Moving to Salt Lake City

People move to Salt Lake City to seek many different things – higher education, great jobs, rich cultural resources, or unmatched access to outdoor recreation. Salt Lake City provides all those things and more. The thriving economy plus stellar natural beauty are major draws for new residents. With four distinct seasons, countless hikes, ski slopes, lakeshores, cycling trails, and golf courses nearby, nature around Salt Lake City tops locals’ to-do lists. 

Imagine waking up to mountain views that make it hard to picture living anywhere else. One of the most popular destinations for young folks, the city has a thriving arts and culture scene with stellar nightlife and numerous festivals. Many walkable neighborhoods, efficient public transportation, and less traffic congestion than many cities its size add to the quality lifestyle. No matter what brought you, you’ll be glad you came!

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Living in Salt Lake City, UT: What to Know Before Moving to Salt Lake City

The most populous city in Utah, The City of the Saints, is home to 200,591 people, but the metro area is closer to 1.2 million. With friendly people and a great quality of life set against 222 sunny days per year, what’s not to love?

Pros and Cons of Living in Salt Lake City

Pros:

  • Access to natural beauty – your outdoor environment won’t get much better than this. 
  • Quality of life – City amenities, convenience, and friendly residents.
  • Climate – Hot summers, cold winters, and not much humidity. 
  • Great nightlife – Plus, the city is small enough for a newbie to become a “local” quickly. 
  • Great universities – Top-notch higher education is available. 
  • Thriving economy – Good jobs are available in several industries. 
  • World-class skiing – Nine awesome ski resorts within an hour of the city.

Cons:

  • Rapid growth – The city is experiencing growing pains.
  • Traffic – Growth is contributing to increased congestion.
  • Air quality – Winter inversions can hold smog in the valley.
  • Mormon majority – In some cases, Non-Mormons can feel a little isolated.
  • State-run liquor stores – Buying booze can be challenging.
  • Lake stench – A few times a year, for short periods, Salt Lake is stinky.

Tax Rates

  • Property tax: Primary residences are taxed at .736% on 55% of their value, making this one of the lowest property tax rates for a major metropolitan area in the nation. 
  • Sales tax: Residents of SLC pay a combined sales tax rate of 7.75%, compared to a 7.3% average sales tax rate for the US.
  • State income tax: A flat state income tax rate of 5.0% counterbalances the high sales tax rate. The US average state income tax is 4.6%.

Housing Market

Salt Lake City is following a larger state trend of booming real estate, although the percentage of homeowners hasn’t budged in almost a decade. Renters currently occupy 51.5% of the households in Salt Lake City, a number that seems unlikely to change anytime soon. The median home value is $399,400 as of September 2019, but the median list price of homes is $434,900. Home prices increased 6.7% in the past year and are forecasted to go up another 2.5% in 2020.

Rapid population growth is fueling the booming real estate market. All signs point to an increase in affordable high-density housing as a solution. Unfortunately, all of this means that rental rates are on the rise, with median rent currently at $1,600, just above the national average. Renters will find Salt Lake City less expensive than most large cities. Despite rising rents, it’s still possible to score a good deal in neighborhoods like Rose Park, Westpointe, and Poplar Grove. 

Cost of Living

The cost of living index in Salt Lake City – 126.8 – is higher than the national average. This inflated cost of living is primarily due to housing costs that are almost double the US average. Bestplaces.net calculates the cost of living index based on a US average of 100. Housing is SLC is 189.5. Other higher than average costs are health 103.5 and transportation 105.4. Lower than average costs include groceries 91, utilities 94.1, and miscellaneous (eating out, insurances, repairs, etc.) 98.6.

The median income in Salt Lake City is $45,833, which is almost $13,000 less than the national average. Based on Economic Policy Institute calculations, a single person living in Salt Lake City can expect to get by on $2,827 per month, but a couple with two children must earn $6,798 per month ($81,578/year) to enjoy a reasonable quality of life. 

Weather & Natural Disasters

While Salt Lake City winters are known for being cold, the overall weather is quite favorable. Spring temperatures average a high of around 60 degrees and lows in the mid-30s, with skiing still on the menu until April. The warmest month is July, with highs hitting the low 90s; however, with the low humidity and high elevations, it’s prime time for outdoor recreation. Fall brings beautiful foliage and sweater weather with highs around 70 and lows in the 40s. And winter is cold, often below freezing, but frequently sunny and generally offering exceptional snow in the surrounding mountains for snow sports. Locals know to wear layers in spring and fall and always to keep that SPF handy to shield skin from the bright, high-altitude sunshine. 

