Moving To Utah? (The Truth About Living Here)

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Utah’s nickname is the Beehive State, due to the strong sense of perseverance, self-reliance, and tenacity that has been prevalent here since the first settlers arrived. Just like bees, Utah residents are industrious, they work hard and they value their communities.

Utah is one of America’s great natural playgrounds and is a state as beautiful as it is diverse. It sits at the meeting point of three unique geological regions; the Colorado Plateau, The Rocky Mountains, and the Great Basin, and it boasts some wildly varied scenery. There are sweeping desert dunes, snow-capped mountains, and picturesque verdant valleys all packed within this 84,000 square mile state.

Beautiful Sunset Image taken at Arches National Park in Utah

The summers are long, hot and dry, and the winters are cold and snowy, with an average of 60 inches of white powdery snow falling every year. This makes Utah the perfect place for winter sports, and the state welcomes visitors from around the world to ski and snowboard here.

Utah is home to 3.2 million people and is one of the fastest-growing states in the nation. So what makes Utah such a popular place to relocate to? This guide will cover that and more as we take you through the good, bad and interesting that this state has to offer.

We know that making a move is a big decision, and one that has the potential to forever impact the trajectory of your life. From leveling up your career, to starting a family, where you live makes a big difference.

In this guide, we’ll help you explore everything Utah has to offer and what to consider before packing your bags. Grab your favorite drink, kick back, and let’s dive in.

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Where Are The Best Places To Live In Utah?

 

Utah is a big state, spanning over 84,000 square miles of majestic landscapes and interesting places to live. Although there was no way to cover every one of these places in this guide, we did our best to provide you with an overview of some of the most popular places to move to in the state.

In no particular order…

Salt Lake City

Just 16 miles from the Great Salt Lake of Utah is the state capital, Salt Lake City. Around 193,000 people call SLC home and although just under half of the residents here identify as Mormon, it has a surprisingly diverse and artsy feel, especially in the vibrant downtown area.

Salt Lake City overview in the night

Salt Lake City is a nature lover’s paradise. Not only are the saline waters of the Great Salt Lake just a quick hike or drive away, but there’s also incredible canyons, mountains, and desert landscapes within easy reach. Outdoor activities are popular all year round here, from hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, and sailing during the warmer months, to alpine skiing and snowboarding as well as Nordic skiing and backcountry skiing during the wintertime.

There are some fantastic restaurants, cool cafes, and trendy galleries downtown, and despite the religious prevalence here, there’s a pretty happening nightlife scene too.

There’s something for everyone in Salt Lake City; whether you’re a family looking for great schools and a safe community, a young 20 something looking to make friends and have fun, or a retiree looking for the perfect place to spend your golden years.

Salt Lake City is a great place to live, but it doesn’t come cheap. You’ll have to pay for the amenities it has to offer, with the median price for a family home across the city coming in at a hefty $420,000.

Park City

Affluent Park City sits towards the east of Salt Lake City in Summit County. Home to just under 8,000 people, there’s a close-knit community vibe here and people tend to know their neighbors.

Park City is the home of the world-famous Sundance Film Festival, and the city transforms itself every January to welcome visitors from across the world. It’s also a popular spot with A-listers all year-round, and celebrity sightings are pretty common here.

It’s a beautiful city to look at, framed by the stunning Wasatch Mountain Range and next door to the hugely popular Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort, as well as the Utah Olympic Park, which hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics. Skiing and snowboarding are big business here, and the town sees visitors pile in from all corners of the globe during the ski season.

picture of Park City, Utah, USA downtown in autumn at dusk.

Park City is a highly desirable area to live, and this means property in the city doesn’t come cheap. The median home price here is a staggering $868,000.

Snyderville

Just a short drive outside of Salt Lake City is the charming commuter town of Snyderville. Despite being so close to the capital, there’s a peaceful, rural vibe here, and residents get the best of both worlds when it comes to living out in nature, yet being close to the action.

Families particularly love Snyderville due to its outstanding public school system, the second-best in the entire state. The crime rate is also reassuringly low, and with a population of just 6,200 people, there’s a close-knit community feel.

Snyderville is another area that comes with a hefty price tag; the average family home here costs around $695,000.

Logan

The city of Logan, 82 miles north of Salt Lake City, is home to Utah State University, so there’s a cool college town vibe and a colorful cultural scene here. Around 51,000 people call Logan home, and since the city is spread out over 16.5 square miles, things never seem too crowded.

