Ever fantasized about buying a ski-town chalet? You're in luck, because ski home prices are the lowest they've been in years. The bad part? You're not going to pay for it on your sandwich artist wage: According to the Grey Lady, a formerly $1 million, three-bedroom condo in Snowmass still goes for $700K; if you can settle for an Aspen studio, you might get it for a cool $275K.
It's in this spirit of opulent ridiculousness that we'd like to inaugurate Shoot, Screw, Or Marry -- a semi-regular feature where we'll apply a game usually reserved for long car rides to topics relevant to the Colorado outdoors.
In this first edition, we'd like to pit three mountain town classics against each other: Vail, Aspen, and Crested Butte.
This one should be an easy pick, but it's tough for me because I used to live there. While I appreciate the amenities that unchecked sprawl can provide and the variety of two massive and very distinct mountains, nobody can stomach that much faux-Bavarian architecture or horrific parking -- I don't care how great Blue Sky Basin is. It takes about five hours to get there, anyway.
Avg. market home value for Nov. 09: $1,160,923
Median Home value: $531,048
Boning Aspen is a no-brainer, because she's got glitz, class, and a helluva lot of great skiing spread between her four beautiful mountains. But you and I both know the truth: She's too high maintenance for us to afford much more than a one-night-stand. It's like getting lucky with Natalie Portman -- you had a fantastic night, but you woke up broke and she's got calls waiting from Steven Spielberg and James Franco. Do you really think she'll take you as her date to the Oscars? Stop dreaming and be glad it happened -- just like that once-a-year splurge to Aspen, when you'll come back with life-list memories of paycheck-worthy meals, epic shredding, and that one time you hockey-stop-sprayed a fallen Charlie Sheen with snow.
Average market home value for Jan. 2010: $1,647,038.
Median home value 2008: $786,836
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Marry: Crested Butte
Livable, lovable, and with enough ridiculous powder and insane terrain to keep you happy for the rest of your life, this is the mountain you bring home to mom. Did we mention she happens to be a knockout? This is like the insanely hot, down-to-Earth, anonymous girl everybody at the bar is afraid to ask out. If they do, they might get spooked by the fact that she lives so far from civilization. But if you shun society and give in to her charms, you'll find your Dream Girl. Her inhabitants are friendly, her cooking is some of the best, and she has scenery that puts national parks (and Natalie Portman) to shame. Caveat: She can get mighty frigid in the winter, but if you show her you aren't afraid and dive in full-force, she'll warm right up.
Average market home value for Jan. 2010: $908,512.
Median home value 2008: $417,829
Disagree with our findings? That's the whole freaking point. Tell us about it in the comments, and suggest a future Shoot, Screw, or Marry.
Sources: AOL Real Estate, City-data.com and Trulia.com