Move to a mountain town
At some point or another, we’ve all experienced the itch to drop everything and move to the mountains. It’s whether we scratch it that determines our reality. I chuckle when people tell me how “lucky” I am to live where I do. It’s not a matter of fate, and yes, you can do it. You just have to commit.
I traded my post-college desk job for a lifeguarding gig at a YMCA to make the move. They paid me $180 a week, provided some hardly digestible meals, and a windowless room beneath a roller skating rink. While waking up to the sound of kids eating shit on skates got old, and realizing Monday’s hamburgers evolved into Friday’s mystery meat soup was rather disgusting, I wouldn’t have done it differently.
There are some things I wish I had realized beforehand, however. The following ten tips may help you make the move you’ve always dreamed of. Being surrounded by beautiful landscape and having snowboarding down the road, can be downright therapeutic—even if it’s just temporary.
MANAGE YOUR EXPECTATIONS
It’s common to hear of mountain town servers, ski school instructors, or rental technicians with a master’s degree. Maybe you recently earned a degree yourself, or maybe you’re holding down a lucrative job wherever you call home. The truth is, if you want to make the move, you may have to swallow some career-based pride. That’s not to say you won’t eventually land a gig that utilizes your skills or education, but if snowboarding is your priority, be content with taking an entrylevel job at a coffee shop to facilitate the move.
CHOOSE A LOCATION
Like major metropolitan areas can be starkly contrasting in culture, so too can mountain communities. Find one that suits you. Maybe you know from a firsthand visit or have buddies who can vouch for the worthiness of a particular spot. Do your research. Variables to consider include terrain availability, housing costs, job prospects, airport proximity, and crowds. Breckenridge and Crested Butte, for example, suit two types of riders and lifestyles. Whatever you’re after, find a place that suits your desired lifestyle.
SAVE SOME MONEY
This is especially true if you don’t have a job lined up beforehand. Nothing would be worse than making the move only to run out of money within the first month. Expect some setbacks to occur, and give yourself according wiggle room financially. Whether a housing opportunity falls through or a seasonal job’s start date gets pushed back due to lack of snowfall, it’s important to have a cushion so you’re not retreating home after what could’ve been a minor incident.
Is your closet overflowing with clothes you don’t wear? Maybe you’ve got furniture you don’t plan on taking with you. Whatever clutter you’ve accumulated over the years, unload it. The less you have, the easier it will be to pick up and move. Plus, remember how we mentioned saving a little extra cash? That motorcycle you bought a few summers back could help with that.
FIND HOUSING FIRST
It may sound out of order, but make finding housing a priority over a job. Or at least find both. Unfortunately, mountain town living situations are proving harder and harder to come by, so it’s not unheard of for people to lock down jobs only to pack up because they never found a place to live. While Craigslist and local newspapers are great starting points, a lot of mountain communities these days have Facebook groups for posting available opportunities—specifically rentals. Plus, getting on one of these pages may also lead to some critical networking.
FIND A JOB
There’s a correlation between long-term housing’s increasing scarcity and the prevalence of “help wanted” signs. With that said, try not to be too picky when initially trying to find a job. Since riding is your priority, look for something that’s conducive to that lifestyle. Whether it’s a serving gig that starts at 4 p.m. or an overnight stocking job at the local grocery store, find something that allows you to shred as much as possible.
As much as you try to plan your move, some unexpected events are sure to arise. Whether it’s a job that ends up providing less hours than advertised, or a living situation that doesn’t come into fruition, remind yourself to roll with whatever comes your way. Mountain communities are full of supportive people who look out for each other, so finding help is never hard to come by. Someone is always looking for an extra roommate to alleviate the cost of rent, and businesses are always looking for whatever help they can get. When something falls through, take a deep breath and adapt.
PUT THE WORK IN
If work ethic is more than a supposed trait you compulsively included on a resume once, you’re on your way to success. For better and worse, many resort towns have more than their share of slackers. While it can suck to work with these types, their lack can benefit you when that shitty gig that started at $11 an hour is suddenly offering you $15.
KEEP YOUR PRIORITIES STRAIGHT
You moved to snowboard, right? It’s depressing how many people move to mountain towns only to fall into the trap that is the local party scene. While nights on the town can be fun—not to mention a great way to meet some new friends— don’t let it spiral into a lifestyle. Suddenly, you’re waking up at 2 p.m. with a hangover every day, realizing that it’s been a week since you last strapped in. Don’t be that guy.
PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE
While snowboarding itself is always a great starting point for meeting likeminded people and building relationships, go the extra mile to entwine yourself in the local community. Hit up the local skatepark before the snow falls, frequent a popular snowboard shop. By doing so, you’ll not only make some good friends but embed yourself in the local scene and ensure you’re surrounded by those who will have your back for years to come. Before you know it, you’ll be basking in that local status.