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Sooo tempted to give up the day job

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 
I'm a newly qualified instructor (CSIA 1) working in IT (reason enough, I guess). I'm just sooooo tempted to give back the car keys, rent the flat, and walk away from my salary so that I can go live in the mountains and teach skiing, get my level 2, and get my life back, but I'm not sure I could afford to live on the wages (I've heard they're not great). Does anyone have any stories, words of wisdom, encouragement, or regrets so that I can give this some serious thought before next season?

I have to do something about the fact that everytime I have a few beers I start boring my friends with this!!!
post #2 of 32
Try making new friends. We hire plenty of UK instructors during the season at Winter Park; then go back to your flat in the Summer and do contract work in IT to save up for the next season.
post #3 of 32
I've thought about this for years, and still do. But then I remember what it was like when I sold my business and had to work 3 jobs to keep my house. I talk about quitting my job in NYC and moving to the mountains with the wife all the time. She's not into it. It's a tough decision, especialy when the main reason is to ski. If it was easier, and I was single, I might do it. But it my case it takes 2 to tango. If you have no ties, then maybe you can do it.
post #4 of 32
If you're a single person who loves skiing more than driving suv's and living in a nice house and eating fast food, along with putting away money for retirement, then go for it.

Life's too short to not at least give it a try. You'll struggle unless you have a big bankroll.

If I was 25, single, I'd do it. I didn't have the opportunity at that age as I had a family to take care of and big bills to pay.
post #5 of 32
Once we hit 50..we are out of the rat race (because even if you win the rat race...you are still a rat)
post #6 of 32
I say let your passion for skiing guide you.
The wages stink and so do house mates.

Quote "I have to do something about the fact that everytime I have a few beers I start boring my friends with this!!!"
They will never understand. If you can be happy with sore leggs, cheap beer and great ski stories, go for it.
It may take a few seasons to find your niche,then its easy.
Your friends have`nt a clue. They can have the keys,flat and salary. You`ll be the one counting ski days.
Regrets from my 20 year skibum history? Living outside the "normal" parameters of life is a mind game. An easy life is "normal".
Get a summer job lined up. A hard part is having your job end when your already broke from working it.
Good luck.
post #7 of 32
Do you also Kayaking? Mountain Climbing?

I saw the ski stores in Reno changing gears to sell Kayaks. You could be a mountain guide also.

Someone also mentioned jobs for the summer for ski instructors like: Roofers, Swimming Pool installation and maintainence.....

Being in IT for 20 years made me sick, as a contractor/consultant, you have to update your technology evey so often and it is not very comforatble to live in a fear to lose your job on a dime.

Go with your feeling...if skiing instructor makes you happy. Maybe start with part time first and try to find yourself. Maybe a ski/kayak sales job combine with part time ski instructor will satisfy your pockets better.
post #8 of 32
Originally Posted by Phil Pugliese
Once we hit 50..we are out of the rat race (because even if you win the rat race...you are still a rat)
Not altogether true. Maybe at least we learn to let the rats run and stop to pet the dog
post #9 of 32
Originally Posted by MaggieH
I'm a newly qualified instructor (CSIA 1) working in IT (reason enough, I guess). I'm just sooooo tempted to give back the car keys, rent the flat, and walk away from my salary so that I can go live in the mountains and teach skiing, get my level 2, and get my life back, but I'm not sure I could afford to live on the wages (I've heard they're not great). Does anyone have any stories, words of wisdom, encouragement, or regrets so that I can give this some serious thought before next season?

I have to do something about the fact that everytime I have a few beers I start boring my friends with this!!!
MaggieH :I don't know your age but do you want to be 40,50,60 or so and look back and say I wish I did that? Some have said if your single go for it. That is good advice. It's hard with a family but not impossible. I left the "real" world at 31 moved to Vt just married 1 year but no kids at that point. Yeah it was scary and you have to work a few different jobs to make ends meet in ski country. But I didn't want to wait until I was 65 then retire and move to where I wanted to be, I probably would have been dead ( my father died at 63) or physically unable to enjoy the outdoors i.e. skiing. I ski instruct and work in construction it pays the bills, I will never be rich and will have to work until I die but I'll let you in on a little secret at least in the U.S. almost everyone will have to because there will be no pensions and Social Security Ha! thats the biggest fraud being put upon people in the U.S. Have fun now because tomorrow is not guaranteed. 88 days skiing this year hoping to break 100 next year. Don't wait go and don't look back!
post #10 of 32

There is too much pressure to mortgage the present out of fear of the future. At 21 I dropped out of university to do what I really wanted to do - ski. Now, 36 years later, I just finished another fantastic season skiing 120 days. Teaching and coaching has taken me all over the world and taught me a lot about living and enjoying life. Of course I work in the summer too and I'm careful with money. I'm married, own a house and a good car. Unless you are really uptight about having a pension plan, don't wait another moment. Ignore the sheep on the treadmill, abandon the oppressive rat race and follow your heart. It will make you happier, healthier and appreciative of some of the really important things in life. It will change your life forever, and for the better.
post #11 of 32
MaggieH - follow your heart and if it's telling you to do it, then listen.

