Like most Aussies out there, doing a snow season in Canada is on the bucket list. In all honesty I wasn’t too fussed on the snow at first but was very curious to what it would be like. As I had never seen snow before or ever experienced a real winter, I struggled with the cold and it took some time to adjust to the huge change I had undertaken.
Out of all the Ski Resorts in Canada, my partner and I decided to go to Big White Ski Resort that is about an hour’s drive from Kelowna (the biggest city in the Okanagan Valley). Here are a few tips and information I would give to anyone considering on coming to Big White for a snow season.
Why did I pick to go to Big White?
To be honest, a friend told me about Big White and said he had such a great time here last season so I took his word for it and applied. I didn’t really know much about Canada or where to go so this made it a lot easier to pick a place.
Big White is also Ski in-Ski out which means you can literally ski out of your front door! This is also a huge reason why I chose to go here, as you don’t need make an effort to drive anywhere each time you want to go riding.
How to get a job
I had a job lined up at Big White before I even arrived in Canada. Around July/August, all the Ski Resorts start to post jobs on their websites. I was lucky enough to get a Skype interview at the end of August, which gave me plenty of time to start preparing accommodation, flights, etc. Another way to get a job is to go to the Job Fairs just before the season starts. This is where the majority of people will get employed.
How to get accommodation
Accommodation is hard to come by as there isn’t enough spots in staff accommodation for everyone and most property owners want holiday renters.
Big White has a Facebook page where people post houses for rent, things for sale and events coming up. This is your best bet on finding accommodation. It can be really stressful not having somewhere to call home so definitely start looking early!
What is the cost of living?
WORK. DRINK. SKI. REPEAT.
That’s pretty much the motto for living on a ski hill. It’s very social and a whole lot of fun but it’s expensive. When you’re making the average wage of $11 an hour and paying $650 a month for rent, you’re not left with much money for anything else. My advice is to save enough money before coming over to support yourself. You will enjoy yourself a whole lot more if you have some money in the bank.
What is the weather like?
The average temperature at Big White is around -5 to -10 but this season we had a very cold winter with some days dropping as low as -25!
It also has the name ‘Big White’ as huge clouds hang right over the top of the mountain. You have a lot of foggy days where you can’t see more than 10 metres in front of you and your goggles completely ice over. In saying this, you still have a lot of blue bird days and it never rains.
What did I love?
I fell in love with snowboarding! The feeling of riding a snowboard through deep powder is just magical and I encourage everyone to give it a go.
Another thing I loved about doing a snow season is the amazing people you get to meet. I have made the most incredible friends up at Big White that I will keep in touch with forever.
Big White is also very quiet compared to other resorts like Whistler. The benefit of this is that you will never have to wait longer than 15-20 minutes to get on a lift.
What did I miss?
I’m an ocean girl. I have grown up on the east coast of Australia surrounded by the beach and sun my whole life and I sure miss it.
I also miss cheese. Weirdly enough, Canadian cheese isn’t as good as the cheese we get in Australia and I’m waiting for the day I get to have it again!
What did I dislike?
The thing I dislike the most is the unhealthy lifestyle. I miss being able to go for a run, eat fresh fruit and vegetables everyday and being able to go outside without being cold. Here, I find myself eating a lot more food, spending too much time inside watching Netflix and drinking way too much alcohol.
- Buy a car! It isn’t necessary and you can get by without one, but you will definitely enjoy yourself a lot more if you have the freedom to explore. Other amazing Ski Resorts and towns surround Big White and it would be a great idea to make the most of your time and see what else is out there.
- Wear the right gear. Make sure you buy yourself a good set of thermals and never wear cotton. If you’re cold out on the mountain, you’re going to have a terrible time and probably not want to go outside.
- Make the most of the Staff Perks. As staff you get a lot of perks like free ski/snowboard lessons, discounts at shops, rentals and restaurants and free days at other ski mountains around Canada and USA.