20 Ways Living in Vermont is Totally Different from Living in NYC

Well, I’ve been living in Vermont for three weeks now and while I feel nowhere near settled, or settled in, there have been some definite (positive) changes to my way of life that I wasn’t expecting to be such a big deal. I feel like once Fran starts working (rumor has it that he starts a new gig in November but he’s not quite Facebook-ready to announce it until his first day, so you didn’t hear it from me) and I get into a routine with the boys and get Roman into daycare, that’s when I’ll be able to share with you what it’s like to make a pretty big move – culturally, physically and emotionally.

I mean, we still have boxes to unpack. We also have a storage space in the building, so there is a distinct possibility some of those boxes are just going to get transported downstairs when I get sick of telling myself I will go through them. So it still kind of feels like we’re still finding our way and our space.

I am planning on writing more about what this move has been like – it’s a big change for a New Yorker of 15 years to adjust to a new lifestyle – but in the meantime, here’s a list of 20 Ways Living in Vermont is Totally Different from Living in NYC.

20 Ways Living in Vermont is Totally Different from Living in NYC. Having just moved to Burlington, VT from Brooklyn, there are just a few things that I’ve immediately noticed are totally different…talk about a total culture shock (mostly in a good way).

1. I’m sorry, but the pizza is NOT the same. So many people told us, oh the pizza is great, you need to go to (business name redacted because they’re just up the road from us and so nice). Well, we went there and the pizza is NOT great. We have had good pizza one time at a friend’s house, and that was fancy, wood-fired stuff. NYC-style pizza is not the same here. (Yes, I led this list with pizza. Yes, this is a fitness/running blog. I am not sorry.)

2. People are really nice here. It still freaks me out a little bit and I am trying to be less paranoid, but seriously, people are very friendly here. (What do they WANT??)

3. The air is AMAZING. I noticed this the first day we woke up after a looooong, long, long moving day. It smells fresh. It smells clean. There’s no trash/urine/feces/body odor/traffic smell in the back of my nose. It’s crazy and I find myself taking deep, gulping breaths of the stuff because I’m afraid it’s going to go away.

20 Ways Living in Vermont is Totally Different from Living in NYC. Having just moved to Burlington, VT from Brooklyn, there are just a few things that I’ve immediately noticed are totally different…talk about a total culture shock (mostly in a good way).

4. Cars stop at pedestrian crossing areas even when you’re about 12 feet away from the crossing and are vaguely turning in the direction of the crossing. They just stop. And then they wait. And if you’re actually not crossing, or you’re waiting for your three-year-old to stop pretending to use the parking meter on the corner, you just give a little wave and then they move on with their own little wave and smile. It FREAKS ME OUT. I feel so guilty for crossing the road. I keep waiting for the horns and the yelling.

5. When you go the DMV with your husband and kids and you’re woefully unprepared (like your husband thinks he can hand over his NY license and get a VT license no questions asked and you have an expired Australian license but neither of you have filled out paperwork) the person at the reception desk will be pleasant and sweet and joke with you and give you all the forms you need and make sure you know exactly what you need to do next to get your licenses in order.

6. While all of the above niceties are occurring at the DMV, the people behind you will be smiling and telling you your kids are cute and looking confused if you apologize for being total unprepared idiots.

7. Customer service is a thing here. As in, the people who work in stores and businesses actually want to serve their customers. I went to Rite Aid and my cashier spent 5 minutes showing me how to use my Plenti points. Then, when it wouldn’t work on his register, he tried on another one, before looking up the 800 number for Plenti so I could make sure my account was set up correctly. (I once asked a cashier at a Brooklyn Rite Aid what Plenti points were and she looked at me blankly and grunted.)

8. While the above customer service is occurring at Rite Aid, all the people in line behind you are smiling and telling you Plenti points are awesome.

9. Farmer’s markets here aren’t the bloodbath they are in Brooklyn. People don’t seem to think you’re a soulless monster for daring to bring a stroller into the market space. There aren’t 18 people in line behind you tapping their feet and sighing loudly at every stall.

10. The tomatoes and the apples are RIDICULOUS. This may be the first time I’ve truly understood why tomatoes are actually a fruit – when they really taste like tomatoes, they are so sweet and juicy and kind of life-changing.

