In terms of population, Utah is one of the fastest-growing states in the United States. And its capital city, Salt Lake, is one of the places newcomers to the state are flocking to in droves.
And it’s no wonder why: Salt Lake City is a robust, bustling metropolitan center that combines big-city amenities like fantastic zoos and world-class museums with unique features that people love about the American Southwest, like scenic mountain vistas, nearby skiing, and beautiful desert landscapes.
But before you pack up and head west, let’s break down the cost of living in Salt Lake City.
The overall cost of living
When it comes to the overall cost of living, Salt Lake City is rated at 122 on the cost of living index. This puts the city 22 points above the national average and about eight points above the average for the state of Utah, which is just over 114.1
That rating also means that the Great Salt Lake is more expensive than some of the area’s other comparably sized cities. In fact, you may be surprised to learn that living in Salt Lake City is more expensive than some of the Southwest’s most famous towns, like:
- Las Vegas
- San Antonio
But, it’s important to keep in mind that the total cost of living takes into consideration a range of common living expenses. So while the total cost of living might be higher than average, there are certain expenses in Salt Lake that’ll cost you less.
The average cost of housing + utilities
One of the largest contributors to the Salt Lake City, Utah cost of living is housing. Those looking to buy a home in Salt Lake should be ready to pay about 4% more than the national average—the median price to buy a home is just about $523,400.1
The good news is renters may find slightly better deals, although apartments in Salt Lake City still go for a bit higher than the national average. As of 2022, the average rent prices for a one-bedroom apartment is about $1,300 per month, representing a steadily growing year-over-year increase of 14%.
Whether you rent or buy in Salt Lake, you’ll also have to allocate funds for utilities. Fortunately, you’ll pay slightly less for those in Salt Lake. The monthly cost of utilities sits about six points below the national average and is right in line with what you’d pay elsewhere in Utah for services that include:
The average cost of groceries
Another expense that factors into the cost of living in Salt Lake City is groceries. You’ll pay more for things like bread, milk, and other essentials than you would in other Utah cities. Luckily, your grocery bill will still be a few points below the national average.
But it’s worth noting that those numbers are inflated and represent an 11% increase over last year.2
The average cost of transportation
Residents of Salt Lake City pay a lot more to get around than people in other parts of the country—about 12% more. This is true whether they own cars or rely on public transportation.
Currently, the average price of gas in Salt Lake City is just over $4.00 a gallon.
Fortunately, you can ditch hefty gas prices for public transportation.
Salt Lake’s public transportation system includes buses and a light rail system that offers easy commutes to various nearby cities. As an adult, you can expect to pay $2.50 per ride. If you have relatives visiting, senior citizens and children can enjoy a reduced fare of $1.25. Unlimited day passes are also available to locals for $5.00, and month-long passes go for $85.00, making the transportation costs feasible for everyone.
However, when you live in Downtown Salt Lake City, you aren’t restricted solely to using your car or public transportation. Many residents get around via bicycle, and the city has a decent walkability score of 59, meaning you can strap on your tennis shoes and explore popular neighborhoods like:3
- Central City
- Central City-Liberty Wells
- Rio Grande
Entrainment and leisure
Salt Lake City is an ideal location for anyone who enjoys packing a few bags of trail mix and enjoying the great outdoors, one of the many reasons it is so popular. It’s close to skiing, hiking, and camping destinations, which are all largely affordable—just as long as you’re not planning to invest in a hefty Sprinter van.
But you don’t need to leave the city to have fun. The Natural History Museum of Utah and the Hogle Zoo are within city limits and provide locals with low-cost memberships for unlimited visits. Also, Salt Lake City nightlife is not something to ignore, with hundreds of bars, lounges, and live performances.
Plus, there are plenty of parks throughout the city for a day of priceless outdoor recreation.
- BestPlaces.net. Cost of Living in Salt Lake City, Utah. https://www.bestplaces.net/cost_of_living/city/utah/salt_lake_city
- KUTV.com. Utah food prices continue to rise despite slowdown in overall inflation. https://kutv.com/news/eye-on-your-money/-utah-food-prices-rise-despite-slowdown-overall-inflation-utah-food-industry-association-grocery-store-empty-shelves-high-prices-american-consumers-grains-meat
- WalkScore.com. Living in Salt Lake City. https://www.walkscore.com/UT/Salt_Lake_City#