Orem, Utah, is an attractive city for many reasons. There is great access to childcare, healthcare, and amenities, without losing a connection to nature. People all over the country want to move to a friendly city, and who can blame them? Certainly not the locals. We just think there are a few things new people should know before they commit to the move.
However, Orem isn’t a perfect city. Besides the crazy prices for homes and apartments, you’ll be faced with aggressively snowy winters, steep hills, hungry college students competing for jobs, and strange social situations. We’ve got seventeen reasons for you to reconsider your move to Orem, Utah listed here.
1. There are Multiple Large Universities Nearby
Utah Valley University and Brigham Young University are two major Utah presences, and they’re both in or right beside Orem, Utah. This means that football games, basketball games, school events, and graduation are going to foul up your commute and daily schedule on a regular basis.
Even better, the Orem area is home to multiple other smaller colleges and universities. You’ll share the entire city with university life whether you like it or not, and you’ll find that many of your neighbors are students or professors. There’s no escaping it.
2. College Students are Everywhere
One of the specific side effects of having so many secondary education facilities nearby is that you will be surrounded by students at all times. Whether you’re trying to have a date night, get a reservation for a new movie, go bowling with your kids, or just get a pack of hot dogs on student move-in week, you’ve got competition.
This is especially exciting when you’re trying to drive anywhere in the city. Many of the younger students are new drivers or from outside the state, which leads to more small accidents and traffic jams. Utah isn’t known for producing stellar drivers in the first place, so we really can’t afford to have even more stressed people on the road.
3. Housing Costs are Painfully High
It’s no secret that Utah’s housing prices are through the roof, and Orem isn’t the exception. The median home sale price is $515,000 right now, leaving many potential buyers stuck in apartment complexes instead of owning a house of their own. Things don’t look like they’ll be getting better any time soon.
This is the #1 reason that many Utahns are leaving the state. They just can’t afford to stay. As much as other items on this list might help people choose to live in a different location, the crazy cost of real estate is the most likely to literally force their choice.
These prices aren’t typical for Utah, and many people are hoping that the bubble will burst eventually. If it does, move to Utah. If it doesn’t, good luck.
4. Renting is Competitive
It might not be as devastating as watching someone else pay $100,000 over the asking price for your dream home, but renting in Orem is still a stressful experience. Apartments go for hundreds of dollars more than they would have even a year ago, and salaries aren’t keeping up. It’s hard to save for a home when your whole salary goes for an apartment.
Cheap apartments have long waiting lists and can often have questionable maintenance or landlords. If you want to get into a good apartment, get on a waiting list in advance and have everything you’d need to sign ready. This includes the deposit, first and last month’s rent, and anything else you could be asked to present.
5. Everything Closes on Sunday
If you’re from Utah, this is a pretty normal experience. You might even be surprised by how many things are open and accessible on Sunday.
However, if you’re from outside of Utah, this can be an unpleasant surprise. Sunday morning brunches, casual shopping trips, and visits to the movies will all be interrupted by closed doors and weird hours. You need to check the opening times of anything you want to visit, no matter how mundane it might seem.
6. Traffic is Intense
Between the construction, the college students, and the typical rush hour, traffic can get really bad in Orem. It isn’t uncommon for the 75mph freeway to come to a complete standstill. We might still be spoiled compared to cities like New York or Los Angeles, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t annoying.
Plan your day around the traffic if you can, keep an eye on construction, and try to be a good driver. We don’t need anything else adding to the traffic jam.
7. Allergy Season is Brutal
Utah offers a little something for everyone, and that includes allergens. Whether you’re allergic to flowers, pine pollen, cottonwood, or grass, we’ve got it. Orem is especially prolific in the pollen production arena. You’ll spend many days wheezing until you can get ahold of allergy medication or even allergy shots.
Ironically, the Orem area also produces a wide range of hypoallergenic dogs that your whole family can enjoy. You’ll just be too stuffed up because of pollen allergies to walk them.
8. Summers are Hot and Dry
Summers in Orem feel a little like walking through a dehydrator. The altitude, megadrought conditions, and 100+ degrees Fahrenheit weather can come together to give you a nasty case of sunburn in less time than it takes to mow your front lawn.
Tourists and new residents are especially vulnerable to this, often choosing to go hiking early in the morning and not realizing until full noon that they’re stuck up a mountain without shade or water. Don’t end up like those tourists. If you’re going to visit Orem, make sure you’ve got plenty of shade and something to do besides bake in the sun.
9. Winters are Freezing, Polluted, and Snowy
If you thought summers were bad, wait until you meet winter. You can still sunburn in the snow!
Utah is famous for its “powder” snow conditions that bring in thousands of ski and snowboard enthusiasts every year. What many people don’t realize is that this fantastic snow is one of the most annoying things you will ever shovel out of your driveway. It flutters gently out of the shovel and back onto the ground, refuses to make snowballs, and loves to make you slip while you’re walking.
