Wyoming likes to go by the name of the “Equality State.” That is because the rights of women have been traditionally enjoyed here, even becoming the first in the nation to allow for the right to vote, hold public office, and serve on a jury. Even though the politics of the state typically lean toward conservative issues, there is a certain progressiveness about the communities here that make it a welcoming place to live for anyone.
It was not that long ago that great herds of buffalo were roaming the hills, mountains, and valleys of Wyoming. Cody, which is near Yellowstone National Park, was founded by “Buffalo Bill” William Cody. He and many other important figures from the westward expansion era of the United States, from John Colter to Sacajawea, found themselves living here for some time. Museums throughout the state are dedicated to the western way of life in the late 19th century, offering a certain romanticism that is unique in the nation.
Kit Carson, Jedediah Smith, Davey Jackson, Ester Hobart Morris, and Estelle Reel all made positive impacts because they called this state their home. If you want to experience this environment first-hand, then these are the pros and cons of living in Wyoming to consider today.
List of the Pros of Living in Wyoming
1. You will get to experience all four seasons when living in Wyoming.
It does not take long to discover that living in Wyoming will expose you to one of the windiest, driest climates that is available in the United States. The continental climate is semi-arid, with varying topography that makes it possible to experience all four seasons here each year. Spring tends to be the time when the thunderstorms and rain come around. Summers can be hot and humid, which can inspire the occasional tornado to form. Fall stays warm as the leaves change, and then winters provide world-class skiing and outdoor opportunities thanks to the Rocky Mountains.
Even with the challenges of the wind, storms, and prolonged winters, there are parts of the state which receive over 300 days of sunshine each year. If you are strategic about where you decide to live, Wyoming can provide a lot of fun experiences.
2. If you love western food, then you are going to love calling Wyoming your home.
You will not find a culture more “western” in the United States than what is found in Wyoming. That emphasis is especially present in the food choices that are available. You will find most menus offering items like white chicken chili, bison burgers, and elk that are not available if you move further to the east. Chicken-fried steak is like its own food group when you start living here. Trout, steak, and jerky are common. Let’s not forget about the Rocky Mountain Oysters either, since that sounds a lot better than “deep-fried bull testicles.”
3. The transportation infrastructure for Wyoming is effective.
Because there are a lot of wide-open spaces to discover when living in Wyoming, you will find that the road systems are well-maintained. Higher speed limits are present on the two-lane highways to help you legally reach your destination a few minutes faster compared to other western states. You have access to the interstate system with I-80 and I-90 offering east-west connections, while I-25 connects the two while allowing you to reach Colorado or Montana on a road trip.
There are several railroads that traverse the state as well, 13 national highways, and Casper offers an international airport that supplements the other significant air transportation sites in Jackson Hole, Cheyenne, and Casper. Even Yellowstone offers a regional airport if you want to avoid driving.
4. The taxation situation in Wyoming is generally positive for the average household.
When you start living in Wyoming, then you will not need to work about a corporate or personal income tax. That makes it a very friendly state for families who own and operate a small business from their home. The state does not assess taxes on any of the retirement income you earn, nor does it apply a percentage to what you receive from other locations. Even the property tax rate is just 0.62%, which currently ranks it as the 9th-lowest in the United States.
County assessors only evaluate properties for changes in valuation once every six years, so there aren’t the same levels of taxation surprises when living here either. The only issue that some households face is the requirement to pay the taxes in two installments – May and November.
5. You will have access to an outdoor paradise when living here.
Yellowstone National Park receives millions of visitors each year because of the enormity of its natural wonders. With a bulk of the park located in Wyoming, you have an opportunity to head out there to start exploring without needing to deal with the higher costs of hotels, restaurants, and other needs in that area. You can also visit the Grand Tetons, Devil’s Towner, and the Fossil Butte National Monument with relative ease.
Hunting in Wyoming is also one of the best opportunities that the state provides with its abundance of opportunities. There are seasons available for antelope, bighorn sheep, bison, moose, mountain goats, and sandhill crane in addition to the traditional deer and elk seasons that are available in the western states. Hiking and cycling opportunities in the wilderness are also world-class options to consider for outdoor enthusiasts.
