Author Topic: Places to visit in (rural) New England?  (Read 7436 times)

Thegoblinchief

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Places to visit in (rural) New England?
« on: March 16, 2015, 07:31:59 PM »
So my wife and I are interested in relocating to a homesteading property in 3-5 years. We're looking at a few parts of the country, but New England has a lot of appeal for us. Originally we were hoping to take over a family farm in Michigan, but the more details I learn, the situation clearly isn't going to work. Edit 3-18-15: spoke too soon. Maybe it will work. It's at least still on the table. So instead we were thinking of tacking a few days onto our summer trip to Baltimore.

Not a lot of time to explore, but any places in, say, Vermont/New Hampshire/Maine that would give us a good sense of the area? Rural but not super remote, as she will need to work full-time for quite a while after relocating and neither of us wants her to have a monster commute.

I know that's a very vague prompt, but Mustachians go!
« Last Edit: March 18, 2015, 09:39:05 AM by Thegoblinchief »

2Birds1Stone

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Re: Places to visit in (rural) New England?
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2015, 07:38:17 PM »
I LOVE the Delaware river valley.

McStache

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Re: Places to visit in (rural) New England?
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2015, 07:47:41 PM »
A bit south of where you are looking, but check out the Pioneer Valley in MA and southern VT.  You can be in town surrounded by cool restaurants, shops, and galleries, then drive about 5-10 minutes in any direction and be surrounded by farmland.

JLee

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Re: Places to visit in (rural) New England?
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2015, 08:12:36 PM »
How rural do you want to be? I grew up in Whitefield, NH - it's fairly rural: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitefield,_New_Hampshire

ToughMother

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Re: Places to visit in (rural) New England?
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2015, 08:12:58 PM »
A bit south of where you are looking, but check out the Pioneer Valley in MA and southern VT.  You can be in town surrounded by cool restaurants, shops, and galleries, then drive about 5-10 minutes in any direction and be surrounded by farmland.

As a resident of said area looking for land, it is relatively expensive.  Sure, the area is cheaper than NYC and Boston, but less than an acre to 2 acres of land goes for $100-125K.  Houses are similarly priced -- I have a 1000 sq ft place w 1/10th acre and it was ~$230K.  We love the area and really want to stay here but meeting our housing needs and having that be compatible with financial independence is challenging.  You can be further out and it is less expensive but not nearly as inexpensive as more rural areas of Maine and New Hampshire.

cynthia1848

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Re: Places to visit in (rural) New England?
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2015, 08:13:14 PM »
Work full-time in what kind of area? 

I would check out near Hanover NH - Dartmouth is there and it has several lovely towns nearby with land available.

terran

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Re: Places to visit in (rural) New England?
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2015, 09:11:34 PM »
A bit south of where you are looking, but check out the Pioneer Valley in MA and southern VT.  You can be in town surrounded by cool restaurants, shops, and galleries, then drive about 5-10 minutes in any direction and be surrounded by farmland.

As a resident of said area looking for land, it is relatively expensive.  Sure, the area is cheaper than NYC and Boston, but less than an acre to 2 acres of land goes for $100-125K.  Houses are similarly priced -- I have a 1000 sq ft place w 1/10th acre and it was ~$230K.  We love the area and really want to stay here but meeting our housing needs and having that be compatible with financial independence is challenging.  You can be further out and it is less expensive but not nearly as inexpensive as more rural areas of Maine and New Hampshire.

I grew up in Western MA and still have family there. 30-40k can buy 5 acre building lots in the more rural parts.

Northampton and Amherst are pleasant places to visit the "big city" -- you'll have to go well outside them to find the cheap land though. Berkshire county might result in some cheaper options (although it's a big NYC vacation home destination so there are some very pricy parts too).

Brattleboro VT is another cool small town feeling little city, so you might find some good options outside of it.

I'm in Upstate NY now and real estate here is dirt cheap, but property taxes are high, so you'd have to weigh that against the low prices. Otherwise it's not unlike where I grew up (although a little more conservative/republican and less liberal/hippy). A lot of it is near large bodies of water which is nice. 
« Last Edit: March 16, 2015, 09:13:08 PM by terran »

JLee

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Re: Places to visit in (rural) New England?
« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2015, 10:56:58 PM »
Work full-time in what kind of area? 

I would check out near Hanover NH - Dartmouth is there and it has several lovely towns nearby with land available.
I worked for Hanover PD before I moved to Arizona. It's very expensive. Enfield/Lebanon aren't as pricey, though. Feel free to PM me if you have any questions.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Places to visit in (rural) New England?
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2015, 06:01:04 AM »
She's got experience in quality control, corporate training, and by the time we move will have her Six Sigma master black belt (currently has the regular black belt). So while she's worked only for a single company, she should be able to find work in a wide variety of industries.

