Though it's served as a playground for the idle rich since the late 1800s, Stowe has clung to its gritty core with the resolve of a petulant child. That's due in part to the mountain (known for off-piste tree lines and funnel chutes), and in part to the locals. Vermonters don't suffer fools gladly; they especially don't sufferfools dressed in Prada. So despite the proliferation of multimillion-dollar estates in the surrounding hills, Stowe's an easy place to live cheap and ski hard. "Stowe is one of the oldest mountains in the country, says Chris Mask, 46, who owns the downtown hardware store. "It means there's a long tradition of serious ski bums. Sure, you can find your four-dollar coffee drinks; you can also spend exactly the same amount on an entire breakfast at the local hot spot, McCarthy's. And by ski-town standards, rent is downright miserly: For less than a grand a month, you can snag a thousand square feet of renovated-farmhouse office space, complete with a broadband Internet connection. Don't want to start your own biz? Knock on the ER doors of Copley Hospital or stop by Springer Miller Systems, a hospitality-management firm.
Working Here: If you can't nail down a decent job in Stowe, try Burlington (35 miles west): IBM and IDX (a medical-software company) headquarter there, along with snow-industry giants like Dynastar, Rossignol, and Burton.
Leaving Here: Stowe is 45 minutes from Burlington International Airport, which is big enough to field direct flights from Chicago and Washington. JetBlue flies to New York's JFK airport for as little as 50 bucks one-way.
Being Here: Housing isn't exorbitant, but there isn't much of it, either. Secure your digs by August or you'll have to live in Morrisville (eight miles north) or Waterbury (eight miles south).
Skiing Here: Six miles from Stowe Mountain Resort
Snowfall: 241 inches
Skiable Terrain: 430 acres
Vertical: 2,360 feet
Per Capita Income: $35,474
Median rental price: $566
Median home price: $212,700