Wealthiest Small Towns in America? Look for the ski lifts.

But you already knew that
Publish date:

Chances are you didn’t need the financial media giant Bloomberg to tell you this, but ski towns are darn expensive. The lead of a story today on “The Wealthiest Small Towns in America” notes that “Finding big money in Small Town U.S.A. is as simple as looking toward the mountains of the Old West.” Or spun another way: Looking for wealthy towns? Look for ski lifts silhouetted against the Western mountain skyline.

A full six of the Top 10 wealthiest small towns in America are ski towns. King of the mountain at No. 1 is the appropriately named Summit Park, Utah. You might not have heard of the bedroom community of Summit Park, but you certainly do recognize its neighbor about 15 miles up the road: Park City, Utah.

Jackson, Wyo., slides in at No. 3 in a recent list of the wealthiest small towns in America. 

Jackson, Wyo., slides in at No. 3 in a recent list of the wealthiest small towns in America. 

One in six homes in what the story labels the surrounding “micropolitan area” of Summit is valued at $1 million or higher, according to the Bloomberg Index of Affluent Micro Areas. With easy access to turns at Park City and Deer Valley resorts, it’s no surprise that slightly more than 40 percent of the homes are considered vacation properties, according to the analysis. The estimated median household income of the Summit area walks the red carpet at $91,000.

Next up at No. 2 is Edwards, Colo., which was viewed for many years as the downvalley community that Vail families relocated to as an escape from the sky-high resort housing costs. Not so much now. Jackson, Wyo., is ranked No. 3, and has the distinction of having the highest percentage of homes valued over $1 million, at nearly 18 percent.

Colorado boasts four towns in the Top 10. Following Edwards at No. 2: Breckenridge (No. 5), Steamboat Springs (No. 6) and Glenwood Springs (No. 8).

Ski towns, in fact, keep popping up as you move down the list. Durango, Colo., lands at No. 12. Truckee, Calif., is two slots below that. And Hailey, Idaho, a few easy miles outside of Sun Valley, rears its scenic head at No. 16, with more than 12 percent of its homes valued over the $1 million mark.

Apparently if you have a truckload of money you either hits the slopes, or the sand. (Perhaps both?) While ski towns own six of the Top 10, beach communities nail three slots: Vineyard Haven on Martha’s Vineyard (No. 4), Kapaa, Hawaii (No. 7) and Key West, Fla., (No. 9).

Here’s a fun drinking game with your buddies for any skiers over the age of, say, 40. Recall your first visit to your favorite Western ski town, and what you could have paid for a vacation home—or two. If you did, indeed, close the deal back in the day, the next round is on you. 


Ski Break

America's Last Ski Town?

Many Crested Butte locals are banding together against an impending expansion. But can skiing’s last shangri-la survive without it?

2015 Best Ski Towns:Vail CO tout

2015 Top Ski Towns: Vail, Colorado

There may not be another community in the mountains that so deftly does the destination jujitsu of combining the thrill of outdoor athletics with the buzz of a booming urban environment.

2015 Best Ski Towns: Telluride, Colorado tout

2015 Top Ski Towns: Telluride, Colorado

Once the first chairlift started spinning in 1972, Telluride became the ultimate ski town. And that’s one reason we love it.

Sun Valley Top 10 Lifts

Best Resorts for Lifts in Western North America

Top 10 resorts in the West for Lifts, according to SKI's Reader Resort Survey.

2015 Best Ski Towns: Whistler Blackcomb tout

2015 Top Ski Towns: Whistler Blackcomb

Whistler Village, as recently as the mid-1980s, was a black-bear-infested dump. But that didn’t prevent it from being one of North America’s first replicas of a European ski village.

2015 Best Ski Towns: Park City UT tout

2015 Top Ski Towns: Park City, Utah

Park City’s roots run so deep, it’ll take more than Vail’s influence to shake things up. Need proof? Go there.

2015 Top Ski Towns: Aspen, Colorado tout

2015 Top Ski Towns: Aspen, Colorado

Ski bums of all ages may be working three jobs to pay their way in this pricey resort town, but on a powder morning, you’ll find them in the Aspen gondola line.

2015 Best Ski Towns: Stowe Vermont tout

2015 Top Ski Towns: Stowe, Vermont

For anyone who grew up in small-town Vermont, the quaint village feels familiar even today.