Which is Better? Living In the Mountains or a View of the Mountains?

Some of us dream of living with that million dollar view of the mountains from our front porch. Others dream of the solitude of living in the deep in the mountains. Either way, the mountains provide something different to each one of us. Getting the opportunity to live anywhere near a mountain would be a dream come true. In the almost 6 years I’ve been in Utah, I’ve lived in the Salt Lake city with a view of the jagged Wasatch Front, lived in Park City with views of the lush WasatchBack, and currently live on top of a mountain. Each place has been an amazing spot to live, but which is really the best?

Living In the Mountains

Since this is probably what most people wonder the most about, what is it really like to live in the mountains? Descriptors that come to mind are: peaceful, solitude, refreshing, and even exhilarating at times. Sadly, words like exhausting, difficult, frustrating, and remote are also things that describe living on a mountain as well. But in a modern time where everything is within a 5 minute drive or one click away, living on the mountain brings back a primal feeling of self reliance. The mountain doesn’t care whether or not you get your work done or if you need to leave your house in a 4ft snow storm, the mountain exists, and it is our job to learn how to coexists with the mountain, every day.

Living in the mountains, the highs are high, and the lows are very low. Obviously, a mountain range in Tennessee is going to be drastically different than the one I live on in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah. We get hundreds of inches of snow a year (600” in 2023), but we rarely get hot days or torrential rain year round. With that being said, I am able to do so much from my front door living in the mountains. Depending on the time of year, I can go for a run, mountain bike ride, hike, or off-road without ever hitting pavement or ever seeing another person. In winter, I can go for a snowshoe, backcountry or cross country ski, and snowmobile and never see another persons tracks. The solitude is amazing, being able to wander for miles and miles where I live, which is the reason we moved up there.

Because the mountain is so sparsely populated and remote, you develop a much closer connection to your neighbors. For the simple reason, you are all each other have when shit hits the fan. When, not if, something goes wrong with your house, car, dog, family, etc, you call your neighbors. You can’t call a repairman to come fix your problem when you are buried under 10ft of snow. By default, your neighbors become your close friends and the ones you spend most of your time with. And beyond your neighbors, you develop a connection with nature. Walking out your front door to see a moose at the bottom of your steps is not uncommon. Keeping your garbage covered because of a rouge Raccoon or bear is a must. Porcupines and badgers roam the dirt roads and must be given the distance they demand. These are all problems you deal with, and don’t try to solve by “ridding” your property of them, because we are the ones who chose to live where they already existed, not the other way around.

Of course, there are a plethora of downsides living in the mountains. Everything that makes it great, can also make it miserable. Being far from town makes a “quick-trip” to the grocery store for something you forgot will take at least an hour or more round trip. The weather can leave you stranded on the mountain for days on end, and that may not be feasible if you need to get into work at a specific time. We’ve lost touch with friends because it takes too long to meet up with them if we have to drive into town or the city. The relentless mountain weather takes a toll on us and the cabin we live in, requiring constant upkeep and maintenance each year, leaving us with little energy for fun things that we used to enjoy exclusively. Sometimes a moose will prevent you from getting to your car or down the road because it refuses to move or is protecting its young. The list is endless.

Would I trade the mountain for anything, yes, to be honest. I spend most of my time working, whether it’s my job or on the cabin. But those moments on a perfect summer day after a long winter are what we live for. Being able to run or bike around the neighborhood in the cool mountain air while the city is baking at 100+ degrees, are amazing. Meeting new neighbors or friends and being able to commiserate on the daily struggles of the mountain are priceless. Being able to let my dog out and for him to have the best day ever, each day, exploring the property and chasing squirrels. But the most appreciation comes from inviting our friends and family up, seeing their expressions as the gaze off into the distance, breathe that fresh mountain air, realizing this is their escape from reality. It helps ground me, and realize how lucky and fortunate we are to be able to live this way, and that we choose to have these struggles, because at the end of the day, it’s what living on a mountain is all about!

