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Freyer family

From The Blog Why I moved to Woodstock: Young family edition

Molly and Jeremy Freyer didn't make the decision to relocate their family of five lightly. In this Q&A, you'll learn how a desire for a lifestyle change, a love of outdoor recreation and the natural beauty of Vermont led them to Woodstock... plus how features like a warm, welcoming community, walkable town, and ample all-season activities for all ages mean they've never felt more at home.

Q: Let's start off with some background – what can you share about yourself and your family?

A: We lived in Hoboken, New Jersey for 14 years prior to our move to Woodstock in the summer of 2018. We have three children, ages 7, 5, and 2. Our sons attend Woodstock Elementary School and love it, and our daughter attends daycare at the wonderful Rainbow Playschool. I work for Mascoma Bank, and my wife works remotely conducting social work research.

Q: Tell us a little bit about your relocation story. How did you make the decision to move from New Jersey to Woodstock?

A: Hoboken is a very densely packed, urban community right across the Hudson River from New York City. My wife and I both worked in the city. We had a great time during our years in Hoboken, but after having our third child, our apartment was feeling very cramped. We considered moving to the suburbs, but wanted more of a lifestyle change. My wife lived in northern New Hampshire for a period after college, and she stumbled upon Woodstock during that time and fell in love with the area.

Winter in Woodstock Vermont

We returned many times over the years and eventually decided to buy a home here in order to spend more time in Vermont after the long drives. We didn’t anticipate how wonderful our neighbors would be, and we felt like a part of the community very quickly. As a visitor, even a frequent one, you cannot completely grasp what a family-friendly community this is. Within less than a year, we took the leap to move to Woodstock full-time.

We felt welcomed from our first day here.

Downtown blue sky winter
Katie Berdan

Q: What were the biggest risks/fears you encountered when deciding to move?

A: Although we found everyone in Woodstock to be incredibly warm and welcoming, we did have some concerns about fitting in as out-of-state transplants in a small community. This concern proved to be a non-issue, as we felt welcomed from our first day here. We also were worried about how long it would take to find jobs and weren’t comfortable moving here without them. Fortunately, there is a very low unemployment rate and many dynamic companies in the area. I joined Mascoma Bank which is consistently named one of the Best Places to Work in Vermont and New Hampshire and is very community oriented.

Q: What was that transition like?

A: Like most parents we worried about the transition for our kids, but they didn’t miss a beat. Both of our boys had many friends in Hoboken and were used to parks full of kids. We moved over the summer and through programs like Summer SOAK, VINS, and Artistree they both made lots of new friends before the school year even began. They are still able to walk to school and to the park, but they have also been able to pick up mountain biking, nordic and alpine skiing, and ice hockey, none of which was possible before. This year they are in 2nd grade and kindergarten and both really enjoy the school.

Freyer Family snowshoe
Snowshoeing on Mt Peg

Meeting other adults has also been easy, there are many groups that host open-invite activities and we also have made friends with other parents.  There are group bike rides every Monday and Wednesday and plenty of indoor groups and activities too.  

There are certain conveniences we thought we’d miss from living in an urban area, but we still enjoy the proximity and variety of restaurants and the walkability of the village  -- only now we also have proximity to skiing, hiking, fishing, and biking which are now at our doorstep. I have never had a commute in my car before, but it’s only about 25 minutes, the scenery is gorgeous, and there is never traffic. I don’t miss subway delays or tunnel traffic at all.  And we’ve found that Woodstock is an incredibly walkable town. My wife has days where she never gets in the car at all. She can walk the boys to school, walk our daughter to the library for story time, walk through town to run errands, and walk to Vail Field after school for whatever extra-curriculars may be happening there.

The Freyer sons fishing
Fishing near the Taftsville Covered Bridge

We often marvel at how lucky we are to wake up here every day.

Q: Has your perception of Woodstock changed since becoming a resident?

A: We appreciate it even more. Sometimes when visiting an idyllic place, you wonder if it’s always that wonderful, or if perhaps it loses some of its luster once you get pulled into the routines of daily life. As full-time residents of Woodstock, everything that’s wonderful about the community has been magnified. We often marvel at how lucky we are to wake up here every day. Getting to experience the top-notch recreational activities, schools, local businesses and institutions, and individuals who make up the community on a daily basis has affirmed our decision to move here.

