Originally Posted by Flatiron
Don't know anything about the real estate market in Tahoe, but wonder about renting, timesharing or owning in Tahoe area and driving up on weekends (hey I can dream right?). I really love hiking and skiing and can't seem to think of a life there without the mountains. Are prices off the charts for a modest second home/condo?
We lived in the city of SF for about seven years and did lots of skiing and hiking. (Hiking in the summer almost every weekend, north of the city in Marin and also in the Sierras, so it can be done.)
Mostly our skiing was in Kirkwood, because it's a terrific hill (a little quiet and old-school at night, but we liked that, rather than the ugly casinos in South Lake) and you can drive up there the *back way* and avoid some of the traffic jam that is the drive to the main lake. Kirkwood is
still building out in the base village, so I would say that there's still a chance to get a *decent* (in CA terms) price on something in a pre-construction building.
Most of our friends, however, rented houses in South Lake Tahoe, where we stayed a bunch of times. They were either in the shares that a pp mentioned or they arranged something a few months ahead of time whereby they got a discounted rate if they booked a certain number of long weekends several months in advance. There's lots of this in the neighborhoods in South Lake, although nothing ski-in, ski-out, exactly.
A cautionary tale: The reason we usually skied Kirkwood is that we had a couple of trips to North or South Lake Tahoe via the major arteries (50 & 80) that took more than EIGHT hours. When there is heavy snow, things fall apart on Fridays and Sundays. Many Californians aren't used to driving in snow, and chaining up is required for the passes if you don't have 4WD AND snow tires. (Bizarre to us after living in CO and NH, where the state motto is "Live Free or Die" and we used to drive the highways in 20-yr-old Volvos with bald tires in blizzards.) Everything can grind to a halt, to the point that you can turn off the car and sleep for a few hours before you move again. Not fun with small children!
So we shifted to Kirkwood (which, admittedly, can become inaccessible due to the fact that it's surrounded by avy zones), and whenever possible left on Thursday and returned Monday morning OR drove up at 5am on Saturday, skied Saturday, slept in Sunday, ate brunch, and drive home before the crowds!
We did lots and lots of outdoorsy things, though, and though we have a few horror stories, we mostly had a great time in the mountains of CA.