Many people experience sticker shock when they see a $22 hamburger at a local restaurant or look in the paper and see what seems like astronomical rent. If you’re coming from a college town, there will be some adjustment; if you’re coming from New York or San Francisco, it will be a relief. The fact is, Vail is expensive but life here does not have to be. Rest assured, there is no mandatory vow of poverty. Once you’re established and networked, it’s much easier to live affordably. You’ll find a great place to live through friends or VMS parents, arrange pro-deals, or take advantage of off-season sales for the three pairs of skis and five bikes you’ll need (want). You’ll also figure out when and where to shop for the other things you need. 

Orientation and Housing

Generally speaking, apartments and houses are more expensive the closer you live to Vail, with a few exceptions. There are pockets of relatively affordable housing in apartments or condos near the school in East Vail, as well as in the Matterhorn and Intermountain neighborhoods south of the highway in West Vail. North of I-70, there are also less expensive places in the Chamonix neighborhood. 

Anything in Vail is less than a 10 minute drive to VMS, but the rest of the valley is just a quick jaunt along I-70. To the west lies Minturn (15 minutes), then Eagle-Vail (15 min.), Avon (15 min.), Edwards (20 min.), Eagle (35 min.), and Gypsum (40 min.). Commuting is reasonable; the highways are very well maintained, travel is fast, and traffic only arises when there is weather.

The housing market is driven also by timing and length of term. Year-round leases are less expensive than seasonal rentals, and availability is most scarce during the ramp up to the ski season in October, November, and December. To help new faculty make the transition, VMS owns a limited number of partially-subsidized faculty housing units. These one bedroom on-campus apartments are typically limited to a one-year lease for the employee in order to facilitate the transition to Vail.

Our local newspaper, The Vail Daily ( has the most comprehensive listing of housing for rent. Interested in purchasing a home? Check out the many Vail MLS sites or come to carpool and you might find a few realtors there...  As a part of the hiring process, we will be happy to answer whatever questions you have about living in Vail, help you build a network,  and direct you to appropriate resources.


You will likely need or want a car to get around in the Vail Valley. Winter weather and driving over mountain passes pose unique challenges to automobiles. If your vehicle does not have four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, you will need snow tires, which are a good choice regardless.

The town of Vail has an extensive free bus system which makes living in the town of Vail a distinct benefit as opposed to locations further west. The Eagle County bus system runs throughout the Valley, although it  is not free and logistics and schedules can be challenging.

Shopping and Dining

When visiting Vail and Beaver Creek, most people wonder where the locals live and shop. We also receive the same question from prospective employees who have never lived in the Valley. There are two grocery stores in Vail: City Market and Safeway. Avon and Eagle also house City Market stores, and the small Village Market  in Edwards offers standard groceries and specialty foods.  In Gypsum, you’ll find Costco. Each grocery store has a pharmacy in-house. Dedicated drugstores include Walgreens in Avon, the Vail Valley Pharmacy in Edwards, and Eagle Pharmacy in Eagle.

There are countless shopping options throughout the Vail Valley. A handful of recognizable box stores such as Wal-Mart Super Center and Home Depot are within minutes of Vail.  East of Vail Pass in Silverthorne you’ll find brand-name factory outlet stores. Drive one hour past that and you’ll have made it to Denver where suburban shopping malls are predictably abundant.

Though Vail offers several five-star restaurants that are correspondingly priced, there are also many affordable eateries where local’s deals and off-season specials abound. Rest assured that not every hamburger in Vail is $22.