Logan has ample shopping, dining, and entertainment opportunities, and there are tons of social groups, clubs, and societies to join. Like in much of Utah, the Mormon church plays a huge role here, but there’s also a healthy diversity, so you’ll be made to feel welcome no matter what your beliefs.

Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) located in Logan Utah

Outdoor recreation is popular with the locals, and there are great hiking and biking trails that are accessible from the center of town so there’s no need to jump in your car to see the great outdoors.

Logan is a super safe place to live, with a crime rate way below the US national average. Despite it being a safe and desirable area, property in Logan is surprisingly affordable as compared to many of the other areas on our list. The median home value in Logan is $242,000.

Kaysville

Situated in between Salt Lake City and Ogden is the popular city of Kaysville. It’s home to just over 30,000 people, and has one of the lowest unemployment rates of anywhere in Utah. The job market is particularly strong here and many residents of Salt Lake City are making the move here to chase favorable property prices and advance their careers.

Kaysville is a relatively conservative area, popular with families who move here for the fantastic public schools, as well as the super safe neighborhoods. Homes in Kaysville are still expensive, but certainly more affordable than some others on our list. The median home price is $320,000.

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How Is The Job Market In Utah?

 

Utah has one of the best unemployment rates in the nation, and even despite the current global pandemic, the unemployment rate currently sits at just 3.6% (an impressive feat).

Industries are wide and varied across the Beehive State, meaning that opportunities about for those with skill sets across a wide range of industries and professions.

Top Sectors

Some of the fastest-growing job fields are in the tech industry, with positions such as web developers and software developers featuring frequently in the local listings.

picture of a software developer coding at work in Utah office

Tourism is also a huge sector in Utah, and there are tons of seasonal jobs plus more highly paid, long term positions available for the right candidates. Mining is also prevalent in Utah, as is agriculture and petroleum production.

Top Employers

The largest employer in the Beehive State is Intermountain Healthcare, which employs well over 20,000 people. Utah State Government is another huge employer, with around 19,000 staff on the books, as well as the University of Utah and Brigham Young University. As is the case in most states, Walmart is also a top employer in Utah, with around 15,000 staff working across 53 Walmart stores.

Short List of Top Employers in Utah

  • University Health Care
  • University of Utah Health
  • Latter Day Saints Church
  • Arup Blood Services
  • Brigham Young University
  • BYU Conference Center
  • Intermountain Medical Center
  • C R England Inc
  • ICON Health and Fitness Inc.
  • Sun Products Corn
  • Young Living Essential Oils
  • Utah Valley Hospital
  • Access NSM
  • Doterra International
  • Edwards Lifesciences Corp
  • Lagoon Amusement Park
  • Park City Mountain Resort
  • Utah Transit Authority
  • Car Doctor
  • Ultradent Products
  • Wells Fargo Bank

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How Is The Utah Real Estate Market?

 

Home values have been on the rise for several years now in the Beehive State, with property selling for well above the national average. The typical family home has a median price of around $356,000. Luckily, wages in Utah tend to be higher overall, so this goes some way to offset the financial strain of living here.

Rents are also pretty high and tower way above the national average. To rent a 2 bedroom apartment, you’ll need to put aside around $1,500 per month before bills. Like most states, there are some seriously upscale areas in Utah are off limits if you’re on a budget, but there are plenty of more reasonably prices neighborhoods to choose from too.

Best Time of the Year to Buy at a Value

Looking to find a deal in Utah? Buying a home in March can end up saving you BIG. How much? Upwards of $42,000 as compared to the worst month to buy for value (December).

That said, keep in mind these are state averages and each market in the state has its own unique real estate cycle and trends.

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How Much Does It Cost To Live In Utah?

 

For most of us, the cost of living is a serious consideration when deciding where to move to.

Overall, Utah tends to be a little pricier than most places in the US. The cost of living is around 10% higher here, but a large part of that figure is down to the higher property prices.

Food and Groceries

The good news is that groceries are moderately cheaper than the national average in the Beehive State, coming in at around 6.8% cheaper.

picture of Family with shopping cart in Utah supermarket store

Utilities

Utilities, including electricity, natural gas and other fuels also come in lower than the national average by about 5.4%.

Transportation

Transportation costs, including but not limited to vehicle maintenance, gasoline, insurance and mass transit come in at 8.8% below the national average.

Healthcare and Medical

Healthcare costs, including dental visits, doctor appointments, and hospital stays are also surprisingly affordable, coming in at only 2.7% above the national average for access to one of the nation’s best healthcare systems.

