$ummer Rules, Winter Drools – According to My Wallet

Look out: I’m about to put an end to the winter/summer debate.  For years, people have told me that winter is better because “You can always put more clothes on, but at a certain point you can’t take any more off.”  Well, I live in a climate called an Arctic Desert, and I am here to tell you that I’ve undressed my finances by season, and there’s no comparison.  If you’re thinking about moving to Colorado (as many people are these days), consider that the climate is a real expense to account for as part of your moving budget.

Summer weather might be worse for thinking and decision-making, but winter is hardest on your wallet.  Here is the frozen-world of Northwest Colorado where we still have such a thing as winter, I’ve cringed every time I had to shell out the money for winter-specific needs; they’re crazy-expensive.

First of all, winter gear far out-costs summer clothes.  To live in an extremely cold climate, you absolutely need appropriate footwear and warm, waterproof outerwear.  While you can hunt thrift stores, wait for a clothing swap, or expect hand-me-downs, the fact is that you do sacrifice functionality and warmth when buying secondhand.  Even a secondhand down coat can be expensive, and if the feathers are sneaking out at the seams, it won’t keep you warm for long.  This year alone, I estimated that I spent close to $400 on winter outerwear because things need to be replaced as winter wears them down, and this is coming from a girl who hardly ever uses her whole $25/month clothing budget—yikes.

Winter gear extends to activities, which, if you’re going to survive a six-month winter every year, you have to find at least one that speaks to you.  Snowshoeing is probably the lowest end of the spectrum at about $200 for a pair, and free trails to hike.  Skiing, of course, will run you about $1,000 for a lift-ticket and another $1,000-$2,000 for gear.  Snowboarding is similar; snowmobiling of course more expensive.  Compare this to summer activities: hiking (free), sitting with your feet in the river (free) with a book from the library (free), and napping in the sunshine (free).

Snow removal is also an extraordinary expense that faces winter-weather residents every month.  If you choose to pay someone else to shovel, you can easily spend more than $2,400 a year.  If you choose to take on this project yourself, however, you will face approximately 15 hours a week of manual labor in shoveling, scraping, and snowblowing.  Imagine your busy life and all the hours you work, plus 15 hours extra spent moving snow just so you can get to work?  For many of us, it’s an impossibility, but the added expense is extreme.

Multiply these winter expenses by the number of members of your family, and you’re looking at an extraordinarily costly season compared to summer.  Before I moved to Colorado, people always told me, “It’s a different kind of cold,” but my wallet doesn’t really care about the humidity levels or the average days of sunshine.  In the end, winter is far more expensive, which should put an end to this whole question about whether winter or summer is better.

Now excuse me, I’m going to get under another blanket and continue to wait for spring.

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