Where to Buy Property with Off Piste in your Backyard
If the lockdowns during the global pandemic have taught us one thing, it's that living in the mountains is far preferable to being trapped in a city. Not only are there fewer people and the air is fresher, but in the right location and with the right kit, you can still go skiing when all the resorts are closed.This is why there's been a boom in property sales in the mountains both during and after the main waves of the pandemic. But, whereas the top ski resorts have always been most sought after, now the smaller villages and more remote resorts are seeing a surge in demand as the aim is to get away from it all, including crowded lifts and après bars.
OK so we don't want to be too off grid, so far from a food store that we need goats for milk. And, yes, we might enjoy a bar session now and again when there's no potentially deadly infection wafting around. But what we don't need is a purpose-built packed tourist resort reliant on ski lifts.
With potential pandemics, it's better to live somewhere with scope to explore the off-piste and beyond.
So where are the best mountain spots to invest in ski property that might be more off radar yet also a good investment? Jana Korpova-Harris opens the doors to some of the best locations with luxury properties for off piste ski lovers to get away from it all without going completely off the radar.
There's a reason this place is known as the snowiest village in the Alps. The Austrian village of Warth sees an average of 308cm of snowfall (yep, that's over 12 feet) each year, meaning you're almost guaranteed great conditions. This small resort is perfect for those with some ski experience. A steady supply of fresh powder even late into the season makes Warth ideal for off-piste skiing.
Venture into the backcountry and test your limits on the route to Auenfelder Horn, a 2,297m summit that's popular with many freeriders visiting the region. Or try your hand at some cross-country skiing (good to know how during pandemic lockdowns). There's also now a ski lift leading to the busier resort of Lech, where there are even more slopes for a range of abilities.
Properties in this region span from traditional buildings to modern architecture, with many ski in/ski out options available. Après ski in this village is a little quieter than most resorts; you couldn't get more opposite to Ischgl in Austria, après central and alleged Covid ground zero in March 2020 for the Covid pandemic spreading in Europe.
Austria was one of those countries – like the UK and USA – where property prices rose sharply during the pandemic. Indeed, in the year to spring 2021 the market rose by 11 percent in real terms. Austrian property sales are boosted by Germans moving there to avoid Germany’s high inheritance tax, and ski properties are certainly popular. Budget for €1million plus for a good ski-in, ski-out apartment like this three bedroom, two bathroom penthouse on the market for €1,650,000
Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy
If you're hungry for adventure, Cortina offers some of the best backcountry skiing in Italy — with beautiful scenery to enjoy on your way down. Located in the off-piste hub of the Dolomites, you'll be spoiled for choice, with plenty of famous routes suitable for both experienced backcountry skiers and snowboarders, and those just getting into off-piste adventures.
Why not try out the route from Creste Bianche to Pra del Vecio? A 1,500m vertical drop that starts off hard but gets easier as you descend. Or perhaps you'd like to try the Sci 18. One of the most popular off-piste runs in Cortina, this route offers stunning panoramic views of the resort.
As a small town, it's easy for expats to sink into life in Cortina and become integrated into the community. And just a two-hour drive from Venice, there's plenty of opportunity to become submerged in the local Italian culture - and enjoy delicious Italian cuisine while you're at it.
Prices are relatively high for Italy, and likely to rise in price with the Winter Olympics coming here in 2026. Although you’ll need to be spending seven figures for a chalet, apartments are available from around €800,000, such as this residence of three bedrooms with stunning views. Also there's this four bedroom, four bathroom chalet (main image) in the Italian ski area of Lagazoi, 30 minutes drive from Cortina at €899,000.
Home to some of the best skiing in all of North America, Breckenridge is a great option for backcountry skiers and snowboarders. Although it's known for its milder slopes, Breckenridge has some great off-piste skiing to get your heart pumping.
Breckenridge also offers white-water rafting, golf, fly-fishing and hiking in the summer. Plus, the town has plenty of character featuring Victorian architecture reflecting the area's mining history - and culture to boot. Located just two hours from Denver, Breckenridge is a popular option for vacation homes.
The average property price in Breckenridge is currently $1.2m. While property prices across the USA are rising by in excess of 10 percent per year, in Breckenridge there has been a whopping 21.5 percent increase according to Realtor.com. For a three-bedroom single family home with good access to the slopes you’ll need a starting budget of $2m, or for apartments around $600,000.
According to Forbes: 'Many of the buyers in the ultra high-end market are from the Front Range area around Denver, as well as Texas, Florida, Illinois, Oklahoma and California. Modern homes with the requisite panoramic mountain views and outdoor living areas, plus access to open space, are the most sought-after among wealthy buyers who are amplifying value into price points Summit County has never seen before'. Luxury properties, here, can go for upwards of $4m. Entry-level luxury homes in Breckenridge start at about $1 million and run with new builds selling out fast with the young professionals from Denver investing in mountain property for their downtime.
La Tzoumaz, Switzerland
If you love skiing, especially the epic off piste of Verbier but the thought of buying property there makes your eyes water then how about La Tzoumaz? This small picturesque ski village, whose name is derived from 'tzoumer' meaning taking a break, is often referred to as a 'hidden gem'. Situated at 1,500m, on the north-facing slopes of the Savoleyres mountain of Verbier, there are connecting lifts opening up the huge scope of the main Four Valleys ski area.
If you want glitz and glamour then, by all means, live in Verbier as Tzoumaz is far quieter, the village only housing around 300 people. But this is what makes La Tzoumaz ideal for getting away from it all without feeling like you've been sent to Siberia. Here you have all the advantages of the vast Verbier ski area with access to the five star facilites but none of the crowded lifts and queues. You, also, have more snow as, being north-facing, the season lasts longer, way into April, good news for spring ski touring.
There is, also, far more chance of finding untracked on powder days than on Verbier's dawn-raided off pistes slopes. You also have your own backcountry 2,727m descent from Attelas in Verbier back down to La Tzoumax via the Vallon d'Arby - and if you need more action then there's even an altii-port for helis to whisk you to more remote powder fields and glacier terrain - and, for extreme sledging, you'll have the longest toboggan run in Western Switzerland, a non-stop 10 kilometres on your doorstep.
So La Tzoumaz, only two hours from Geneva airport, is a great location close to Verbier but where property prices can still come in under six figures. Check out this two bedroom apartment right on the slopes so ski-in, ski-out for €612,000