Salt Lake City is considered safe from tornadoes and earthquakes, but because it sits in a valley, it’s at risk of flooding; wildfires also pose a threat. Checking whether a property is in a flood zone before buying is advisable, and investing in flood insurance is never a bad idea. Be Ready Utah has several online tips to help families plan for disasters. 

Economy & Job Market

Salt Lake City has one of the most diverse job markets in the country, with the state ranking number 2 nationally for job creation. Utah’s capital city is attractive to employers because it offers a strong labor force. Healthcare, tech, tourism, and hospitality offer many employment opportunities.

The 2.9% unemployment is well below the 3.7% national average, which makes it a job-seekers’ market. Some of the largest employers are Adobe, Delta Airlines, doTerra, Ebay Inc, Goldman Sachs, and Co, JetBlue Airways Corporation, Intermountain Healthcare Medical Center, Overstock.com Inc, Salt Lake County, University Hospital, University of Utah, and Zions Bancorp. 

Job seekers should look for jobs in higher education, healthcare, tech, and hospitality. You may want to begin your search at the SLC government career center website, Utah Jobs, Utah Job Network, or LG Resources. The bottom line is that there are always jobs to be found at all levels of experience in Salt Lake City. 

Traffic and Transportation

Salt Lake City has fairly predictable rush hour traffic, with northbound I-15 particularly congested in the mornings and southbound congestion in the afternoon. Anywhere close to the University of Utah will see some heavy traffic in the mornings between 7:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. and afternoons from 4:30 to 6 p.m. The southbound I-215 exits to I-15 can be slow-moving during rush hours. Compared to most major cities, however, traffic is a breeze in Salt Lake City. 

I-15 is the major north-south thoroughfare. I-215 runs north-south parallel to I-15 then turns east to connect with I-15 south of the city. I-80 runs west from Salt Lake City, eventually connecting to Reno, Nevada. 

Locals and tourists alike appreciate the array of public transportation options that provide access to the airport, ski resorts, and downtown SLC. The city has a light rail line known as TRAX, which offers three color-coded routes. TRAX is an efficient way to get around the city. Inside the city center, TRAX is free of charge but costs $2.50 each way for routes outside the downtown area. A bus system operated by the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) offers connecting service to most areas of the Greater Salt Lake Area.     

Salt Lake City has a mediocre walk score of 57, with only a couple of neighborhoods scoring above an 80. The bike score fares better at 70, with a few neighborhoods coming in over 90. With a below average transit score of 44, most people drive to commute and run errands. Even though the public transit rating is low, locals consider it efficient, and it can be helpful on snow days if the stations are convenient to your destination.  

What to Do

Salt Lake City residents have historically been either a religious bunch or outdoorsy types, attracted to the area for Mormon leanings or the stunning natural surroundings. However, in recent years, the city has blossomed into a place overflowing with all kinds of folks who enjoy live music, award-winning restaurants, and arts and leisure activities. From parks to public art, here are a few things you can expect to find in your new home town. 

Salt Lake City is a food lover’s paradise. There are more than half a dozen local farmers’ markets serving up fresh produce, prepared foods, artisanal goods, and entertainment from June through October – and one market that’s exclusively open on Saturdays all winter. Forget the prohibition-era style restrictions you’ve heard about, SLC now offers brewpubs, artisanal cocktails, locally-produced ciders, and more for those who enjoy socializing over their spirits. In addition to great beverages, the local food scene is blooming like a rose offering award-winning Mexican to Americana and many ethnic stops in-between. 

For arts and culture, Salt Lake City has much to offer. SLC is the worldwide headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints LDS). The centerpiece of Downtown is Temple Square, home to the glistening Salt Lake Temple and the Mormon Tabernacle – an amazing space to listen to the world-renowned Tabernacle Choir perform. The Natural History Museum of Utah boasts an impressive collection of biological, archeological, and historical artifacts inside one of the most architecturally significant contemporary structures in the state. The Pioneer Memorial Museum offers odd and interesting history lessons. The Utah Museum of Contemporary Arts exhibits work by local, national, and international contemporary artists, and is open for a gallery stroll on the 3rd Friday of each month. 

Salt Lake City residents don’t have to go far to satisfy their hankering for green space. The city has a total of 81 public parks, ranging from massive regional parks to neighborhood pocket parks – 690 acres in all. SLC also has just over 70 miles of paved and unpaved bike trails and three dedicated bike parks. Wardle Fields Regional Park in Bluffdale is a favorite summertime destination, complete with a zipline and splash pad. Liberty Park has playgrounds, carnival rides, a splash pad, and massive shade trees. Utah Olympic Park is a must-see outdoor attraction, having evolved since the 2002 Winter Olympic Games into a perennial paradise for sporty sorts. Red Butte Garden offers educational programs, including art exhibits, bird watching, horticultural classes, and summer camps. And if you’re into snow sports, Alta and other world-class ski resorts are just an hour from Downtown.

