What’s that you say? You’re worried it may be a bit late in the season to seriously consider buying your very own slice of ski town heaven?
Au contraire, snow bunnies, bombers, and après-ski enthusiasts! The fact is, we’re now just entering peak snowboard and ski time in most parts of the U.S. And while “affordable ski town” may sound like an oxymoron, there are cute communities near the slopes where home prices won’t freeze you out of the market—places with mountain views outside your living room, fresh powder encroaching your doorstep, and enticing single-track biking trails waiting in the summer.
Making your move now on a snow home could make plenty of financial sense, while also providing some high-altitude relief from 2020’s ever-intensifying stressors (elections, and trials, and viruses, oh my). You just need to know where to look.
So the data team at realtor.com® strapped on our goggles, crunched the numbers, and pulled out some maps to find these real estate gems hiding in the snow. Granted, they don’t have the cachet of world-famous spots like Lake Tahoe, Aspen, or Park City. And you can forget about heated ski lifts or buckets of Veuve Clicquot chilling in the snow for happy hour—the amenities at these bargain vacation destinations are fairly basic. But you’d best believe they will satisfy your need for a home base from which to hit the slopes and even generate some rental income when you’re not enjoying it yourself.
To arrive at our list, we started with a list of 338 ski resorts from the website On the Snow and combined it with our listing data from December 2019 to pinpoint the ski towns with the most affordable housing stock. Only towns with at least 20 active listings in December were included. To avoid a traffic jam as folks rush to the slopes, we chose only one ski town per state for our list.
So grab your ski boots and zip up your Bogner, because it’s all sweet powder from here. Here are our 10 most affordable towns for snow lovers:
Most affordable ski towns
1. Claysburg, PA
Median list price: $54,700
Ski chalet in Claysburg, PA
Nope, the Rust Belt isn’t well-known for snow sports. But maybe it should be. Located in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Mountains, Claysburg is nestled at the base of the Blue Knob All Season Resort, which offers the highest skiable mountain in the Keystone State. The trails are fine—and just look at those prices!
With a population of 1,700, the small town offers plenty of homes convenient to the slopes. However, it must be said that the après-ski scene is a little lacking.
“Claysburg is different. It’s not what you call a [traditional] ski town,” says Adam Conrad, who holds listings in the area. But “there’s a resort and amenities.”
But don’t expect much else. Restaurants and entertainment outside Blue Knob are about 30 to 40 minutes away. However, if you have a place at the base of the mountain, you can whip up a mean fondue and hot cocoa of your own.
The area draws buyers from the rest of Pennsylvania and as far away as Washington, DC, and Baltimore. Although nonsnow activities include golfing, mountain biking, and swimming, “the ski mountain is what draws people in,” Conrad says. Most buyers are in the market for a second home, he adds.
Another draw is the option of a revenue stream. Conrad says he sees plenty of buyers rent their places out when not using them, and the market is robust.
While you can buy “a really nice condo” for $50,000 to $60,000, there are also some available for as low as $20,000. And with seasonal lift passes going for $350 to $600, this winter getaway won’t break the bank.
For a single-family home with a mountain view, prices head up the mountain into the $300,000 to $400,000 range. A ski-in/ski-out chalet duplex with mountain views is currently available for $425,000.
And Blue Knob has gone through a recent renovation to update the facilities, a bonus for those thinking of buying here.
“It’s gorgeous, not overrun,” Conrad says.
2. Bessemer, MI
Median list price: $76,950
Cottage in Bessemer, MI
The western part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is known as “Big Snow Country” thanks to the lake effect that helps generate an average 200 inches of snowfall a year, so it’s no surprise that there’s some pretty good skiing here.
Bessemer, a rural area with a population of about 1,900, sits just inland from Lake Superior and is surrounded by major ski resorts—Big Powder Horn Mountain and Blackjack Resort are both nearby. With mountains and lake, this town is an outdoor sports enthusiast’s paradise, with snowboarding and snowshoeing in the winter, and fishing, boating, and swimming in the warmer months.
While cultural offerings are scant, the trade-off is an affordable lifestyle for those who appreciate the outdoors.
