May 012011

There exists a real disparity between the have’s and the have not’s in resort towns. 

There are three categories of locals that keep the local economy churning: the Haves, the Have Nots and the In-Betweens.

The Haves.

There’s an old saying in resort towns that “as a local, you either own three homes or work three jobs.”  That motto has never been more prevalent as it is this decade.

The billionaires have pushed the millionaires down valley, and the Have-Nots are now being bussed up valley to serve the Haves because rents have become prohibitively expensive.

The sad thing about this scenario is that beautiful, multi-million dollar mansions sit empty where once thriving employee housing existed.  Resort towns become ghost towns except during peak season — those few weeks in summer and winter where the Haves swoop in for their idyllic, but short-lived, getaway filled with shopping excursions and high-end party extravaganzas.

The Haves, however, do spend a lot of money, and that’s a good thing where the Have Nots and the In Betweens are concerned.

The Have Nots.

Resort towns wouldn’t be able to function if not for the Have Nots.

This valuable group of workers consists mainly of hard-working immigrants or blue-collar workers.  They make the restaurant meals.  They clean the empty mansions. They service the cars that sit for months on end.  They maintain the manicured landscapes.  They make a solid living catering to the Haves, sometimes earning up to $25 / hour just for housekeeping (assuming you find a really great gig).

However, living in a resort town isn’t cheap, so those hard-earned dollars are easily spent on the basics.

The Have Nots work extremely hard — usually working several jobs just to earn enough money to pay their bills, but the reality of home ownership remains elusive to this group of locals since making ends meet is more of a top priority than being able to afford a local residence which is overpriced and usually out of reach.

The In-Betweens.

The In-Betweens are a diverse group of locals usually made up of white-collar workers who escaped corporate America to live the good life.  Or, perhaps they’re seasonal mountain workers who earn their pass working for a resort while receiving a parental stipend to supplement their income; they make enough money from work and other means (ranging from meager inheritances to stockpiled savings) to live the good life, at least momentarily.

The In-Betweens usually have a wake up call at some point when their money dries up and ‘reality’ sets in.

They usually heed that call because one of the disadvantages of being a broke local is not participating in some of the finer things that living in a resort-town brings.  Finer things like attending worthwhile concerts and exclusive events to taking advantage of sports outings only offered in your local resort area. Those events are fun, but they also cost a lot of money (unless you score some free passes or major discounts which are certainly within the realm of possibility).

For the few In-Betweens who can’t leave because the dream is alive and departing isn’t an option, the future can be bright if you’re willing to work for it.

There are very few ‘white-collar’ jobs in resort towns, usually offered by the ski resort corporation or in hospitality.   There are also the tried and true jobs in real estate, property management, art galleries or perhaps a ‘work-from-anywhere’ arrangement from corporate America.

There is one other group of In-Betweens popping up nowadays: the rise of the local entrepreneur.

With the economic situation being what it is these days, many have been forced into self-reliance.  This adventure into small business ownership can be rewarding in many ways besides financially.  It can also prove risky.  However, if you’re a hard-core local willing to do what it takes to stay, entrepreneurship may be the answer (check out our sister site: Resort Entrepreneurs).

With the advent of social media, you can connect with other locals willing to make it work.  You’ll find Meet Up groups and online communities popping up all the time where locals can connect with one-another for inspiration and support.

Regardless of where you find yourself in terms of the three economic categories presented, one thing is certain: the opportunity to live in a resort town is one you’ll cherish if you can find a way to make it happen financially.

We want to hear from you.

What are you doing to make ends meet in your resort town? Have you or are you considering starting your own business?  Are you working more than one job to live here?

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