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The dream of owning a mountain house

Thursday, June 24, 2010 Leave a Comment

If you live in Colorado, you probably want to own a mountain house at some point. We do, or at least we like to dream about it. Somewhere close to skiing, mountain biking, hiking, so we can get our kids out in nature, cultivate the love of the mountains in them, not have to brave the horrendous I-70 Sunday afternoon traffic. After all, one of the reasons to live in Colorado are the mountains.

But then you have to choose the location, and choose carefully, because once you're there, you're there. Winter Park or Breckenridge? Some years, Winter Park can get terrific snow while Breck suffers -- or vice versa. Vail rocks in the summer, while Copper Mountain turns into a ghost town. And how often would you really use it, once your kids get into the myriad of extracurricular activities that consume our kids' lives? And what about the sheer upkeep of trying to clean and manage two households? If you wanted to rent it out to help cover the mortgage, will the property management fees even break even? If you wanted to sell it, could you?

And then why even bother with a monthly mortgage when you could just find a cozy yet huge mountain chalet on VRBO for a ridiculously affordable price? Like the Fox Paw Haus in Breckenridge, where we took a whole mess of cousins, parents, aunts and uncles for a nice summer weekeend. Sleeps 12 comfortably. A nicer kitchen than yours. Rustic mountain-theme decor. Hot tub under the pines. Kid-friendly hikes just out the door. Perfect for our Boston cousins, who couldn't get enough of the mountains.

I grew up in Colorado, in Longmont. Rocky Mountain Park and Estes Park were in our backyard. Grandma used to have picnics all the time in the summer, and Dad took us skiing all winter long. Yet I didn't have many friends who hiked or skiied, or who even went to the mountains very often. It surprises me now, looking back. Is that just what happens when you have kids -- life gets too busy to appreciate our own backyard?