Are you considering trading California’s sandy beaches for Utah’s mountainous landscape? While the California sun draws people in from miles around, high living costs are driving some people out of the Golden State and into Utah. Whether you’re looking for a cheaper place to live, a change of scenery or you have a new opportunity waiting for you, Utah is a great place to call home. The state is home to breathtaking waterfalls, blossoming businesses, and “the greatest snow on Earth!”
If you are thinking about moving from California to Utah, we have some resources for you. We have included a list of significant differences between the two states encompassing taxes, culture, and things to do. We can also provide you with a list of some of the top cities to live in Utah based on factors like safety and schools. Finally, we offer a complete moving checklist that might help you during your cross-country move.
What to Know Before Moving to Utah
Thinking about relocating to the Beehive State? Read on to learn about job opportunities and way of life in Utah.
The Great Outdoors Await
While California has crashing waves and beautiful beaches, Utah has breathtaking mountain ranges and majestic rock outcroppings. Utahns like to take the occasional day off work to go skiing and snowboarding at some of the most fabulous resorts in the world. Take advantage of the fantastic slopes of Park City Mountain Resort, where the US Ski Team practices. Alternatively, visit any of the thirteen other skiing spots, including the world-class Sundance or Brighton resorts. On top of the fresh powder and endless ski and snowboard runs, you’ll also enjoy luxurious rooms, delicious dining options, relaxing spa treatments, and bubbling hot tubs.
Skiing isn’t the only outdoor activity available to you in Utah. The state has an outstanding landscape complete with some of the best national parks in the world. Zion is home to stunning waterfalls and incredible wildlife, as well as excellent hiking. You can also visit the Arches, Bryce Canyon, or Canyonlands, among many other spectacular locations. There’s something for everyone—take an easy hike, camp out for a few nights, take amazing photos, or enjoy a picnic. Climbing is also a favored sport in Utah. You’ll see plenty of Utahns climbing and rappelling cliffs all over the state.
Looking for something comparable to California beaches? We would be remiss if we didn’t mention Lake Powell on the Utah-Arizona border. It’s the second largest manmade lake in the US, making it a perfect spot for boating. Get out there and fish, waterski, or enjoy the warm sand beneath your toes.
Utah’s Culture is Vibrant
You might be surprised by Utah’s vibrant art and music culture. Park City hosts the annual Sundance Film Festival, attracting the rich, famous, and Hollywood elite! There are also dozens of other exciting events including:
- The Utah Arts Festival
- The Tulip Festival
- The Shakespeare Festival
There’s nothing like Utah’s concert venues. Take a trip to the Saltair to see all different genres of artists – from Green Day to T-Pain. You can find outdoor concert venues, too, with live music and different concert series.
There’s excellent city life in Salt Lake as well. Temple Square is a beautiful site with walking tours available in forty languages. You can access vast records of genealogy or pause to listen to the talented Tabernacle Choir. You can also take a walk across the 40-acre Utah State Capitol or do some serious shopping at the enormous City Creek Center. The mall is a fun place to explore, complete with well-known brands, a retractable roof, and a fish-filled creek running through the middle!
You’ll find that people are friendly and often religious in the Beehive state. Salt Lake City is home to Temple Square and other offices of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This group makes up a significant portion of the Utah population.
Job Opportunities Abound
Utah’s job market is thriving, enhancing Utahns’ quality of life. The current job market caters to both business professionals and creatives. You’ll find opportunities in industries like:
There has been significant growth in job openings over the past several years, and the state’s unemployment rate is lower than the national average. Some of the largest employers in Salt Lake City include companies like Adobe Systems, the University of Utah, and Delta Airlines. Herb Scribner of Deseret News describes Salt Lake City as having “the most diverse job market in the U.S.”
Travel and Transport are Easy
Salt Lake City Airport is Delta’s western flight hub, second in size only to Atlanta! Salt Lake City has many flights going in and out daily, many of which are nonstop flights. The following airlines also serve Salt Lake City:
- Continental Express
- United Airlines
- US Airways
- US Airways Express
- United Express
Traveling in and out of Utah for business or pleasure is easy. As far as transportation, the state has worked to improve its highway infrastructure over the past ten years, making it easier to navigate. While the roads can be stop-and-go, the traffic, when compared to many places in California is minimal! You’ll also find efficient public transportation including the TRAX light rail system, which serves the Salt Lake Valley.
Taxes are Lower than in CA
If you’re used to California’s sky-high tax rates, get ready to put a little more cash in your pocket! California has the nation’s highest income tax at 13.3%, while Utah has a relatively low 5% state income tax rate. One downside to Utah’s tax policies is the retirement tax. Utah is not the least retirement tax-friendly state, but Utah does tax Social Security benefits and withdrawals from retirement accounts.
