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Affordable ski towns

NWSkiGirl

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
If you are considering Portland and Mt. Hood, you might look at Vancouver, WA, on the north banks of the Columbia River. Voter maps may show it as red because of previous presidential elections but overall it's pretty equally balanced, and Vancouver itself leans largely progressive. Washington's US senators, our region's US Congressional rep, and the majority of our state legislators are all .

Yes Oregon has no sales tax, while Washington does, but Oregon income tax is very high. Consider that every dollar you earn in Oregon is taxed, but not every dollar you spend in Washington is taxed. I will say that Washington has one of the highest gas taxes in the nation and I often will gas up when I'm in Portland to save $0.20 per gallon.

I bought a home in Vancouver 30 years ago and got more house for my money, lower property taxes, better schools, and better social services. I think housing is still more affordable in Vancouver vs. Portland. The entire area has many amenities important to me: great grocery and pet supply options, world class medical care (both traditional and alternative), lots of history, great museums and parks, a vibrant restaurant scene, excellent higher education institutions, plenty of outdoor activity options, proximity to the ocean, and gorgeous scenery.

Downsides: It's a little further than your stated parameters. I live just north of downtown Vancouver, west of I-5, and can be to Timberline ski area at Mt Hood in about 1:30 - 1:45. Wildfires are definitely a concern and we're all learning to live in the new climate reality. Traffic can suck at certain times of day, but it's still better than Seattle imho. And of course the rain lol. But this area has fewer gray days than the Puget Sound region, and warmer summers too.

Good luck in your search!
Thanks for this! I really appreciate it. I have considered Vancouver, but I can't find a townhome there right now I like. I'm in touch with a builder who said there are a few townhome communities that will be built later this year, but I'm not even sure what they will look like so that city is not on my radar right now. If they had something I'd stop to see it on my way down to Beaverton, Oregon. I might consider a condo, as townhouses have stairs. But townhouses are more private and have easy yard access and I have two dogs.
 

NWSkiGirl

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Most of our friends locally came because we had a kid. Since she moved away, many fell along the wayside and it takes more effort. If I didn't ski I'd go nuts. (Church is the glue for many in the area and I'd last an hour.) Living in the woods doesn't help either. When we lived back East it was in a condo and we went to offices to work and we had a kid - all links to others. Here? The only possible hook is volunteer work.
Church is a wonderful idea for community connection and quality people, but I agree I couldn't sit through an hour of it. haha
 

NWSkiGirl

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
One thing about finding your tribe: it can take a lot more effort on this front than when we were younger. I've encountered a bunch of media (books*, podcasts, NPR) lately about how many Americans are most isolated than ever--they don't belong to the institutions prior generations did, they are working at home--and they often don't understand why it seems so hard to make friends. One thing this all made me think about is how many of my current friends made the effort with me whereas I've generally done very little in terms of making the effort to make friends. Working at home full time also made me realize how many friends I always made through work, but that pipeline is gone.

*One very funny and interesting book about trying to make friends (in London) is Jessica Tan's Sorry I'm Late But I didn't Want to Come.
I think because Covid never went away we never had a social rebound. People stopped meeting strangers during Covid and I think that's still the case a lot of the time. I personally think it will be a slow rebound due to that. For instance our ski shared ride/commute group was very active pre-Covid, and even now four years later there are no new posts. I'm not looking to get in a car with four strangers any longer! But I do still think it's possible to make new friends, and I have being a mom. But I'm definitely not looking to get long Covid, and I don't want my baby to get it either. Thank heavens skiing is an outdoor activity!
 

Christy

Angel Diva
This is speculation but I think there might be a city vs. suburbs difference too. Growing up the burbs my dad always said he never would have met anyone if he hadn't had kids. My sister is in Bellevue and is a friendly person but is friends with none of her neighbors, which is so counter to my experience in Seattle, where we have such tight neighborhoods and you can't help but be friends with everyone around you.

In my neighborhood FB group I see a lot of interest in meeting new people. Someone posted the other day along if anyone wanted to start a book club and she had 77 responses by the time I saw the post, later in the day, and they had to go create their own FB group to work it out. The rest of my book club just informed me we are joining some kind of underdog pickleball league (though I'm not sure that will be my thing)
 

Trailside Trixie

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Mammoth or Heavenly both sound great! Both unaffordable.

I can't see myself living in Reno just to ski...

