Why is Jackson Hole So Expensive?

why is jackson hole so expensive

Why is Jackson Hole So Expensive?

#1 – Over 97% of the land in Jackson Hole is owned by the government.

#2 – Even the “private” land is very heavily regulated by many government agencies.

This translates to very high housing costs, stifles business growth and interrupts the economy.  Add to this the predominant enthusiasm for the chic “Sustainability” movement , and the unfortunate result is a very high price of living.  This cost is of course passed on to you, our Jackson Hole guests.  Sorry.  🙁

The person flipping burgers in Jackson probably earns $19+ per hour and spends $1250/month for a room in a shared apartment.

Advocates of the elements leading to Jackson’s economy point out that because of the heavy government control of our valley, it is a beautiful place.  It IS beautiful here and worth every penny!

the cost of beauty

The below article, posted with permission, sheds more light on the challenges working class faces in Jackson Hole.

The Cost of Beauty: An Economist’s View on Jackson Hole’s Exclusivity

From the towering peaks of the Teton Range to the pristine waters of Snake River, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, is undeniably one of America’s most picturesque destinations. However, beneath the surface of this idyllic landscape lies a stark economic reality influenced heavily by government interventions. As a “leftie” economist, I wish to explore the underlying reasons why Jackson Hole is an expensive place to live and the implications of such stringent regulations on its residents, particularly the working class.

The High Price of Land Ownership

A fundamental factor contributing to the high cost of living in Jackson Hole is the limited availability of land. Remarkably, the government owns approximately 97% of the land in this area. This significant government ownership restricts the supply of land that can be developed or used for housing. According to basic economic principles, when supply is limited and demand is high, prices inevitably rise. This situation is exacerbated by the natural allure of the area, which continues to attract wealthy individuals and tourists, further driving up property values and living costs.

Why is Jackson Hole So Expensive? Stringent Planning and Zoning Regulations

Compounding the issue of limited land availability are the stringent and aggressive planning and zoning regulations enforced by local authorities. These regulations are often justified on the grounds of preserving the aesthetic appeal of the area, which is undoubtedly a significant draw for tourists and wealthy second homeowners. However, such measures restrict the construction of new housing and commercial developments, stifling competition and innovation.

The local planning department’s rigorous standards mean that any new development must adhere to strict guidelines, which often leads to increased construction costs. These costs are ultimately passed on to residents and businesses, further elevating the cost of living and operating in Jackson Hole. Development is not accessible to “normal” people in Teton County.

Socioeconomic Segregation

Another disconcerting aspect of the economic landscape in Jackson Hole is the apparent desire among some politicians to create a visually pleasing environment that ostensibly caters exclusively to the affluent. This attitude can lead to a form of socioeconomic segregation, where the working class, unable to afford the high cost of living, find themselves pushed out of their own communities. It is not uncommon for local workers to commute long distances from more affordable areas, as the housing in Jackson Hole becomes inaccessible to them.

The idea that “wealthy people do not want to have to look at poor people, ugly buildings, or other unattractive things” speaks to a broader issue of economic inequality and a lack of inclusivity in government urban planning. This approach not only undermines the diversity and vibrancy of the community but also places undue hardships on the working class, who are essential to the local economy, particularly in the service sectors that support the tourism industry. The government’s solution? Government housing projects.

Taxation and Economic Hardship

The economic burden on residents is further compounded by high property taxes. In Jackson Hole, the average annual income tax on a middle-class home exceeds $12,000, a substantial amount that can be prohibitive for many families. This level of taxation, while perhaps intended to fund public services and infrastructure, also acts as a barrier to entry for potential homeowners and disincentivizes long-term residency for the middle and working classes.

The Need for a Balanced Approach

From an economic perspective, the situation in Jackson Hole illustrates the consequences of excessive government intervention in property markets. The lack of individual freedom and property rights not only distorts the market but also creates significant social and economic disparities. While the visual attractiveness of Jackson Hole may be enhanced by such regulations, the long-term viability of the community is at risk if only the wealthy can afford to enjoy it.

A more balanced approach, which respects property rights and fosters a freer market environment, could lead to more sustainable economic and social outcomes. Encouraging private property ownership, relaxing regulations, admitting the futility of glass-towered central planning and focusing on allowing wonderful people to do with their property what they choose could help make Jackson Hole a more affordable and equitable place for all its residents.

In conclusion, while Jackson Hole remains a stunningly beautiful destination, the hidden costs of its exclusivity serve as a poignant reminder of the complexities and challenges in balancing economic interests with community needs. As policymakers and community leaders move forward, it will be crucial to consider how to maintain the area’s charm while ensuring it remains accessible and welcoming to everyone who contributes to its uniqueness.

Government Housing Projects in Wyoming