Salt Lake City’s sports fans have plenty of options to stay entertained. The local NBA team Utah Jazz plays home games at the Vivint Smart Home Arena where they’ve been qualifying for playoffs the last several years. Soccer fans can enjoy some MLS soccer with Real Salt Lake playing home games at the Rio Tinto Stadium. And for women’s soccer, the Utah Royals FC have been playing professional women’s soccer at the Rio Tinto Stadium since 2018. While the city lacks a professional football team, the Utah Warriors bring Major League Rugby to Salt Lake City at Zions Bank Stadium where they’ve played since 2018. 

Schools and Universities

The Salt Lake City School District is Utah’s oldest public school district, with two schools in the district over 100 years old. It currently serves around 25,000 students and has a graduation rate of 88.5% that’s climbing annually. Other districts that serve the city are Granite District with 79,100 students, Jordan District serving 53,000 students, Canyons District with 34,423 students, and Murray District serving about 6,500 students. Some of the top-rated schools, according to greatschools.org, are Eastwood School, rated 9/10; Morningside School 9/10; Oakridge School 9/10; Beacon Heights School 8/10, and Ensign School 8/10.

The Salt Lake City area is home to several four-year institutions, including Brigham Young University, University of Utah, and Westminster College. Two-year institutions include LDS Business College, The Art Institute of Salt Lake City, and Salt Lake Community College.  

Crime

Salt Lake City’s crime rates are considerably higher than the national average – about 225% higher. Violent crimes in the city are only 129% higher than the national average, but property crimes are a whopping 241% higher. For a city of Salt Lake City’s size, these crime rates are surprisingly high, making Salt Lake City safer than only 2% of the cities in the United States. 

That may seem dire, but the facts are that year over year crimes in Salt Lake City have decreased by 12%, so the crime problem seems to be slowly improving. And of course, there are some very safe neighborhoods. Before you move, it’s a good idea to more deeply research the crime levels in the neighborhoods where you might consider living.

Utility Providers

Salt Lake City residents rely on several providers for their utilities. If you’re lucky, your landlord will include water and sewage in your rent. However, whether you’re renting or purchasing a home, here are all the resources you’ll need to get connected:

  • Electric service: Rocky Mountain Power is the primary provider of electric service for Salt Lake City, and has served the region for over a century.  Visit the site or call (888) 221-7070 to start, stop, or transfer service.
  • Gas and electric service: Dominion Energy offers competitive gas and energy to Salt Lake City residents. Fill out the online application form to begin a new service. 
  • Water service and trash collection: Local City Government is the water and trash-collection utility of Salt Lake City. Setting up your account for water, sewer, and trash is as easy as calling (801) 438-6900. 
  • Trash collection and recycling service: Salt Lake City’s Department of Public Works takes out the trash in Salt Lake City. To start an account, contact a representative online or call 617-635-4500.
  • Internet and cable services: For internet and cable, residents can choose between Xfinity and CenturyLink. To start an account, click on either of the links above and view the available options. 

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Best Neighborhoods in Salt Lake City, UT

Here’s an overview of our top SLC neighborhood recommendations.

The Avenues

A mere 10 minutes north of downtown, Salt Lake City’s oldest neighborhood is named for its grid system – numbered avenues run east-west and lettered streets run north-south. Bordered to the west by N Canyon Road, the south by S Temple and N Campus Drive, to the north and east, the neighborhood is bordered by natural areas, with a stunning view of the Wasatch Mountains. Proximity to the University of Utah makes this a home for many students, but young professionals and families also enjoy the quiet of this residential area. 

The population is diverse, as is the housing. Mansions cozy up to modest bungalows, and apartment buildings mingle with cottages. And with 54% of the residents renting, you’ll find a good mix of newcomers and old-timers. 

While no one would call this a bustling center of activity, there’s plenty of access to nature, which makes up for the dearth of shopping in the area. The good news is that the lack of shopping options keeps traffic minimal, but there is a grocery store right in the middle of the neighborhood and a few excellent eateries. Many find the area quite accessible by bicycle, and while bus lines do run through The Avenues, most residents choose to drive. 

