Carroll: Eight ways to afford Aspen in 2017

Meredith C. Carroll
Muck Off

As if Bizarro 2016 wasn’t indication enough of the imminent apocalypse, Aspen enters 2017 with the establishment of a new local real estate record: An unfinished, 3,000-square-foot, downtown, penthouse residence recently sold for $16 million, which comes out to $5,427 per-square foot. The amount beats Aspen’s previous price per-square-foot record by more than $1,100.

The announcement of the gut-busting best falls gleefully on the ears of those concerned that perhaps Aspen was done out-Aspen-ing itself. Then again, it’s perhaps not the most welcome news if you’re not among the 1 percent — or as they’re known here, our friends, neighbors, acquaintances and that one guy who drove his orange Lamborghini to City Market despite the snow drifts standing taller than his side-view mirror — and therefore bemoaning the steep increase in the cost of Aspen-ing. Don’t despair, though; it’ll still be possible for the other 99 percent to Aspen in 2017. Here are eight how-to suggestions:

1. Change your name to Mariah Carey

Apparently, selling more than 200 million records, winning five Grammy Awards and having a reported net worth of $520 million is still not an indication that Aspen is in your price range. Why else would Mariah Carey sell her soul to Airbnb to stay free of charge at a $22 million Aspen estate over Christmas? The cost of the skin off Mariah’s back if she actually just paid out of her own pocket to stay locally: Nothing. The annual photo of the skin on Mariah’s back as she poses in a bikini in the snow: Priceless.

2. Borrow some kids and hide your assets

Maybe you already have kids or have friends willing to loan you theirs; maybe your kids live with your ex down the street or in another state or country; perchance the kids are away at school. But judging by the number of people in employee housing with multiple empty bedrooms who have big jobs, take even bigger vacations and go big with their cars, it seems as if it can’t be all that hard to live large while taking advantage of government-subsidized housing. Of course, it’s impolite to count other people’s money, which also is the unspoken motto of the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority.

3. Become a Christmas tree dealer

You can get a permit to chop down your own Christmas tree in the White River National Forest for $10. Or you can retire the day after Jesus’ birthday by selling Christmas trees in Aspen. Clearly the owners of Clark’s Market must have done just that, or could do it if they choose, because they had trees on sale for upward of $900. Who knew dealing in needles — without heroin! — could be so lucrative.

4. Rifle

No, not a rifle, but the town of Rifle. What Rifle lacks in Aspen-ness — not the least of which is being located 68 miles west and 2,560’ down — it more than makes up for in its median home price of $139 per square foot. Rifle also literally lives up to its name by being home to Shooters Grill, where the servers proudly and openly carry firearms. On the plus side: No one in Rifle cares that your Range Rover is circa 2013. On the other hand, it wouldn’t be a terrible idea to peel off the “Relax, It’s Aspen” bumper sticker from your Range Rover before parking it outside of Shooters Grill.

5. Wells Fargo

If we’ve learned anything this year (besides it being safe to go back on Instagram since Justin Bieber has stayed off), it’s to steer clear of the charlatans at Wells Fargo. Yet Aspen’s Wells Fargo still gives out lollipops. Between those, the free morning coffee at Gondola Plaza and the gratis snacks at ACES’ open house this afternoon, you may no longer need a second mortgage to fill your pantry.

6. Move to Aspen

If your bank account is prone to fits of anaphylaxis when exposed to Aspen, Colorado, pricing, you can still have a piece of the Aspen P.O. dream, except it’ll have to be in Aspen, New York; Aspen, Wyoming; Aspen, Maryland; or Aspen, Virginia. True, you won’t be able to boast anymore about living in the town with the most expensive gas station in the country, but … wait, what was the point here?

7. Become an OrthoAspen doctor

The days of little kids dreaming of getting rich by becoming doctors are long gone thanks to the perfect storm of rising malpractice costs and insurance company- and Medicare-reimbursement cesspools. However, there’s still a way to rake in cash with a medical degree: merge your private orthopedics practice with Aspen Valley Hospital and charge $371.50 for a foot brace that can be purchased online for $58.99. Because if you can make it here by marking up merchandise by 530 percent, well, then you’re a real local.

8. Never mind. You can’t afford Aspen.

And you probably never could. Yet, you’re still here, so you must be doing something right. Nice work if you can get it. (And if you get it, won’t you tell me how?)

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