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How To Find Affordable Housing In A Ski Town

How To Find Housing In A Ski Town.

Moving to a ski town can be a big challenge.  Mainly because there are lots of people competing for expensive and limited housing.  And with the COVID-19 pandemic and the increase in short-term rentals, the problem has only gotten worse.  But despite all that, it is still possible to find somewhat affordable housing in a ski town.  You just have to be determined, armed with the right tools, and perhaps just a little bit lucky.

Why would anyone subject themselves to that?  Well, for those who love skiing or snowboarding, there’s often no substitute for living right in a ski town.  The proximity to mountains provides unmatched access to outdoor recreation.

Tips For How To Find Housing In A Ski Town

Securing a rental housing spot in a ski town is different from a typical town or large city in some key ways.  For starters, the limited supply means that getting a spot is competitive and the landlords have the power.  Many listings will only last a couple of days or less before someone snags them.  So here are the keys to being successful in this type of landlord-favored market.

Be Persistent

You have to check many different places and do it DAILY.  Rental listings don’t last long, so you need to check often.  If you skip a couple of days of searching, you may miss something.  So you have to be persistent with your search.  Make a habit of checking all possible rental platforms every day.

Be Present

This one is tough because it’s hard to be present in a place that you don’t yet live.  But most landlords are going to want to meet their potential tenants.  And you obviously want to see a place in person before signing a lease.

So if the ski town you are interested in moving to is within driving distance, you may have to make trips to check places out.  Or if you have friends or family that will let you couch surf until you find something.

If you can’t be present to look at rentals and sign a lease, then your best option is probably just renting a room from someone else’s lease.  They may be more willing to meet you over video chat and agree to rent their extra bedroom.

Lower Your Standards

Since housing is limited, it gives landlords the upper hand.  They can charge more for less.  And are often unmotivated to update or renovate rentals if people are still willing to pay regardless.  So you probably have to accept the fact that your rental housing may not be as nice or affordable as what you’re used to.

Most People Have Roommates

To cope with the high cost of rent, most people have roommates.  (Not like literally sharing a bedroom, though sometimes that happens too).  The saying is that you either have three jobs and two roommates, or two jobs and three roommates.

For many people, roommates are the only affordable method to find housing in a ski town.  If you must have your own place, it’s gonna cost you.

Know Your Strikes

Know the strikes against you (from a landlord’s perspective.)  All of these things are potential strikes against you: pets, children, couples, multiple cars, smoking, working from home.  It’s honestly become a bit of a running joke in ski towns to see rental listings that look like this:  No couples, no pets, no children, no smoking, no parking, no kitchen access, no nothing.

Landlords will even charge extra for couples vs single tenants.

Landlords Are Choosing Tenants (Not the other way around)

In a typical market, you would look at a bunch of apartments/houses and choose the one you like best.  But when a landlord receives 20 inquiries per day, they are basically choosing their tenants.  When you go to view a rental, you are almost interviewing to be picked as the tenants.  So with that said, try to present yourself well.  Dress nice-ish, be kind, friendly, and personable.

Six-Month Leases Are Rare & Expensive

Most listings will be for a one-year lease.  Since ski towns are most desirable in the winter, landlords don’t want to be caught struggling to find summer tenants, or simply deal with the hassle of finding new tenants every six months.

And if rentals do offer a six-month lease, they often charge extra.

Where To Find Rental Listings


Craigslist has always been my favorite place to search for housing.  It tends to be the best place for regular people renting to other regular people.  But it definitely has its downsides.  The pressure is on users to avoid scams and evaluate rentals and landlords.

I have encountered numerous scams on Craigslist, basically fake listings that demand payment to “reserve the spot”, without the ability to show you the place.  Never pay anyone until you have seen a unit in person.

And maybe the landlord isn’t someone you want to rent from.  They might be unresponsive, dishonest, or generally inept.  Maybe that’s the reason the previous tenant is moving out.  You just need to be aware of potential red flags like this.

Facebook Marketplace & Groups

If you go to Facebook Marketplace, there is a section for Rentals.  The default view is a map view that lets you select the town, neighborhood, or zip code, plus the radius of search.