Utah is a flat tax state. Income tax is 5% for everyone, regardless of income level. According to the Tax Foundation, the typical tax bill rings up at $980 per person. Utah’s property taxes are on the lower side, and sales taxes are at the US average. On another positive note, Utah has no estate tax!
Overall Wellbeing is Noteworthy
Provo, Utah showed the very highest level of wellbeing of any city in the nation, according to a 2013 Gallup Poll. Provo has topped the list more than once in the past several years.
What about Utah as a whole? Are people this happy and satisfied across the state? According to the 2017 “state of wellbeing” rankings created by the State of American Well-being, Utah places at #9 out of all 50 states. These wellbeing surveys include elements like purpose (feeling motivated and like you are accomplishing your life goals), social (feeling supported by meaningful relationships), and physical (having good health and energy).
What’s more important than your overall sense of wellness? While moving to Utah isn’t necessarily a magic trick, it can be a positive change to be around people who feel good and purposeful in their day-to-day lives.
Best Places to Live in Utah
Now you know that Utah offers a sense of wellbeing and incomparable outdoor escapes, but in which city should you buy or rent a home? Nothing is more important than the community you surround yourself with, and in any state, that varies from city to city.
Park City boasts one of the best ski resorts in the world, but it’s also a great place to live. Just 35 miles from the Salt Lake International Airport, it was initially a small mining town, but has grown into a metropolis!
Park City lies at 7,000 feet about sea level and has a population of about 7,500. Park City’s public school system is one of the best in the state. Park City High School ranks in the top 2% of high schools in the whole country.
You’ll enjoy more than just skiing in Park City. This city offers all four seasons, so you can also go boating, throw out some fishing lines, or enjoy world-class biking. Or explore Main Street where the festivals and shopping are abundant. You can also discover the Utah Olympic Park, where winter Olympic events took place in 2002.
Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City is home to just over 200,000 residents, while the outlying metro area is home to about a million more. The median home price here is $232,500, making it affordable for first time home buyers. Research shows that many millennials are buying their first homes in Salt Lake City thanks to extensive job opportunities and the conveniences of city life on a budget. Salt Lake City is Utah’s capital, and it caters to a variety of tastes. Here, Broadway plays and symphony concerts, city parks, and ski resorts are all right outside your door. You can also enjoy beautiful open parks like Liberty, Sugarhouse, or Pioneer Park.
You’ll also find top-of-the-line hospitals and universities in Salt Lake City. The unemployment rate is a low 5.3 percent, and the average commute time is significantly lower than in other Utah cities! According to the Deseret News, World Report recently ranked Salt Lake City as the 10th best place to live in the whole nation, beating out other great cities like Colorado Springs and Nashville. If you’re looking for diverse job options and plenty of entertainment, Salt Lake has it all!
Provo has exploded as a technology and research hub in recent years. The city is considered pro-business and a thriving place for startups to put down roots. Of course, the presence of Brigham Young University and its 32,000 students makes the city a lively place to live! If you want to enjoy the perks of Provo while avoiding the thousands of co-eds, you can move just north to Orem.
Interested in excellent healthcare? The Utah Valley Regional Medical Center and Utah State Hospital offer highly rated medical services. You’ll also discover convenient transportation with direct access to Interstate 15, which is one of the best and only ways to access many of Utah’s cities!
In Provo, you’ll find plenty to do outdoors, from hiking to whitewater rafting. You’ll also see a lot of volunteerism and charity in the area.
Provo boasts an unemployment rate of only 3.9%, with the US average at 5.2%. The cost of living is slightly higher than the US average, and the population is over 115,000. And don’t forget, Provo was ranked with the highest level of wellbeing of any city in the US!
Ogden, a suburb just north of Salt Lake City, has a population of 85,000 with a median income of $41,036. The median home value is under $130,000, making it a pretty affordable place to live.
In Ogden, you’re tucked away from the city life, but you’re not too far from it either. You’re a quick car ride to skiing, live music, or work. There have been many revitalization efforts in the city over the previous years, and people living here are notably open and friendly. Activities include visiting Ogden’s Dinosaur Park, the Hill Aerospace Museum, or the Waterfall Canyon Trail.
Ogden features many family-oriented, safe suburban areas. Large employers include Hill Air Force Base, Thiokol, Levelor, and the IRS. Ogden’s cost of living is almost 2% lower than the rest of the US. Unemployment rates are at a low 5.2%, and jobs have increased by nearly 3% over recent years.
Highland’s population is about 18,000 with a median home value of $460,000. Home values are higher in the city because the income level is also considerably high. Highland has a notably low crime rate, making it a secure place for individuals and families. It recently took the top spot as the safest city in Utah, with only 0.14 violent crimes and 6.24 property crimes per 1,000 residents.
Highland is known as a family-oriented community, which may discourage those who enjoy the party scene. There are also many locations for independent living, senior apartments, and retirement.
