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Cost of Living in Salt Lake City, UT 2021

By: Susan Finch
July 1, 2021

Salt Lake City is known for its backdrop of Wasatch and Oquirrh mountain ranges, proximity to outdoor recreation, thriving job market, and as the religious center of the Latter Day Saints. The city is turning into a strong tourist destination and was home to the 2002 Winter Olympics. It's also home to the Family History Library, the most extensive genealogical library in the world.

Whether you want to ski on the weekends or hit restaurants after work, you can find what you're looking for in Salt Lake City. Here's how to measure its cost of living to figure out if living in this charming city is right for you.

Salt Lake City Housing Costs

Your rent primarily impacts your cost of living in Salt Lake City, taking up the majority of your budget, especially in trendsetting neighborhoods. Salt Lake City has among the hottest job markets in the US and attracts newcomers looking for exciting careers and breathtaking views of the Wasatch Mountains. Salt Lake City expanded throughout the pandemic and currently has the lowest average unemployment rate.

If you're moving from an expensive metropolitan area like Los Angeles, the rents in Salt Lake City will look attractive. Depending on your salary, you can snatch up a one-bedroom apartment for less than $1,000. The average rent in Salt Lake City recently increased by 7.7% compared to this time last year. Median rents in Salt Lake City run $1,539 for a one-bedroom apartment and $2,215 for a two-bedroom.

Salt Lake City Transportation

Most locals around Salt Lake City own cars to make the most of the metro area and get to nearby ski resorts and outdoor recreation. The city also has a robust public transportation system with commuter trains, buses, and a light rail. Locals take the FrontRunner from suburbs like Provo and Ogden to get to Salt Lake City. The light rail TRAX system stretches from Downtown across the valley. Whether you're going to the airport or ski resorts, getting from point A to point B is a breeze.

Uber, Lyft, and taxis can also be found in Salt Lake City. You can even bike your way through the city to take advantage of the outdoor beauty. Bike-sharing stations are available at GREENbike Station.

According to the MIT Living Wage Calculator, a single Salt Lake City adult will spend an average of $4,900 on transportation. Families of two working adults and a child should expect to pay $11,186. Fortunately, Salt Lake City is still a relatively affordable city compared to western cities like San Francisco.

Learn more about costs for moving to Salt Lake City from another state.

Salt Lake City Food Costs

According to MIT estimates, single full-time employed adults in Salt Lake City that cook their meals (including snacks) spend approximately $3,792 a year on food. If you want to enjoy the trendy downtown restaurants and fine dining in Salt Lake City, expect to pay an average of $12 on a meal at an inexpensive restaurant without extras like appetizers and alcohol.

Having dinner for two people at a mid-range restaurant will cost you $60. For reference, dining out in San Francisco costs about 25% more. If you decide to head to Utah from the Golden City, you'll end up saving money on rent, food, and entertainment.

Salt Lake City Healthcare Costs

Healthcare costs are also a significant budget factor. MIT estimates based on the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found the typical cost of medical services for a single, full-time employed adult in Salt Lake City is approximately $2,694 a year. A family of two full-time working adults and a child will add up to $7,047 a year.

Salt Lake City Utilities

You should also factor your utilities into the budget you set for your Salt Lake City cost of living. Research from Numbeo shows that a basic utility bill for a 915 sq ft apartment in Salt Lake City will average $131.47 a month. The estimated cost includes electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage. If you want Internet (60 Mbps or More, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL), add another $61.52 to bring your total up to $192.99 a month.

Salt Lake City Fitness and Entertainment

Salt Lake City's mountainous backdrop makes it a gorgeous place for biking and walking. Head Downtown to Liberty Park or get out of the city to the nearby Alta Ski Area or Fifth Water Hot Springs. If your workouts require equipment, or you're interested in taking some group classes, plan to pay $31.36 in monthly membership fees. To compare, a gym membership in San Francisco will run $83.36 per month on average. Setting up a small home gym in your apartment is an excellent way to save some money.

Salt Lake City also offers classic entertainment options like cinemas. Going on a date to see the latest blockbusters will cost you $12 per ticket, plus drinks and popcorn. Movie theater tickets in New York are priced at $16, while in San Francisco, you'll also pay $15.

Other Expenses to Consider in Salt Lake City

There's good news for Salt Lake City newcomers looking to save a little money. All taxpayers in the state of Utah pay a 4.95% state income tax rate, regardless of their filing status or income tier. None of the state's cities have a local income tax. Utah does not have an inheritance or estate tax either, and property and sales taxes are relatively low compared to the national average.

There is a technique to figuring out how much you should earn to live in Salt Lake City called the 30% rule. The rule stipulates you should spend no more than 30% of your gross income on rent. To live comfortably in a one-bedroom apartment, you should shoot for an income of at least $55,404 a year or $26.56 an hour. For a two-bedroom apartment, you'll need to earn at least $79,740 a year or $38.34 an hour.

The average salary you should shoot for is different from the living wage. The "living wage," or the minimum amount of money needed to live above the poverty threshold, is $15.07 per hour in Salt Lake City for a full-time employed individual. The median income in Salt Lake City is $60,676, as reported by the Census Bureau in 2019. By comparison, the median income is $71,621 in the rest of Utah.

There are still affordable Salt Lake City neighborhoods and places outside the city to fit your paycheck. If you want to live Downtown or near urban amenities, shoot for a healthy salary to accommodate the lifestyle.

A 45 minute drive outside of Salt Lake City will take you to Provo, which is the best city for remote workers. If you're interested in living in a place that's perfect for the remote work environment and nearby somewhere with an affordable cost of living, Provo might be for you!

Final Thoughts

If you're interested in learning more about the cost of living in Utah, read our blog!

Now that you know the ins and outs of the cost of living in Salt Lake City, you can start your apartment hunt. Start your Salt Lake City apartment search today with this quiz!

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AUTHOR
Susan Finch is a freelance writer and content manager focusing on local experiences, travel, and anything relating to really good food and craft brews. Her work has appeared in travel guidebooks and national magazines and newspapers. Read More
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