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.
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.
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).
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.
Finding a place to stay however, is not
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.
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.
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!
Must like snow
It’s a ski resort – you have to like snow! This is very very important!
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.
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