  • Population – 20,028
  • Home Price – Median home value $422,827
  • Rent Prices – Median rent $904
  • Employers – ARUP Laboratories, Clearlink Technologies, Convergys, Ebay Inc, Fidelity Brokerage Services, Myriad Genetics Inc, Primary Children’s Medical Center, University of Utah, Zions Bancorp
  • Schools – Ensign School, Wasatch School, Eastwood School, Churchill Junior High School, Skyline High School, West High School, Innovations High School, East High School

Something to try: Visit and take a guided tour of the Kearns Mansion.  

Capitol Hill

For great views and the best mix of architecture in the city, head 10 minutes north of downtown to Capitol Hill. The neighborhood is bordered on the south by North Temple and S Temple, to the east by North Canyon Road, to the west by John Stockton Dr, and to the north by Ensign Peak Open Space. 

Despite being the headquarters of the LDS church, it’s also home to a thriving LGBT community and a diverse mix of residents. Only 27% of Capitol Hill residents rent, which should give you an idea of how established the local community is. 

The Utah State Capitol Building anchors this neighborhood, Pioneer Memorial Museum and Memory Grove Park are worth exploring, and there are numerous bars and cafes to visit along the way. The Marmalade District, dubbed for streets bearing the names of fruit trees, is a hotbed of LGBT-friendly clubs, making for lively nightlife. 

There are few amenities in the immediate neighborhood, but grocery shopping is only a five-minute drive away. Commuters from Capitol Hill can access UTA buses and TRAX trains easily, and the bus to downtown is free. Getting to the airport, north or south of the valley, or the University of Utah is easy on public transport from here. 

  • Population – Just over 13,676
  • Home Price – Median home value $393,779
  • Rent Prices – Median rent $962
  • Employers – Air National Guard, American Express, Delta Airlines, Extend Health Inc, Goldman Sachs and Co, Skywest Airlines, Salt Lake County, University of Utah, University Hospital, Utah State Social Services
  • Schools – Ensign School, Orchard Elementary School, Newman School, South Davis Junior High School, Bryant Middle School, Northwest Middle School, West High School, Woods Cross High School, Innovations High School, Mountain High School

Something to try: Enjoy an outdoor “Movie Under the Stars” on the south lawn of the Capitol Building from June to August.  

East Central

Located between Downtown and The University of Utah, you’ll find East Central, bounded on the west by S 700 E, to the east by 1300 E, to the south by 1700 S, and to the north by S Temple. You’ll have easy access to Downtown and the university along University Blvd. 

This neighborhood ranks as one of the best in the city for young people, so the fact that 61% of the residents here rent may come as no surprise. The eclectic community is mostly made up of a healthy mixture of students, families, and singles. A mix of condos and townhomes are the most prevalent new housing types available, and old Victorian homes are slowly making way for higher-density developments. 

East Central offers the Gigal Sculpture Garden, Herman Franks Park, and Faultline Park plus great shopping and amenities. The neighborhood has a community garden and an active community council that works towards improving and maintaining the neighborhood’s history and culture. Porchfest Salt Lake takes place annually in the neighborhood and is an event where musicians play “concerts” on their front porches as onlookers stroll and wander, led by their ears. 

With affordable rents, multiple parks, and a large number of single young people, East Central is a perfect neighborhood for a student or a recent graduate who wants to be in good company and have access to amenities. The fact that the University of Utah is walking distance is a huge plus. 

  • Population – 17,001
  • Home Price – Median home value $263,821
  • Rent Prices – Median rent $900
  • Employers – 6 Continents Hotels Inc, Big-D Corporation, Cache Valley Electric, Canyons Transition Academy, Ebay Inc, Overstock Inc, Salt Lake Community College, Snowbird Operations LLC, United Parcel Service, Verizon Wireless
  • Schools – Emerson Elementary School, Uintah School, Beacon Heights School, Wasatch School, Clayton Middle School, Hillside Middle School, Bryant Middle School, West High School, Innovations High School, East High School

Something to try: Check out the bizarre Gilgal Sculpture Garden, businessman Thomas Battersby Child, Jr’s labor of love that he created between 1947 and 1963.

East Liberty Park

Just east of the 80-acre urban Liberty Park is the aptly named East Liberty Park neighborhood. Lauded as the most walkable neighborhood in town, the area is situated south of 900 S, east of 700 E, north of 1700 S, and west of 1300 E. 

A hippie haven back in the late 60s, the neighborhood has maintained its tightknit feeling over the decades. Today, it’s a quiet neighborhood made up of mixed single-family cottages and bungalows, duplexes, and small apartment houses interspersed with offices and small businesses. Just 42% of the residents rent, and the large community of long-timers is self-evident in the comradery of the area. 

With a good mix of residents and local businesses all in proximity to Liberty Park, the second-largest urban park in the city, it’s not unusual to see neighbors meeting on the sidewalks as they head out on foot to enjoy a nice day. Property values are rising quickly in the area, thanks to an abundance of amenities and desirable tree-lined streets. 

