EPISODE 14 – HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Well, we made it until 2015!

We’re now almost five months into this adventure, and the new year brings new opportunities. The past several months have been filled with basic things like figuring out how to live here. By which I mean, where do you buy stuff? Like clothes, for example. Back in Maine the national chains have come to dominate retail, so we were practically forced to shop at Target and TJ Maxx.

One thing Montpelier does not have in abundance is national chains. That’s a good thing – we are champions of the local retailer. However there is a fair amount of work in figuring out who sells what, and what we can afford on 1.25 incomes. So many weekends over the past few months, especially as we geared up for the holidays, were spent driving around and checking places out. Much of this took us to Burlington, which has malls and outlets that feature (sigh) familiar national retailers.

Compromises sometimes must be made.

However, things are looking up as the calendar turns. Doreen has landed a full-time gig, which she started on Monday. In addition to increasing our monthly budget (hello, skiing!), this is impetus for us to start thinking about our long-term housing situation.

The house that we rent is not perfect, particularly the cramped driveway, but it does have the advantage of being located downtown. My commute is only 2/10 of a mile, while Doreen’s is a bit longer at 3/10. It’s less than ten minutes on foot for both of us, and even less to go to a restaurant, the gym, and the movies. There is pretty much no way we will be able to keep this convenience.

We are very committed to minimizing our use of fossil fuels. Because of this, living too far from downtown Montpelier is out of the question. Unfortunately there isn’t a ton of real estate available in town. Fortunately, though, that’s partly because Montpelier is so small, square-mileage-wise, to begin with. So one can live in East Montpelier or Middlesex or (shudder) Berlin and only be a couple miles from downtown.

The other aspect of minimizing our carbon footprint is the energy used by the house itself. We would love to build a super-efficient Passive House, powered almost completely by solar panels on the roof. But land is scarce, and new construction is costly. The other alternative is to buy an existing house and tighten it up.

But housing is scarce, and renovations are costly and disruptive. 🙂

We don’t need to rush on this. Our lease runs through August, so we have several months to review our options and hope that the perfect solution falls into our lap. There are lots of resources available, as we attended an open house at the home of a recent customer of SunCommon, and we’ve been attending a series of discussions about energy efficient homes hosted by NetZero Montpelier. At the very least, we’ll have the information thing down!

And for now be thankful that our rental was pretty comfortable this morning despite a temperature of 20 below, and our commutes aren’t long enough for frostbite to set in.

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