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second home ownership at Steamboat or Avon?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

I'm probably a couple years away from it, but considering buying a vacation home/condo in ski country. Anybody care to weigh-in on the pros and cons of buying a place at Steamboat or Avon?  I might consider other areas, but that's probably better for another thread.

 

Steamboat: for a good sized, renowned area Steamboat seems to have more affordable prices in numerous oldish condos almost walkable to the base of the mtn. Something like a two bdrm condo in the low $200k range is probably what I'm in the market for. I've skied Steamboat only three days a couple years ago, but have a basic feel for the terrain. Not the most radical stuff, but I'm not a rad skier and as older guy I like the fact that it's not super high elevation. This would be for retirement living in winter and possibly summer months. I like the feel of the town of Steamboat Springs, but recognize the area is somewhat isolated and 4+ hours from affordable flights into Denver's airport. However there is the pricier convenience of Yampa Valley airport.

 

Avon: it looks like you might be able to get a similar condo for about the same around Avon, CO or towards Edwards, although possibly not as much selection at that price and less convenient access to ski trails, but there is shuttle bus and Avon gondola. Have also skied Beaver Creek, but for only two days. It's an amazingly well-run place, if a bit vanilla. Similar to Steamboat for ski terrain, but a little higher elevation range. I like that Avon would be closer to Denver with many other ski areas nearby. The I70 corridor has a bit more standard exo-suburbia feel and can be very busy at peak times. My wife is mostly phasing out of downhill skiing, but might get more into cross country skiing in retirement years. I would hope that she'd spend a considerable amount of time with me at this vacation home. She liked the upscale ambiance of Beaver Creek/Vail for après ski strolls, dining, and shopping. However, she also liked some aspects of the small town friendliness of Steamboat Springs particularly the Holy Name Catholic Church community. She's an artsy/craftsy type and we're middle class and somewhat conservative.

 

What are the factors I should think about with these two areas in mind for a second home in retirement years?

post #2 of 16
Maybe visit in the seasons you'd think you'd use it? Towns that are resorts feel totally different during the off season compared to the ski season. One thing to visit, another thing to live in a place. Subscribe to the local paper, find out what they are tweaked about. Unless you just want to be tourists in your retirement years.
post #3 of 16
I'd pick Steamboat over Avon every time. Living in the eagle river valley is like living on the Jersey turnpike with a really big crowded mountain that 80-90 % of is really boring skiing and the other mountain is really nice but not as nice as Steamboat. Steamboat feels like a real town.......eagle river valley feels like a bunch of exits....oh wait that what it is.


Oh and you might look further west at Glenwood Springs or Carbondale.
post #4 of 16

How often do would you expect to be traveling to/from the place?  Just wondering if distance from a major airport hub like Denver vs Hayden is worth considering.

 

Would you be renting out the place to others at all?

post #5 of 16
Steamboat is somewhat isolated. That can be a plus or minus. Are you ok with skiing at one mountain? Will you have frequent visitors and if so, is convenient travel a factor? What kind of cultural events do you frequent? Will you want/need to go to Denver often? What about health issues? Will you need access to healt care resources in Denver on a frequent basis? How much windshield time can you tolerate?

Maybe spending 1/2 of a ski season and part of a shoulder season and summer in each place will help you find the best place for your needs.
post #6 of 16

I have a second home in PC. Factors that made me decide on there, were access to hub airport, multiple ski areas, cool town and local scene, summer scene and stuff to do. There's a saying "you bought for the winter and stayed for the summer". I'm discovering there's some truth in that. Also, Sibhusky is completely correct that living someplace and being a tourist someplace are two completely different things. Having lived in Maui for 30 years, I can tell you that where you want to live and what you want to do can change. I would recommend talking to some locals in the area you are thinking about. Ask for pros and cons. Would also recommend trying to befriend some locals to get a real feel for the place. Which is very different than the tourist feel.   

post #7 of 16

Also, on picking a place to buy, where you buy may be highly dependent on whether you intend to rent to vacationers or not. My place in PC is in a area that is easy to rent to tourists. That is only because I need to rent it for financial reasons. If I didn't need to rent, I would want to buy in an area where locals live, and doesn't allow vacation rentals. I have learned from Maui that living where the tourists are gets old.   

post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thanks for feedback and here are responses to some of the questions. 

