Winter is coming and that means one thing. It’s time to get stoked for ski season. As mountains across America start getting dusted with snow, skiers are dusting off their gear in anticipation of their favorite ski hills and resorts reopening. With only a few months to enjoy the season, die-hard skiers want to live close to the slopes to spend as much time as possible skiing.
So, if you’re an avid ski bum who spends every moment of the season out on the slopes, you need to live in a ski town. Mountainous states like Colorado and Vermont are particularly famous for their ski culture. Towns like Aspen, CO, and Stowe, VT, offer world-class skiing just steps from the city center, where apres-ski activities like dining and shopping abound.
But luckily for ski bums on a budget, popular winter states like Colorado aren’t the only option. There are tons of slopes across America â in places you might not realize â that offer great skiing and are close to affordable towns.
The cheapest ski towns to rent an apartment
It’s often the unexpected ski areas that fly under the radar that also offer the most affordable cost of living. Even in ski-centric states like Utah, you can still find affordable apartments.
If you’re a renter looking for a good deal near the slopes, here are the top 10 cheapest ski towns in America.
10. Middletown, CT
Located 16 miles from Hartford, Middletown is a bedroom community that’s popular among families, students and commuters. Middletown is a prime example of an archetypical New England town, with historic architecture, a charming downtown district and sunny riverfront parks. It’s also the home of Wesleyan University. With two-bedroom apartments costing an average of $950, living here is a much better deal than nearby Hartford where the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment costs $2,300.
The closest ski resort to Middletown is Ski Mount Southington. Half an hour east of town, the resort has 14 different trails and terrain types for all skill levels. Ski Mount Southington has been a beloved fixture of central Connecticut since the 1960s, catering to families with a wide range of offerings including night skiing and on-site apres-ski treats like waffles.
9. Portage, WI
With just over 10,000 residents, Portage is a small town in central Wisconsin 45 minutes north of Madison. Located on the banks of the Wisconsin River, locals enjoy lots of access to the great outdoors along the river, in nearby wildlife areas and at Swan and Silver lakes. Living here is highly affordable, with two-bedroom apartments costing an average of $895.
Just across the river from Portage sits the Cascade Mountain ski area. Less than a 10-minute drive from town, Cascade Mountain has 48 trails, 11 lifts and an average annual snowfall of 50-56 inches. In addition to skiing, Cascade Mountain also has a snow tubing area and offers family-friendly deals, such as kids under 12 ski for free.
8. Saint Ann, MO
Located on the outskirts of St. Louis, the Hidden Valley Ski Area offers the best skiing in Missouri. It’s one of only two ski areas in the state. Hidden Valley offers 65 skiable acres with 17 different runs and five chair lifts. The resort offers lessons and has on-site dining.
To live close to Missouri’s top ski area, ski enthusiasts looking for affordable housing turn to Saint Ann. A suburb of St. Louis, Saint Ann has good schools, low crime and lots of family-friendly parks and outdoor activities. While many residents own their homes here, renters will find budget-friendly two-bedroom apartments available for $850.
7. Painesville, OH
For great skiing near Cleveland, Ohio skiers turn to Alpine Valley Ski Area. With an average annual snowfall of 120 inches, it usually gets more natural snow than other resorts. Easy and intermediate terrain makes up the majority of the skiable area, making it a great choice for families. But there are some difficult runs and a terrain park for expert skiers. Other amenities include on-site dining, lessons and equipment rental.
While Cleveland is still fairly affordable for a big city, skiers wanting to live close to Alpine Valley can do even better for their budget. The town of Painesville is just a half-hour drive northeast on the shores of Lake Erie, with Alpine Valley Ski Area half an hour south.
Home to Lake Erie College, Painesville offers plenty of outdoor recreation on Lake Erie and in nearby nature parks. In addition to the student population, families choose to live here for outdoor access and affordability. Here, you can find a spacious two-bedroom apartment for only $840.
6. Sioux Falls, SD
Full of history and natural splendor, Sioux Falls is the largest city in South Dakota. Its most famous feature is the spectacular waterfalls that give the city its name. Sioux Falls, known as the heart of America, has friendly, welcoming residents. Locals can choose between living in close-knit neighborhoods with access to parks and good schools, while young professionals can live in modern apartments closer to the city center. Sioux Falls is also notable for its affordability as a big city, with two-bedroom apartments costing an average of $833.
Camping to hiking are big at Big Sioux State Recreation Area, and all outdoor recreation is very popular here. In the winter, locals head to Great Bear Recreation Park for skiing on its 14 downhill runs. Great Bear is one of the biggest ski areas in the state, with a terrain park and tubing park included. Best of all, the resort is less than a 15-minute drive from the city center.
