Are First Time Buyers Priced Out of the West Loop? A 2-Bedroom Penthouse at 910 W. Madison

910 w madison

This 2-bedroom top floor unit at 910 W. Madison in the West Loop came on the market in March 2016.

This building was constructed in 2003 when loft-living was at its peak, especially in this neighborhood.

This unit, therefore, has higher ceilings and exposed air ducts.

The main living areas face south with the bedrooms facing north.

The kitchen has granite counter tops, maple cabinets and stainless steel appliances.

There’s a south facing terrace that runs the length of the unit.

It has all the features buyers look for including central air, washer/dryer in the unit and garage parking.

Including the parking, this 1378 square foot 2-bedroom will cost you $625,000.

Are first time buyers priced out of the West Loop now?

Edwin Diaz at Baird & Warner has the listing. See the pictures here.

Unit #1001E: 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1378 square feet

  • Sold in January 2003 for $441,000 (included the parking)
  • Originally listed in March 2016 for $625,000
  • Reduced (???)
  • Currently listed for $590,000 (plus $35,000 for parking) = $625,000
  • Assessments of $652 a month (includes exterior maintenance, scavenger and snow removal)
  • Taxes of $6718
  • Central Air
  • Washer/Dryer in the unit
  • Bedroom #1: 10×17
  • Bedroom #2: 10×11

98 Responses to “Are First Time Buyers Priced Out of the West Loop? A 2-Bedroom Penthouse at 910 W. Madison”

  1. More boring, overpriced, tiny West Loop crap. Nice terrace though.

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  2. “More boring, overpriced, tiny West Loop crap. Nice terrace though.”

    This is what is for sale out there. This is the actual market.

    If someone buys it, is it “overpriced”?

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  3. Interestingly, late last year a number of 2/2s in the building sold in the high 400s and low 500s. Looks like they were underpriced because they sold in days above list. I did not take the time to figure out what data the realtors were looking at to set those list prices.

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  4. should first time buyers be purchasing “penthouses” though?

    fuckin entitled millenial shits

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  5. A couple making $80k each could afford this place. This is not the place I would choose to buy if I had $625k to spend, but to each his own I suppose. I would rather live in a south loop townhouse for this price.

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  6. “A couple making $80k each could afford this place”

    I’m going to go ahead and disagree

    Assuming that they scrape together 10% down, they’re looking at damn near $4k a month.

    Barring a windfall it aint happening

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  7. I’m assuming the buyers will be from middle class families that will help with a down payment.

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  8. laura Louzader on April 21st, 2016 at 10:27 am

    “If someone buys it, is it “overpriced”?”

    Lots of somebodies were buying a lot of stuff in 2005, that turned out to be grossly overpriced.

    And they are now, too. I’m just a little appalled at the run-up in prices everywhere in the past few years and am glad I’m settled in a place. I wouldn’t want to be looking to buy now.

    The price inflation of the past few years owes strictly to government policies and interest rate repression by the Fed. TARP, REO-to-rental, new Fannie Mae programs for new buyers that offer loans for 3% down, have all combined to produce price inflation. I feel sorry for young buyers just getting their college debt under control, who are trying to save for a downpayment for homes that continue to leap in price, while paying rapidly-inflating rents. And the fuzzy, warm feeling I get when I see how my modest place has increased in nominal “value” fades quickly when I see how a “move up” condo has inflated, as well.

    Yes, the featured place is overpriced. And, no, there is no way anyone making $80K could reasonably afford this place.

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  9. “I’m assuming the buyers will be from middle class families that will help with a down payment.”

    Middle class families aren’t helping out kids with downpayments for 2/2’s in chicago. That’s purely an upper middle class thing. It’s actually one reason I believe contributes to high prices in Chicago. Housing would be a lot more reasonable if late 20’s, early 30 somethings earning $100k+ year plus didn’t show up with $100k+ wedding gifts for down payments. It’s like this everywhere; on the west coast its family money from China, or cashed in stock options (like my similarly aged relative who bought his house all cash after selling some of stocks he was granted in his 20’s while working at a F500 tech company).

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  10. DINKS making $160k together, could afford this place.

    That being said, I would pick any of these places over the one featured here:

    http://www.estately.com/listings/info/1644-north-bissell-street
    http://www.estately.com/listings/info/16-09160676
    http://www.estately.com/listings/info/759-west-15th-street–1

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  11. Luis_Carruthers on April 21st, 2016 at 10:58 am

    DINK at 150k could handle this fairly comfortably with 20% down and only 1 car payment between two. If you cant scrape together 20% down at this price point with that salary, assuming you don’t have crippling student loan debt, you are living way beyond your means. I guess that’s the new norm though.

