Mountain Living – Moving On And Moving Back

In the past decade living here in Jackson Hole, at least half of the people I know that moved away have now moved back. Other friends have moved here from Whitefish, Breckenridge, Aspen, Missoula and Telluride, and a few have left to go to Bend, Tahoe, Bozeman and Durango. What’s my point?

Maybe once you catch the mountain bug, it just stays in your system forever. It is a uniquely wonderful lifestyle (at least for those who love the mountains) which can be just flat-out addicting. Some move away to the city thinking they will have greater opportunities on all levels only to find out that those opportunities paled in comparison to what they had found living in the mountains.

If you are currently a self-proclaimed ski bum starting to think of looking for a full-time career, just don’t be so sure that you have to leave your dream lifestyle to pursue it.

I was reading through the blogs, and found Making It (or Not): Missoula’s Slippery Job Market written by a Missoula local resident. She ends the article with these fine words:

“Maybe that’s why they call Montana the last, best place: because it’s here that people choose to give up things they don’t really need in order to feed the parts of themselves that so often go neglected. It’s a place where hard work and relaxation hang out together; where money may be tight and hours long, but there are plenty of open ears and ridiculous sunsets to remind us why we stayed.”

I would have to agree … and say this probably rings true for many … in many mountain places.

Virtual Living Or The Real Thing?

In my continual research to find out what’s new in the web 2.0 world, I have to say that I am still not totally sold on sites like twitter and second life. These websites are definitely hot topics in the media, but are they really society’s #1 entertainment of choice these days? From where I sit, which is working at the computer for the better part of the day, a break means I am out the door, and outside.

I did find this article recently, Time magazine best and worst web of 2007, and “Second life” is in the bottom five. It starts this way, “We’re sure that somebody out there is enjoying Second Life, but why?” So I guess not everyone has become a Second Lifer … well at least not just yet. In all seriousness though, I started writing about this today because I began to wonder if people, especially the younger generations, are actually starting to prefer living in a virtual world over a real one. I hope not. Having the internet evolve like it has, especially living in a remote town, has been better than great, and I find the whole “online collaboration” concept fascinating. What sounds so unappealing to me is the thought of all of our future leisure activities to be solely based on social networking while sitting and staring at the screen of a computer.

As far as living here in Jackson Hole, rarely does the subject of avatars and twitting on come up in conversation. I would not say this is in any way related to ignorance though, just a lack of interest, and a focus on other things. The mountain lifestyle is definitely more conducive to spending as much free time as possible, outside in nature, all year long. I guess once again, this comes down to priorities and interests. You are probably not even considering living in the mountains if you prefer spending most of your free time on the computer. Right?

Discovering And Defining Community

I never even thought about what this word really meant prior to living in Wyoming. Growing up in the suburbs of New York, and living in the city for 5 years after college, the word community actually never even came to mind. For me, the New York attraction is family, exceptional live music(every day of the week), some occasional anonymity(non-existent here), and a whole lot of diversity.

Jackson Hole, on the other hand, brings to mind things like beauty, nature, adventure, outdoors, and in my opinion, the word community defines this place. The love that residents share for this area and each other is truly amazing. Locals come together for the good times and bad like I have never seen before.

From reading other local ski town blogs, it is apparent that the other mountain areas operate in just about the same way. Locals love their mountain towns. I decided to go to Wikipedia, and find out what they had to say about Community. The page is huge … here is just a “snippet”:

”A community is a social group of organisms sharing an environment, normally with shared interests. In human communities, intent, belief, resources, preferences, needs, risks and a number of other conditions may be present and common, affecting the identity of the participants and their degree of cohesiveness.”

“If the sense of community exists, both freedom and security exist as well. The community then takes on a life of its own, as people become free enough to share and secure enough to get along.

Hmmm … Bottom line …. If you’re searching for some community with your outdoor lifestyle … a small mountain town may be calling your name.

So You Are Thinking About Summit County – Colorado

If you are a professional thinking about moving to a small mountain community, you are probably looking for more information than how great the ski mountain is. What I have found to be the most daunting for those planning to relocate here to Jackson besides the housing is the basic question of what is really here beyond the obvious beauty and great skiing.

I have always tried to provide as much information as possible to those considering a move to this area so that there are no huge surprises. People want to know things like what do people do at night for entertainment, is it hard to break into the community, how expensive is it, and is the winter really 7 months long?

Anyway, in searching out more detailed lifestyle information for the different ski towns in the Rocky Mountain area, I came across the Mountain-Living Blog which is written by a Realtor based in Summit County, Colorado. This is an excellent resource if you are looking into living in Summit County. Joanne has a real down to earth style of writing, and provides quite a bit of information about the entire Summit County area.

Quality Of Life – And What It Means To You

Considering a major lifestyle change?

