Article Overview: Living in Salt Lake City, Moving to Salt Lake City
Thinking about moving to Salt Lake City?
As someone who’s lived in Salt Lake City for quite some time I can say there’s a lot to love about SLC!
Breathtaking mountain backdrops, great food, incredible nature, and world class outdoor recreation opportunities are just the start.
Now you should know it’s not all sunshine and fresh powder. There’s also some major downsides worth considering before moving to Salt Lake City.
There are some considerable pros and cons of living in Salt Lake City you should consider before moving here.
And that’s where I come in. Read on for the pros and cons of living in Salt Lake City. Please keep in mind this is my personal list based on first hand experience, not everyone will feel that same way (and that’s perfectly fine).
Pros & Cons of Living in Salt Lake City
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Table of Contents: Living in Salt Lake City
Table of Contents: Living in Salt Lake City
- Pros & Cons of Living in Salt Lake City
- Pros of Living in Salt Lake City
- 1. Great Career Opportunities
- 2. Amazing Access to Nature
- 3. Tons of Outdoor Recreation
- 4. Salt Lake City is a Millennial Town
- 5. Salt Lake City is a Happy Place
- 6. There’s So Much Sunshine
- 7. The Lively Downtown Scene
- 8. Salt Lake City is Inclusive & Increasingly Cosmopolitan
- 9. Great Food Scene
- 10. Salt Lake City is Very Clean
- Cons of Living in Salt Lake City
- FAQ – Living in Salt Lake City
- Comparison of the Pros & Cons of Living in Salt Lake City
- Map of Living in Salt Lake City
- Pros & Cons of Living in Salt Lake City (Summary)
- Pin Living in Salt Lake City
- Pros of Living in Salt Lake City
Pros of Living in Salt Lake City
1. Great Career Opportunities
Let’s start off our pros of moving to Salt Lake City with a great reason to live here. Salt Lake City is ranked the best city in America to start a new career.
If you’re just out of college and/or new to the job market, Salt Lake City is a great place to start out. Healthcare, technology, and energy are three of the hottest sectors here so if you’re looking for something in one of those categories you’re sitting pretty.
The job market in Salt Lake City is on fire right now so even if you’re not new to the job market you shouldn’t have a problem finding one. “Now Hiring” signs seem to blanket the downtown area these days.
2. Amazing Access to Nature
Salt Lake City is spoiled with incredible natural splendor. The Wasatch Mountains sit right up against the city providing a beautiful backdrop and endless possibilities for adventure.
My favorite local spot for nature is the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest which, depending on where you live in Salt Lake, is just minutes away (no more than 30). At 2.1 million acres of mountains, forests, valleys, canyons, rivers, and meadows the UWC makes for a great local playground.
Even closer to home are the 103 parks located in Salt Lake County so you’re never more than a few minutes away from some green space.
3. Tons of Outdoor Recreation
One of the top reasons for moving to Salt Lake City is the access to outdoor recreation. Ranked the 12th best city in the US for access outdoor recreation, the only thing we’re missing is an ocean (although the great Salt Lake is a pretty decent substitute).
The cottonwood canyons (Big Cottonwood Canyon & Little Cottonwood Canyon) is where you’ll find a decent percentage of the population on sunny days and weekends. Both are filled with great hiking trails and even greater skiing opportunities.
Living in Salt Lake City you’ll find some of the most popular outdoor recreation activities include:
- Rock Climbing
- Mountain Biking
4. Salt Lake City is a Millennial Town
It’s official, the young folks dominate Salt Lake City. Making up a majority of Salt Lake City’s population (a full 52%) is the 35 and under crowd.
With this shift toward millennials comes all the things they care about – great coffee shops, new breweries, brunch menus, and all things mid century modern.
And since millennials prefer to shop local rather than big box stores, small businesses are seeing the millennial boost.
5. Salt Lake City is a Happy Place
If you’re looking to brighten your outlook then living Salt Lake City could be for you. Salt Lake City is ranked the 12th happiest city in the United States.
Waving to strangers on the street is not unusual, friendly greetings in stores are common, and smiles lines are everywhere.
