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Located toward the top of the Appalachian Mountains and blanketed in lush forest, Vermont has a lot to offer in terms of scenery. Apart from the scenic landscape, the Green Mountain State is also home to more than 1 million acres of farmland and rich colonial and industrial history.
Directly South of Canada and not far from the Atlantic Ocean, Vermont lies at the edge of the United States. This relative remoteness makes it seem like an enticing option for preppers. Is Vermont an ideal state for survival prepping? What factors should Vermont preppers keep in mind?
At just over 628,000 people, Vermont is the second smallest state in America by population. The only state with fewer people is Wyoming. The state ranks a little higher in population density, with an average of 67.9 people per square mile, making it the 30th most densely populated state.
Vermont has no major cities. The state’s largest city, Burlington, has an estimated population of 42,899, and the capital, Montpelier, is home to only 7,592 people. That number makes Montpelier the smallest state capital in the nation.
This low population and density make Vermont an appealing state for prepping. Higher populations can lead to an increased likeliness of civil unrest. Should the worst happen, more people also means more competition.
Even if you’re not at odds with others, the distribution of resources becomes increasingly difficult when more people need said resources. Since Vermont has so few people, and because those few people are spread out, such issues are not a significant concern.
Like much of New England, Vermont is wooded and mountainous. The state is famously home to the Green Mountains, a portion of the Appalachian Mountain range. The Green Mountain National Forest, which covers almost 400,000 acres of the peaks, hosts an impressive array of plant and animal life.
On the western border of Vermont lies Lake Champlain, home to an abundance of fish and birds. The rural state also boasts large regions of farmland thanks to layers of fertile mountain soil.
Vermont’s mountainous landscape — and the protection of it — has hindered urban growth in the state, which serves as an advantage for survivalists. Vast stretches of forest remain untouched. Although the state is landlocked, Lake Champlain, along with several other lakes and rivers, provide Vermont residents with plenty of natural water and aquatic life.
Vermont law favors preppers in several ways. The state definition of a homestead property is relatively simple, declaring a homestead as a person’s principal dwelling and the land that surrounds it, with a value of up to $125,000. Homestead declaration forms must be submitted annually by April 15.
Gun regulations in Vermont are relatively lax. The state does not require a permit for anyone over 21 to purchase a firearm, and it does not issue registrations. Since Vermont doesn’t issue permits, both open and concealed carry are permitted for residents and non-residents alike.
Vermontians have a history of independence. Ever since 1777, when Vermont declared independence from the 13 colonies, the Green Mountain State has forged its own path apart from the rest of the Union. The small, rural nature of the area has led to a strong sense of community. Many families have lived in Vermont for generations, even centuries, further bolstering the communal spirit of the state.
The culture of Vermont is ideal for survivalists. You can count on your neighbor to help you should you need help, especially when it comes to defending against outside threats. The rural setting means that people are generally well-informed about living a self-sufficient lifestyle, even in potentially adverse conditions.
While Vermont has the lowest total land value of any state, its average cost per acre lands closer to the middle. Vermont land prices average at $7,439 per acre, the 28th highest in the nation. The state’s home value is comparatively higher, with a median of $226,300.
These prices are not among the highest in the nation, but they certainly aren’t low. The costs may hinder some preppers looking to move to Vermont. Despite this situation, the state remains an attractive option compared to the rest of New England.
The only New England state with cheaper land is Maine, with an average of $6,142 per acre. New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island all rank higher in both land prices and median home value. As far as New England goes, Vermont is a relatively inexpensive place to purchase real estate.
If you’re going to move anywhere with survival in mind, you’ll want to make sure plenty of resources are available. You want to be equipped for any scenario. That way, should the worst happen, you’ll be self-sufficient.
Vermont’s small population and push to preserve its natural landscape means that the area still has an abundance of natural resources. State laws regarding these resources will allow you to take full advantage of these assets.
Vermont is a hunting state through and through. The Green Mountain State is home to a well-established culture of hunting and trapping that any prepper moving to the area can take part in. The state regulates hunting with defined seasons and licensing, but as long as you comply with these regulations, you’ll have no trouble finding a wealth of diverse wildlife waiting for you.
