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Moving to Kalowna... From Australia!

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Bright ideas required here!!
My wife (Canadian) and I (Australian) are planning to move to south eastern British Columbia in 2008. We've been living in Australia for 10 years (marrid for four of them) and our dream is to live and work in an alpine region, raising our two infants (they'll be 3 and 1 years old by the time we get there) in the awesome outdoors of BC. I'm a project manager (in the IT industry, but looking to get out) and my wife works for a brewery marketing beer (I'm the luckiest guy alive already - why am I moving?? ).
I have a million questions, but am interested in this thread about the types of roles that exist in mountain operations say at Big White or Silver star, or other less known resorts in the region that are set to boom in the coming years... and on that point, what makes a ski region boom and why? We'd really like to get amongst a tight community and help make it all happen.
Thanks to anyone with any bright ideas.
post #2 of 14
Thread Starter 
OK - so it would appear I can't even spell "Kelowna". I should at least ge that right before I buy my plane tickets!
post #3 of 14
Nice dream....I have kinda done the opposite...lived the ski lifestyle in Canada for 20 years, now living in Aus.....but here is some info for you...sorry if it sounds bleak, but it is reality.

Jobs in Ski Resorts like Big White or Silver Star:

Ski Instructor
Parking lot guy
Ticket Checker
etc, etc

You get the idea....as for managment jobs....pretty much forget it. Why? They exist, but there is a long line for them, guys have been in the industry since they were teenagers, and have degrees, and have direct and relavant expeirance....AND there is lots of them. Further for the same level of required experience education etc, resort jobs pay about half of what you would get elsehwhere.

So does that mean it is all lost? No! The best thing to do is get a job in the area, there is lots in those areas, not necessarily skiing related but you will still get the lifestyle with better income etc. Alternativley invest in somthing and set up your shop...bar/restraunt/clothing store...whatever.

My advice is to go for it....but be realistic about things, your income will almost surley plummet from what you make now...if you can buy a home debt free, then you only need money to pay living expenses.
post #4 of 14
If you don't know it already Big White and Silver Star are owned by an Australian who also owns Perisher Blue i believe and maybe others. I would suggest you start with talks with people at those resorts as far as possibilties may go. There is a lot of truth in what skidude says but at the same time there may be room to squeeze in somewhere above the payscale of liftee.

Your wife may have the best shot if she can make herself out as a marketing wiz (that is what marketers do after all isn't it? )

You shouldn't look at getting out of the computer line too quick as it may offer your best shot. If nothing else you may be able to hustle some contract work and you might be able to get more steady from there. Beyond that the computer or marketing skills may be handy in Kelowna/ Vernon but in honesty work isn't that easy to come by there and lots of highly qualified people choose to live there and try to ply their trade.
post #5 of 14

Go For It!

Ditto what SkiDude and L7 said.

Still, there's always cracks in the wall. If, as L7 indicated, you can use your Aussie status to wiggle-in, you could beat the odds.

Kelowna's not a huge town, but I'm sure it has better options than working at SilverStar or Big White.

If you're not committed to Kelowna, have you considered Kamloops, with access to Sun Peaks? That's another great up-and-coming resort, with arguably even greater potential than Big White and Silver Star.

We had passes to Sun Peaks last year and loved it. Less fog, lots of sun plus they're putting new lifts in the "expert" terrain and expanding the area. The Austrian ski team trains there early in the season. They're not fools.

Regardless of the outcome, I'd say "go for it". You're only young once, and if you don't do it, you may spend the rest of your life wondering what might have been.

Good luck!
post #6 of 14
My guess is that Kelowna, by virtue of its size, has more options than either Vernon (close to Silver Star) or Sun Peaks (close to Kamloops). Sun Peaks has really made the effort to become a year-round community (it has a good network of mountain bike trails and a golf course for summer). It is much smaller than Big White and, I think, is more diverse than Silver Star. Not sure about Kelowna, but Kamloops does have its own microbrewery (in town, not on the hill). In any event, real estate will not be cheap in any of those areas.

If you have a background in IT, you may want to try to make the jump by using those skills and then size up your opportunities for a lifestyle based on your dream. Kelowna's IT industry appears to be growing; Kamloops is a smaller city with proportionally a decent but smaller IT industry.

I live in Kamloops and it is a wonderful city to live in. Of course, people from Kelowna will beg to differ!
post #7 of 14
Big White and Silver Star are owned by an Australian that used to own Hotham in Australia, not PB. Not sure you are going to find anything management wise but they have been known to bring people in at a fairly high level as well as promoted from within. IT work or marketing are probably the best ways to get in at higher than a base level.
post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much to everyone for your posts. I'm blown away by your candid and rapid responses; it's exactly the info I was after. From where I sit in my boring desk job it's easy to get your head lost in the clouds of the dream.
It definitely seems that a period of "apprenticeship" is required once you choose to settle in a place. This is totally understandable and I'd definitely expect to have to prove my committment to a region before your contacts and job prospects start to grow.
Thanks again all!
post #9 of 14
Happiest "local" folks I've met riding lifts in the Rockies and Wasatch have been guys with some skill they use as a consultant in their field and can set their own schedules. Lots serve as ski area representatives/guides and get family passes as a result.
post #10 of 14
My family and I moved to BC from Brisbane for the year on a teacher exchange to see if we would like to move here for a longer period (she's got Canuck citizenship)
We live on Vancouver Island. We ski at Mt.Washington and during Summer it is a kayakers paradise. Caught my first salmon last week.
The Courtenay/Comox area sounds like it would suit the lifestyle you seek but job oppurtunities would be limited.

Pity you aren't in the construction industry. You would be laughin' in Kelowna.
Some other areas to consider might be;
Trail - skiing at Red Mountain (my favorite hill)
Penticton - Skiing at Apex. This is a wine region
Kamloops as metioned- just booked Xmas at SunPeaks. Giddyup.
Cranbrook - skiing at Fernie
Just some thoughts
post #11 of 14
Not wanting to be too contrarian, but (in reference to craigr's post), Mt. Washington, while amidst spectacular natural beauty, is unreliable as a ski area (due to moderate climate). If you're looking to base an income around skiing, the otehr resorts that he mentioned are more on par. Lots of people from Australia come over to the Okanagan and Kamloops hills - you'll fit right in!
post #12 of 14
Although Kelowna is a bigger town, but I would rather live in Vernon(Silver Star). The access road to Big White is so winding and dangerous to drive on a snow day, I will not do it on a regular basis.

Owning a small business is a better way to make ends meet in a resort town like Kelowna, if you have the guts to do it. Its hard and risky, but the reward is greater.
post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much to all of you who have responded to us. All of your comments and advice have been really helpful and makes this feel like it is definitely the right thing to do...now we just need decide what town to live in, find decent jobs and a place to live! keep the info coming, if you have any advice/comments we'd love to hear from you - positive or negative. thanks again!
post #14 of 14
Its been a while since I was there but in Kelowna you don't have a ski area on your doorstep, it was a 40 minute drive to Big White, and a little more to Silver Star - which is definitely day trip close, but if you were living in Kelowna and working at Big White, you'd be doing quite a bit of travelling - but they probably run staff buses. I liked the Okanagan area - in summer you have lakes, there are also vineyards and orchards, so a bit more going on that just skiing. I remember the owners of the B&B we stayed with in Vernon said it got really hot in summer, up in the 30's celcius. They lived in the hills between Vernon and Silver Star cause it was a bit cooler in summer. As an aussie you are probably used ot the heat so it won't bother you.
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