    As far as the property, not overly impressed, but LOVE the terrace. 585-600 with the parking.

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  12. HD, very true. A lot of trust funds, inheritances, gifts from parents, and other windfalls being used for down payments. I was shocked at how prevalent family help is among DINK buyers. Before I got into the business, I always wondered how people in their late 20s were saving up so much money for down payments so quickly for these condos…

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  13. ” If you cant scrape together 20% down”

    I will never put 20% down again if I don’t have to. The difference in my mortgage from 5% down vs 20% is not game changing by any means so why lock up that money?

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  14. I would never put less than 20% down. I don’t want to pay PMI.

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  15. laura Louzader on April 21st, 2016 at 11:38 am

    I would like that terrace a lot more if it weren’t shared with other units. I would rather have a smaller balcony that was private.

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  16. This place screams, “Penthouse!” If chicks knew you lived in this penthouse, I bet your life would be like something out of Penthouse.

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  17. Jenny, you don’t have to put 20% down to avoid MI. Also, MI is getting really cheap, particularly for high credit score buyers.

    It is really a question of what would you rather do with the money and if you can get a higher return than the rate on the mortgage? For example, I have a $750k purchase with 10% down and MI right now. The MI is only about $150/mo. Rate is like 3.375%. Effective rate on mortgage is in 2’s considering tax benefit. Borrowers decided the $150/mo & slightly larger mortgage payment is worth keeping $75k cash on hand.

    If it is a short term outlook meaning you don’t plan to own the home very long, you might be better just taking the money and putting in your IRA or other investments.

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  18. Good lord, there’s tons of un-boring properties out there every day in any market if you look. If someone still buys it, yes it’s overpriced. There are lots of flaws in the real estate pricing model IMO, such as, 1. emotional decisions that lead to overpaying are subsequently objectified as “hard data” and 2. Other peoples’ idiocy therefore leads to increased prices for all via inflated comps and 3. Said comps can be used to justify damn near anything if all parties concerned are looking to “close the deal”, perpetuating the cycle. All of this leads to unsustainable and localized spikes in appreciation.

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  19. ” All of this leads to unsustainable and localized spikes in appreciation.”

    real estate pricing is set at the edges. I deal with real estate all the time and look at it very stoically, but when it came to my house and the bidding process and all the shenanigans, it’s designed to be a purely emotional process. The realtor earns his or her 6% not for closing the deal but instead for dealing with the buyer or seller.

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  20. Hey Icarus,

    Do you like your gladiator gearwall? Would you do again?

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  21. DYING to comment on what’s in the painting above the toilet in photo #10, but I’m not allowed to!!

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  22. I think the fingerpainted medicine cabinet above the toilet would cause many buyers to walk away from the property

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  23. DINK at 150k could handle this fairly comfortably with 20% down and only 1 car payment between two. If you cant scrape together 20% down at this price point with that salary, assuming you don’t have crippling student loan debt, you are living way beyond your means. I guess that’s the new norm though.

    The only way they could handle this is if they live off smack ramien, don’t fund their 401k and a vacation consists of going out to catch a Kane county Cougars game. I don’t understand the mentality of being flat assed broke living in a city and not being able to enjoy what it has to offer

    Other than living at home or subletting a room at HD’s hovel in long prairie, its going to take more than a few years to save up that kind of coin

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  24. Let’s do the math….

    20% down on $625K is $125K. First time DINK buyers saving for 5 years to make this purchase downpayment means setting aside $2,100 a month for 60 months.

    Take-home pay on $150K salary is about $9,000 per month (after about 30% going to taxes, health insurance, etc.). If currently renting a place for $2,500/month (about 25% of take-home), that means setting aside another $2,100 would equal about 50% of take-home.

    Spending 50% of take-home pay on current and future housing would be crushing to most DINKs.

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  25. “Spending 50% of take-home pay on current and future housing would be crushing to most DINKs.”

    What else are they going to spend the money on?

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  26. restaurants, trips to Europe, South America, furniture, fancy cars. Jesus that’s like every professional under 30 I know n

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  27. Exactly my point!

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  28. YAWN me a river with this property. I would like once a week to have an International Crib chatter. Let’s talk about the mini bathrooms in Paris or Positano or Prague.

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  29. ” The difference in my mortgage from 5% down vs 20% is not game changing by any means so why lock up that money?”

