Rent an Apartment for Your Ski Trip—or for the Entire Season

More than just the typical week-long ski trip, there is a huge and expanding market for season-long ski apartment rentals in and around Denver’s Front Range. Work/ski vacations may be the best idea for people in the right circumstances. Of course, the most common and natural fit is the seasonal employee of the ski resorts themselves. Looking to ski a ton, while making a little money on the side, many young employees are looking to score a low-rent apartment that will accommodate them during the ski season. There is also a growing number of young adults who have fully bought into the Gig Economy with work they can take with them anywhere. Finding an affordable apartment to rent for the ski season can create the opportunity of a lifetime in terms of skiing a ton without abandoning the job.


Beware of Trying to Run a Scam

Some people look to rent an apartment for the entire ski season with the intent of subletting the place on Airbnb. Generally speaking, this is going to be a mistake. Property owners and cities are wising up. There are city ordinances in many places around the Colorado Front Range that prohibit this type of activity. Property owners too are more aware than ever of people signing a no-sublet lease and then renting out the place at a profit, anyway.

Depending on exactly where and who you’re renting from, this can be a fruitful enterprise, but we wouldn’t recommend it as your main apartment-hunting strategy. At the very least, we strongly urge you to research the local housing ordinances and to be honest with the owner of the property.


How Much Does a Short-Term Apartment Rental Cost?

As a short-term renter, you can expect to pay a little more than the average rent price for an apartment in Denver, though still considerably less than a hotel or weekly lodging solution, but never mind all this….Rather than focus on the city-wide industry-based price average, really the first to know is….location, location, location. There are two distinctly different types of rental locations: Denver’s Front Range vs. ski resort towns.

For people coming into Colorado from out of state, finding an apartment to rent in Denver for the ski season still offers plenty of access to the ski slopes. They can work during the week and head into the mountains most weekends, while canvassing most of the big-name Colorado ski areas. In contrast, many Denver locals look to rent an apartment for the entire ski season as a way of getting away from city life, or maybe as a life transition, abandoning their current city apartment rental, while watching to see what happens with the local housing market.


Location+Season = Price

Here’s the key insight for estimating the cost and understanding what makes for a good deal on apartment rentals during the winter: Location and season have unique combinations in the winter. Because summer is the peak season for moving and traveling, short-term apartment rentals are often available at a discount during the winter. In Denver, the conventional wisdom about saving on apartment rentals in the winter holds true.

But in the mountains, as you might expect, ski resort towns flip this wisdom upside-down. Renting a luxury apartment for an entire season in a prime spot (with ski-in/ski-out access but still centrally-located) at a world-class resort, well there’s no easily quotable average price for this type of rental. While you can search the big-name online vendors (Airbnb, etc.), you can sometimes find a better price by looking at local websites dedicated solely to individual ski resort communities. Here’s a great example if you’re interested in renting a Vail apartment that you can rent by the month and renew through the ski season.


Getting Insider Tips and Access

Matt Myers is the owner of Colorado Ski Authority, a website resource that connects out-of-town ski enthusiasts with local lift ticket discounts. Here is what he had to say about how to rent an apartment for the ski season.

“It can certainly be a tempting idea to move to a ski town or close to a ski town so that you can ski a ton. It just doesn’t usually work out that way. Or rather, it’s not what you think. If you work for a ski resort, then you aren’t skiing when the lifts are open. The same is often true even if you don’t work for a resort but live close to one.

“While Denver is close to Summit County, it can still be a minimum of 90 minutes one way to ski, with a little less to Loveland, Eldora, and sometimes ABasin. And if you work a regular job (during the week), then you are only hitting the hills during their busiest days, which increases lines at the resorts and traffic on the roads.

“So how do you win? Assuming you are a true ski bum, meaning that you don’t have a regular career or true sustainable source of income, you need to think about weekend work or night work, and this usually means food and beverage. If you can bartend in the mountains, you’re golden. There are many who tend all night, get up and ski, sleep a little in the afternoon, and then back to the bar. Same for managers, waitstaff, and hostesses. Some of the best skiers up there are serving you food and drink somewhere.

“This is true in Denver or in a mountain town, you will just pay different people. Mountain towns will charge more rent, but you’ll use less gas. Opposite is true (mostly) in Denver. There are more jobs in Denver, so you can likely find something to tailor to your needs that will last beyond the ski season.

“You can make it work, but you have to hustle.”