I'd expect to stay in the place for three months in winter and maybe two months in summer.  Might see family and friends coming to visit quite frequently though.  I tolerate windshield time very well and most likely would be driving my own car from the East to CO at the start of each extended stay in CO. But could see how it would be a pain to drive from Steamboat to pick up visitors at Denver airport every other weekend. Wouldn't be counting on rental income, but wouldn't rule out renting the property infrequently.  I very much like skiing variety, but could ski a place like Steamboat for much of a season, maybe with a half dozen days skiing elsewhere.  If I were in Avon I'd attempt to ski all the Vail Resorts in the area and maybe stay longer to ski late season at A-Basin if it's still on the Epic Pass.  The comments about living near locals instead of tourists are thought provoking.  I'm not set on slopeside and could accept a short commute to slopes.  Love the Aspen ski areas and stayed recently in Carbondale, appreciate that it would be a viable alternative to expensive Aspen real estate, but that is pushing the limit of my tolerance for a daily commute to ski. I can see some positives in living in Steamboat Springs vs. the condo village around the base of the mtn to get more of a non-tourist environment.

post #9 of 16

After almost three years full time I will agree with a lot of what has been said. There are actually three zones around a ski area. The resort area proper, a rental zone, and then where the locals live. You really want to avoid the first two. Any time you spend getting to the hill every day is well worth the space it puts between you and the tourist population. They're not called tourons for nothing. You'll also get more for your money although your rental potential will be lower/zero. 

 

Avon vs Steamboat. Since your stays will be three months max the isolation of SB should not be an issue. You may come to appreciate the remoteness when it comes to visitors. I have a neighbor who after he bought his place started inviting everyone he knows to come share his new mountain home. After a couple seasons his wife was in near rebellion. I guess running a bed and breakfast wasn't on her agenda. Be sure your non-skiing wife can find enough to do wherever you choose. SB is very much a ski town in the winter. Avon isn't exactly full of non-skiing options but Denver is only 1.5 hrs away and the driving is easy most of the time if you can be flexible. 

 

Keep an open mind on scheduling your visits. If you only come peak seasons you'll never experience having the place to yourself during shoulder season. Both areas get pretty busy mid-summer and winter. When it comes to skiing we endure Dec-Feb so we can enjoy late March-May. July and Aug aren't nearly as nice as late Sept. 

post #10 of 16
As a year round local, I can tell you that the Monday after the resort closes, when the place is empty of traffic and you can come to a dead stop on the street and talk to your buddy before some horn blasts, is WONDERFUL. Finally you don't need reservations to dinner. Checkout lines are short. I'm sure the cops are happier. I don't live downtown, or in fact even go downtown much, but the peace is incredible. A town of 8000 year round, with 800,000 visitors? Imagine the change.
Quote:
July and Aug aren't nearly as nice as late Sept.
post #11 of 16

Yep, the fall is awesome in the mountains. I've done a guys mountain bike trip the last 3 years in PC in late September. The summer tourists are gone and the fall colors are awesome. Stevesmith's points about the wife having something to do are well taken. Your life can get pretty miserable pretty quickly if she's going stir crazy. I have a lot of experience with knowing couples who moved to Maui. man is happy surfing, SUP, windsurfing, etc. Wife misses family/friends and is not happy. My wife was in that category. The trick was her forming good friendships. I would also put some energy into making some friends asap as it will expand your activiites and feeling of being connected to the community. Alpine sking is great, but you can't do it all the time. And personally, I think I would get bored if that's all I did.