    “Borrowers decided the $150/mo & slightly larger mortgage payment is worth keeping $75k cash on hand.”

    It’s easy to not analyze the economics of this correctly. You are paying an additional $1800/ year on top of the mortgage rate to borrow that $75K. That works out to a 2.4% penalty. So if the mortgage rate is 3.5% the rate on this $75K is actually 5.9%. Now if you can earn more than 5.9% or if that’s cheaper than your next best borrowing alternative then OK but otherwise…

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  30. “The realtor earns his or her 6% not for closing the deal but instead for dealing with the buyer or seller.”

    Bingo! You have no idea how much time is taken up just managing the players. And sellers are always higher maintenance than buyers – see endowment effect: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endowment_effect

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  31. My dear comrades, a couple can easily afford this prince of a property. In scenario A- all they have to do is participate in the sharing economy. A DINK couple can easily pull this off. Rent one of the bedrooms via Air B and B and the husband can drive for Uber.

    In scenario B- they ask their wealthy baby boomer parents for a 50% downpayment and then even with their student loan debt (she has a B.A. in Post Colonial Third World Literature and he has a B.A. in Sociology) this college educated hipster couple is ready to make their mark in the world. Eat your heart out ma and pa!

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  32. “restaurants, trips to Europe, South America, furniture, fancy cars. Jesus that’s like every professional under 30 I know”

    They have already shown that millennials want “experiences.” This is why the small house movement is picking up steam. You spend less on housing so that you can spend more eating out, traveling and enjoying life. The priorities are shifting.

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  33. Luis_Carruthers on April 22nd, 2016 at 12:34 am

    @JohnnyU and VB
    The key is not living beyond your means. I lived with 2 other roommates post college to minimize costs, pay off student loans and hoard cash for a significant down payment. I was fortunate to make my first home purchase around the bottom and even as homeowner, I can save/invest 35-40k per year outside of my 401k and live a very happy lifestyle. I make less than 160k a year. Not that hard, just have to realize your last name is not Kardashian.

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  34. Not having debt other than a mortgage is really helpful as well, credit cards, cars, student loans are brutal and not having them really opens up your saving potential, especially if you keep your lifestyle relatively the same and keep making more money.

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  35. A DINK lifestyle includes corporate clothes, good food/restaurants, nice furniture, a car, bikes, and music/theater. It all goes on credit cards. It’s easy to generate a $3,000-$4,000 monthly credit card bill.

    All that adds up even without eco-trips to Europe and South America.

    Spending 50% of take-home before these expenses doesn’t leave much room for the unexpected, like when the car needs repairs.

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  36. “Spending 50% of take-home before these expenses doesn’t leave much room for the unexpected, like when the car needs repairs.”

    So then don’t spend the other 50% of your take-home on all this shit you don’t need.

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  37. “So then don’t spend the other 50% of your take-home on all this shit you don’t need.”

    You mean like retirement and paying for your kids college education? What about a vacation to Disney World with your two kids? Do you have any idea what it costs now for a family of 4 to go even for just 3 or 4 days to Orlando? It’s thousands of dollars.

    Spending 50% of your take-home on housing is a financial death wish. You will never grow any wealth.

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  38. This whole conversation has been about DINKs so there are no kids and no Disney World vacation. VB was talking about all the useless crap they spend money on.

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  39. $441k + CPI = $570k.

    Have we been seeing most places closing for ask + parking ask?

    Even if so, that’s right on CPI + 100 per year–higher than historical increase, but not bananas.

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  40. “Have we been seeing most places closing for ask + parking ask?”

    It depends on the type of property and the price range. In this price range (under $750,000) most are selling at ask or above due to multiple offers.

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  41. Growing up just regular middle, maybe lower middle class, I was shocked by the wealth and spending habits of the upper middle class. From that, I’ve learned that in general, you can tell a lot about a DINK’s spending habits by the destination of their honeymoon.

    To most Americans, the gold standard is Hawaii. A silver honeymoon would be CA, FL or Mexico. I had a great honeymoon in the continental US by the standards of most Americans, but to my professional co-workers, peers and former classmates, I slummed it!

