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Top Ski Towns: Aspen, CO

Features
posted: 09/13/2004

Living Here: Stats to ignore when moving to Aspen: average new home price, $1.8 million. Value of real estate in the county (pop. 14,800), $6.6 billion. Stats to remember: Vertical, 3,267 feet. Skiable acres, 3,010. Number of bars and restaurants, 100. Moving to America's cushiest resort town can be daunting, but getting that 81611 zip code isn't as difficult as you'd imagine. Aspen has one of the most aggressive and affordable employee housing initiatives in the country, and if you can't find a place downtown, join the 75 percent of Aspen's workers who live in surrounding towns such as Carbondale or Basalt. Entrepreneurs tend to fare best here; setting up a popular restaurant, bar, or upscale retailer can be your ticket to a sustainable lifestyle. "It's the wealthy people that keep us in business, says Robin Smith, 35, who sells Rolex watches out of Meridian Jewelers, which she opened in November 2003. "But workers here have to keep their noses to the grindstone. You can't start suffering from the delusion that you're part of the aristocracy. Resign yourself to living downvalley.

Working Here: The 49-bed Aspen Valley Hospital deals with lots of sports injuries. Occupational therapists and registered nurses are always in demand.

Leaving Here: Eagle County Airport receives daily flights from Dallas, Denver, and Chicago ($600—$700). Denver International Airport, a 4-hour drive, has the same flights for half as much.

Being Here: Everyone knows that housing in Aspen is expensive, but everything else, including groceries, oil changes, and a night out, is also pricey: about 20 percent higher than in the average U.S. city.

Skiing Here: Right next to Aspen; 3 and 12 miles from Aspen Highlands and Snowmass, respectively
Snowfall: 300 inches
Skiable Terrain (combined): 4,800 acres
Vertical (Aspen): 3,267 feet

Per Capita Income: $40,680
Median rental price: $944
Median home price: $1,000,000-plus

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