Seasonal workers and incoming snowsports “bums,” listen up: As you read this blog, there are over 12,000 people — just like you — heading straight for Summit County to work, live and play for the winter.

And while these passionate, motivated and excited individuals will no doubt become some of your friends, neighbors and coworkers, they also will make the process of locating and moving into a residence competitive. The following four tips will help you start your season out on the right foot — it’ll help your score the ideal pad, with some essential knowledge of how things work up at 9,600 feet.

1. Budgeting 101: “Money, Money, Money!”

Before you dive into an extended housing search and ink a legally binding contract, do yourself a favor and complete a little homework — no pun intended. Create a personal budget that establishes the range of money you are comfortable investing toward your living expenses.

This budget will provide a reference point for your housing search and set you up for a successful season financially. While the majority of living expenses occur in the form of monthly rent, don’t forget to factor in utilities, home supplies, furnishings and the potential for repair costs (if your landlord doesn’t cover them). With respect to deciding on a monthly dollar amount for your new home, please consider the following: The penny pincher risks an unhealthy, noisy, furniture-less, paper-plate and plastic-cup living reality for the benefits of financial freedom, just as the high-roller risks having it all and working his or her winter days and nights away.

Most successful housing searches takes some time and effort. Sticking to your budget and living needs, while potentially extending the time of your search, will set you up with an amazing place for the Winter!

2. The Housing Search: “Where are all the home, homes on the range?”

The good news about the ongoing migration of seasonal workers is that it occurs annually, so Summit County is both prepared and supportive of it. With respect to finding your ideal living arrangement, there are multiple free resources to help guide your search. First, The Summit Daily, the county’s free newspaper, contains dozens of housing options in the Classified Section.
Find a blue box on the roadside, pick one up, scan it and make a couple of phone calls to properties that fit your budget and location parameters. (Then, enjoy the daily Sudoku while you’re at it.)After cruising through the Daily, it’s time to head online to the mecca of free listings: Craigslist. More specifically, hit up http://rockies.craigslist.org/apa/ for apartments and full housing options or check out http://rockies.craigslist.org/roo/ for rooms and housing shares.
Another way that Summit County supports its valuable seasonal workers are through two free busing services: the Breckenridge Free Ride and the Summit Stage. Being able to supplement, or even replace, your daily driving commute with a free bus ride will save an amazing amount of money over the course of a season — and it stands out as important factor in deciding upon a home.
3. Healthy Living with Others: “It’s all good, until it isn’t.”Sure, the mountain folk of Breckenridge are generally a laid-back, open-minded, relaxed type of people. However, a quick way for any living situation to sour is to assume or fail to communicate expectations about the ins and outs of the homefront in Breckenridge.Remaining confident and proactive in your communication concerning living needs and rules will set yourself and your roommates up for a healthy dynamic. Pets, parties, cleaning duties, utilities, parking, sharing food, dividing rent: Speak up early and often to establish how your roomies prefer to handle these topics. In this case, it’s best to ask for permission rather than to beg for forgiveness.Oh, and remember: Summit County has a transient nature. So, as good as it is to make friends, just know that you may be “friending” them on Facebook, or some other social media, if they move away.4. Easing the Transition into a New Home: “Moving Day!”  

So you’ve done it. You’ve found yourself a little slice of heaven in this beautiful place called Breckenridge. It costs just the right amount. The roommates are totally down with your dog and dirty dishes. The landlord has given you a green light to dive right in.

Take a second and breathe. Moving your life into a new place is simultaneously exciting and stressful, and it can be made more exciting or more stressful depending upon how it’s accomplished.

For example, cleaning a room — or an entire home — is much easier when it ISN’T filled with your whole life’s belongings. Also, finding a way to become 100 percent settled into your new residence as quickly as possible will reduce the amount of chaotic transition you experience, so do it right, and completely, the first time around. Remember, your home will become the base camp for (hopefully) the best winter of your life! Treat it well, and enjoy the adventures this ski season brings!

5. The Quirks: “Just a couple things to know” (added by a longtime local, Kimberly Nicoletti):”

First of all, post offices rule. I mean, really: You must get a P.O. Box, because in most places in Summit County and Breckenridge, the postal service DOES NOT deliver, be it rain, shine or snow.

Bring your identification and a copy of your lease to the post office in Breckenridge, and sign up for a P.O. Box. Most times, you can get a free box if you prove you live in town.

(P.S. — Rebates, credit card applications and online shopping can sometimes be a huge hassle. Check, and re-check, to see which service vendors use to ship products, and make sure you give vendors your physical address for ground shipping and your P.O. box for the postal service. And, check rebate offers: If no P.O. Boxes are allowed, find a trustworthy friend who has a physical address and use that. And, when applying for a credit card, all we can say is: Good luck. They are getting better, but I’m still not opposed to thoroughly explaining my mountain-living situation. Credit card companies need a physical address, since 9/11. If you don’t tell them to add a special note, preferable in BIG, RED letters and flashing arrows, that you NEED your credit card to appear in your P.O. Box, NOT your physical address, you may be waiting quite awhile for that card.)

Second: Know that winter is long and cold here. There are a few second-hand shops to visit if you need sweaters and jackets on the cheap. And plenty of boutiques exist in Breckenridge, too, if cash isn’t a problem. If you need a place to warm up, find a hot tub; the Breckenridge Recreation Center has a hot tub and sauna.

Third: If you want to score a free ski pass, consider working at Breckenridge Ski Resort. Or check other employment opportunities; a select few may offer shared or free passes.

Fourth: If you’re a powder hound, try to keep your mornings free. You never know when it’s going to dump. (Ugh: Did I just tell you that? As if there aren’t enough people skipping work on a powder day!)

Fifth: Though sometimes it may get financially rough to live in Breckenridge, remember why you’re here: To enjoy world-class skiing, and the best the mountains have to offer.

Sixth: Review No. 5 — enjoy Breckenridge to the fullest!

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