    Just off the top of my head, one of my best high school friends went on European cruises for *both* his weddings, my other good friend went to Bali, my best friend from law school went to the south pacific, my buddy at court went to Scandinavia, my co-worker went to south america last year, my other co-worker went to Europe for his recently, the list goes on an on….that $hit ain’t cheap, either. Those may be once (or twice) in a lifetime trips, sure, but those extravagant spending habits don’t end when the plane lands on the tarmac at O’Hare. Of course they’ll all deny that they’re big spenders, and they live frugally, but that’s all crap. Two newer cars, a $500k+ house, often private schools, a nanny, a maxed out 401k, $12,000 sectional leather couches, 72″ TV in the living room…

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  42. South America is cheap tho. And if you go to Europe off season, it’s cheap too. Hawaii can be super expensive, or cheap. We slummed it with Marriott points in Maui, but spent our days at the Four seasons pool. I don’t think destinations are significant.

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  43. Cheap is driving or flying to Florida on Southwest. South America is not ‘cheap’; and no one is going to Central or Northern Europe in February for a honeymoon. Hawaii is the gold standard it’s significantly more expensive than a vacation to any other closer tropical destination. A good number of my non-professional friends (and my nephew who was recently married) either flew to an all inclusive Mexican resort, or didn’t take a honeymoon at all. I spent a week and a half in south florida, and it was a very nice vacation, but like I said, the looks I got from co-workers was priceless. FLoria is so middle class. Saying the Keys is nothing compared to the Amalfi Coast.

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  44. South America has incredible exchange rates so it is less expensive. They have charming inns that are cheap. Like $20 a night in downtown BA. Lots of people go to Northern Europe from November to March. Pre kid, I did it all the time to ski. Nothing like the Christmas market in Nueremburg. florida vacations are middle class if you go stay at a middle class place like Daytona. Maybe try Palm Beach at the Ritz. Tell your co workers that.

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  45. LOL Hawaii, Europe and south america cheap…

    A cheap vacation is driving going to Cedar point, or the Dells, or Dollywood with your chitlens

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  46. Airfare is one of the major expenses. Some folks also have jobs that requires travel so their companies ends up paying for their airfare either directly or indirectly (they buy tickets with the milage), so travel is not as pricy for them.
    Also advent of airB&B has reduced the travel costs.

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  47. Also wages are very high in US, so still some types of vacation are more cost effective in Europe such as skiing, sailing, etc…
    BTW, has anyone skied in Wisconsin? I know it sucks for the adults, but I wanted to see if it is ok for the kiddo to learn.

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  48. Skiing in Wisconsin is like skiing on a layer of ice. So it’s more like ice skiing than powder skiing. Runs last less than a minute.

    The better places are further north in the UP right over the border from Wisconsin; runs last 3-5 minutes, and there’s more actual snow rather than ice. But the problem, as we discussed earlier in the thread about the northwoods, is the drive up there for a long weekend. It’s just not all that practical to drive 6+ hours on a Thursday (longer in inclement weather or if you get stuck behind Bubba towing 4 snowmobiles on a crowded one lane road through Vilas County) to Ski Friday/Saturday and come home Sunday.

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  49. The thing about skiing in Wisconsin, it costs as much as Colorado. You can send your kids to learn, and make sure they like it but it won’t be “cheap”. I guess I look at what you get for a price. I guess I can go to Walmart and buy a duvet for $20 or go o Neimans and buy one for $500 but at the end of the day, the Neimans is much cheaper.

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  50. What are you talking about? The costs to ski in wisconsin are not at all comparable to colorado. An adult lift ticket for four days at Blackjack/Indianhead is $211 for four days, $68 for kids under 9. The four day ‘value pass’ for Breckenridge, if you buy *today* for the 2016/17 season is $509 for an adult, and $289 for a kid. Toss in airfare, car rental (or shuttle from airport to hotel), lodging, overpriced food, rentals, and the costs are not even comparable. Colorado ski vacations, especially for families, are some of the most expensive vacations they will ever take, easily comparable to a week at Disney.

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  51. HD, you are missing my point. I guess I don’t care about cheap as much as value. At Alpine Valley, a one day lift ticket is $51 and at Aspen, the one day lift ticket is $69. What is the better value? Wouldn’t you agree that skiing in Aspen seems almost cheap compared to stupid Alpine Valley for $51? You can actually drive to Aspen if you want. If you want to make a case for overpriced food, you can rent a condo with a kitchen. I hardly think Alpine Valley has great food. I just returned rom Disney. Again, it’s a good deal for what you get. A $100 for my son to go to MK from 9 am to midnight. That is less than $8 an hour. He can’t go to a bounce house for less than that.

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  52. I totally agree with you on value, but there’s value everywhere. You can do wilmont on value too; pack a lunch, use your buddies skis and ski late in the season.

