A Guide to Moving from Denver to Salt Lake City: The Hidden Gems of Utah

Moving to Salt Lake City from Denver? You are probably wondering just how different the city called the Crossroads of the West is from the Mile High City. Denver and Salt Lake City have some things in common. The two cities have big, snow-capped mountains, but in Salt Lake City, the mountains are almost close enough to touch.

Both cities have great outdoor recreation opportunities. Denver is larger, with more cultural events, but it is more sprawling, so getting around is more difficult than in Salt Lake City.

Denver is a more bustling town, with plenty of tourists, but while Salt Lake City also attracts plenty of visitors, it is more laid back. You’ll find the climate is remarkably similar. Both are among the big cities in their respective states, and both have a thriving job markets. So how much of a culture shock will you get when you move from Denver to Salt Lake City? Let’s take a look. Fitting in when you get to your new city might be easier than you think.

salt lake city

Population and Demographics

Denver’s population hovers around 700,000, and the median age is about 35. The population is over 80% white, and 23.5% speak Spanish at home. The city spans more than 155 miles, with a population density of 4,563 people per square mile.

Aspect Denver Salt Lake City
Population ~700,000 ~202,000
Median Age 35 33
Ethnic Composition 80% White, 23.5% Spanish speakers 22% Hispanic, 2% Pacific Islanders
Population Density 4,563 people/sq. mile 1,827 people/sq. mile
Area (sq. miles) 155 111

Salt Lake City’s Population

You have more elbow room in Salt Lake City, UT. Its population is about 202,000, spread out over 111 miles, with 1,827 people per square mile. The median age is about 33. Salt Lake City is the capital of UT and the seat of Salt Lake County.

While in the past, Salt Lake City, UT, was about 99% white, the capital city of Utah has become much more diverse in the past few decades–Hispanics now make up about 22% of the population, the gay community is growing, and 2% of the population are Pacific Islanders.

Salt Lake City residents

There’s a common misconception that “everyone” in Salt Lake City is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, but this is not the case. Church members make up about 50% of the population, leaving plenty of room for other houses of worship. So far, Denver, CO, and Salt Lake City, UT, don’t look too different. So let’s explore all the things there are to do and explore in your new city in the Beehive State.

Salt Lake City temple

Living in Salt Lake City, Utah

Moving to Salt Lake City offers many of the amenities you’re used to in Denver, but there are also some unique Salt Lake City experiences you can’t get anywhere else. Some of the things people in Salt Lake City like about it the most include:

  • All of the parks, canyons, and outdoor enjoyment
  • Winter sports
  • Lots of sunshine
  • A robust job market
  • Affordable rent
  • Great public transport
  • Diversity and inclusivity

When you think of Salt Lake City, you think of Mormons, and in fact, the city was founded by Mormon pioneers led by Brigham Young. The 143 men, three women, and two children were the first non-natives to settle permanently.

Aspect Denver Salt Lake City
Eating Out 100% 75%
Groceries 100% 82%
Child Care 100% 65%
Entertainment 100% 90%

The Mormons arrived after looking for a place to practice religion free from persecution and create a religious utopia called the Kingdom of God on Earth and sought to establish a model society.

And while Mormons comprise only 50% of the city’s population, it is still dominant, and there are certainly decisions between those of the faith and those who are not, especially when it comes to society and culture.

Utah is definitely a unique place. But how does Salt Lake City, UT, compare to Denver, CO, when it comes to the job market, income, public transportation, crime, schools, housing, and weather? Let’s take a look.

Aspect Denver Salt Lake City
Median Household Income 100% 83%
Cost of Living 100% 87.5%
Public Transportation Bus and light rail Bus, light rail, Frontrunner

The general cost of living

When it comes to comparing the cost of living between Denver and Salt Lake City, overall, it’s about 19% less expensive to live in Utah’s largest city:

  • Eating out is 25% cheaper in Salt Lake.
  • Groceries are 18% cheaper.
  • Child care is 35% cheaper.
  • Entertainment is 10% less expensive.

The Salt Lake City job market

Salt Lake City is the largest industrial banking center in the country. Those moving to Salt Lake City will notice that the service sector dominates, with healthcare and computer services the leading industries. Some of Salt Lake City’s highest earners are in tech jobs. Located northwest in the city of Salt Lake is the Northwest Quadrant, offering thousands of acres for future industrial development for manufacturing, distribution, and warehousing.


When moving to Salt Lake City, your dollar will go further. The cost of living is 12.5% less. However, the median household income is about 17% lower as well. But Salt Lake County is seeing some of the state’s largest wage increases.

Salt Lake City’s public transportation

When it comes to buses and trains, all lines run through downtown Salt Lake City. From there, you can access the light rail system, commuter train Frontrunner, and buses that go pretty much everywhere in the Salt Lake area, including nearby cities, and transfer to buses that serve the nearby ski resorts.