6. The crime rate in Wyoming is significantly lower.
Safewise reports that the incidents of violent crime that occur in Wyoming are 2.13 per 1,000 people, which is about 60% less than what it is for the median in the United States. Property crime in the state is also five full points lower per 1,000 people compared to the 27.11 average in the United States. 90% of the communities in the state do even better than the state average for violent incidents, while 80% perform better for property crime.
Lander is easily one of the safest places to live in the United States, reporting zero violent crime incidents for two consecutive years (2017, 2018). Although the community is only about 7,500 people, it is also just a short drive to Yellowstone, and you can take Highway 26 to Casper for supply runs. The distances are something that can take some time to get used to when living here, but the adjustment does occur quickly.
7. People will generally leave you alone when living in Wyoming.
If you want to live somewhere that allows you to enjoy a measure of independence, then Wyoming is the place you will want to be. The people here generally feel like you can be responsible for the choices that you make in life. Although some of the families do put together cliques that can make it difficult to be social or influential in a community, you will find that there is plenty of time to pursue what you love if you also show that you are willing to be accountable for what happens.
8. Even if you commute to work, the time spent in the car is negligible.
If you are living in Wyoming, then there is an excellent chance that you will be working in agriculture. Many ranchers operate their own businesses, working cattle, crops, and other opportunities that are similar in structure. If you want to work in something more “professional,” you might find that the longest commute that you have is about 15 minutes. When the largest city in the state has fewer than 70,000 people, trying to get around town is not as problematic as it would be for other large western cities like Seattle, Portland, or Denver.
9. You will discover a level of authenticity in Wyoming that is unique.
When you start looking at communities around the country that are all trying to act differently as a way to encourage visitors and new households, many of them end up feeling like a copycat of a city like Austin or Portland. The people who live here are authentic. You won’t receive any pretentiousness whatsoever. If there is an opinion to share, then you will hear it. Most folks are honest to a fault. That might not be an advantage to some, but it is an indication that you will always know where you stand on issues.
10. If you like professional sports, then you can drive to Denver easily enough.
When you live in or around the Cheyenne area of Wyoming, then the drive to Denver is usually a couple of hours on a good day with light traffic. You can see all of the professional sports teams you want there without much difficulty on a drive that is comparable to what people in other states travel to see in-state teams. Although that means you might find yourself in the vehicle more when taking a trip, the experience is not necessarily one that you would call “bad.” It’s just another element of life in the state that requires a bit of an adjustment.
List of the Cons of Living in Wyoming
1. You must learn how to manage the issue of severe storms in Wyoming.
When you start living in Wyoming, then it is essential that you keep the 3-day severe storm forecast as part of your daily routine. Because tornadoes can be extremely prevalent in the late spring and early summer, there are statewide drills held frequently to ensure that all residents know what to do if one comes around. You will want to review hail safety information as part of your relocation process too. Because heavy rains are possible here, flash flood information about your property is something that you’ll want to review to make sure that everyone in your family can stay safe.
2. There are no significantly large cities in Wyoming for relocation.
Cheyenne is the largest city in Wyoming, serving as its capital, and it only has about 64,000 people living there. Only four cities in addition to Cheyenne have a population center above 20,000 people: Casper, Laramie, Gillette, and Rock Springs. If you are used to an urban environment with all of the amenities that modern cities provide around the United States, then you will be disappointed by what you find when you start living here. There are still plenty of activities that are available to pursue, but they tend to have more of a rural attitude.
3. You only have a handful of choices to consider for in-state schooling.
The overall educational picture for Wyoming is relatively strong if you are thinking about living here with your family. According to information published by U.S. News and World Report, the state ranks 9th for fiscal stability and 21st for overall quality. Education Week gives the entire public system a total score of 81.1 out of 100 points, which is a B- grade and significantly higher than what the national average happens to be.
4. The cost of living in Wyoming is significantly higher.
You will find a lot of positives to consider when living in Wyoming, but these advantages come at a steep price. The cost of living is about 9% higher throughout the state than the national average. Casper is the most expensive place to live in. If you live in one of the rural communities, you can limit this disadvantage somewhat.