post #12 of 16

What three months are you going to ski?  Dec-Feb is great at Steamboat, but it gets warm early at the lower elevation.  If you'll be back east for Christmas, you'll have a longer season of good snow at Avon.  There is a real benefit to higher elevation, and unless one have serious health issues, altitude problems won't persist for long.  I also like the higher altitude in the summer for the cooler air.  It gets much warmer at Steamboat, and few places in the high country have A/C, although probably more in Steamboat.

post #13 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by stevesmith7 View Post
 

After almost three years full time I will agree with a lot of what has been said. There are actually three zones around a ski area. The resort area proper, a rental zone, and then where the locals live. You really want to avoid the first two. Any time you spend getting to the hill every day is well worth the space it puts between you and the tourist population. They're not called tourons for nothing. You'll also get more for your money although your rental potential will be lower/zero. 

 

Avon vs Steamboat. Since your stays will be three months max the isolation of SB should not be an issue. You may come to appreciate the remoteness when it comes to visitors. I have a neighbor who after he bought his place started inviting everyone he knows to come share his new mountain home. After a couple seasons his wife was in near rebellion. I guess running a bed and breakfast wasn't on her agenda. Be sure your non-skiing wife can find enough to do wherever you choose. SB is very much a ski town in the winter. Avon isn't exactly full of non-skiing options but Denver is only 1.5 hrs away and the driving is easy most of the time if you can be flexible. 

 

Keep an open mind on scheduling your visits. If you only come peak seasons you'll never experience having the place to yourself during shoulder season. Both areas get pretty busy mid-summer and winter. When it comes to skiing we endure Dec-Feb so we can enjoy late March-May. July and Aug aren't nearly as nice as late Sept. 

 

It depends on what you want. I bought a condo in Breck. It is right in the tourist zone. However, I can walk everywhere I need to go - skiing, bars, stores and restaurants.  The crowds don't bother me. I appreciate the convenience and not having to drive my car. It can be a plus for some or minus for others - just depends on what you want.

post #14 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by tball View Post

I also like the higher altitude in the summer for the cooler air.  It gets much warmer at Steamboat, and few places in the high country have A/C, although probably more in Steamboat.

Town of Avon is 7,400ft, SS downtown is 6,700, most condos and homes are closer to the elevation of the base area (6,900ft), many are actually higher in elevation than the base area... hardly enough to make a difference in temps.  Summer weather here is the same you'll get in Avon.  Sure, we typically get a week long heatwave of 90ish temps, but when it's hot here, it's hot in Avon.  Average summer time daytime highs are very pleasant (70s, low 80s).  I've lived here 12 years... never had a need for ac (most places here do not have or need ac in the summer).  Night time stays cool (40s/50s).  Summers are actually amazing here... but shhh don't tell anyone.

 

If you're looking at old SB condos, make sure to check out the HOA's... if reserves aren't managed well, you do not want to be dealing with a huge assessment in the near future.  Also HOA fees can vary greatly across properties, so dig into the HOA's if you get serious about buying.  Also keep in mind, SB doesn't have a city property tax... not sure Avon's tax structure, but I would assume they charge city property tax. 

post #15 of 16

^^^^ Even at Copper at 9600ft there are summer days when A/C would be nice.  You are right, It always cools off at night, though.  We got married at Beaver Creek (above Avon at 8100ft) and several folks commented how hot it was during the day and they were surprised that their was no A/C given the price of the properties.   No doubt summer is great anywhere in the high country, and the warmer fall and spring would be much nicer in Steamboat.  For a year round town and weather it's hard to beat, but if you are not going to be there fall and spring it's not as clear choice, IMO.

 

Edit: And, really good advice about closely checking the HOA.  They are all over the board in terms of their financial stability and management competence.

post #16 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by skier31 View Post
 

 

It depends on what you want. I bought a condo in Breck. It is right in the tourist zone. However, I can walk everywhere I need to go - skiing, bars, stores and restaurants.  The crowds don't bother me. I appreciate the convenience and not having to drive my car. It can be a plus for some or minus for others - just depends on what you want.

I think you need to decide if you'll be a long term tourist or a part time local. It's all a mindset thing.

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