Insider Part Three: Save Money in Whistler

Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of ‘Insider’ posts by our contributor Ed White.

This is an area open to your own interpretation; you can save money in a fairly significant way, but it does involve some effort. It essentially boils down to a play-off between what you’re willing to risk and sacrifice, or what you’re willing to spend.

Save money on accommodation in Whistler

We’ve covered this in more depth in our Whistler accommodation pages, but a few points are worth noting. If you want a private room, be prepared to really pay for it. Ask yourself how much time you will realistically be spending in it, and whether some earplugs/headphones wouldn’t be a whole lot cheaper… Same goes for location; you may save money living out of the village, but a monthly bus pass and fewer amenities may not equate to money well-saved. Some rooms are advertised as unfurnished, and are consequently cheaper. Craigslist advertises a wealth of free stuff, so if you have a friend with a truck, you might be onto a winner.

It’s also well worth checking out the Re-Use-It Centre and the Re-Build-It Centre run by Whistler Community Services Society. Both of these community focused projects are located in Function Junction, Whistler, and sell a huge variety of second-hand household items from saucepans to sofas, and almost everything in between. Prices are extremely low, so be ready to possibly kit out your new digs for $100 or less!

Save on banking costs in Whistler

Canadian banks offer accounts at varying costs per month, often depending on the of number of transactions. Work out how often you are going to use you card, and go from there. Read our Banking guide for a quick rundown on Opening a bank account in Whistler. You will be charged for using other banks’ ATMs, so either embrace the extra walk, or pick a bank closest to where you live/work. For those in hospitality, living off tips (if you get enough) is a great way to save your actual wage.

Cell phone savings

Canadian phone plans are limited to region (e.g. a Whistler number will be charged roaming in Vancouver), and very expensive for what they offer. As such, many seasonaires go without. A smartphone and almost blanket WiFi coverage mean that Skype, Google chat, Facebook, What’s App etc. can all be used to keep in touch for free. However, if your manager decides to change your shift, and can’t get through to you, expect consequences. Rolling up to work when you could have had a lie-in/fresh tracks, only to find your shift has changed does not equal happy times. Read our introduction to cell phones – Choosing a cell phone in Whistler – for more information.

Save money with sensible food shopping

Whistler is 120km from Vancouver, so most things have to be driven up there. Thus it is considerably more expensive. Of almost mythical renown amongst seasonaires is the ‘Shopping Trip to Squamish’. Pretty self-explanatory; someone you know is going to Squamish (home of large food stores and lower prices), they ask for a few bucks for gas, and everyone loads up on vats of milk, cooking oil, pasta, cereal, etc. This is likely a worthwhile venture for the longer-term. Some stores even offer free shipping, so do your research first.

Many restaurants and cafes allow their employees one free meal per shift, which certainly saved me a whole lot of dollars. Scouting around the village reveals various cheap food options, from re-heated day-old pizza slices (hey don’t knock it!), to the now legendary Baked Potato and toppings from a certain establishment for a mere $3.49 inc tax.

Other, more alternative schemes

These comprise all sorts of ideas, each requiring a certain amount of inventiveness. One guy I lived with decided bread was too expensive (valid point), so he hitched to the Re-Use-It Centre in Function Junction, bought a bread machine for a few dollars, got a lift to Squamish to buy sacks of flour and yeast, and subjected the machine to such heavy usage that it eventually burnt out and died. He did however save money in the long run.

Others crochet woolly hats and sell them online/in the village. Others offer language exchange or resume help. Such schemes obviously require effort, and are not guaranteed a regular return. But if you’ve got a skill then it’s worth trying to leverage a few dollars for your time.

Part One – Tips for Service Industry Jobs
Part Two – Work Life Balance
Part Three – Saving Money
Part Four – The Lift Pass

Insider Part One: The Service Industry in Whistler

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of ‘Insider’ posts by our contributor Ed White.

The service industry is the source of most seasonal jobs in Whistler. Dishwashers, line cooks, servers, and bar staff all come and go, and there is a ready supply of newcomers waiting to fill the gaps. For the most part, pay ranges from $10.25 (minimum wage) to around $12-13 per hour depending on experience and expertise. Tipping is prevalent in Whistler, so if you’re lucky enough to land a job in a bar or restaurant frequented by tourists then you’ll take home some extra cash. Shifts are most often single blocks, usually around 8 hours duration with an unpaid, optional break.

Bars and Restaurants

Use some common sense – don’t try and hand your resume to the flustered waitress during lunch service expecting her to rush it straight to the manager, when she is serving four tables of families all demanding menu alterations. Either go in the morning, if open, or in the afternoon, before evening service commences (between 3-5pm is ideal). If at all possible, try and speak directly to the manager or section leader, and briefly talk them through your resume. They already have 60 pieces of identical paper swimming around their desks, so try and make yours the one they read.

Similarly, asking bar staff about potential jobs at 9pm on a Friday night whilst they pour your beer is also somewhat optimistic, if not downright naïve.

Sports and Rental Shops

The same restrictions apply here, except the mornings and weekends are the no-go time. There are a great deal of holiday-makers and day-trippers renting gear, and the staff will be flat-out trying to accommodate them all. It is not unusual for the managers to be involved in this as well, so hold off until the middle of the day when everyone is out on the slopes.

Preferred Jobs in the Service Industry

Presumably you are coming here to ride, so the best jobs are those which give you the most mountain time. In the winter, lifts operate roughly 08:30 – 16:00 (depending on hours of daylight), so evening shifts allow you to get fresh tracks, and a solid ride before work. Just beware that 4 hours of charging powder must be followed by 8+ hours on your feet waiting tables or pouring drinks.

For the bulk of summer, the bike park operates until 8pm, so a job which finishes around lunchtime gives you plenty of time to smash turns and float jumps. One summer I worked in a kitchen 6am – 2pm, and enjoyed hours of dusty alpine laps in a deserted bike park flooded with evening sun. Recommended if you can stand the heat!

If you prefer, some employers offer a 4 x 10-hour week, giving you maximum time to get outdoors. However, you obviously won’t be on the hill for 4 days at a time, unless you enjoy the dawn patrol. Tourism Whistler is one such employer: www.whistler.com/careers. Also check out Whistler Blackcomb’s job listings page for regularly updated available positions.

Part One – Tips for Service Industry Jobs
Part Two – Work Life Balance
Part Three – Saving Money
Part Four – The Lift Pass