A Newcomers Journal:
How we found and why we chose Burlington, VT ~ by Ben Smith
My husband Ned and I moved to Burlington on June 5, 2018 very excited about our new life that I have titled "Act 3."
We first discovered Burlington on the July 4th weekend of 2006 on the way to visit friends in Plattsburgh, NY. We had flown to Burlington from our home in Washington DC, had time to kill before our scheduled arrival across the lake, picked up our rental car at the airport, drove downtown, parked the car in one of the garages and discovered Church Street Marketplace, the four-block- long vehicular-free outdoor marketplace. After an incredibly delicious lunch at Leunig's Bistro, we had time to further explore Church Street and walk down to the Burlington Boat house and along the boardwalk of Waterfront Park. Then we were off to Plattsburgh for the weekend with fond memories of our three hours spent in Burlington.
After the weekend, on the flight home to DC, Ned suggested that we might want to consider Burlington as a possible retirement city. Although we loved living in DC, we both knew for our later years we wanted a much less frenetic and stressful city to live in. As we began to research the possibility of moving to Burlington, we came up with a list of ‘must-haves’: Availability of good health care? The University of Vermont Medical Center - check! Downtown living with walkability to grocery store, shops, and exercise facilities? The "Y" and a 12 mile bike path - check! Living close to the lake- check! We were also very excited about the University of Vermont and Champlain College as we had met at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill where we were both students in the 1970s. Our very first visit to Burlington gave us the "vibe" of a college town, which would of course have a very eclectic as well as intellectual population.
Fast forward to subsequent visits in July 2009 and September 2013, and we explored Vermont and Burlington more and more. We continued to like what we saw and experienced, and from then on began focusing on retiring to Burlington as soon as I was eligible to do so. Ned retired in June 2012 as a professor of English from Howard University in Washington DC. I was not yet retirement-eligible with my company, Verizon, until 2015. During the September 2013 visit, we explored three different units in the condo building that we bought in November 2017 with the help of Brian Boardman of Coldwell Banker Hickok & Boardman Realty. As much as we wanted to purchase in 2013, we knew we did not want to be "absentee landlords." Brian kept in touch with us, and in September 2017, he let us know that a unit had become available in the building that we had seen back in 2013. We jumped, made an offer, and bought in November 2017.
So now I've retired, and we have moved to Burlington, not knowing a soul nor having any family members nearby, and we are absolutely ecstatic with our decision. Many people may find this odd, but we were confident that being a college town and having such excellent facilities as the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts as well as all the lakefront festivals during the summer that we would easily fit in and find a nice new circle of acquaintances and friends. Remember this is "Act 3"! Also, both Ned and I grew up in flat, geographically challenged regions of east Texas and eastern North Carolina, respectively without a hill, much less a mountain or lake in sight. We are both excited to be living in a place that has such natural beauty~ Lake Champlain and the Green Mountains as well as the many villages of Vermont have captured our imagination, and we look forward to many years of exploration and discovery.
We have gotten to know quite a few people in our condo building as well as the community at large. We've even met mayor Miro Weinberger on one of our weekday walks. We have settled into a very nice routine of taking a walk from where we live to either North Beach or Oakledge Park every Monday through Saturday, continuing to explore and learn much more about Burlington and Vermont. On Sundays to vary our walks we have walked through the various residential neighborhoods, discovering the Victorian cottages of the Old North End, The University of Vermont campus, the Hill Section, along with the campus of Champlain College, whose buildings include many uniquely designed Queen Anne cottages. The discovery of such architectural beauty as well as the many well-maintained city parks along the lake has been a bonus to us. We also look forward to auditing classes at UVM once we meet both the residency and age requirements. We have much to look forward to in our new Vermont home!