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More Than a Third of Recent COVID Transplants Surveyed are Likely to Make Vermont Home

Friday, October 9, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Jeff Couture

Woman walking on path in fallMore than a third of those who participated in a survey of people who relocated to Vermont this year in response to the coronavirus said they were “likely” or “very likely” to stay in Vermont, and nearly half of the respondents said that their employers would allow them to telework from the state in the future.

These are two of the key findings in the report, “Sheltering in Place: COVID-19 and Vermont’s Future,” based on the results of the survey recently completed by the Center for Research on Vermont, the Vermont Futures Project, and the University of Vermont’s Office of Engagement. 

The authors note that stories of people moving to Vermont to “shelter in place” during the early months of the pandemic inspired the research. As a growing number of businesses, including many major tech companies, have moved to telework, and since many of those jobs could be done for anywhere, the survey looked to provide insight on why (or why not) Vermont?  “The combination of Vermont’s successful COVID-19 management strategy and mounting demographic challenges raises the question: does the COVID-19 pandemic present an opportunity to add a new wave of in-migrants to the state? This is the question at the center of this exploratory research.”

The report, reviewing 226 responses collected this summer, concludes: “The survey signals an opportunity for the state, particularly in its effort to attract new residents to the region who can contribute to the social and economic vibrancy of Vermont.”

Some of the key findings:

  • More than a third of respondents (35%) indicated that they were “likely” or “very likely” to stay in Vermont following a return to normalcy.
  • Nearly half of the respondents (44%) said that their employers would allow them to telework from the state in the future.
  • Many had strong connections to Vermont, particularly through family and friends
  • Many of those considering Vermont in the survey were under 35 (40%), with another 24% in the 36-50 age range.
  • 92% indicating having completed a college education.
  • 70% said they were in rural locations, with a diverse range of internet capabilities.

Some of the key reasons for staying in Vermont

  • Nature and the outdoors
  • Quality of life
  • Ongoing ability to work remotely
  • COVID-19 safety
  • proximity to family

Some of the Barriers to staying in Vermont

  • Winter weather
  • Lack of affordable housing
  • Lack of economic opportunity
  • High taxes and cost of living
  • Lack of diversity
  • Poor internet quality
  • Need to return to established life

The report makes the following recommendations:

  • Develop a branding campaign around Vermont as the “work-from-home” capital of the United States.
  • Conduct a needs assessment of this population of new Vermonters to determine what will keep them here.
  • Conduct a phase 2 survey focused on second home owners to understand in more detail who is moving to Vermont.
  • Create a weekly online seminar series for people to learn about and engage with their new state.
  • Consider how to recruit and organize this new potential wave of in-migrants to meet Vermont’s goals of downtown renewal.