For anyone seeking an urban lifestyle with a small-town feel, this is the place. Plenty of restaurants, cafes, shopping, and fitness studios make it possible to feel as if there is no need to venture out from East Liberty Park. 

  • Population – 8,347
  • Home Price – Median home value $349,161
  • Rent Prices – Median rent $1,053
  • Employers – Amazon, Avalon Healthcare Group, City of Salt Lake, Costco, Housing Authority of Salt Lake City, Microsoft, Patagonia, Pfizer, Silverline Jobs, United Parcel Service, Utah Media Group, University of Utah
  • Schools – Hawthorne Elementary School, Uintah School, Emerson School, M Lynn Bennion School, Clayton Middle School, Bryant Middle School, Innovations High School, East High School, Liberty School

Something to try: Visit the Tracy Aviary, one of the nation’s only two free-standing aviaries. 

Sugar House

Named for the short-lived beet sugar test factory located here in 1855, Sugar House is one of the oldest and trendiest neighborhoods in the city. Only ten minutes southeast of downtown, the neighborhood is bounded on the north by 1700 S, to the east by Foothill Drive, to the west by I-71 (AKA S 700 E), on the south indistinctly by an area between 2700 S and 3300 S. 

The area is a mix of high-rise condos, Craftsman-style homes, and historic bungalows amidst galleries, breweries, and boutiques. Sugar House Park is a beautiful green space that’s a neighbor to The Country Club. Some 40% of the residents are renters, no doubt in part due to the presence of Westminster College. 

The community of Sugar House is eclectic, with plenty of students, families, and young professionals enjoying easy freeway access to I-80, restaurants, and bars. A Wednesday farmer’s market brings fresh produce and a plethora of food trucks into the community, and almost anything you could ask for is within walking distance. 

This neighborhood is a family-friendly and dog-welcoming place with plenty of bike lanes. It’s safe, and while on the more expensive side for Salt Lake City, it’s a tightknit community of folks who feel it’s well worth the expense.

  • Population – 42,141
  • Home Price – Median home value $307,235
  • Rent Prices – Median rent $1,364
  • Employers – Alorica, Inc, Alta View Hospital, Becton Dickinson and Co, Center for Excellence in Higher Education, CHG Healthcare Services, Intermountain Healthcare, Salt Lake County, University of Utah Health, VA Hospital Salt Lake City, Wells Fargo Bank
  • Schools – Hawthorne Elementary School, Indian Hills School, Uintah School, Beacon Heights School, Bonneville School, Highland Park Elementary School, Clayton School, Hillside Middle School, Evergreen Junior High School, Skyline High School, Olympus High School, Salt Lake School for the Performing Arts, Innovations High School

Something to try: Attend the Sugar House Backyard Bash on Labor Day weekend to celebrate all things Sugar House.  

Yalecrest

Located 10 minutes due east of downtown, Yalecrest is an upscale residential neighborhood known as one of the most exclusive zip codes in Salt Lake City. Bordered to the north by E Sunnyside Avenue, to the east by S 1700 E, to the south by 1300 S, and on the west by 1300 E, this is one of the safest and most walkable parts of the city. A large part of the neighborhood is made up of historic homes; the neighborhood has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 2007. 

The idyllic look and feel of Yalecrest’s tree-lined streets and perfectly-maintained yards paint a picture-perfect representation of a well-off American community. Also reflected in the high price tag is the fact that only 19% of residents in the area are renters. High property values and low diversity are some of the only complaints of Yalecrest residents, and those complaints are more than made up for in the quality of life offered by the neighborhood. The community is friendly and charming, made up mostly of professionals, academics, and families. It’s close enough to amenities to be considered walkable. 

Offering easy access to trails, the University of Utah, restaurants, parks, and culture, it’s easy to see the draw of Yalecrest. If you can afford the price tag, it’s one of the safest neighborhoods in the city, with the most beautiful historic homes and high-performing schools. 

  • Population – 4,160
  • Home Price – Median home value $544,091
  • Rent Prices – Median rent $1,460
  • Employers – ARUP Laboratories, CR England Inc, Primary Children’s Medical Center, Fidelity Brokerage Services, Sutter Connect LLC, Ultradent Products Inc, University Hospital, University of Utah, Westminster University
  • Schools –Uintah School, Beacon Heights school, Bonneville School, Clayton Middle School, Hillside Middle School, Innovations High School, East High school

Something to try: Visit the Miller Bird Refuge & Nature Park for beautiful nature hikes along Red Butte Creek.  

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