Where to Retire: Burlington, Vermont


Originally an agricultural and timber processing community, Burlington emerged as a fresh-water port and commercial center for northern New England. The University of Vermont adds immeasurably to Burlington’s cultural and recreational amenities. A lively town in a region of great natural beauty, Burlington offers a plethora of winter and summer recreation becoming a great destination for an active retirement.

Landscape: Burlington occupies a picturesque site on several natural terraces overlooking Lake Champlain and New York’s Adirondack Mountains. The town and the college campuses are lush and green in summer, snow white in winter, and a riot of reds and yellows in autumn.

Climate: Burlington’s summers are typically sunny and warm; winters are cloudy, cold and damp. Rapid weather changes are routine. Precipitation is ample in all seasons with winter’s falling mostly as snow. Burlington is frost free about 140 days.

Quality of Life: Very good. The city seems well planned; even modest neighborhoods are in good shape and many parks and recreation areas grace the city. People exhibit small-town friendliness.

Housing: Housing costs are above the national average, but Burlington offers a good variety of housing from antique farmhouses in nearby villages to contemporary ranches and townhomes elsewhere.

Goods and Services: Health care costs are slightly below national norms. Other goods and services are priced above national norms.

Taxes: State and local taxes in Burlington are about 9.5% of income compared to the U.S. average of 9.7%. State income, sales and excise taxes are slightly below the national average whereas property taxes are considerably higher.

Transportation: Buses serve Burlington and outlying communities. A free shuttle connects the waterfront, downtown, university and Fletcher Allen Hospital. Intercity travel is possible by air, rail, bus and ferryboat.

Retail Services: Many shopping opportunities exist at University Mall, the Church Street Marketplace, Winooski’s Champlain Mill and a nearby Wal-Mart.

Health Care: Burlington has unusually comprehensive medical care for a small city. Fletcher Allen Health Care provides diverse medical services at three sites in the area.

Community Services: Greater Burlington provides excellent basic public services and a good variety of programs for seniors.

Cultural and Educational Activities: The University of Vermont and several other colleges, museums and festivals in and around Burlington provide a multitude of educational and cultural opportunities.

Recreational Activities: Burlington is a paradise for winter and summer recreation. Here, you can ski, snowshoe, ice fish and skate, hike, bike, browse antique shops for treasures, attend competitive intercollegiate sports events, see movies and partake at good restaurants.

Work and Volunteer Activities: Service jobs are mostly in retailing. Volunteer opportunities are plentiful.

Crime Rates and Public Safety: Although Burlington’s property crime rate is above national averages, its violent crime rate is among the lowest in the country.

Conclusion: Burlington, whose gorgeous setting overlooks Lake Champlain and is backed by the Green Mountains, will appeal to hardy souls who enjoy winter weather and winter sports and who seek an active retirement in a beautiful, amenity-rich college town.


About Warren Bland

Warren R. Bland, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Geography at California State University, Northridge and author of Retire in Style: 60 Outstanding Places Across the USA and Canada, Next Decade, Inc., 2005. For more information about Dr. Bland’s books, go to Next Decade

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