What Are the Best Places to Retire in Vermont?

There are many good reasons to make Vermont your retirement haven. The communities in this state usually are friendly and welcoming to newcomers in general. Most towns have special community events, and the changing of the seasons here is breathtaking especially in the fall and winter months. Keep reading to learn about our 10 best retirement towns and cities in Vermont.

1. Shelburne

Shelburne is a lovely town that conveys a suburban feel but has cultural attractions too like the famed Shelburne Museum. The cost of living here runs about average for the state, and the town has a sizeable retiree population.

The neighborhoods are friendly and close-knit, and residents have lots of community events to enjoy throughout the year like musical concerts at the Ben & Jerry's Concerts on the Green and Shelburne's Day in August.

There are lots of parks and water views in the Shelburne area that provide spectacular sunsets and plenty of outdoor activities like hiking, biking, kayaking, fishing and cross-country skiing and other winter sports in colder weather months.

Take your grandkids for a fun visit to Shelburne Farms with interesting educational events about living a sustainable agricultural lifestyle and hike the scenic trails.

Highlights

  • Take your fishing pole to Shelburne Bay Park
  • Pick delicious apples at Shelburne Orchards
  • Find local produce, crafts and foods at the Shelburne Farmer's Market
  • Taste delicious local wine at Shelburne Vineyards
  • Improve your game at Kwinjaska Championship Golf Course
  • Tour the endearing Vermont Teddy Bear Factory
  • Learn about area history at the Shelburne Museum – 39 historic buildings and grounds to explore
  • Grab a tasty burger and fries at Archie's Grill
  • Head to The LaPlatte Nature Park – outdoor recreation
  • Shop at the Shelburne Country Store – built in 1830s

2. Burlington

Burlington is the largest city in Vermont, and most residents, including retirees, tend to be active and enjoy outdoor pursuits and cultural events.

The city holds an annual South End Art Hop every September, and there are many other community celebrations like jazz music concerts, food and beverage festivals and cultural occasions often held on the scenic Lake Champlain waterfront area.

Relax and dine at ArtsRiot a local restaurant that hosts the summertime Truck Stop with a gathering of food trucks and live music.

During the summer months, residents enjoy swimming, boating and other water activities on these gorgeous beaches. Burlington boasts a wealth of city amenities like great restaurants, an art museum, theater shows and a wide variety of shopping establishments.

Active seniors will find miles of beachfront nature trails, a walkable Church Street Marketplace, historic landmarks, lots of popular ski resorts and topnotch medical facilities.

Highlights

  • Frog Hollow – local art gallery
  • Take the fun and interesting Burlington Edible History Tour
  • Echo Lake Aquarium and Science Center
  • Fleming Museum of Art – browse artworks
  • Take an adventurous Sunset Cruise on Lake Champlain
  • Browse Ethan Allen Homestead – museum
  • Paddleboard, kayak or swim at North Beach – rental boats available
  • Ski at Mad River Glenn, Sugarbush or Jay Peak among others
  • Catch a show at Vermont Comedy Club or at the Flynn Theater

3. Montpelier

Montpelier is not just the capital city of Vermont; it is the smallest capital city in the United States. Partly due to its small size, Montpelier is considered one of the most affordable locations in the state. There are still a surprising number of trendy shops, upscale boutiques, art galleries and a few famed restaurants that draw out-of-towners.

Enjoy fresh maple syrup at Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks, take a stroll in Hubbard Park, to see the historic observation tower there, or dine at Kismet Kitchen a true upscale dining experience.

Retirees will find this city an excellent place with both smalltown charm and bigger city cultural venues like several area museums and lots of friendly cafes and coffee shops.

Highlights

  • See the gold-domed Vermont State House – historic landmark built 1859 with Greek-Revival architecture
  • Vermont History Museum – artifacts from Native American tribes and Revolutionary War items
  • Brag Farm Sugar House and Gift Shop
  • The Pavilion – reconstructed regional hotel from 1876 houses government offices today
  • North Branch Vineyards – wine tasting
  • Take a pottery class at Montpelier Mud
  • Coburn Covered Bridge – dated 1851
  • Browse the T.W. Wood Gallery and Arts Center
  • North Branch Nature Center – trails and nature scenery

4. Brattleboro

Brattleboro is situated along the banks of the Connecticut River in the southern region of the state.

The affordable town has several terrific museums to browse and learn about the local history of this area, and there are countless outdoor and indoor recreational opportunities throughout all four of the changing seasons here. See the historic Creamery Covered Bridge crafted from pine wood in 1879.

