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How are people who moved to Vermont during the pandemic doing now?

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Courtesy
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Lou Blouin
Nichole Becker cuts flowers at Dirt Monk Flower Farm in Williamstown in July 2021. There are various varieties of Rudbeckia in the foreground. In the background is the old overgrown Christmas tree farm, from which Nichole and her partner, Lou Blouin, harvest winter wreaths.

Vermont has been a popular destination for those relocating during the pandemic. Brave Little State checks in with some who made the move to see how they’re adjusting to their new lives.

Sydney Lucia grew up in Vermont, lived in Washington, D.C. for a few years, and then moved back during the pandemic. “And that was a huge change moving from D.C. to a very small town,” she says.

Sydney’s not alone. A recent study from the moving company United Van Lines found Vermont to have the highest rate of inbound migration among their customers in 2021.

Throughout my reporting, I spoke to many who moved here recently, and it’s clear folks came here for a wide range of reasons: some came for the landscape and slower pace of life, some were seeking climate refuge and … y’all remember when folks were getting paid to move here?

The Vermont Relocation Incentive Program, which was created in 2019 to encourage people to move to the state, initially offered remote workers $10,000 to move to our brave little state. But this program quickly ran out of funds in the summer of 2020 due to high demand. (Joan Goldstein, Commissioner of Vermont’s Department of Economic Development, says to stay tuned if you’re still plotting your move — she’s working to secure more funding for the program.)

Meanwhile, Brave Little State has been hearing from many of you who are curious about those who moved here during the pandemic: Who are they? When did they arrive? Why did they come? But it was Sydney Lucia, a recent returnee herself, who asked the question that won in a public voting round: How are our new neighbors doing? Specifically, she asked:

“How are people who moved to Vermont during the pandemic doing now?”

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Myra Flynn
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VPR
Sydney Lucia grew up in Vermont and recently moved back to the state during the pandemic. She asked the winning question, which inspired this episode.

“I’m just curious!” she says, “Like, people who moved here from the city — is it a culture shock? And do they think it's a good one or a bad one? Is this what they thought it would be or are they thinking more of going back to the city?”

Listen to the full episode to hear more from some Vermont newcomers about how they've been adjusting to their new lives:

p.s. We're thinking of hosting an event for all those who moved to Vermont recently, and we'd love to hear from you: Should it be remote? In person? What kind of stuff should we do? Email us at hello@bravelittlestate.org to let us know what you think. Or, leave us a voicemail at 802-552-4880. And make sure to sign up for our newsletter so you see any announcements we make about this in the future.

Subscribe to Brave Little State for free, so you never miss an episode:

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Lou Blouin
Lou Blouin and Nichole Becker survived thier first Vermont winter after moving here from Detroit in 2021. Equipped with heavy coats and a generator, they came through "no problem.”
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Myra Flynn
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VPR
The Meacham family (from L-R: Heather, Dylan and Jonah) moved to Woodbury, VT from Oakland, CA to escape the wildfires and have an overall better quality of life.
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Jon Ehrens
Jon Ehrens toured Vermont as a musician a few times, but really fell in love with the sate after visiting some more rural areas, like Enosburg Falls and Saint Johnsbury. He moved from Philadelphia to Panton in 2021.
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Connor Cyrus
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VPR
The VPR newsroom has grown during the pandemic. Brave Little State's Myra Flynn organized a recent lunch for some of the recent newcomers. From L-R: Connor Cyrus, Myra Flynn, Mikaela Lefrak, Kevin Trevellyan and Marlon Hyde.
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Lou Blouin
Nichole Becker and Lou Blouin miss the kids on their block in Detroit. The day they moved to Vermont, Karmynde — pictured here in their garden — hopped in the back of the moving truck and said he wasn’t leaving. He and his mom say they want to come visit Nichole and Lou's farm in Vermont.

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Credits

Myra Flynn reported this episode and did the mix and sound design. Additional production and editing from the rest of the Brave Little State team: Angela Evancie and Josh Crane. Ty Gibbons composed our theme music; other music by Blue Dot Sessions, Jay Green and Myra Flynn.

As always, our journalism is better when you’re a part of it.

Brave Little State is a production of Vermont Public Radio.

Myra Flynn joined VPR as an engagement producer in March 2021. Raised in Vermont, Myra Flynn is an accomplished musician who has come to know the lay of dirt-road land that much more intimately through touring both well-known and obscure stages all around the state and beyond. She also has experience as a teaching artist and wore many hats at the Burlington Free Press, including features reporter and correspondent, before her pursuits took her deep into the arts world. Prior to joining VPR, Myra spent eight years in the Los Angeles music industry.