11. You have at least one friend who has chickens.

12. Your friend who has chickens lives in the actual city part of Burlington.

13. The chickens all have names.

14. When you buy a bed for your big grown-up three-and-a-half year old son at a local furniture store, you also leave with the email address, home number and cell phone number of your salesperson’s daughter who is a yoga teacher at a studio near you because she noticed you’re wearing your baby, so maybe you’d be interested in baby and me yoga?

20 Ways Living in Vermont is Totally Different from Living in NYC. Having just moved to Burlington, VT from Brooklyn, there are just a few things that I’ve immediately noticed are totally different…talk about a total culture shock (mostly in a good way).

This is the view from said yoga studio.

15. Soft serve ice-creams here are called “Creamees” and they are way better than any soft-serve you’ve ever tasted.

16. It is going to take longer than three weeks to slow down enough to not get pissed when service at a restaurant or a cafe is not at lightening speed. But, three weeks is also the marker for realizing you are being crazy and need to calm down already.

17. People walk slow, but they also seem to have a sixth sense for New Yorkers approaching them from behind at a reasonable pace (i.e. as fast as humanly possible) and move to the side and kind of cower as you rush past.

18. They sell wine at supermarkets.

 20 Ways Living in Vermont is Totally Different from Living in NYC. Having just moved to Burlington, VT from Brooklyn, there are just a few things that I’ve immediately noticed are totally different…talk about a total culture shock (mostly in a good way).

19. It’s really, really pretty here. There are a lot of trees. Rumor has it, they’re all going to be different colors soon. We may have chosen the perfect time to move to Vermont.

20. People shop in supermarkets here. Actual stores with carts and wide aisles. I keep grabbing my phone to use my FreshDirect app when I run out of something and add it to my list, before realizing I need to go to a physical store. This isn’t a bad thing, I’m just not used to it yet. But – related – Fresh Direct just emailed me and said it’s been so long since I’ve ordered that they’re going to take away my Chef’s Table status. And that made me sad.

Suffice to say, we are very happy so far with our big move. It feels right. It feels like home. Of course it will take some getting used to, but I imagine even Westchester is a culture shock after living in the city. We still consider ourselves New Yorkers (I’m not sure that will ever go away) but I have a good sense of how quickly this lifestyle will be my happy place.

Have you ever made a big move and had a touch of culture shock?

Do you think I will ever walk slowly here? Any former New Yorkers who’ve slowed down?


  1. This is so awesome. VT and NYC are basically polar opposites, so of course it’s going to be an adjustment! And what’s funny is that moving from Savannah to here I though everyone was mean. 😉 But they’ve warmed up! And it IS so magnificent this time of year. Can’t wait to see you!
    Ruthie@She’sWickedHealthy recently posted…Workout Wednesday: Should You Be Doing a Straight Arm or Forearm Plank for Abs?My Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      oh that’s so funny, Ruthie! The niceness seems rampant to me here – my brain might explode if we ever moved south, ha ha!! And yes, I definitely want to meet up with you!

  2. I have been to Vermont a few times but not long enough to really venture out and about. From what I saw it looks like a great city. I can see how the change of pace would be quite different from the hustle and bustle of NYC. It is always nice to be in a city where the people are friendly.
    lacey@fairytalesandfitness.com recently posted…Sock TalkMy Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      It’s a great fit for us – still has the city amenities but feels more small-town than NYC. 🙂

  3. Totally entertaining post, Carly! You need to push this on to Scary Mommy or the like, just saying. And I can sort of relate to this on a reverse level–we moved to the E. Coast about 1,000 yrs ago from the Midwest. Kind of your experience only in reverse. And I loved the culture change from one part of the country to the other and will never go back!
    misszippy recently posted…My podcast is live!My Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      That is such a compliment Amanda, because Scary Mommy is my freelance dream! 🙂 I can totally imagine how it must have been a culture shock going from the midwest to the east coast. Every time we go to Chicago we marvel at how nice everyone is, too!

  4. I miss my home state. I am sure you know this, and it is quite different than NY, but it is actually the law that you have to stop at a crosswalk for pedestrians and it is almost one of the first rules you learn in driver’s education. One thing you may not know and Fran may not mention is what is called the Vermont Turnabout. You can’t pull into a driveway and back out onto the street. You have to back into the driveway and pull out onto the street. Just a little tip. Enjoy those leaves!!!

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      Thank you so much for the driving tips! I have to take my permit exam, so the more info I have the better. (Oh, and Fran had totally forgotten about the VT turnabout!)

