The rise of the remote worker, or digital nomad, is often seen as an opportunity to travel and work. And while the image of the digital nomad is usually sitting by the pool, Mai Tai in hand while they attend a virtual Zoom meeting on their Macbook Pro, the reality is often different.
Digital nomads often seek out places to work that offer both stability in terms of working arrangements and connections, in tandem with an enjoyable place to be. And while Bali, Chiang Mai and Medellin might call to many of these laptop workers, there is a rise in the amount of snow sports digital nomads. Or, digital snowmads.
Yes, this is a thing. And no I didn’t make it up.
I myself have enjoyed several trips where I’ve gone on workation, attending meetings on my laptop before heading off for a day on the mountain, followed by a few hours work over an apres ski (or snowboard in my case) beer.
Sounds good? Yeah. It is.
But based on my own experiences, and those of people I’ve met who have experienced the digital snowmad lifestyle, I’m going to look at how you can do this yourself. I’m also going to suggest some of the most popular ski resorts for digital nomads.
Workations vs full season working
When it comes to remote working, digital snowmads can choose to either set up camp in their chosen resort for the long term, or opt for a shorter visit. A full season usually means staying in the resort from November or December until the end of the season in March or April.
However a shorter option, known as a workation (a portmanteau of working-vacation) is also an option. This means that you can book a stay for anything from a week to a month or more.
This is ideal if your job does allow you to work from anywhere, and can also help you to enjoy peak season in your chosen ski resort, or even make the most of early season conditions and lower costs.
Why work from a ski resort?
If you’ve always wanted to do a ski season, or simply get as much time in the mountain as possible, you might already see why it makes sense to work from a ski resort. With close proximity to the ski lifts, you can get a few hours riding the snow, before you have to actually do work, jump on that meeting or answer a bunch of emails. In fact, being a digital snowmad is also a good opportunity to learn skiing or snowboarding too.
In addition to this, if you register early enough, as a resident (even a temporary one) you can often get discounted season passes.
And while we’re at it, there are a bunch more reasons to work from a ski resort as a digital nomad…
The fresh mountain air? The great apres ski party vibes? Usually very good connectivity (most ski resorts have great bandwidth) and the fact that it’s not just another beach.
You’re convinced right? I thought so.
In that case, it just comes down to where to go…
The best ski resorts for digital nomads
In the world of digital snowmads, a few ski resorts have actively tried to appeal to the laptop crowd. The biggest, and one that is branding itself as a digital nomad hotspot in general, is Bansko in Bulgaria.
This mountain resort in Bulgaria’s Pirin Mountains actually hosts an annual digital nomad festival, and hopes to attract those high earning laptop workers with low rent, low prices and snow sure terrain. It also has a number of great co-working places and, oh, the season pass is cheap too, at around €860 for the whole season.
And by all accounts, Bansko is an excellent place for digital nomads. It attracts an international crowd, has plenty of decent quality accommodation and the cost of living is hard to top.
But if you’re not overly keen on Bansko as your seasonal ski or snowboard haunt, what other options do you have?
Poland’s winter sports mecca is also a popular spot for digital snowmads looking for a fun place to call home for the winter. And having visited, it’s easy to see why. Zakopane is a pretty little town in the mountains, with a great cost of living and a number of good quality ski resorts a short drive from the town.
And distance is one thing to bear in mind. While there are a few ski pistes in the town of Zakopane, the best options at Bialka Tatrazanska and Szycyrk are a reasonable commute from town. You’ll need a car.
But this isn’t to say Zakopane is a bad option. Far from it. The town attracts an international set, and offers some great options for apres ski, shopping, walks in nature and much more besides.
Make sure to check out our review of Zakopane.
Although this is very much not the Alps, this winter wonderland might suit a digital snowmad who wants more than skiing and snowboarding, and is perhaps looking for a cultural experience too. So what about those of us who just want to max out our opportunities for riding powder?
Les Deux Alpes, France
When it comes to the Alps, you can be forgiven for thinking it’s gonna cost you a pretty penny. But actually the resort of Les Deux Alpes ticks all the digital nomad boxes on many levels. And there also seems to be a strong contingent of remote workers here too. I can testify to this one as I myself did this for a week, and met several people working remotely in L2A.
There are a number of great things about Les Deux Alpes. And one of those is that accommodation is relatively affordable, by French Alpine standards. Apartments on Vrbo and Airbnb go for around €1,500 per month and upwards.
You’ll also need to get a Les Deux Alpes lift pass of course, which is around €1123 for the full season, or get a half season from €667 from the 12th Feb 2023. Oh and you can also access Alpe d’Huez with your Les Deux Alpes pass.
Morzine/Les Gets, France
The Portes du Soleil ski region is one of the biggest ski areas in the world, and Morzine sits at the heart of it. This lively town is popular with British expats and digital snowmads, and you’ll often find the local cafes full of people nursing a coffee over their Macbooks with their snowboards dripping ice just out of shot.
The good thing about Portes du Soleil is that you’ll be able to shop around in the towns of Morzine, Les Gets and other villages for accommodation. Try the Morzine Facebook page if you’re looking for digs.
Another benefit to this area for snowmads is that you’re just a 1 hour 30 commute to the airport in Geneva, for those who need to fly back to the office on occasion.
North American ski resorts are notoriously expensive compared to their European counterparts. And while Whistler might offer some of the best ski and snowboard terrain in North America, it is steep in terms of costs. But… There is a good network of remote workers who set up camp for the winter season here.
Make no mistake though. Finding affordable accommodation is going to be hard work, and you can expect to spend easily $2000 on rent each month (basing that on an Airbnb search).
Ski Hostel, Switzerland
While Switzerland is not the cheapest option in Europe, the guys at Ski Hostel in Liddes are aiming to change that. Their idea is to attract the digital snowmad set with affordable and well connected accomodation in the south of the country, with access to excellent but smaller local ski resorts. Based in the Pays St Bernard region, you can access the three small ski resorts close to the hostel. But, you’re also a short drive from the excellent Verbier and 4 Vallees for when you want to munch those miles.
Stefan at Ski Hostel has also been a digital snowmad himself, notably in Bansko, Bulgaria. But by offering access to top tier Swiss skiing, at a knock down price, Switzerland could be an appealing remote working ski option.
Read our full review of Ski Hostel Liddes.
The costs of being a digital snowmad
One major factor in choosing to work remotely from a ski resort is the higher costs. There is no question that working from the French Alps, or even an Eastern European ski resort, will cost much more than decamping to one of the popular digital nomad haunts. And while Bali is not as cheap as it used to be, it is still a lot cheaper than France.
If you’re planning to work remotely from a ski resort for a whole season, expect to pay at least €1500 per month in accommodation costs alone. More often that not, you’ll be paying well over €2000 per month. In France and Austria, you might also be expected to pay up front for a whole seasons rent, which can also be a hit in the pocket.
This is why Bansko and Zakopane have been successful in their approaches to attracting remote workers.
Don’t forget to factor in your local permit if you do need one. Check with your chosen country if you need to register as a long stay visitor.
You’ll also need travel insurance that covers you not just for your longer stay, but also for your winter sports activities.
But theres no doubt that a season in a ski resort can be appealing and a really fun way to spend your winter months. Are you planning to digital snowmad? Let us know in the comments, or share your experiences.