It’s no wonder we’ve got sunny dispositions given all the time people spend in the great outdoors and the amount of sunshine we get. Community is also an important factor here, even beyond the Mormon church.
6. There’s So Much Sunshine
Living in Salt Lake City you’ll find that sunshine is no stranger. On average, Salt Lake City gets 222 days of sunshine per year, beating the national average by two and a half weeks.
Moving to Salt Lake City from the south, getting my fair share of Vitamin D was an important factor for me and I have not been disappointed.
While it takes the sun some extra time to get over the mountains each morning, it lingers for a long time. The fact that the Wasatch Mountains are on the east side of the valley makes a big difference as well as sunlight blasts the mountains with beautiful light each evening making for some epic sunsets.
7. The Lively Downtown Scene
Downtown Salt Lake City has a surprising amount of things going on these days. Between the theater, live music, farmer’s markets, bars, restaurants, and events there’s always something to do.
Sports fans can head over to Vivint Arena to see our NBA team (the Utah Jazz) while soccer fans will have to drive down to Sandy to sea our MLS team (Real Salt Lake).
On Saturdays I love heading over to the Downtown Farmers Market in Pioneer Park to pick up some local produce and enjoy the sights.
8. Salt Lake City is Inclusive & Increasingly Cosmopolitan
A common concern I hear (and that I had prior to moving to Salt Lake City) is that Utah is not very accepting. While this is still true in many parts of the state, it’s not the case in Salt Lake City.
The University of Utah is largely to thank for the cosmopolitan attitude attracting students from all over the world.
Speaking personally, I have a pretty diverse group of friends here who feel very welcomed in the city. As a rule of thumb, the close you get to downtown Salt Lake City the more open the people are.
9. Great Food Scene
Foodies thinking about moving to Salt Lake City can rest easy. SLC has a great and growing food scene. While the downtown was hit pretty hard by COVID it’s coming back strong with lots of great restaurants.
The restaurant scene in Salt Lake is both surprisingly and incredibly diverse with flavors from all over the world.
10. Salt Lake City is Very Clean
If cleanliness is important to you then living in Salt Lake City might be a great choice. Salt Lake City recently ranked as one of the cleanest cities in America.
Walking the streets here you’ll find very little graffiti, trash, or litter. Streets are swept frequently and overall Salt Lake City has a clean feel to it. It’s reminiscent of Vancouver, BC in its impeccable cleanliness surrounded by incredible mountain vistas.
This clean comes despite the low air quality (which we’ll get to in a moment).
Cons of Living in Salt Lake City
1. Air Quality is No Bueño
Is the quality of the air an important factor in moving to Salt Lake City for you? If so, I’ve got some bad news to report. Salt Lake City is ranked the 9th worst city in America for air pollution.
Air pollution has been a growing problem for many years here and is showing no signs of improvement. Part of this is due to summer wildfires that (increasingly so) destroy air quality in the valley with clouds of smoke.
Combine that with the frequent winter inversions which trap in all of car exhaust and industrial air pollution in the valley for days at a time and you’ve got a recipe for raspy lungs.
2. Summer Wildfires Are On the Rise
Climate change is wreaking havoc in the western United States with massive and near constant wildfires being one of its the most pronounced effects.
Salt Lake City has been one of the many victims of these wildfires via diminished air quality and destroyed nature. In summer it’s no longer a matter of if but when wildfires will ignite and how close to the city they’ll be.
Seeing that all too familiar plume appear in the Wasatch Mountains and rocket skyward always gives me a pit in my stomach knowing the effect it will have on all of us.
3. Housing Is Expensive
Housing affordability seems to be a problem everywhere right now. Depending on where you’re moving from Salt Lake City from you might find homes here to be really expensive or a great deal.
The current median home price in Salt Lake City is 550K & the average rent is 1400 for a one bedroom.
This is a full 130K above the national median home price of 430K. If you’re coming from the west coast these prices might seem too good to be true while moving from the southeast your eyes might bulge a bit.
