If you’ve found this article, you’re probably already well aware that living in a ski town is expensive. Like, really expensive! But between the stunning mountain views, the charming log cabins, and the promise of great skiing, living in a ski town is also high on quality of life. Since we believe in loving where you live, we went on the hunt for the 30 most affordable ski towns by taking into consideration both cost of living and quality of life.
Our editors scoured popular ski websites and communities to figure out which mountain towns could actually be considered ski towns. Then we used Sperling’s Best Places to rank those towns on general affordability. To figure out which ski towns are most affordable, we looked at costs for housing, food, healthcare, transportation, and utilities, and compared them to the national average. We also considered features like amenities, crime rates, public transportation, and overall quality of life before narrowing our list down to the 30 most affordable ski towns.
1. Ontonagon, Michigan
Cost of Living: 17.8% lower than the national average
Average Home Price: $62,400
We know what you’re thinking: Michigan is pretty flat. But one exception to that is the affordable town of Ontonagon. Named on more than one occasion as one of the most underrated ski towns in America, Ontonagon is located just outside of Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park and the Porcupine Mountains Ski Area. Both of these are well-known for their cross-country trails and downhill slopes. Best of all, Ontonagon is extremely affordable. Average home prices currently hover just over $62,000.
2. Kellogg, Idaho
Cost of Living: 14.3% lower than the national average
Average Home Price: $109,300
Don’t be deterred by the welcome sign that reads, “This is a town founded by a jackass and inhabited by its descendants.” In truth, the small town of Kellogg is home to about 2,100 snow lovers and the 1,600 skiable acres that make up Silver Mountain Resort. Perhaps, then, it’s surprising that Kellogg ranks the second most affordable ski town in America. Kellogg’s cost of living comes in at about 14% lower than the national average, with the lowest cost categories being housing, utilities, food, and transportation. Budget buyers will be especially pleased to know that Kellogg’s housing costs average a whopping 54% lower than the national norm. The median Kellogg home price is right around $110,000.
3. Ogden, Utah
Cost of Living: 13.2% lower than the national average
Average Home Price: $188,100
Despite being located in a valley, Ogden is surrounded by some of the best ski resorts in Utah, including Snowbasin and Powder Mountain. We think that easy access, plus its incredibly affordable cost of living, makes Ogden a worthy addition to our list of the most affordable ski towns. Speaking of cost of living, Ogden averages under the national norm in every single category, with the lowest being the categories of healthcare, entertainment, food, and housing. In fact, Ogden’s current median home cost is just over $188,000 — more than $100,000 less than the average median home cost in Utah.
4. Lead, South Dakota
Cost of Living: 10% lower than the national average
Average Home Price: $117,100
For years, Lead, South Dakota has been enjoying a quiet reputation as one of America’s most underrated ski towns. The town’s 3,000 full-time residents are located only about 10 minutes’ drive from Ski Mystic Deer Mountain. This impressive resort consists of more than 40 trails and 900 feet of vertical drop. Lead’s cost of living is pretty much on par with the national average in every category except one. With a current median home price of just over $117,000, Lead’s average housing costs are 33% lower than the national norm.
5. Brian Head, Utah
Cost of Living: 8.4% lower than the national average
Average Home Price:$205,000
It has a whopping 650 acres of skiable terrain, and averages 360 inches of snow per year. It’s hard to tell just how long Brian Head will remain affordable and underrated as a ski town. As of August 2018, Brian Head’s median home price stands at a very affordable $205,000. That’s nearly unheard of for an outdoor lover’s town in the western United States. Even better, Brian Head’s cost of living averages lower than the national average in every category, with costs for utilities and healthcare coming in at least expensive.
6. Chewelah, Washington
Cost of Living: 6% lower than the national average
Average Home Price: $142,200
Washington is not a cheap place to live. But snow lovers will be happy to hear that housing in Chewelah averages a whopping 86% less than the Washington average, and 29% less than the U.S. average. That makes the median home price in Chewelah a very affordable $142,200, practically unheard of for a ski town. Speaking of skiing, Chewelah is home to the Chewelah Peak, which receives an average of 300 inches of snow per year and consists of a variety of hills for all skill levels.
7. Warren, Vermont
Cost of Living: .1% lower than the national average
Average Home Price: $215,000
Vermont is chock-full of great ski towns, and Warren happens to be one of the best and most traditional. Though Mad River Glen is located right in town, Warren residents also have easy access to Sugarbush, one of the most popular resorts on the East Coast. Perhaps the fact that it’s one of many local ski towns helps to explain Warren’s extremely affordable cost of living. Living here actually costs less than the national average. Food, healthcare, utilities, transportation, and entertainment costs average slightly above the national norm. Housing costs, however, are a whopping 18% less than average!
