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Moving to be closer to skiing, maybe?

post #1 of 50
Thread Starter 

I love skiing, and live near Philadelphia.....I work in a warehouse and make a modest living, not college educated. I am in my upper 30's and live with my teen aged son who also loves to ski. In the winter its all we do and all summer we watch MSP films and talk about next season lol. We have little family around and all of my siblings have moved to other states. My father has passed and Mother is moving to live with a sibling this summer in another state. There really isn't a lot tying me to Philly except my job and health insurance. I was planning on using my savings to pay off my mortgage and started thinking that my free time would be much more enjoyed if I wasnt living in Philadelphia suburbs.


I drive an hour to work, and hour and a half to ski 1100' of vert in narrow, icy, trails. In the summer its an hour and 45 every weekend to go riding dirt bikes. I spend a lot of my life in my truck getting to where I want to enjoy my time, and really I love skiing the most of all my hobbies, yet in PA our best seasons start late december and end early march. Yes in the past we have has openings in late November of one 700' vert trail of crud, and closings in early april but all march was skiing ice and mud. As much as I love the night skiing on the frozen blown over east coast ice sheets the season is so short and every year I watch all the people out west skiing well after my skis have begun collecting dust.


So I started to think why not just try to find a home in Colorado within a hour or so of a nice ski area. I have been looking for awhile and there does seem to be some homes in my price range in towns like Hayden which seems close to steamboat or an hour south of breck but I dont know if the logistics of getting a new job out there once I got there would be like. What the towns in the mountains are like for traveling to and from work. FWIW I was looking to spend 200ish outright so I could live mortgage free and dont need to make a fortune to get by, reducing my bills to basic necessity things (food, electric, water, lift tickets, new skis)


I look at houses that are off the grid with solar power and lots of land which would be sweet for dirt bikes in the summer and snowmobiles in the winter but what about those solar panels being covered in snow lol. What about travel to the highways to get to work, town, w/e. Then I look at condos, its just me and my son after all, but HOA fees and people everywhere turn me off, plus no where to store toys? Altho there are some condos really close to skiing I also need to think about my sons last two years of high school coming up, and it seems some of the condos close to skiing also have better schools then the homes further out.


The other side of it is staying in PA where I can get away for one trip a year to ski out west, once a year to ski vermont, and every weekend in the Poconos for 10-14 week seasons. I don't know what to do, mostly because I have a stable job and that makes it difficult.


My mother told me, Ben you are gonna be 40 soon, and after that its all over, you only live once and you love to ski just move already.


So guess I am just spit balling here on what to do, where to move if I decide to bite the bullet late this summer and what the epic ski community thinks?

post #2 of 50

Sounds to me like you're in a position to do it. Let the research begin. Assuming that getting a decent job is necessary, I would definitely put job market into the mix. Perhaps keep your Philly house and rent it out so you can always return if living in ski country isn't what you had hoped. 

post #3 of 50
Well, you might want to read this first, paying attention to not only the thread, but the article itself and the comments section below it: http://www.epicski.com/t/146882/the-perils-of-living-in-a-ski-town/0_10

Beyond that, if money is a constraint, then look at less widely known areas. Remember actual land is a finite commodity, and the less land available for people to build, the more you are going to pay. The more people want to live there, the greater issue this becomes.

Construction is where a lot of the jobs are in ski towns during boom times, but if you've got a mortgage you can barely cover, you're not going to survive the next bust cycle. There also may be railroad jobs, but with the price of oil going down, the Bakken oil fields aren't shipping as much, so BNSF may be cutting back. As for housing, around this area you'd be in Columbia Falls but that won't last much longer. Still a better commute than you've got right now. (Forty minutes from the area of town I'm thinking of.)

This place has some land, most other listings are condos: 3 bds • 2.0 ba • 1,568 sqft home at 1260 4th West North Ave: http://u.zillow.com/p2I3Soj

A bit further out: 2 bds • 1.0 ba • 2,480 sqft home at 375 Bear St: http://u.zillow.com/p7s6qs
Edited by sibhusky - 5/22/16 at 10:37am
post #4 of 50

Forgive me if I don't have all of the facts, but it seems to me that Colorado might not be your best option.  If you're looking for another job you might have more luck looking in places like SLC and Seattle which both could fulfill your needs on all counts.  I'm using the city names to focus on the geographic areas, there are lot of communities and lots of rural land near both that could fulfill your needs.  I can vouch for the fact that prices for housing in Seattle are atmospheric but get out of town a way and it's not nearly so bad.


