Is Aspen a good place to get a life? |

Is Aspen a good place to get a life?

Naomi Havlen

Aspen is No. 9 on a magazine’s top 10 list of ski towns where you don’t have to work a low-paying, service industry job to survive.Skiing Magazine’s September issue lists Jackson, Wyo., at the top of the list followed by Steamboat Springs and Vail.”We wanted to find the top 10 ski towns where our readers can, in theory, have a life,” said the magazine’s executive editor, Mike Kessler. “Where they can have a real job as opposed to a ski-town job and live the dream life of being in a ski town.”Kessler said the research was all about telling people which towns they could move to and have “some semblance of a career-minded job.”Using Census Bureau numbers, the magazine researched, among other variables, average income, an area’s median home price and average rent. The acreage of skiable terrain, average snowfall and vertical feet were also considered.Requirements to make the list included towns with a population between 5,000 and 50,000 that are no more than 35 minutes away from at least 1,800 lift-served vertical feet.Although Kessler said snow statistics were weighed most heavily when compiling the data, economics, of course, probably counted negatively against our pricey little ski town. As the commentary on Aspen notes, the cost of groceries, oil changes and a night on the town can really add up.”It’s pretty accurate,” said Aspen Skiing Co. spokesman Jeff Hanle. “It’s not a secret that it’s expensive to live here, but we’ve all found a way to do it and think it’s worthwhile.”The section on Aspen does note that it has one of the country’s most aggressive affordable employee housing programs. That plenty of locals actually live downvalley was also noted.When it came to tiebreakers, Kessler said weather and whether the resort made Skiing Magazine’s Top 25 resorts ranking were factored in.”We started with the 50 biggest resorts we could think of – the most popular resorts of all shapes and sizes – and gave those to an independent researcher,” he said. Freelance writer Jason Daley was then sent to each of the 10 towns to do further research and write up the article.”Everyone knows that Aspen can be pricey, which would explain why it wasn’t No. 1 through 4,” Kessler said. “But it had enough going for it to make it onto this list.”Hanle said the perception of Aspen as an exclusive, expensive place is one that he combats all the time. “Once you live here, you realize it’s the best place in the world,” he said. “If you rely on the perception of Aspen you don’t get the whole picture. Once you’ve put in a winter or a year here, you realize that the perception is a superficial layer.”Other towns listed in the magazines Top 10 include Bozeman, Mont., Hood River, Ore., and Truckee, Calif.Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is

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