Don’t eat the snow, either. Utah’s winter inversion is notoriously bad, and everything will be full of chemicals. To enjoy the snow, go to a lodge instead.
10. Mental Health Care is Stigmatized and Tough to Find
A common nickname for the entire region around Orem is “Happy Valley.” There has been an enduring stigma that everyone really ought to be happy there, that life was good, and that standing out was always and unconditionally negative. This made it difficult to seek out help for depression, addiction, or other mental-health-related issues.
While this stigma is improving thanks to modern mental health advocacy efforts, problems persist. Utah’s suicide rate has stayed high, and the Orem area is no exception. Therapists and help centers are often overbooked, so you will have to be put on long waitlists to access help.
If you’re going to seek therapy, it wouldn’t hurt to find a therapist before you move to Utah. Telehealth can buy you some time until you can get in-person care. If you’re at risk, make sure you’ve got a strong support system that will continue through your move. Don’t accidentally strand yourself out here.
11. There is Always Construction. Always.
Many states have running jokes about summer construction, but I’ve never seen anything like Utah’s. When we say that we only have two seasons, winter and construction, we mean it. Any travel on I-15, Utah’s main freeway, will be interrupted repeatedly by delays, construction crews, and rough roads, which does no favors for the traffic situation.
12. Mountain Lions and Bears Clash with Suburban Life
Have you ever seen a bear climb a tree in a city park? Orem residents have. It might not be what you expect when you’re in an urban area, but Orem sits at the base of mountains full of dangerous wildlife. Use caution when hiking or you might have an unwanted encounter with local wildlife.
13. There are a Weird Number of Soda Shops
How would you feel about a diet coke with coconut syrup, lime juice, and strawberry puree?
If you think that sounds pretty good, fantastic! You’ll have a great time at the hundreds of soda shops all over Utah, even if you can’t quite remember which ones you actually prefer visiting because the names are so similar.
If you think it sounds weird, sorry. Orem has very few coffee shops or bars, so a large part of the population gets their caffeine fix from soda mixes instead. It does no favors for the obesity rate or general health of residents, but it’s still common.
This is on this list as a negative because of a few reasons. First, it is incredibly easy to get into expensive and unhealthy habits when passing soda shops every day. Second, many people from out of state end up missing their coffee, and soda isn’t the same. Third, the traffic caused by especially popular soda shops is ridiculous and can totally cut off traffic on major roads.
14. Candy, Cake, and Cookies are Serious Vices
A large number of chain bakeries started in Utah. The state has always had a sweet tooth, and the Orem/Provo area is particularly fond of anything sugary, buttery, or cute.
If you’re picturing your city’s three or four bakeries, think bigger. Orem has Crumbl, The Sweet Tooth Fairy, Corner Bakery Cafe, Chip, and even more local shops. Cookies can be delivered straight to your door by individual companies or delivery chains. If you want a large bottle of milk to go with your sweets, you’ll get it without any struggle.
If you’re wondering why this is of the reasons not to move to Orem, look no further than your personal health. Coming from personal experience, it is hard to stay healthy or lose weight when the most easily accessible snacks or meals are cookies. People gift cookies and cake, bring them as snacks to meetings and give gift cards so you can get even more of them.
Combine this sugar addiction with high obesity rates, a drive for a perfect image, and intense competitiveness, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
15. The Perfect Image Is Plastic Surgery
Utah has a stigma of seeking to look perfect, and it isn’t entirely unfounded. A lot of that stigma originates from the trends in the Provo/Orem region that cause problems. For example, a shockingly large number of Mommy Bloggers, popular Instagram lifestyle models, and TikTokers are from the region, and most of us have heard about the unhealthy trends that can come from consuming that kind of social media.
These people are paid to have a perfect-looking life, and they pay good money to get that look. Plastic surgery is surprisingly popular in Utah, to the point that it has been commented on by national magazines, and it isn’t going to go away anytime soon. Image is important in Utah, especially among competitive mothers around Orem, so don’t be too shocked when you see billboards advertising elective cosmetic surgery lining the freeways.
16. People Can Get Intense About Personal Beliefs
When I say that people can get intense about personal beliefs, I’m not just talking about the predominant local religion. Everything seems to have the potential to get heated. LGBT+ issues, views on addiction or mental health crises, race, religion, and even more topics are downright flammable.
17. Addiction is a Seriously Underrated Issue
This is a delicate topic, but a serious one in Orem, Utah. We got hit hard by the opioid crisis, continue to have a meth and prescription drug problem, have an ongoing pornography addiction crisis and haven’t caught a break in decades. While Utah, Orem in particular, is packed with treatment centers, we continue to struggle to address the needs of everyone impacted by this problem. Addiction should not be underestimated.
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