In my area there are places in the hills that are within 1 to 1/2 hour of Mt. Baker that have lots of room and are not ridiculously expensive.  Other places in my region to look at could be Wenatchee, Enumclaw, Yakima, and their surrounding areas. 


Do not delay, get yourself out to ski country asap.

post #5 of 50

SLC provides pretty cheap housing within 30 mins of world class skiing in an approximately 1 million population metro areas with a fair amount of jobs.  The housing in Denver is not as cheap as SLC, but it's a bigger city with many opportunities and great skiing within 60-90 mins. Don't know what your username is all about, but could a warehousing job in the booming Colorado 420 business be applicable to your skills and interests??

post #6 of 50
If my son only had 2 years left in high school I'd stay put until he graduates with his friends. I'd take those 2 years to visit different areas that look like someplace I'd want to move, investigate the job market in my field of expertise or interest. Sell everything I don't need to take with me including the home and be ready to make the move after graduation with my son.
post #7 of 50
Speaking as someone whose kid was moved between sophomore and junior year, and whose husband's parents moved as he went off to college... That depends on the kid. In my husband's case, he'd come home for the summer to a "new" town, with no friends to hang out with when work was over, for four years until he left, permanently, for grad school. It made for a really disconnected time in his life. That heavily influenced our own move. The daughter made friends at the new school and feels connected with our new town. Yes, it was tough junior year. But, with ski racing, she met people throughout most high school grades, and when she came home every summer, she had friends to hang out with. Plus after she finished college and had three years of drifting a bit and saving for grad school while working, there was the "hometown base". She is 29 now, living down in Missoula, but she's still "from Whitefish". Most don't realize she spent most of her life in New Jersey. If we'd waited, she wouldn't have these roots, tying her to the same town as her parents. She actually has NO INTEREST in returning to New Jersey except for a quick visit for a wedding or something. She no longer identifies with the suburban East Coast kids she grew up with. She agrees, looking back, that the move mid-high school was the right choice. Not saying that works for everyone, but the severing of ties that occurred for my husband actually impacted his closeness to his parents as well. "Home" wasn't home.
post #8 of 50
Listen to Mama! Go now & don't look back. What Sibhusky says makes sense, your son will adjust quickly especially if he is exposed to the right influences. SLC, Reno or their outlying areas (Ogden, Carson City etc?) should fit the bill. Reasonable cost of living & housing at the gateway of all your recreational needs. PNW also seems like a logical choice if you are not a sun worshiper. I agree with Posaune that Colorado may not be the best choice.
post #9 of 50

If your son is up for the move, I would seriously look in the Billings, MT area.  Red Lodge is the local area with around 2400 vertical and 60 miles away.  Billings is a vibrant city with jobs in your area of expertise.  It has 4 high schools, 3 public and 1 parochial.  All very good schools.  It also is only 140 miles from Bridger Bowl, and when you're feeling rich, 180 miles from Big Sky.  Another close option is Showdown at about 180 miles.


post #10 of 50

Agree with 4ster on SLC/Ogden or Reno/Carson City for decent metro areas with lots of job prospects and lots of good sking and other rec opportunities. 

post #11 of 50

I'm someone who moved from Eastern PA to Vermont to chase the snow. Granted, I was born and raised in New England, and lived in VT prior to PA... but I did make the shift from skiing Blue Mt. (I'm assuming you ski at Blue, since that's the only mountain with over 1000 vert in Eastern PA). I say go for it. And I'd also say do it now rather than later. Your son is halfway through high school, if he is considering college, you want to have yourself settled somewhere to be considered for resident tuition at the colleges you are near. If you've only been there a few months, he won't be eligible for in-state tuition in your new state or in PA, and it would leave him kind of out of luck for his first few semesters. 


