What it’s really like to live in a Ski Resort

ski resort, whistler, canada

If you follow me on social media you’ll be aware that my feed is pretty much a tourism advert for the beautiful ski village which I now call home. I live in Whistler. I’m sure you’ve probably heard of Whistler before, but in case you’ve been living under a rock all these years, it’s a little mountainside village in British Columbia, Canada (about a 2 hour drive from Vancouver). It’s famous for skiing and it’s consistently ranked as the top Ski Resort in North America. But don’t let this villages’ small size fool you – Whistler is home to some of the best restaurants and hotels in the world. Plus, the locals are super-friendly.

I love living here, I really really do. I have to pinch myself sometimes because I can’t believe it’s my temporary home. And, because I love it so much I want to spread the word about life in Whistler and attempt to convince you all why living in a Ski Resort has got to be done. But before you get too excited and start packing your winter woolies and booking yourself on the next flight, there are some home truths you need to know –

The skiing here is out-of-this-world

Out-of-this-world. Fact. That’s all I need to say I think. This season was made infinitely better by the fact that it was the most snowfall Whistler had seen in 15 years. As a result, skiing on weekends or Public Holidays this year is a no-go unless you want to wait in line for 2 hours.

ski, snow, winter
Skiing Whistler Blackcomb

It’s so pretty it’s distracting

It’s pretty, too pretty almost. In fact it’s so pretty that it almost makes up for the fact that it’s so goddamn expensive. Honestly, google image ‘Whistler’ go on I dare ya and try to stop yourself from booking the next flight over here. In Winter it’s all snow covered evergreens and looming white mountains, in Summer it looks like the set of Twilight.

whistler mountain, ski, sonow, white

It’s expensive here

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, living in Whistler is outrageously expensive. If you’re planning a move here for the next Winter season I recommend you start saving now. Rent is going to be a lot more expensive than where you currently live.  Expect to pay anywhere between $1300 to $2000 for a one-bedroom apartment. You will leave the supermarket both angry and confused at the cost of groceries. FYI – chicken and cheese is outrageously expensive. I saw on Facebook the other day, that one girl paid $20 for 7 tomatoes, they were the fancy on-the-vine kind, but still, that’s insanity! Your ski pass will cost you a minimum of $1400 (that is if you’re lucky enough to get an employer who offers a Spirit Pass). You have to add ski gear into the equation too. It all adds up. My estimation is that start-up costs to move to Whistler will cost you approx. $4,000. This figure takes into account your first months rent, your rental deposit (usually half-a-months rent), a ski pass, ski gear, shit for your apartment like bed sheets, cooking utensils etc (thankfully most places here come fully furnished) and add in another $1,000 to fill up your fridge (jokes).

log cabin, snow, winter
A house in our neighbourhood

Finding a job is pretty easy

It may not be your ‘dream job’ but it is a job to help fund your time in this notoriously expensive village. Whistler has a severe labour shortage problem, it has done for years. Look through the classifieds section of the local Pique newspaper and you’ll find pages and pages of job adverts, or just take a quick peek on Craigslist and you’ll understand the sheer amount of labour this village needs. Most of the jobs are in the hospitality/customer service sector so if you’re any way good with people you will be fine. The hourly wage here averages about $11 – $17 per hour. You will probably want to work evening shifts too, so that you can ski during the day. It’s an employees market in Whistler which is a rarity, so if you quit one job (or get fired!) you will probably be able to find another job starting the next day. That’s the reality of the labour shortage here.

ski, snow, white

Finding a place to stay however, is not

log cabin, home, whistler, canada

Okay, if you want to move to Whistler for the Winter, get up here before October 1st. This is very important. This is when you have the most housing options available to you. You will probably score a nice one-bedroom apartment in a good location for approx $1200 per month. Anytime after that and it’s slim pickings, any decent apartments left will be charging an arm, two legs and a head! We got pretty lucky actually, we didn’t move here until November 1st BUT we lived in Vancouver before relocating, so we had Canadian references (very important to a Whistler Landlord) and I was able to come up and view some apartments beforehand. FYI – It’s a very good idea to preview some apartments if possible because there are a lot of scams unfortunately! We managed to snag a beautiful two-bedroom apartment for $1800 per month, it may sound like a lot but I know some people who are paying $1800 for a bedroom! I should add that there are exceptions to the ‘getting here before October 1st’ rule  – if you’re planning on staying in Whistler for more than a year or have Canadian relatives or partner then you will likely find yourself in a home a lot quicker and a lot cheaper than the 19 year-old Aussies you’re competing with.