Retirees can spend the day walking the trails, birdwatching or camping in Fort Dummer State Park. The Gibson-Aiken Recreational Center is conveniently located in town on Main Street.

There are skiing opportunities on Mount Stratton and Mount Snow come wintertime, and there are a variety of eclectic downtown shops, boutiques and local restaurants along with annual community celebrations to enjoy like the ever-popular Strolling of the Heifers parade event and the Social Gallery Walk each first Friday of the month.

Highlights

  • Visit Retreat Farm – authentic Vermont farm with petting area, trails and learning opportunities
  • Hike the stunning Retreat Trails in nearby Green Mountain National Forest
  • Brattleboro Museum and Art Center – showcases art pieces from notable artists
  • Madame Sherrie Forest – see old castle ruins
  • Shop for vintage treasures, trendy clothing, crafts, home decor antiques and collectibles at Twice Upon a Time
  • Fish and play at gorgeous Sunset Lake – family-friendly nature park for fishing, picnics and hiking
  • Tasha Tudor Museum
  • Get pampered at Day Glow Skin and Body Care – local spa

5. Morrisville

Retirees who enjoy their big city activities and attractions but desire to live in a suburban type of environment will find the enchanting town of Morrisville to be an idyllic retirement destination.

While many tourists flock to nearby Stowe, Morrisville offers a simpler and more tranquil everyday lifestyle with many outdoor and indoor recreational pursuits.

The city's Copley Hospital is rated highly by area residents, and the downtown area provides delicious restaurants, affordable movies at the Bijou Cineplex, small local breweries and a collection of different shops to enjoy without having to leave town.

Attend community festivals like Oxbow Music Festival in summer, Roctoberfest in fall and the Festival of Lights during the winter holidays.

Highlights

  • See different types of art at River Gallery – local art gallery
  • Tour the Noyes House Museum – vintage furnishings and clothing
  • Cady's Falls Botanical Gardens – lovely gardens and walking trails
  • Visit nearby Elmore State Park and Lake Elmore Beach in summer
  • Enjoy the old-fashioned Bijou Cineplex 4 – see movies
  • Try Peace Pups Dog Sledding in wintertime
  • Head to Lamoille Valley Rail Trail all year – biking, hiking, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling
  • Ryder Brook Golf Club or Copley Country Club

6. Vergennes

Sometimes referred to as the “Little City,” the small city of Vergennes is a lovely place to retire with its access to beautiful outdoor spaces like Otter Creek and Otter Creek Falls, Lake Champlain and Basin Park among others. The striking Adirondack Mountains lie to the west for unsurpassed views of nature and all its splendor.

The town dates to the post-Revolutionary War days, but the downtown historical architecture today leans more toward the Victorian era. A must-see is the stunning stained-glass dome in a Tiffany-inspired design located in the lobby of the Bixby Memorial Free Library.

Browse the art of local artisans at Creative Space Gallery and Northern Daughters, catch a drink or a bite to eat with friends and shop the delightful mix of shops and stores.

Highlights

  • Vergennes Falls Park – sparkling waterfalls and trails
  • Lake Champlain Maritime Museum
  • Vergennes Opera House – live shows
  • Northern Daughters Gallery and Creative Space Gallery – art galleries
  • Book a fishing charter boat at Cloud Nine Fishing Charters

7. Wilmington

The small village of Wilmington has a lot to offer seniors that include plenty of outdoor fun and adventures in nearby parks, such as Hogback Mountain or Molly Stark State Park, and water bodies like Lake Whittingham and the Harrington Reservoir.

This town also has easy access to beaches and other boating and fishing spots. Try the hiking trails like the Valley Trail and the relaxing Hoot, Toot and Whistle Trail that meanders close to the river's edge.

The cute and quaint downtown area of Wilmington boasts excellent restaurants, like Alpenglow, and small food venues like Dot's Diner. There are also bars, clothing stores, artsy boutiques and various other entertainment and service businesses in this area.

Seniors find this town attractive due to its low crime rates, affordable housing and lower cost of living expenses than the national average.

Highlights

  • The Art of Humor Gallery – quirky finds and unique treasures
  • Hike or bike in Molly Stark State Park
  • Take part in water adventures at Harriman Reservoir of Wilmington
  • Wilmington Village Historic District – discover 19th century life here
  • Swim and sunbathe at Green Mountain Beach
  • Shop for vintage finds and more at Wilmington Antique and Flea Market
  • Tee-off at Haystack Golf Course
  • Candlepin Golf at North Star Bowl – indoor golf, arcade games and pool table

8. Bennington

Bennington is conveniently located just a few hours from Boston, NYC and Albany, and many retirees make this their dream retirement spot for various reasons. The scenery is spectacular in Bennington, and famous people have roots in this charming New England town.