Take that from one of the "20 years in IT" ski-bums
I blew it off a year and half ago to move to the mountains. Just wrapping up the last of the old ties this week, when the sale of my old city apartment closes.

I'm way more broke but way more happy. Started teaching last year, got my Level 1 (PSIA) this year and thinking about Level 2. Got back into acting, another of my passions, made a bunch of new friends and reconnected with some old ones.

It's worth it for the peace of mind.

In IT we don't have any security anyway, not any more. So many jobs have moved to India or China and are on their way to Vietnam and who knows where after that. I actually feel more secure in IT now that I'm a part-time temporary contractor renewed 3 months at a time, instead of believing that my employer had any real commitment to me. I didn't want to have my job go to India nor did I want to save it by becoming one of the people who send other people's jobs there. Ironically you may end up being more marketable in IT by pulling yourself out of the single-employer full-time game - that game is rigged in favor of the house.

Not to mention that the feeling of showing up at line-up, looking around and thinking "ah, another day at the office!"
post #12 of 32
My advice...If you are single, no kids, no mortgage and you are even remotely contemplating it, absolutely go for it!

You can always go back to the "real world" and get a job and build a career, whereas if you start your "real world" job/career now you'll more than likely get stuck paying the mortgage, raising the kids and climbing the corporate ladder and won't be able to become the skiier w/out a serious disruption of your life and that of other persons you care about, like the kids/spouse.

When I was about 22 my best friend and I were going to join the ski patrol in Tahoe and live our ski bum dreams for a few seasons. I didn't have anything going on other than college and a job I hated working at, Wal*Mart. No car payment, no lease/mortgage, was dating but not important to me at the time. Basically nothing to tie me down...Then my friend had a family emergency and decided not to go. Instead of just heading off on my own, I stuck around to hang out w/my friend.

About a year later I was in a serious relationship and had a kid on the way. It's been 10 years now and I'm still happily married w/two kids, but not a single day goes by, especially during the winter, that I don't wish that I had lived that life for at least a couple of seasons.

I don't resent my wife/kids, but I should've went even if it was by myself.

What I've learned was that the rest of life will wait to start for you to be a ski bum, but life won't wait for you to be as ski bum once it's started.

I think you are more likely to regret not doing it than to regret starting your "normal" career a year or two later.
post #13 of 32
i'm lovin this thread, it's the one i was tempted to start

maggie, i've got the same problem: sick of life in a cubicle and trying to find the guts to get my life back. I've decided to apply for some jobs out west for next season, if it works out i'll get my level 2, teach for a season and see where to go from there.
if it doesn't work out the IT industry isn't going anywhere.
last day as a cubicle dweller - august 30. i get euphoric just thinking of that :


edit: thanks y'all for the encouragement. i'm happy with my decision but it's a scary move regardless, and hearing about the people it worked out for makes me think that i won't be slinking back in a few years with my tail between my legs (figuratively speaking)
post #14 of 32
I'm 23, single, no serious debt, and graduating in 6 months. I have great friends and enjoy my life a lot, but I'm taking off for Jackson and not looking back. Its a rare opportunity to even be able to consider doing something like this, and I figure I really only have about a 2 year window to really get this plan off the ground. Opportunities come and go, and they rarely come back. So yeah Maggie, totally go for it. Its just one winter. If you don't like it you can always go back to what you had. I made skiing a priority this season even while going to school. Commuted 3 hours each way to Mt. Bachelor every chance I got and I found myself happier than I've ever been before purely because of the skiing! Then factor in that skiers and snowboarders tend to be some of the most laid-back, fun loving people in the world. Its a no-brainer, go skiing.
post #15 of 32
I did exactly that. When I graduated from college I had recently passed my Level 2 cert (PSIA) and a guy that I taught with found 2 other buddies and we moved to Frisco, CO. It was good already knowing my primary house mate, but we did pick up one other person to fill out a large townhouse. Since I came home 16 years ago and created a typical suburban life with a wife and 4 kids, there has not been one day that I have regretted my time out there. If I didn't have someone to come back east for and ended up marrying, I probably wouldn't have come back. I miss being out there and dream of going back, but not as a full time instructor, because I have mouths to feed. I recently looked to find a real job out in the Denver area, but nothing came up and I needed to find a job fairly quickly, so I took a job where I already live.

Short answer... Do it!
post #16 of 32


Hello there, Pilazzo.