Surprisingly, eating out can work out cheaper than cooking yourself

I’ve already explained the insane situation that is grocery prices here in Whistler. So, if you want to avoid becoming anaemic because you’re not willing to pay $10 for a chicken breast or $4 for a red pepper – then treat yo’self and eat out. There are actually lots of really good really cheap restaurants in Whistler, take for example the ever-popular El Furniture Warehouse where every meal is $4.95. See reviews here. Other restaurants also do ‘locals deals’ where you’ll find yourself enjoying a gourmet pizza and a craft beer for $15

sunset, sea to sky highway, british columbia
Sunset on the Sea to Sky highway outside Whistler

You will probably drink more than you ever have

And that’s a big statement from an Irish girl who lived in Sydney for 4 years. Skiing and drinking go hand-in-hand, apres ski anyone?! The apres here is a lot of fun, live music and dancing on tables at 3pm is the norm. Also, buying alcohol at the ‘Bottle shop’ is really cheap especially spirits, for example, a bottle of Bombay Sapphire (my drink of choice) will cost you just $25. Bring two forms of i.d., because you will get asked to prove your age every time even if you are 29.

snow, white, canada, winter

If you’re over 25 you might just be the oldest person living here

This is also a sad truth. The majority of the population here is 19 year old Aussie males who snowboard. There are so many Australians here in fact it’s been renamed ‘Whistralia’. If you dislike Aussies don’t come to Whistler. Luckily for me, I love them!

outdoor spa, whistler, canada
Scandinave Spa, Whistler

Must like snow

It’s a ski resort – you have to like snow! This is very very important!

travel blogger, snow, whistler
Yours trully, drowned in snow.

And there you have it, I think I’ve given you a pretty accurate description of what everyday life in Whistler entails. Sure, Whistler is very expensive but it’s also very beautiful. Sure, you may not be able to afford to buy a $10 chicken breast at the grocery store but you will be able to afford a $5 chicken burger at a restaurant. Sure, you will probably struggle to find an apartment but when you do you will laugh at how stressed you got, whilst enjoying a glass of red in your hot tub. Oh, I probably should have mentioned that earlier, it’s true that a lot of houses/ apartment complexes here come with a hot tub. If that’s not enough to convince you I don’t know what will.

train, snow, white, whistler

But, the most important fact for me, is that living in Whistler is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to enjoy while you’re still young and wild. You may blow all your savings living here, but for me experiences are so much more important than a hefty bank balance. Move to a ski resort, you won’t regret it.

Thanks for reading,

Aimee & Paul x

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30 thoughts on “What it’s really like to live in a Ski Resort

  1. Wow, living in Whistler looks like so much fun! What a gorgeous town! Sounds a little crazy with all the expenses but I’m sure it’s worth it in the long run. Hopefully I’ll be able to make it up to Whistler this year, I’ve been wanting to visit!

  2. Aww, this article made me miss skiing even more. I love skiing, but unfortunately had to miss out on it in the last 2 years, because of my job. Maybe I should move to Whisler, get a job there! 😀

  3. Great pictures! And what an experience, living on a ski resort. I’d move there just for the snow + hot tub combo.

    🙂 Have fun on the resort!

  4. Love that you included some of the economics of living there; I’m always interested in those details. Nice job describing your life there at the lodge and great suggestions for those that might want to do the same. Enjoyed reading this.

  5. What does Whistler offer for a non-skiier? I don’t want to learn for a variety of reasons, but get invited on ski trips fairly often. So far I have always declined. I’ve seen some kickass hot tubs from whistler. Spas, skating, snow tubing? Anything else I should know about?? One day I might just brave the slopes…you never know!

