Monday, March 06, 2006

Young Vermonters: come back and breed

I got sent a link to this New York Times story by my friend who lives in Brooklyn. I looked at the list of friends he sent it to: Boston, New Jersey, New York, Chicago... nope. Not one of us lives in Vermont, though we all grew up there. It kinda depressed me. And tomorrow is Town Meeting Day, too. Jeezum Crow.

There are a lot of us out here. That story was the NYT's most emailed story the day it came out, and I can imagine it winging its way to resettled Vermonters all over the world. Why did we all leave Vermont? I have left and returned and left again on and off since going away to college in 1991. I lived and worked there for five years in my mid-twenties, but moved to NYC for grad school, knowing I probably wouldn't be coming back to live there anytime soon. Working in newspapers in Vermont was great - I learned a lot and it was wonderful living near my family. But after a certain point, I felt like my career would stall unless I moved to a city. And, especially when I was living in White River Junction, admittedly not the most happenin' part of the state, I found it almost impossible to meet other young people I had anything in common with. And I was heartily sick of jam bands.

While in New York I met my husband and have now moved even further away - to England. From the beginning we planned to return home to Vermont when we have kids, maybe in 3-5 years. I've always wanted to raise a family there, and he loves it there too. But we worry about where we're going to work, and how we'll make it on our lower salaries. Here, we're on the outskirts of a an exciting, thriving city but live in a part of the countryside that could give VT a run for its money on the pristineness front. We make decent enough money; and my writing work is steady. On the downside, we don't know our neighbors, and are almost completely disassociated from community and political life. I desperately miss my friends and family. But we like it here, and sometimes I wonder if we ever will move back. The longer we stay, the less likely it seems.

What would make all of us refugees return? It's kind of a chicken-and-egg question, but I think the Governor's right: good, well-paying jobs are the main thing. Many of my friends from other states have considered moving to VT after falling in love with the state on a visit, but I know at least three or four young couples who scrapped plans to move to Vermont after they took a look at the job market and realized there was little there for them. The one couple I know who did move there are self-employed internet biz folks who could live anywhere.

Strangely enough, maybe 10 years ago I remember reading a big Sunday Magazine piece in the Rutland Herald about how Gen-Xers were moving to Vermont in droves. I don't know what's happened since then to change things, but I guess the downturn in the economy a few years back might have something to do with it.

(graphic from The New York Times)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

i forgot to tell you how much i love the title of this post - it reminds me of a sufjan steven's song title...


10:40 AM  

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