19 Pros and Cons of Living in Utah

Utah offers three unique ways to enjoy life. You can take advantage of the urban environment in Salt Lake City and the mountains that surround the area, enjoy world-class skiing, and have all of the amenities that you’d expect with big-city life.

You can choose the suburbs if you wish to save a little money without sacrificing too much of your access. More people are moving away from the city center; however, so prices are rising rapidly. You’ll want to establish your home quickly to avoid another potential 9% increase in the next year.

There is also the rural life waiting for you in Utah. You can start farming, ranching, or manage a longer commute to create the home of your dreams. It is the perfect solution for some freelancers or those who are self-employed too if a data connection is available.

The pros and cons of living in Utah are essential to review because there can be some unexpected surprises with this decision. You can build a nice life for yourself here, but it might come at a steep price.

List of the Pros of Living in Utah

1. The cost of living in Utah is competitive with the rest of the country.
You can find pockets of space in Utah were the cost of living is exceptionally competitive. There are places of natural beauty like Moab that receive support from the tourism and hospitality industries. Green River offers centralized access to the state without charging an arm and a leg for real estate like you can find in Salt Lake City. If you want to live in a rural area, there are extensive land parcels that can give you your own patch of paradise.

Even if you decide to live in one of the cities, the combination of high wages and low real estate, utilities, and grocery costs makes it an inviting place to live.

2. The rental market in Utah offers competitive pricing as well.
Rental prices in Utah tend to match what the average costs are in the United States at all sizing levels. You can expect to pay about $1,000 per month to rent a one-bedroom apartment in Salt Lake City, St. George, or Moab. Your costs rise to about $1,500 per month for a three-bedroom apartment or home, and larger properties are in the $2,000 to $2,500 range for four or five bedrooms respectively.

If you don’t mind living outside of the metro areas of the state, you will find that the costs of renting a place can be 50% lower than the figures quoted above. There are not many locations in the United States were a 5-bedroom house can go for as little as $1,250 per month.

3. The climate in Utah is supportive in ever season.
You will discover that Utah offers a dry, continental climate that supports all four seasons throughout most of the state. The only exception to this advantage would be in the southwestern desert areas where many of the national parks are located. You will enjoy warmth in the summer, reasonable winters, and low precipitation levels except for the mountain locations.

You will find that there are fewer cold winds or storms that push through in many areas of the state because of the mountains. There can be issues with snow at elevation that can limit travel during some portions of the year, but it is not an unbearable experience at all.

4. The crime rate in Utah is one of the lowest in the country.
Salt Lake City sees the highest levels of crime in the state, which can push the average statewide levels above the national median in some years. Most of the incidents involve property crime. Violent crime in Utah is almost 40% lower than it is across the rest of the country. If you don’t mind moving to one of the rural communities, then the crime rates are up to 80% below average.

Utah is frequently rated as one of the top 10 safest places to live in the United States. With its robust religious background and rural nature, you can hang your shingle without really worrying about what might happen in the middle of the night.

5. The educational opportunities in Utah are excellent.
Most of the school districts throughout the state receive average or above average grades for the quality of education that the provide to students of all ages. There are several higher-learning institutions present in Utah as well if you wish to pursue an undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral degree after moving here.

Many of the schools receive national recognition for the quality of education they provide. Salt Lake Community College is the second-best institution of its type in the country, while Westminster places in the top 25 frequently. You can also choose to attend the University of Utah or Brigham Young University to receive a top-notch learning experience.

6. Utah is an outdoor paradise.
You will find that most of Utah is covered with mountains. There are numerous opportunities to go hiking, cycling, and fishing throughout the state. It offers beautiful rivers that you can explore, whitewater rafting destinations, climbing, backpacking, horseback riding, and skiing all at world-class levels

Utah is also home to five national parks: Arches, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, and Zion. If you can make life happen in Green River, then you will have a base camp to all of them. Add Goblin Valley into the mix (which is a state park), and you could spend an entire summer exploring what is available in your backyard.

7. The economy of Utah is stable and thriving.
Utah is a wonderful place to consider relocation because it has such a thriving economy. The unemployment rate is below 3% overall, with some areas seeing even less than that. The number of high-tech jobs has grown by over 70% in recent years, with many of the positions located in or around the Salt Lake City region. The SLC metro area has had one of the fastest-growing labor forces in the country for nearly a decade.

That means you will also have plenty of opportunities to start your own business or begin freelancing if you want to live in Utah. The entire economy thrives because of the innovative approach of so many here in the state.

8. Utah is a relatively young state from a demographic standpoint.
The average age of a Utah resident right now is a little over 30 years old. Over 90% of the population graduates from high school each year, with about 30% of students deciding to pursue an undergraduate degree at one of the state’s schools. That means you are joining a community that is young, educated, and ready to be productive. When you combine these attributes with what is available throughout the rest of the state, then it is easy to see why so many people want to call this area home.

9. The transportation networks in Utah are supportive and well-built.
Salt Lake City pushed through an extensive highway renovation project that offers an HOV lane that takes you from border-to-border if necessary so that you can drive quickly through the metro area. Two interstate highways connect the state in both directions, and then you have a major state highway that can take you from the national parks up to the SLC area.

Salt Lake International Airport is the largest hub for Delta Airlines in the western United States. There is a growing light-rail system that helps to support the public transportation sector. Commuter rail exists as well, and the bus system wins awards because of its design and efficiency. You can easily get to where you need to be.

