The allure of western mountain towns has been irresistible, attracting people with their breathtaking landscapes and abundant outdoor activities. Even before the pandemic, these towns were experiencing rapid growth. However, the popularity skyrocketed even further with the success of the TV series “Yellowstone” and the pandemic itself. The desire to own a piece of the Dutton ranch, showcased in the show, has driven up prices, making it increasingly challenging for locals to keep up.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Driggs, Idaho, is now feeling the pressure. As Luke Smith, an associate broker with Engel & Völkers Jackson Hole, highlighted, these once-peaceful communities have undergone an astonishing transformation. The shift has been so drastic that many residents have transitioned from a comfortable lifestyle to survival mode. The rising costs have forced numerous individuals to leave their beloved hometowns behind, as they can no longer afford to reside there. The impact of this change is significant, leaving a lasting mark on the community.
Christina Assante recently made a significant investment in Driggs, a charming ski town located on the border of Wyoming. She purchased a half-acre lot for $500,000 in 2021, with plans to build a stunning 3,200-square-foot home within the prestigious Tributary residential community. According to Assante, the construction of her dream home will cost approximately $1.5 million.
Assante’s connection to the area runs deep. She and her late husband, Michael, relocated to Alta, Wyoming, just a short distance from Driggs, back in 2015. Their love for the nearby Grand Targhee ski resort drew them to this picturesque region.
As the population of Driggs continues to grow, Assante and her son, Asher, are part of a wave of newcomers flocking to this burgeoning ski town. Once overshadowed by its trendy neighbor, Jackson, Wyoming, Driggs is now attracting attention and excitement from both locals and newcomers alike. However, some concerns have been raised regarding the town’s infrastructure and its ability to accommodate the influx of people.
Similar trends can be observed in other Western ski retreats, such as those in Colorado and Montana. Affordability has become a pressing issue, and in Driggs, where development is already underway, locals are beginning to feel the impact of this growth. The town is at a crossroads, balancing the benefits of new residents with the challenges of maintaining its unique charm and ensuring that it can support its expanding population.
Driggs, Idaho, a hidden gem of a ski town, is on the brink of a major transformation. With the Grand Targhee Resort expanding and plans for more development in the works, the future of this uncharted destination is uncertain. The town’s population has already grown significantly in recent years, and locals are eager to see what the future holds.
“The community is in a state of panic,” she confided to the Journal. “There’s a growing fear that it will disrupt the peaceful and relaxed atmosphere we’ve always enjoyed. Everyone has witnessed the negative effects it has had on other places.”
The surge of wealthy homebuyers in ski country, particularly in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain region, has created a dilemma for locals and sparked concerns about the compatibility of affluence and affordability. The increase in remote work during the pandemic has further exacerbated the growing inequality in popular destinations, making more areas unaffordable for local workers. Vail, Colorado serves as a cautionary example, with a financial gap between wealthy residents and the local workforce. Locals like Allison Weibel, a high-school teacher and part-time ski instructor, have been forced to live outside of Vail due to skyrocketing home prices. This situation highlights the challenges faced by those who work in affluent ski towns but cannot afford to live there. The article prompts important discussions about the future of these communities and the well-being of their local residents.
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