A Local Adventurer’s Guide to Work & Play in Whistler

Whistler has some of the best skiing and snowboarding on the planet, and while its awesome to go for a season, you could easily spend a full year here, or more. Local Whistlerite Jase shares his guide to “living the dream” year-round in paradise.


Photo © iStock/Photawa

Whistler is known worldwide for snowboarding and skiing, however, there’s so much more to do in and around town. Awesome events, nightlife, inspiring landscapes, cool jobs, and endless adventures await.

Top Things to Do Around Whistler

For backcountry skiers, doing the Spearhead Traverse is a local rite of passage. Skiing in the Duffey Lake area north of Whistler around Mt. Joffre has some of the best skiing in the area.

Running the rubble creek classic route from Cheakamus Lake to Rubble Creek is an unforgettable hiking trail running tour that’s best done at the end of summer.

Hiking to Wedgemont Lake and the Joffre Lakes is absolutely stunning and should be on everyone’s to-do list.

You can go zip lining above black bears, and cruise through the mountains on all-terrain vehicles, or go mountain biking through the many trails that surround the village. Try rafting the Elaho River, or bobsledding at the Olympic Park.

Trust me, you won’t run out of new places to take your weekend adventures.

Mountain biking around Whistler. Photo credit: iStock

Local Living: Festivals & Events

The Whistler Ski and Snowboard Festival happens in April each year, and it’s a great time of year to be in town, with plenty of free outdoor concerts happening.

Crankworx is an annual mountain biking festival that usually falls in August each year. It celebrates the soul of mountain biking, and brings the best riders and bike fans in the world together for a week of racing, slopestyle competitions, demos, and the chance to take to some of Whistler’s best trails.

Want a local beer experience? Try some Coast Mountain Beer with your new friends, and you’ll no doubt go for Apres ski drinks at Dusty’s or at the Garibaldi Lift Co.

Eating your body weight in Beaver Tails is something every local needs to do at least once.

What’s with all the Aussies in Whistler?

Canada and Australia share a similar colonial history, and it can be pretty easy to get a working visa between our awesome nations.

Keen snowboarders and skiers are limited with options when it comes to snow in Australia. Australia’s most popular ski resort, Perisher, has received an average maximum snow depth of 1.9m over the past 15 years. Whistler, on the other hand, gets an average of 11.59m of snowfall each year, and over 15m on the big years – with an average base of at least 3-4m.

I think the better question is, why aren’t there more powder-starved Australians making the pilgrimage to Whistler?

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Costs of Living in Whistler

Whistler life might be incredible, but it is expensive. A seasonal pass to the mountain costs as much as a cheap car.

Many Whistlerites get by via flat sharing, living in nearby cities like Squamish or Pemberton, or finding jobs that provide accommodation and a mountain pass.

Search for accommodation in The Pique News Magazine and Craigslist, where you’ll also find the best source of information for job listings, too.

You can expect that the cost of renting a room will begin around CAD $700/month (US $574). Food is expensive in Whistler, and it’s cheaper to eat out than to cook! Many locals drive to Squamish to shop, where it’s a bit cheaper to buy groceries.

So, You Want to Work in Whistler?

Here are few tips to help you find the right job to suit your skills.

The best time to look for work in Whistler is spring and fall. Summer and winter are the big seasons. Keep in mind most companies aim to be fully staffed well before Christmas and by mid-June.

If you want to work in the service industry, it’s essential to have a Serving It Right card.

If you’ve had a full driver’s license for at least two years, try getting a Class 4 driver’s license to drive customers in company vehicles. Driving is a huge part of many jobs, so this is a big asset to have on your resume. A first aid certificate can be extremely useful; some jobs even require one!

The Pique News Magazine and Craigslist are the best sources to find jobs, and be sure to look out for jobs in restaurants, hotels and the mountain operations – these are the biggest employers in Whistler. 

There are also cool jobs available with whitewater rafting companies, ATV guiding, photographers, mountain bike guiding, zip line guiding, or working on one of the many annual events – perfect for anyone looking to combine adventure and work in Whistler!

Want to know more about Canada? Check out our podcast. We discuss when a traveler becomes a snack; the perils of wilderness adventure, a culinary tour of the provinces for foodies, and we speak to World Nomads photography scholarship mentor Richard I'Anson.

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