Yes, perfect, a house in So Cal and a second home would be ideal for me! :-)

Mammoth, Heavenly or Reno were more my wish list places not suggestions for you since I know those aren't what you are after. Mammoth and Heavenly seem sorta reasonable to me but my guy and I don't have any kids and don't require much space so what would work for us wouldn't work for others. I enjoyed Reno when I was there and I like having so many ski areas nearby and any commercial needs we have would be met while stil having mountains in the backdrop so very apealing to me. Plus it puts me close to California so I'd have access to mammoth and all my friends in SOCAL, plus In N Out burger :smile:.

Since you are already in the PNW it seems you have some good choices for places that will make your heart sing. I think it's cool you are researching this so thoroughly. This way when you pick somewhere you'll be pretty well versed with where you are going.
 

NWSkiGirl

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Mammoth, Heavenly or Reno were more my wish list places not suggestions for you since I know those aren't what you are after. Mammoth and Heavenly seem sorta reasonable to me but my guy and I don't have any kids and don't require much space so what would work for us wouldn't work for others. I enjoyed Reno when I was there and I like having so many ski areas nearby and any commercial needs we have would be met while stil having mountains in the backdrop so very apealing to me. Plus it puts me close to California so I'd have access to mammoth and all my friends in SOCAL, plus In N Out burger :smile:.

Since you are already in the PNW it seems you have some good choices for places that will make your heart sing. I think it's cool you are researching this so thoroughly. This way when you pick somewhere you'll be pretty well versed with where you are going.
I get that! A lot of people have mentioned Reno to me as being affordable and near ski resorts. That's usually their first suggestion, actually.

I remember In N Out! Yum

I have learned so much here, and of course hopefully all of us considering moves/places to live where we can ski have too. :-)
 

NWSkiGirl

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I guess I’m saying no to this Portland area townhome, even though it has everything except a proper view.

The sliding glass door in the living room overlooks the sliding glass door of my neighbors living room. Very close! There’s another unit available, but the living room sliding glass door overlooks a driveway.

All the units are built like this. It’s so confusing that they would build this way. The views from the kitchen and master bedroom are OK.

This seems to be the norm in new development now!
 

mustski

Angel Diva
Bedroom privacy is very important. The living room not so much. That's why they planned that way. In condos, the options are limited unless you get a corner unit.
 

NWSkiGirl

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Bedroom privacy is very important. The living room not so much. That's why they planned that way. In condos, the options are limited unless you get a corner unit.
No, they could’ve switched it around so that both the bedroom upstairs and the living room had a good view!
 

La Louve

Diva in Training
You may have already seen this Seattle Times article...https://www.oregonlive.com/trending/2024/04/these-two-oregon-and-washington-cities-named-among-best-places-to-live-in-us.html

Camas and nearby Washougal have grown a lot in recent years. I've seen Camas rated as having some of the best schools in the state. Under 90 minutes to Timberline at Mt Hood. I would guess housing is more affordable than Hood River, Oregon. Though the latter probably fits your wish list in more ways.
 

NWSkiGirl

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
You may have already seen this Seattle Times article...https://www.oregonlive.com/trending/2024/04/these-two-oregon-and-washington-cities-named-among-best-places-to-live-in-us.html

Camas and nearby Washougal have grown a lot in recent years. I've seen Camas rated as having some of the best schools in the state. Under 90 minutes to Timberline at Mt Hood. I would guess housing is more affordable than Hood River, Oregon. Though the latter probably fits your wish list in more ways.
Thanks! I'm looking at Camas online now. Do you know the city, by chance? The schools look excellent!
 

La Louve

Diva in Training
Thanks! I'm looking at Camas online now. Do you know the city, by chance? The schools look excellent!
You're welcome! The "downtown" area of Camas is pretty small, but there are some cool galleries, shops, restaurants and pubs. Seems like there's always something new opening. There's also some parkland and development down at the Columbia River. Camas city limits extend west to 192nd (runs N-S off of Hwy 14), so it's pretty much a neighboring suburb to Vancouver. There are some really nice parks, Lacamas Lake, lots of places to kayak. The last 10 years especially have seen a lot of growth and new housing. Definitely nicer schools. The Larch Mountain wildfire 2 years ago was in the outskirts of Camas, which are mainly wooded foothills of the Cascade range. It was really bad for weeks.

Here's a link to the local newspaper: https://www.camaspostrecord.com/

I think it could be worth a visit for you.
 

MM Smith

Diva in Training
I have a nine month old baby I want to ski with. Seattle is getting too expensive for us, but I’m not sure where we should move?

I work from home and can live pretty much anywhere in the US, but I’d like to stay on the West Coast. It’s just more my style. Perhaps a small town in Washington state or even Montana? Washington state doesn’t have income tax, and I’m not interested in moving only to start paying that.