4. The Drought is Real
The drought in Salt Lake City has become a major issue of concern in recent years with lakes and riverbeds drying up. The great Salt Lake itself is drying up and reaching record low levels every year.
Just getting to the lake itself nowadays requires a considerable hike because of how much it’s receded. But the drought conditions don’t stop there.
According to NOAA, 99.4% of Utah is currently in some level of drought conditions with 90% of the state at a minimum D2 Severe Drought conditions and a whopping 50% of the state at D3 Extreme Drought conditions.
With the state projected to get drier and drier in years to come, the drought is worth a consideration if you’re thinking of moving to Salt Lake City.
5. Salt Lake City is Really, Really Dry
Now I know you just read about the drought, but the dryness in Salt Lake City is it’s own con. Folks interested in moving to Salt Lake City should know just how dry it is. According to the latest statistics Utah ranked as the 2nd driest state in America.
Speaking personally, coming from the southeastern US before moving here, I did not realize how different it would be living in Salt Lake City.
Something to know about living in Salt Lake City is that not only is there very little rainfall here, but the air is so dry I constantly have to apply lib balm to prevent severe chapped lips and lotion to my skin to prevent it from going full reptile.
If you have sensitive skin then I recommend visiting the state for a week or two to see how you hold up before moving to Salt Lake City. Over time I’ve adjusted by being vigilant but it was a transition for sure.
6. Restrictive alcohol laws
After these cons you’re probably ready for a drink, eh? Think again. Alcohol laws in Salt Lake City are about the strangest and most restrictive there are in the United States.
All liquor transactions directly to the public must happen at state run liquor stores (a monopoly).
While beer and wine can be picked up at most grocery stores and gas stations , the maximum ABV allowed for these is 5% (prior to 2019 it was a mere 3.2%!). Getting higher gravity beers requires a visit to one of aforementioned state run liquor stores.
On top of that, expect small wine pours at restaurants (the maximum allowable is 5 ounces) and skimpy cocktails (1.5 ounces of primary alcohol is the max allowed) at the bar.
Ready to head back home to that expensive house? You better hope those pours were as light as the state requires. The legal BAC (blood alcohol content) in Utah is a paltry .05% (or 1 to 2 drinks) making it the lowest in the United States.
And if that wasn’t sobering enough, you probably guessed it by now, alcohol is really expensive in Salt Lake City (5th most expensive state in the US) thanks to the 5th highest alcohol taxes in the country.
FAQ – Living in Salt Lake City
Yes! Living in Salt Lake City is an ideal choice for outdoor enthusiasts and those who value a balance between city life and nature. Its access to recreational activities, coupled with a growing job market, makes it particularly appealing to young professionals and families who appreciate an active lifestyle and a welcoming community.
Salt Lake City is a great place to retire for individuals who enjoy a mix of cultural experiences and outdoor adventures, thanks to its vibrant arts scene and proximity to national parks. Retirees who appreciate a tight-knit community and want to explore a variety of activities while still having access to city amenities might find Salt Lake City to be a fulfilling choice for their retirement years.
Comparison of the Pros & Cons of Living in Salt Lake City
|Pros of Living in Salt Lake City||Cons of Moving to Salt Lake City|
|Great career opportunities||Poor air quality|
|Access to nature||Summer wildfires|
|Endless recreation opportunities||Expensive housing|
|Vibrant atmosphere with millennials||Drought conditions|
|High happiness index||Restrictive alcohol laws|
|Abundant sunshine||Limited alcohol availability and sales hours|
|Lively downtown with cultural events|
|Inclusivity and cosmopolitan environment|
|Rich food scene|
|Emphasis on cleanliness and tidiness|
Map of Living in Salt Lake City
Pros & Cons of Living in Salt Lake City (Summary)
- Great career opportunities
- Access to nature
- Endless recreation opportunities
- Hopping with millennials
- SLC is a happy place
- Lots of sunshine
- Lively downtown
- Inclusive & cosmopolitan
- Great food scene
- Very clean
- Poor air quality
- Summer wildfires
- Expensive housing
- Drought is real
- Restrictive alcohol laws
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