With working from home for adults and remote learning for kids being part of the new normal in many areas, people are finding that this can be done from anywhere, including your favorite ski resort.
Renting or purchasing a house or condo at your favorite resort, or one in close proximity to several areas, can eliminate the weekly hassle as well as provide a place for remote learning and working. In addition, with various state-ordered restrictions in place this winter, a seasonal or monthly rental lets you stay put and avoid the problem of quarantining before or after your ski trip.
Of course, there are other obvious benefits. Ski gear and clothing can be left there. You can drive up on Friday evening, relax and be ready to go on Saturday morning without the stress of an early morning drive, and return to the rental after a day on the slopes for a relaxing evening. If the kids only have remote classes in the morning, there is the opportunity to hit the slopes on weekday afternoons.
One couple with a young son decided to rent this winter in an area where they are interested in potentially purchasing property. “This is a great opportunity to try it out and with us working remotely and our son learning from home. It’s the perfect time,” they said.
What should you look for when renting a property in ski country? That depends a bit on your lifestyle and the resort where you want to spend your time. If very young children are part of the mix, you might want to find something slopeside or close to the mountain so one family member can take a child home when he tires out. A ski-in, ski-out unit is best for this, but even a house or condo a mile or two from the area will let someone be delivered home easily without disrupting the entire family’s day.
This is particularly relevant this season, as many resorts’ day lodges are either closed for food service or operating on an extremely limited basis. Being able to go home for lunch could turn out to be a big plus.
Another thing to consider is what you like to do in the evening. If you’re content to return to your rental after the lifts close, have dinner in, watch TV or movies or play games, then you might look for something out of town in a quiet, country setting. But if you want entertainment, like to eat dinner out frequently, sample the nightlife (likely difficult this season), then perhaps a house in a town or around the base area (depending on the resort you choose) is a better option.
As far as the actual property goes, you need to again examine your lifestyle as well as your budget. How many bedrooms do you need? Will you or the children be bringing guests? Is one living space, whether large or cozy, where you can all be together preferable? Or would separate spaces for relaxation work better for the family? Do you prefer something upscale, in a condo community with amenities such as a spa, swimming pool, workout equipment? Or will a simple house work fine for your group?
Budget is an important consideration. If you rent a single-family house, in addition to the rent, you will likely be responsible for paying utilities including cable and Wi-Fi as well as plowing costs. Be sure to ask about the type of heat the house has and how efficient it is. Fuel costs over the course of a winter can come as a surprise (shock!) sometimes, and you want to be prepared.
When searching for a seasonal rental property, it is a wise idea to use a real estate rental agent. These folks know the properties and by asking a few questions can often direct you to something you might not find on your own. They will have a handle on expenses for the winter, condition of the property and lots of tips on location relative to the mountain and other activities. There are plenty of ways to book lodging online, but if you go this route be sure to use reputable websites and ask a lot of questions.
The Loomis family from Wenham, Mass., has been a season-long renter in the Dartmouth/Lake Sunapee region for about 18 years, including the past 10 years at the same property. “We started when the kids were young, 4 and 8 years old,” said Elisabeth Loomis. “We wanted to be able to come up all winter, have the kids in seasonal programs at Mount Sunapee, with the same coaches and be able to come and go as we wish. For all these years we’ve been coming up almost every winter weekend and school vacations. Our younger child is now a senior in college and the older one works in New York City, so they don’t get here as much. But they have made many good friends over the years through their skiing experience. And with my husband now being able to work remotely, he and I likely will spend more time at the ski house. The whole rental experience makes skiing much easier and convenient.”
When asked why the family hadn’t purchased a home during all these years, she replied, “We live near the ocean where we love the summers. At the end of the season, we can close the door and leave. No maintenance or upkeep to worry about.”
First-time seasonal renters Amy Roberts, her husband and three children ages 10, 8 and 5, who live in Hingham, Mass., are excited about the prospect of being able spend lots of time together outdoors. They have rented for a weekend or a week in the past, but this year will have a condo for three months.
“We are very excited to try this out,” Amy said. “We feel being outside enjoying all the outdoors has to offer, including lots of skiing, is the safest place to be this winter, and we want to maximize that time. We had considered waiting until the children were a little older, but the realities of the pandemic pushed up our time frame. Having a condo, we can go home for lunch and not have to deal with limited on-mountain dining. With our two older children likely going to full remote learning, and my husband being able to work from home, we can spend a lot more time outdoors as a family while still doing what needs to be done. This is the year when we can ski as much as possible and the kids are really excited about it. Having a place near the resort makes the whole ski experience more convenient and enjoyable.”
While many rentals are already spoken for this season, it is still possible to find some last-minute availability. But if not, use this winter to scope things out, decide what’s right for you and plan ahead for next season.