Crime in Salt Lake City, UT

When moving to Salt Lake City, you might wonder about crime. Compared to Denver, Salt Lake City has a violent crime rate higher than Denver and almost twice the average across the country. Property crime is twice as high as it is in Denver and almost three times the national average.

Aspect Denver Salt Lake City
Violent Crime Rate Lower Higher
Property Crime Rate Lower Higher
Graduation Rate 2% lower 2% higher
Average Home Price 100% 88%
Rent 100% 85%

public schools

Schools in Salt Lake City, Utah

While Denver spends more per student, 2% more of them graduate in Salt Lake City. The best schools in the Salt Lake City, UT, area are in Draper, Kaysville, and Fruit Heights, but the entire school district is rated above average. Nearby universities include Utah Valley University, Weber State University, and Brigham Young University.

Housing in Salt Lake City

When moving to Salt Lake City, Utah, you can buy a home in the area–with an average home price of $575,689– for about 12% less than a home would cost you in Denver, and rent is about 15% cheaper. For the eco-conscious moving to Salt Lake City, there is also a net-zero community that offers the ultimate in sustainable living. It is located in the Liberty Park neighborhood.

Young professionals and families will love the suburb of South Jordan with its ample parks and suburban feel. For a more vibrant feel, explore Sugar House, with its shops, restaurants, and a park with great views of the Wasatch Mountains. It will also be soon the new home of the Salt Lake Bees, the triple-A team of the Los Angeles Angels.

Between downtown and Sugar House is the Central City neighborhood, a hipster hangout and bike-friendly area with shops, restaurants, and ample green space.

Salt Lake City’s weather

Like Denver, Salt Lake City has cold, snowy winters and hot and dry summers, and dry air. During the winter, temperature inversions can create thick fog hovering in the valley as moisture, cold air, and pollutants become trapped under warm air layers. Denver and Salt Lake City both struggle with air quality, but Salt Lake City ranks 20 points higher on the pollution index, partially because of the temperature inversions.

Aspect Denver Salt Lake City
Winters Cold, snowy Cold, snowy
Summers Hot, dry Hot, dry
Air Quality 100% 120% (higher pollution)

oudoor activities in salt lakeSalt Lake City Activities for Outdoor Enthusiasts

One thing Denverites and Salt Lake City residents have in common is their love for outdoor activities. So what does moving to Salt Lake City have to offer?

great salt lake

The Great Salt Lake

Salt Lake City was named for the lake, of course. And the lake is where brine shrimp, the state crustacean, can be found in abundance. It was originally named Great Salt Lake City, but the “Great” was dropped about 30 years after the founding of the city.

The lake is 1,700 square miles and is the largest natural lake in Utah. Activities include fishing, swimming, and boating, and for those that prefer to stay dry, there are ample hiking trails and places to picnic near the water. There’s also a visitor’s center for those who want to learn more about the lake and the general area.

The Bonneville Salt Flats

Both the lake and the Bonneville Salt Flats are remnants of the ancient Lake Bonneville. Thousands of years ago, this lake once covered a third of Utah. The salt flats, located 120 miles west of Salt Lake City, are just that, salt, and are about 5 miles wide and 12 miles long. Today, the flats are used for land-speed racing, foot races, photography, scientific research, and archery competitions. Events are held in the summer and fall.

The National Parks

Utah is a proud home to the “Mighty Five” national parks, which offer beautiful, rugged desert landscapes, but each has its own unique features. There are a total of 12 national parks within driving distance of Salt Lake City.

Arches National Park

Arches National Park is home to arches. Lots of arches–more than 2,000 of them. You’ll also find strange rock formations, including huge mesas. It is Salt Lake City’s closest national park. The hiking trails here are short, and by hiking the Devil’s Garden Trail, you’ll reach the iconic Landscape Arch in less than a mile. If you continue past that arch, you’ll find Double O Arch and Dark Angel.

Canyonlands National Park

This park is huge, with many canyons, arches, buttes, mesas, and plentiful hiking and camping, some of which are only accessible by 4×4. The park is divided up into five districts. Visit Horseshoe Canyon, a small part of the park where you can view the rock art of the Ancient Puebloan people.

Capitol Reef National Park

This park has sandstone cliffs, slot canyons, arches, and white domes, along with the Water Pocket Fold. You can view a lot of Capitol Reef from your car as you drive the highway and a scenic drive through the center of the park.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon’s incredible landscape is created by hoodoos–tall, thin spires of rock. A three-mile hike of Queen’s Garden Trail and Navajo Loop provides some of the best views.

