Maxed out 

The pot of gold that will keep people here

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What does it cost to live in Whistler?

This is, of course, a completely different question than “What is the cost of living in Whistler?” The answer(s) to that question probably gets way too bogged down in philosophy and morality and at least touches on the economic concept of opportunity cost. I don’t know how anyone could possibly even contemplate that question without a stiff drink.

But someone’s already totted up what it costs to live here. If you’re a single person, and so many of you are, you’d better hustle up somewhere in the neighbourhood of $26,000 this year to keep body and soul together. Married? Two kids? Hustle harder. About 60 Gs worth, maybe more if only one of you is working. Personally, I’d put the kids to work.

I don’t know what all is included in the Whistler single person’s basket of goods but one of its underpinnings is accommodation — rent — at just under $600 a month. It also includes things that definitely aren’t in Winnipeg’s basket of goods, things embracing the recreational opportunities so abundant here. On the other hand, I’m certain there’s a budget line in Winnipeg’s basket for a fair bit more mosquito repellant than we generally need… in a lifetime. High-priced mountain bike versus DEET? Fair trade.

For all the instant locals arriving in town from the Old Country — Ontario — who won’t be living in staff housing this winter, here’s a tip: don’t spend a lot of time searching for that $600 place to live. Take the first place you can get your hands on. Add roommates as necessary. Get used to the idea of calling home to ask for money. Your parents will be disappointed if you don’t.

The option, not finding a place to live, is both bleak and all too common. Not finding a place to live in Whistler is almost as old as Whistler itself. People had trouble finding a place to live here 10 years ago. And 20 years ago. And 30 years ago. And a decade before that. Prior to that, Whistler pretty well didn’t exist but I’m certain anyone crazy enough to want to live in Alta Lake, B.C., had a hard time finding a place to live.

Not finding a place to live means you go home. Going home, wherever that is, is definitely not the reason you came here to begin with.

There are a number of questions that relate, tangentially perhaps, to the issue of what it costs to live here. One is: Why did you come here in the first place?


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