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Warren Miller: Quit your job and go skiing

Warren Miller
Vail, CO, Colorado
newsroom@vai

For years I have been telling people: “Any job that you have in the city you can get a job doing the same thing at a ski resort. All you have to do is quit your job, rent a trailer, load it up and move to the mountains.”

This advice came into focus recently when I spent three snowy days at one of North America’s major ski resorts. I was sitting in a restaurant looking out at the people standing at the bus stop in the blizzard waiting for the free bus to take them to the ski lift for a day of powder skiing.

Most of them had traveled a long way to get a ski resort job, a head start on the season and a change in lifestyle.

I was reading the local newspaper and, in particular, the want-ad section with 18 pages full of job opportunities. They ranged from concrete finishing to a maitre d’ and everything in between.

Ski instructors, snowboard instructors, snowmaking machine operators and there were several ads for nannies that offered $18 an hour, paid in cash at the end of each shift. One nanny was needed only 22 hours a week with staggered hours. That’s about $1,000 a month tax-free.

All you need to get this job is your own health insurance and a place to sleep when you aren’t babysitting, or nannying as it is called at this resort. With staggered hours, if you played it right you could ski every day and put $2,000 a month in your pocket.

How much time did you spend commuting to Old Amalgamated Computer Company this week? Two hours a day is 10 hours a week and in the ski resort of your choice that commute time is worth $180 a week to you.

It would have been better if you had moved up to Sunshine Mountain in late September or early October because the places to rent for the winter were more available and better priced. The going rate for a bed in a condo is $500 per month. Factor that cost into your job search. The way bed rental works is someone who is smarter than you has rented a three-bedroom condo for the winter for $2,000 a month. It’s a short bus ride or a long walk from the chairlift at Agony Acres. The leaseholder then subleases the six single beds and the living room couch for a total of $3,500 income against a lease of $2,000. If you are the leaseholder you can get your bed rent-free and put more than a $1,000 a month in your pocket.

You can be making $1,000 a month and you haven’t even had to shovel snow yet. If you are in a dead-end job think about what you are doing and will you be happy doing the same thing 10 years from now? Don’t ever forget that a career is a job you have had too long.

I have a friend in Sun Valley who arrived there 55 years ago from Omaha, Neb., where he had a dead-end job. He was paid $125 a month, room and board and a ski lift ticket. He never went back to Omaha.

Instead he shoveled a neighbor’s driveway whenever it snowed more than 2 inches. Within a season he was shoveling so much snow he was able to buy a small mechanical snowplow and today he has six people running snowplows for him, owns a big home and skis four or five days a week. He still talks about how lucky he is to have given up his city job to spend the rest of his life making turns on the side of a hill.

When you decide to settle down at the base of Old Baldy, make sure it is a big resort for several important reasons. You might get tired riding up and skiing down a small hill and there are a lot more jobs available.

However, any time you are out on the hill is a lot better than any time you are inside at old Amalgamated Computer Company!

What’s keeping you chained to your computer and locked in your cubicle every day?

If you don’t do it this year you’ll be one year older when you do.

Filmmaker Warren Miller lived in Vail for 12 years, and his column began in the Vail Daily before being syndicated to over 50 publications. We’ve brought him back to where he started, beginning this week. For more of Miller’s stories and stuff log onto Warren Miller.net


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