Bountiful, Utah, is a city that has a lot of appeals. It features good public schools, competitive charter schools, great safety ratings, and quality healthcare, among other things. It’s also close enough to major national parks like Malad, Zion, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and more, that residents can easily make these places into a weekend trip. So, what are the downsides to living there?
Unfortunately, a city this pretty doesn’t readily show its ugly side. There are major issues that people don’t talk about until after the new neighbors have moved in. From rats to real estate, here are some of the things a buyer should know before they choose to move to Bountiful, Utah.
1. The Bountiful Rats are Everywhere
Yes, rats. They are fearless, and they are everywhere. Residents can sit on their back porch and hear the critters scurrying around, or even see rats walk boldly out in front of them. Throwing things barely disturbs them, and you can’t discharge BB guns to scare them off like in a more rural area.
Your only hope of managing the rat issue reliably in some areas is getting a ratting dog. Some locals have jokingly hired out their terriers or dachshunds as “hitmen” to manage the rodent population, and desperate neighbors took them seriously. It works, but rats come back when the dogs are gone.
Ask the neighbors about the rats before you move in, have an inspector check the basement, and consider adopting a new pet if you don’t want unwelcome guests.
2. The Real Estate and Rent Prices are Too High
Rent prices are jumping as badly as in other places in Utah. A one-bedroom apartment that was rented for $610 in 2019 will go for $1,500 now. Renters across the city are reporting similar issues, and many young people are being pushed out of the city because they can’t make that rent with the available pay.
A recent study of cities where being a homeowner is unaffordable put Davis County, where Bountiful is located, at #7 on the list. The median home price was $428,765 at the time of the study and nobody expects them to drop any time soon.
Salt Lake County, which borders Bountiful, landed at #9 on the list.
3. Too Few Grocery Stores
Anyone living in Bountiful can tell you that Friday and Saturday are not the time to shop for groceries. If you need anything at the store, you’ll have a long walk across the parking lot and an even longer line waiting for a register.
While running out of stock isn’t usually a concern, getting into the store in the first place can be a major problem. Wages are too low to hire enough cashiers, so there are never enough registers open and checkout is slow. Opening a second Smith’s took some of the pressure off, but the problem still exists. Traffic for Costco will nearly block the freeway exits on weekends! Traffic inside Costco is even worse.
Dick’s Market has less crowding and more parking, as well as a few more cashiers, but the prices are high enough that it is used as more of a desperation stop for residents that need one more ingredient and don’t have 30 minutes to spare.
The only Walmarts are in neighboring cities that are between 15 and 30 minutes away. The crowding issues are just as bad there, but the lower prices occasionally make it worthwhile for residents.
4. Expensive Groceries
While the groceries are lower cost than in some other areas in the US right now, accessibility can be a problem. The grocery stores closest to Bountiful neighborhoods are more expensive than options in neighboring cities, and the stores closest to bus lines are smaller chains with higher prices.
5. The Lower City Floods Often
Long-time Utah residents know to avoid houses below the water line and the flood line. Newer residents often miss that warning until after their basement has flooded.
Utah floods surprise people who expect a desert, but they don’t surprise locals. The rain is heavy when it shows up and houses, yards, and landscaping aren’t equipped to handle it. Bountiful’s sandy soil is particularly bad at keeping out the water.
Flood Factor rates Bountiful as “at major risk for flooding.” If you’re hoping to move to bountiful, get an inspector to check for previous water damage, leaks, and other dangers, and see where your house lands on a flood map. Don’t rely on the hill to keep you safe!
6. Worst Air in the US
This isn’t a Bountiful-Specific problem so much as a problem with the whole “bowl” of Utah, but it is a real problem
In January 2022, Bountiful’s neighboring city of Salt Lake City had the worst air in the entire US. You can literally see the inversion, or air pollution when you drive towards the city from out of town. Residents have had to argue with visitors that the haze they see outside of their cars is not fog.
That hazy, misty, might-be-fog outside of your car window is very, very rarely fog. If you can taste the “fog,” it’s pollution that got squashed down to earth by bad weather patterns. Now you can understand why locals are so excited to see a nasty storm in the forecast!
Of course, those happy residents might also be relieved that the smog isn’t smoke from the Medical Waste Disposal Plant again. That isn’t something you forget easily.
7. Drought is Constant
Utah droughts are more reliable than Sunday church. They show up every year, wherever you are. The only exception seems to be flooding.
However, they have been especially bad in recent years. Anyone with a garden in Bountiful is getting nervous about this year’s water restrictions. Drought-hardy plants, greywater, and greenhouses are the only hope for many locals who are trying to save a little money on produce.
8. Hard-To-Access Public Transportation
If you live on a very specific street, you’ll have access to very specific buses. If you don’t live on those streets, you don’t have access to buses. This rule is as simple as it is annoying.
