“You still live in Tahoe?” I get this question all the time. People are dumbfounded by how I could still reside somewhere that most people only visit. When the weekend warrior on the chairlift asks where I’m from and I tell him I live here, I am usually treated to a wistful story about how they always wanted to move to Tahoe, but were never able to make it happen.
Local by birth or by choice, Tahoe locals possess intangible qualities that differentiate themselves from those who have come and gone with the seasons. I’ve lived here long enough to see many temporary residents of our community struggle to make Tahoe their permanent home. Often they leave, citing the lack of fulltime work, exorbitant living costs, and the difficulties and inconveniences of mountain living. I know the Tahoe dream comes with compromises and tough choices. So I am asking locals: “What’s your Tahoe story?”
Erin Ellis and her husband Nate live in the Armstrong Tract neighborhood of Truckee with their 15-month-old daughter Emma, and dogs Chloe and Joe-Joe. Erin is proof that living the Tahoe dream while raising a young family and working for a local nonprofit is possible.
You are originally from Sacramento. How did Tahoe become your home?
It has always been a dream to live here. When my husband received a promotion at Boreal as the snow sports manager, it provided us an open door to go ahead and make the move.
Being a new mom, how has raising a child in Tahoe changed your perception of the area?
Now that we have Emma, I enjoy living up here even more. Once you’re a mom, there are activities in Tahoe that you discover that you didn’t do when you were just a married couple, like Truckee’s Downtown Tree Lighting. It sounds fun, but you don’t go because you don’t have a kid. Then you have a kid, and you’re like, “Yes! I can finally do this.” Tahoe is such a kid friendly place to be!
You are the volunteer and foster program coordinator for the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe. Have you always worked for nonprofit organizations?
Before working for the Human Society I worked for companies or government agencies. My current job is so much more rewarding, and so much more fun! I’m so happy with the job I have, and the people I’m able to interact with.
Tahoe is notoriously expensive. How are you able to make ends meet while raising a family here?
It’s hard, but it’s doable. My husband and I both really love what we do, and we have a good marriage because of it. Money is just not important. I’m comfortable and happy where I’m at. I’m very happy with the choices we’ve made. I could choose to live a different life if I wanted, but I choose to do it this way.
Who do you think has an interesting Tahoe story?
Steve Hoch. He lives in Alpine Meadows and is the executive director of the Tahoe City Downtown Association.
Steve will be featured in next’s months Tahoe Stories column.