I normally start these profiles with information about the mountain. For Whistler I’m starting with details about affordable housing.
There’s a Facebook group called Whistler Housing Crisis 2022. It has over 20,000 members. Get the picture?
Summer is just as busy as winter in Whistler, and so many workers in town spend summer camping in back gardens paying eye-watering rent for a patch of dirt. There’s no room inside these share houses, and the campers help bring down the rent for the inside people. When winter hits, those campers need to move somewhere warm. So you can just imagine how hard it is to get housing after September.
But wait, it gets worse. People monitor Craig’s List for any new house that comes on the rental market. Paying for a full season up front is not uncommon. Units that were once affordable now get rented out on the short term rental market for scary prices.
Remember that housing Facebook site I mentioned before? Well landlords don’t like using it. If they put up a post they get bombarded with hundreds of comments, emails and DMs for weeks. In early October 2022, a person put up “room available” post and got 175 replies (and God knows how many DMs) in 24 hours. I’m sure you can work out the odds of actually getting that room.
++Update July 28. 2023++ So I’ve just quickly browsed the Whistler Accommodation Facebook Group. It’s completely dominated with posts from people in Australia, NZ, and Europe looking for accommodation. They’re all chill, respectful, great room-mates and arriving in October, November, or December. Their posts typically end with “If you know any places for rent shoot me a message”. Newsflash guys, If there was a room available, the locals are going to tell their desperate friends about it. They certainly are not going to help some random stranger on the other side of the world.
And then there’s the crew who think forming a bigger group will mean they can rent a 3 or 4 bedroom house together. Again, if there was a spare 3 or 4 bedroom house available, it’s not going to be rented to an international group. If a group of locals doesn’t snap it up, a local business is going to pay the entire season up front and stick their staff in it. This is all happening now, four months before the lifts open.
So if you think you’re going to breeze into town in November and get an affordable place ahead all those locals who have their fingers on the housing pulse, think again. There’s an extremely good chance you’ll be home for Christmas, broke and miserable.
What about employee housing? Well yes there’s some but those jobs attached to subsidised housing get taken very early. Being on an employee housing waiting list means you’re just not an essential employee. Yes I’m talking about you retail, bar, instructor, and front of house staff. Those beds, that you need, are going to go to groomers, chefs, patrollers, and lifties.
We recommend anyone considering going to Whistler to work the ski season have two things: 1. a contingency plan at a different mountain, and 2. A definite cut off date that allows you to leave Whistler on your terms and make that contingency plan a reality.
If you don’t believe me the housing crisis is severe, here’s a podcast we recorded with a 17 year local in October 2022. It’s called “Whistler Local’s Advice – Don’t Come”
Great. So what’s the mountain like? It doesn’t get rated as North America’s #1 mountain for nothing. It’s slid to number 21 in just a few years. That’s due to the staff shortages, not the shortage in amazing terrain.
And that video didn’t even mention the world’s best mountain bike precinct!!! So yes, Whistler is truly epic and if you can get a job with employee housing I’d grab it. Sure Whistler is expensive to live, but if you need some extra cash, picking up a couple of night shifts a week is easy peasy.
What’s the employee housing like? Busy but feasible. See the vid.
You also might want to check our podcast letting you know the best way to get employee housing.
So what are the options if you can’t get employee housing?
Every fall rookie seasonal workers get on various housing forums to suggest the following options: 1. Teaming up with another person to share a room. 2. Going from one short term rental to the next. 3. Renting a giant home and stacking it with a dozen or so ski bums. 4. Doing some house sitting. If it was that simple, everyone would be doing it.
As I mentioned before, your chances of finding an affordable vacant apartment or share house on the private market in Whistler in fall is very slim. There are options. Find an extremely well paid job so you can afford $4K a month for a studio. You could also live in Pemberton or Squamish and commute in. You’ll need a reliable car because the buses are way too infrequent. You then just need to deal with traffic jams and hour long commutes when there’s snow or it’s a weekend.
So there it is. Whistler. Amazing but it’s extremely difficult to make it happen.
If you like the look of Whistle. tag it in your profile, but you’d be wise to tag in a Plan B and a Plan C as well.
If you are on a two year IEC visa, flying to Canada in November without accommodation, we recommend doing your first ski season elsewhere, and then heading to Whistler in April or May when there is some rental market turnover.
Oh and one last tip. There’s no shortage of scammers trying to rent houses in Whistler they don’t own. The standard story is, they aren’t in town so can’t show you the house in person or via video, but here are some pics. They often succeed because people are desperate. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Here’s a blog post to help you spot a rental scammer.
Thanks so much to Whistler local Amber an d Paul, and Whistler leavee Steve for the background information for this post.