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Reasonable Cost of Living/Decent Wage?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Can any of you pinpoint areas of the country where houses are still reasonably priced and an instructor can make a liveable wage? Housing costs are steep around the western "destination" resorts, however the pay scales for instructors are often higher. Is there anyplace that a home can still be purchased for $200k or are those days long gone? What are level I,II, or III instructors being paid in these areas?


Rusty Guy
post #2 of 19
Mammoth Lakes, CA is still reasonable. You can get a nice 2 bed 2 bath condo for about $170,000. At Mammoth Mtn Ski Area a full cert instructor from another area will start at $15 an hour teaching groups/assigned pvts. Every 75 hours of teaching will get you a "milestone" where you get a $2 raise. You can get up to 6 "Milestones" during the seaon. You get paid $6.25 for training; usually an hour each day. Request pvts earn an additional $7/ hour. Days range depending on biz, and kids school generally gets a longer work day. Plenty of kids inst are ISIA or PSIA Level 3. Mammoth usually opens in early Nov. and Sports School is usually in full swing by Thankgiving. About two weeks after Easter things slow down, and work gets pretty sporadic during our spring season. The mountain usually close between mid June and early July, but last year sucked and we closed on May 31. Sports School usually stays open in some form until Memorial Day. Depending on which lodge you work at, the town in o-5 miles away from work, and there is a free shuttle.

Essentially, Mammoth is a huge mountain with a strip mall and condo town that is trying to become a destination resort. We are a base village (under construcion) and an airport (FAA Grant approved!) away.
post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thanks, I am just a level I, however, hope to obtain my level II fairly quickly. Can a small house be had for 200k to 250k within 45 minutes of the ski area? Do you know of any real estate agencies with a good web site?

Again, many thanks
post #4 of 19
You will not find a better situation than in Northern NM. It might be as good in regions of Wyoming or Montana, but NM is one of the last cool places, Californians et al have only started to find.
Acreage with utilities can be found 5 minutes from Angel Fire and 45 from Taos for around 10-12k per acre. Three to four bedroom houses, on 3/4 acre lots go for $175k in AF, this including on resort lots that come with family membership at around $850 annually. Family fishes, golfs and skis free.
Taos is steeper (in more ways than one) but compared to Colorado, Utah etc. it is still cheap. And its culture isn't manufactured, its about a thousand years old.
post #5 of 19
Rusty Guy - Yeah, you can find a small house for 200K - 250K within 45 minutes of Mammoth. Bishop, Paradise, Swall Meadows, Mono City, would be some of the better bets. Closer to Mammoth, June Lake and Crowley Lake are getting tight.

By the way a PSIA Level 1 would start at $10 for groups at the begining of the season. If you passed 2, your pay would climb to the next catagory; $12 hour plus milestones. Our training program is pretty good, Our exam pass rate is not %100, but it's pretty damn close. Hell, PSIA just gave my girlfriend Level 3 on her new card, and she never even took the exam!
post #6 of 19
Rusty Guy for housing costs check out http://www.realtor.com/default.asp?hm=on

lets you search by type ie condo, price and other features
post #7 of 19
Hey Rusty, I am new to the Cali market, but one guy breaking the pay paradigm is Chris Lobosco in Dodge Ridge. Medium sized out of SF, San Jose, decent rep. He is paying a base rate, $12 to lev I, $18.50 to Lev II, plus comish. Very aggressive recruitment, I'd say!
Look for a matrix system, like Mammoth, Tride etc. Vails is similar, tho too complex. A dynamic rotation system on points is critical too.
Realtor.com is a good place to start as well.
I think posing time is over in the labor market, and the enlightened schools know it! I predict over the next 5 years, pary rates will adjust up...simple supply and demand. Ski Schools are enigmatic, and exist as a petrie dish of free enterprise in an industry of attrition and clock punchers.
Housing is funny, no matter how much land a resort has, they first eat up beginner terrain with condos, and never invest in company housing until it is too late...except Intrawest.
In Angel Fire, after the S&L crunch, about 12 instructors etc. got in on low cost RTC repo's. I know one, who without a pot to piss in, got a 2 bed, 2 bath w/garage, a 5 minute walk from the yard (17.5k)!!!
Just wait for the next eniviatble, real estate over build!!! This economy will eventually tank.
post #8 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks to all. Robin I'm really interested in northern New Mexico for the very reasons that you mentioned. Is Dixon or Velarde commutable to Taos or Angel Fire. I have several friends who say those two towns along the river are idylic. I'm going to try to go down there this winter to clinic or take my level II. I meant to go last winter and never dragged myself away from Eldora.

