The following guest post is by Henry and Agnès of thebgstrip.com. In 2014 they left the UK, turning a honeymoon into a lifestyle traveling and working their way around the world. After an amazing time in Canada, the USA and Australia, they’ve reached southeast Asia. Henry clicks the shutter whilst Agnès puts pen to paper.
Guide to Skiing and Working in Whistler, BC
After falling in love with Skiing, we wanted to live life in the mountains where we could ski to our heart’s content. Having gone through all of our location options, inevitably it was always going to be Whistler. This postcard ski town sits at the base of two mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb, and offers skiers and snowboarders a huge variety of runs and back-country. Here’s our guide to skiing and working in Whistler.
Find a Home!
After doing our research, it was obvious that finding somewhere to live in Whistler was going to be the most challenging aspect of moving here. It’s a tourist town, geared for tourists and that unfortunately leaves the seasonaires in a predicament. It wasn’t uncommon for us hear stories of people sleeping in their cars or on their friend’s sofas. We found a place on the internet prior to our arrival with a well known rental agency called Whistler Rental Properties. The studio we found was located in a complex at the top of Blackcomb way, approximately 15 mins walk to the village center or 10 mins on the free bus. For C$1400 per month, we had a cozy room with kitchen, bathroom and utility room and the complex had a gym and pool/hot tub. Craigslist is another great platform for finding a roof. Expect to pay between $600-800 per person, per month including bills.
Why don’t you get a Job?
There are two choices here, you either work for the mountain or you don’t. The benefits of working for Whistler Blackcomb (the mountain) are normally a free ski pass, discounts at local shops and restaurants, ski and snowboard lessons and workshops. The jobs are all focused around providing a service to the patrons of Whistler. These include lifties (lift workers), restaurant and bar staff, guest services, etc. The pay rates generally seem to be lower than if you don’t work for the mountain.
If you don’t want to work for the mountain, there are plenty of other options. Again, the jobs are service oriented, with those at hotels, cleaning companies, local shops, restaurants and bars. We both secured jobs within our first two weeks of arrival. If you don’t bring copies of your Résumé/CV with you, then you can go to the library or the Work BC employment centre to print them out. We found our jobs on craigslist, however we also handed out our Résumés/CVs to a lot of the local businesses. Pay rates range from $12-16 per hour depending on where you work and your position.
Living it up, how much does it cost?
The lift pass for the season cost us $1400, normally $1800. However, we signed up for the spirit pass, a program you can sign up for as a local worker. You need to go to a seminar at the local Whistler Arts Centre that typically lasts around two hours. It’s essentially a customer service guide, designed to promote the mountain and ensure customers are satisfied and will keep coming back to Whistler. A few companies will pay for part or all of your ski pass, you just need to ask them when you go for an interview.
Food shopping tends to be more expensive in Whistler than elsewhere in BC. There are only 3 small grocery stores and they all seem to be around the same price. We did most of our shopping at IGA at the Whistler Marketplace, but there is also a Nesters and Whistler Grocery store. IGA had everything we needed and was closest to where we lived so naturally, it was the most convenient.
Getting around is fairly easy with the regular buses, $2.50 a ride or you can purchase a monthly pass for $65. There is also a timetable online and in a leaflet. Depending on where you live/work, you may be able to use the Whistler trail system just be careful of the snow/ice! The trail system links up all the areas that make up Whistler.
We frequently ate at El Furniture Warehouse, a bar/restaurant in the middle of town. All the dishes are $4.95, so really cheap but a bit the same after a while. There are other bars and restaurants that put on good happy hour deals too. Eating outside of these hours tends to be expensive, normally costing $20-30 per head.
The Skiing and Boarding!
With over 200 marked runs and 8,200 acres of terrain, the mountains are bags of fun! An average snowfall exceeding eleven meters makes skiing here incredible. The backcountry terrain is also varied and easily accessed, check for avalanche warnings before you head out. When open, our favorite ski bowl was Symphony, beautiful tree-lined runs and natural bumps make you feel like you’re in ski heaven!
Have you been working in Whistler BC during the winter season? Please share any tips?