Everyone likes a little variety in life, and in Salt Lake City, they like a LOT of variety. This famous city has a population of 180,000. The Winter Olympics were also hosted here in 2002, and the extensive infrastructure improvements have led to major economic growth and a 68 percent increase in general fun, meaning that moving here provides you with many more options than it once did.
The favorite in Salt Lake is the Sugar House area which, contrary to what its name implies, contains more than one house. Sugar House is almost entirely residential and offers up a ton of older, vintage-style homes starting around $1000 for a two-bedroom or slightly less for a converted duplex or fourplex. This mega-desirable area puts you a short walk or bike ride to bars, coffee shops, and Whole Foods. Room shares are an exceedingly popular choice and, as always, this option will knock your rent down considerably, to as low as $300 per month. And who knows, maybe you can bond with your new roomies over composting and the benefits of sustainable bamboo flooring. In the event that Sugar House is full, the 9th and 9th district is a comparable neighborhood.
Downtown SLC is growing spectacularly quickly – the residential population here grew by more than 80 percent in the last 10 years and is expected to double in the next 10. Salt Lake is generally a short city, meaning most real-estate offerings are single-family homes or two-three story apartment complexes and to be honest, seventy-story skyscraper living just isn’t the thing here. If that’s what you’re hankering for, however, downtown is the place to look. Multi-story (like seven as opposed to seventy) condominium towers are going up all over downtown and many of the units sold out before construction was even completed. If ever there was a boom, this is it. Living here puts you within walking distance to classy nightlife options, a consistent array of festivals, and it is seriously bursting at the seams with cool restaurants, bars, coffee shops and clubs. Spaces here vary tremendously, starting at $500 for small studios and efficiencies on the outer edges to $1500 for posh condos in elegant new high-rise buildings in the heart of downtown.
The swankier version of vintage Sugar House is The Avenues. This neighborhood northeast of downtown is almost entirely protected by historical associations and if you’re in the market for a multi-million dollar Victorian (or just living near one), you should start here. It’s built on the upward sloping part of the valley, so homes here can potentially have beautiful views of the city. There are pockets of cheap housing nearby. On the whole, renting in The Avenues isn’t as popular as in other neighborhoods just because of the sheer value of some of the homes, but ‘For Rent’ signs can still be seen on plenty of streets, and there are still a handful of apartment complexes. Small one-bedrooms in a complex will start around $600, ranging up to $1000 for one that’s in a converted Victorian, and if you’re looking to have the whole place to yourself, a four-bedroom Victorian with a view can run into the $3000s per month.
If you find that you don’t fit into any of these areas, Rose Park may be an option. It’s a neighborhood on the west side that is up and coming. Property values are going up here as well as in other similar parts of the west side, and if affordability is more important than immediate proximity to nightlife and amenities, Rose Park could be up your alley – rents can get as low as $600 for a two-bedroom house. Nearby is the newly trendy Marmelade district.
The most popular suburb options are Bountiful, Riverton, Sandy, South Jordan and Herriman. Most of the construction in these areas is new, but prices are roughly the same as in Sugar House and The Avenues, just more Walmart-y and less Whole Foods-y. Get it?
Salt Lake City’s transportation system got a major boost from the Olympic improvements of 2002 and now includes a bus system, light rail (called TRAX) and commuter rail line, all of which are continually being added to. About a third of the population uses public transportation every day, but cars are still everywhere, especially in the suburbs. SLC has also made recent inroads in promoting bicycling, adding bike lanes to most major roads and providing maps and information on trails for anyone wanting to go greenhouse emissions-free. With the plentiful outdoor activities available here year round, biking is an easy way to get outside of the city and into the natural wonders of Utah. Be sure not to miss the “Lake Stink” effect that happens a few times each year on The Great Salt Lake due to bacterial activity. It’s breathtaking. Literally.
This is where I provide you with major warnings about renting in Salt Lake, and how there are numerous scam artists around waiting to lure you into a crumbling tenement and take your money, but, honestly, this is Salt Lake. That just doesn’t really happen. Everyone recycles, has a dog, smiles at neighbors and is generally annoyingly nice. The meanest thing they might ask is for a deposit and first month’s rent, which I find to be totally acceptable, because they always say please and thank you and ask how your parents are doing. How are your parents, anyway?
If you’re at all nervous about moving to Salt Lake City, just remember that this place is so nice it makes Mr. Rodgers look like the neighborhood bully. Good luck on your search, we’re confident you’ll have no trouble finding the scenic apartment of your dreams. Send us a post card!