Hunt for collectables and vintage finds at Main Street Antiques and Monument Vintage, then enjoy a filling lunch at Blue Benn Diner.

The Bennington Museum holds a priceless collection of Grandma Moses paintings, and individuals can tour the Robert Frost Stone House Museum that includes a 2-mile-long, one-way nature trail of the grounds.

It is easy for seniors to stay active in Bennington, and the Vermont Long Trail still located here was once the longest trail in the country. The community holds both Summer and Winter Home Brew Festivals along with other events through the year.

Highlights

  • Bennington Museum – learn about art and Vermont history
  • The Dollhouse & Toy Museum of Vermont
  • Bennington Battle Monument
  • View the Covered Bridges in Bennington – Paper Mill Covered Bridge, Silk Road Covered Bridge and others
  • Tour Old Bennington Village – historic homes and businesses, like Park McCullough House, – a Victorian-era home
  • See the Old First Church – first church gathering place – current structure built in 1805
  • Built in 1763, the Jedidiah Dewey House is the oldest home in this area

9. Norwich

Norwich, Vermont, is a quiet and wealthy town that has many attractions for seniors looking for a place to retire in. The low crime rate, safe neighborhoods and proximity to other cities and nearby outdoor recreational areas are leading reasons retirees give for moving here in recent years.

Most people in this community own their own homes. There are some fabulous B&Bs and a historic inn that get great reviews.

Homes and rental properties here are more expensive here as is the overall cost of living expenses. However, for seniors who have greater wealth, Norwich makes an excellent choice as a retirement paradise.

There are several historic landmarks and other structures in this enchanting town. Many seniors rent or own bikes, and the downtown streets are walkable and provide many attractions from an old-fashioned general store to shops that sell local wares and professional services.

Highlights

  • King Arthur Baking Company – baking products, supplies and classes
  • Montshire Museum of Science
  • Norwich Farmer's Market – fresh local produce
  • Dan & Whit's General Store
  • Hanover Adventure Tours – bike rentals and tours

10. Essex Junction

Essex Junction is larger than some of the other towns on this list, but many retirees have decided to call this tranquil and charming city their home. The low crime, affordable housing, lower than average cost of living expenses and a thriving downtown area are some reasons retirees choose to move here. There are also excellent healthcare facilities nearby.

This town is your basic college town with a variety of different housing options, good restaurants, local bars and nightlife. However, there is also a sizeable senior population as well.

Highlights

  • The Links at Lang Farm – one-of-a-kind 18-hole public executive championship golf course anywhere in New England
  • Purple Sage – upscale holistic health spa and salon
  • Above Realty Inc. Hot Air Balloon Rides – see the sights from above
  • 1st Republic Brewing Company – local brewing company owned by veterans
  • Ray's Seafood Market
  • Jules on the Green – specialty restaurant that sells healthy dishes geared for diners with food allergies, vegetarians and health-conscious diners
  • Sand Hill Park Swimming Pool
  • Essex Driving Range and Country Club – golfing

FAQs about retiring in Vermont

1. What things about living in Vermont are attractive to retirees?

Most cities and towns in this state are smaller than other U.S states, and the communities tend to be close-knit and friendly. Access to excellent healthcare is available to residents. There are many gorgeous outdoor areas from mountains to scenic valleys.

Unlike states like Delaware or Virginia, Vermont lacks a coastline but does have many lakes, rivers and streams. Roads and infrastructure are more modern, but these are often under repair due to the long and colder winters that cause damage. Crime is lower here, and Vermont has a deep historical record with many sites available to tour or see today.

2. Are there any real concerns that seniors should consider prior to moving to Vermont?

Taxes, cost of living and housing in some areas tends to be higher in Vermont than in most other states such as Nevada or Ohio. Diversity could be an issue for some, but this is the case in all the New England states.

Winters can be long and brutal with difficult driving conditions that could be an issue for seniors. Most smaller towns and cities lack any sort of major transportation modes.

3. Is Vermont considered a progressive state as far as climate control and overall efforts to curb pollution and decrease the human footprint?

Yes and no depending on the subject and place. Politicians in Vermont do often lean towards eco-friendly laws and industry requirements, but this state often has poor air quality in some of the more industrialized and larger cities. This can be difficult for seniors who have lung or breathing problems.