One thing that we could not appreciate before moving here is how involved everybody seems to be.  Whether coaching, being on the school board, volunteering at the fire department, or volunteering at many other events, everybody tries to pull their weight.  In a bigger town or city people can fall into a zone of assuming that “someone else will take care of that.” 

Freyer family skiing
Family-friendly alpine skiing at your fingertips

Q: What do you, your wife, and kids each like best about living in Woodstock?

A: Me: Doing daily activities with my kids that would have been impossible otherwise.  Skiing, biking, and skating are all things that they pick up quickly and we can do together, it’s amazing how quickly they learn.

My wife often marvels at how she can sneak out for a trail run or cross country ski before school, during her lunch break, or after the kids are in bed. She has access to world-class trails and stunning scenery right out our front door. These are things we used to have to drive hours to access.

Henry (2nd grade):  Playing on sports teams with all of my friends.

Will (Kindergarten):  Fishing and skiing.  

Our two year old loves many things, but among her favorites are visiting the cows at Billings Farm, playing with the train table on the children’s floor at the library, and pocketing as much penny candy as she can from Gillingham’s.

Freyer family sledding
The Freyer children during a sledding excursion!

Q: For many, the long cold spells are intimidating. How do you beat the winter blues?

A: The winters are long, but one of our favorite things about Woodstock is how everyone embraces winter and makes the best of it. The key to enjoying winter is bundling up and getting outside. We are lucky to have such an abundance of winter activities right outside our door. We can access the Woodstock Nordic Center’s Mt. Peg trail system at the end of our street for cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and fat tire biking.

We also spend a lot of time at Suicide 6, which often feels like a community center in the winter months. Then there’s the sledding, ice skating, and numerous other winter activities available locally. Winter in Woodstock is really one of the best times of the year.  Even though we love winter it does make the summer months even more enjoyable!

The community always shows up to make things happen, whether it’s a PTO bake sale, a youth sports team that needs a coach, a fundraiser for the library, you name it.

Q: From youth sports coaching to the PTO, your family’s very active in our community. What do you think makes Woodstock’s sense of community different?

A: One of the things that drew us to Woodstock is how invested everyone is in the community. We noticed that just about everyone we met here was involved in various community activities. The community always shows up to make things happen, whether it’s a PTO bake sale, a youth sports team that needs a coach, a fundraiser for the library, you name it. It’s very easy to get involved in any number of activities and initiatives. I appreciate everybody’s engagement but have been really impressed with how involved the older kids and teenagers are. Seeing older kids who are well rounded, friendly, and engaged is incredibly reassuring for us as parents of young children.    

Q: Speaking of the community… what are your favorite local shops and artisans and why?

A: It is hard to mention them all. The bike shop at Woodstock Sports and Henderson’s ski shop are both topnotch in terms of prompt, friendly, service. We love Vermont Farmstead Cheese; they are terrific hosts for summer movie nights at Harpoon Brewery. Everybody knows about Worthy Kitchen but the Daily Catch, Melaza, and the Ransom Tavern are wonderful as well. My sons say Gillingham’s has the best night crawlers. We always find unique local gifts for our extended family at Clover. I also love the history (and toy selection) at the Woodstock Pharmacy. And of course, we never make it out of the Woodstock Farmer’s Market without a basket full of goodies.     

Woodstock Farmers Market Indoors
Katie Berdan

If you’ve dreamed of living here, it’s much more doable than you may think.

Q: What would you recommend to anyone considering moving their family to Vermont?

A: Moving to Vermont was something we dreamed of for years, but  put off really exploring it because we thought it was unrealistic. Too hard to find jobs, too hard to find the right community, too hard to make such a big change. Once we made the decision to move, however, things fell into place much more quickly than we thought they would.

A big part of this was the friendliness and openness of our neighbors and Woodstock residents overall. We had a lot of questions, and people were so happy and willing to talk with us and provide guidance. It really made the transition seamless. Our advice to anyone thinking about moving would be to reach out to local residents. Talk to people everywhere you go. And beyond that, just dive in and go for it. If you’ve dreamed of living here, it’s much more doable than you may think.