Thanks for the input so far. Essentially looking to put pins on the map to get a sense of where to explore :)

nereo

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Re: Places to visit in (rural) New England?
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2015, 06:16:51 AM »
For New Hampshire, I'd look at Monadnock region in New Hampshire, and anywhere around Hanover and West Lebanon. 

For Maine look at the mid-coast region around Wiscasset and Damariscotta.  If you want something slightly larger and closer to a larger city look at closer around Brunswick (itself a large town and ~20 minutes from Portland).

What field is your wife in?

caliq

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Re: Places to visit in (rural) New England?
« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2015, 08:21:13 AM »
The Berkshires are beautiful, but pp are right -- you'd have to get quite rural (as in, up mountain roads I'm not a fan of driving on in the winter) in order to avoid pricey NYC vacation homes.  It can be worth it though.  I think Bennington VT surrounding areas are quite cheap (it's right over the border), but imo Bennington isn't the nicest town to live in.

I'm not sure why you're excluding CT and RI from New England, but there is fairly cheap, rural living in the northern corners of CT.  I don't know much about the northwest corner, but the northeast corner is pretty and not too expensive, I think.  I'm thinking up near/past Woodstock.  Depending on where you go or how close to the borders, semi-decent commutes to bigger cities would include Worcester MA, Providence RI, or Norwich CT, or even UCONN, though Storrs is not big at all.  I think the northwest corner is less close to bigger cities, except for Hartford metro area, but then you have to live more in suburbia, which gets pricey, in order to get a decent commute.

ohana

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Re: Places to visit in (rural) New England?
« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2015, 08:39:47 AM »
You might want to look within driving distance of Portland.  The city is big enough to have jobs she might be interested in, but within 45 minutes there are fairly rural areas.  Maine real estate is pretty reasonable, and there are tons of back to the landers here.  You also might consider someplace near Bath, where the Bath Iron Works employs a large number of people.  She can make Destroyers.  You could look near Lisbon Falls --  half way between Bates and Bowdoin Colleges, so there would be opportunities there.  Or near Bangor -- very cheap land, but distinctly colder than the mid-coast.  For seriously cheap land, go to Washington County; just be prepared for badass winter, isolation, and a landscape of poverty. 

Make sure you embrace winter sports . . . .

Maine IS the way life should be.

tyd450

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Re: Places to visit in (rural) New England?
« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2015, 09:25:45 AM »
I would definitely check with Mrs. Frugalwoods-  I think she is currently looking for a place to homestead in Vermont and can probably offer some tips.

kewper

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Re: Places to visit in (rural) New England?
« Reply #13 on: March 17, 2015, 10:22:36 AM »
I would suggest western New Hampshire.  From Keene to Dartmouth so many quiet towns that are cheap.  Check out Alstead

guyson5

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Re: Places to visit in (rural) New England?
« Reply #14 on: March 17, 2015, 10:28:44 AM »
I also like the towns around White River Junction. My parents have a place near there. Close to the Whites and some other hills for hiking and skiing if you're into that. I can't comment on cost or availability.

aetherie

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Re: Places to visit in (rural) New England?
« Reply #15 on: March 17, 2015, 02:00:20 PM »
I grew up in Vermont, just across the river from Dartmouth College and north of White River Junction. The locals call that area the Upper Valley. I also went to college in Burlington. Both areas are great - visit them if you can! In my hometown you can have acres and acres to yourself but still be a 15 minute drive from Dartmouth, the hospital, lots of businesses, etc, and Burlington consistently shows up at the top of various "best small cities to live in" lists. I'd love to move back to VT someday. Feel free to message me if you have specific questions.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Places to visit in (rural) New England?
« Reply #16 on: March 17, 2015, 03:03:43 PM »
I'm not sure why you're excluding CT and RI from New England, but there is fairly cheap, rural living in the northern corners of CT.  I don't know much about the northwest corner, but the northeast corner is pretty and not too expensive, I think.  I'm thinking up near/past Woodstock.  Depending on where you go or how close to the borders, semi-decent commutes to bigger cities would include Worcester MA, Providence RI, or Norwich CT, or even UCONN, though Storrs is not big at all.  I think the northwest corner is less close to bigger cities, except for Hartford metro area, but then you have to live more in suburbia, which gets pricey, in order to get a decent commute.

Duly noted. And we have family and friends scattered around the state.

I would definitely check with Mrs. Frugalwoods-  I think she is currently looking for a place to homestead in Vermont and can probably offer some tips.

Oh, I know :) I am an avid reader of their blog and I've been corresponding with them on and off for a few months about various homesteading topics. They are specifically looking around Brattleboro IIRC.

So many places to look!

