Despite tight housing availability in The Valley, the recently released Mad River Valley Planning District data report indicates that approximately 82 percent of Sugarbush employees resided in one of the three Valley towns during the 2008-2009 ski season.

Representatives from the UVM Center for Rural Studies reviewed the report with members of the Mad River Valley Planning District Steering Committee at their November 19 meeting.

With just 1 percent of housing available in The Valley at any given time, a survey of Sugarbush employees demonstrates that seasonal employees are usually able to secure housing despite continued increases in cost.

Housing affordability remains a source of concern, according to the report, with housing costs increasing at a higher rate than the Vermont average.

The tourism and hospitality sector is responsible for employing the most Valley residents while at the same time has the lowest average wage.


"The average wage in the Mad River Valley ranges from just under $20,000 in the hospitality industry to over $60,000 in the information industry. The third largest employment section, professional services, has the highest total wage (number of employees multiplied by the average wage)," according to the report.

The report continues, "A snapshot of available housing shows that in 2000 housing was evenly split between full-time and seasonal occupancy; while sale price and housing availability provide some insight into the affordability of homes in The Valley, another metric is to look at what percent of residents' income goes to pay for housing."

Housing affordability is commonly defined by 30 percent of one's income going towards housing. The data suggests that, historically speaking, residents of the MRV pay 30 percent or higher for housing, which mirrors the statewide trend.

There is no statistical difference of residence among those who rent versus those who own a home, according to the data report.

"While The Valley has attracted business from most industries, its employment landscape remains dominated by the hospitality sector," the report indicates.

According to the data, "Tourism remains a driving force behind the Mad River Valley economy. Based on data provided by the Mad River Valley Chamber of Commerce, 2008 saw an increase in winter occupancy of 9 percentage points. However, other seasons were down or flat during 2008, compared to previous years."

Historically, home prices in The Valley have been consistently above the Vermont median. "For reference, the median home in Waitsfield cost $219,000 in 2008 and $269,000 in Fayston, while Warren's median home price was $369,000. The overall average for Vermont was $200,000."

The report was prepared for the MRVPD to address the requirements of the 1998 Memorandum of Understanding and provide information for community planning purposes.

Data for the report was taken from a variety of public sources as well as contributions from Sugarbush Resort, Mad River Glen and the Mad River Valley Chamber of Commerce. The Valley Futures Network and Friends of the Mad River also contributed. 

For more information on the 2008-2009 data report, visit www.mrvpd.org or call 496-7173.