There are two kinds of snobs in Vail: the ones buying kokopelli candleholders on Main Street and the ones waiting on freshies in the back bowls. "I'm definitely a snow snob, says Mike Gehard, 31, a math teacher—and volunteer for the Snowboard Outreach Society—who left Chicago two years ago to climb and ski in Vail. "I don't even get out of bed unless there's three inches of new powder. ThoughVail itself can feel like a prefab party machine, there is a town with a growing middle class on the other side of the hangover. Finding a home in Vail, at least for now, is the easy part. Affordable housing projects in Edwards, Avon, and across from Vail Village have created a glut in housing, driving rental prices down. Finding a job can be more difficult. Business owners are wary of high turnover and want to make sure applicants are Vail material before handing out that W-4.
Over 200 nonprofits operate in Eagle County—not bad for an area with only about 40,000 residents. Experienced fundraisers and grant writers are always in demand.
Leaving Here: Eagle County Airport is 35 miles west of Vail and has daily flights to Chicago, Newark, and Dallas ($600—$700). Significantly cheaper flights depart from Denver International Airport, which is 2 1/2 hours away.
Being Here: Locals have adopted the town of Edwards as their après-ski and after-work hot spot. Keep your ears open at the bar—the best job opportunities never make the paper.
Skiing Here: Vail Resort is across the street.
Snowfall: 359 inches
Skiable Terrain: 5,289 acres
Vertical: 3,450 feet
Per Capita Income: $42,390
Median rental price: $934
Median home price: $575,000