Saturday, December 22, 2007

Life :: The Aspen Ski Bum Myth

Audi A8L
I've noticed a couple of ski bums living in the old victorian house next door. I've also noticed that they are driving an Audi A8L. This is the Audi luxury flagship and starts at $120,000 U.S. You see, in Aspen, the six figure automobile is pretty much at the bottom of the economic ladder - so it makes sense that ski bums would be driving them. There are much more expensive cars here (mostly seen in the summer) - Bentleys, Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini. Cars in the $250,000 to $1,000,000 range.

So, the old myth of the ski bums living in a VW bus - bartending, carpentering - doing whatever it took too ski - is a just that - an old myth, at least in Aspen. And old myths never die...

The Aspen ski bum is likely the Ivy league educated daughter or son of Mommy and Daddy dearest. Nine and ten figure net worths (for the parents) are not uncommon here. Yes, that's right folks, that's $100,000,000 and up. They have graduated from college and don't yet know what to do with themselves. They are in Aspen to live the dream, the myth of the ski bum - for a season or perhaps a few.

I'm exaggerating of course, a bit. There are still the real ski bums - who have carpentering or bartending or property managing for years - some for forty years or more. These are the ones like "the rest of us" - struggling to make ends meet - living in market capped - equity controlled "employee" housing. That's the only really affordable housing here. Studios here start at $600k - as do single wide, tiny mobile homes. To rent a room - do the "roommate" gig - is $1,500 a month now. Two years ago it was $500. That's a 150% increase per year.

A friend of mine, another builder, bought a non-conforming lot on the edge of Aspen's only mobile home park. The city has made it so you can now build a permanent residence where a mobile home once was. He used to joke that he had the only $1.5 million dollar mobile home in the world. It's not a mobile home by any means - it's about 3,000 square feet - a very nice contemporary home with unobstructed views of Aspen Mountain.

Now, he jokes that he owns the only $3.8 million dollar mobile home in the world - okay - "$3.8 million dollar home in a mobile home park" - there is a difference. At least that was two years ago. Homes are now reaching $2,000 per square foot sales price-wise. So, 3,000sf x $2,000/sf equals about $6,000,0000.

I would estimate the mobile home park downgrade would be at least a million...so, call it $5 mil...$5,000,000 "affordable housing"...

Only in Aspen...

1 comment:

Caroline said...

Wow...I grew up near 4 different ski places, all within 10 minutes' drive from where I used to live. I was a classic ski bum during my childhood and we were all exactly as you described them, simple unpretentious folks who wore whatever kept us warm, usually long johns under jeans or snowpants and thick sweaters, never a proper ski outfit .Our ski pass, that thing you attach to your jacket, it would be inches thick from all those day pass stickers. We used to make fun of the city folks who would come down wearing their matching ski outfits that was colour coordinated from hat to boots.
I miss the 70s and the early 80s, those were great times - i spent my winters at ski lodges, where I skiied all day or until 9 pm on week nights after school, ate french fries with hot gravy, a ton of hot chocolate and warmed up by the huge fireplace or outside on the balcony, my face turned towards the sun. really great times.
I cannot IMAGINE ski bums with Audi's. IT's too much of an oxymoron for me.