I’d like to be within 30 minutes of a ski resort. I realize this is the wrong time to try to move to a ski town, as all the housing has been bought up by vacationers and housing prices are exorbitant.

Any ideas or suggestions? It’s just baby and me. She’s already starting to walk so she may get on skis next spring!
Anthony Lakes Ski Area is about 30 minutes from Baker City, Oregon. It's in the Elkhorn Range of the Blue Mountains and the base elevation is 7000 feet. The snow quality is usually great. There is a day lodge with a huge fireplace and cafeteria, as well as an excellent pub. The whole scene has a family friendly vibe. And Baker City itself is a nice small town. Check it out.
 

NWSkiGirl

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
You're welcome! The "downtown" area of Camas is pretty small, but there are some cool galleries, shops, restaurants and pubs. Seems like there's always something new opening. There's also some parkland and development down at the Columbia River. Camas city limits extend west to 192nd (runs N-S off of Hwy 14), so it's pretty much a neighboring suburb to Vancouver. There are some really nice parks, Lacamas Lake, lots of places to kayak. The last 10 years especially have seen a lot of growth and new housing. Definitely nicer schools. The Larch Mountain wildfire 2 years ago was in the outskirts of Camas, which are mainly wooded foothills of the Cascade range. It was really bad for weeks.

Here's a link to the local newspaper: https://www.camaspostrecord.com/

I think it could be worth a visit for you.
I was excited because I found new townhomes that looked affordable. But then I realized the website was out of date, and the condos had been sold in 2020.

I can't find anything multi family that is affordable there! :-( The schools look amazing, which is probably why.
 

NWSkiGirl

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Anthony Lakes Ski Area is about 30 minutes from Baker City, Oregon. It's in the Elkhorn Range of the Blue Mountains and the base elevation is 7000 feet. The snow quality is usually great. There is a day lodge with a huge fireplace and cafeteria, as well as an excellent pub. The whole scene has a family friendly vibe. And Baker City itself is a nice small town. Check it out.
It looks so pretty there!
 

NWSkiGirl

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I very recently found out that while I was out on maternity leave my company changed its work from home policy. Now we're only allowed to move to the states we do business in: WA, OR, CA, MT, TX, NM, AK. Also:

-I don't want to pay for yard or home maintenance so I decided on a townhome. I could also consider a condo
-I want to live in a blue state
-I've reconsidered moving to a small ski down due to housing costs, the transient nature of things, and mental health concerns

That all really narrowed things down! Mostly the price point and wanting a townhome. So I'm in contract on a beautiful new townhome in Beaverton, a suburb of Portland. With a baby I didn't get to visit Mt Hood Meadows, but I've been skiing at Timberline and I've camped up in that area.

But I think it's the best of all worlds considering - 1:15 to 1:30 hours to good skiing, near a metro area with good schools and healthcare. Seems to meet all my criteria. Of course it could be much closer to skiing! But I fell in love with it and it's affordable, and that hasn't happened with a home so far.

Alaska - Too remote for me, especially with the short days
Washington - Too expensive, no townhomes in further out areas. A condo in Spokane could be an option
Texas/New Mexico - Red states
Montana - I've been watching too much Yellowstone to feel welcome there, or rich enough to live there. Just kidding, but not really. I think it would be a hard fit
California - Too expensive overall. I'm not considering CA ever, even if it would otherwise be my first choice

It will take 6 months to build the townhome so we'll see what interests rates are like when we close. Because of that I'm not considering this final just yet! But fingers crossed.
 

Christy

Angel Diva
OMG congrats! I'm so glad you made this work, or are close to making it work.

OR has so much to offer, besides skiing. You'll only be an hour and a half from the coast. I drove to CA last fall but did lots of side trips in OR on the way down, like to Silver Falls State Park, Eugene, Willamette Valley, Ashland...I forgot how nice it all is. It feels to me like the lower population density in OR (compared to WA) might make life saner, though I don't really know.

It's so crazy around here. My sister is a realtor based in Bellevue and she just had 39 offers on a listing. My good friend is looking in Seattle in the $1.7-1.8m range and just lost out for the fifth time to someone paying cash and paying over (in this case $175k over--on a 1.8m house).
 

Trailside Trixie

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Fantastic. So happy for you. We went the townhouse route too in NWCT and it works for us. No weekend yard work. We have a very spacious place in the country that's close to skiing and breweries that's 3 levels, has a huge deck and a 2 car attached garage. I'm 100% team townhouse.

Sounds like you are getting your dream and it'll work out great. I've heard Oregon is beautiful.
 

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