Moving to Salt Lake City

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Living in Salt Lake City as a non-LDS family

Jan 2013

My husband has interviewed for a job in Salt Lake City, UT. I love to visit the area for skiing but am not familar enough with the locals and how it is to live there as non-LDS. I work in the Construction/Engineering field as a project manager and want to continue working. I don't see SLC as a great place for a woman to work in a non-traditional field. Does anyone have experience living in SLC as a non-LDS and can provide insight into industry in the area? Thank you. anon

my husband and I lived in SLC for almost two years as non LDS and we never had any problems with the LDS community. We met other non LDSers and had a generally good experience there. It's a safe community with a lot of outdoorsy activities and a welcoming community that accepts non-LDSers easily. However, it IS very conservative (with a small but outspoken liberal sect) and very limited in its cultural diversity. You see it in the demographics, the restaurants, the viewpoints, etc. We got married in Park City and found that overall, Park City was a much more diverse and sophisticated place to be/live. It's also more expensive since it has strong tourist appeal, but it's a small town with an intimate community. It would be about a 30 minute commute for your husband to go to SLC everyday, but you may have more luck working there despite the smaller market. If we had had kids at that time, I think I would have probably insisted on living in Park City despite the fact that we had a good experience in SLC, just so that their circle of friends/immediate community would be more diverse. There's also some respiratory health concerns in parts of the valley due to the huge mine that is just south of the city. If you have kids with bad asthama, I would seriously consider that. Overall, it would be quite the adjustment coming from the Bay Area but not necessarily a bad one. And you could probably buy 5 homes there for the cost of one here. Best of luck with your decision! anon
I am non-LDS and lived in Utah for many years. If you like the outdoors it is an amazing place to live. If you are into culture (music, ballet, theatre, shopping, dining, etc.) it can be disappointing. I loved the skiing, biking, climbing, waterskiing, backpacking, etc. so much that the cultural limitations were acceptable. I tried to do a lot of shopping and live music viewing when I'd come home to visit my family. If possible, I would suggest living in Park City instead of Salt Lake City. The commute can be horrible on bad snow days so I would want to be able to telecommute (I lived in PC before you could telecommute and there were definitely days that I was scared driving over Parley's Canyon). But Park City is a much better place than SLC. There is very little LDS influence (unless you end up in court). The weather is much better (cooler in the summer, no yucky inversion in the winter). Main Street is a lot of fun with great restaurants, bars, shopping and Sundance! There is a farmers market on lower Main St on some days. The community is generally active and outdoorsy. I ended up leaving PC about 14 years ago because I hated my job (I ended up going back to school), all my friends were getting married and having kids, and I was not meeting anyone suitable to date. I'm happy to have left and come back home. But I do fantasize about moving back there. I would only do it though if I could live in Park City and put my son in Park City schools. I think that there is still a lot of non-LDS bias in the SLC schools. While I didn't notice much overt non-LDS bias in SLC, there are definitely two different communities. I had a lot of LDS friends from school and work but we did not socialize together. The people who I socialized with came from when I worked up at the ski resort and the non-LDS students in law school. This had no impact on my day-to-day life but it is odd looking back on it. Also, when I took my landlord to small claims court for refusing to return my security deposit, the landlord said some kind of code to the judge and the judge not only ruled against me but gave my landlord more than he was asking for. There were also LDS law firms that did not want to interview me. Please contact me directly if you have any questions. jennifer
I am a non-Mormon raised in a Mormon family that lives in the Salt Lake City Area. Bob Bennett is my Great Uncle. Contrary to popular belief, Salt Lake City is less than 50% Mormon and the number is dropping. Mormon wards (congregations) are being combined all over the city to compensate for the dropping numbers. So it's not like you'll be an outsider surrounded by true believers. There are good restaurants from a wide variety of cuisines. Bars and nightlife are available, but perhaps not at the density you're used to. Bar hopping on foot isn't going to happen. The counter culture is there, but you have to ask around a bit. That being said, the cultural influence is strong. No Salt Lake experience is complete without going to the Chuck A Rama All You Can Eat Buffet between 7th and 8th East on 4th South on a Friday night. Post LDS
My family and I lived in SLC for many years. We hated to leave. We loved the area - we're non-LDS. Women in non-traditional jobs are more abundant than you may believe. The only drawback - and it's a BIG one - is/are all the inversions, ie the very bad air quality that hits often. Our adult daughters live there now and we visit them a lot. Still love SLC - just not those terrible inversions. fan of SLC

Thinking about moving to Salt Lake City

Dec 2007

Hi, I've read the advice given from 2000 but I want to ask some specific questions. My brother is thinking about moving to Salt Lake. He isn't mormon. He also has 2 teenage step-children that are mixed white & black. He doesn't want them to feel ostracized. Anybody have experience with or know about the attitudes towards mixed kids in this city? Thanks in advance. anon

As a good sister, I think that you need to encourage your brother to move to Utah as soon as possible, if only because you will have a free place to stay when you go skiing... That said, I am a Utah local now and can't imagine living anywhere else. I have lived as an adult (college and beyond) in diverse settings -- Berkeley, District of Columbia, the Netherlands, Jacksonville, FL and now Park City, UT (each of the former for three or more years..I've lived in Park City for a year now, though owned a 'second home' here for three years).

