Vermont is a fairly small state and it has one of the lowest populations in the entire country, currently, there are around 626k people living here, and back in 2000, the population was around 597k, so not a lot of people are moving here. Although Vermont is a beautiful state, with plenty of beautiful places, but if you want to live here off the grid then you will have to have a serious budget. Vermont is located in the northeastern part of the country and it should be an ideal place for anybody who wants to love off the grid, close to nature, and who wants to escape the big city life from the neighboring states.
Vermont is a good place for off grid living, although it has a couple of problems. Living off the grid in Vermont is legal, you can harvest rainwater legally and there are some statewide incentives for both solar and wind power. The price of property is 12% cheaper, the crime rate is significantly lower and the unemployment rate is only at 2%. On the other hand, the high taxes like the 1.83% property tax rate and the harsh climate will make living off the grid somewhat expensive in Vermont.
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The main problem why not a lot of people live here and why not a lot of people live off the grid here is due to the high taxes. Vermont has one of the highest taxes in the entire country, this is not because the state is rich but because a big part of the local economy actually relies on these taxes. On the other hand, if you want to live in a state which has a low crime rate then Vermont is one of your best options, just budget accordingly before you buy anything here.
As Vermont’s population is so small there are no cities with a population over 100k, the biggest cities are Burlington with 42k, Essex 22k, South Burlington 19k, Colchester 17k, Rutland city 16k, Bennington 15k, and Brattleboro with 11k people. The smallest city in Vermont is Victory, with only 89 residents. Vermont is famous for its maple syrup, in fact, Vermont is the leading producer of maple syrup in the entire country.
At first glance, Vermont seems like an ideal place for off grid living, and it truly is as long as you have some money, but if you want to live off the grid as frugally as possible then you probably will be better off spending your money in some other state. If you want to take a look at another state which has the same climate but it is somewhat cheaper then check out my recent article Off grid living in Michigan ( Great Lake State ).
The climate in Vermont is humid continental which means summers are hot and humid and the winters are cold and humid. Throughout the year Vermont has colder days than warm days on average, mostly due to its geographical position. The average temperatures during the summertime are around 80°F, during the wintertime the average temperature is around 22°F. During the wintertime, the days tend to be daily short, and this will heavily affect you if you rely on solar panels.
Best crops to grow in Vermont
Due to its geographical position, you do not have a lot of options when it comes to growing crops. Most of the crops grown here are actually for feeding livestock, as Vermont has a lot of animal farms. In fact, this state produces a lot of dairy products, in addition to this, you will see a lot of cattle, hog, and turkey farms in some of the areas. The crops which can be grown here are hay, corn, vegetables, and fruits.
If you want to live off the grid and grow your own food in Vermont then you will have to set up a greenhouse, as even during the summertime the temperatures can drop off significantly during the night. When it comes to growing crops, the southern states are far better for them, for more information check out my recent article Off grid living in Georgia ( Peach State ).
Freshwater availability in Vermont
Vermont is bordering Lake Champlain, in addition to this, there are several smaller lakes and rivers. Due to its humid continental type climate, Vermont doesn’t have a shortage of freshwater, although in some areas where there are a lot of animal farms the runoff could contaminate the groundwater. The average yearly rainfall is around 50″, and the average yearly snowfall is around 90″.
As most of the state is untouched nature there are a lot of animals living in Vermont like rabbits, coyotes, black bears, moose, cows, Catamount, and a lot of different types of birds. When it comes to fish, Vermont has plenty of fish also like Atlantic salmon, rainbow trout, northern pike, lake trout, largemouth bass, pumpkinseed, and chain pickerel. You will need a license both for fishing and hunting https://anrweb.vt.gov/FWD/FW/LicenseInformation.aspx.
Generating power off the grid in Vermont
- Solar power: Although Vermont is not the best state for generating power with solar panels due to the short days during the wintertime, but you can still generate at least some power. There are no local solar incentives but you can use the federal tax credit to set them up cheaper, currently, this credit is at 26% and it will get lower every year.
- Wind power: In addition to applying to the federal tax credit you can also apply for the Small Scale Renewable Energy Incentive Program (SSREIP), although there is no definitive percentage of how much you will save with the SSREIP as this will be different in every county. If you want to generate power with solar panels then check out my recent article ( Top 13 ) Problems with solar panels on roofs.
Vermont off grid laws
You can live legally off the grid in Vermont, there are no laws prohibiting you from it as long as you respect the building code and the health regulations. Most people who want to live off the grid in this state will face the problem of how they should set up their septic tanks, as each county has different requirements, but other than that you should be good to go. The homeschooling laws are nothing out of the ordinary, notify the authorities in a timely fashion and you should be fine.
Vermont road access
Due to the fairly high taxes in Vermont, the quality of the roads are fairly high in most of the state although in the center of the state you will either find poorly maintained roads or just simple dirt roads. As the yearly snowfall is fairly high in this state you will have some trouble with road access during the wintertime, although this is normal in most northern states.
Price of land in Vermont
The cost of property in Vermont is around 12% lower than the national average which might seem fairly cheap for a northern state but trust me it is not mostly because the property tax in Vermont is one of the highest in the country.
Vermont property tax
The property tax in Vermont is one of the highest in the country, currently, it is at 1.83% and the national average is at 1.08%. Although the price of land and housing is somewhat lower than the national average, but the high property tax means that you will have to pay a lot of money every year for the property tax. The county with the highest property tax is Windsor with 1.99%.
Vermont cost of living
Although the cost of living is somewhat cheaper than the national average with around 5%, but the high taxes increase the cost of living significantly. You will pay around 12% less for housing, 23% less for transportation but you will pay more with 7% for groceries, 8% for healthcare services, and 18% more for utilities. If you live in an area where you are already connected to utilities then it will be extremely hard to get them disconnected and live off the grid.
The unemployment rate in Vermont is one of the lowest in the entire country, currently, it is at 2.2% and the national average is at 3.6%. The minimum wage is $10.75, which is somewhat smaller than in the neighboring states in the east. The biggest industries where most of the people work are agriculture, forestry, mining, manufacturing, and tourism.
Vermont crime rate
The crime rate in Vermont is one of the lowest in the country, currently, there are around 1.7 crimes per 1000 people and the national average is 4 crimes per 1000 people. The areas with the lowest crime rate are around Castleton, Orleans, Brighton, Chittenden & Pittsfield, and Cambridge. The areas with the highest crime rate are Dover, Bennington, Berlin, Barre, ST. Albans and Derby.
Vermont natural disasters
Vermont is prone to having, blizzards, thunderstorms, floods, flash floods, and even tornadoes. Generally speaking, the most common natural disasters are floods, mostly due to the high amount of snowfall every year, once the snow starts melting a lot of areas are prone to flood.
Overall Vermont is not a bad state for off grid living, the main problem for off gridders will be the taxes, as Vermont has one of the highest taxes in the country. The local climate is also not the best for off grid living, although people who are familiar with the climate will have no problem living off the grid here.