The lighter side of real estate

These Are The 10 Best Places To Live In Vermont

The Green Mountain State might be one of the country’s smallest, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some absolutely amazing places to live there. These are the best of the best.

Natalie Grigson

Staff Writer

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When people think of Vermont, some of the first things that spring to mind is the famous cheddar cheeses and maple syrup, Ben and Jerry’s, and, of course, some of the most picturesque and perfect fall weather in the country.

While these things are all wonderful (especially Phish Food), there are some some others that have a larger effect on life in the state; things like schools, crime rates, income, and more. These things vary greatly from place to place, even within Vermont, one of the smaller states.

That’s the Movoto Real Estate Blog is taking a closer look at the places that make this state great. We’ve looked at the data, we’ve crunched the numbers, and, when all was said and done, the place that came at on top was Essex Junction. Of course, it was in good company. Here are the 10 best places in Vermont:

1. Village of Essex Junction
2. City of Winooski
3. City of South Burlington
4. City of Burlington
5. City of Montpelier (tie)
5. Village of Waterbury (tie)
7. City of Rutland
8. Village of Swanton (tie)
8. City of North Bennington (tie)
10. Village of Northfield

Since Vermont is a  relatively small state, there were a couple of ties in our list, as you can see. Keep reading to find out how we came up with this list and just what makes each of these places better than all the rest.

How We Did It

No matter where we’re studying in the U.S.—the Midwest, the Southwest, the South, or, in this case, New England—the first thing we do is create a list of places. In this case, we used the U.S. Census to find all of the places in Vermont with populations of over 1,000, which left a total of 20 places. We then studied each place using the following criteria:

  • Total amenities
  • Quality of life (cost of living, median home price, median rent, median household income, and student-to-teacher ratio)
  • Total crimes
  • Tax rates (sales tax and income tax)
  • Unemployment
  • Commute time
  • Weather (temperature and air quality)

From there, we gave each place a score of 1 to 20 in the above criteria, the lower the number, the better. After that, we averaged each for an overall Big Deal Score, with the lowest score, in this case Essex Junction, being the best.

To see how all 20 places in the state ranked, head down to the bottom of the post for a complete list. Otherwise, grab some Ben and Jerry’s and dig in—just like we’re about to do with the top 10 places.

1. Essex Junction

Essex Junction, VT

Source: Flickr user Patrick

Essex Junction isn’t just a wonderful place to raise a family, but, as our analysis showed, it’s a great place all around. It came in on top of our ranking with one of the highest overall scores for quality of life.

That’s because Essex Junction had one of the highest median household incomes ($60,650), plus some of the best real estate values around, with a median home price of $241,700 and a median monthly rent of $932. This is a great indication of the village’s desirability.

Plus, with restaurants like Amuse and Firebird Cafe, Essex Cinemas, and literally hundreds of other things to do, Essex Junction also came in as one of the best in terms of amenities.

2. Winooski

Winooski, VT

Source: Flickr user Porsche Brosseau

A designated Refugee Resettlement community and home to over 30 languages, Winooski is easily one of the more diverse communities on our list, plus, with its “Smart Growth” downtown, one of the most progressive. Of course these things are just icing on the cake, because our analysis didn’t even cover them! What it did cover, though, were things like Winooski’s student to teacher ratio of just 11 to 1 and its high median home and rent prices, of $207,800 and $914, respectively. And just like our No. 1 place, also in Chittenden County, Winooski had some of the best weather, a low unemployment rate of 3.6 percent, and at just 20 minutes, one of the lowest commute times on our list.

3. South Burlington

South Burligton, VT

Source: Flickr user Brian Cribb

Between the shores of Lake Champlain and the Green Mountains lies our No. 3 place, South Burlington. It is known for its excellent schools, beautiful neighborhoods, luxurious spas and hotels, and, of course, the Magic Hat Brewery and Artifactory. Oh, and it also did really well in our analysis! As you may have already surmised, South Burlington came in as one of the best ranked for its number of amenities. But it didn’t stop there. SB also ranked well for its overall high quality of life score, tied for 3rd place in this category with Essex Junction. This was mainly due to the fact that South Burlington ranked the very best in our analysis for its median household income of $61,007 and a median rent price of $1,064. Of course all of this comes at a price, and in South Burlington the price ain’t cheap. With a cost of living of 108, where the national average is 100, this city came in as the most expensive in our analysis. But hey, what’s a little extra spending for an average commute time of just 18 minutes?

4. Burlington

Burlington, VT

Source: Flickr user Redjar

With a population of over 42,000 residents, Burlington was the largest place in our analysis, and, as the numbers showed, easily the best when it came to amenities. Places like Penny Cluse Cafe, Myer’s Bagel Bakery, American Flatbread—and that’s just the food.

There’s plenty to do in this city, particularly in the Church Street Marketplace, where, honestly you could probably entertain yourself for hours on end just looking at the beautiful architecture.
There’s more to living in this city than ogling the buildings, though

Like the other Chittenden County places in our top 10, Burlington had a low unemployment rate of 3.6 percent, beautiful summer weather with an average temperature of 67 and air quality score of 34, and an average commute time of just 19 minutes. No wonder the median home price is the highest in the state—who wouldn’t want to live here?