    But it’s still way more expensive to ski in CO than WI even value shopping, the costs aren’t even close.

    and your $69 lift ticket at Aspen is for the bonus end of season only – last weekend and this weekend. The regular daily lift ticket price for Aspen back in 2013/14 was $119.

    http://www.aspentimes.com/news/sports/9418642-113/price-ticket-lift-aspen

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  53. My last boyfriend and I were going to skip a big wedding and spend the money to go to Antarctica instead. That would truly be a trip of a life time. I have been dying to go, but can’t figure out a way to do it for less than $15,000.

    Hawaii is more expensive than Europe in many ways. All of the activities in Hawaii add up quickly. You can have a fun day in many European cities with very little money. Getting there is expensive, but it’s not as though you have to parasail, hang glide, swim with dolphins, etc…

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  54. I learned to ski in Wisconsin. It was a lot of fun. I haven’t gone to a real ski resort though to be able to tell the difference.

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  55. “a maxed out 401k”

    Huh? How is that a consumption choice, like the rest of the list???

    “Also wages are very high in US, so still some types of vacation are more cost effective in Europe such as skiing”

    Last time I was skiing in Canada, it was over half Brits–who flew to western Canada because it was (all in) *cheaper* than anywhere in Europe.

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  56. Switzerland is crazy expensive. I can’t imagine how much skiing costs there. I’m not at all surprised Europeans go to Canada to ski.

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  57. WI is fine to learn the basics of skiing. I learned there. You can certainly tell if you like skiing or not from the hills there, so as whether to make the effort to go elsewhere. Of course, once you do you really can’t go back. And in some ways Breckenridge seems easier after learning on icy slopes in WI.

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  58. No there isn’t value everywhere. Value is not packing sandwiches. That is cheap. The value of a weak little mountain for $51 vs. Aspen for $69 can’t even be compared. Your link is some newspaper article. I went on the websites of the mountains. But I travel, live and make most of my decisions on value, not cheap cost, and I feel I optimize my experiences.

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  59. “The value of a weak little mountain for $51 vs. Aspen for $69”

    Especially since it’s $69 to ski at Aspen *this weekend* when there’s no snow at whatever hill is $51.

    That said, it ain’t $69 for Aspen in January.

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  60. I was in Vail a few years ago, in February and it was $75 so $69 isn’t that far off. But I still think it’s too expensive, value wise, to ski Wisconsin.

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  61. “I was in Vail a few years ago, in February and it was $75”

    First, Vail isn’t Aspen, which is the mountain you chose for comparison.

    Second, I can’t ski next winter on a pass from a few years ago, so I don’t understand the relevance.

    Third, Vail season passes are *less* than 50% the cost of Aspen season passes, and the Vail pass includes all of their slopes–which includes 3 midwestern bumps.

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  62. Vail is not Aspen. Correct. And a little Wisconsin hill is not Vail, or Aspen. And if you think they are all comparable, then go ski in Alpine Valley. Pack a pbj and have fun. This is really boring to explain value vs. cost to a rube. Hell, have a stay cation in Lombard and tell me how cheap it was for all I care.

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  63. Interesting anon. We usually go to Dolomiti and I found it to be much cheaper than US for what one gets (excellent food, ski in and out in a wonderful hotel with gourmet food, excellent culinary experience at various refuges, great spa service, etc…) The quality of snow is not of course anywhere near Utah if you are an off piste type of skier, but for me, Alps more than suffice. Austria is very affordable too. Switzerland is quite expensive (been only once). I have been to Park city, Snowbird and Breckenridge in US. Never have skied in Canada. I wonder if the Brits like Canada partly because of language?!

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  64. Anon, where do you recommend for skiing in North America for a family with a beginner toddler? and what are the cost for a week of skiing?

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  65. BTW, the Dolomite super pass for 6 days is around 250 Euros for adults and you get one young kid per adult (or maybe per couple?) free so that means with the price of a ski pass for 4 days in Breckenridge (per HD comment above), you ski 6 days for a family of 3 (possibly 4). We paid around 300 Euros for group ski lessons and day care for the kiddo. It started at 9 and ended at 4:30PM.

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  66. Miu–it’s all about the cost of lodging, right? And, yeah, those lift tickets (at $50/day) are cheaper than you’ll get at any nice NA slope.

    But you also can fly to Denver or SLC for a 4 day weekend for $300 per person, which more than makes up the difference.