8. Bethel, Maine
Cost of Living: .3% higher than the national average
Average Home Price: $217,800
Established in 1774, Bethel is an adorable ski town. It boasts a pedestrian-friendly downtown, a great collection of restaurants, historic homes and hotels. And there’s great skiing at nearby Sunday River Ski Resort. Best of all, Bethel is right on par with the national average in terms of cost of living. While costs for housing and utilities average lower than the national norm, a Bethel resident’s most expensive costs are entertainment, transportation, and healthcare.
9. Killington, Vermont
Cost of Living: 1.3% higher than the national average
Average Home Price: $142,000
For those familiar with ski towns, it might come as a shock that a place like Killington is listed so highly on a ranking of the 30 most affordable ski towns. After all, Killington is home to the largest ski resort on the East Coast. It’s even been nicknamed the “Beast of the East” in recognition of its challenging slopes and trails. And yet, its cost of living is only about 1% higher than the national average. Housing costs are especially low in Killington, with the median home cost hovering just over $140,000.
10. Ruidoso, New Mexico
Cost of Living: 1.7% higher than the national average
Average Home Price: $178,000
A warm(ish) winter climate, great skiing, and an affordable cost of living. Is this possible? Yes! Ruidoso is home to Ski Apache, America’s southernmost ski area, which ensures consistently skiable terrain by covering 33% of the mountain using snow machines. Pretty clever. Best of all, Ruidoso is remarkably affordable. With the exception of housing, average costs come in less than the national average in every cost-of-living category.
11. Tetonia, Idaho
Cost of Living: 1.7% higher than the national average
Average Home Price: $356,100
Like its neighbor, Driggs (#13 on our list of the most affordable ski towns), Tetonia, Idaho is located just across the border from Jackson Hole. Nestled into the slopes of the Teton Mountains, Tetonia is the chosen home of at least one millionaire, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. Perhaps this is why Tetonia’s average home price is far higher than most other towns on our list. Fortunately, the cost of living in Tetonia doesn’t have to be as astronomical as its housing costs might imply. Housing is only 9% higher than the national average, while every other cost-of-living category ranks far less than the national norm.
12. Davis, West Virginia
Cost of Living: 2.2% higher than the national average
Average Home Price: $152,800
It’s about time the rest of the United States caught on to the fact that West Virginia is home to some really, really good skiing. Located a stone’s throw from two of the state’s top-rated ski resorts, the small town of Davis ranks as the 12th most affordable ski town in the country. Although Davis’s overall cost of living averages about 2% higher than the national average, an avid skier can nab a house here for the median price of only $152,800.
13. Driggs, Idaho
Cost of Living: 2.8% higher than the national average
Average Home Price: $310,900
Driggs, Idaho is situated on the western slopes of the Teton Mountains and located only a few minutes from Grand Teton National Park. It’s becoming a popular place to call home for those who enjoy snow sports, especially cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Despite its growing population, Driggs’ lower cost of living still makes it one of the most affordable ski towns in the United States. Driggs residents can expect to pay less than the national norm in the categories of food, healthcare, utilities, and entertainment — you know, the really important things. Driggs’s most expensive cost-of-living category is actually housing, which averages about 13% higher than the U.S. average.
14. Georgetown, Colorado
Cost of Living: 6.8% higher than the national average
Average Home Price: $290,400
Considering it’s located within easy access to Vail Ski Resort, Wolf Creek Resort, Loveland Ski Area, and the Beaver Creek Resort, perhaps it’s surprising that Georgetown, Colorado has managed to retain its affordable cost of living. This underrated ski town boasts a cost of living of approximately 7% less than the state average. That’s far less than nearby ski havens like Golden, Keystone, and Breckenridge. The biggest factor in this cost different is housing, which is about 21% higher than the national norm (but 34% lower than the state norm). Alternatively, costs for food, utilities, transportation, and entertainment all ranked right on par with the current U.S. average.
15. Sandpoint, Idaho
Cost of Living: 8.8% higher than the national average
Average Home Price: $256,100
Located between Lake Pend Oreille and the Selkirk Mountains, Sandpoint, Idaho was recently named by Sunset Magazine as the “best under-the-radar ski town in North America.” That makes perfect sense, considering Olympic snowboarders call Sandpoint home. A whopping 2,900 acres of terrain exist on Schweitzer Mountain, which Sandpoint residents can get to in about 10 minutes. Even better, Sandpoint enjoys a cost of living that’s only about 9% higher than the national average.
