trying to get out of Connecticut for the past four years?

Their lovely 3,500-square-foot Colonial home in a small town took forever for them to sell. It's an old inn, very historical, a lot of home with a big barn and beautiful grounds, but a lot of maintenance. The upkeep and the taxes and the unfavorable political terrain in Connecticut have truly stymied Phil and Eunice's efforts to sell the place, beautiful as it is. Connecticut is a graphic warning to Vermont: Do not let your liberal good intentions cause you to create too much bureaucracy, fiscal irresponsibility, and not enough focus on retaining manufacturing and a good business climate in a balanced manner. But that's another discussion.

After hundreds of showings and deals that fell through and nearly the same with finding the right house in Vermont, Phil and Eunice have finally sold their home. They also secured the place of their dreams on a dirt road not far from my home. It is a house that is nearly new with acreage. It sits atop a south-facing meadow in the Williams River Valley and I swear to God it is a slice of heaven even the most cynical Vermonter would envy. Let me tell you, these folks deserve this place. Their unsuspecting neighbors have no idea how they just lucked out. They won the "awesome neighbor" lottery and don't even know it yet.

Moving to Vermont ... we only see the end result of someone else's journey; and to us, it looks pretty easy. To the folks who dream of living here like Phil and Eunice, the struggle is real. In the time that I've known them, I've seen their hopes soar, only to get dashed by a fickle buyer or seller. Time and time again. We've even had discussions about spirits in their home not wanting them to leave because they took such good care of it. (yes, I brought up that theory. Everyone was getting desperate.) Then there's the cost. You always have to spend a lot to make a home more desirable in a tough market like Connecticut. You always spend more to live in a desirable market like Vermont.

Here's the thing. Vermont won. Phil and Eunice are younger, still in their most productive years. They are educated and skilled. They have good hearts. They don't want to change their new home state, they just want to fit into it. Isn't that the ideal that we're looking for?

The Morning Almanac with Arlo Mudgett can be heard Monday through Saturday mornings on radio stations Oldies KOOL FM 106.7, 96.3 and 106.5 and over Peak-FM 101.9 and 100.7. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of the Brattleboro Reformer.

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