The Ski Lifestyle Past and Present
The Ski Lifestyle
For those who enjoy winter, snow, and alpine skiing or snowboarding, there is a lingering dream of living the ski lifestyle in a Colorado ski resort town. Especially for those who have grown up in an area that has skiing nearby, like the midwest, northwest, or northeast states. Once you take that initial trip to a Colorado ski resort, you likely have gotten bit by the Colorado Ski lifestyle bug. You start fantasizing about living in a ski town and being a ski bum. However, the meaning of ski bum has changed from its onset. You could be a ski bum from the 80s through the late 90s. This is not possible anymore, as the cost of living in Colorado’s ski resort towns does not cater to skiing all day, and work a little on the side to pay the bills. Today's Colorado's ski lifestyle is much different than how it started out.
Ski Bum then and now
Back in the day, one could move to a Colorado ski town and find the ski bum lifestyle. If you were a carpenter, got a job at the ski resort, or worked in a restaurant, you could live the ski lifestyle. Service-type jobs were plentiful back then as they are today; however, the cost of living was much much more affordable. Finding a place to live was much easier too. Skiers would often group together and rent a house. This made paying bills cheap and enabled the ski all day work a little on the side lifestyle. There was no getting rich in doing this; however, you would never miss a powder day and you could ski as much as you wanted. This was a staycation life for most as, eventually, these people moved on. However, many stayed, and those are the now long-time locals. Most of these people eventually bought real estate and are wealthy because of it.
The ski lifestyle or what used to be the ski bum lifestyle is not readily available anymore. Realistically it’s a lifestyle for the young, and the young are exactly the people who cannot afford to live in ski towns unless they grew up there. Even if you’re lucky enough to find a job you like and a place to live, the reality that you’re just spinning your wheels starts to set in after a few years or a decade. As the cost of living out-weights local earning potential. Even if you manage to land a “good job” like a teaching position or working for the county. Those jobs don’t match purchasing a home over a million dollars. Moving in and buying real estate in a Colorado resort town means you are coming with cash, lots of it.
Anymore, the youth who get to experience the ski lifestyle have grown up in a resort community or frequent the area by way of a second home. Parents, who once were first-round ski bums, that purchased a home, now live the life with their childern. Second home owners also offer the ski lifestyle to their children and friends. There are some other scenarios too but arriving in your old VW that dies in your friend's "ski house" front yard for the winter, doesn't exist anymore.
Although many, who manage to get by in a resort town, feel the satisfaction of the mountain lifestyle outweighs the loss of chasing a real career. This is especially true for those who are able to find a good place to live and a decent job. Today’s “Ski Bum” has morphed into an active, affluent retirement crowd, the location-neutral folks, and the well-to-do families, all part or full-time residents, and those who haven’t sold out.
by Kathleen Fitzsimmons