    1. snaphappy

      Hey Stephanie, there are so many non-skiing activities to do here in Whistler. There’s an outdoor spa called Scandinave Spa, you can go tubing, dog sledding, snow mobiling and there’s a free ice skating rink in the village. In the Summer, you can hike or swim in one of its many lakes 🙂 Hope this helps x

  6. Looks like paradise! You may have just convinced me to head up there one winter 🙂

  7. Oh gosh, this is so beyond anything I could ever do (no idea how to ski for one), go you! Living in these sorts of places is such an experience. Continue to have a great one!

  8. Haha – love this. Not a snow person so never imagined living somewhere entirely revolving around snow sports, but sounds like fun

  9. It looks like a winter wonderland! So much snow and soo white!

  10. Love following you on social media and seeing your snowy adventures! It looks so beautiful and I agree with you, experience is priceless. Keep exploring and Happy Travels.

  11. That sounds like it could be fun for a short time, but not forever! I like that idea though 🙂

  12. I love skiing but was never able to do. Your post has again inspired me. Nice post !!

  13. I’ve heard so many good things about Whistler and it sounds like living there is an amazing experience, if a little expensive! I’ve just got back into snowboarding so this place would be like a little slice of heaven for me at the moment. It might just have to be a trip for next year 🙂

  14. It looks amazing. I can see why there is a shortage of workers when the cost of living is so high. $20 for tomatoes that’s screwed up. I guess if you love skiing these are the sacrifices you make to follow your passion for skiing. Luckily i am not a skier. I will keep paying my $5 for tomatoes at the local supermarket.

  15. Seems like really expensive place, definitely bit for the beginner skiers then – learning skiing is still the future for me 🙂

  16. Love snow but not a fan of cold weather:( BUT i guess few days won’t hurt, rgt? WOW…such a gorgeous place!!! Kepp posting… xoxo

  17. Whistler looks gorgeous. I didn’t know it was so expensive, that’s insane! I’m sure its worth it though!

  18. I can’t believe I have been to over 30 countries and I have never seen snow! That I am 25 years old and I have never seen snow! It is so crazy! I loved this post , my friend is moving to Canada in 3 weeks, its definitely more likely I will get there now!

    1. Wow, that is crazy you will have to get yourself to Canada especially now that your friend lives here! Happy travelling 🙂

  19. Man, it is beautiful to live in one but certainly pricey, eh? Ski holidays are a rip to your pockets seriously but wouldn’t mind skiing tho!

  20. Tom

    Whenever I visited Queenstown from Christchurch, when I was living in New Zealand, I had similar thoughts to yours. The place was full of backpackers, I’m pretty sure it would be a ghost town without them! I’m considering living in Canada in the future, so this article was helpful advice, should I fancy working in Whistler!!

  21. I used to go ski-ing a lot when I was younger, but I never went there simply because it was always so expensive by comparison to Europe. It does look like a once-in-a-lifetime place, but I”m afraid the prices put me off still.
    Interesting post though.

  22. I think I’ve been living under a rock because I didn’t know about Whistler until now hahaha… I’m not sure how I would do in a cold weather but I agree when you say that it looks beautiful, just by looking at the photos. I think it’s nice that you can also find job easily there, I mean if I go there and I want to stay for a little while, at least I wouldn’t worry about getting hungry and all. So the oldest person there is 25? Then I’d be the oldest person if I ever go there because I’m 33 hahaha…

  23. Great subject matter, great topic, great blog. Looked like you had a great time. Look forward to reading more

  24. Beautiful pictures from the frozen paradise.Skiing and drinking,that is not a bad combination.Lollz

    1. Thanks, The frozen paradise is starting to be sunny and hot with a snowy mountain backdrop now, soon to be drinking in the sun by the amazing lakes.

  25. I always wanted to do like these Chilean skiing instructors, working half a year in Europe and half a year in chile in order to ski every day of the year. Sounds like a cool life 😛

  26. Looks amazing. Plus, I can never turn down a glass of red and a hot tub!

  27. We are from Vancouver, and Whistler is certainly a favorite spot of ours. While my husband loves snowboarding in the winter, I actually like Whistler better in the summer – so many great hikes!

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