On March 6, 2019

‘ A step back in time ’

Killington hosts Stay to Stay potential new residents

By Katy Savage

KILLINGTON—Robin Parks has been thinking of moving to Vermont for over a year.

The single 46-year-old from Idaho likes the politics, the air and the outdoors.

There’s only one problem.

“It’s expensive to live in a blue state,” Parks said. “That might be the stumbling block.”

She said insurance and utilities in Vermont cost more than Idaho and taxes are higher.

“I’m not sure I could buy a house here,” she said.

Parks works  as a medical writer. Moving to Vermont has been on her mind since she heard of  Vermont’s $10,000 remote worker incentive grant from a friend.

“I’m still thinking about it,” she said.

The remote worker grant launched in January in effort to boost the economy and Vermont’s dwindling, aging population. The state will pay up to $10,000 to anyone who wants to move to Vermont and work remotely.

Parks said she might apply, but the grant likely won’t cover her moving costs or the costs of living here.

“And then to think, it’s not a guarantee,” she said.

The grant is one way the state is trying to get people to move here. In tandem with the remote worker grants, the Agency of Commerce’s Stay to Stay Weekends launched in 2018, giving people from out of state the opportunity to see what Vermont life is all about before moving here.

Parks was one of eight people who attended the Stay to Stay at Killington Resort last weekend.

People came from New York, New Jersey, Boston, Idaho and Virginia. They skied on Saturday and Sunday, attended a cocktail reception on Saturday night and met with realtors and employers on Monday.

Deanna Briggs, who has lived in Boston 19 years, said she’s ready for a change.

Briggs, 41, commutes two hours to work everyday — “that’s 22 days of commuting a year,” she said.

Briggs also comes to Killington three times a month to hike and ski.

“Life’s too short,” she said.

Briggs thought of moving to Vermont since she read about the remote worker grant. Briggs wants to live within a 30-minute drive of Killington, she said, but worries some towns don’t have high speed internet access.

“It will take some time,” she said.

The remote worker grant is controversial. The grant will award a total of $500,000 over three years on a first come, first served basis.

Locals have asked what it’s in it for them and some have doubted that it will do what it’s intended to do.

About 88 people have participated in the Stay to Stay program since it started. Of those, eight people have moved to Vermont, living in Bennington, Rutland, Brattleboro and Burlington.

Another 22 are in the process of house hunting, said Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Mary Cohen, and 15 are planning to move this year.

Cohen said four people from last weekend’s event were seriously considering moving to the area.

“It was a great success,” she said. “We’d be happy to have them, one by one.”

Prospective Vermonters, Agency of Commerce representatives, those who grew up here and those who recently moved, attended the cocktail reception at Killington Grand Hotel Saturday night.

Some had decided to move to Vermont no matter what.

Jamie Fulton, 46, and her husband Craig saw an article in the Wall Street Journal about the remote worker grant last spring.

“We’ve been wanting to do this for 20 years,” said Fulton, a snowboarder who grew up in New Jersey. “It was always, ‘how are we going to sustain ourselves?”

Fulton, who works in marketing, is planning to move within the next two months. Her employer agreed to let her work remotely.

Meanwhile, Tim Fagan of New Jersey, who packed his bags and moved to Rutland 1 ½ years ago, was encouraging others to do the same.

“We realized there’s a better place than New Jersey,” he said.

Fagan left his job as an analyst for a health insurance company in New Jersey and became the manager of the K1 retail shop at Killington Resort. His wife works at Rutland Regional Medical Center.

“I sleep better,” he said. “We have less stress. We really are more comfortable here.”

Some of the people who attended Saturday’s event were committed to move after they retire.  Others came just to explore their options.

Chris Robotin, 28, left his family and friends in New Jersey and came to Vermont’s Stay to Stay Weekend in secret.

Robotin grew up in New Jersey, where his brother lives three minutes down the road and his parents are 20 minutes away.

“I haven’t told them yet,” Robotin said. “I love the mountains.”

Robotin said the way of life in Vermont is different from New Jersey’s. A local hardware store owner cut out a newspaper advertisement for him.

“They had a job advertisement in the newspaper and he didn’t take credit cards,” he said.  “It’s almost like a step back in time a little bit – but it’s nice.”

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