Living with a View of the Mountains

Living with a view of the mountains are just as ideal as living by the beach, the lake, or of a cityscape. Looking out to those mountain peaks gives you a sense of peace and calm. Looking out at mountains, even though you might not be in them, would give me a satisfying sense of endless possibilities, adventure, and wildness. When I look up at a mountain, any mountain, I get excited and have a feeling that draws me to them more and more. Simply put, a view of the mountains are different to everyone, but at the core, the mountains represent a freedom, however you chose to express that.

Having a view of the mountains, at the end of the day, means that you’re living in a town or a city that sits at the foot of a mountain range. After describing what living in the mountains, you’d guess that I’d have a negative view of living in town, but I don’t. Most of the time I’ve spent in Utah has been living at the foot of the mountains in Salt Lake and in Park City. I’ve spent too many hours starring up at the snow capped peaks dreaming about adventures in my future! And with those views come the amazing conveniences of living in town, especially a mountain town.

Your ability to live a normal life, have a normal job, and maintain a somewhat of a normal social life are things we miss about living in town. If you’re in town, whether it’s an apartment, condo, or home, you can generally plan out your week with high accuracy. And what I mean by that, is even with a big snow storm or weather, you can expect the town to take care of it pretty quickly so that you can get on your way, to wherever you were going. Those are things that are not possible living in the mountains. This is especially critical when meeting up with friends for a hike, bike, or especially when skiing. I can’t tell you how many plans I’ve had to bail on because of unexpected events (i.e. snow storms).

Living in town, adventure is at your fingertips. Everyone you meet or hang out with is generally looking to explore the mountains, best they can, with the free time they have. So it’s not difficult to grab someone and go for an all day mountain bike ride, because that’s what they were planning to do on Saturday anyway. Living in town, you can have more free time to do the things you love, rather than spending weeks gathering firewood to prepare for your next winter. Being hooked up to a city water, sewer, and electric, gives you so much more freedom than you ever realize until you don’t have those conveniences.

Sure, you might get the occasional wildlife walking through your neighborhood, but most of the wildlife you’ll see will be when playing in the mountains. And even though you’ll love the conveniences of being able to go to the grocery store and back in 15min, you’ll miss out on the connection to your community and neighbors. Because you don’t have to rely on your neighbors, as much, you generally will not know every person on your street, let alone in your community. Living close together, definitely does not mean you will be close to the people you live together with, if that makes sense. When living in town, everyone can just go about their day, hire a handyman, plumber, or whatever, anytime of day or year. If a babysitter or dog sitter bails, you can just find another, quickly, without ruining your plans because of how many options there are in town. And lastly, with that view of the mountains, you’ll also have a view of the dozens of homes that surround you, packed together in a housing development, all searching for that slice of heaven near the mountains.

The view of the mountain serves the best part of both worlds, it would seem. That view pulls at your sense of adventure and freedom, while also giving you the convenience of living in town. You can go for a trail run or hike, hit the grocery store, and see a neighbor all in the same amount of time it would take for the ones in the mountain to drive into town and back. You might loose your connection to your community, but you’ll be able to keep in close connection with your friends, which is more important to most people. And honestly, this might be the only option for so many of us that need to be in the office, every day, at a specific time.

Parting Thoughts…

Living in the mountains or living with a view of the mountains. There really isn’t a “correct” answer, and is totally a personal opinion. I’ve lived with both, and loved both. It’s hard to compare apples to apples as my circumstances are completely different in life between those two times. But if I could sum it up, I’d say, if you have the time or money, then living in the mountains is unbeatable. But if you do not have the time or extra money, then the view of the mountains might be perfect for you. And to be honest, I don’t have either at the moment, which makes living in the mountains a struggle for most of the year. But those amazing days when it dumps 2ft of snow and I can go ski from my door or when a moose makes it’s home on our property for a week, it makes it all worth it! But then again, I sure do miss being able to just run up to the trail or ski resort with no planning when we lived in town with a view of the mountains. I wonder which one is better.

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