5. Casper, WY
Jackson Hole is Wyoming’s most famous ski area, but living in nearby Jackson is exorbitantly expensive. Luckily, Jackson Hole isn’t the only good skiing in Wyoming. Leaving the Tetons and heading to the eastern part of the state, you’ll find quality ski areas in smaller mountain ranges, as well as under-the-radar cities with affordable living.
Casper is a great home base for Wyoming skiers wanting to expand beyond Jackson Hole. The city sits against the backdrop of the Laramie mountain range, home to the Hogadon Basin Ski Area. With 28 trails, roughly 80 percent of the terrain is for intermediate and expert skiers, making this a great ski hill for long-term skiers. But there are beginner runs, as well.
In addition to downhill, Hogadon also has cross-country trails and a summit resort building. Apart from ski access, there are many other benefits to living in Casper. Casper is full of natural beauty, history, culture and outdoor recreation. The city is well-known for its craft brewing scene, as well as its many museums and vibrant downtown. Compared to $2,000-plus two-bedroom apartments in Jackson, you can snag one for just $804 in Casper.
4. New Kensington, PA
Source: Interesting Pennsylvania
Crossed by the Appalachian, Allegheny and Poconos mountain ranges, Pennsylvania has tons of great skiing. When it comes to finding the cheapest ski town that’s close to a great hill, New Kensington ticks all the right boxes. Located along the Allegheny River, âNew Ken” is roughly half an hour from Pittsburgh.
With historic architecture and scenic nature parks, families and retirees make up the majority of residents. This is partially due to the peaceful small-town atmosphere, but also because of the affordable cost of living. You can get a two-bedroom for $725, compared to $1,921 in nearby Pittsburgh.
The local ski hill for New Kensington residents is Boyce Park. A 20-minute drive, Boyce Park’s 10 ski runs offer beginner and intermediate skiing. Night skiing is also available.
3. Brigham City, UT
Cut through by the Rocky Mountains and with tens of smaller ranges, Utah’s mountainous topography and high elevation make it ski central. Not only is there ample terrain, but the high elevation guarantees plenty of snow.
When looking for the cheapest ski towns close to good ski hills, stay away from the big names like Park City, Alta and Deer Valley. Instead, head to Snowbasin and Powder Mountain. While they may not have the name recognition as the other big resorts, these two ski areas are no small potatoes.
Powder Mountain holds the honor of being North America’s largest skiable area, with 154 trails. Snowbasin’s terrain is legendary enough that 2002 Olympic events were held there. You’ll find world-class skiing at either resort.
Both areas are close to Salt Lake City and its rising cost of living. But to find affordable housing in the area, set your sights north of S.L.C. to Brigham City. Located toward the northern end of the Great Salt Lake, Brigham City has a quaint downtown area, plenty of outdoor access and highly affordable rent. Two-bedroom apartments cost an average of $696, making Brigham City popular with families and young professionals.
2. Burton, MI
Located half an hour from Pine Knob Ski Resort, Burton’s $647 two-bedroom apartments make it the second-cheapest ski town in America. Affordable housing aside, Burton is a friendly small town of fewer than 30,000 residents. Surrounded by lakes and forests, residents spend a lot of time outside enjoying nature throughout the year. There is also a vibrant arts and culture scene.
With such cold winters and heavy snowfall, Michigan is prime territory for downhill and cross country skiing. Pine Knob Ski Resort has 17 different runs, as well as a terrain park, equipment rental and skiing and snowboarding lessons.
1. Alamogordo, NM
When it comes to skiing in New Mexico, the Taos Ski Valley usually gets all the glory. But turn your attention to southern New Mexico and you’ll discover the Ski Cloudcroft resort in the Sacramento Mountains. With a vertical drop of 700 feet, Ski Cloudcroft starts at a base elevation of 8,400 feet and tops out at 9,100 feet. The resort has three different lifts and 25 different ski trails ranging from beginner to expert. The resort is especially popular with families for its beginner and intermediate pistes. Skiing here, you’ll find way fewer crowds and may even see local wildlife like elk.
The nearest major town is Alamogordo at the base of the mountains. With a population of just over 31,000, Alamogordo is best known for being close to the Trinity Site, where they tested the first-ever atomic bomb. The town also has strong ties to aviation history, the space program and the military due to the nearby Holloman Air Force Base.
Living here is great for outdoor enthusiasts. In the winter, there’s skiing half an hour away at Cloudcroft. The spectacular White Sands National Park is also close to town, offering hiking and camping. Full of history, family-friendly attractions like the Alameda Park Zoo and outdoor fun, Alamogordo is also extremely affordable. The average cost for a two-bedroom apartment here is only $510. That’s why it takes our top spot for the cheapest ski towns.
To find the cheapest ski towns in America, we looked at all towns within 25 miles of a ski resort or mountain with advertised slopes. From there, we identified towns with the cheapest average two-bedroom rent prices. Towns with insufficient inventory were excluded, and we only included one town per state on our list.
Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com’s multifamily rental property inventory as of November 2021. Our team uses a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.
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