  5. I live in California and my first thought was, “Doesn’t every market sell wine?” Hehe. I guess things are different in every state or it’s just what you’re used to that makes it different. Thanks for the post. Good luck with the cold winters.

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      Thanks Joanne! NY is so backward when it comes to wine, ha ha! Only in liquor stores and you can’t order alcohol in a restaurant before midday on a Sunday.

  6. I’m laughing though this entire post!!! I can relate to so much of it but Vermont is still very, very different then even Connecticut. Except for the chickens. One of my neighbors has chickens.
    I hope you’re enjoying all the differences and not judging “good” or “bad” but just different. Looking forward to more posts like this and how the yoga is!?
    Allie recently posted…What Is It Like to Be Paced by an Elite Runner? Maine Half Marathon RecapMy Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      Definitely not judging, just observing! 😉 It’s so fun to move to a place that is so, so different.

  7. I grew up in Southern California so when I moved away for the first time it was all weird. Here’s my list
    * Why doesn’t everyone sell booze everywhere? ( in Cali we sell it in every store, everyday of of the week)
    * In Colorado they do not sell cars or booze on Sunday ( what?!)
    * DC was much more southern than I thought it would be (Apparently the phrase “bless your heart” isn’t always meant to be nice)
    * Mexican food is awful in all other states. The only “real” Mexican food is in SoCal– no, Tex-Mex and Chipolte are not Mexican!
    * Not everyone grew up in a dysfunctional family with divorced parents
    * You need a jacket and closed toes shoes.
    * Oh! That’s what seasons are!
    * Not everyone on the first meeting will tell you their life story, or lift their shirt up to show you their new boobs.
    * running local races in any other state is taken seriously and most of the time it’s run very well– out here you’re lucky if the race starts on time, and forget port o potties– you go in the bushes.
    * School buses…. they don’t exist here. If you live in the outskirts and your parents work, you still have to get yourself to school.
    * “Why don’t we get Jewish holidays off at school?” She says looking around at a group of women with crosses around their necks and crickets chirping. Long pause…. “Bless her heart.”
    I have more, but this is a start. That was fun! I’m excited for you Carly. It’s a grand adventure- Vermont sounds lovely.
    Lisa @ RunWiki recently posted…10 Minute Traditional Creamy Lemon Garlic HummusMy Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      Lisa, this list had me laughing out loud and you need to write your own blog post on it! Hilarious! Especially the ‘bless your heart’ and you blithely asking the southern belles about Jewish holidays. 🙂

  8. I remember the first time someone in a car stopped for me when I was crossing a street in DC after moving there from NY. I was in such shock I almost couldn’t cross. And yes, the wine in grocery stores is fantastic.

    I actually just moved around the same time you did– from DC to Asheville, NC. People wave to me as I walk down the street and I’ve had the same guilt about taking too long on a line only to realize that people are very friendly and don’t mind. Life outside NY is definitely different.

    Enjoy Vermont. I’ve been a few times and it’s absolutely gorgeous!! Hope you get used to and love the slower pace..I know I am loving it so far in NC!

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      The guilt at taking up people’s time is major and I’m still not used to it! I imagine NC is similar to VT in terms of friendliness and slower pace – glad you are loving it. 🙂

  9. I had a terrible experience (somewhat unprepared) getting my NY license when I moved here. I hope you have a smoother transition going from your expired Aussie license to VT license. (it’s like going for your P’s test all over again… :)) This was an interesting read because I’m trying to find a place that is a little slower pace with nicer people but be close enough to visit family… it’s proving to be a difficult task. especially surrounding manhattan. Enjoy the fall. 🙂

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      Yup, totally going back to having my P’s and taking my driving test all over again! Probably better that I put it off until we lived in a slower-paced state, ha ha!

  10. I completely identify with this list from when we go (seasonally) from Park Slope to Palm Springs, except for the chickens and the creamees. That email from Fresh Direct always bums me out!

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      Your stories about your winters in Palm Springs definitely helped me get ready for the big shift! I am *still* getting used to no Fresh Direct! Even now, in a big grocery store, if I can’t find something, I think, oh, I’ll just see if FD has it….oh, wait, I can’t anymore! #firstworldproblems

  11. Awesome.
    Not awesome? Coming up with names for all the damn chickens. I know the difference between big and small city living (though not straight up country). Walkability is the bomb, don’t tell me otherwise 😀 But running without dying and being able to take pit stops without fear is also lovely.
    Susie @ SuzLyfe recently posted…Reinvent Snacking with The Laughing Cow CheeseMy Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      Running in the air up here is a total game changer. Even though I ran in the park in Brooklyn, surrounded by trees and grass and nature, it wasn’t until I got here that I realized the air quality there was HORRIBLE.

