Sal Santiago writes about travel, minimalism, philosophy, and living an alternative lifestyle. He has worked seasonal jobs for a few years.
Travel-Friendly Work and Living Alternatives
To save money and to live more cheaply, have you ever considered seasonal work? If you are interested in alternative work/living situations, it’s possible to find jobs that offer housing at a fraction of the usual cost.
Finding the website Coolworks.com several years ago was a game-changer for me. My only regret was that I didn’t know about it earlier, about ten years ago or so.
The high cost of housing and the tremendous pressure of having a high monthly rent make life difficult for many these days. There is an alternative way that can ease this pressure for a while, perhaps for the long term, if seasonal work becomes a lifestyle for you.
Benefits of Seasonal Work
For seasonal workers, there is an added benefit to this kind of lifestyle. Often, the jobs offer housing at a reduced cost. Many of these jobs allow you to save the majority of what you earn in a month.
Depending on your spending habits, and how simply you can live for a period of time, it’s not out of the realm of possibility to save $1000 and more monthly. This considering an average salary for many seasonal positions will average around $15 per hour. Not the highest pay in the world, but with the low cost of living and housing, you can still save much of what you make. Not many other jobs will allow you to do the same these days.
1. The Totem Hotel in Valdez, Alaska
At my job at the Totem Hotel in Valdez, Alaska, several housing options were available. A private room in a shared house in town, and private rooms in the Orca Building next door to the Totem.
In the building pictured above, I basically had my own one-bedroom apartment, with a full kitchen and separate bedroom for about $400 per month. In the final weeks of the summer season, the hotel shuts down the on-site cabins for hotel guests, and housekeepers and other staff had their own cabin for a few weeks. This might have been my favorite apartment of all at a seasonal job.
The place was furnished with some funky, comfortable furniture, had large rooms, and a full kitchen and refrigerator. It was like being on vacation and renting a nice Airbnb. To top it off, the commute to my job was a five-minute walk across the hotel parking lot. I could walk anywhere in the town of Valdez in a few minutes.
2. Zion National Park in Springdale, Utah
If you search around, you can find jobs that offer a single, private room (in a shared house). For me, sharing a room is one of the deal-breakers of a seasonal job. I don’t mind living in a shared house for a period of time, but I absolutely must have my own private room. This is an essential space to recharge after a long day, especially if you are working in customer service and dealing with the public all day. Some people live and work out of their RVs, and there are jobs that offer hook-ups for this as well.
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At my seasonal job working for Sol Foods Supermarket at the entrance to Zion National Park in Springdale, Utah, private rooms in a shared house are available for $10 per day, or $300 per month. A shared room is $5 per day or about $150 per month.
The store owns several houses near the grocery store in Springdale, and about three miles away in nearby Rockville, Utah. I share the main floor of a small house with one other person. We share a large kitchen and living room. There is also a front porch outside with an amazing view of the kind of rock formations that Zion is famous for.
Another nice perk of this job is a free meal from the deli during your shift and a 30% discount on groceries.
3. Grand Targhee Resort in Driggs, Idaho
During another season spent at Grand Targhee Resort, near the Grand Tetons in Wyoming, employees are given their own rooms in housing that has just been built in the summer of 2021. Each private room in the shared building has its own bathroom.
The kitchen and living room are shared with six rooms total. Housing in the area has basically become unaffordable for anyone who might work at the resort. Much of it is being rented out during the busy winter season and during the summer as Airbnb and Verbo rentals.
The resort realized they would need to recruit from outside the area, and they would need to build comfortable, affordable housing to keep their employees long term. Monthly rent is deducted from your paycheck and costs about $225 per pay period or $450 per month.
With this kind of arrangement, it’s not difficult to save $1000 or more each month. If you are in a tipped position, that amount can go much higher.
A long-term shuttle driver for the resort recently made the move to employee housing. She was paying $1300 per month (before utilities) at her condo and was working two jobs to be able to afford it. Moving into employee housing will save her well over $1000 per month, and she will be able to reduce her hours, and possibly downsize to just one job.
How to Travel the Country and Live in Beautiful Places
Not only are you able to save, but you are living near some of the most amazing and beautiful places in the country, places many people have spent a lifetime waiting for the chance to visit. And you are there for an extended amount of time, and get to save a lot of cash to boot.
During your free time, and during the extended breaks that seasonal work offers (there are two-month breaks, twice a year, at Grand Targhee Resort, for example) you have time and the means to travel, and experience some things many can only dream about.
If the pressure of paying a high rent is getting to you, maybe it is time to consider other options. Many people are downsizing, building tiny homes, and trying out the van life. Seasonal work offers another option to avoid the trap of high rent, and have more money and time to build the kind of life you truly want to be living.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.