  • Will the school systems play a major role in your decision process? Is a college campus nearby a plus? Looking for a small town with a low crime rate?
  • Prefer anonymity? How do you feel about a hometown where just about “everyone knows your name”?
  • Love the outdoors? … And is it high time that you live less than 10 minutes from the trail? Skiing? Hiking? Biking? Kayaking? Climbing?
  • Will taking a couple of ski runs at lunch allow you to be more effective, and happier at your job, or will this be too distracting, and cause you to be less productive? Are you more of a weekend warrior?
  • Do you tend to see your extended family on a fairly regular basis? Is this an important aspect of your day to day life? .
  • Theatre? Movies? Art Galleries? Restaurants? Concerts? How much diversity are you looking for in the arts and cultural arena?
  • Money and the cost of living? How much money do you feel you need to live comfortably? Is it more important for you to live in a large, beautiful home in a place with a reasonable cost of living, or would you be just as happy in a smaller, more modest space as long as you are finally living in the place where you have always dreamed of living?

These are just a handful of questions to consider when making the move … Every geographical location will have its pros and cons whether it’s a city, suburb or small ski town. The key is in finding a place that will best suit you.

Leaving The Rocky Mountains For Suburbs And Strip Malls – Not Easy

The best place to find out what is so special about mountain living is of course, from a local. Special it is, but as we all enter different stages of life, we will inevitably experience shifts in priorities, and sometimes that means questioning the lifestyle choices that we have made.

Many local ski town residents will agree though that the longer you stay in places like Jackson Hole or Durango, Colorado, the harder it will be to even consider leaving. Tour De Texas was written by a Durango Colorado local considering leaving town for a lower cost of living and a closer proximity to family. Tough decision.

This caught my eye …
“I miss our little home on the side of the mountain, with a mountain breeze coming in from the windows as the only air conditioning. I miss the traffic jams of 10 cars while everyone has stopped to give a deer family a way to cross the street.”

“…the clean air, the bright stars and the quietness of the night, the snow and the crispness of the fall mornings are ours to enjoy.”

One can never underestimate the powerful effect of simple pleasures.

Rocky Mountain Summer Jobs

With a huge shift in recent years from winter based ski towns to four season resorts, summertime in the Rocky Mountains is the place to be. We now have quite a bit more entertainment to experience, and many more year round jobs. I am not sure that I can say that the traditional off season here in Jackson Hole still even exists. There seems to always be something going on in and around the valley these days.

Back to summer though. Festivals. There are film festivals, wildflower festivals, art festivals, music festivals, wellness festivals, mushroom festivals … you name it, I’m thinking someone up in the high country is celebrating it.

Summer happenings coming up:

  • Telluride Jazz Fest
  • Mountain Arts Festivals
  • Crested Butte Wild Mushroom Festival
  • Aspen Music Festival and School
  • Hot Chili Days, Cool Mountain Nights – Red River, New Mexico
  • Alpenglow Chamber Music Festivals
  • The Red Lodge Festival of Nations,
  • Targhee Bluegrass Festival, Grand Teton Music Festival
  • Grand Teton Music Festival
  • Sun Valley Summer Symphony
  • The Northern Rockies Folk Festival

Making A Living In A Ski Town

I was reminded today of the fact that we are all a little clueless when it comes to stepping outside of our own comfort zones.. Check out the article Yes, we are all tourons , from High Country News

The tourist with the bewildered, crinkled forehead look asking “What do you do here?”, and “How do people make a living?” are questions that I have answered on a regular basis since moving to Jackson 10 years ago. The truth is that I am sure visitors wonder how and why locals do anything beyond playing in their beautiful mountain playgrounds. Good point, but I can attest to the fact that many of us definitely do a whole lot more.

Just to give you some ideas of what some local residents actually do for employment in the resort towns besides work at an actual resort; You will find jobs for Bankers, Accountants, Architects, Designers, Financial Advisors, Graphic Artists, Computer Programmers, Teachers, Writers, Doctors, Lawyers, Non Profit Directors, Administrative Assistants, Marketing/Advertising/PR/Sales Professionals, Web Designers, Contractors, Painters, Biologists, Engineers, and the list goes on…

Anyway, I think you get my point. Resort communities are filled with talented local professionals who live very full lives beyond their daily alpine adventures.

Music That Soothes The Soul – Grand Targhee Music Festival

In addition to all of the outdoor recreation in this area, seeing live music at an outdoor arena amongst the Tetons can be ski town living at its best. Personally, live music (good live music) transports me to a different world completely … a world, if given the chance, I would frequent often.

This past weekend I made it to the Saturday portion of the Grand Targhee Music Festival, in Alta Wyoming. Having seen the Neville Brothers before, I knew it would be a good show, but this performance exceeded my expectations.

Front row and center, perfect weather, great performance, beautiful setting, and happy, dancing people everywhere. As for the whole Teton Valley, there is such a comfortable, relaxed vibe over that way as well as a growing population of young families … I highly recommend checking it out.

The Skier’s Perspective – A Great Ski Town

Go ahead and check out, “In search of a great ski town” in the TGR Forums.

Anyone participating in the TGR forums most likely considers skiing to be way more than a fleeting pastime, but as you can see by this forum thread, they also feel strongly about their communities, finding a home, and putting down some roots.