16. Pagosa Springs, Colorado
Cost of Living: 9.9% higher than the national average
Average Home Price: $320,500
Aspen and Breckenridge may get all the attention, but with nearly 500 inches of powder falling on Pagosa Springs each wnter, some have made the bold declaration that this underrated ski town actually has the best snow in the state. Best of all, Pagosa Springs has a cost of living that is only about 10% higher than the national average — a bargain compared to most of Colorado.
17. Wenatchee, Washington
Cost of Living: 10.5% higher than the national average
Average Home Price: $268,400
An important agricultural center during the warmer months, Wenatchee, Washington comes alive during the winter. This is when many of the local residents choose to spend their days enjoying the slopes at nearby resorts like Badger Mountain, Echo Valley, Mission Ridge, and Leavenworth. To live in Wenatchee, expect to pay less than or equal to the national average in just about every cost-of-living category. One exception is housing costs, which average 30% higher than the national norm, but 27% less than the Washington average.
18. Sandy, Utah
Cost of Living: 11.6% higher than the national average
Average Home Price: $394,300
Take your pick of local ski resorts: Alta, Brighton, Canyons, Deer Valley, Parky City Mountain, Snowbasin, or Solitude Mountain. They’re all located nearby, as are the wide variety of amenities in nearby Salt Lake City. With so much access to slopes and the city, it’s no wonder housing prices are a bit higher in Sandy than they are in other ski towns on our list. But while housing costs may average 44% higher than the U.S. average, costs in every other category remain below the national norm. Utilities, for example, average nearly 18% less in Sandy, while food averages 6% less.
19. Pinedale, Wyoming
Cost of Living: 11.7% higher than the national average
Average Home Price: $265,400
Wyoming is full of great ski towns, but one of the most affordable is Pinedale. Located about 10 miles from White Pine Ski Resort, this family-friendly town enjoys a local culture that revolves around the outdoors. Though Pinedale tends to be a bit more expensive than the rest of Wyoming, for a ski town, it’s actually quite affordable. Home prices here average about 27% higher than the national norm, while costs for utilities, food, transportation, and entertainment are all right on par with the nationwide average.
20. McCall, Idaho
Cost of Living: 11.8% higher than the national average
Average Home Price: $313,700
McCall, Idaho’s cost of living may be nearly 12% higher than the national average, but quality of life is high here — especially for skiers and other snow lovers. McCall is home to Brundage Mountain, which many say has “the best snow in Idaho.” Perhaps that makes it a little easier to swallow the fact that McCall’s average housing costs are 27% higher than the national average. The median home price here is nearly $100,000 more than the rest of the state. But did we mention “Best snow in Idaho?”
21. Ludlow, Vermont
Cost of Living: 12.8% higher than the national average
Average Home Price: $243,200
The charming mountain town of Ludlow is a little higher on our list of affordable ski towns. With a cost of living averaging almost 13% higher than the national norm, Ludlow’s most expensive living categories include healthcare and housing. Still, you can’t beat Ludlow’s proximity to the slopes. The town is home to the popular Okemo Mountain Resort.
22. Fraser, Colorado
Cost of Living: 14.7% higher than the national average
Average Home Price: $282,900
Skiing and other snow sports are practically the official state pastime in Colorado, but fortunately, there are still a few ski towns that can be called “affordable.” One such affordable Colorado ski town is Fraser. Snow lovers can purchase a home for an average price of $282,900 — nearly $80,000 less than the typical cost of a house in Colorado. That’s pretty impressive considering Fraser is located a stone’s throw from Winter Park Resort, recently ranked as one of the best ski resorts in Colorado.
23. Reno, Nevada
Cost of Living: 16.9% higher than the national average
Average Home Price: $355,100
Reno may not be a ski town in the traditional sense. But when it comes to affordable places to both live and ski, this rapidly growing city with a small-town feel definitely fits the category. Reno is located less than an hour’s drive from some of the best skiing in the world: Squaw Valley in Truckee, the slew of resorts in South Lake Tahoe and Tahoe City, and Mount Rose. The latter is located just outside of Reno city limits. Although Reno has experienced a population boom in recent years, it remains much more affordable than the ski towns located just over the border in California.
