Vail Daily column: Better to live upvalley or downvalley? |

Vail Daily column: Better to live upvalley or downvalley?

Joan Harned

Dear Joan,

I am trying to make up my mind if it is worth sacrificing overall square footage, at least one bedroom and a garage, to own a property closer to Vail. In Eagle and Gypsum, in my price range ​of ​$450,000 to $550,000, ​we​ can get a single-family home with a two- or three-car garage, new or newer home ​with four or more bedrooms and around 3,000 square feet. In Avon ​to East​ Vail, all I can get is ​two or three bedrooms, none or one-car garage and under 2,000 square feet. If it is in the town of Vail, it is under 1,000 square feet.​ We​ work in Vail and love to ski, so ​we are​ agonizing over the short​ drive, ​the ​feel of the ​community and ​the ​convenience ​versus​ what I would call luxurious ​accommodations. Is there more to consider? Can you help me out with some long-range ​vision​ with things to think about for value in the future?

Dear Location Quandary,

You are not the first nor the last to struggle with this decision. There are several real estate factors to consider and, equally important, there are several personal items to go over.

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Yes, you can often get a lot more for your money downvalley. Properties often go for $100 to $1,000 less per square foot than upvalley​ in your price range​. The old adage, “location, location, location are the three most important things to look for in real estate​” is still true; however, location is a nebulous factor. The proximity to skiing will probably always be a premiere location that will bring and retain value in Eagle County. After that, there are many other factors that determine prime location depending on the buyer’s preferences, such as proximity to golfing, hiking, biking, fishing, schools, shopping, airport, I-70, etc. Using a trusted, knowledgeable Realtor is the best way to find true value for what you are looking for, as there are a few four-bedroom places that fit in your geographical and economic parameter that are currently on the market upvalley, according to your definition.

​The part your Realtor can point out but not decide for you is the personal choices you have to weigh. Some people hate to drive and some feel it allows them to gather their thoughts going to work and unwinding afterward. Some families greatly value the space inside their homes, their distance from neighbors and a private yard, and are delighted to drive 25 or 35 miles each way to enjoy their own haven. Some families like to go to all of the activities in the towns of Vail and Avon/Beaver Creek all summer and winter and dislike having to “commute” to each and every event. And, to some individuals, the less crowded and less expensive dining, golf, groceries, etc., is also a reason to live downvalley. To some, they feel why not experience the best of what Vail has to offer when you live in Eagle County.

I would suggest you and your family or significant other sit down and have a serious discussion on all of the above items, and I think the correct answer will become very clear to you. Then contact the best Realtor you can find that will help you in your price range, and do a thorough search to make sure you see every lovely property in your price range, no matter where you decide to live. Best of luck to you!

Joan Harned is an owner and broker for Keller Williams Mountain Properties and heads up Team Black Bear, her own real estate team. Harned has been selling real estate in Eagle County for 27 years, is a past chairman of the Vail Board of Realtors, past Realtor of the Year, past director on the Great Outdoors Colorado Board and a member of the Luxury and Land Institutes. Contact Harned with your real estate questions at, 970-337-7777 or

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