“Jackson is Neverland.”

“You can’t have a ‘real’ life in Jackson.”

“I’m thinking of moving away to find better opportunities.”

If you’ve lived in Jackson Hole for long, you have heard people say these things.

Why is it a common idea for people to express the idea that the options here are not “real life”? Why do people say one must choose between success with career and “being a grown up” versus the quality of life offered in the Tetons? Is there truth behind this view? Is it possible to enjoy a thriving career and enjoy the lifestyle you want here?

Visitors and non-residents sometimes compare living in Jackson to Peter Pan’s “Neverland,” a place rooted more in fun and less in reality, a place that seems too similar to vacation to be considered anything else. But can this place that gives us so much joy be ‘”real life?” Yes! Jackson is so much more than “Neverland;” it is a vibrant, interesting, evolving community, where success and fulfillment can be found—by those who are looking. Many of us grew up with ideas of what ‘success’ looks like, and Jackson Hole is not a place where those things t the image of what we were exposed to prior to living in the Tetons. Family and friends who live in different places in the country may have this limited perspective.

Illustration by Kelly Halpin

If Jackson Hole is where we feel most in tune with ourselves, isn’t that the ideal place to realize our full potential in all aspects of a successful life? And if we are constantly inspired by our surroundings—the pristine lakes of the national park and the postcard- perfect Teton peaks—don’t we owe it to ourselves to stop holding onto this mindset that only holds us back.

“We have this stereotypical idea of what it means to be successful in life,” says local resident Tyler Babcock, “A career that pays a certain amount, a house, kids. We say that we don’t subscribe to these stereotypes, but when it comes down to it we have a really hard time getting past those ideas.” Jamie Dunphy voices a similar opinion. “People imagine a steady paycheck with a retirement fund. The idea stems from social shaping, and it’s hard for people to think outside of that box. If you examine these ideas, you realize the definition of “real life,” or “being an adult” can be different for many people.”

“By moving here at all, you’ve already done something that friends and family on the East coast or a variety of places see as impossible or at least far from the mainstream,” says Wilson resident Jamie Bemis.

When we look past traditional views, are there truly plentiful opportunities for success with career and other aspects of life? What is the reality of our options here in Jackson?

“We’re in this moment where entrepreneurs are really valued. We’re also in this moment with technology allowing you to possibly have clients anywhere in the world and do a good job for them,” says local attorney Alex Freeburg. “It’s a different set of opportunities, and you can certainly do well. I meet so many people who are really interesting and exciting who have started a small business and grown it.”

Freeburg adds, “In some cases, people construct a way to excuse themselves or let themselves o the hook. “If I lived in a city, I would have a corporate job, but I can’t be successful because there’s not the opportunity here’. You can create success wherever you are, what’s more important is your mindset.”

Liza Millet, co-founder of Silicon Couloir and the Start-Up Institute, two entrepreneurial support programs based here in Jackson Hole, agrees that many local opportunities exist for both creating new business endeavors as well as working for unique companies.

“At Silicon Couloir, our mission is to nurture entrepreneurship in the greater Teton area. We have helped create an ecosystem that entrepreneurs need to thrive. There are great challenges to building a business here, just as there are great challenges to building a business anywhere. We hold Chance Meetings monthly, pitch day each summer and host the Start-Up Institute. We connect people with opportunities. Finding success, no matter where you live, takes time, e ort, and creativity. You need to network, and be really diligent and creative.”

Illustration by Kelly Halpin


There is certainly work involved to create a successful niche for yourself here, however it takes work to do so in any location. Plus Jackson Hole offers opportunities and resources that are unique to the area. It’s the birthplace of Stio, Give’r, TGR, Yellowberry, and too many unique local businesses and organizations to name. This is a community filled with passionate and creative inhabitants.

If Jackson Hole is where we feel most in tune with ourselves, isn’t that the ideal place to realize our full potential in all aspects of a successful life?

So if we have opportunities right here, how can we release any views of limitations? How can we accomplish a change in perspective, to clearly see those opportunities? How can we make the most of our lives in the place that inspires our soul?

Seeking out new ways of measuring success and being engaged is the first step toward expanding our outlook. “For myself, it took moving away, but it doesn’t have to come to that extreme,” Bemis notes, “Changing your mindset, your views, can happen here.

Challenge yourself by trying something new. There are communities within the Jackson community. Even if you just think in terms of activities, communities based around skiing, yoga, y fishing, every activity. You can change so many things, your schedule or daily routine, go to events you have not attended before at the library or the museum, or the Center for the Arts, volunteer in the community.”

Jackson offers countless options, many that exist not despite of our location and unique community but because of it. The only thing that is limited is how we choose to view a complete and fulfilling life. Once we shift our perspective towards seeking out and embracing new opportunities, we can take action to create endless possibilities for success. Jackson is so much more than “Neverland” and so much greater than a temporary vacation from reality. It is a vibrant, interesting, evolving community, where success and fulfillment can be found— by those who are looking.

About the Author

Monica Fredrigo 
Monica Fredrigo genuinely endeavors to learn something new every day. A ski instructor at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort for over a decade, she currently divides her time between Jackson, WY, and Denver, CO. Monica enjoys drinking hot tea, swimming in cold lakes, substantial amounts of foam rolling and, above all, the company of good friends. www.mountainmonica.com

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