Or many ski towns have regional Facebook groups dedicated to housing.  If you find one, join one of those groups you can often find some rental listings, or people looking for roommates.  Many of these groups also allow people to post “ISO of housing” posts, so many someone will see your post and present you with an offer.

Or conversely, if you already have a lease and need to find a roommate to join, this a good place to locate potential roommates.

You also need to be careful of scams on FB too, but less so since most listings are attached to someone’s name and personal profile.  But watch out for suspicious profiles that seem fake.

Apartment Rental Sites

In the modern age, there is no shortage of websites that specialize in rental listings.  These sites are nice because the potential for scams is much lower.  A couple of popular ones are,,,,  There’s probably a ton more.

However, we find that the amount of viable listings on these sites is very limited in ski towns.  It’s not like searching in a city and finding hundreds of listings that match your criteria.

But nonetheless, they can be another tool in your arsenal to find housing in a ski town.  You just need to be persistent and check back often so you don’t miss those rare gems.

Local Classifieds

You may be able to find housing in a ski town via the Classifieds section of the local newspaper.  Or if the paper has a website, then classifieds may be listed there as well.

Word Of Mouth

If you know anyone in the ski town you are trying to move to, tell them you are in search of housing.  They may know someone looking for a roommate, or moving out.  This can let you jump in front of the line before a rental even gets listed.

Employee Housing

Another option for finding housing in ski towns is to use employee housing.  Lots of jobs, especially those that are part of the ski resort, will offer employee housing.

You are typically required to work at lest 40 hours per week to qualify.  Employee Housing tends to be greatly reduced rent compared to “free market” rentals.  However, in our experience, the pay isn’t great for these jobs, so your total earning potential is capped.

And the living situation can sometimes be like living in a college dorm.  Possibly fun if you are a younger person, and a great way to meet people if you are new to the area.

But the sometimes rowdy nature of employee housing is often a negative.  But it can be a good way to get your foot in the door, and then search for different housing/employment the following season.

What To consider When Choosing Housing

Sadly, most of the time it doesn’t feel much like a choice.  Hopeful ski town transplants will often just settle for the first reasonable option they find.  If you take too long to commit, the landlord will find someone else to replace you.  But if you do happen to find several options that you are deciding, here are some things to consider

Proximity To Ski Resort / Employment

Consider how close your housing is to the ski resort or your job.  Nobody really wants to commute far to work, but it could save you some money if you expand your search radius a little farther from the ski resort.  But if you are commuting in your car, it is practically essential to have AWD or 4WD (and good snow tires).  Especially if you have to drive any mountain passes.


Is there any public transportation?  Many ski towns have a bus system that you could use for getting around.  And the cost of transportation could be a factor in your decision.

For example, in Vail, Colorado the bus system is even free.  So it may be worth even paying more in rent if you end up saving money versus using a personal vehicle to commute from a farther distance.  Not to mention the hassle, stress, and potential danger of winter driving.

Utilities Included or Not?

Consider the price of utilities and if it’s included or not.  You may be tempted to always choose the housing with the cheapest monthly rent payment.  But if you forget to factor in the cost of utilities, you may not be seeing the complete picture.

Furnished Or Un-Furnished

Consider the value of a rental that comes furnished.  If you need to go out and buy furnishings, then that could cost a few hundred to easily over a thousand dollars.

Conclusion | How To Find Housing In A Ski Town

Finding and securing affordable housing in a ski town continues to get harder.  It was difficult before COVID, and now it’s gotten even harder with the flood of remote workers with high incomes.  The current state of housing in ski towns is a borderline crisis.  Most of the local jobs don’t pay enough to compete with the incomes of second-home owners or high-earning remote workers.

I will caution that if you have dreams of building a traditional life (buy a house, have kids, etc) a ski town is not an ideal place to do it.  That’s why many people leave after a couple years.  They enjoy the mountains for a few years, but then leave because they can’t see a future for themselves in a ski town.  The job opportunities they seek just don’t exist, and the ability to buy a home and start a family are bleak.

But, it is possible to find housing in a ski town.  We have friends living in Jackson Hole, Telluride, Vail, and other notoriously unaffordable ski towns.  Our friends, like us, are able to overlook the negatives, because we just love skiing and the outdoors that much.

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How To Find Affordable Housing In A Ski Town

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