The 470 and 455 buses stop near Main and Orchard, right through the center of the city, and go as far as Salt Lake City and Ogden. If you can get a ride down to these buses, you’re set! Walking there is not realistic for many people who live above or below the bus lines. In addition, neither of these bus lines will get you close enough to the Frontrunner to use it.
The frontrunner, the local train line between Ogden and Provo, is a fantastic way to commute if you can get a ride to the station. Salt Lake’s public transportation isn’t bad once you’re in the city.
9. You Need a Car to Get Anywhere
Yes, there are buses in the city, but they’re hard to access and unreliable. Many people have complained about the 455 bus driving right past them as they waited on Orchard, and when the bus only comes once an hour, that isn’t something you can just brush off.
Many homes and apartment complexes are also a far enough walk away from the bus line that it can be scary at night or in the winter. Bountiful is pretty safe, but not safe enough for a woman to feel safe walking alone past dark city parks. If you’re trying to walk a mile or two uphill, in the snow, with groceries, you can give up on that thought right now.
If you’re going to function in Bountiful, you need access to a car.
10. Gas is Expensive Compared to Neighboring Cities
This reason is simple. Gas prices may be lower than in other major cities in the US, but they’re consistently higher than in neighboring cities in Utah. Unless you have a Costco card, you’ll want to fill your tank when you’re driving somewhere else.
11. Limited Restaurants
Sorry, Bountiful residents, but some of those beloved local restaurants are a little scary. Too many locals have reported food poisoning, and white bread with ranch dressing is a really weird take on breadsticks at an Italian restaurant.
Luckily, Olive Garden just arrived to diversify the food landscape.
This issue has gotten a little better in recent times, with small Peruvian restaurants and some food trucks opening, but it will still be a struggle for some people when they move to the city. If you’re used to having a wide selection of quality restaurants, or diverse food tastes, this is not the city for you. If you’re a genuine food snob, try Salt Lake.
12. Salt Lake City Traffic
If you can afford to buy a house in Bountiful, you’re probably not working in Bountiful. That’s the honest truth. Are you prepared for your commute?
While traffic in Bountiful is not nearly as bad as in major US cities like Atlanta, Georgia, or Las Vegas, Nevada, it’s still present and still unpleasant. Commuters trying to get out of Salt Lake can take the freeway to a total standstill, and this tends to happen just outside of Bountiful.
13. Deer Are Problem Animals
The rats still hold the top trophy for Worst Local Wildlife, but the deer are working hard to unseat them. Yes, the deer are cute and enchanting for the first few years, but that’s only until you take a curve and come close to hitting one.
Deer aren’t friendly animals. They’ll fight you and they’ll fight your dog. They love ruining precious garden patches and fresh lawns, and nothing can make them leave you alone once they have a taste for your yard.
Locals learn to live with the situation, but be careful about getting too comfortable. They will ruin your day if you hit one with your car.
14. You Must Commute For Work
Remember the Salt Lake City traffic we mentioned? You’re going to remember it soon!
Bountiful has a few spots for good-paying jobs if you’re a dentist, a medical worker, a refinery employee, or maybe a police officer. Short of that, you’re probably living far enough away from your job that it qualifies as a commute. Are you prepared to drive 20-40 minutes to work every morning and evening? If you are, are you ready to drive that commute in a snowstorm?
Carpooling can reduce a little bit of the burden, but make sure you factor in gas costs and vehicle maintenance when you’re choosing how far away from work you can live.
15. Everything Shuts Down on Sunday
If you’re from a different state, this can be a real shock. Almost everything in Bountiful will close on Sunday.
Since a large part of the city’s population doesn’t shop on Sunday, it isn’t profitable enough for stores to stay open. In addition to that, many of their employees request Sundays off. You’ll need to travel to Salt Lake or other cities if you want to eat out or shop at many stores, or plan your week around shopping on Saturday.
16. Asthma, Lung Cancer, and Breathing Problems are Everywhere
Utah has a lower smoking rate than the national average, but it still has many asthmatics and other breathing issues. Asthmatics will have a particularly hard time in Bountiful since the pollution and pollen count combine to wreak havoc on sensitive lungs.
Tragically, you’ll also hear more stories than you might expect of people who’ve never smoked and still got lung cancer. Residents who have lived in the area for decades seem to have the most stories. Years of breathing shockingly bad air can really mess with your body.
Residents of Bountiful might get used to winter coughs, bronchitis, and pneumonia, but new residents should probably plan on buying a good quality air filter for their homes.
17. Snow on Hills Can Be Dangerous
Bountiful Hills are steep, and the snow is famous for being slick and powdery. The same qualities that make Utah a legendary ski and snowboarding destination create horrible road conditions.
If you’re in the city and you need to get anywhere in the snow, plan on driving very slowly and carefully. Accidents happen, and cars slide uncontrollably down steep roads every winter. Some of those funny videos you’ve seen online are probably from Utah.
Drive safely, invest in snow tires, and don’t get overconfident. Bountiful Roads will team up with the deer to humble you.
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