I will say that it is a good idea to keep an eye on cost of living differences when considering where to go. I moved from the Lehigh Valley in PA to Chittenden Co. in VT, and the cost of living up here is much, much higher than where I was. Based on your travel times, I'm guessing you're closer to Philly, which means your CoL is higher than up in the Allentown area. But living in or near a mountain town can be expensive. And it can come in ways that you don't expect, too. Maybe housing and food and such break even. But I can tell you for sure that my utility bills went up a bunch, because you're pouring a ton more energy into heating your house every year. Another expense that I was cognizant of, but my PA native wife didn't realize was the increase in how much you're spending on cars/trucks. Vehicles generally don't last as long in the mountains as they do down in the flat, relatively warm climes. Sand, salt, and cinders deal an absolute beating to the undercarriage of your car. Schlepping up and down steep grades is a strain on your transmission, and if you're in the Rockies, you're going to be running on chains at times, which can be rough. Plus you need two sets of tires for every car you own... 


I mention this not to discourage you in any way. I think it's a great idea. I just did the transition from PA to the mountains with a native Pennsylvanian, and I know some of the things she saw as surprising when we made the move. We still don't regret moving. Good luck!

post #12 of 50

I did it in 2005.  Quit my job and moved from Austin to an apartment unseen in Lakewood CO...seemed like a good spot between the mountains for skiing and Denver for job opportunities.  The hardest part was mixing mountain sports with job hunting...the cell phone reception was terrible in the foothills and I'd get callbacks while mountain biking. 

post #13 of 50
Originally Posted by freeski919 View Post

 Your son is halfway through high school, if he is considering college, you want to have yourself settled somewhere to be considered for resident tuition at the colleges you are near. If you've only been there a few months, he won't be eligible for in-state tuition in your new state or in PA, and it would leave him kind of out of luck for his first few semesters. 



This is not always true. Every state and school will have different rules. My son was at a SUNY and  the day his mom moved to NYS his tuition went down. States will deny in state tuition for a year when a student tries to claim in state rates and is still claimed as a dependenton the parents' tax return . If the parents move and the student is still a dependent, there is a good chance you will get the in state rates.


What does your son want to do?

post #14 of 50
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the good replies, for what its worth the day I posted this I also posted some questions on other forums about my reef aquarium and jetting questions on my quads and the best/most responses have come from this site.


My son is kinda aloof of what work really is still lol. He is working with me this summer and will get a taste of what putting in an honest day of work really is. When I ask him what he wants to be his options are A: A professional skier B: A professional motocross rider or C: A Veterinarian. Who really knows he is going to have to figure a lot out in the next few years. He wants to move that's for sure, although right now all he is thinking of is skiing lol.


 Blue Mt. (I'm assuming you ski at Blue, since that's the only mountain with over 1000 vert in Eastern PA


yep we have season passes to Blue, get em every year but since we travel so far we really don't get there more then every weekend. Don't get me wrong I love Blue but I love it for the night skiing, fun atmosphere, and with the season pass you get VIP lift access which allows fast laps. I just hate the fact that the lines are really just narrow paths of snow (packed granular and ice)  more or less straight down that give little room to play and get creative. Usually blue opens mid to late December with 20% open, by late Jan early Feb they have 80-100% open and close in early march so being a skier around me means a real short season or a lot of late season travel. Plus as I get older I find my knees hold up much better when I ski then when I smash around off road with my son all summer.


 Colorado 420 business be applicable to your skills and interests??

Not that I would be opposed to that but my username is actually more of a reef aquarium reference, people who keep reef aquariums often refer to each other as reefers short for reef keepers. 


I was pretty much just looking in Colorado, but now you all have me thinking much bigger spectrum. I do appreciate the responses.

post #15 of 50

My wife and I are in the same boat as you, literally! We live in Philly and have decided to relocate to a ski town and have settled in SLC for the reasons mentioned already: sizable town, good real estate values, and proximity to skiing!


We are in a slightly different position than you as we are both white collar workers and our move is highly job dependent, but we are on our way to landing work that will satisfy us. We also have a child, but he is just 1, so not a skier yet, but we are doing this so he can have the experience of growing up with the mountains as his backyard. If we didn't have as many attachments in the area (read: family), we would have no second thoughts about making the move.


I'd prefer to move to CO because culturally we are more of a fit there and I find that the mountains in CO feel more wild than the Wasatch, but for ease of access to the slopes, proximity to a major airport, and The Best Snow on Earth, SLC is where we will most likely end up.

post #16 of 50

Never had the balls to pickup and move out to Ski country,  but fortunately my company did it for me. a few years ago I was relocated from Chicago to SLC . It was the best thing to ever happen to me and my wife. The outdoor activity is unbelievable. I'm still in awe of the mountains that surround the Valley and consider myself blessed to live here. Hiking, Fishing,mountain biking and obviously skiing are off the hook in Utah. and all are easily accessed with a short drive or ride.