24. Bozeman, Montana
Cost of Living: 19.7% higher than the national average
Average Home Price: $400,200
Yes, the average price of a home in Bozeman, Montana is just over $400,000, but keep reading! Surrounded by stunning scenery, Bozeman is both a ski town and a college town. College towns tend to keep overall cost of living on the lower side. Indeed, that seems to be the case with Bozeman. The town’s housing costs are 58% higher than the national average, and 54% higher than the Montana average. However, costs in every other cost-of-living category are equal to or below the nationwide norm. And since it’s home to both the Big Sky Resort and the Bridger Bowl Ski Area, Bozeman residents have tons of access to world-class skiing.
25. Waterbury, Vermont
Cost of Living: 20.4% higher than the national average
Average Home Price: $276,200
Living in Waterbury, Vermont might cost a little more than living in some of the other Vermont towns we’ve profiled. But it’s still one of the more affordable ski towns in America. At 46% higher than the national average, housing costs in Waterbury are more than both the state and national norms. Food, transportation, and entertainment are lowest of the cost-of-living categories. And of course, you get what you pay for. POWDER calls Waterbury a “quintessential satellite ski town” thanks to its close proximity to Stowe Mountain Resort, Sugarbush, Bolton Valley, and the resorts around Mad River.
26. Angel Fire, New Mexico
Cost of Living: 21% higher than the national average
Average Home Price: $314,500
The second New Mexico locale to make our list of America’s most affordable ski towns is Angel Fire. Despite it’s warm-sounding name, Angel Fire is a great place for skiing — especially if you enjoy night skiing. The privilege of living here does come with a bit of a cost, however. Housing in New Mexico typically averages 13% less than the national norm, but housing in Angel Fire actually costs 56% more than the national average. Healthcare costs also tend towards the higher side. Fortunately, costs for things like food, utilities, transportation, and entertainment all rank below or on par with the rest of the country.
27. Huntsville, Utah
Cost of Living: 22.2% higher than the national average
Average Home Price: $383,800
Huntsville, Utah may only have a population of about 600, but we think it’s safe to say those 600 people love skiing! It’s located in the same Ogden Valley region as Diamond Peaks and Snowbasin, both highly rated ski areas. Huntsville residents can be assured that they have ample access to the slopes throughout the winter months. Perhaps just as appealing is the town’s affordable cost of living. Though Huntsville’s living costs average about 22% higher than the U.S. norm, the biggest factor in the cost of living difference is housing. It’s 22% higher than the typical home price in Utah. However, costs for food, healthcare, utilities, transportation, and entertainment all average significantly lower than the national average.
28. Whitefish, Montana
Cost of Living: 22.2% higher than the national average
Average Home Price: $321,000
Whitefish, Montana is the type of place for people who love the outdoors, including skiing! The town is located in the Rocky Mountains, with easy access to Whitefish Mountain Ski Resort. Though housing prices are rising rapidly in Whitefish, this is still an affordable ski town comparatively. While costs for housing, food, healthcare, and entertainment all rank just above the national average, transportation and utilities costs are still trending below average.
29. Victor, Idaho
Cost of Living: 22.3 higher than the national average
Average Home Price: $346,200
The tiny town of Victor, Idaho sits in the shadows of the Teton Mountains. It offers residents easy access to Grand Targhee Resort, the snowshoeing mecca that is Grand Teton National Park, and the charming ski town of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. With such easy access to just about anything you might want, housing prices are a bit higher here — 74% higher, to be exact. Still, don’t cross Victor off your list just because of the median home price. Costs for utilities, food, healthcare, and entertainment are all less here than in most of the United States, while costs for transportation average only 1% more than the national norm.
30. Lake Arrowhead, California
Cost of Living: 22.5% higher than the national average
Average Home Price: $371,400
California has some great ski towns, but it isn’t exactly known for being an affordable place to live. Fortunately, there is at least one affordable ski town — Lake Arrowhead. This Southern California mountain retreat is chock-full of rustic charm. For snow lovers, Lake Arrowhead is home to three major areas:
-the cross-country skiing terrain at Rim Nordic
-the SkyPark at Santa’s Village
-the Snowdrift Snow Tubing Park.
And while Lake Arrowhead is the 30th, and most expensive, ski town on our list, there are actually quite a few silver linings. The median home price in Lake Arrowhead is just over $370,000, but that’s nearly $200,000 less than the average price for California. Costs for healthcare, food, and utilities, and transportation are all right on par with the national average.