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  67. Absolutely the airfare is a huge cost. BTW, true story, I missed my SLC weekend ski vacation once because I missed the boarding call while seating at the gate. I think it was in Midway :)

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  68. “Last time I was skiing in Canada, it was over half Brits–who flew to western Canada because it was (all in) *cheaper* than anywhere in Europe.”

    Maybe it was during the time when the pound was much stronger than the Canadian dollar? The Brits will travel when their currency is stronger. They have no trouble flying 24 hours if there’s a deal in Australia or 11 hours to Mexico.

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  69. “LOL Hawaii, Europe and south america cheap…

    A cheap vacation is driving going to Cedar point, or the Dells, or Dollywood with your chitlens”

    It depends on how cheap you can get the airfare (or use miles) and the strength of the dollar. If you use miles, it could be much cheaper to go to Mexico for a week than the Dells for a week. The hotels are 40% off because of the dollar strength. Same for the food. You can go on peanuts if you stay at a 3-star hotel. Not true in the Dells or Dollywood, both of which can be pricey.

    So it all depends on how cheap you can get the airfare.

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  70. yeah because your average joe has credit card points or miles…

    give me a fuckin break

    your average joe has 10k in CC debt

    and yeah I know about mexico i’m going there in a few weeks

    800 bucks a person for a non-stop flight all inclusive getaway for 6 days is pretty cheap (for me an upper middle class dude)

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  71. “your average joe has 10k in CC debt”

    If they have that much in debt, they have plenty of miles in which to fly for free. So most vacations would be pretty cheap to the places with the strong dollar.

    You can go to Mexico, with the airfare, for $599 during the spring.

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  72. Maybe I should be getting miles, but I get cash back rewards instead, and $10,000 in points is worth about 1%, or $100, and sometimes I get 5% up to some nominal amount if I buy from Amazone or gas stations or whatever. $100 bucks is flying anybody anywhere. Maybe I’m getting screwed, I don’t know, probably I assume.

    Mexico is a cheap vacation including airfare, it’s amazing how cheap Mexico has gotten over the years. I’ve never been there – I don’t do third world countries anymore, I went to enough shitty places studying abroad, and after all the litigation I’ve seen come out of the third world (with weird negligence laws, substandard medical care), the idea of being severely injured and then having to pay $50k for a chartered ER leer jet to literally the nearest US hospital is totally unappealing.

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  73. “I don’t do third world countries anymore…”

    I agree. I’ve traveled all over the world solo and took some pretty ballsy risks looking back on it. International travel has lost its luster for me. Women are not afforded the equal rights we take for granted in the US. I’ve been in some dicey situations in Brazil, Burma, Thailand, Sri Lanka and even in Poland and Hungary. A petite woman with a smart mouth in the face of indignity does not go over well. These days I am very happy just going back and forth between NY and Chicago. I’ve also become very picky about strange food and germs. I’d much rather just cook my own.

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  74. ” I get cash back rewards instead, and $10,000 in points is worth about 1%, or $100″

    I’m pretty sure I’m getting around 2% on my Fidelity Amex card.

    “I’ve also become very picky about strange food and germs.”

    This is a real dilemma. After my recent trip to Vietnam I concluded that you just can’t go to these places and not get sick. If you followed all the rules about what not to eat you would starve. That last bowl of Pho with the lettuce leaf at the bottom the night before we left was very suspicious. The only way I made it home was by not eating for 36 hours.

    You have to carry a Zpack and Imodium.

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  75. Whenever I go to any other country, I buy the local yogurt. It really helps your stomach get with the local food. I get Marriott points on my cc. I buy a cheap room from them but always get upgraded. It’s an easy win. I get automatic upgrades to concierge level, that includes free breakfast, free happy hour, etc. i even steal robes and they don’t care. (Jk).

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  76. I’m constantly getting offers for cards with free miles or points. Most of my miles have come from cards offering me miles. I’ve taken several European trips using those miles.

    I only eat Italian food when I travel. I am extremely picky and simply won’t eat street food.

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  77. “I only eat Italian food when I travel.”

    So, you cut out fruit, aaaaaaand … ???

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  78. There are so many reasons I don’t travel to the third world any more, women’s rights be a big one too; and the water is also an issue. Even in places like Moscow Russia you can’t drink the tap water. I know from personal experience, and although things may have changed in the ensuing years, I doubt it.

    My buddy went to a fairly nice Mexican resort and he said every bathroom stall in the men’s bathroom was covered in fecal matter because the americans were all getting sick. He was sick the first few days of his week’s vacation. No thank you, there are plenty of first world places in the world to visit that traveling to some third world hell hole to save a few bucks has no appeal.

