Moving to Utah: A Guide to The Beehive State

If you’re considering moving to Utah, you’re certainly not alone.

Between 2010 and 2020, the Beehive State’s population increased by 17.6 percent, more than any other state in the nation. In 2020, Utah saw 25,256 out-of-state move-ins, a near record year for the state’s growth.

It’s clear that the secret is out: Utah is a great place to live, and people from all over the United States are taking notice and packing up to relocate there.

Before you pack your bags though, read this guide. Below you’ll find everything you need to know about moving to Utah — including some things about the state you may not have considered yet.

Jump to…

  1. Things to Know about Moving to Utah
    1. Median household income
    2. Average home price
    3. Cost of living
    4. Tax rates
    5. Education
    6. Unemployment
    7. Job market
    8. Diversity
    9. Crime
    10. Politics
    11. Religion
    12. Things to do in Utah
  2. Cost of Living in Utah’s Major Cities
  3. Major Regions in Utah
    1. Northern Utah
    2. Salt Lake City Metro Area
    3. Northeastern Utah
    4. Central Utah
    5. Southern Utah
  4. How to Move to Utah: Step-By-Step

Things to Know about Moving to Utah

  • 13th largest state in the U.S. with 84,899 square miles of space.
  • Total population just over 3.2 million (most live in the Salt Lake City metro area, population 1.2 million).

The state is a mix of college cities, rural towns, and vast swaths of untouched wilderness and national parks.

Utah has the 10th lowest population density in the U.S. with an average of 33.6 people per square mile.

Capital city: Salt Lake City

Major airports: Salt Lake City International Airport

Median household income

utah Median household income

$71,414, which is 15% higher than the national average of $61,937. Median incomes in Utah are growing at a rate of about 4% each year.

Average home price

utah Average home price

$450,745 according to Zillow.

That’s 29% higher than the U.S. median home price of $350,300.

Cost of living

utah Cost of living

Utah’s overall cost of living is 1.6% lower than the national average.

Tax rates

utha Tax rates

Utah’s overall tax rate is 8.34%.

That’s 23% lower than the national average state and local tax rate of 10.8%.

Income tax is a rate of 5%. Property taxes in Utah aren’t particularly high, and the state has no estate tax. However, the sales tax is quite high (5.95%-8.7%), and the state collects gas, cigarette, and alcohol taxes. If you plan to retire in Utah, you need to know that the state taxes both Social Security benefits, and withdrawals from retirement accounts.

Utah taxes businesses at a flat corporate tax rate of 5%.

Education

Utah ranks 51st in the nation for spending per student, at just $7,628 in state funding per student. The state ranks 36th in college readiness, and 20th for its high school graduation rate.

Unemployment

utah Unemployment

2.8%, which is 52% lower than the national average unemployment rate of 5.8%.

Job market

Utah’s economy is diversified, with plenty of opportunities in mining, tourism, finance, agriculture, petroleum, and other industries. Utah has also seen stable economic growth over the last several years, indicating that the job market there will remain robust and strong in the foreseeable future.

Diversity

Utah is the 9th least diverse state in the U.S. It ranks 29th out of 50 for cultural diversity, and 30th out of 50 for economic diversity.

Crime

utah Crime rate

Utah has an overall low crime rate, compared to the national average in the U.S.

Utah’s violent crime rate is 2.4 incidents per 1,000 people, which is 35% lower than the national average. Property crime in Utah occurs at a rate of 21.7 incidents per 100,000 residents in 2021, which is about 2% higher than the national average.

Politics

Utah is a deeply red state. According to Pew research, more than half of the state’s adults say they identify as or lean Republican. Only 30% say they identify as or lean Democratic, and 16% of the state’s adults are independents or unaffiliated with a major political party.

utah Political breakdown

While there are more liberal areas throughout the state, the vast majority of Utah’s elected officials are Republicans:

  • 2 out of 2 U.S. Senators
  • 4 out of 4 U.S. Representatives
  • 23 out of 29 State Senators
  • 59 out of 75 State Representatives.

Religion

Utah is well known for being home to many Mormons. It’s true — about 55% of religious adults in the state are Mormons, or members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Another 18% of Utahns belong to other Christian denominations, largely protestant and Catholic. Around 22% of adults in the state identify as non-religious.

Things to do in Utah

Things to do in Utah

No matter what you like to do, you’ll likely find something you love in Utah.

Arts and Culture: Utah’s cities are filled with art and history museums. Salt Lake regularly hosts national tours of musical and stage acts, and the rest of the state boasts local art communities of all sizes. Utah is also home to the world famous Sundance Film Festival.

Nightlife: Utah isn’t known for being a nightlife hotspot, but several of its cities are emerging on the national craft beer scene.
Family entertainment: Utah is incredibly family friendly, with a wide variety of kid-friendly events, classes, children’s museums, parks, and youth sports at all levels.

Food and drink: Utah boasts a thriving food and drink scene (that’s much more than just fry sauce, we promise). The state is home to a number of famous restaurants, including Cliffside Restaurant in St. George and Communal in Provo.