Briarly

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Re: Places to visit in (rural) New England?
« Reply #17 on: March 18, 2015, 12:40:25 AM »
I live in southern VT and love it. depending on where you need to go, surprisingly good public transit. so much natural beauty here. I'll never leave! there's a big homeschooling community- I know you're into that.

Roots&Wings

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Re: Places to visit in (rural) New England?
« Reply #18 on: March 18, 2015, 07:12:42 AM »
I'll chime in for central VT/Montpelier area. Nice small capital town, and rural surrounding areas (e.g. Marshfield, Plainfield, Cabot). Lots of back to land homesteaders, such as this place http://www.hollisterhillfarm.com/, where my folks would stay when they visited.

I also liked the Enfield/Hanover/Lebanon area of New Hampshire and the Vermont towns just across the border (Norwich, Quechee, and Woodstock).

lizzzi

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Re: Places to visit in (rural) New England?
« Reply #19 on: March 18, 2015, 07:19:55 AM »
Middlebury, VT is nice. Middlebury College seems to be a big employer. It is about an hour from Burlington, which consistently gets high ratings as a good place to live. Cabot Cheese might be another possible employer up there. Property is a lot cheaper on the NY side of Lake Champlain, but as others have said, property taxes are high in NY. (They're not low in VT either.) I have relatives in Burlington and Middlebury, and myself spent 32 years in NY--I love NY, taxes or not, and will be moving back next year. Anyway, I'm told that sometimes people buy a home on the Plattsburgh, NY side, and take the ferry every day to work in Burlington. Living up there gives you easy access to Canada, too, if you like Quebec. (Like going to Europe without having to buy a plane ticket.) My niece and her fiancee like Montpelier, too, but live in Middlebury for their jobs. (Prof at Middlebury College and computer guy for Cabot Cheese. My other niece is a real estate agent in Burlington.)

robbyho

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Re: Places to visit in (rural) New England?
« Reply #20 on: March 18, 2015, 08:14:11 AM »
I'm from CT and I would recommend looking in the eastern part of the state for what you are looking for. Look into Colchester down to mystic/groton area. Lots of rural farm land and then big business within driving distance.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Places to visit in (rural) New England?
« Reply #21 on: March 18, 2015, 09:37:57 AM »
Finally took the time to sit down with a map and see the commonalities. Might be hard to make it all the way to Maine, but I have a brother in Simsbury, CT that we could probably stay with a night and visit as we missed them over last Christmas (we were in Baltimore while they came here to WI), then head up I-91 through MA and into southern VT, see Brattleboro, then go up and over to i-89 and see Montpelier, then Burlington and the NY side of Lake Champlain, then head for home.

That B&B near Montpelier looks cool but pricey for us. I'm so used to vacations where we stay with family. Maybe we won't be able to afford a trip up there this year, though there are a lot of parks marked on the maps, so I'm assuming there's good camping in VT?

And the family farm in MI is re-opening as a possibility after some further e-mails. That would be a much cheaper trip than extending our stay on the East Coast, so we may do that as planned this year, then hit NE next year. But any further input - especially on camping or hotels/B&Bs that ARE worth the expense - would be most appreciated. I'm adding this all into a shared doc with the Alchemist so we can plan. We almost never can afford to travel except to visit family and maintain relationships with distant friends, so a vacation that's all about us and the kids is great.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Places to visit in (rural) New England?
« Reply #22 on: March 18, 2015, 09:56:26 AM »
Follow up question: comparing drive times to where her family is in MD from VT/NH and western MI. With no traffic VT/NH has the edge by 3 hours, but I'm guessing I-95 through that NYC and Philly corridor is frequently a nightmare. Anyone have experience driving that? I've only done 95 as far north as Delaware to cut over into south Jersey and over to Wildwood where her family likes to vacation.

cynthia1848

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Re: Places to visit in (rural) New England?
« Reply #23 on: March 18, 2015, 10:07:57 AM »
95 in/around NY/NJ is horrible driving - frequent terrible snarls, the lanes are narrow, and everyone drives like idiots.  Use Waze and budget more time than you think.

One other thing about ME, if you get up there - it has high taxes.  Much higher than NH.  You really have to pick where to live there to get a good school system, too (NH is the same, pick schools carefully).

robbyho

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Re: Places to visit in (rural) New England?
« Reply #24 on: March 18, 2015, 10:11:15 AM »
Finally took the time to sit down with a map and see the commonalities. Might be hard to make it all the way to Maine, but I have a brother in Simsbury, CT


There are some great areas around simsbury - Avon, Bloomfield, Canton. I lived in bloomfield for a year and there are some great hiking trails at the reservoir in Avon, some great farms and farmers markets in simsbury. I think that area sounds like what you are looking for. You are also fairly close to the berkshires in MA.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Places to visit in (rural) New England?
« Reply #25 on: March 18, 2015, 12:02:36 PM »
Keene, NH is a beautiful area, Keene itself is a little trashy, though.

