PeppermillRenoIts great midweek no lines at all very laid back.
I don't think the weekend crowds are that unmanageable you can stick to chairs and avoid the gondi. I've never been on a bluebird pow day on MLK weekend though think all bets are off for something like that.
Mammoth is probably the chillest mountain in terms of not being cold as fuck but having a crazy long season and spinning lifts midweek. I wouldn't want to bump chairs somewhere really cold. And its a long ass summer if lifts stop in April. Also from your post your not going employee housing so you'll need to sign a 12 month lease anywhere desirable. No chance of finding winter only accommodation somewhere like Jackson. I guess you can try and live in the mission (homeless shelter) for as long as possible till they buy you a free bus ticket and tell you to GTFO.
I ski Mammoth 2-3 weekends a month, and the lift lines are usually not THAT bad on weekends anywhere other than the upper gondola and sometimes chair 23. Even so, I still get plenty of top laps. If the lines for the top are really bad I just go to chair 22, some of the best terrain on the mountain and never a line unless it is a pow day.
I love Mammoth. There is a good shuttle to take you just about everywhere. I almost never drive while in town during the weekends I am up. I did my ski bum years during and after college and before grad school at Squaw. I loved it, and I miss it. As much as I love Mammoth, Squaw has better terrain. That being said, Mammoth is a safer bet. It is higher, so the snow is more consistent. Put it this way, in a good year I would rather ski Squaw, but in a bad year I would rather ski Mammoth. This season at Mammoth has been below average, but I still had a great season, with 2-3 more weekends to go. Around November 20th a warm, wet storm blanketed the top with around 7 feet of snow, Main lodge got like 3 feet. That set the base up for the season, I was able to ski the dropout chutes and Dave's starting in late November. People complained, but my Tahoe buddies were having a much worse season. Even with December getting only 4 inches I was still getting good turns at the top. Even in a bad year, Mammoth is pretty damn good. I would say it is a very safe place to do a ski bum year, because it is so consistent. If you get a bad year in Mammoth it is still decent, if you get a bad year at Squaw you are screwed. I never had a bad year at Squaw when I lived there, just average to excellent years, but if you have a season like 13/14 as your ski bum year at Squaw that would really suck. Like I said before, I do prefer Squaw, and I miss it, but I would call Mammoth a safer bet. Mammoth also has a better park. I almost never ski park, but that is something to take into account. Also, while Mammoth is not quite as steep as Squaw, it is still one of the best mountains in North America. It does have great steeps.
Tahoe has changed in the 13 years since I left, so I can't give you too much advice, unfortunately. They did not have a great mass transit system back when I lived there, but things may have changed. It was not cheap when I was there, but things have gotten much worse from what I hear. Mammoth is tough right now because with airbnb lots of home owners are looking for weekend/weekly rentals, not full-time tenants. It is supposedly VERY tough for locals to find housing right now. I get a ski lease every winter with a group from socal and we use the place on weekends. We have been renting from the same guy for a while, which is good because I would not want to try and find a place every winter.
Another great thing about Mammoth is the long season. It will go until Memorial Day even in a slightly below average winter. If this is your one season to ski bum you want to milk things for as long as possible. Having said that, with the ownership change at Mammoth things could change.