How do you like living in the SLC area?

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misSOULa

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Thread starter #1
Hi all,

I first found this site for the backpacking trip reports, and have observed that many if not most of you live in Utah as well as the SLC area. My wife has a potential job promotion in the works that would require a relocation to SLC, potentially near Sandy UT. I have visited SLC a few times, more so simply passing through on my way south to the Moab area, which I will be visiting again here in February. I have lived in Missoula MT for the past 10 years and love it very much. The access to all the recreation and wilderness, decent population size (~70k people), and the semi-liberal and "active" mindset of Missoula have made me really fall in love with the place. An ever rising cost of living, low and stagnant wages, and growing pains of people continuously moving into a city with little more room to grow outwards are some of Missoula's drawbacks.

Some things I would love to learn and hear opinions on from you guys are:

-Do you feel too crowded in the SLC area? (The too many people sort of feel. I grew up in the Seattle area and would never move back today.)

-Does the standard cost of living to general wages seem fairly even? I work as a personal trainer so my profession can transfer pretty easily, and we would be moving for a potentially decent pay raise for the wife.

-As far as wilderness and mountainous areas to go do backpacking trips in, it seems as though the Uintas are the closest place to access? Do you find them to be really heavily used, or able to find solitude if need be?

-Are there particular things that you LOVE or HATE about living in Utah? Being an avid micro beer fan, I know Utah has some odd laws in regards to alcohol percentages and whatnot, any clarification would be appreciated.

Thanks everyone and look forward to your responses!

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Nick

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#2
I'd rather live in SLC than Montana, but that's largely for the proximity to the diversity of wilderness we have and more mellow winters in the valleys. That said, the winters in the valley can also be horrific here because of the inversions that trap pollution in. One year (8 or so years ago) when it got really bad we actually started working toward selling our home to get away from the bad air, but haven't been as motivated since. In my opinion the inversion is by far the worst factor for living along the Wasatch Front.

Coming from a smaller town myself, I don't find the crowding to be an issue at all. It's a pretty easy valley to get around in just so long as you don't have to commute through the south half of it every day (I-15 from I-215 to Draper). I live in Bountiful and work in Cottonwood Heights so I have a pretty significant commute (25-30 minutes) but it's not too bad, especially with the toll pass to use the carpool lane.

I know many will disagree, but I think the Wasatch canyons here in the SL valley are pretty much unusable due to the crowds. There's plenty of other places to escape along the Wasatch and avoid people, but most of the main canyons are congested. The Uintas have great solitude with a reasonably short drive. The west desert has some decent exploring as well. The biggest draw, in my opinion, is the proximity to the Colorado Plateau. From Sandy you're just 3 hours or so from Capitol Reef and The Swell. 4 hours to Moab and Zion. And add a little for many more amazing redrock wilderness destinations.

Housing prices have been getting crazy around here but I think it depends a lot on where in the valley you live and what you do whether it'll feel expensive. Unemployment is very low though and wages seem to be going up. I know that recently I'm paying more for staff in my marketing department than we've ever paid before by a significant jump.

The alcohol thing is a joke. Sometimes they take a step or two forward but then they go and take 3 back like the new .05 BAC DUI law. There are great breweries here but you definitely have to jump through some hoops to enjoy them.

I long to live closer to the desert so for me living in Salt Lake is a necessity for mine and my wife's jobs and to still be fairly close to it, but someday I really want to escape to western Colorado or southern Utah somewhere.
 

MikeM

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#3
The alcohol thing is a joke. Sometimes they take a step or two forward but then they go and take 3 back like the new .05 BAC DUI law. There are great breweries here but you definitely have to jump through some hoops to enjoy them.

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Nick - I'm curious what kind of hoops do you have to jump through to enjoy the breweries down there. Here in MT, you can only have 48 ounces (3 pints) at each brewery, per day. Are there similar restrictions in Utah?
 

Nick

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#4
Nick - I'm curious what kind of hoops do you have to jump through to enjoy the breweries down there. Here in MT, you can only have 48 ounces (3 pints) at each brewery, per day. Are there similar restrictions in Utah?
I don't drink beer much lately so maybe someone else can correct me here, but here's what I know.

In the brew pubs you can only get the strong beer in bottles, not on tap. I believe you can go to the actual brewery and get growlers filled of the real stuff but I'm not sure at all. Someone else here is sure to know.

I don't think there's any restriction on how much you can actually buy or consume assuming you're not falling down drunk.

To purchase the beer outside of the brewery/bar/restaurant, you have to go through one of the state-owned liquor stores. Only low point beer is sold in grocery stores. They price the beer high at the bottle shop and keep it at room temperature. They take all that revenue and give it right back to the state while paying the staff low wages and not putting much into the operation in relation to what it brings in. Business hours at the various stores generally suck and it's not at all uncommon to go in and see a hundred people in line.
 
