Where To Work When You Live In Park City
If you don’t live in Park City, you probably want to. With endless recreational outlets and a quality of life that can’t be beat, it’s no wonder the small mining town has attracted A-listers from Olympic athletes and Hollywood actors to corporate executives and entrepreneurs.
The skiing, of course, is a big draw. Park City Mountain Resort is the largest ski resort in the United States, and Deer Valley is consistently among the highest rated. Then there’s the mountain biking, the horseback riding, the rafting, and the fly fishing. Not to mention, a little festival called Sundance. With so many ways to play, it’s some wonder the city’s residents have time to work at all.
Yet work they do. Park City is not, um, inexpensive, as far as real estate goes. And for that reason, the city tends to attract those that have jobs—and good ones at that. Even though there are plenty of executives and entrepreneurs living in Park City, there are not a lot of companies headquartered there. That means residents who choose to live where they recreate—rather than where they work—are forced to make tradeoffs when it comes to how they make money from the mountains.
For some, telecommuting has become a way of life. For others, the short, but beautiful 35- or 40-minute commute to Salt Lake City is worth the drive. Only 32 miles away from companies such as eBay, Oracle, Xerox, 3M, LexisNexis, Overstock.com, Grow.com, Domo, Qualtrics, and Podium, many find solace in their mountain home away from the office.
Option One: Get A Job In Park City
Robert Peay, the CFO at Skullcandy, considers himself fortunate to live and work in Park City. The clean air in Park City is a huge plus to Mr. Peay, plus it has a different style than the Valley. “It’s a little more laid back. A little more casual. A little more outdoorsy. You can recreate before, during, and after work,” he says.
For individuals who appreciate the outdoors, it makes it a wonderful place to live. “The access to trail runs, mountain bike rides, doing a couple runs at the resort—it’s all so accessible.” Before being hired at Skullcandy, he was flying quite a bit. “You could come home and live in Park City, this wonderful, pristine mountain environment, but you’re thirty minutes from an international airport.”
Mr. Peay says it comes down to what’s most important to you. At this point in his life, having those recreational opportunities are still compelling enough that he wants to continue working in Park City so he can keep on living there. “I’ve always loved the outdoors to the extent that my kids can experience the outdoors and I can still have a compelling, wonderful job. Mountain biking, clubs, camps—[there’s] a lot of recreation they can experience. As an executive living in Park City, even if you have to travel, it’s a tradeoff.”
Option Two: Start Your Own Company
With so many recreational activities to choose from, many choose to start their own businesses so that they keep living in the area. Bryon Friedman, the founder, and CEO of Soul Poles, grew up in Park City, and even competed on the US Ski Team until he broke his leg and decided to move to Los Angeles. Not long after, he decided to move back. “I was in traffic one day and had a nervous breakdown. I was like, I’m done with this,” he says.
Mr. Friedman returned to Utah in 2009 where, shortly after, he founded Soul Poles, which manufactures handmade bamboo skiing and hiking poles. “There’s a lot I like about living in Park City,” he says. “I just love its playground. There are four hundred miles of singletrack outside your door, it’s in close proximity to Provo River and Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest for camping, [and] you’re thirty minutes away from an airport.”
Option Three: Commute To Salt Lake City
Nancy Tallman, a realtor at Summit Sotheby’s International Realty in Park City, says she’s seeing a lot of people with families move to Park City because of the quality of life.
“People come here for ski or summer vacations. They get a taste of the lifestyle. They see people like me who live here full time and they think, ‘Why not?’” she says.
Ms. Tallman’s clients are looking for a change in lifestyle. They’re living in big cities and fighting traffic. Even a forty-minute commute feels like a vast improvement to people coming from the Bay Area. For this reason, many Northern Californian tech executives are drawn to Park City because of its close proximity to Salt Lake City and the so-called “Silicon Slopes.”
Jason Owen, senior vice president and general manager at Credit.com commutes to Salt Lake City every day. “It’s thirty-five minutes at the most because of the way the traffic flows on the I-15. Living in Park City, there’s generally no traffic down the mountain,” he says. With half of their executive team living in Park City, there’s a bunch of colleagues who carpool to the Valley, but generally, Mr. Owen prefers to drive himself to work.
Like many executives, Mr. Owen frequently travels for business. He’s in San Francisco at least once or twice a month and New York about once a month, which makes Salt Lake City International Airport very convenient. Sometimes, he’ll even take an Uber to the airport.
Option Four: Work From Home
Of Ms. Tallman’s clients who are still working, about 50 percent live in Park City and commute to Salt Lake City, while the other half work from home. “Home offices are really important for people looking at homes.”
It’s amazing how many different professionals are living in Park City, she says. “Of course, there’s technology. But then there are people who do all sorts of specialized things, and they need to be near an airport. We get lawyers and physicians, professionals who decide to come here and get a job or start their own practice here.”
And the airport really is an asset. For those who work from home, frequent travel might be part of the gig, and it’s nice knowing there’s such easy access. “It’s thirty minutes to the airport, and even if there’s a blizzard, the plane takes off,” says Ms. Tallman. “I have a lot of clients who used to vacation in Vail or Aspen and they got snowed in too many times. Vail and Aspen have tiny airports that get shut down, especially Aspen. Aspen is in a really narrow canyon. If it’s foggy there, you have to drive to Denver and the I-70 shuts down.”
What Park City lacks in big city jobs, it more than makes up for it in mountain town play—and, as it turns out, the residents quite prefer it that way.
The suits worn in the photos of this piece were provided by Mr. Mac.