What part of Oregon are you from...You say it takes you about three hours to get to Mt. Bachelor. That's about how long it takes me, except that I spend most of my ski days on Mt. Hood.

My apologies for jacking the thread, but I'm too curious...Just trying to get some kind of Oregon ski coalition (however it's spelled) going.
post #17 of 32
Hey memosteve,

I'm in Eugene finishing up school, and I grew up in Corvallis. I've skied almost entirely at Bachelor this season, but I grew up skiing at Hoodoo. I'm impressed that you make the commute from Tillamook. That's dedication. Do you ever stop off at Ski Bowl? I put in about three days there this year, and it was fantastic. When the snow is there, I think that place has the best skiing in Oregon, hands down.

And oh yeah, we totally jacked this thread, sorry everybody else.
post #18 of 32
Yes I actually ski at Skibowl quite alot...Driving by it you don't think much of it, but once you actually ski it you start to fall in love w/it, especially the upper bowl area...Lot's of short steeps.

I probably going to get a season pass there as well as Timberline next season.

I'll talk to you more on your other thread, so we don't jack this thread anymore...Sorry to all.
post #19 of 32
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all your comments, guys, it's really interesting to hear the thoughts of people that have done this, and as so many of you rightly point out, if I was 23, single and no mortgage, then I wouldn't even consider not doing it. However, I'm 36, have a great apartment and comfortable life doing whatever I want to do, as my job is secure, well-paid and going places, and pays me enough to let me enjoy this expensive hobby. So, I completely agree with you, if you're young, no ties and just starting out, then definitely go for it. I was interested in the quote that said 'you don't want to be 40 and wish you'd done it', when in fact that's not far off for me! I teach on a dry slope near London, but it's definitely not the same.

I guess it's still up for debate, the trouble with doing this later in life is that you're already sucked into the rat race, and it's really hard to extricate yourself because you get used to all the trappings. If I had my early 20s again, I would sooo not get on the corporate ladder, and get up the mountain instead!

And a lot of my friends are in similar positions, where they are beginning to realise that life isn't just about a company car and associate director status, but we're all too used to it and too scared to change it!

post #20 of 32
Excellent points, MaggieH. It is tough to give up what you have. I used to say that it doesn't suck to be rich. Really it doesn't, but happiness doesn't actually cost much. Hiking in the wilderness is actually free. Skiing is relatively cheap. I used to spend most of my ski money on airfare and lodging. Take those out of the equation and it is a hobby that any middle class person can easily enjoy.

My wife and I are making less than half of what we used to make yet we are saving more. We just stopped wasting so much money. I really don't miss the big house or the fancy cars. I enjoyed them immensely. I am glad I had those experiences, but I don't miss them. Maybe I will someday, but I am truly thrilled with life right now. We skied over 50 days this season, something we could never achieve in our old life.

On the career side, I am an advocate of underachieving. Anyone with a reasonably marketable skill set can take this approach. As an example, my wife is a computer engineer with an MBA. She is currently working essentially as a database administrator. Her ability to contribute at this level far exceeds the expectations for the position. She is greatly appreciated, yet her job doesn't have much stress or obligation. The pay is relatively crappy, but as I mentioned, our savings has increased.

I don't advocate the ski instructor career path. I experimented with it and loved every minute of it, but I don't think I could have paid for medical insurance on what I was making. I certainly would not have been saving anything toward my next retirement/mid life crisis. I think you can find the underachieving roles in close proximity to the recreational activities that you love. It is easy to land a job if you are overqualified.

The questions you are asking yourself have been asked by many (lots of good books and resources out there). Will I miss the good life? Will my ego struggle with a different lifestyle, one that might not measure up by societal standards? Few seem to have taken the chance and regretted it. I suggest that you analyze what really brings you joy in life. You won't miss the things that are secondary. At least I don't miss them.
post #21 of 32
I'm above 50; I have several friends from the UK who teach in the states during the season on H2B visas who are your age and older.
post #22 of 32
Thread Starter 
Hi Lennyblake,

what's an H2B visa?
post #23 of 32
the visa that lets ski instructors work in the US on a seasonal basis.

First you get the job with the ski area, then they help with the visa.

See also this thread: http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=40680
post #24 of 32
I moved to the mountains when I was 32. I have a master's in journalism and have worked at major newspapers and magazines as a writer and editor. Definitely "on my way up the ladder." I've been a ski writer/editor since 1994. When I moved to Northern Vermont in 1996, I became a freelancer. I also do some PR/marketing consulting. I don't miss the "things" I had when I was living in a city and making more money. If you make this lifestyle change, you simply adjust your priorities. I no longer have to travel for my skiing, hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, etc. I live in the heart of the outdoors where everything is easily accessible, so no more spending money on hotels every time I want to head into the mountains (or to the nearby lake, rivers, etc.). Sure, sometimes we still travel to other places, but we balance the "staying in an inn" trips with camping trips. Of course, as a ski writer, my job involves a lot of travel too, but it's for work.

