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What Does $1200 Per Month Buy in Vermont's Tight Rental Market? 

When it comes to Vermont’s housing situation, the news this year isn’t bad — if you’re buying a home. According to the Vermont Economy Newsletter’s just-released annual housing affordability analysis, the share of median family income needed to finance the payments on a median-priced home fell last year to 11.7 percent — a quarter-century low.

But renting is another story. Just this week, the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition released a report on Vermont’s rental market, and the picture isn’t pretty.

Titled “Out of Reach 2013,” the report reveals that Vermont renters must earn $18.53 per hour — or $38,541 a year — just to afford a basic, no-frills apartment. Vermont now ranks as the 15th most expensive state in the nation for renters and the ninth most costly among nonmetropolitan areas.

The picture gets even bleaker in the greater Burlington area. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, only tiny Barnstable County on Cape Cod has a rental market pricier than Chittenden County’s.

But don’t despair, renters! This week, Seven Days poked around our circulation area looking for bargains. What follows is a sampling of what renters can get for their money in the $1100-to-$1300-per-month price range. Obviously, those willing to stray off the beaten path — and the paved roads — can land even sweeter deals. Just be sure to factor in your additional commuting time and gas money.

******

Eden (Lamoille County)

Eden (population 1152) won’t win any points for cosmopolitan hustle and bustle. But if peace and quiet are what you’re seeking, you can find them in a converted barn with plenty of natural light, wood floors, a patio deck and exposed post-and-beam construction. The biggest selling point may be its natural setting: The 13-acre property includes a lakefront beach, apple trees, canoe dock and five acres of “striking meadows.”

Price:
$1100/month
Bedrooms:
Two
Square feet:
1100
Year built:
ca. 1890
Heat included?
No
Pets allowed?
Yes

******

Burlington (Chittenden County)

Vermont is known for having some of the oldest housing stock in the nation. But if you’re seeking that new-paint smell, it would be hard to find a flat fresher than one in Thayer Commons, newly completed this year. A one-bedroom apartment in the complex starts at $1300 — the upper edge of our price range — but boasts easy walking distance from “downtown North Avenue” (aka the Hannaford supermarket plaza), Leddy Park Arena, the Burlington Bike Path and Lake Champlain. Free gym, laundry and a “pocket park for pets” round out the deal. Sure, it was a drag losing the New North End Department of Motor Vehicles office, but that’s the price we pay for expanding Burlington’s sphincter-tight rental market.

Price:
$1300/month
Square feet:
635
Bedroom:
One
Year built:
2013
Heat included?
Yes
Pets allowed?
With deposit

******

Plattsburgh, N.Y.

Some Vermonters may look down their noses at the blue-collar burg just across Lake Champlain. But for those who want a little more for their hard-earned cash and don’t mind a 518 area code, this two-bedroom, one-bath ranch on Cumberland Head in Plattsburgh is right on the money — and the lake. There’s a four-season room off a deck leading to a pool, two garages, a large living room and family room, a breakfast nook and spacious, updated kitchen, a master bedroom with two eight-foot closets, and internet and cable TV already installed. Throw in the large fenced yard for the hounds, and this one is a real deal. Downside: Add to your daily expenses $9.50 for the ferry to Grand Isle.

Price:
$1200/month
Square feet:
Unknown
Bedrooms:
Two
Year built:
Unknown
Heat included?
No
Pets allowed?
Yes (except puppies) with nonrefundable deposit.

******

Greensboro (Orleans County)

Looking for a rental home for you and your dogs? Check. A house near the woods? Check. How about your own trails to walk your pups and a pond to swim them in? Jeez, this four-bedroom, two-bathroom beauty near Greensboro Village appears to have it all. It comes as a “fully equipped house on a working farm,” with nice views overlooking a meadow. The spacious family room features exposed wood beams and a cathedral ceiling. Rent includes a charcoal grill, fireplace and woodstove. So get burning!

Price:
$1100/month
Square feet:
“Lots”
Bedrooms:
Four
Year built:
Unknown
Heat included?
No
Pets allowed?
“Contact for details”

******

Randolph (Orange County)

In Randolph, $1200 will land you this large, two-bedroom apartment with an open kitchen, dining- and living-room floor plan. You’ll have to share laundry facilities with nearby tenants, but all utilities — heat, electricity, even cable and internet — are included in the monthly price. Also included? “Fabulous” mountain views, a babbling brook and plenty of wildlife, berries and apples in a quiet country setting.

Price:
$1200/month
Square feet:
1200
Bedrooms:
Two
Year built:
“Modern construction”
Heat included?
Yes
Pets allowed?
No

******

Winooski (Chittenden County)

The Onion City sometimes gets a bad rap for the quality of its cramped, aging rental stock relative to costs. But while a one-bedroom apartment in Keen’s Crossing may not have the sprawling square footage of a Northeast Kingdom barn, this “premier luxury apartment” includes access to a fitness center and club room, optional covered parking, and central air. Located across the street from Winooski’s River Walk and “just five minutes from Church Street” — by helicopter, perhaps — these apartments offer a respite from Burlington’s student ghetto and other Old North End dives.

Price:
$1295/month
Square feet:
653
Bedrooms:
One
Year built:
2009
Heat included?
No
Pets allowed?
“Contact for details”

******

Troy (Orleans County)

Watch the sun set over Jay Peak! If you’re willing to relocate to Troy, just south of the Canadian border, you could snag this renovated farmhouse on eight acres. The landlord talks up an oversize kitchen with plenty of counter space and a walk-in pantry; if that isn’t enough space for you, the property includes an additional 600-square-foot storage area. More perks include perennial gardens, a large deck and a “cozy fireplace.” If country-casual is your thing, you can opt to rent the house fully furnished.

Price:
$1200/month
Square feet:
2400
Bedrooms:
Three
Year built:
ca. 1866
Heat included?
No
Pets allowed?
Negotiable

The print version of this article was headlined "Rental Health".


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About The Author

Kathryn Flagg

Kathryn Flagg

Bio:
Kathryn Flagg is a Seven Days staff writer. She completed a fellowship in environmental journalism at Middlebury College, and her work has also appeared in the Addison County Independent, Wyoming Public Radio and Orion Magazine. She lives in Shoreham with her husband and son.

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