So, you have decided that you really like snowboarding. You’ve been riding at your local resort/hill every chance you get and you want to take it to the next level. You may have just finished school or are in between jobs, either way you have winter off and want to snowboard every day. This is how you do it.
Where to go?
One of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make right away is, if you don’t already live in the mountains, where to move to. This article assumes you’re moving to a ski slope, as there are several other options for everyday snowboarding, but that’s a topic for another time.
First of all, you will have to decide if you will travel to another country. If you’re in a place like Australia, which is home to many traveling snowboarders, chances are you’re traveling. That is not to say that there are no ski resorts in Australia. Here is a list of some popular snowboarding countries and what they have to offer.
Arguably the best snowboard in the world. Canada’s low temperatures and typically humid climate make it a winter wonderland. Western Canada’s peaks boast some of the deepest powder on earth and you have many great resorts to choose from, all of which receive annual snowfall in excess of forty feet! Canada’s mountain communities are used to travelers from abroad coming to work and play in their homes, so it’s easy to make friends and meet other snowboarders. If you like to go where the action is, you can choose to live and work in a resort like Whistler or Big White. However, if you like things a little quieter where the powder stays cool a bit longer, you might want to try Whitewater or Kicking Horse. If you want to ride in Canada make sure you bundle up because it can be cold at first but once you get used to the cold you start to crave it, it means better snow conditions!
The US has many large resorts similar to Canada in that they exist on what could be called the same mountain ranges (some mountain ranges run through both countries). Being a little further south, the climate is warmer, although it can be comparable in elevation. There are some large mountains in the western United States that receive annual snowfall in the 40-foot range as well. Some of the resorts here see a lot of action due to tourists and a large local population. Jackson Hole is a great place for biking with heavy annual snowfall and plenty of nightlife. The resort typically sees over half a million skiers a year! Alta Ski Resort in Wyoming is a high altitude resort that receives heavy snowfall and is one of the oldest resorts in the US! There are many great resorts to choose from in the United States if that is where you choose to travel.
There are plenty of other countries you can move to if you want to snowboard all winter, but we won’t mention them in this article, just do a quick Google search for an area that interests you.
Well, you have already chosen the resort in which you want to live. Now let’s talk about some of the other choices you’ll have to make.
How much money will you need?
Ski resorts are expensive places to live, they are resorts, so they have to charge a premium on everything to extract as much money as possible from all the tourists and families that visit each year. That doesn’t mean you can’t be a savvy snowboarding bum and live on a budget that allows you to ride cooler powder than most people can dream of. The lifestyle you choose will ultimately determine how much driving you do. Let’s look at some of the essentials.
This is the whole reason you go. If you want to travel a lot you will need a season pass, you have a couple of options. You can buy one for between $750 and $2,200, depending on the resort you choose, and travel to your heart’s content. Your other option is to work for the resort. Most places will give you a season pass and cash it out of your paycheck gradually throughout the season. This is like a payment plan for people who can’t put up the cash and plan to work while there. The only problem with this option is that if it snows 12 inches and you call in sick to go to slash pow, they will suspend your pass for the day and you will be stuck at home while your friends have the time of their lives.
Season Pass = $1000 (common smaller resort pass price)
You’ll likely rent a room in a large chalet or mountain house with a group of other traveling snowboarders. This is the only way most people can afford to live full time at a resort, as renting your own place can cost several thousand per month. The typical rent for a room in one of these share houses is around $500 per month. In some places, you’ll pay another $50 in utilities, so let’s call it $550. Assuming you stay the entire season, you’ll probably show up in mid-November and stay through mid-April.
5 months x $550 per month = $2750
Another annoying thing essential to human survival. Food on the mountain is expensive like everything else. There are usually small grocery stores, but they will cost you twice what you would pay for the same product in the city. If you find a ride to the town that’s close to your mountain, you can buy cheaper food there, but you’ll typically be paying resort prices for food and if you eat out a lot, you can kiss your funds goodbye pretty quickly. If you live on boxes of instant noodles, you can save a lot of money, but let’s say you want to eat a balanced diet while breaking down your body, snowboarding every day. Groceries for a single person will usually run you around $75 per week.
20 weeks x $75 per week = $1500
Although it may not seem like it, this is probably your biggest expense. You are living in a resort, people are there to have fun, not to mention everyone is a passenger, so people are more willing to step out of their comfort zones. You will live in a house full of new friends and something will always happen. You’ll need to choose your nights out wisely because this factor can be the deciding factor in how much you have to work to get ahead instead of cutting fresh powder. A typical night out will run you about $100 if you drink a little at home and don’t get too excited. Some weeks you may have two of these nights, some weeks one. Let’s average and say 1.5 outings per week.
30 departures x $100 per night = $3000
These are just the essentials, there are always unexpected costs, but this will give you a good idea of what it takes to live in a mountain resort and snowboard every day.
Total for 5 month season = $8250
Now that we know the numbers, we need to talk about your two most obvious lifestyle choices, as they will be the biggest factor affecting your season. Although not available to everyone, the thing that will give you the most fun and freedom is saving up to $10,000 to cover all your expenses and having all the free time to do whatever you want. That means riding when you want, getting out when you feel like it, and most of all, never missing a powder day! When you live on a mountain, it’s all about the powder days. Things can be tracked down quickly and it really sucks when it snows and you have to go to work. Watching friends and all the other random people having the time of their lives, while you can’t participate, will give you a burning sensation like no other.
That brings us to your other option, the one that most people in your shoes take. Get a temporary job at the resort you are moving to. This also has its advantages, like meeting people, earning money and maybe learning a new skill. Not all businesses on the resort grounds will be part of the same resort. Of course, if you are going to work for the resort you will not have to worry about buying a pass since the resort will provide it for you. Usually this will be on a payment plan that will be automatically deducted from your paycheck. Just remember, if you’re getting a “free” pass through your job, they’ll be in complete control. Any powder day where you decide to call in sick will see your pass for the day suspended, preventing you from traveling anyway.
Many of you can’t save that much money and will be forced to take a job if you want to do something like this. In that case, the job you choose will also play a role in how much traveling you can do. Night jobs are great because you can ride a bike during the day, if you can get up. You could take a cheap course and become a ski/snowboard instructor; then they would pay you to be in the snow. Only you wouldn’t be doing what you want to do and hitting the places you want to hit, you would be teaching most beginners the basics all day. Just make sure you choose wisely, some of the best jobs are the least sought after.
Many people spend a large part, or even all of their lives, living and working on the ski slopes. This is just a brief guide and glimpse into this lifestyle, there is much more to write on this topic. If you do this, even for a single season, you will not regret it. It is something you will remember for the rest of your life. You will meet tons of amazing people and make great friends, party like a rock star and go snowboarding every day. If that sounds like one of your dreams, what are you waiting for?