Taxes

The basic rate of sales tax in Utah is currently 4.7%, although local areas impose their own taxes too, so the effective rate is actually more like 5.9%-8.7%, depending on where you live. The state also operates a ‘flat tax’ system, where everyone pays the same rate of income tax, just less than 5%.

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Is Utah A Good Place To Retire?

 

Utah consistently ranks as one of the best places in the country to relocate for retirement. In terms of taxes, it’s certainly not the cheapest state to move to, but it’s not the most expensive either. Presuming retirees can overcome the large cost of housing, they stand to save big in may other categories.

picture of Group of retired friends support concept

The Beehive State taxes Social Security benefits as well as withdrawals from retirement accounts, although over 65’s can claim a percentage of this back through a special government scheme. The average property tax is just 0.66%, and the Utah State government charges zero inheritance tax too.

There are so many other great reasons to retire in the Beehive State besides just taxes. Utah has one of the very best life expectancy rates in America, a low overall cost of living for retirees, and an extremely low crime rate, not to mention incredible natural beauty, endless opportunities for outdoor adventures and plenty of ways to keep fit during your golden years.

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What Are The People And Culture Like In Utah?

 

Utah is most famous for its large Mormon community. 62% of Utah’s 3.2 million residents identify as members of the Church of Latter-Day Saints (LDS). That being said, the state is still a pretty welcoming place no matter what your beliefs are, and plenty of people claim to have a different religion or no faith at all.

The high population of LDS churchgoers means that there’s a pretty strong sense of community involvement in Utah, and family life is at the forefront for most people. The Beehive State also has the highest birth rate, the lowest death rate, and the youngest population of anywhere in the entire USA.

Activities like drinking and smoking are a little more taboo here than most places in the US (which goes a long way to explain the low mortality rate and healthy population) but in recent years the laws have relaxed a little when it comes to drinking in bars and purchasing alcohol in designated liquor stores.

picture of Elderly Father and mature son are saluting with the beer in front of the grill in their house backyard on a beautiful day.

Utah overall is a pretty conservative state, with the majority of the population voting republican in every recent election. That being said, the state capital of Salt Lake City is a pretty liberal and progressive place to be. They claim one of the largest LGBT communities in America and there’s a hip and edgy arts scene here too.

Utah is also known for its outdoorsy types, and it’s no wonder with the number of soaring mountain peaks, the vast swathes of desert, and lush pine forests that cover the   Beehive State.

One thing that can surprise new Utah residents is the distinct lack of diversity across the majority of the state. Around 91% of the population here is white, so if living in a culturally diverse state is important to you, Utah may not be the best choice.

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Some Of The Coolest Things To Do In Utah

 

There’s so much to see and do across the Beehive State. We’ve put together a list of our favorites to get you inspired.

The Sundance Film Festival

Easily the most famed event of the Utah calendar, the Sundance Film Festival sees film lovers from around the globe gather in Park City to celebrate independent films and theatre performances. This is one of the biggest film festivals in the world, with around 50,000 attendees every year and an absolutely electric atmosphere. If you find yourself in the area during the month of January, this one is not to be missed.

The Dark Arts Festival

This annual festival in Salt Lake City’s legendary dance club, Area 51, is a three-day event featuring live music, dance, art, fashion, and quirky vendors. It’s a celebration of gothic and alternative culture that encourages attendees to let out their ‘dark side’ in what is normally a pretty vanilla state.

Bryce Canyon National Park

One of America’s most famous national parks, Bryce Canyon has a landscape that feels otherworldly. It’s famous for its deep red ‘hoodoos’- rock formations in the shape of towering spires.

Hiker woman in Bryce Canyon hiking looking and enjoying view during her hike wearing hikers backpack. Bryce Canyon National Park landscape, Utah, United States.

You could easily spend a full week exploring the 145 square kilometer park; there are tons of activities to do here, like hiking, rock climbing, biking, camping, and trail running just to name a few. Make sure to bring your camera and snap a photo around sunrise or sunset when the light dances mysteriously across the beautifully bizarre landscape.

Zion National Park

Down in southwestern Utah, the 229 square mile large national park is home to Zion Canyon, which runs a staggering 15 miles in length and is over 2,500 ft deep. The canyon is made of Navajo Sandstone which gives it a reddish tan color that contrasts beautifully with the green foliage which blankets the ground. It’s also a great spot for wildlife watching. There are almost 290 different species of birds living here, as well as 75 types of mammals and 32 different varieties of reptiles.

