An Adelaidian’s Guide to Moving to Salt Lake City, Utah! With a population similar in size to Adelaide, Salt Lake is a visually spectacular city — yes, with a unique religious history — that should be on any Australian’s shortlist when choosing somewhere to live in the US.
Here are some things you might not know when considering moving to Salt Lake City, Utah.
This red state is the home of the LDS Church, where religion runs deep
Let’s address the elephant in the room. When most people think of Utah, they think of Mormons. Mormon Pioneer settlers, led by Brigham Young, trekked to escape persecution and settled in the Wasatch Front in 1847. Now, 62% of the population are LDS, a statistic that sets an undeniable influence on the personality and functionality of the state.
LDS pioneers knew what it was to be persecuted, and perhaps for that reason, Salt Lake has become a tolerant city that, while certainly not the most diverse, now embraces minorities. For example, Salt Lake is named as one of the top 51 gay-friendly places to live in the U.S, and it has a large and politically supported gay community.
Utah is becoming a melting pot more than ever before. Active members of the LDS Church are a significant minority in the SLC county, and like Austin, Texas, it is a blue city within a staunchly red state. In the city, and increasingly in surrounding counties in recent years, you can feel welcomed here and be around friends that share your global views, even if you do not belong to the church.
Salt Lake has a growing subculture for those that are not LDS
The church’s rules do affect everyone in some way during day-to-day life, but there’s also a vibrant, thriving subculture emerging for those who don’t belong to the church.
Here are some oddities of Salt Lake culture. The government does ensure that LDS principles are policed; for example, LDS members don’t drink alcohol, and so the government limits the accessibility to alcohol by running “State Liquor” stores and dictating reduced opening hours. Aussies may find it odd that their LDS friends are unavailable on Sundays, or that they won’t partake of a coffee, or will not utter an expletive under any circumstances, for religious reasons.
But these situations are easily outweighed by positives. LDS people genuinely love to help a friend and they are welcoming to Australians. You’ll be interesting to the locals and they will want to know about what Australia is like.
There’s also an exciting craft brewing and distilling movement happening in SLC. There are now 32 breweries here, with great beers and funny names such as Wasatch Brewery’s Polygamy Porter. A scenic drive and tour of distilleries such as High West make for a memorable occasion in an incredible snowy mountain setting.
Five years ago, the term flat white was unheard of in Utah. Now, roasters such as Blue Copper and La Barba produce beans and a cafe experience that’s every bit as good as you get in Australia. In fact, one coffee brand, Campos, operates in ski mecca Park City and is even owned and run by Australians!
There is much, much more to the cultural experience than religion in Utah these days.
Utah has the best snow on Earth — no kidding!
Utah is known for its fantastic skiing. Colorado’s Vail and Aspen ski resorts have strong reputations, but science backs the claim that Utah snow quality provides the absolute best skiing on the planet. It’s all about the density; at 8.5% density, Utah snow is dry and fluffy, with just the right amount of moisture and heaviness. This is a result of the “lake effect”, where Utah’s Great Salt Lake (something that in itself is amazing to see and float on) gives Pacific Ocean storms an extra dry chill before the snow settles on the Wasatch Range.
Utah gets a LOT of snow. Alta, for example, gets 523 inches annually, via an average of 18 storms that typically dump 12 inches or more within 24 hours. And there are 11 resorts to choose from, including Park City and Snowbird, which makes Utah a true paradise for skiers.
The summer, meanwhile, is predictably sunny and the seasons are the opposite of Australia, so July averages 32 degrees. And in winter, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy a magical white Christmas.
The outdoors: Exhilarating Scenery and National Parks make Utah special
When you move to Utah, you gain easy access to some of the most famous and breathtaking national parks and vistas on the planet. If you love the outdoors — hiking, mountain biking, climbing, “ATVing” — Utah is your place. National Parks include Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef, and all offer unforgettable views and experiences. Utah’s mid-western location means Yellowstone and Grand Canyon National Parks are also within comfortable driving reach. Put simply: Australians moving to Salt Lake will be continually and significantly mesmerized by the National Park and outdoor adventure opportunities virtually at their doorstep.
Salt Lake City’s surrounding areas hold surprises at every turn. A short drive up Provo Canyon puts you at Sundance Mountain Resort, the stunning habitat preserved by Robert Redford. Or you can head east for an hour to see land speed attempts at the Bonneville Salt Flats.
What about housing and job prospects for someone new to Salt Lake City?
For Americans, Salt Lake City, Utah, has in recent years risen as a destination for families looking to escape the big-city rat race. San Franciscans and Los Angeleans have cottoned on to all that Utah has to offer and are making their way here. This has contributed to a property market that is pushing young families away. Whether the bubble will burst is unknown, but the housing market as it stands is extremely competitive. If you are moving here, be prepared to fight for an affordable house, and do have a healthy down payment ready.
There is, however, a flip side. Jobs are plentiful, particularly in the tech industry. Thirty minutes south of SLC, a mini Silicon Valley called Silicon Slopes is burgeoning. Companies such as Adobe, SanDisk, and eBay are situated in this region at the foot of the mountains, which has plentiful job opportunities and has helped reduce Utah unemployment to just 2.9% in March this year.
Moving to Salt Lake is a good choice
Salt Lake is a terrific choice for Australians looking for a “first U.S. city” to call home. The city itself is relaxed, picturesque, and accessible; entertainment, great food and festivals are plentiful; it’s a family-friendly city with an artistic cultural edge; and its location makes it the ideal springboard for countless local and interstate adventure opportunities.