What you will not find here with the educational opportunities is a variety of choices for advanced education. There is only one public university in the state, which is the University of Wyoming. Wyoming Catholic College is the only private institution that is available there. Only 7 community colleges are present to support the population as well. Although the median home cost is about $219,000 in the state, healthcare scores at 133 with the U.S. national average being 100, while housing costs score at 117. Only utilities score lower in comparison with a 94/100 rating against the national median.
5. Diversity levels in Wyoming are not especially high.
The state of Wyoming has a reputation for approaching equality that applies to all people, though you will find that living here offers less overall diversity than what you can find in other locations throughout the United States. 1 in 4 people in the state come from German ancestry, with English and Irish accounting for 16% and 13% respectively. If you are looking to experience a melting pot of different cultures and ethnicities on a daily basis, there are other cities that are better suited for this.
6. There are no professional sports teams of significance in Wyoming.
Because there are only 500,000 people living in Wyoming in total, there are no professional sports teams from the five largest leagues in the United States that play here. If you enjoy watching sports, then your primary option is to attend the events that are hosted by the University of Wyoming. Casper hosts the College National Finals Rodeo each year, while Cheyenne sees the occasional stop on the professional rodeo tour from time to time. There isn’t even a minor league baseball team in the state.
7. Shopping can be a challenge when living in Wyoming.
Because the population centers of the state are so low in total numbers, it can be challenging to find something at times if you are in the market for a niche product. Although you still have access to all of the major retail chains when living here, you will find limited choices for specialty items. When you combine this disadvantage with the spotty cell coverage that occurs, especially in rural areas or in the mountains, then the entire process can sometimes feel like a long journey of frustration.
There are only two shopping malls to explore in the entire state.
8. Restaurant options in Wyoming are also limited.
If you enjoy eating a variety of ethnic foods, then Wyoming might not be the place that you want to call home. You will find that the dishes you eat at the restaurants here are typically under-seasoned, somewhat bland, and often from frozen items since sourcing fresh products can be a challenge. There is the occasional farm-to-table restaurant that offers amazing things, but you may discover that the pizza is a little different, the fish is usually overcooked, and it can even be a challenge to find a decent bagel in some parts of the state.
9. Winter can be a year-long experience when living in Wyoming.
If you decide to live somewhere near the mountains in Wyoming, then it is not unusual to experience snow during the traditional months of summer. Even Yellowstone has seen snow happen in the months of July and August. Although this disadvantage won’t apply if you are someone who loves to play in the fluffy white stuff and don’t mind the cold, the shorter growing season and other unique challenges that are present because of the weather can create unique difficulties that are not present in most of the other states across the nation.
10. Young people leave the state in droves every year.
There is a significant migration of college graduations that leave Wyoming for other states in the west (or beyond) because of the overall lack of opportunities that are present. If you want to pursue a career in almost anything, then the size of the communities in this state is a significant hurdle that could hold you back. It is a nice place to live for someone who freelances or works in the gig economy since there is a lot of independence, but this disadvantage typically means that the overall population is aging. That means the supports for retirement may not offer everything that you want.
11. The wind in Wyoming is legitimately difficult in Casper, Laramie, and Cheyenne’s triangle.
If you travel about 9 miles south of Wheatland, then you will discover an area that is called the Bordeaux Cut. Windsocks are placed on I-25 to prove how windy it is in this region. The wind cut through the mountains naturally over time because of its ongoing speed, making it the windiest place in North America – even beating out places in Alaska. Both Cheyenne and Casper make it into the top 10 windiest cities in the United States as well.
12. You might find that there really isn’t much to do if you don’t love the outdoors.
For many people who live in Wyoming, one of their advantages is that the distance from Cheyenne to Fort Collins is only 40 miles. That makes it possible to find a decent job outside of the state if you don’t mind a little bit of a commute. When you combine the low state sales taxes, the overall quiet, and the outdoors, it can be pleasant. It isn’t an advantage if you want to have anything that is remotely like a social life. You’re eating at chain restaurants, managing time on your own, and that can be challenging for some people.
The pros and cons of living in Wyoming work to balance a lifestyle that features independence and equality with one that offers less overall accessibility. It is a state that feels like an outdoor playground, but there are not the same levels of support present that large metropolitan centers can offer. Consider each of these key points to determine your comfort level, and then see if moving here is a decision that makes sense.
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.