The first thing to think about before taking the plunge and booking that flight across the Atlantic or Pacific is money. Whistler is, unfortunately, quite an expensive place to live. Here we break it down for you, so you know what to expect.
When you find a place to live, you'll need a deposit of at least half a month’s rent. Let's say you find a room for the bargain price of $1000 a month, you'll need the first month up front plus $500 deposit to make sure you don't trash the place. Once you've got a job, you probably won't get paid until you've been here a few weeks. So you'll need to have that second month's rent ready, plus money to cover your groceries, bus pass and other essentials too.
Food shopping isn’t cheap, but we've got some tips to help you out there as well. Expect to pay about $4 for a sweet potato and $6 for a box of cereal. For the best tips & tricks on how to save money on food in Whistler, check out our Money Saving Tips. Getting a job in a restaurant or cafe will save you a lot of money on food, as many employers will provide a meal on shift and/or let you take home leftovers. The same also applies if you are a cook, chef, baker, etc. - jobs with food will generally leave you less hungry with a little more change in your wallet.
If your new employer doesn't spot you a lift pass, expect to fork out $1400(ish) for one. If you know you are coming to Whistler in advance, buy an Early Bird Epic Pass and save yourself some cash. This is the cheapest standalone lift pass and gives you unlimited access to Whistler Blackcomb & 64 other resorts. At $1250, it's the best price if you're going to one or more resorts and don't care about on-hill discounts. If you think you'll be skiing mostly in Whistler and will be tempted to grab some grub on the hill a few days per week, purchasing a WB Unlimited Pass or getting a Spirit Pass through an eligible employer might be a better option. Either pass will get you unlimited mountain access, plus 20% off food and hot drinks on the mountain and in various WB owned retail stores in the village. The Unlimited Pass for the 19/20 Season retailed for $1349 + tax. If you are a WB Employee Passholder, you will get 50% off all food and drink from WB owned retailers.
If you don't live within walking distance of the village (most people don't), then you'll probably look at buying a car or getting a bus pass ($50+/month) for the winter. However, in summer the Valley Trail network opens up a whole world of transport! This non-motorized trail system connects every neighbourhood in Whistler, which means it’s fairly easy to get around by walking or biking. This is also the best way to avoid summer traffic congestion. If you want a car, be prepared to pay a premium for insurance and parking.
If you arrive in Whistler needing to buy new ski/snowboard gear, it's not cheap. Most places offer some sort of 'local' discount (proof of address/employment required), but it's usually only enough to get the tax off (tax in B.C. is a whopping 12%). If you get here in time for the Thanksgiving Turkey Sale in October, you can save yourself a bunch of money. The Blackcomb Daylodge in Upper Village opens its doors for locals to browse top brand ski and snowboard equipment with up to 50% off retail price. The Clearance Centres in Whistler Village and Upper Village also sell off lots of stock from other Whistler Blackcomb stores at up to 60% off their retail value, so are worth checking out year round. They also sell ex rental skis and bikes, which is an awesome chance to get a pair if you’re in the market for some. For the cheapest prices in town for everything from skis to socks, head to the Re Use It Centre in Function Junction.
One of the best ways to meet new people at the start of the winter season (or any time of year really) is to go out and socialize. In November Whistler hosts a number of 'freshers' or ‘freshman’ type events aimed at helping newbies mingle. However, drinking can be deceptively expensive. For each price you see on a menu, add 15% tax and another 15% tip for your server/bartender.
Transferring your money
The best way to transfer your money to CAD, we’ve found, has been through Transferwise. Using peer-to-peer technology, and without any hidden charges, TransferWise offer an affordable and effective way of transferring money across borders. Transfers to Canada have a 0.45% fee, and your money typically arrives in 1-2 working days. We’ve teamed up with them to give you your first transfer of up to £500 for free using this link.
Lots of banks in Canada like to charge for basic usage, but more and more are scrapping the monthly fee.
We are big fans of Tangerine and Koho, which both offer free daily banking. Tangerine is a chequeing account, whereas KOHO is a prepaid Visa where you can load money into the account and use for all your regular banking needs. We signed up to both and got bonuses using the links below!