Thinking of Moving to Salt Lake City, Utah? 5 Things You Need to Know!

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Should you move to tuah?

I grew up in American Fork, Utah, and WOW has this state changed in the last ten years. While I was getting my undergraduate degree at Stanford, it was fascinating (kind of weird?) to see #SiliconSlopes spring up just outside of my hometown.

I have been STOKED to see diverse and wonderful people move to the state, and I get a lot of email inquires about moving here. Questions include:

  • Where should I live? Do I need a car to live in Salt Lake City? (Likely commuting to Lehi, Utah)?
  • What do I need to know about LDS (Mormon) culture?
  • How politically aware and intersectional are Utahns?
  • Where should I take skiing or snowboarding lessons?
  • How diverse is Salt Lake City?
  • What is the LGBTQ+ scene like?
how to decide whether or not to move to utah
Utah is EXPLODING in growth – construction is everywhere!

Some Background & A Note on Bias

So I’m a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and, as you can imagine, growing up in Utah wasn’t always the best. I wrote more about my experience with the Mormon church and waving a rainbow flag here.

So I’m a little biased in a veryyyyy left-leaning direction. I have a bad taste in my mouth about some parts of Utah culture, so just know where you’re getting your info from!

Okay, let’s DIVE IN!

Plus Size Looks for LGBT Pride - Utah blogger
Hey, I’m Brianne! Fashion blogger, consultant, general raiser of H-E-Double Hockey Sticks

Q1: Where should I live in Northern Utah?

Okay, so Northern Utah has the TRAXX public transit system, and it goes from Salt Lake City all the way down to 1-2 hours south in Spanish Fork, Utah. It passes through the heart of Silicon Slopes, but it does NOT go over to Park City.

If we were getting coffee right now, I’d tell you (if you’re not LDS and you’re single) to move to Salt Lake City proper. At the very least, stay north of Lehi, Utah.

There’s a sort of dividing line at the “Point of the Mountain” (a spot on the I-15 freeway), and things get a LOT more conservative and kid-focused in Utah County.

The “LGBT” neighborhood is Sugarhouse, within SaltLake City.

how to decide whether or not to move to utah

Note: If You Have Kids

A majority of the population in Utah County is LDS, or Mormon. It’s getting more diverse, butt because the population is a bit monolithic I wouldn’t move my kids to anywhere in Utah County. I have heard many a non-LDS person (who grew up in Utah County) talk about how hard it was.

LDS folks are taught not to date outside of their faith which adds a whole layer of drama to adolescence. Combine that with seminary class (LDS kids walk across the street to a church building), and it’s a little ostracizing.

You still may encounter this in SLC, but it’ll be toned down quite a bit.

buying a house in utah

Do I need a car to live in Salt Lake City?

I would absolutely get a car! If you live and work in SLC, you can probably get away without one. While TRAXX is great, its main job is connecting larger cities. Getting around will be kind of difficult.

Also, you’re going to want to get a car with 4-wheel drive for your first winter. After that, you can decide if you need one!

public transportation in utah

Q2: What do I need to know about LDS (Mormon) culture?

Ohhhh, wow. I can’t take you on a crash course through Mormonn culture, but here are some things to note:

Commerce

Utah was settled by Mormon pioneers who were driven out fo the Eastern United States! Because of this, Utah Mormons tend to CULTURALLY prioritize working with and paying other Mormons. This is what happens when a group of persecuted people settle in the middle of nowhere!

“Church Callings”

Unlike other Christian churches, the LDS leadership is made up of non-trained or volunteer people. Sometimes in certain companies, a team member’s opinions or work will be given more weight because they are higher up in the church leadership.

People will also call the LDS Church “THE church.”

how diverse is utah

Politics

While the state is getting more purple, the LDS Church really controls what happens in the state legislature. Most LGBT advocacy groups lobby on two fronts, the government and “Temple Square” (where the headquarters of the LDS church are.)

Q3: How intersectional or aware are Utahns? (Mirco-aggresions?)

So, fun factoid. Back when the LDS church was in its first 100. years (ish) of existence, missionaries were sent out to convert people.

When people converted, they moved to Utah!

A lot of the missionary work took place in Western Europe.

being a person of color moving to utah

How racially diverse is Utah?

So, Utah is about as diverse as a loaf of Wonder Bread. It’s getting better! But every time a friend from outside Utah visits me, this is one of the first things they comment on!

Because of this, a lot of adults who were raised here grew up in schools where there was maybe 2-3% non-white people. From talking with people of color who live here, there are going to be some backhanded compliments and stereotyping.

is utah diverse

So, before you move here, I’d walk through the company building you’re going to work in and scope it out. If everyone looks like they’re going to star in a wholesome clothing catalogue from 1993, GTFO // ask for more money.

Q3: Where Should I Take Skiing or Snowboarding Lessons?

Great question! Park City, Utah, has a WHOLEEEE setup for skiing and snowboarding. From resorts to day trips, it’s super easy to book a weekend getaway. To get the best pricing, buy a pass before the season starts.

I’m more of a “hang out in the lodge” kind of gal, so I’d go with whatever sport seems the most appealing. If you travel to Europe a lot, you’ll probably want to learn to ski!

skiing in utah

Q4: What is the LGBTQ+ Scene Like?

It can be kind of tense, to be honest. I wrote more about LDS culture and doctrine HERE, but the TLDR version is this:

The LDS faith’s #1 tenant is the sanctity of a heterosexual and cisgender marriage. Full stop.

The LDS faith’s #1 tenant is the sanctity of a heterosexual and cisgender marriage. Full stop.

In order to truly progress through a post-Earth life, one has to be married in a Mormon temple. Unlike other Christian faiths, marriage and its importance is central to the faith. Other Christians view marriage as a sacrament or a part of life. To LDS folks, marriage *is* life.

LGBTQ in utah
To be fair, some LDS members are working hard to build bridges between the LDS and LGBTQ+ communities.

Sooooooo when people show up and do’t fit into that mold, it can get weird.

The state has made some great strides! If you’re an LGBTQ+ person thinking of taking a job in Utah, I would ask about diversity programs or groups at the org, and I’d also ask to speak to LGBTQ+ members on-staff.

You can ALSO look up sponsors for Utah Pride. Sponsoring PRIDE is a big decision for an org in Utah, and really speaks to company culture.

utah state politics

Q5: The Utah Housing Market

The Utah housing market is BANANAS. Seriously. People make offers on homes they haven’t seen! (This has likely contributed to the sucesss of a Utah home buying startup, called Homie.)

If you’re house hunting, be prepared to make quick decisions. My family has used the Aaron Drussel Group for multiple home purchases, so definitely give them a call if you’re house hunting! Tell Denise I sent you! 😉

utah housing market

Q6: Do *I* think YOU should move to Northern Utah?

If you love the outdoors and you want to take advantage of a lower cost of living in a tech scene, come on through! Be aware of the emotional wear and tear that a more conservative population can have and demand a higher starting salary.

Be prepared for some moments where you feel like you’re in the Twilight Zone. With good humor, you’ll do just fine!

Utah Recommendations!

Here are some blog posts on Utah activities and restaurants:

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