    A few years back I had to abstract the medical records of family injured on an island in the caribbean, and the medical care there is so scary, it’s shocking they survived; they were put on a $50,000 air medical transport flight out of the third world hell hole. There’s literally a whole cottage industry in south florida to airlift people out of those islands. This was the type of accident that could happen to anybody at anytime, it wasn’t some freak accident.

    And those zip lines through the jungle? Do you really think they are checked often and regularly and certified? Or the boats you take out for snorkeling, you think they’re up to first world standards; and you know the large multinational companies who run these resorts all insulate themselves using local laws; like in mexico where the court systems are a joke and compensation for wrongful death is limited to the a couple of weeks of the average weekly wage of a workers in the state of Oaxaca, so a few thousand dollars, at most.

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  79. ” I get cash back rewards instead, and $10,000 in points is worth about 1%, or $100?
    “I’m pretty sure I’m getting around 2% on my Fidelity Amex card.”

    There’s a citi card that gets you legit 2%, or v close to it.

    Miles better if you would actually pay for premium intl travel.

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  80. I do the cashback as well, chase freedom is a good card for that, nice because I can then transfer points right to my bank account, no need to wait for checks to deposit and such

    also has the 5% categories which is nice… amazon at xmas, taxis in springtime, gas in the summer, etc.

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  81. I play the cashback game. I have many different cards and maximize my usage depending on cash back or miles. Some give more or less, depending on categories.

    In Moscow, we always made sure our drinks were unopened before drinking them. I was scared when I accidentally got water in my mouth while I was taking a shower.

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  82. A petite woman with a smart mouth in the face of indignity does not go over well.

    Thanks for reinforcing the ugly American sterotype

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  83. And those zip lines through the jungle? Do you really think they are checked often and regularly and certified? Or the boats you take out for snorkeling, you think they’re up to first world standards;

    LOL – you think the typical American Carnival or 6 flags is any better?

    Heaven forbid anyone take it upon themselves to check an operator out before handing over their cash

    Damn tourists

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  84. yeah but I can sue six flags, a lot harder to sue in Oaxaca.

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  85. “No thank you, there are plenty of first world places in the world to visit that traveling to some third world hell hole to save a few bucks has no appeal.”

    I had no idea that most of the rest of the world was a “third world hell hole.” Gosh, my 5 star resort certainly didn’t seem like it.

    Just fyi: if people get sick at all-inclusive resorts, its usually from the buffets simply because the weather is usually warm and food spoils. It has nothing to do with the location as it happens even, gasp, in the United States and Canada when there are buffets.

    But I do agree that some Caribbean islands do not have the medical facilities if you have a serious injury. Many are small with just a few thousand people. If you live in a major American city, you are used to having a trauma hospital literally within 10 minutes of your house. That’s not the reality in most places (even if you’re in downstate Illinois, for instance.) And certainly not on a poorer Caribbean island.

    That’s why people need to be careful where they retire. They think they’ll be healthy forever. I know someone who retired at 65 in the mountains near Asheville and just 10 years later it is sheer hell and she has to move. The nearest hospital is a 25 minute drive away and it’s nearly impossible to get there in the winter, with the ice/snow. She really didn’t think of these things 10 years ago.

    Many of the tourist parts of Mexico actually have excellent medical facilities, such as the hospital that took care of Sheryl Sandburg’s husband in Puerto Vallarta. There are 300,000 Americans and Canadians in that city, however, so they have a different level of care than if you were in the rural areas of Oaxaca.

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  86. “Mexico is a cheap vacation including airfare, it’s amazing how cheap Mexico has gotten over the years. I’ve never been there – I don’t do third world countries anymore, I went to enough shitty places studying abroad, and after all the litigation I’ve seen come out of the third world (with weird negligence laws, substandard medical care), the idea of being severely injured and then having to pay $50k for a chartered ER leer jet to literally the nearest US hospital is totally unappealing.”

    HD: Mexico is only “cheap” right now because of the strong US dollar and only if you don’t stay at an all inclusive resort. You have to stay somewhere that is charging you in pesos. That would be outside of the tourist zones or a hotel owned by Mexicans. All of the restaurants are cheap though, as you get the conversion there.

    Otherwise- Mexico has actually gotten more expensive over the last 10 years as its tourism industry has become more sophisticated. It’s the #1 destination for Americans by far with over 18 million going a year. Millions of Canadians and Europeans also now go as they have direct flights to Cancun from London, Paris and Germany.