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#5
Hey Missoula,

I moved from Butte to the SLC area a little over 10 years ago so I may be able to offer a little bit of insight. I've also spent a fair amount of time in Missoula, and if we ever move back, that would be high on the list, although I understand the issues of land available for development and a somewhat stagnant economy.

We are 95% happy here. The bulk of the 5% comes from the bad winter air and frustrating Utah politicians. Not being an LDS member, has been a non-issue as far as positive/negative impact.

A few of the things I miss from Montana are the endless mountain rivers and proximity to Glacier/Canadian Rockies. However, as @Nick mentioned, the diversity of the Colorado Plateau more than makes up for it. You are also centrally located to many top mountain backpacking ranges, Uintas, Sawtooths, Tetons, Winds, San Juans etc. In addition to great access in the Wasatch. The ease of access to great trails is a major plus. Nearly anywhere along the Wasatch front, you can hike/run/bike before or after work. (Although I haven't been in Cottonwood Canyons for a few years, they definitely are getting hammered)

Coming from Butte, the number of people was a little overwhelming at first, but after a while it becomes normal. It's really not that bad. There are more than enough great breweries to satisfy your need.

You will be able to find your left-leaning pockets in SLC, PC and Ogden but as a whole, the undertone of the state is and will probably always be to the right. It's never going to be a Butte or a Missoula.
 

Titans

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#6
@misSOULa - I have moved many times in my life. The grass is never greener somewhere else, it's just a different shade of green so to speak.;)
Every location has great things and things that are not so great....., but I never had any regrets. Go for your wife's new job adventure, you wont need to marry SLC, if you two move there. It might just be for some years. Being so close to the Colorado Plateau and southern Utah would be amazing, imagine all the hiking and backpacking you two could do there!

There are 4 important job considerations : a) Location, b) Compensation, c) Job Content and d) the boss.
There are very few people on this planet that get all 4 right. Most people are happy when 3 of those are good. Many have only 2.

Just keep yourself flexible with housing. We know so many people, who move out of state and far away for a great job and companies will promise the sky to attract talent, when unemployment is low. When things get difficult and an industry is suddenly in decline, then companies will also quickly lay off that talent. We know many who moved, purchased a home or started building a home and then they got laid off shortly after moving so far. I can't tell you how many times we have seen that happen. Young, middle aged- it doesn't matter, it just happens. But if you stay flexible with housing, then you will weather that well.
 
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#7
Montana is nice, but the best part of Montana is Idaho. I moved from Idaho to SLC 4 years ago. Overall it's a great place to live, jobs are plentiful and there are endless opportunities for outdoor activities. The worst part is simply the people, there is tons of people here and they are everywhere. But you learn to find the hidden places that are less crowded. The best part of living in SLC for me is the weather and Southern Utah. Exploring the desert has become my favorite thing ever. I also love to ski and live close to the Cottonwoods so the amazing skiing is great to have as well, just got to get up early to beat the traffic. I can get off work and go night skiing which is great. The inversion can be bad but it's really not that big of a deal in my opinion, seems like we get a couple a year and they don't last very long. I will say that the city was laid out very well and it's very easy to zip around the city, I can be almost anywhere in the SLC area in 20 min, to the ski hill in 25 and to Park City in 30 min.
 

Bob

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#8
Moving out to idaho.... To many people on the front range.... been here for 35 years ........ Glad I've been here to enjoy pre crowded Utah
 

regehr

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#9
Have lived in SLC close to 20 years and would basically agree with things others are saying. The days of cheap housing near the city seem to be over. Traffic has gotten noticeably worse over 20 years. Inversions can be a trial. Beer and food scene has gotten FAR better just in the last 6-7 years. I live in the avenues and can walk to the foothills and to City Creek Canyon. I consider City Creek to be one of the biggest benefits, the other day I walked a section of the north ridge that had not had any foot traffic since the last snow at least a week earlier. Overall it's pretty great and we have no plans of leaving, but I sort of suspect like Bob suggests, that we're getting Californicated faster and faster now.
 

LarryBoy

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#10
Just for a quick summary:

Wasatch - very local (0-30 minutes couch to trail), but not at all remote. Fun peakbagging, technical climbing, skiing, day hiking

Uintas - 90 minutes couch to trailhead. Very remote "big wilderness" once in the wilderness area (there are a couple crowded trailheads right along the highway but the crowds dissipate just a couple miles in).

Colorado Plateau - 3-6 hours, has everything.

And then the winds, the grand canyon, tents, sawtooths, jellystone, and Grand Canyon are all within about 8 hrs or less.
 

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Jackson

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#13
To me, it feels very crowded here. Granted, I grew up in fairly small towns, and I often commute on I-15 just a bit before the worst of rush hour, so that sours my view. It's also the densest metro area I've ever lived in, so I'm sure it could be worse. The continually growing population and resultant increase in house prices, has given me a somewhat bleak outlook on being able to buy our first home, but we'll see about that once I'm done with my last semester of school. I hear Missoula is getting expensive too, so it may not be a big deal for you. I've heard that wages are low for how much housing costs, but I am not sure if that's correct or not.

