Truckee, formerly a haven for "real folks (that's a euphemism for resort employees) is quickly becoming the swankiest address near the lake. But the pre-boom locals haven't packed up yet—and the core of this ex—railroad town, a hip main street along the tracks, is still more Our Town than outlet mall. "This place isn't super-ritzy—though we do have a Starbucks, says Jen Krasilovsky, 26, who movedfrom New York in November 2003. "The locals are still down-to-earth. Outside the real estate and tourism sectors, you'll probably have better luck finding a sustainable job in Reno, Nevada, a 33-mile commute down I-80. Vail's East West Partners/Tahoe Mountain Resorts is dumping $3 billion into the Truckee area over the next 20 years—including 3,000 new homes and three golf courses. But the city has made sure the plan includes affordable housing like Gray's Crossing, which will open 225 units in the next few years. Truckee has eight resorts and world-class backcountry within driving distance, but most locals consider Squaw Valley, eight miles south of town, their home turf.
Working Here: Government work counts for 15 percent of the jobs in Nevada County—Sesame Street professions like policemen, firemen, and school teachers are all in demand.
Leaving Here: The Reno/Tahoe International Airport is a 30 minute drive. Gamblers keep airfares cheap, with mid-winter flights as low as $200 to LA, Denver, and Minneapolis.
Being Here: Truckee used to be a high-speed Internet black hole, but part of the town was rewired last winter. Great news for telecommuters—but bad news for telecommuters who live outside a three-mile radius of downtown, where the high-speed juice runs out.
Skiing Here: Eight miles from Squaw Valley
Snowfall: 443 inches
Skiable Terrain: 4,000 acres
Vertical: 2,850 feet
Per Capita Income: $26,786
Median rental price: $893
Median home price: $247,800