10. Utah offers an emphasis on equality.
Even though there is a strong religious presence in the state because of its history, you will also find that people tend to feel equal when they live in Utah. Salt Lake City ranks as the second-most friendly city in the country for the LGBTQIA+ community. There can be issues for some families if they attend services through the Mormon faith at times, but it is an overall welcoming experience.

Utahns are also one of the most generous groups of people in the United States when it comes to charitable giving. They often rank as the top givers in the country, helping strangers, donating money, or volunteering to help make ends meet.

List of the Cons of Living in Utah

1. Home prices are a lot higher on average when compared to the rest of the United States.
The average price of a home in Utah is above $302,000, which places the state in line with a high-demand city like Denver if you’re looking to purchase a starter home. The in-demand neighborhoods and suburban communities around Salt Lake City can have an average which is $100,000 higher than that figure.

Some of this disadvantage is a little misleading because homes in the SLC region are 90% more expensive than they are across the country. If you don’t mind a little bit of a commute, then you can usually find something in your price range.

2. There can be a lot of nothing between communities in Utah.
If you are taking the east-west route between Green River and Salina, then you’d better check your fuel gauge before making the journey. There are 106 miles that you’ll need to drive before you can reach the next service facility. That is 106 consecutive miles of no towns, meaningful exists, or even a legal way to turn around if you need something. It is the longest stretch of emptiness in the entire U.S. interstate network.

3. Like it or not, religion is a way of life for many in Utah.
Surveys that look at the spiritual demographics of Utah find that about 60% of the population identifies as being Mormon. If you only look at the southern counties of the state, the figure climbs to more than 80%. Although there is a certain acceptance that exists here, especially if you can support yourself and respect differences, you can encounter the occasional zealot who demands compliance with their specific religious beliefs – and this disadvantage is not confined to just the Mormons.

If you are not of the religious persuasion, then you’ll either need to think about how you can cope with the inevitable knock on the door to talk about faith or look for a different place to live.

4. Taxes can be a challenge when you start living in Utah.
If you look at the current tax structure of Utah and compare it to the rest of the United States, you’ll find that it hits the exact median of what to expect. The state is the 25th highest in the country for its overall rate of taxation. There is an income tax of almost 5% that applies to your income, a sales tax that can be up near 9% in some communities, and a property tax rate of 0.66%.

Then there are the alcohol, cigarette, and gasoline taxes that you’ll need to pay when living in the state. If your plans involve business ownership when moving here, there are additional taxation issues that you’ll want to review before finalizing your plans.

5. Home prices are rising rapidly in the state.
The average price of a home in Utah has risen by over $100,000 in just five years. Zillow states that the median rate in 2015 was $229,000. By the end of 2019, the expected valuation is $332,000. Although the cost of housing in the state is reasonably affordable, especially if you can be outside of the Salt Lake City metro area, the prices are continuing to rise at one of the fastest rates in the country.

If you are trying to keep costs down, that means you’ll be living somewhere that is outside of the normal pattern of traffic. The rural communities can be 100+ miles from where you plan to work, so your commute (and the wear and tear on your vehicle) could be extensive.

6. Driving can be problematic when living in Utah.
When you can go for over 100 miles without running into another town, then there is a desire to drive a little bit faster. You’ll find that the wide-open spaces encourage a heavy foot on the accelerator, even if you’re not the biggest fan of speeding. If you live in a community like Delta, then you could be an hour away from the next significant town. There are a lot of places, especially in the western part of the state, where you are literally in the middle of nowhere.

That means there are a lot of desert climate challenges that you can face when living in the state as well. Sandstone dominates Utah, especially in the southwest where the weather is hot and dry. You’ll have insect issues to manage, water access problems in some regions, and a lot of open space where it could be miles before you reach your neighbor.

7. There are times when you will need to deal with the inversion layer.
If you live in Salt Lake City after moving to Utah, then the mountains which guard this metro area can be helpful because they block the winds in the summer. The only problem is that they do this in the winter months too, which means the smog from the city can become part of an inversion layer that can sit over your home for days. If you have asthma, allergies, or other health issues that impact your breathing, then this disadvantage could be problematic enough that moving here may not be the best idea.

You will find less of an emphasis on sustainability here than in other parts of the country as well. Long stretches of empty highway are a temptation to create litter for some drivers. Shooters go into the desert and leave their casings behind. Even something simple, like using a reusable shopping bag, seems like a waste of time to some in the state.

8. If you like baguettes, don’t purchase the ones you can find here.
For the record, a baguette is a thin, long loaf of French bread that comes from a lean dough. It has a crisp crust to it with a diameter that is 6cm maximum. What you can find in Utah is something closer to a traditional loaf that requires slicing, although the shape of it is somewhat similar. There are a lot of imposters.

And this disadvantage only serves as an example. You will find Utah versions of a lot of foods that may not seem quite “right” to you. If you’re a traditionalist who wants certain items, then you may need to shop at specialty stores to get what you need. It can be quite the inconvenience at times.

9. Utah still uses a 3.2% definition for liquor.
Although Utah has taken recent steps to modernize their liquor laws, the state is far behind the times when compared to the rest of the country. Taverns, bars, nightclubs, and anyone else who sells beer, wine, or spirits shut down at 1am in the state. You can purchase packaged beer at the grocery store, but the maximum alcohol content is 3.2% by weight for beer sold there and at restaurants. That means you must go to a liquor store (unless it is Sunday, because the store will be closed), to stock up on your favorites.

Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.