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‘S—t hit the fan’: Tahoe’s young people may not come back

Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation
Published on July 27, 2023

Truckee residents Ryan and Kaleigh O’Rear moved to the Lake Tahoe area in 2017, and soon decided to make it their permanent home. They focused on their ultimate goal of buying a house, deciding to live in a mobile home park to save money and working hard to get jobs that gave them disposable income. Kaleigh paid off her student loans; Ryan gave up the dream job in ski patrolling that first brought them to Tahoe, taking instead a municipal job with a pension. They raised their annual income to be well into the six-figure range.

But it just wasn’t enough,” says Ryan. “We were right on the edge of being able to afford something pre-COVID, and then s—t hit the fan.”

In talking to couples who left Tahoe, all said finances were the ultimate driver. Homes were expensive, but other issues associated with Tahoe’s unaffordable middle class housing — a lack of child care options, limited and expensive services and businesses, and frequent traffic delays — ultimately made the problem even worse.

But there was also something more unquantifiable: a sense that the ever-growing income inequality and headbutting between tourists and locals had permanently changed Tahoe’s “vibe.”…..

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