The Realities of Ski-Bumming At Mid-Life

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WHY DO IT?

Stress reduction. Fitness. Adventure. To rediscover a lifestyle. To rediscover your family. Maybe the more appropriate question is, "Why are you working so darn hard?"

CAN YOU DO IT?

There's no magic-it boils down to willpower and priorities. If it's important, the compromises will seem trivial next to the regret of not having done it.

Saving up a little money wouldn't hurt, either.

MODELS

Take a sabbatical from work for a season. Set up a satellite office in a ski town. Establish a business in a mountain community. Downscale. Retire early. Win the lottery.

WHEN TO GO

Before the kids are too entrenched in school (before second or third grade). After the kids leave the nest for college. Before you start a new job. After you leave an old job. Before the body delaminates. After any major lifestyle transition (a move, professional retraining, retirement, divorce). Before you die with regrets.

WHAT WILL IT COST?

Depends on whether you sell your current house or rent a second residence, eat out or cook for yourself, stick to one hill or embark on an American Skiabout, come alone or with family. A couple that moves to a ski town can ski-bum comfortably for six months on $15,000. Costs can be cut nearly in half by working the angles and living frugally.

OPPORTUNITIES

Use a work sabbatical to investigate job opportunities in or near ski country. Read ski-town newspapers and surf the Web for information. Maybe ski- bumming will become a new way of life.

PREPARATIONS

Give yourself a year or two to prepare. Find the right resort. Get rid of consumer debt. Earmark savings for ski-bumming rather than for status cars and conspicuous homes. Commit yourself to experiential rather than material living.