You’re nearby a lot of great sites and activities in Highland, including:
- Timpanogos Cave
- Mount Timpanogos Wilderness Area
- True North Axe Throwing
- Seven Peaks Fun
Additionally, there are plenty of parks and outdoor places where you can enjoy a hike or stroll. The public schools in Highland are also above average, and many residents enjoy the tightknit community.
So which city sounds right for you? We encourage you to do some more research on the towns that piqued your interest, and of course, if you get the chance, visit them before your big move!
Moving to Utah from California Guide
Getting ready for the big move is always overwhelming. It’s best to write down an outline of things to do so that you won’t get behind. We want to make sure you don’t forget any important steps during your move, so we have designed a cross-country moving guide just for you!
Months Before the Move
Get ready for your big adventure! A few months before the move, you should:
- Research communities and schools. Which area is ideal for you? Are you looking for a family neighborhood or one with a great nightlife? Take a flight or drive out to visit potential communities, apartment complexes, and homes. If you have a friend or family member who lives in the area, they can be an excellent resource for recommendations. Get a realtor if you need one. Secure a place to live or at least have a plan for accommodations for when you arrive.
- Consider with whom you will be living. Find a roommate or talk about upcoming changes with your family.
- Give notice to your landlord. If applicable, make sure you provide enough notice, so you won’t be charged for breaking the lease on your current place.
- Reserve a storage garage. If you’ll be returning to California or need to keep anything in the area, make sure you have somewhere to stash it.
- Make travel arrangements. If you are staying in a hotel temporarily, make the reservations. You may also want to book a car moving service if you’re not planning to drive your vehicle or vehicles all the way to Utah.
About a Month Before the Move
About one month before the move, you should plan to:
- Call around to cross country moving companies and get some quotes. Choose a moving company who cares about making your move stress-free. Explore all services like packing, equipment, packing materials, and of course, moving furniture and boxes on moving day, and driving your possessions across the country.
- Choose a moving date and reserve your moving company. Don’t forget to fill them in on all your needs and expectations.
- Create a packing strategy and timeline. For example, first, pack up your nonessentials and less commonly used items like home décor, books, extra blankets, bedding, etc. Then, as you draw closer moving day, you can start moving kitchen appliances and unloading dressers.
- Start cleaning out your house. Start with the places and things you don’t use every day. For example, unpack the attic or the closet. Don’t be afraid to get rid of stuff you never use. Give yourself a decent length of time to clean out your house, so that you’ll sort things out properly. Make sure you’re only bringing what you love and need, not just throwing everything into a box!
- Arrange things with your school district, employer, and other relevant institutions. Don’t forget to cancel gym memberships and visit other similar commitments.
- Set up a change of address on USPS.com.
- Note all tax-deductible moving expenses. Many moving costs may be tax deductible or paid by your employer if you are transferring. Remember to make a note of household donations to charity.
- Check on your insurance policies. You may need to update your auto or homeowner insurance based on your travel plans and your new living space. Make sure your current providers cover you in a new state and are covering everything you need. Health insurance may also need to be adjusted if your insurance is state-based or only available in some parts of the country.
A Few Weeks Before the Move
Getting close to moving day? These tasks should be on your to-do list:
- It’s packing time! Keep donating, throwing away, and minimizing your possessions. Put all your things into well-labeled boxes. You can get boxes from your moving company.
- Go above and beyond to get rid of things you don’t need or use. Host a garage sale to get rid of books you don’t read and furniture that won’t fit. It’s okay to have memorabilia, but this move is a chance for a fresh and clean new home! On top of a garage sale, you can use apps to sell gently used items and donate to places like Goodwill.
- Create a kit or box of things you’ll need during the move. Gather up a few things you will need leading up to and even during your relocation, such as medications, snacks, and cleaning supplies.
- Cancel your current services. Cancel services including Internet, electricity, and security and set them up at your new residence, so they will be ready when you arrive.
- Start meal planning. Think about how you can use up everything in your fridge and pantry before you move. This forethought can save you a lot of money in the weeks leading up to the move. Use as much as you can and then try to find a means to give away the rest!
The Week of the Move
When the week of the move arrives, there are just a few more things to do:
- Pack those last few things and complete a thorough house cleaning. Clean stoves, walls, baseboards, etc. Make sure everything looks great, especially if you have a security deposit!
- Service your car if it’s coming with you! It will give you both safety and peace of mind to get an oil or tire change before the move. Even if you’ll be using an auto transport service, it helps to have tasks like this done once you get to your new place.
- Consider where pets and kids will be on moving day. Plan for entrance into your new residence.
- Say goodbye to friends, neighbors, and favorite places.
- Give away or throw away food and clean out the fridge.
- Complete a final walk-through before the movers come. Make sure you’re not leaving any possessions or messes.
Now, thanks to Great Guys Moving, you have a complete list of to-dos for before your move. Best of luck and we hope you love your new home!