My fear about N.M. is the occasional "bad winter" and/or short season. Someone said there were areas that didn't open two years ago due to a lack of snow. Any thoughts?
post #9 of 19
Dixon and Velarde are a bit of a drive, probably a good hour. Closer to TSV is Arroyo Seco, Hondo, Llano, San Cristobal (of DH Lawrence fame) and others. Taos Canon is reasonable...Eagle Nest is way cheap!
I bought a log,rock 3 bedroom in AF, a 3 minute drive to the area on 2 commercial acres for a total of $50/sq.ft with land, 8 years ago.
Every morning I would look out the kitchen window and in the valley with Wheeler Peak (13k+ft)in the backdrop watch 200+ elk.
Not quite the same in SoCal....but I still own that reality!
post #10 of 19
Thread Starter 
Robin....wanna sell it? What would it be per sq ft today?

If you were going to pick one community in the area to live in what would it be? A caveat is that I have an eight year old. She is in a private school in Boulder and if we fully retire she may have to suck it up and go to a public school. Just a mild attempt at snobby humor.
post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 
Pierre I forgot to thank you for your heads up.
post #12 of 19
Gee Pierre, that sucks, they can't do anything right since I left! In places like AF the one constant is, sooner or later it reverts back to the real estate based resort...it's all cyclical...next owner please!

Rusty, it is a tough choice all around, and as always has pros and cons. Ya gotta give up some to get along in small mtn. communities. Right now school is an issue, they travel 13 miles by bus then 30 in jr. high. But, I and others fought to get the resort to donate 90 acres now dedicated for school campuses and it is going to happen sooner rather than later. It will be one of the prettiest settings for a school complex ever...period!
When I moved there, I was on a party line...now 3 of the biggest top 10 software companies in the state are based in town...so yeah there is a vet and a health clinic and a pharmacist, but still no car wash and no stoplights. God I love small mountain towns...can't wait to git back!

Honestly, the Taos vicinity might be more to your liking...but, ya need to go and do your due diligence over a weekend or so visit.
post #13 of 19
Thread Starter 
We are headed there for Labor Day. Probably not the best time to go anywhere, however, my wife has a couple extra days off.

I've heard rumors of years with lousy snow. Really lousy snow. Someone said that two seasons ago a few southern areas didn't open. I found that tough to believe.

Thanks for your help.
post #14 of 19
Last year saw phenomenal snow in AF, TSV and Santa Fe (highest base elevation in the US). AF has great snowmaking.
It is true that Pajarito (Los Alamos) and Sandia have been closed. Pajarito is a long ridge-type area and the flats at the bottom don't hold snow or have SMing. Sandia is above Albq. and always has sketchy seasons, but snow is not an issue in northern NM than anywhere else. Same conditions/storm track as Tride and Purgatory.
post #15 of 19
Actually A-Basin's base is about 370' higher then Santa Fe.
post #16 of 19
If you do become serious about moving to the Mammoth area...I do know a good real estate person. I live in Bishop, which is about 40 minuites south of Mammoth. Mammoth does provide a shuttle for employees part of the season. Depending on your situation, living in Bishop [rather than Mammoth] does have advantages.
post #17 of 19
Hell, I'll do ya one better...I'm a NM Broker! It's true, but I'm just kiddin', and no my casa is not for sale...it is my mental salvation!
Do not pay much attention to the Resort Sales offerings, they are overpriced and you can do better in the aftermarket. Google your way to the other realtor sites in AF.
post #18 of 19
Leadville, Alma, and Fairplay are not too bad $$ wise. Busier resorts if you actually want to teach a lot...

Tho I think working and living in Taos would ROCK!

Visit me here >>>SnoKarver
post #19 of 19
Thread Starter 

I'm a guy that grew up in the east. Somebody has to help me with this one. Saw a neat place on line with 40 acres near Cerro. Not an earthship, but........

LG did I understand you correctly! You're not referring to the city of Santa Fe are you?
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