I am not rich in money, but I am rich in life experiences. And when things seem too difficult to handle, I simply walk outside and I am in the one of the most beautiful places on Earth. The peace of mind that comes with this can't be bought...

If you think you can't live on being an instructor for a living, how about supplementing a day job with being a part-time instructor? There are certainly many plusses to being an instructor, including a free pass so you aren't paying for lift tickets, and pro deals on gear so you aren't paying retail. You could always start an IT consulting business, or find some IT-related job wherever you move (hospital, college/university, bank, retail, etc.). Perhaps even work for a resort or lodge as the IT person.

There are lots of options out there if you really want to do this.

post #25 of 32
Oh, and it wasn't until I moved to the mountains that I met my husband (when I was 35), which is why I say "we" in some instances above.
post #26 of 32
If you can see yourself doing it, you probably can.
post #27 of 32
Maggie - I second Thatsagirl's advice about teaching part-time while having a part-time or full-time or consulting gig in your "day job" in IT or something related to your old career.

I'm assuming you'd be moving to Canada rather than to the US or the continent, if you go for this. You wouldn't likely be able to get an H1B (the visa that lets you work for years for a US corporation - like we don't have enough underemployed US IT people ) but probably you could get into Canada easily enough since it's in the Commonwealth. I'd expect there's enough of a demand for IT-related fields in Canada in locations reasonably close to good skiing. For example, Calgary or Vancouver.

That's pretty much the model I'm doing in the States - blew off the corporate job, moved to Summit County Colorado, right around Breckenridge, Keystone, A-Basin, Copper, and Loveland, and only 35 miles from Vail, 45 from Beaver Creek. Also only 70 miles from downtown Denver, where I was able to land a part-time gig at an IT firm. That job takes up a couple of days per week, usually one down in Denver and parts of a few other days remotely as needed. That pays my benefits and keeps me in the IT game in terms of career currency.

I once told a friend that I felt lucky, because I'd found 3 occupations that I'd loved doing, and had taken a chance at times on all of them - at least enough to have no regrets: Working in radio, acting, and then working with computers (which became the only one I could make "real money" in). When I got hired at Breckenridge last season and then got my PSIA Level 1 this season, I privately added "teaching skiing" as the 4th.

Somewhere in an alternate universe, there's a MarkXS back in Boston full-time, burnt-out in a cube trying to balance too many projects, too much demand on him and his team, never getting time to get out in the outdoors, getting sicker and weaker instead of healthier and stronger, coming to hate the career choice that he once loved due to buying in too much to climbing the ladder, desparately politicking for the next promotion to Director and trying to wrangle a way to become VP.

Meanwhile in this universe: I just wrapped up teaching for my second year two weeks ago, still have a few weeks left to ski for free with friends at A-Basin, I'm in rehearsal for two different shows that will keep me onstage from May through August, I'm involved in IT on a non-career-climbing level that I'm finding satisfying again, I've been back in a radio studio a couple of times to do some voiceovers for my wife's ski fitness studio's spots, and I'm even going to finally learn to ride a damn bike at age 53! Those bike paths all around the county are looking too appealing.

Tomorrow I unload the last vestige of my former corporate/city life: my charming condo (which was my "security" and largest investment) in Boston becomes the property of a couple of girls going to university near here (well technically the property of their rich parents who want to give the little darlings a good start on the way up the ladder). Meanwhile I'm taking a break from loading up the last couple of boxes of my former life into a car to start my last road trip back home, to the mountains.

Go for it. (Of course asking about it here on epic is like a drunk asking a bunch of other drunks if she should have another drink! : We're not exactly the AA meeting here.)
post #28 of 32
Mark, I love your life. And to think some people think you can't have everything...
post #29 of 32
Hey Thatsagirl - I wouldn't say I have everything. You'll note that the missing factor is "money"! But as long as I can scrounge up enough to pay most of the bills and buy a bike, and afford a pro-deal on new boots next season, I'll be ok!

Of course a huge part of the change, and really the whole impetus for it, was the lovely lurking Lisamarie's "crazy" idea in the first place. Which she didn't even tell me about directly but instead posted here on Epic. Lucky for me I read the thread.

It's also Bonni's fault. It was either after her and skier_j's on-mountain wedding at Stowe, or maybe it was after the first ETU. Anyhow we'd been at a bar having too many drinks and she looked at us and said "You're mountain people."

She's got a permanent guest room anytime she wants it thanks to that!
post #30 of 32
Originally Posted by MarkXS
Hey Thatsagirl - I wouldn't say I have everything. You'll note that the missing factor is "money"!
But you have everything that really matters. You've found a way to fit everything that you love into your life.
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