I will say , when i first thought of moving to Utah, I thought I would have a lot of land ( u know wide open spaces) . but the SLC valley is really congested and most properties in the 200K range will get you very little grass to mow. Population is booming out here and every empty plot of land is quickly being developed. Construction business is good!  Property taxes are next to nil compared to the big city ( chicago was far from cheap) . I see new businesses popping up every day, the job market is excelllent.


look somewhere near the cottonwood canyons or more remote locations up around ogden ( Powmow, snow basin) ..Park city will cost you an arm and a leg.


just my 2 cents. it was an easy move for us since we have no kids. i know that's a huge factor in the decision - i moved twice in high school , kids adapt

post #17 of 50

I would recommend focusing on job opportunities first. With a family to support I certainly wouldn't move before I had a job lined up. Out west well paying blue color full time jobs with full benefits are scarcer than in the East. Housing in actual ski towns is enormously expensive, especially for a family, and especially when compared with the jobs in the tourist industry. You can figure on driving at least as far you are currently for a day of skiing and possibly a lot farther. You can expect highways heading towards ski areas to be very crowded on weekends.


In addition to Salt Lake City you might consider other cities along the Wasatch front. However, unlike SLC they are heavily Mormon which means social life centers around the temple--LDS are not prejudiced against their non-Mormon neighbors (Utah is probably a lot friendlier than the City of Brotherly Love); it's just that you wouldn't find a lot of social life outside the church.

post #18 of 50

Consider that too many people are focused on destination resorts as the only place to move to since they come (or came) from the East and don't have any idea about the non-destination skiing available in many parts of the West.  The Cascades are full of varied terrain, huge snowfall, and good skiing.  The one thing they don't have is tourist lodging, which is not a factor if you live here but which keeps the outsiders away and keeps the prices down.  The I-5 corridor has a wealth of great ski areas and the eastern side of the mountain range has some underappreciated places.


Ski areas like Mt. Baker, Stevens Pass, Alpental, Crystal Mountain, Mission Ridge, White Pass, Mount Hood Meadows, Timberline, Mt. Bachelor, and several others are within easy reach for day skiing from many communities, some of which are not ridiculously expensive, and some are relatively cheap.  Don't overlook these type of places when figuring your options.

post #19 of 50
I say move. There will always be reasons not to move and those reasons seem to grow with each passing year. I also think your 40s are a period where you start to feel the grind more acutely.

I would definitely not limit your choices to Colorado. Nice state, but also expensive and a little crowded. I'd take SLC over Colorado in your circumstances for sure. Great skiing at Alta/bird and close enough to Southern Utah/NW Wyoming for a weekend trip. Western Washington has a lot going for it, but lots of people too. If you can find a job, Eastern Washington/Spokane has far fewer people, relatively inexpensive real estate, and some good skiing. From my door in Spokane I'm an hour away from good skiing, two to three hours away from really good skiing, and outside of Christmas break there's generally no such thing as a lift line. Research some areas, find a job, pull the trigger.
post #20 of 50

In your position it's very, very simple. SLC. Best skiing in the known universe, and a town where you can find and get a job without a lot of hassle.


Don't overthink this - SLC. Simple and done.

post #21 of 50
Just checked Craigslist locally (Kalispell, Columbus Falls, Whitefish. Tons of jobs under General Labor. I think the economic recovery, while fueling housing costs, is also, fortunately, fueling the means to cover them.
post #22 of 50

I was born in Philly, and feel compelled to help you in your quest.  My mother and father were born and raised in the Frankford area of Philadelphia.  He didn't want to raise me in the city, so off to Bozeman, Montana were went right after I finished 1st grade.  Today's Bozeman is much bigger (about 50K), and more expensive to live in.  However, there are smaller towns within a 30 mile radius that offer cheaper living while still working in a booming town and having awesome skiing near by at Bridger Bowl and Big Sky.  The towns include Belgrade (8 miles), Manhattan (15 miles), Three Forks (30 miles), Gallatin Gateway (10 miles), and Livingston (20 miles).  Montana State University is in Bozeman, and is an excellent school of around 15,000 students.  Here are some links to follow:











If, after checking out work opportunities, you don't find anything, I would consider Billings.  It is the biggest city in Montana and is always booming.  Billings as 3 public high school and 1 Catholic high school.  There are two 4 year colleges there, Rocky Mountain College (that offers an equine degree that might fit the son's veterinarian interest.) and Montana State University-Billings.  Red Lodge is 60 miles away, but 60 miles in Montana is more like 20 back east!  The interstates are 80 mph and the 2 lane are 70 with little traffic.  Again, there are several smaller towns in the area if you prefer a more country setting some of which include Laurel, Huntley, Shepherd, and Joliet.

Here are some links to check out:






Take care and God Luck!


P.S.  There are no Tastykakes to be found, but they do ship!!

post #23 of 50

Lot's of nice places to live in the inter mountain west.  

Still baffles me why people think the OP would have to live in a big city.

post #24 of 50
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post

Lot's of nice places to live in the inter mountain west.  

Still baffles me why people think the OP would have to live in a big city.

Most people live in big cities, so they don't know how nice it is to have some room.  Also, the cities work as easy regional markers.  In my case I mentioned Seattle to focus attention on the region, because telling someone from Philadelphia "Western Washington" would not paint a clear picture for them of what I'm talking about if they're not familiar with my state's geography.


Certainly there are lots of places in all of the regions mentioned where a person can get away and live in a rural or small town setting.

post #25 of 50
Nitpicking here. Actually, Billings is the largest city, not the second largest. Left off the complete list.

Largest Cities In Montana Population data based on 2012 city related-census.

Largest Cities In Montana (2013).
Rank City/Town Population County
1 Billings 108,869 Yellowstone
2 Missoula 69,821 Missoula
3 Great Falls 59,152 Cascade
4 Bozeman 41,660 Gallatin
5 Butte 33,980 Silver Bow
6 Helena 29,943 Lewis and Clark
7 Kalispell 21,518 Flathead
8 Havre 9,792 Hill
9 Anaconda 9,150 Deer Lodge
10 Miles City 8,758 Custer
11 Belgrade 7,798 Gallatin
12 Livingston 7,245 Park
13 Laurel 6,936 Yellowstone
14 Whitefish 6,864 Flathead
15 Sidney 6,473 Richland
16 Lewistown 5,867 Fergus
17 Glendive 5,399 Dawson
18 Columbia Falls 4,922 Flathead
19 Polson 4,607 Lake
20 Hamilton 4,594 Ravalli
post #26 of 50

I did state that Billings was the largest city in Montana! I wrote, "I would consider Billings.  It is the biggest city in Montana and is always booming."  No need to nit pick.  I tend to check what I state in a state I basically grew up in!  I'm sure you know a lot more about the northern tier as I only venture up to Big Mountain / Whitefish Resort for races or to play Kalispell in football.



post #27 of 50
I guess I need my eyes checked, could have sworn you had second largest, which is why I went checking after I read it. Clearly am losing it.. My apologies.
post #28 of 50

No worries!  I remember a time when it was a constant battle between Billings and Great Falls over who was bigger.  Things have really changed in that race!

post #29 of 50

I agree with what others are saying to follow your passion.  Use the input from this forum and other forums to help guide you - lots of great advice.


A decision to move across the country for skiing and other outdoor activities can be quite daunting.  My company relocated us from Cincinnati to SLC 9 years ago.  We were not sure what to expect, but soon realized it had so much to offer.  Obviously, the skiing is world-class, but we also learned that summertime in the mountains offers unlimited options.  And having 5 National Parks a few hours to the south, and Yellowstone and Grand Teton a few hours to the north is really cool.


Yet one of the best things for us was something we never even thought of.  My kids were able to attend NUAMES High School in Layton, which is affiliated with Weber State University.  During their junior and senior years they took college classes for free (we paid for books and fees), and both graduated High School with their Associates Degree.


Best of luck to you and your son.

Edited by NeedToSki - 5/28/16 at 7:35am
post #30 of 50

Following one's passion is not for people with a family to support--the family's interest comes first. And being relocated by one's company is not the same is moving to ski country with a high school education and no job waiting.

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