Bryce canyon

Zion National Park

Known as one of the best locations in the country to go hiking, Angels Landing and the Zion Narrows bring thousands to the park every year. There’s something for everyone, from family-friendly hikes that afford amazing views to adventures only for those experienced with canyoneering.

Mountain biking and skiing

Moving to Salt Lake City means you can easily take advantage of Utah’s 21 ski resorts, including Deer Valley and Park City. Among skiers and snowboarders, Utah snow is known as the greatest snow on the planet!

And sorry, Colorado, but Utah is considered to offer the best ski experience with high-quality, reliable snowfall and more expert terrain. Colorado does have larger resorts, but Utah has more that are closer together.

And Utah has much better resort access–most of them are less than an hour away from Salt Lake City, so it’s easy to have fun in the city after a day on the slopes. The Salt Lake area also has plenty of mountain biking trails, from easy such as the Albion Basin trail, to the strenuous Wasatch Crest Trail.

Migratory birds

The Great Salt Lake Bird Festival takes place every year in May around Wasatch Front. It offers more than 25 unique field trips, nature walks, bird releases, and arts and crafts. You’ll see the American White Pelican, the Black-necked Stilt, and the Snowy Plover, as well as Bobolinks.

downtown boston

Downtown Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City’s vibrant downtown area has plenty to offer, including Vivtant Smart Arena, home of the Utah Jazz. Temple Square has beautiful landscaped grounds around the huge LDS temple. Tours are offered daily.


  • You can also visit the City Creek Shopping Center, an award-winning mall.
  • The Salt Palace Convention Center is the hub for events, both small and large.
  • Downtown is also one of the venues of the annual Sundance Film Festival.
  • West Valley City, home of the Utah Grizzlies ice hockey team, is located just 20 minutes away.
  • The Family History Library on N. West Temple has the world’s largest collection of genealogical records.
  • Market Street has some of the city’s best restaurants, but there are more than 80 spread throughout the downtown area.

tips for long distance moving Choosing a Denver Moving Company

It’s only about a 518-mile journey from Denver, Colorado, to Salt Lake City, Utah, but it is still considered a long-distance move, which means you should take extra consideration when you’re looking at moving companies.

There’s a difference in quality among Salt Lake City movers, so here’s how to get the best city-to-city move possible by selecting the right moving company for your big move to Salt Lake City, UT.

  • Choose a local moving company with extensive long-distance moving experience.
  • Look for moving companies who offer helpful information, such as the sort of packing supplies you’ll need.
  • Need help packing? Not all movers offer this, so if you need it, be sure to select a company that does.
  • Want to know what your move costs? Make sure your Denver mover does an on-site or video inspection before quoting, and then compare quotes. Moving costs can vary, but don’t go for the cheapest if it doesn’t meet your needs.

It is also important to make sure you’re getting quotes from long-distance moving companies that have trained, professional staff. All moving companies are not created equal, so for the best, contact Denver Moving Group. If you have questions, give us a call at (720)370-3523 or fill out our handy quote form, and we’ll be in touch right away.

denver moving group in action
Denver Moving Group Movers In Action

FAQs that People Ask When Moving from Denver to Salt Lake City

Is it cheaper to live in Denver or Salt Lake City?

Salt Lake City is generally cheaper to live in compared to Denver. Overall, the cost of living in Salt Lake City is about 19% lower than in Denver. Key areas where you can expect savings include eating out, groceries, childcare, and entertainment.

plan your move aheadIs Salt Lake City worth moving to?

Yes, Salt Lake City is worth moving to for many reasons. The city offers a robust job market, affordable rent, great public transport, and a diverse and inclusive community. Additionally, Salt Lake City is surrounded by beautiful mountains and offers plenty of outdoor recreational opportunities, such as hiking, skiing, and biking.

What is a good salary to live in Salt Lake City?

A good salary to live comfortably in Salt Lake City can vary depending on your lifestyle and family size. However, the median household income in Salt Lake City is around 17% lower than Denver. Considering the lower cost of living, a salary of around $50,000 to $60,000 per year should provide a comfortable lifestyle for an individual or a small family.

What are the disadvantages of living in Utah?

Some disadvantages of living in Utah include air quality issues, especially during winter temperature inversions, which can trap pollutants in the valley. Salt Lake City also has a higher violent crime rate compared to Denver and the national average. Additionally, while the city is becoming more diverse, the dominant presence of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints may not appeal to everyone.

Can you live in Salt Lake City without being Mormon?

Absolutely! While it’s true that a significant portion of the population in Salt Lake City is affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, they make up only about 50% of the city’s population. This leaves plenty of room for people of various backgrounds, beliefs, and lifestyles to live and thrive in Salt Lake City.

Picture of John Brikertalli

John Brikertalli

John is a mover since he can't remember when. As a son to a family of movers, John has experience in all moving aspects. Contact us and ask John about your next move.

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