Some thoughts for your brother -- consider Park City. It is a twenty-minute jaunt down the hill to Salt Lake City, so a work commute wouldn't be too bad. The public school district is amazing. Outdoor activities are year-round. There is free public transit to nearly every neighborhood. The police blotter reads along the lines of 'teens cited for tossing frisbees across Main Street.' Political affiliations run about 50-50. It isn't particularly racially diverse -- nowhere in Utah is particularly diverse. In Park City, I think that mixed race children would do fine vis a vis 'racism' (I honestly haven't noticed any), but there wouldn't be a natural support system for the African American portion of their heritage. I have met very few African American adults in town not here on holiday.

As an aside, Salt Lake, despite the opening scenes in 'Big Love,' isn't really the center of the Mormon world anymore. That has moved down to Provo, home to BYU. SLC has a thriving gay community, brew pub scene, etc. I never considered living there, because I am thrilled with the offerings of my current community and don't mind the quick drive down the hill to take advantage of its cultural offerings.

And, specifically to the Mormon thing...I LOVE the family-friendly culture created by the state's dominant is really nice to walk into a nice restaurant with extended family, ask for a table for sixteen with four high chairs, get it within five minutes and not have other restaurant patrons staring at you with open hostility, for instance. There are tons of events year-round geared at multi-generations. For instance, Park City has a free concert series (concerts every Wed & Fri) in the summer where all of the town people show up pulling coolers filled with picnics and wine. Teen-agers hang out at the top of the hill gossiping. The youngsters dance in front of the stage. Everyone from 20 to 90 sits somewhere in between enjoying the music set to a good pinot.

Oh, I am not Mormon, specifically disagree with the religion on many points, etc, but I love Utah... jan

Probably moving to Salt Lake City

Jan 2000

Our family will probably move to Salt Lake City, Utah, much to my chagrin. I love the Bay Area and feel it is where my heart belongs. However, I am hoping to find aspects of my new potential home which will make me feel a part of the community. I am not Mormon, so I am concerned about finding friends, a job, a school for my son and a sense of belonging without joining the Mormon faith. I am looking for advice from people who are familiar with the area. Thanks!

A very good friend of mine moved to Salt Lake City in December 1998. He and his wife are not Mormon (in fact, his wife is Hindu) and they said there is a very large community of non-Mormons there. My friend is a professor at the University of Utah. If you would like to get in touch with him to get specific information about tapping into the non-Mormon community there, let me know and I can give you his e-mail address. - Sharon

I lived in Provo, Utah and worked as a visiting faculty member at Brigham Young University for a year, and I am not a Mormon (usually called LDS in Utah) either. Perhaps some info from my point of view could be helpful.

First of all, though LDS culture is dominant throughout Utah, SLC is less than half LDS. There are plenty of Gentiles (non-LDS, admittedly bizarre if you happen to be Jewish) in SLC, and there are brew-pubs, cafes serving caffeine, and plenty of other lifestyle choices to prove it. So you can lead a Gentile life in SLC without too much complication.

Like many places where the predominant culture is conservative, pockets of liberal resistance (both LDS and non-) are particularly active in Utah, especially in SLC and especially at U/Utah. If you have a cause, there will be people out there to be in touch with. But if day-to-day life is more your concern, I can say that in my experience, even living in a real stronghold of LDS culture (Provo/BYU), people were respectful of our differences. There was no effort to convert me or even convince me to stop drinking coffee (which would probably be good for me, anyway).

It helps (a lot) if you can be respectful of other peoples' religious and cultural choices. Those Gentiles (and LDS) I knew who were deeply unhappy in Utah were the ones who just couldn't stand even looking at the LDS lifestyle. It wasn't enough that they themselves were not required to stop smoking, stop drinking coffee, start having lots of children, etc. etc. They didn't want anyone else to have to do those things, and they thought the whole religion was silly/onerous/oppressive/diabolical, etc. I adopted the strategy of thinking of LDS as a foreign culture (which it is, if you're not LDS), something like Hinduism for a non-Hindu. Then it became exotic, interesting, and something I could happily allow to exist (speaking from a culturally arrogant perspective here), as long as it didn't infringe too much on my own spiritual/cultural space.

The one place where I could see long-term residence as a problem (as a liberal) is the political arena, which is a place where Mormonism can impose its values through the democratic process. In that respect, Utah does not differ much from much of the conservative U.S. One important difference between the LDS Church and many fundamentalist movements, however, is the culture's emphasis on learning. I found a lot of very good intellectual conversation partners/friends in Utah, among both LDS and non. I hope you do, too. If you would like to talk, let the list organizer know and she can give you my number. Good luck!