A decision to leave our hometown
Probably too much explanation into our decision to move, but slow down and join me for the journey anyway
Hi, I’m back! I was sick with Covid for the first time a couple of weeks ago and it sucked to say the least. I’m still taking it easy despite feeling a lot better to avoid long Covid or reinfection. Besides that, we just spent last weekend in Eureka Springs, AR for David’s 30th birthday. It was a lovely, low-key weekend and the town was super charming and fun, and I highly recommend a weekend visit there if you’re nearby or live in MO— the drive isn’t bad at all!
We’ve started making big moves on our impending move in the last few weeks. We met with our realtor and a home stager and got a checklist of things to do to get ready to list our home! It feels real now! David also has had some exciting progress in the new job world, and I’m feeling some seriously good vibes for the next couple weeks. Cross all your fingers for him! With all of this going on, the Why has been top of mind!
When we tell someone we’re moving to Vermont, we’ve come to expect to be asked why because it does seem like a pretty random choice of state compared to where we currently live. It was actually a very intentional choice for us so I’d figured I’d explain how we made the decision on this destination.
A big move was already feeling like a possibility
The last couple of years, we were already toying with the idea of moving, just to a different neighborhood in STL. We wanted to be in a more walkable area with a more active community. However, house prices really went up in the neighborhoods we were looking at, and a lot of the stock (particularly 2 and 4 family splits which we weren’t opposed to and are usually affordable) was being bought up by investors and they were either consolidating the splits, or just generally ripping out all of the historic features we love about STL brick homes and selling them for much higher. It was getting to the point where I started thinking that if we were to spend that much money on a home, we might as well not be in MO anymore because one of the biggest pros to being here is the lower COL. Without that, what’s the point?
We can’t take the heat, so we’re getting out of this kitchen
Last summer was pretty terrible weather-wise. I think everyone here has noticed the heat increasing gradually over the last decade or so, but over the last summer the effects of Climate Change were impossible to ignore. We had just 5 days under 90°F in June alone, and then later in the summer we saw over 2 month’s worth of rainfall in just 6 hours. I didn’t really leave the house for weeks because it was so hot, rainy, or both, and I ended up getting SAD which I usually only get in the winter months. We didn’t get to do a lot of our favorite activities like hiking and visiting the garden which really bummed me out, it feels like we lost a year! We knew we couldn’t deal with another summer like that one because David and I are not hot-weather people.
“Okay, why don’t you just move out to CO to be near David’s parents?” We’d love to live in Boulder (which is pretty close to them), but the median house price is over $1,000,000 and his parents had to evacuate from nearby Estes Park three times in one year due to wildfires. If Climate Change is one of the drivers for us to move, it just doesn’t make sense to move to a place where we might have to fight over water in 20 years, or have our house burned down. Also, we can’t afford to buy a home there and we really don’t want to rent again.
Missouri’s race to the bottom
Last summer we also saw the overturning of Roe v Wade, and Missouri started passing some alarming bills around abortion access, but also around education, Trans rights, and more. We love St. Louis because it is progressive and always has been a national leader on progressive movements, but the leaders we elect and the policies we adopt are constantly undermined and repealed by State Government. We’re also uniquely affected by MO’s overall strategies because David works for the state, and MO has done a pretty good job of giving the middle finger to its employees working vital departments and services. That started prompting him to think about what he wanted his career to look like. I think at this point we’re ready for a change of pace and to see what other ways of life are possible.
Making the decision
For all of these factors, I started looking at places in the US that weren’t in the projected Heat Belt, have consistent access to fresh water sources, aren’t on a coast so we don’t end up underwater or with increasingly severe hurricanes, are pro-abortion, and somewhat affordable (uhh but what does that even mean anymore?? Everything and everywhere are freaking expensive). I don’t think we’d be able to find this mix anywhere, but I’m okay with higher taxes and a little bit higher cost of living if it means we live in a decent place with well-kept public infrastructure and amenities.
That’s where we started honing in on New England. We considered Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, and Vermont. New Hampshire was too libertarian/conservative for us. Ultimately we settled in on Vermont as the destination because it was a good mix of weather we don’t mind, political landscape, proximity, natural beauty, and cost of living!
We’re generally looking at towns that have a local college/university presence or some other type of established community because we think it will give us a better chance of getting involved in a diverse community and making friends with others. I’d say our friend-making odds are favorable if a town is bringing in a lot of different people and students from around the state, country or even internationally for work and school.
Some other fun reasons we made this choice
We both love visiting New England, and I think we fit in well with the vibe we get there. While we might trade in city life for something much smaller, we aren’t too far from larger cities we can spend some time in. You drive a couple hours through MO, you’re still in MO, that’s not the case in New England. The ability to easily visit multiple states and cities (and Canada!) is a huge bonus to us. You also get access to the coast, mountains, big lakes, what more could you ask for?
