Everyone says that travel is educational, so Barbara and I began to think about what we learned on our winter trip to Vermont. As it turns out, we think we learned things that can help other retirees.
Here’s what we learned:
- Southern and Yankee cultures are growing more alike, but people in each region still fear the other for the fading differences. Too bad. Better to enjoy them while they last.
- Life improves when you take long breaks in new places. You gain a chance to learn more deeply about a place and its people, thereby offering a richer appreciation of your home.
- Friends and family matter: almost everyone needs social interaction, and we often take it for granted at home. In a new place, finding a community may require real work. If you are planning an extended stay somewhere, give this need some serious thought.
- In Vermont, keep your neck and head warm when you go out—wear turtlenecks, scarves and hats to keep illness at bay.
- In winter in both places, stay away from groups of young people. In every group of 20 kids, at least five are contagious.
- Climate matters: recurring weather patterns influence our activities, which are large forces in shaping our lives. Vermonters who don’t ski, snowshoe, snowmobile or ice fish tend to spend long weeks indoors. Cabin fever is common.
- Kids ski as naturally as birds fly.
- Grandchildren, or grandnieces and nephews, are sources of endless joy. Then you go home to rest.
- Young people should consider working in Vermont, assuming you can find a job. Wages appear to be higher, the population is oriented to outdoor sports in all seasons, the autumns and winters are spectacular, and the public school systems seem uniformly good. But if your children are going to college, either get a job at the University of Vermont (then your tuition is free), or leave the state. Vermont charges in-state students more for attending its public universities than any other state.
- Old people should retire in Georgia, even if they ski. In Georgia, taxes are much lower, roads are much better, cars rust less, housing costs relatively little, and the winter days are longer and brighter. Skiers can always go north and rent a place.
- The price of gas is very high in Vermont, so it is good that Vermont is small.
- If you grew up in Georgia, don’t drive in the snow. Some things can’t be learned after adolescence.
- For every Waffle House in Georgia, there is a Dunkin’ Donuts in Vermont.
A list can help us distill ideas about Vermont and Georgia, but it misses parts of what retirees will cherish most from a trip to Vermont. One missed part will be images of the state. Some of ours are captured in the photos that follow.