Roots&Wings

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Re: Places to visit in (rural) New England?
« Reply #26 on: March 18, 2015, 05:43:42 PM »
Follow up question: comparing drive times to where her family is in MD from VT/NH and western MI. With no traffic VT/NH has the edge by 3 hours, but I'm guessing I-95 through that NYC and Philly corridor is frequently a nightmare. Anyone have experience driving that? I've only done 95 as far north as Delaware to cut over into south Jersey and over to Wildwood where her family likes to vacation.

Yes. 95 N thru Philly/NYC can be okay early in the morning (like 4-5 am), and seems better on weekends that weekdays.

If you want to take the scenic route (prolly adds 1 hour, but you'll see more towns), take 95N or NJ Turnpike to the NY State Thruway to 23 East (Catskill exit, home of Washington Irving) to 7, and head up 7 North through Western Mass Berkshires (Great Barrington, Stockbridge, Lenox, Williamstown) into VT. It's a pretty drive. Or skip the Berkshires and just get off NY Thruway around Albany for 787 N to 7 East to head over to Bennington and Brattleboro.

A few alternate routes to avoid Philly/NYC that we have taken (depending on construction) are:
1). 95 N to 295 N to NJ Turnpike to Exit 11 (Garden State Parkway North) into New York State to 287 East towards White Plains to 684 N to 84 East to 91 N.
2). 95 N to 295 N to NJ Turnpike to Exit 11 (Garden State Parkway North) into New York State to 287 East to 15 N (Merritt Pkwy) to 91 N. Or 287 East to 95 N to 91 N (Exit 48 on left).

You'll want to have EZ Pass, or be prepared to spend time sitting for tolls.

caliq

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Re: Places to visit in (rural) New England?
« Reply #27 on: March 18, 2015, 05:51:56 PM »
95 is usually horrendous at least up to New Haven, CT (unless you hit it in the middle of the night) and I don't find the Merritt (15) much better. 

If you're coming to central CT or further, I find the best way to bypass all of the NYC clusterfuck with the 84E route step-in-time detailed above.

Briarly

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Re: Places to visit in (rural) New England?
« Reply #28 on: March 18, 2015, 07:07:47 PM »
I'd airbnb or camping if I were you- there is plenty of it!

mtnrider

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Re: Places to visit in (rural) New England?
« Reply #29 on: March 18, 2015, 08:49:08 PM »
So my wife and I are interested in relocating to a homesteading property in 3-5 years. We're looking at a few parts of the country, but New England has a lot of appeal for us. Originally we were hoping to take over a family farm in Michigan, but the more details I learn, the situation clearly isn't going to work. Edit 3-18-15: spoke too soon. Maybe it will work. It's at least still on the table. So instead we were thinking of tacking a few days onto our summer trip to Baltimore.

Not a lot of time to explore, but any places in, say, Vermont/New Hampshire/Maine that would give us a good sense of the area? Rural but not super remote, as she will need to work full-time for quite a while after relocating and neither of us wants her to have a monster commute.

I know that's a very vague prompt, but Mustachians go!

So you want to visit someplace nice, with an eye to living there?  This is mostly a function of what sort of job your wife would be doing, as you aren't going to find too many high tech or biotech firms in the rural areas.

Most inland lots in Maine that are away from lakes are inexpensive.  All of Maine is pretty, wooded, rolling hills.  Be aware that Maine has an income tax and sales tax, and unlike Massachusetts, they have relatively few services.  The areas closer to Boston are a little more expensive and the drive into Boston will be crazy.

Southern NH is a good compromise on distance to Boston vs price, but NH has very expensive property taxes since they don't have an (earned) income tax.  Southern NH (and SW Maine) is more exurban than rural nowadays.  The rush hour traffic can be horrendous to Boston.  (And if you're homesteading without an income, you'll still have a high tax burden, and if you're living off interest and dividends, NH taxes those.)

Vermont is not bad either, and the people there are different, a little more friendly than NH and Maine.  Taxes are more like MA and Maine.  You'll have to find someplace near a city to work at though.  The commute traffic is not bad.

Northern VT, NH, and ME is for the most part relatively less well off, it's more rural, and land is much less expensive.

If I were you, I'd visit the NH White Mountains and Lakes region, maybe the Upper Valley.  If you can get to the Maine shoreline, try to get to Acadia NP.  Visit some of the smaller cities in the region: Lowell, Nashua, Manchester, maybe Portsmouth, Bath, etc... to get an idea of what it might be like to work there.  Then plan to rent for a year when/if you move here, to let things settle out while you get a feel for how you two like the area and if the rural north is to your liking.