Temple Square

This huge 10-acre complex in Salt Lake City is the headquarters of the Church of Latter-Day Saints, and much of the site is open to visitors.

picture of Temple Square Utah

It’s a great place to go if you’re curious about the Mormon faith and want to learn more, but it’s also a uniquely beautiful complex in itself, with an imposing white granite temple and vast manicured gardens. Admission is free, and there’s also a gourmet rooftop restaurant with incredible views of the downtown.

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The Pros And Cons Of Living In Utah

 

Now that we’ve taken a look at what Utah has to offer new residents, let’s examine some of the pros and cons of moving to the Beehive State.

Pros

  • A Strong Economy – Despite the Coronavirus pandemic, Utah’s economy remains relatively robust, with one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation and a strong job market.
  • Incredible Natural Beauty – With an impressive 5 national parks, Utah is one of the most geographically diverse and beautiful states in the nation. There are tons of outdoor activities here, from some of the country’s best ski resorts to epic canyons and otherworldly desert landscapes.
  • Lack of Traffic – It’s not often you find a state that hasn’t got a serious traffic problem, but since Utah is sparsely populated and there’s plenty of space to go around, traffic jams of a severe nature a relatively rare in the Beehive State.
  • Low Crime Rate – Thanks in part to the high percentage of religious residents, the overall crime rate in Utah is reassuringly low. Even in Salt Lake City, the statistics are good compared with other metropolises of its size.
  • Great Stargazing – The Beehive State is also famed for its incredible stargazing opportunities. The lack of light pollution and high elevation of places like Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park makes them the perfect spots for an unforgettable view of the heavens.

Cons

  • Expensive Housing – Utah’s property prices are sky-high compared with much of the rest of the nation. If you’re moving in from a cheaper part of the country, you may struggle to find an affordable place to call home.
  • Lack of Diversity – The vast majority, over 90%, of Utah’s population is white, and even the bigger cities can feel a little whitewashed and bland in terms of culture and ethnic diversity.
  • Conservative Views – While some people love the typical conservative Mormon lifestyle, others may find it hard to fit in if they’re of a different faith or not religious at all. Religious values play a pretty large role in day to day life, and things like drugs, alcohol, and alternative lifestyle choices are often more frowned upon than in other parts of the country. Things are beginning to change though, and overall Utah is a pretty welcoming state no matter who you are or where you come from.
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Utah Fun Facts & Strange Laws

 

Strange Laws in UT

Every state has its fair share of weird and antiquated laws, and Utah is no exception. There are some seriously bizarre rules still on the books here. Let’s take a look at some of the stranger laws from the Beehive State.

  • Husbands are responsible for any criminal act their wife commits while in his presence. She gets away scot-free while he takes the punishment on his wife’s behalf.
  • Beer sold in grocery stores, beer bars, and most restaurants can’t be stronger than 4% alcohol by weight. Kegs were also outlawed years ago and there are strict laws surrounding the times and circumstances in which alcohol can be purchased.
  • It’s against the law to detonate a nuclear weapon. This one makes sense and should probably be rolled out across the rest of the world.
  • It’s illegal to try and ‘modify the weather’ in any way. So no cloud seeding allowed in Utah.
  • It’s illegal not to drink milk. Tough luck for those who are lactose intolerant.

Fun Facts About UT

To wrap up our overview of moving to Utah, here are a few of the most interesting facts from the Beehive State.

  • The name Utah comes from the Native American ‘Ute’ tribe. It translates to ‘People of the Mountains’.
  • The Great Salt Lake is the largest lake west of the Mississippi.
  • The same lake is around 4 times saltier than any of the world’s oceans. It’s impossible not to float when you go for a swim.
  • The Beehive State has the highest literacy rate of any state in America.
  • Utah meets up with Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona at one single point- the Four Corners Monument.
  • The largest raptor ever found was unearthed in Utah; a 23-foot long carnivorous dinosaur named Utahraptor.

Are you Ready to Make the Move to Utah?

There’s no doubt about it, Utah has a lot to offer, from majestic landscapes and plentiful outdoor activities, to a moderately low overall cost of living. We hope you enjoyed this guide and that it makes your decision a little easier.

No matter what your choice, seeing and experiencing the state for yourself is the best way to know if it’s a good fit for you or your family. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to reach out. We’d love to learn more about how we can help.

 

Further Reading: Looking For More Moving To Utah Resources? Check These Articles Out!

 

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