5. Montpelier (tie)

Montpelier, VT

Source: Flickr user Michael Dougherty

Did you know that with just 7,855 residents, Montpelier is the smallest state capital in the U.S.? Yet somehow, like a tiny truffle packed with flavor, this small city is filled with amenities; places like Kismet, the Skinny Pancake, the Savoy Theater, and Rivendell Books. Montpelier is also home to the Vermont College of Fine Arts and the New England Culinary Institute, giving the city some creative points to boot.

Where it really excelled in our ranking, though, was with its overall quality of life score—the second best we found. That’s because this city had a student-teacher ratio of just 10 to 1, a cost of living just 1 percent than the national average (compared to, say, South Burlington, which was 8 percent higher), and a median household income over $52,000.

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5. Waterbury (tie)

Waterbury, VT

Source: Flickr user Doug Kerr

One of the things that makes Waterbury so very delicious is the Ben and Jerry’s factory, where you can take tours… and eat ice cream. Ice cream tours, people! Though we think this is reason enough to move to Waterbury, there are many more.

First of all, with just 454 crimes per 100,000 people annually, Waterbury ranked best for safety. It also ranked among the top 10 in its overall quality of life, for a high median household income, high home prices, and some of the highest rent on our list, at a median price of $928 per month.

And while it may have had one of the higher costs of living on our list, at 106, it seems as though residents, 95.7 percent of whom are employed, can make it work.

7. Rutland

Rutland, VT

Source: Flickr user Doug Kerr

Rutland came in second in our ranking in terms of its overall number of amenities. It’s home to places like Table 24, with their delicious coffee creme brulee, Roots the Restaurant, all kinds of cute stores like Annie’s Book Stop, and, seriously, did we mention the coffee creme brulee?

Amenities aside, Rutland did well in several of our other categories as well. For example, with a cost of living index of just 98 and a student-teacher ratio of 11 to 1, it had an overall high score for quality of life. Plus, with a commute time of just 17 minutes, it ranked as the best in that criterion.

8. Swanton (tie)

Swanton, VT

Source: Flickr user Doug Kerr

With a population of just 2,386, the Village of Swanton (not to be confused with the Town of Swanton, in which it’s located) is one of the smaller places in our top 10, and yet, as we discovered in our analysis, that certainly didn’t mean that it was lacking in reasons to move there.

This little village had the best overall score for its quality of life, for every single criterion within this category, including a low cost of living index of 94, a student-teacher ratio of just 10 to 1, and a high median household income of $48,135.

Plus, with only 948 crimes per 100,000 people annually, the village of Swanton was the third safest place in our list. So, whether you’re out enjoying the Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge or simply biting into a sub at Pam’s Place, rest easy knowing that not only is Swanton safe, but the quality of life simply can’t be beat.

8. North Bennington (tie)

North Bennington, VT

Source: Flickr user Doug Kerr

Even though much has changed since North Bennington’s early roots of shipping goods around the country, the village still remains very family friendly and community-oriented.

This was clear with North Bennington’s low crime rate of just 1,142 crimes per 100,000 people, short average commute time of 17 minutes, and its low cost of living index of 95. Plus, with an average summer temperature of 66 degrees and an air quality score of 33, this little village had some of the best-ranked weather in our analysis.

10. Northfield

Northfield, VT

Source: Flickr user Doug Kerr

This small village, located within the town of Northfield, is nestled among the Green Mountains and is just a quick, 10-mile drive from the state capital, and just a few hours from Boston or Montreal. It’s the commercial, industrial, and residential center of the town, one reason it’s home to so many amenities. Plus, with its small population and community feel, it was also one of the safest places on our list.

Even though the commute time was a bit higher here than in some of the others in our top 10, at 21 minutes, Northfield more than made up for this with a low cost of living index of 98, a low unemployment rate, and warm summer temperatures averaging at 64 degrees. No wonder residents are willing to pay a median rent price of $777.

In This Case, Smaller May Just Be Better

Vermont may be one of the smaller states in the U.S., but it’s packed with wonderful places, from villages and boroughs to towns and cities, each one unique. Just ask anyone in our top 10—especially those lucky folks in Essex Junction.

Best Places In Vermont

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posted on: April 29, 2014
180,419 views, 6 comments


  1. Laura Gillen

    How did the total of 20 places with a population of over 1,000 not include Brattleboro or Woodstock?

  2. Mary_Lee

    I don’t know how author could missed Stowe?!!! Thats the best out of best.. I just recently bought a house, agent from Pallspera real estate was very helpful. Many thanks to Lisa, couldnt be happier with new place

  3. montreal tax preparation

    This places are great. Surely i would buy a house in one of those places.

  4. income tax montreal

    This places are relatively state, so there’s no need to be in doubt.

  5. Martin

    She did not miss it! And because an agent, doing her job selling you a house, so she could make goo money, dose not mean that Stowe should be on the list. Stowe is not on the list, because they could not get the points they need. But, that does not mean that Stowe is a bad place, thats the problem with this kind of listing.Stowe is just as goos as any of them.

  6. Josh

    No way North Bennington! The Benningtons are one of the most drug infested towns in the state! I know this I live in a town named Shaftsbury right next to Bennington and North Bennington! May look nice but not really.


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