I acknowledge that I have a romanticized fantasy of New England cultivated by Gilmore Girls. I will say though, I didn’t feel like this fantasy was completely crushed when we visited Vermont. The people we met while visiting were super kind. We passed little town after little town that were so cute (central town gazebos just like in Stars Hollow were witnessed). I think this area gets small towns right. We literally drove around the entirety of VT, as well as much of NH and MA, and it was not the same experience we have in rural areas here. People were walking to work and their day to day errands, even in tiny villages, because there were sidewalks and actual places to go to in a central location! VT is one of five states to ban billboards/public advertisements, so no traumatic anti-abortion or Meth Made Me an Orphan boards (yes, that was a real board on the way to my college town) like we have here. Vermont also doesn’t have too many chain stores/restaurants, so you get to easily shop small.
I’m excited for the change of pace it will be to live in a blue state with a solid history of progressive policy and direct democracy (Town Meeting Day, for instance). I’m excited to live in an area that also consistently prioritizes clean, renewable energy. What is it going to be like to live in an area where you don’t have to argue about basic reality, where true debates can be around how we want to solve issues we all agree are issues? I’ve been somewhat following what’s going on in state politics in VT to see what is being voted on and discussed there versus here, and the difference is wild. I’m excited to see what’s possible in that kind of environment and how these smaller towns can serve as experiments in improving ways of life/thinking that can be replicated across the country. For instance, Burlington was the first city in the US to be powered by 100% renewable energy, and now generates a surplus that is sold to the rest of New England.
With a declining and aging population, Vermont offers relocation grants up to $7,500 to live and work there! I also think the fact that the state is actively trying to incentivize people to move there could lead to improving a lot of the diversity issues prevalent in New England. There’s a push to build more affordable housing and to attract families of all backgrounds and demographics which is really encouraging to see as a priority, and I’m interested in working with orgs in the area to push for that reality.
So with all that said, putting our plans into action the last few weeks has brought me a wash of emotions. I’ll probably write an ode to all of my favorite things about STL at some point in the near future as part of the grieving process. I’ll miss it all, but I am so excited for all of the changes to come and a new perspective!
Something that has been helpful for me to keep in mind during all of this is that nothing has to be permanent. If we truly hate our lives when we move, we can move back, or even some place else! I feel like so often when we set intentions, make plans, publicize them, and act on them, we fall into the sunk cost fallacy and make ourselves live forever with whatever choices we make. And that there’s a sense of shame with changing your mind? I think back to other big choices I’ve made and I remember the mix of shame and relief that came to me all the way back at the end of my sophomore year of college when I decided to no longer pursue music and I changed my major. I felt like a bit of a failure, and imagined that I would be judged by all of my friends who were still in the music department, or my family with whom I had shared all my prior music ed plans. But I also had a huge sense of relief that outweighed all of that. The relief of making the choice that was best for me and living the life I wanted to live. David went through the same thing when he decided not to pursue medical school even after completing the MCAT and a Biology degree.
And in the end, I don’t think anyone thought we were failures, or a million other criticisms we made up in our heads. And if they did, we sure had some dedicated haters which is honestly pretty amazing! I’m so proud of 20 year old me who did what was right for her despite a lot of unknowns and anxiety — and not many established healthy coping mechanisms yet.
I think there’s this weird sentiment in the Midwest that you shouldn’t leave or that leaving is temporary, this guy I follow on TikTok sums it up way better than I can, but I think it’s a lot of the reason I’ve felt so deeply and conflicted about this move. It just feels like something we need to do and experience though because it would be really easy to stay here for the rest of our lives and do what we’ve always done, but I’m not sure I want that, even though I’m a huge fan of stability (see my last post!!).
Obviously, as evidenced by this novel of a post, there was a lot of thought and intention wrapped up in this decision for us to move, and we’ve been telling everyone about it and “manifesting” this new reality as much as we can. But I hope that if it ends up not being what we want it to (I have a hard time believing that will be the case though :) ) that we can remember that the only thing we have to worry about is if we’re happy and if we’re living in a way that’s aligned to our values. Other people can think whatever they want about their choices (and I think most just want happiness for us as well! I think I project a lot of assumed judgement from others which is not great!! why do I do that??!), but I know I’ll be miserable if I try to live my life in a way that I think will please everyone else.
We should have some more news on this front hopefully in the next few weeks! In the meantime, we’ll be getting through the checklist of small home improvements as everything starts to fall into place.
What I’ve Been Up To
I’m watching Succession of course. And thinking about all the very dramatic fan-made edits coming out of this season (like this one). It’s interesting to see the art people make out of other art.
The Barbie trailer. Please tell me what Barbie you’re going to dress up as to see the premier!
I don’t know why, but I’m obsessed with these “Choose Your Life” carousels constantly pushed to my FYP. It’s like a digital M.A.S.H. for Gen Z/Alpha.
AHP knocked it out of the park again: You'd Be Happier Living Closer to Friends. Why Don't You? P.S. friends, pls move out to Vermont with us, we can start a little commune (no weird religious cult stuff, just gardens and baby highland cows).
One of the best parts about our little trip last weekend was reacquainting ourselves with our favorite albums on the drive rather than our usual playlists. I love this hits album Kevin Devine recorded with his band post-tour a few years ago. It’s really tight and has the energy of a live show. Also enjoyed classics like The Bends, Good News for People Who Love Bad News, Carnavas, and one of my favorites from high school.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a lovely Sunday!