Are ‘Climate Refugees’ Coming to New England? 2020 Data Sure Seems to Say So

It’s official.  In Vermont, out-of-staters piled into the state to snap up homes at near-record rates in 2020, and no doubt New Hampshire and western Massachusetts saw a similar influx.  But data collected by the Vermont Department of Taxes – and analyzed by the Vermont Center for Geographic Information — makes Vermont’s property sales trends especially easy to track.

In 2020, Vermont logged 3,795 sales to out-of-state home buyers, compared to just 2,750 in 2019.  That 38% spike followed just a slight 3% increase in sales to out-of-staters in 2019 – with no change the year before that.  In 2020, more than one in four residential sales in Vermont went to out-of-state buyers, with the value of the properties they bought surging by 79%, to $1.43 billion, with sales focused on the high end of the residential market.

The Covid pandemic has clearly been a driver of rising home sales in many rural parts of the country, and northern New England is no exception.  Out-of-state buyers have commonly stressed the need for residences with access to broadband internet and home office space so they can work remotely for out-of-state employers.

But the allure of nature and four-season outdoor activities also clearly has been a draw to our region.  In Vermont, for example, the top 10 towns for sales to out-of-state home buyers in 2020 were all ski towns.  Stowe led the list with $132 million in sales from 176 transactions.  Sales to out-of-staters also rose in the Mad River Valley, Lamoille and Chittenden counties, and in ski towns in southern Vermont like Ludlow, Dover and Stratton.

Source:  Vermont Center for Geographic Information

While it remains to be seen whether these transplants are here to stay, their relocation may mark the start of a long-term trend that’s driving “climate refugees” our way.  In 2020, the Vermont Department of Taxes recorded home sales to residents of all other U.S. states, except Mississippi, with sizable contingents coming from areas facing some of the worst weather extremes, like California, Texas and Colorado.

As we noted in an earlier post, many counties in Vermont and New Hampshire rank at or near the top of a list of the most “climate resilient” counties in America.

For a town-by-town breakdown of home sales to out-of-staters in Vermont in 2020, see the map below or click here for an interactive version.

With more hot summer weather heading our way, now is the time to update your home energy plan.  It’s always a great time to harvest all that renewable energy with solar.  Reach out for more ideas on how to make your home a force for good in the fight against global warming.  Together, the power is in our hands to make a difference!

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