Salt Lake City

12 Tips to Get the Most Out of Living in Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City sidewalk in the fall

If you're considering a move to Salt Lake City, it's important to research the city and surrounding areas as best you can before you commit to a timeline, make a deposit on an apartment, or look for work. If at all possible, it's recommended that you take at least one trip there prior to taking the plunge in order to really get a feel for what you like and where you want to be. While we can't guarantee anything, we think you're going to be pretty pleased that you chose living in Salt Lake City over the alternatives. After all, it's a beautiful, clean and friendly city with incredibly close access to the slopes. What's not to love?

We've rounded up some tips to help you get the most out of living in Salt Lake City, whether you're there already or still figuring out the logistics of moving.

Mountain biking in Salt Lake City

1. Dust off the gear.

Salt Lake City is often described as one of the healthiest cities in the U.S. A big reason behind that is the seemingly limitless amount of outdoor recreation opportunities that just about everyone living in Salt Lake City enjoys. From skiing to hiking to street and mountain biking to trekking to bouldering to trail running to, yes, swimming in the Great Salt Lake, there's really no reason not to get outside and get active. Fun Fact: Salt Lake City is within a five-hour drive of six absolutely stunning national parks: Arches, Bryce Canyon Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Zion and Great Basin.

2. Figure out public transit.

Salt Lake City (also known as "The Crossroads of the West") has commuter trains (FrontRunner), Light-rail lines (TRAX), and an expansive bussing system throughout the City and parts beyond. It even runs ski busses up both Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons in the winter to provide access to Alta, Brighton, Snowbird and Solitude ski areas. Quick Fact: Downtown Salt Lake City has a ‘free fare zone' which means you pay nothing if you get on and get off TRAX or any Utah Transit Authority (UTA) bus within a certain area.

3. Make sure you've got nice snow boots.

Most folks who move to Salt Lake City are aware that it snows there. But they might not be aware of just how much it snows there: an average of 54 glorious inches a year in the city. In fact, Utah license plates read "Greatest Snow on Earth" – and they're not making it up. That snow, however, is the majority of the moisture Salt Lake City receives as it gets just 20 inches of rain a year. The city, in general, is known for its relatively mild climate, with an average January low of 23 degrees and a July high of 91 degrees. Fun fact: Salt Lake City has 222 sunny days a year – 17 more than the U.S. average.    

4. Research the schools.

Salt Lake City takes its education pretty seriously, and offers a number of high-ranking elementary, middle and high schools, along with several institutions of higher learning including, The University of Utah (Go Utes!), Westminster College and Brigham Young University (BYU) Salt Lake Center. If you're interested in living in Salt Lake City's highest performing school districts, be sure to check out Granite, Davis, Alpine, Jordan, and Canyons. Fun Fact: Six of the 2019 top ten Salt Lake City high schools were charter schools.

5. Explore your heritage.

Salt Lake City just happens to house the world's largest genealogical library. Organized and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS), the Family History Library is not only free, but also has on-site guides and resources to help you dive deep into your family tree. It is considered by many to be an incredible perk of living in Salt Lake City. Fun Fact: In 2001, the LDS Church worked with the Ellis Island Foundation to build the American Family Immigration History Center and the Ellis Island web site.   

6. Learn about Mormonism.

While the state of Utah steadily remains nearly two-thirds Mormon, Salt Lake City ­– home to LDS headquarters – has seen its Mormon population decline over recent years. Today, about half of SLC residents identify as Mormon. If you don't know much about the religion, it would be good to familiarize yourself with it before you move to Salt Lake City – a city founded by its leaders to escape religious persecution. Fun Fact: Every July, the city and state celebrate Brigham Young and other settlers during its family-friendly ‘Pioneer Day' celebrations.

7. Don't plan on doing much on Sundays.

Salt Lake City takes its rest time seriously. Most retail stores and all state liquor stores are closed on Sundays. Even car dealerships are only allowed to be open one day per weekend. But don't fear: there's still plenty of ways to spend a Sunday. You could head to the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium or Hogle Zoo – both open year-round – or check out the Salt Lake Bees play Sunday baseball games at their home field, the Apiary. Fun Fact: Salt Lake City's AAA team was known as the Salt Lake Buzz (1994-2000) and the Salt Lake Stingers (2001-2005) before becoming the Bees.  

8. Get your art on.

For an article about living in Salt Lake City, this one might be slightly stretching it but Robert Smithson's incredible earthworks sculpture, Spiral Jetty, is only 2 ½ hours away! Located on the Rozel Point peninsula of Great Salt Lake, this massive installation has been in place for five decades. It's a beloved benefit of living near – and kind of near – the Great Salt Lake. Fun Fact: The Spiral Jetty was built twice. The artist considered the first installation for two days before calling back his construction crew to change it into a spiral.

9. Buy some winter sports equipment.

So far, we've only danced around the subject but here's the scoop: Utah has the best skiing and snow probably on earth, and Salt Lake City is right smack dab in the middle of it. In fact, it's the perfect base camp for all your mountaineering adventures considering it's within an hour driving distance of nine top ski resorts, including Park City: the biggest ski resort in North America with 7,300 skiable acres over 17 peaks. That's right: 17 peaks. Fun Fact: From December through March, more than a foot of snow falls every five days in the Utah mountains, with an average of 18 powder days (12 inches in 24 hours).

10. Figure out where you're gonna store all this stuff!

Unless you're into nude hiking, most recreational activities come with a lot of gear – tents, backpacks, sleeping bags, skis, snowboards, it adds up. So does the expense of buying new gear if any of it gets ruined by storing it in a hot garage, leaky attic or damp basement. Look for a climate-controlled and readily accessible location to store your gear like oh, say CubeSmart in Salt Lake City! Fun Fact: Snowboard and ski bases and edges should be covered with a thick coat of hot wax before storing. Don't scrape it until you bring them back out in the fall.

11. Get a buddy.

Moving to anyplace new is incredibly disruptive to your social system, and moving to Salt Lake City is no different. If you're feeling a bit lonely after the move, head over to Utah Animal Adoption Center or Rescue Rovers and pick up a new best friend. Salt Lake City has plenty of pet-friendly restaurants and both on- and off-leash parks for your little Fido. Don't lose hope if your living situation doesn't allow for pets. Instead, sign up to volunteer at a nearby shelter or for a rescue organization. Volunteering not only gets you out of the house and meeting new people, but also spending time with little pets who could use the attention and love. Fun fact: In 2015, the Utah legislature rejected a bill to designate the Golden Retriever the state's ‘official domestic animal.' The bill was drafted with the assistance of fourth graders.

12. Find a job.

Our last tip on how to get the most out of living in Salt Lake City should've probably been the first tip, truth be told. But don't stress. Utah is leading the nation in job growth, tying only with Nevada as the state that has created the largest number of jobs in the nation. Utah also has the nation's fifth lowest unemployment rate. Tech, construction, manufacturing, health services, and education are among the top industries, with downtown Salt Lake City considered a new hub for educated, tech-savvy workers. Fun fact: Salt Lake City colleges and organizations host several job fairs every year, including ones for older workers, military veterans and recent college grads.

If you have the opportunity to move to Salt Lake City, there are resources and activities aplenty to keep you busy, socialized and getting to know your new city. If we missed any highlights of living in Salt Lake City, please let us know in the comments. And save some fresh tracks for us!

About the author

Bree Neely

Bree Neely is a communications expert and former Brooklynite based out of Denver, Colorado. She is co-founder of Direct Object, a marketing firm serving national B2B and B2C clients. When not tapping away at her keyboard, she keeps busy traveling, skiing and overseeing a variety of children and animals.

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