“I enjoyed living in a city in my early 20s, but this is where I want to raise my family. We can comfortably afford to live off one modest salary so the other parent can stay home to raise the kids,” one resident posted on bestplaces.net.
For $99,000, you can be the proud owner of a two-bed, one-bath cottage with 100 feet of Lake Chaney frontage, a fireplace, and a garage with plenty of storage for your skis and snowmobile.
Interest in the area is really picking up, says local listing agent Tammy Kauranen.
“What oftentimes happens, they start coming up as part-timers, realize they love it up here, and end up moving,” she says. “A lot of times tourists turn into full-timers.”
3. Malone, NY
Median list price: $94,750
There’s a reason that this small town in the Adirondacks has ascended our list of most affordable ski towns. Along with great value, this northern New York locale welcomes vacationers with open arms, encouraging them to come back and buy in.
Nearby Titus Mountain resort was voted the No. 2 family-friendly resort in North America by Liftopia, an online ticketing platform.
“Here you can come and be part of the community,” says agent Karamarie Morton. “It’s very friendly.”
“People love the outdoor-living lifestyle that’s four-season,” Morton adds. “It’s not just the ski resort; it’s the hockey rink, it’s the over 250 miles of snow mobile trails, it’s the ice fishing in all the lakes that we have.”
The prices are certainly appealing, too. For $230,000, you can be the proud owner of a three-bedroom home with views of the Salmon River and that is close to the resort.
4. Mansfield, OH
Median list price: $119,500
Mansfield, OH home
Although it also was on our list last year, we’re still surprised that the Buckeye State has a skiable mountain. Who knew?
Well, plenty of people, as it turns out. The nearby Snow Trails resort is the only privately owned ski resort in Ohio, and has been under the same management since 1961.
With 19 total trails, visitors can ski, snowboard, or tube. In fact, the resort boasts “the longest tubing lanes in Ohio” as well as an intriguing nighttime activity known as “glow tubing. ”
When the sun goes down, the tubing lanes are illuminated with bright, multicolor LED lights, which means “visitors slide down through an array of color in an unmatched Instagram-worthy experience.”
If residents want to take a break from winter activities, they head to the Shawshank Trail, which features 15 filming sites from “The Shawshank Redemption,” including the Ohio State Reformatory. Good times!
For $119,900, potential buyers can slide into this charming brick house with a huge backyard and garage. The move-in ready, three-bedroom home includes hardwood floors, vintage tile, and a rebuilt porch.
5. Snowshoe, WV
Median list price: $139,900
Alpine-style home in Snowshoe, WV
Centered around Showshoe Mountain resort, the area is home to 257 acres of skiable terrain, 1,500 vertical feet, 60 trails, and the self-proclaimed “best snow around.” It’s become a destination for skiers and boarders in search of a quick and low-cost getaway from the DC or Baltimore area.
The resort’s owner recently invested in snow-making machines, which helped the area with a relatively mild climate remain busy for the past two winters, listing agent Martha Giddings notes.
“Snowshoe is a funny mountain. It’s an upside-down resort,” says Giddings. Unlike typical ski resorts, the town is at the top of the slopes. “You get on the slopes, ride the lift back up, and stay at the top of the mountain.”
There, you’ll find restaurants, bars, and night life, as well as condos and homes. If your condo isn’t of the ski-in/ski-out variety, you can hop on the free shuttle, throw your skis on the rack, and ride over. Once you get to Snowshoe, you won’t need a car.
Condos at the resort are abundant, and prices range from $60,000 to $1 million. If you’re in the market for an Alpine-style home, this 1978 build for $224,900 may interest you. The open layout features two bedrooms, a sleeping loft, a hot tub on the deck, and mountain and valley views. And, best of all, it sits along the free shuttle route to Snowshoe.
6. Biwabik, MN
Median list price: $149,900
Back for another spin on the affordable ski town list, Biwabik is at the base of Giants Ridge resort, in the heart of Minnesota’s unspoiled Superior National Forest. In addition to skiing, residents can enjoy hiking and mountain biking.
The small town with a population of just 852 “is a close-knit community with lots to offer for families and kids,” says one reviewer on niche.com.
