I have the great fortune of having to make a rather big but exciting decision. I have the luck to be able to live anywhere I want with no obligations what so ever to work or earn a living and with great financial freedom. I am an an expert plus skier with lots of big mountain experience but for the last 20 years have had to live by small mountains that were fun for a few hours a day but offered little challenge (Mt Hood Meadows, Ski Santa Fe and Wolf Creek). That was the price I paid for the freedom I have now. But now I want to live by a big mountain. The caveat is that I also want to live in a more or less real town (not just a tourist resort) that is not too small (5000+ people) and not too big (no more than 50,000), has some real culture and diversity, has great biking in the summer (both road and mountain) and where it is possible to buy a house with land (at least 5 acres) within 30 minutes or so of the mountain (on a powder day) for under $2m. Oh and a college nearby would be good too. Oh and in the US only, not prepared to move to Canada at this point.
Choices on the list include:
Durango Colorado -
pluses: great town with college
minuses: mediocre mountain close by (sorry Purg fans), but Silverton and Telluride not that far away
I've been to Durango often and skied Purgatory, Telluride and SIlverton
Park City Utah area -
pluses: multiple great mountains, Salt Lake city close by with colleges, airports, etc.
I went to college in Salt Lake City and have skied Deer Valley, Park City and Canyons (and most all other Utah areas). Never spent much time in Park City the town though.
Jackson Wyoming area -
pluses: great mountain
minuses: pretty isolated, no college really close by, questions about culture (too many super rich?)
Never been to Jackson nor skied there.
Bozeman Montana area -
pluses: great mountains close by (Bridger, Big Sky), good college, large enough population for diversity and some culture
Never been to Bozeman nor have I skied Bridger or Big Sky.
Ketchum Idaho area -
pluses: great mountain in many ways
minuses: but sometimes snow challenged and not really an "extreme" mountain, pretty isolated
Been to Ketchum/Sun Valley many times in summer and winter and have skied there.
Cour D'Alene/Sandpoint Idaho area -
pluses: very good mountain (Schweitzer)
Never been or skied there.
Steamboat Springs Colorado area -
pluses: nice mountain
minuses: beetle kill, isolated
Been to Steamboat in summer before beetle plague, never skied there.
Telluride is probably too small and isolated, same for Crested Butte. Summit County Colorado is out, been there, don't like it. Vail Valley is out. Not a real town, too close to Denver, etc. Tahoe is pretty much out because I don't want to live in California again. Whitefish MT (Big Mountain) is too isolated. Ogden a possibility with Snowbasin.
So community give me your thoughts, insights and info to help me make this decision. Especially interested in Bozeman/Bridger insight since it is high on the list.