Oh and Sandy is a pretty nice place. I live just north of Sandy, and once you get off the main roads, it doesn't feel quite so crowded.

You can find solitude in the Uintas incredibly easily. During peak season, I can go to the most crowded trailhead and not be able to find a parking spot, yet once I find a place to park and hit the trail, I can be at a lake by myself in 2-4 miles.

The beer thing is kind of a pain. but we at least have some cool breweries around here, so maybe that can make up for it in your eyes. I think the people above have explained all of that pretty well.

Boiled down, here's what I dislike about the Wasatch Front:
- crowding/traffic
- house prices
- once you get away from SLC, the suburban sprawl is pretty bad. It's subdivision after subdivision, strip mall after strip mall, until you hit a mountain.
- inversions in the winter, smoky air in the summer (you probably get both of these in Missoula as well, huh?)

Here's what I really like about the Wasatch Front:
- There is so much good food and drink
- If you want to go for a hike after work, it's only a 5-20 minute drive to trailheads for some excellent mountains and lakes.
- It's so central to all of the good stuff out west. Pretty much anywhere you could want to go is within a day's drive (sometimes a long day, but still): Glacier, PNW, Sierra Nevada, Colorado Plateau, Yellowstone, Colorado Rockies, Grand Canyon... Utah is unbeatable for that, in my eyes.
- Lots of cool people. A big chunk of my family is from here, but we've also made wonderful friends. My wife @Jessica and I are both about 27, and I feel like it hasn't been too hard to find friends near our age with similar interests.


I'm envious you live in Montana! I know the grass is always greener, but coming from a small town background, living up there sure is appealing to me.

Be sure to update us if you do move down here! Maybe we could get a BCP meetup together to welcome you or something.
 

Bob

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#15
Just for a quick summary:

Wasatch - very local (0-30 minutes couch to trail), but not at all remote. Fun peakbagging, technical climbing, skiing, day hiking

Uintas - 90 minutes couch to trailhead. Very remote "big wilderness" once in the wilderness area (there are a couple crowded trailheads right along the highway but the crowds dissipate just a couple miles in).

Colorado Plateau - 3-6 hours, has everything.

And then the winds, the grand canyon, tents, sawtooths, jellystone, and Grand Canyon are all within about 8 hrs or less.
I can do pretty close to that time frame..... From island park id and no Wasatch front hassles
 

misSOULa

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Thanks everyone for their insight. My brother and I will be spending six days total in Utah visiting Moab/Canyonlands, then over to Capitol Reef where I have not yet been. Finally on the way back up we got ourselves an airbnb in the SLC neighborhood Woodbury(?) near Liberty Park. I hope to get into town early enough to do a bit of wandering around to get as much of a feel for it as I can.

One other question that popped up in my head is for the dog-friendliness nature of the area. I have a young and energetic lab mix pup who needs trail where she can roam off leash, as well as hopefully some sort of body of water where she can jump in and swim around. Are trails in the Wasatch on-leash only because of the crowds? Is there a good lake/river/creek that I can throw sticks in for her?
 
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#17
The dog thing can be a bit tricky. The Cottonwood Canyons are closed to Dogs, they can't be in the canyons due to it being watershed. This limits options greatly. Millcreek Canyon is the best and closest area that allows dogs. On leash on Odd days I believe and off leash on Even days to accommodate mountain bikers, i might have got that flip flopped and you need to buy a recreation pass. There are a number of reservoirs that are about 40 min drive outside of SLC up by Park City that you can take dogs to. The closest ones to the city are closed to dogs and human swimming because of watershed. So while it certainly won't be as easy as Missoula as there is no river running thru the city, you can get out and find some place to cool off in the summer. I regularly drive up to the reservoirs after work with my pup in the summer to escape the heat. Just don't expect to be alone.
 

slc_dan

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#18
Thanks everyone for their insight. My brother and I will be spending six days total in Utah visiting Moab/Canyonlands, then over to Capitol Reef where I have not yet been. Finally on the way back up we got ourselves an airbnb in the SLC neighborhood Woodbury(?) near Liberty Park. I hope to get into town early enough to do a bit of wandering around to get as much of a feel for it as I can.

One other question that popped up in my head is for the dog-friendliness nature of the area. I have a young and energetic lab mix pup who needs trail where she can roam off leash, as well as hopefully some sort of body of water where she can jump in and swim around. Are trails in the Wasatch on-leash only because of the crowds? Is there a good lake/river/creek that I can throw sticks in for her?
I live right near Liberty Park, give me a message while you are in town. I can show you a few hikes that are real close by(with my dog- Off Leash), complain about some things, and show you some good local brews.
 

Bob

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#19
Personally.... Dogs should be on leash when out backpacking or on trails..... Never know when you meet someone.....and they may not like dogs
 

slc_dan

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#20
Personally.... Dogs should be on leash when out backpacking or on trails..... Never know when you meet someone.....and they may not like dogs
I understand that, but I'm sure glad that isn't the rule.
 

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