Most notably, Vermont is home to an impressive black bear population. While hunters can take only one bear per calendar year, a single bear offers a significant amount of meat, fur, and bones. Other big game available includes moose, wild turkey and white-tailed deer.
The area also contains a variety of small game, such as rabbits, snowshoe hares, and gray squirrels. Apart from the turkeys, other fowl include duck, geese and ruffled grouse. The forests and lakes of Vermont are teeming with wildlife that you can take for food or any other use.
In addition to the diverse land animal population, Vermont also hosts more than 90 species of fish within its hundreds of lakes and thousands of miles of rivers. Trout and bass fishing are the biggest draws in terms of watersport. In colder weather, plenty of ice fishing opportunities are available.
Fishing aside, water is an indispensable resource for any survivalist. If you hope to survive in any situation, you’ll need water. Luckily, Vermont has plenty of it, despite being landlocked. Lake Champlain is the most evident water source, but the Green Mountain State contains 300,000 acres of wetlands on top of its many lakes and rivers. You can use this freshwater for fishing, cleaning, drinking and even as a power source.
Due to its healthy soil and temperate climate, Vermont can sustain a wealth of agricultural products. Dairy products are the most substantial part of the state agriculture, worth $493 million and making up an impressive 70% of Vermont’s agricultural economy. Other noteworthy agricultural industries include cattle, maple products, turkeys and apples.
While a variety of useful crops grow in the area, such as sweet corn and hay, Vermont’s environment is better suited to raising animals. Farm animals like cows, pigs, and chickens stand as a valuable resource, either as a source of cash or as food for yourself. Since Vermontians have been raising livestock and poultry since the colonial era, you’ll find no shortage of help raising your own.
Military bases may be either a threat or an asset to preppers. A significant enough base might be a potential target for a terrorist attack, which would compromise safety in the area. In the event of a crisis, military installations might help by offering support and protection, or they could pose a threat as a dangerous extension of the government. In any case, as a prepper, you’ll want to be aware of any military operations in your area.
Compared to other states, Vermont has relatively few military bases. The only three notable sites are Coast Guard Station Burlington, Burlington Air National Guard Base and Camp Ethan Allen Training Site.
Coast Guard Station Burlington
Established in 1948, Coast Guard Station Burlington seeks to protect the Lake Champlain area. The station is crewed by about 25 enlisted men and women and operates 24 hours a day every day of the year. Guard Station Burlington’s regular operations include search and rescue, law enforcement, marine environmental response and aids to navigation. This station may serve as a helpful resource for the Lake Champlain region. If you need assistance out on the lake, the station can provide it.
Guard Station Burlington sometimes hosts other branches of the military and law enforcement. On occasion, Navy personnel will use the facility to train. The local Coast Guard will also sometimes offer training to state police marine units.
Burlington Air National Guard Base
The Burlington Air National Guard Base resides within the Burlington International Airport complex. The primary role of the base is as the home of the 158th Fighter Wing, a unit composed of a fighter squadron and its support. The 158th Fighter Wing formed in 1945 and was the first wing to provide air security above New York on 9/11.
As both an international airport and an Air Guard base, the Burlington International Airport may seem like a potential target for enemy forces. An attack is unlikely, however, due to its small size and relatively remote location.
In addition to its air operations, Burlington Air National Guard Base also houses a ground unit tasked with explosive ordnance disposal.
Camp Ethan Allen Training Site
Tucked away in the mountains of Jericho, Vermont is the Camp Ethan Allen Training Site. Camp Ethan Allen serves as the home of the Army Mountain Warfare School, where soldiers come to train on how to operate in rough terrain.
Camp Ethan Allen runs year-round, offering courses for both summer and winter. Operations include multiple levels of mountaineering training and mountain rifleman courses.
While it’s a valuable asset to the military, the Army Mountain Warfare School is a smaller operation, so it’s an unlikely target for an enemy strike. Its remote location also means it’s highly unlikely that it would interfere with civilian affairs at all.
Facing the Winter
Perhaps the most significant adversity Vermont preppers have to deal with is the harsh New England winter. Winter temperatures reach an average low of 10 degrees Fahrenheit in January. If you want to live in Vermont, especially as a prepper, you’ll have to be ready for the winter.