Outdoors: Utah is well known for being an outdoors paradise. The state is home to five national parks — Capitol Reef National Park, Arches National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Zion National Park — and is world-renowned for its winter sports complexes and ski resorts. No matter what outdoor activities you love — skiing, snowboarding, hiking, running, mountain biking, kayaking, boating, horseback riding, mountaineering, rock climbing, stargazing, photography, and more — you can find them, usually within a very easy traveling distance from any of the state’s cities and airports.

Cost of Living in Utah’s Major Cities

How far will your dollar go in Utah? Here’s how the cost of living in some of the state’s most popular cities compares with the national average.

Housing Food and Groceries Transportation Healthcare
Salt Lake City 69.6% higher than national average 4.2% lower than national average 6.6% lower than national average 1.4% higher than national average
Provo 32.7% higher 5.9% lower 14.6% lower 2% higher
South Jordan 94.6% higher 1.6% lower 1.6% higher 1.4% higher
Orem 41.8% higher 5.5% lower 14.5% lower 2% higher
Sandy 86.2% higher 3.3% lower 2.3% lower 1.4% higher
Ogden 0.1% lower 7.7% lower 13.1% lower 2.4% higher
Lehi 72.4% higher 4% lower 5% lower 2% higher
Logan 1.8% higher 7.9% lower 6.2% lower 7.3% higher
Draper 122.8% higher 1.6% lower 1.1% lower 1.4% higher
Bountiful 55.7% higher 4.9% lower 6.1% lower 0.3% higher

*Percentages shown as higher or lower than the national average cost.

Major Regions in Utah

Major Regions in Utah

Northern Utah

Northern UtahComprised of: Box Elder, Cache, Rich, Weber, Davis, and Morgan counties

Population density: 345 people per square mile.

Climate: 88 degree average summer high, and 20 degree average winter low. Yearly average snowfall of 49 inches.

Major industries: Education, manufacturing, aerospace science.

Biggest employers: Utah State University, IRS

Major universities: Utah State University (Logan), Weber State University (Ogden)

Cities in Northern Utah:

  • Logan (See our complete guide on Moving to Logan)
    • Population: 50,863
    • Median age: 24
    • Median household income: $35,770
    • Married population: 49%
    • Altitude: 4,534 ft
  • Ogen (See our complete guide on Moving to Ogden)
    • Population: 86,833
    • Median age: 32
    • Median household income: $40,937
    • Married population: 48%
    • Altitude: 4300 ft
  • Bountiful (See our complete guide on Moving to Bountiful)
    • Population: 43,901
    • Median age: 33
    • Median household income: $72,796
    • Married population: 60%
    • Altitude: 4,797 ft

Salt Lake City Metro Area

Salt Lake City Metro AreaComprised of: Salt Lake and Tooele counties 

Population density: 1,528 people per square mile.

Climate: 94 degree average summer high, and 22 degree average winter low. Yearly average snowfall of 49 inches.

Major industries: Education, healthcare, retail

Biggest employers: University of Utah, Latter Day Saints Church, Arup Blood Services

Major universities: University of Utah (Salt Lake City), Westminster College (Salt Lake City), Western Governors University (Salt Lake City)

Cities in the Salt Lake City Metro Area:

  • Salt Lake City (See our complete guide on Moving to Salt Lake City)
    • Population: 197,756
    • Median age: 32
    • Median household income: $73,730
    • Married population: 44%
    • Altitude: 4,327 ft
  • South Jordan (See our complete guide on Moving to South Jordan)
    • Population: 71,198
    • Median age: 33
    • Median household income: $91,228
    • Married population: 63%
    • Altitude: 4,439 ft
  • Sandy (See our complete guide on Moving to Sandy)
    • Population: 96,127
    • Median age: 37
    • Median household income: $91,836
    • Married population: 59%
    • Altitude: 4,450 ft
  • Draper (See our complete guide on Moving to Draper)
    • Population: 48,000
    • Median age: 33
    • Median household income: $115,618
    • Married population: 60%
    • Altitude: 4,505 ft

Northeastern Utah

Northeastern Utah

Comprised of: Utah, Summit, Wasatch, Duchesne, Daggett, and Uintah counties

Population density: 73 people per square mile.

Climate: 86 degree average summer high, and 21 degree average winter low. Yearly average snowfall of 33 inches.

Major industries: Education, manufacturing, technology

Biggest employers: Brigham Young University, BYU Conference Center, Young Living Essential Oils

Major universities: Brigham Young University (Provo), Utah Valley University (Orem)

Cities in Northeastern Utah:

  • Provo (See our complete guide on Moving to Provo)
    • Population: 116,403
    • Median age: 24
    • Median household income: $48,888
    • Married population: 47%
    • Altitude: 4,551 ft
  • Orem (See our complete guide on Moving to Orem)
    • Population: 96,725
    • Median age: 27
    • Median household income: $61,373
    • Married population: 56%
    • Altitude: 4,774 ft
  • Lehi (See our complete guide on Moving to Lehi)
    • Population: 64,006
    • Median age: 25
    • Median household income: $74,200
    • Married population: 24%
    • Altitude: 4,564 ft

Central Utah

Central Utah

Comprised of: Juab, Millard, Sanpete, Sevier, Piute, Carbon, Emory, Wayne, and Grand counties 

Population density: 7 people per square mile.