    • If time is money you’ve made me a weleahitr woman.

    • Dear Susan,I have not used polysorbates 20 or 80 until last night, when I have used polysorbate 20 in a body scrub. I have followed the recipe's instructions to use it at 20%, which seemed quite high to me! My question is: how to I calculate the amount of polysorbate in a product? are there recommended ranges? is there something like too much or too little?also, are they interchangable?

  12. I need to work on one of these lists for our time in Chicagoland’s north shore! So so so relate to #s 1 and 18. Loved your list! xox–Kh

  13. So glad we found each other!!! The whole Rite Aid / plenti points scenario is great! I grew up mostly in Pittsburgh, live in LA now as you know, and have a sister that just moved from the West Village to Long Island City… I’ll be interested to see how your Vermont discovery journey continues!
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    • Carly Pizzani says:

      We have friends in LIC who LOVE it. They previously lived in Manhattan (Hell’s Kitchen) but they would never look back now. I actually love Pittsburgh! My husband has never been there, but I went with a friend for a few days once and just thought it was gorgeous – that view coming out over the river as you drive in, the parks, the cafes, being so close to Falling Waters. It was really a lovely city.

  14. Well. As a Jersey girl turned California girl turned New England girl.. you may always still walk fast. I do!
    I had big culture shock from NJ to SF, but then from SF to MA was big too! Like people kept telling me that Northampton had a panhandling problem, but I used to live IN the panhandle of Golden Gate Park! It’s not really called that because of panhandling. It’s because it’s shaped like a pan handle.
    Moving on.. the pizza. The bagels. Some things come really close, though.
    The friendly people and the crosswalks – YES!
    Tamara recently posted…Sharing OREO Thins With School Friends: Giveaway!My Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      I’ve decided not even to try the bagels here. I just can’t deal with the inevitable disappointment. There are too many awesome things (friendliness, wine availability, real maple syrup in diners) to focus on instead. 😉

  15. The crappy pizza aside, sounds like VT is overall much more pleasant! I noticed the people in Minnesota were SO much nicer than they are here in Chicago. My biggest culture shock was moving from Chicago to the British Midlands right after we got married. Wow.
    Marcia recently posted…Apres Marathon and What’s Next?My Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      I had to lead with the pizza complaint because we New Yorkers are serious about our pizza and serious about our complaining. 😉 But I am loving it here and enjoying the transition. I imagine Chicago to British Midlands was way more of a culture shock!!

  16. I LOVE this!! But I miss you.
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  17. I have lived in Manhattan for 18 years before moving to Florida. I know exactly what you are talking about. Vermont is ridiculously beautiful, and the air quality is great. Super important aspects when it comes to raising kids. I love that my kids are so close to nature now and have clean air. Pizza will never be as good anywhere in the world as in New York – especially in Brooklyn. I formed many friendships in New York – I miss my friends and neighbors and the New York pace – and I miss running in Central Park and Park Slope. I lived there for so long, how can I not miss it – it will always be a part of me. New Yorkers panic of the idea of living anywhere else and yet I found a place that I’m starting to love just as much. And yes, I will give Brooklyn a kiss from you on Sunday when I get to run through it:)
    ilka@ilkasblog recently posted…Training Log for the NYC Marathon 10/19 – 10/25 Week 15My Profile

    • Carly Pizzani says:

      I definitely miss it but I’ve been surprised at how quickly I’ve adapted. But, oh, the pizza!

  18. I have yet to visit Vermont, but it seems like it would be a great weekend escape from NYC (especially from the crowds). I love that everyone knows someone who has chickens, and even better, that the chickens have names!
    Chanel | Cultural Xplorer recently posted…Exploring the Chinese Food Scene in Flushing, QueensMy Profile

  19. Krista Elliott says:

    Wow! Moving to Vermont sounds really awesome! Only people who have lived in an enormous, overcrowded and busy city like NY can appreciate all these things! Me and my family have moved recently from London (http://manwithvanislington.co.uk/) . You can imagine that in London you can also smell very unpleasant things and can get crazy in the traffic. We moved to Folkestone and here is so relaxed! 🙂 Thanks for sharing about your move! 🙂


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