While it may be tempting to stay inside to avoid the cold weather, you’ll be better off if you go outside, at least occasionally, during winter. Exercise, sunlight, and changes in scenery help maintain physical and mental health.
That said, before you go out, make sure you’ve dressed appropriately. In the winter, you should wear at least three layers — a base layer, an insulating layer, and an outer shell. In addition to wearing layers, you should wear waterproof shoes to avoid getting wet from the snow. Always make sure you cover extremities such as your hands and ears.
Although alcohol may make you feel warm, it does not warm the body. Avoid using alcoholic drinks to warm up. The air tends to be dryer during the winter, so you should also drink lots of water to stay hydrated.
The Vermont state government does not require you to use winter tires, but winter tires are a near necessity for safe travel in the colder months. Even salted and plowed roads can be dangerous at low temperatures. Putting winter tires on your vehicle, as well as driving at slower speeds, will help you stay safe on icy roads.
Heating is a severe concern in winter too. In the interest of preparedness and self-sufficiency, it may be a good idea to own a generator to power and heat your home during extreme weather. You should keep an emergency fuel supply and know how to store it safely so that you don’t run out of usable fuel for your generator in the winter.
Winter in the northern U.S. may be daunting, but with the proper preparation, it won’t be an issue.
The Opioid Crisis
Another potential risk of living in Vermont is the opioid crisis. In 2017, there were 20 opioid-related deaths for every 100,000 people in Vermont, well above the national average. Overall, opioid-related deaths have been steadily increasing over the past few years.
A growing drug problem could lead to an increased crime rate. Drug-related crime can affect even those uninvolved in drug use or trade, which means the opioid crisis could be a threat to everyone. Being a prepper is about being safe, and a rising drug problem puts that safety at risk.
It is entirely possible to live in Vermont and be unaffected by the opioid epidemic. Living in relative seclusion can decrease the risks related to the issue, but if you wish to move to Vermont, you should at least be aware of the phenomenon.
Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station
Nuclear power plants are, understandably, a source of concern for many preppers. Reactors can malfunction due to human error or be targeted by an enemy attack, both with devastating results.
Vermont is home to a reactor facility, Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station. The reactor began operation in 1972, but its parent company, Entergy, shut it down in 2014. Entergy removed all of the reactor’s fuel by the following year.
The Vermont Yankee facility should be fully decommissioned by 2030. Since the plant is no longer up and running and the fuel is gone, it does not pose any potential threat to Vermont or its residents.
Every prepper should have an escape plan. Ideally, the initial location you choose will be safe and viable for as long as you need it, but in the event of things going wrong, you’ll require a plan of retreat.
Vermont does not touch any oceans, so it has possible escape routes on all sides. To the east, west and south lie New Hampshire, New York and Massachusetts, respectively. The Green Mountain State shares its northern border with the Canadian province of Quebec.
Much of the Vermont-New Hampshire border follows the Connecticut River. Culturally and geographically, New Hampshire shares a lot in common with Vermont. It would not take much adjustment for a Vermont resident to resume life as usual in the Granite State.
New York lies on the western coast of Lake Champlain. Historically, leaders of New York and Vermont have had territorial disputes, and while these arguments no longer exist, the two states do not share much by way of culture. New York’s much larger population makes it stand in stark contrast to rural Vermont. While the New York countryside might be able to sustain survivalists, the large urban areas make it an unattractive option for preppers.
Vermont shares its shortest border with Massachusetts to the south. With more than 6 million inhabitants, Massachusetts is the third most densely populated state in America, making it a far less appealing prepper territory than Vermont. Most of the population is concentrated in and around Boston, so stretches of rural land do remain.
To the north of Vermont lies Canada — more specifically, the province of Quebec. Canada has an abundance of open rural land, but issues surrounding international travel may prove difficult for some people looking to move.
Is Vermont an ideal prepper state?
Overall, Vermont is a tempting option for any survivalist. Its small population, rural atmosphere and prepper-friendly laws make it stand out among many other states in the region. While the harsh winter and opioid epidemic do present challenges, the positives outweigh the negatives by far. With the right preparation, Vermont is a great option for preppers.