Forget Aspen! 10 Great U.S. Ski Towns Where Folks Can Actually Afford to Buy a Home


affordable ski towns

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Winter, as you’ve surely heard, is coming—hard and fast. So why not ride it out in your very own home in the mountains, in a sweet place where the slopes are groomed, the air is clean, and après-ski bars are buzzing? While you’re at it, maybe chill for the summer too! Truth be told, you don’t have to be a second-generation reality TV star, tech titan, or trust-fund kid to live large in a great American ski town. And no, we’re not schussing you. You just need to know where to set your sights.

Hint: It’s not on Aspen, Jackson, Park City, or any of the other snowy playgrounds of the 1%, where median home prices rival or even exceed the most expensive neighborhoods of San Fransisco or New York.

But there are plenty of lower-key, way more inexpensive options around. In fact, just about half of America’s ski towns, as defined by realtor.com®, have a median home price under $300,000. So our data team set out to find the most affordable of the bunch, towns where you can keep the dream of owning a home near the slopes alive, and maybe even have some cash left over for a new snowmobile. Or heck, an SUV!

While you’d be forgoing some of the glam scenes, upper-end nightspots, and world-class powder of the best-known resort towns, these lower-priced mountain meccas are still undisputed winter and summer wonderlands. Some are old mining towns, or small remote cities that built resorts as a means to replace fading industries. They have fewer tourists, and miles of untrammeled nature.

To create our rankings, we started with a list of around 450 ski resorts, as compiled by onthesnow.com, a website that creates snow reports for the ski industry. We then looked at median list prices in the nearest towns or cities to those resorts to figure out which had the least expensive real estate. Only places with at least 50 homes for sale in October were included, and for geographic diversity, we included just one place per state.

So pull on that discount Uniqlo parka, grab a hot toddy or three, and let’s check out the best bargain ski towns in America.

Most affordable ski towns

Tony Frenzel


1. Iron River, MI

Median list price: $59,800

Lakefront home in Iron River

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Yes, you read that median home price correctly. Located on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Iron River used to be dominated by copper and iron mines. But as the mines have closed, the town has been forced to reinvent itself. Fortunately, it had proximity on its side—it’s home to the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest and is in a county with 64 lakes. And right in town is Ski Brule, a resort with 12 lifts and trails ranging from beginner to expert.

More than two-thirds of real estate agent Corey Shankleton‘s clients are looking for second homes in the region, either on a lake or in secluded areas with lots of acreage. They can pick up a hunting cabin on 40 acres in the woods for $50,000, a lakefront home for $100,000, or one of the higher-end properties going for seven figures.

“People have really awoken to all that the Upper Peninsula has to offer,” says Shankleton, of UP Riverland Realty in Iron River. Most of his buyers hail from Midwestern cities and even from the Southeast.

“Because of the affordability of the homes in the area, we’ve got everyone from executives from Chicago looking for $1 million lakefront properties down to families looking for a getaway,” Shankleton says. “If you want to be in the middle of a busy lake with all sports activities, we’ve got those. And if you want to be nestled into the woods on a private lake or pond, we’ve got an abundance of that as well.”





2. Malone, NY 

Median list price: $89,500


Chalet home in Malone

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Located deep in the Adirondack Mountains on the Canadian border, Malone has some of the best fishing and snowmobiling sites in upstate New York. And that’s appealing to folks trying to escape the bustle of New York City and Boston.

On a stroll through Malone, folks take in its quaintness and small-town America vibe. The downtown streets are lined with old stone and red-brick structures, and in the summer, the city hosts the Franklin County Fair, the largest county fair in New York.

Buyers “either are moving for a job or they really want the culture of an outside lifestyle. Most of the time, it’s a lifestyle choice,” says Karamarie Morton, a local real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Whitbeck Associates. “They want the skiing and the snowmobiling in the winter and the fly-fishing, hiking, swimming, and boating in the summer.”


Home buyers here want to immerse themselves in nature and buy something with some land—and mountain views. And they don’t have to go broke doing it. Just check out this remodeled three-bedroom chalet with a raised porch. The best part? The price tag is just $139,900.

Snow sports in Malone revolve around Titus Mountain Family Ski Center. First opened in the 1960s, Titus now has 10 lifts and around 60 trails, with everything from green terrain to expert-level double black diamond.

3. Bruce, WI

Median list price: $95,000

Cabin in the woods in Bruce

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Bruce isn’t quite what springs to mind when you hear the words “ski town.” It’s a true small town with fewer than 1,000 residents and a half-dozen restaurants. And it’s had its share of economic woes, closing down its local mine a couple of decades ago, followed by nearby Mount Senario College five years later. Today, the area is best known as a cut-rate outdoor destination.

Christie Mountain, which has 30 runs, is popular with skiers, snowboarders, and tubers.

“The biggest draw to this area is recreation, with hunting, fishing, ATV riding. There are fantastic bike trails and hiking trails,” says local real estate agent Jon Kaiser of Kaiser Realty.

Many of his clients are looking for remote properties with lots of land. Lots of cheap land. Just recently he sold 120 acres of wooded land with no home on it to a hunter for just $89,000.

More typically, a log cabin in the woods here can be snagged for less than $70,000. Or folks can buy lakefront land and build their dream home. This 2.2-acre lakefront lot is selling for just $49,000.

“It’s small enough that you know your neighbors, but you could live in Bruce and never talk to anyone,” says Kaiser. “You could live off the grid here.”

4. Biwabik, MN

Median list price: $99,500

Ski condos in Biwabik

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