    And if you buy the trip insurance, you automatically get covered if you have to be flown out of there.

    I have a friend in the State Department. When she was stationed in Eastern Europe, she would only go to London for any kind of surgery. The government would pay to fly her there for it. She wouldn’t even go to Paris hospitals.

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  87. Yeah? Go fuck yourself, JohnnyU. How’s that for stereotypes, douchebag?

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  88. Like I said, fucking entitled tourist – aka the Ugly American

    PS – Technically I’m more of an asshole

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  89. HD – If you dont like the risk profile, dont go.

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  90. Sometimes we have to face the facts and just see it as it is; third world countries are HELL HOLES. The daily life for these poor souls is like hell on earth. It is arduous and difficult beyond our imagination.

    I remember all of the images and sounds from my first visit to India when I was ten years old. I went to India in 1984 because my parents wanted me to see my grandparents before their health went south. The flight plus layover was like 29 hours. Then the car trip on rickety roads was two days- no motels to lay your head at. Seeing the poverty, hungry children, their mothers, etc. was just heart breaking.

    As a child I saw other children beg for food or money. I saw other children engaging in hard manual labor. I did a lot of deep introspective thinking. This was my first time ever seeing humanity suffer in such great detail. I concluded that there is no God and I became an atheist and I was pretty damn lucky to be born in America.

    Even if you don’t agree on the existence or non existence of God, we are awfully lucky to be born here. Just imagine what your existence would be like if you were born in a third world country? I would call that hell on earth.

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  91. And yet I wonder if we are that much happier. It depends on what you are used to. My father was raised in abject poverty by today’s standards – subsistence farming on 5 acres with a mule to power the plow. He ended up extremely comfortable later in life. I asked him if he was any happier in the end than he was as a child and he emphatically and without hesitation said no – and it’s not like he had any real problems later in life.

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  92. I wonder if people born rich, like Prince Charles or Trumps kids feel sorry for people like me. “They must be so miserable flying without a private jet” or “what a hellhole life that two adults and their toddler all share a two bed/two bath apartment.” Or “some people actually cook and clean themselves, what hellish lives, wonder why they still go on”

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  93. “Sometimes we have to face the facts and just see it as it is; third world countries are HELL HOLES. The daily life for these poor souls is like hell on earth. It is arduous and difficult beyond our imagination.”

    What’s your definition of “third world country”? Mexico isn’t one of them. Honduras probably is. Parts of India are (but not all of it.)

    You’re not a third world country if people living in Mayan villages in the interior of the Yucatan have cable television and the Internet.

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  94. Mexico is most assuredly a third world country despite cable tv and Internet connections

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  95. Mexico isn’t third world, it’s second world. The richest man in the world lives in Mexico. If you go down to PV, you may as well be in Ft. Lauderdale. I think third world is more just Parts of Africa, India, China. Frankly, some of the US could be considered third world. I travelled a lot with a job to rural areas of the south and it would be normal to see young people, like in their 20’s with missing front teeth. And that would be a waitress, not a drug addict or anything.

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  96. Sabrina said the following: “Sometimes we have to face the facts and just see it as it is; third world countries are HELL HOLES. The daily life for these poor souls is like hell on earth. It is arduous and difficult beyond our imagination.”
    What’s your definition of “third world country”? Mexico isn’t one of them. Honduras probably is. Parts of India are (but not all of it.)
    You’re not a third world country if people living in Mayan villages in the interior of the Yucatan have cable television and the Internet.

    ** Nimesh’s reply**

    My definition of a third world country is: a nation where people are dirt poor. So dirt poor that: the children are malnourished or starve to death, if a person has health issues, they just lay on a cot or a dirt floor and they die. When I went to India in 2008 my cousin’s car had a mechanical issue. It was like 9 PM and so we waited for a mechanic and a truck to haul it away. So we are waiting and I hear the sound of babies crying. The sound was loud and try as I might, I just couldn’t ignore it. The sound was emanating from a dirt poor village.

    The facts are the facts and 80% of the world lives on less than $10 per day. If being dirt poor was tough, being a woman or a child AND dirt poor is even more difficult in most parts of the world.

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  97. yall need to look up the definition of third world yo

    I don’t recall Mexico ever being communist

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_World

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  98. “My definition of a third world country is: a nation where people are dirt poor. So dirt poor that: the children are malnourished or starve to death, if a person has health issues, they just lay on a cot or a dirt floor and they die.”

    Okay- well- that answers the question. That’s not Mexico.

    Most people probably aren’t “vacationing” in a third world country.

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