But, the small town also has a lot of bars for après ski, including Dave’s Alpine Bar and the Biwabik Pub.
For those who fall for the tiny town enough to make a property purchase, a lakeside retreat for $169,900 offers access to outdoor sports and comes furnished. The three-bedroom home includes a gas fireplace, sleeping loft, and lakeside deck.
7. Vernon, NJ
Median list price: $149,900
Vernon, NJ lofts
Skiing in New Jersey? Actually, yes. While it may not be an exotic locale, it’s certainly a convenient one for the tristate area.
Mountain Creek Resort offers over 167 skiable acres and 1,000 vertical feet across four interconnected peaks. An unlimited pass starts around $479, and it’s a mere 47 miles from New York City.
“Vernon Township is a great place to live if you love rural areas and nature, and the Appalachian Trail even runs right through it. … Vernon has ski and snowboarding slopes in the winter, and in the summer it has a water park,” says one glowing review on niche.com.
While the daytime activities are great, you’ll have to leave town for a fuller range of nighttime entertainment. Plan for a 15-20 minute drive to the restaurants, bars, ice cream shops, and cultural events of nearby Warwick, NY.
For those seeking a four-season vacation retreat that’s truly a bargain, condos such as this loft-style one-bedroom for $114,000 are close to the Appalachian trail, ski trails, and warm-weather activities such as golf and state and community parks.
8. Kellogg, ID
Median list price: $156,500
Home for sale in Kellogg, ID
Once a mining town, Kellogg turned its focus to tourism and recreation in the 1980s. Initially opened as Jackass Ski Bowl (named for an ore-discovering donkey, a nod to its past) in the late 1960s, the local ski facility was eventually sold to another organization and was reopened and renamed Silver Mountain. Improvements included a gondola that runs from Kellogg to the mountain, unloading at over 5,600 feet.
And it doesn’t hurt that its real estate is as inexpensive as ever, which is possibly why it’s been on our affordable ski town list two years running.
The ski area features a vertical drop of 2,167 feet, 67 trails, and an average snowfall of 300 inches. Those factors and an avalanche of condos and homes at reasonable prices keep the skiers coming. A two-bedroom home for $129,900 comes partly furnished and could easily work as a second home or a rental.
9. Boone, IA
Median list price: $156,750
A three-bedroom home for sale in Boone, IA
This place is hopping year-round.
“The market here in the area is still really steady and really strong,” says local listing agent Emily Graeve. As to who’s buying, “the majority is owner-occupied,” she says. “There are a handful of investors that are buying for Airbnb purposes.”
Along with Seven Oaks Recreation, which offers winter sports, the town also offers golf, as well as canoeing and fishing on the Des Moines River and hiking and camping in Ledges State Park.
On top of that, the real estate offers some tempting options, including this brand-new townhome located on the Cedar Pointe Golf course. The three-bed, two-bath abode for $175,000 features granite counters, a two-car garage, and a master suite.
10. Anaconda, MT
Median list price: $177,900
Louise Johns for The Washington Post via Getty Images
In Big Sky Country, this town nestled into the Anaconda Mountain Range, locally known as the Pintlers, is about 20 miles from Discovery Ski Area—or Disco, as the locals call it.
The ski mecca has three faces with 67 runs, and gets 215 inches of annual snowfall. It offers everything from bunny hills to double black diamond runs.
Once a smelting town, Anaconda now attracts residents and visitors with its outdoor activities.
“Surrounding the area, west of Anaconda, there are 15 different mountain lakes, places for skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, all that kind of stuff,” says listing agent Keegan McCarthy. “The recreation is what’s bringing people.”
In addition, the town offers hotels and bars such as the popular Smelter City Brewing pub. For a break from the outdoor fun, you can relax at the Fairmont Hot Springs or check out the Cooper Village Museum and Art Center.
And this ski haven sure delivers on affordable prices. For $172,500, you can own a “well-kept” family home with four beds and 1.5 baths, a large kitchen and living room, a backyard with patio, and a detached garage.
“A place like Anaconda is kind of unique,” says McCarthy. “There’s a ton of supply and not a ton of growth.”
Of course, once the secret of this ski town gets out, that could always change.
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