While the stunning views and clean air of mountain living are certainly appealing, be sure to weigh the challenges of mountain life before making a move. Here’s a checklist of things to consider.
Positives. Living in the mountains is probably rivaled only by living near a beach for tranquility. The majestic scenery and vacation-like settings are a definite lure. The pace of life tends to be slower, providing a more relaxed atmosphere.
Housing expense. Buying or building on steep grades adds substantially to the cost of housing because of the difficulties involved in laying foundations. A house on level land would be considerably cheaper.
Utilities. Mountain homes may not have utilities supplied by a local or regional service. Oftentimes, homeowners have their own wells, septic and propane gas tanks. Who is the electrical supplier? These are important issues to settle before making a commitment on a piece of property.
Living essentials. Unless you live in a mountain town, expect to drive 10 to 20 miles and up for groceries, gas and other staples. Prices for these goods will likely be higher, as the suppliers must transport them farther. Rather than be part of a large chain with lower prices, grocers may be independent and charge more.
Commuting to work. Mountain living is best for people who work from home and telecommute. If you must make a drive into an office, find out how long the drive will take. Will there be times when snow blocks your route?
Cellular service. Inquire about mobile phone service and test it yourself. The mountains are notorious for spotty service — or none at all.
Emergency services. If you have a health crisis at home, emergency services will likely take longer to arrive and hospital transports will be longer. This is an especially important consideration if you are thinking of retiring to a mountain community.
Natural disasters. Mountain residents should be prepared for forest fires, mudslides, avalanches and fallen trees that block road access.
Building restrictions. Many mountainous areas have building regulations to keep people from spoiling the views with uncontrolled development. Check your local, regional and state agencies before buying land on which to build.
Rental market. The market for rentals is highly dependent on local attractions. For example, homes near popular ski areas may lease well during the season but the rent should be sufficient to pay the bills year-round. Rental homes near major tourist destinations may be profitable when leased long-term to local residents who work in the tourism industry.