Moving to Milton

My husband and I moved to Vermont in June. The most common question we get is, why Vermont?

Depending on who’s asking, sometimes I share that we are climate refugees. We are, in a sense. In the summer of 2020, the forest fires were just two miles away from our rental home. Had it crossed a major highway, the dry nature preserve which we lived off of would have certainly burned down. Although it wasn’t a life-or-death situation, we did evacuate the summer of 2020 and stay in another state for two weeks. I am thankful everyday, that we can use the word “refugee” somewhat unecessarily. So many others are not as fortunate and we have loads of privilege and capital that made this move possible.

The second reason we cite is because we wanted to start a family. Starting a family in the Bay Area is daunting, yet so many of my friends have done it and are currently doing it. We didn’t want to rent forever. Our rent in 2017 was $2800 for a one bedroom and continued to increase. We moved practically every year we lived in California, and not often by choice. Again, we are showered with economic privilege as I knew so many others who were crammed into a garage with their entire family, or continually left disadvantaged by the home-buying and lending process. We wanted to build wealth and home-ownership into our children’s lives.

I never felt “Californian” though I really enjoyed living there. Things were so sweet over there. I totally understand why the masses rush over to that beautiful state. They have an excess of everything, services, culture, everything a state needs to provide for newcomers to this country. I was never a minority there. I felt at home in every corner of San Jose. But all of that is fleeting, given how shaky our capitalistic system is and how quickly things degraded during the pandemic. And with climate catastrophe thrown on top, it seems vulnerable to an eventual mass exodus, not only of people, but the things Californians have grown to love about their state.

Another reason we moved to Vermont is that we wanted to be by nature, grow our own food, have our own space, and try out living on the East Coast. My experience growing up was always on the Southwest – Arizona, Texas, and California. I had a pretty good experience with real “seasons” living in Russia and actually liked the snow. With so much fear about parts of the US becoming uninhabitable, the thought of investing in some land that will last a potential climatepocolypse looms in my mind.

But the last reason, I will say, is because like many others, I worked on the Bernie Sanders 2020 campaign. And got my heart broken for the second time. Vermont is the smallest state in population in the country, just after Wyoming. If a state is grass-roots enough to birth the Bernie campaign, it’s probably a place that is for us. We are weird, wacky, not totally neoliberal, and looking for a community to be a part of. I had no trouble lining the boardrooms and organizing people in San Jose, but we were often dismissed for corporate interests. I got to thinking… what if my skills could be used to help a smaller community, one that was readily able to grow and change? I heard good things about Vermont’s teachers union. I applied to about fifty jobs, landed about twenty interviews, and the first one that spoke to me, I took. We started home-shopping just a few weeks later. The town we decided to move to is called Milton, Vermont.

Milton is the most northern part of Chittenden County, where Burlington is located. The running joke on the internet is that the toothbrush was invented in Milton, because had it been invented anywhere else, it would be called the teethbrush. Milton is honestly the butt of many jokes and has a reputation of the least attractive place to live in the county.

Despite it’s reputation, Casey and I fell in love. We spent a few mornings on the shores of Arrowhead Lake. We found the perfect home on a beautiful, pastoral road filled with wild turkeys, red-headed woodpeckers, and more cows than cars. This was definitely the right place for us. Milton has it’s own beach and lots of secret corners for fishing and jumping into the lake.

It’s close to the Burlington airport and even closer to the Canadian border. We’re near two different ski mountains and just being able to walk in our own forest is refreshing.

Casey and I have had a lot of fun exploring Milton and getting to know every corner. My personal favorite spots are the Nepali restaurant Red Panda, Milton Artists Guild, and the local library.

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