Second home in Salt Lake vs ? Thoughts about Utah?

we are six years out from retirement and are active outdoor enthusiasts; skiing, rock climbing, kayaking, dirt bikes... We always thought we’d go back to Tahoe where we lived in our twenties but wildland fire risk and stratospheric real estate prices have changed our minds.  we loved staying in cottonwood heights & sandy for skiing 2018 & 19 and are thinking we’d like to get something there.  prices are reasonable compared to california, but are climbing rapidly.  would appreciate any insights about life in utah. ultimately we’d like to split our time between the two places. i run a home based business that can operate anywhere and hubs will fully retire his career job and probably help me with my biz.  thanks bpn

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We lived in SLC, Utah for 2 years (about 10 years ago now) and LOVED it. We are not LDS, and were very happy to be in SLC, where there was a more diverse religious (and non religious) culture and not everything was about the church socially (which is much more the case outside of SLC, other than Park City)...we had a few friends who lived in the SLC suburbs and they did not like it for that very reason (and in fact ended up moving to SLC and are so much happier). We hiked all the time, skied only on the best bluebird days since we could pick and choose, found a great cohort of friends really easily. Did you know SLC has the 2nd largest gay population West of the MS? I would never have thought that, but there is more diversity of many sorts than most might think. The LDS church does permeate life there, but it never bothered us. Politics are openly intermingled with religion, and it does dominate the social and cultural life of a lot of people, but there are also many many more centric as well as very far left progressive types living there. It's the only place I've lived where people would openly talk politics and religion over dinner and everyone would respectfully listen and respond and engage in a positive, thought-provoking way.  There are things we cringed at but...we also found the LDS culture was really impressive. We found them to be extremely kind and helpful. A couple of examples: we went away in winter and hadn't told anyone when we'd be back. When we got home our driveway had been shoveled, so we asked around to thank them. Our neighbors were very clear, they would not tell us who had done it b/c it was not about being thanked, it was part of the church to be helpful. When we asked how they knew when we'd be back, we were told our driveway had been shoveled each time it snowed just in case (!). Another time we asked a neighborhood teen to babysit our young children, and she would not accept payment -- said it was part of being a good neighbor. I asked her to PLEASE accept it or I wouldn't feel comfortable asking her to babysit again lol! We found it to be very welcoming all around, and the people who are not from Utah (and there are a LOT) are there b/c they LOVE it. And also are always looking for friends b/c they don't have family there. (I found there to be tons of physicians -- they would go to the U of U for residency and refuse to leave!)  I was really sad to leave!! 

So here we are 10 years later, and we are currently building a house in Park City as a 2nd home. Though we decided not go back to SLC (the inversion, wanted to be up in the mountains, etc) we just could not kick UT from our minds!  It's a quick drive to SLC when we want it, we will head down to float the San Juan in summer (which we've done before) and hope to spend more and more time there as retirement approaches. All that said, prices in Park City are pretty out of control right now too...not sure about Sandy.

We love Utah, loved living there, and we will spend at least part of the year there for sure. 

I was just in Utah and was working with the "locals" just outside of SLC.  They are complaining about the invasion of Californians and what it’s doing not only to real estate prices but local politics and the economy.  It was clear they don’t like what’s going on.  Not sure if you are Mormon or not, but Mormon culture is everywhere from large families (5 or 6 kids), politics and business.  Something that surprised me was the lack of diversity. Utah is defiantly very beautiful and there’s a lot of outdoor stuff to do there, but I also found it rather depressing.  As a native Californian who loves the outdoor and nature, I think I would really dislike living in Utah.  (I’m close to retirement and am looking too.)  As overcrowded and upscale the resorts in Tahoe have become, Tahoe would be my choice.  (But then you’ve lived there, so you know what it’s like.)  I’ve only visited. 

We just did a spring ski trip to the Sandy area and fell in love with it. UT is pretty different from the Bay Area, but if you're an outdoor sports enthusiast, it feels like an amazing location. You've got time - just rent a house there for a couple vacations, for as long as possible and see what you think. I don't think anyone else's perspective will matter other than your gut response when you're really trying to live there and test it out. It's close to SO much. But, it's very hot, or very cold, and while I really liked everyone I met there, still - UT is different.