Friday, November 21, 2008

The $78500 Wedding that Didn't Happen

My post yesterday talked about not choosing to put on a wedding but instead fulfilling a lifestyle goal that was congruent to what we would like to have in place for now and during retirement. It makes sense to us to do this while we are both working, getting to enjoy it now vs. saving all the money and doing it later. That's the essence of middle way.

We call it our $78500 wedding (and honeymoon) that is really a Ski Condo! In reality, it is a hotel room with a kitchen. We didn't spend enough to get what people envision as a "ski condo" but we spent enough to get into the game.

Yup, we bought it this spring, shortly after we were married and this Christmas and next spring will be the first seasons it will be integrated into our lifestyle. We will be spending enough time there to justify seasons passes. One of our goals is to teach skiing as a dream/fun job when we are retired and living as ski bums out west during the season.

To integrate an out of town/province property into our lives involves a lot of budgeting. There are flights and transfers to consider. Additional condo fees and property taxes to pay. Plus extra gear so that you don't have to lug large equipment back and forth through the airport.

I can only speak for my own experience but the condo we bought happened to be fully furnished in colours and style of furniture we like. We went out back in the spring to buy extra things ie. new sheets, comforter, some more kitchen utensils, non perishable foods/pantry items etc. The previous owners used it as their second home and never put it into the rental pool. The personal touches and the care they took was palpable.

This was a property that wasn't listed on the mls and we didn't realize it was available until we showed up. It ended up being the first place we saw and I took to it immediately. I place a lot of weight on how a place feels--a gut feeling. There were 2 others that I had thought would be perfect, judging from the pictures and amenities but the feel was totally wrong--cold and chaotic. That goes to show that one cannot judge without being physically in the space.

The price was higher than we had originally had in mind. (I would not have spent $78500 on a wedding!) We were hoping to be in the $65000 range (ok, I would not spend that either...) but the spot we chose was worth recalculating and budgeting.

Using the same mental philosophy as with the cottage, we asked ourselves similar questions.

How much is this place going to be used? How much will it cost to run? Are there any special assessments coming up that will cost thousands? Is this something that is going to be a real estate investment? What is the outlook of the area? How long will it be before you will need to upgrade/renovate the place?

I plan to ski 3 - 4 weeks a year, over 2 visits. My husband will likely spend more time as he has the ability to work remote. (jealous person here typing...) We plan to use it in the summer to but it would be in the form of a road trip. The condo fees include heat, electricity and water. For us that means $137/month. Property taxes are $420/yr.

The condo has an attached commercial unit that brings in significant income each season so that it helps pay for special assessments like the one currently tabled whereby the wood siding is being replaced at a cost of $200000. We are not buying it to flip. We are hopefully going to be in good enough health to be skiing into our 90's.

The area and resort is growing. Their strategic plan is fairly aggressive and broad in scope considering it is not in the the same league as Intrawest. We didn't want to be in that type of resort because for us, it is too commercial. We are there to ski, not to be seen. Finally, I cannot see needing to paint or redecorate for a very long time, at least 10 years.

One other important point for us is the aspect of getting to and from the condo. We did not want it to involve a car rental nor a crazy long transfer. A lot of resorts in British Columbia are hours away from an airport. That is something you should think about seriously if you are considering a purchase.

In the winter time, roads can be treacherous within mountain ranges and I personally do not feel experienced enough to drive 4 hrs on those roads especially after a 4 hr or so flight. Our spot is about 45 mins away from the airport and we pay $75 per person return to take a van shuttle service that knows when you arrive and a person is there to meet you.


  1. Hey Middle Way,

    This post and your last, about the cost of weddings, were great! It's wonderful to find someone like you who marches to the beat of their own drum, and disregards what we 'should' do for what we want to do.

    That ski resort will probably do more to cement your love for each other through the years, creating lots of memories, than a single, stressful day ever could. Good call.


  2. Sounds like you have a great dream for your future and you are putting it into your reality today. I'm sure it will bring you much happiness.

  3. Thanks so much Daphne and Living My Rich Life for your comments!

    I really appreciate it especially since I look to both of your blogs as inspiration and reminder of what is important in life.

    I do consider our decision a foundation building one. An investment in ourselves and our future.

  4. WOW a ski apartment lucky lucky you two.
    I wish you all the best and hope you have lovely sking times there and that it pulls in a good rental or you both.

  5. Thank you for your awesome comment!