Climate: 94 degree average summer high, and 21 degree average winter low. Yearly average snowfall of 9 inches.

Major industries: Hospitality, food service, retail

Biggest employers: U.S. Government (national parks)

Major universities: None

Cities in Central Utah:

  • Moab
    • Population: 5,268
    • Median age: 38
    • Median household income: $48,879
    • Married population: 54%
    • Altitude: 4,026 ft

Southern Utah

Southern Utah

Comprise of: Beaver, Iron, Washington, Garfield, Kane, and San Juan counties 

Population density: 18 people per square mile.

Climate: 94 degree average summer high, and 29 degree average winter low. Yearly average snowfall of 1.5 inches.

Major industries: Agriculture, oil and gas, mining

Biggest employers: St. George Regional Hospital

Major universities: Southern Utah University (Cedar City), Dixie State University (St. George)

Cities in Southern Utah:

  • George
    • Population: 84,500
    • Median age: 37
    • Median household income: $48,188
    • Married population: 58%
    • Altitude: 2,700 ft

How to Move to Utah: Step-By-Step

So one of Utah’s beautiful cities or towns caught your eye, or you’re intrigued by the quality of life in the Beehive State. Here’s a step-by-step guide to moving to Utah.

Step 1: Visit the state and explore

As you might have gathered from this guide so far, Utah has so much to offer. The best way to get a feel for the state and whether you’d like to call it your new home is to visit and explore as much of it as you can. From the Salt Lake metro area to tourist spots like Park City, high desert, unpopulated rural areas, and everything in between, Utah really does have something for everyone. And to help you make the most of your visit, check out our Beginner’s Travel Guide To Exploring Utah.

Step 2: Choose a city to call home

This guide gives you some basic information about Utah’s 10 biggest cities. But there are many more — one of the great things about Utah is that you can live in a community of just about any size.

Choosing the city you’ll call home is no small feat. Start your research with our Top 10 Best Cities to Live in Utah guide, and remember everything you should consider when choosing a new place to live:

  • The cost of living.
  • The cost of housing.
  • Your profession.
  • Amenities you’d like to have nearby.
  • Your lifestyle and hobbies.
  • Your short- and long-term goals.

Step 3: Choose a home type

One of the great things about all the variety Utah offers is that you can also choose just about any type of home. If you want a downtown apartment on a bustling street, Utah has that. If you want a suburban home with a huge backyard for pets and kids, Utah has that too. If you want acreage to raise animals, or even a full-blown farm, you can find both in Utah.

That’s why the next step is to decide what type of home you’d like to live in. You can do this before or after choosing a city, since the home type you want might help narrow down the list of top towns in the state.

Step 4: Set a budget

If you plan to buy a home in Utah, reach out to lenders for loan pre-approval, which will help you determine what kind of budget you can set for your house search.

If you plan to rent a home, there are plenty of options for you, too — just keep in mind that a general rule of thumb (and qualification for many landlords and property managers) is that rent should cost no more than 1/3 of your monthly income.

When considering your home budget, keep in mind that you’ll also have moving expenses. These can be quite high depending on where you’re moving from — a cross country move for a family can easily cost thousands of dollars.

Step 5: Find a home

If you’re planning to buy a home, you can start your search online. But in a housing market as hot as Utah’s, you might have better luck finding a real estate agent you want to work with, and letting them bring home options to you. In 2021, listed homes in Utah tend to sell very quickly, so your agent can help you spot listings quickly and make a move if you find a home you want to put in an offer for.

If you’re planning on renting, sites like Zillow, Hotpads, and Rentler are popular for listing rentals in the state.

Step 6: Plan and make your move

Once you’ve decided where you’re moving and found your new home in Utah, the planning process will be similar to any other move.

For a week-by-week checklist of everything you need to do to prepare for your move, as well as downloadable box labels, packing lists, and more, check out our Ultimate Moving Guide.

Step 7: Settle in

Welcome to Utah! Congratulations on making the move, but you’re not quite done yet — there are a few loose ends to tie up.

Utah does not offer a grace period for driver’s licenses. That means that if you moved from out of state, you’ll want to get a Utah license as soon as possible. To do so, visit a Utah Driver’s License office. You’ll need to:

  • Fill out an application.
  • Have your photo taken.
  • Turn in your valid out-of-state license.
  • Show proof of ID, your social security number, and two documents that show your Utah address.
  • Pass a vision test.
  • Pass a 25-question written test.
  • Pay any applicable fees.

New Utah residents have up to 60 days to transfer their vehicle title and registration. Your vehicle may need an inspection for safety and emissions before it can be registered in Utah.

Utah voter registration can be completed online.

Use Neighbor to Find Storage in Utah

Once you’ve moved to your new home in Utah, you might find that you have more belongings than you can fit in your space.

If that’s the case, find affordable and nearby storage by using Neighbor. Neighbor will connect you with hosts nearby who have available space where you can store your belongings. It’s safe, it’s affordable, and it helps bring communities together. Find storage space in Utah today.

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