The mountain town of Aspen, Colorado has long intrigued me. How did a remote ski village nestled deep in the Rockies come to boast some of the steepest costs of living and visiting in the country?
I decided to spend a week exploring all Aspen has to offer—and paying its lavish prices—I gained insight into the confluence of factors that have made it a world-class resort accessible only to the most deep-pocketed travelers.
Whether eying $40 entrées or $500 hotel rooms, it’s clear Aspen’s costs are in a league of their own. But behind the exorbitant prices lies a story of limited land, development constraints, and a glamorous reputation that draws the rich and famous.
In this blog post, I’ll explore how these elements have shaped Aspen into an enclave only the wealthiest can afford, illuminating an extreme case of how the forces of supply, demand, and status can transform a destination—for better and for worse.
10 Reasons Why Aspen Is so Expensive
Here are detailed reasons that make Aspen so expensive:
1. Low Housing Supply
The high cost of living is largely due to the low housing supply. There are very few homes available for sale or rent, and the competition for housing is fierce. As a result, prices are sky-high and many people are priced out of the market.
The low housing supply also makes it difficult for businesses to find workers, as they often have to compete with other businesses for employees who can afford to live in Aspen.
While the high cost of living can be a challenge, it’s also part of what makes Aspen such a special place to live.
2. It’s a Destination for Wealthy People
Wealthy people have always been attracted to Aspen for its natural beauty and plentiful ski slopes. In recent years, however, the influx of wealthy individuals has driven up prices to the point where many middle-class families can no longer afford to live there.
The presence of wealthy people has made Aspen one of the most expensive towns in America, and it shows no signs of becoming more affordable anytime soon.
Wealthy individuals are willing to pay top dollar for luxury homes, driving up prices for everyone. Basic necessities like food and healthcare are also very expensive in Aspen.
This is due in part to the fact that many businesses cater to the needs of wealthy individuals, who are willing to pay premium prices for convenience and luxury.
3. High Tax Rates
The town has a sales tax rate of 9.3%, and the state of Colorado imposes an additional 2.9% tax on all purchases made in Aspen.
Furthermore, there is a 2% lodging tax on all hotel rooms and vacation rentals. In total, state and local taxes can add up to 16.2% of the cost of any purchase made in Aspen.
These high tax rates make it difficult for many people to afford a vacation in the town, and they are one of the main factors that contribute to Aspen’s high cost of living.
4. Limited Land Supply
Aspen is an expensive place to live, due in part to its limited land supply. There are only a few square miles of developable land within the town limits, and much of that land is already spoken for by existing buildings and infrastructures.
As a result, new construction is often limited to small-scale projects, such as luxury apartments and condos.
The scarcity of land drives up prices for both buyers and renters, making Aspen one of the most expensive places to live in the country.
5. Popular Travel Destination
Aspen, Colorado is a world-renowned ski destination, and it’s no surprise that the town is expensive. Skiing is a popular activity for both locals and tourists, and the town is situated in a beautiful location near the Rocky Mountains.
Aspen is home to several luxurious resorts, which attract visitors from all over the world. The high cost of living in Aspen is due in part to the popularity of the town as a vacation destination.
demand for lodging and other services is high, and tourists are willing to pay top dollar for a memorable experience.
6. High Gas Prices
The cost of gas has a significant impact on the price of goods and services across the country. When the cost of gas goes up, so does the cost of just about everything else.
The average price for a gallon of gas in Aspen is $4.297, which is higher than the national average. This increase in fuel costs is passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices for goods and services.
The high cost of gas in Aspen is due to a number of factors. The area is remote and it takes a long time to get there. This means that it costs more to transport goods and services to and from Aspen.
7. Low Crime Rates
Aspen has a violent crime rate that is less than one-third of the national average, and its property crime rate is also significantly lower than the rest of the country.
This makes it an attractive place to live for people who can afford it, as they don’t have to worry about their safety. Aspen’s low crime rate helps to attract high-end businesses and tourists, which further drives up prices.
8. Booming Economy
Aspen is home to some of the wealthiest people in the world, and its resorts draw visitors from all over the globe. This economic activity has helped to drive up prices for everything from housing to food.
Aspen’s remote location means that many goods and services must be imported, further driving up costs. While this economic strength may be a boon for businesses in Aspen, it also makes life very difficult for residents who are not wealthy.
9. Better Paying Jobs with High Salary
In Aspen, the average salary is over $68,000, and many jobs start at $50,000 or more. This means that people who want to live in Aspen have to be willing to pay a premium for housing and other expenses.
The high cost of living can also be attributed to the fact that Aspen is a popular tourist destination. Hotel rooms, restaurants, and other businesses all charge more in Aspen than they do in other parts of the country.
While the high salaries may make Aspen seem like an attractive place to live, they also contribute to the high cost of living.
10. Proximity to Other Large Cities
While the town is small, its proximity to other large cities makes it a popular destination for both city dwellers and rural visitors alike. However, this popularity comes at a price – Aspen is one of the most expensive towns in the United States.
The cost of living is high, and prices for both goods and services are sky-rocketed. While some may be deterred by the high cost of living, others see it as a small price to pay for the chance to experience all that Aspen has to offer.
From its stunning mountain views to its luxury accommodations, there is no doubt that Aspen is a truly unique place.