For the last 20 years of my life, I have lived in a small town thirty minutes outside of the popular college and family town of Provo, Utah. I have spent countless hours driving and walking around its streets and alleyways and spending money within the local businesses. I have seen its highlights and been shown its low lights.
As I wrote this article, I had the opportunity to gather information from people living within Provo, people who had moved out of the city, and people who have frequented the city throughout their lives. Each had varying opinions and points, but below demonstrates the collective top seventeen reasons not to move to Provo.
#1 Extreme Weather
In December and January, you feel like your going to lose an arm and a leg to frostbite, but by July and August, you think they might melt off.
While the variety makes for beautiful scenes, living here requires you to have a variety of wardrobe that gets you though the heat, the cold, the snow, the rain, and the dryness.
“Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from 20°F to 90°F and is rarely below 7°F or above 97°F”Source.
It is also very temperamental weather patterns, looking spring-like one day and dreary the next, you never know which to expect.
Another common weather problem is the dry air in Utah. Utah is in the middle of a desert.
According to currentresults.com Utah is the 2nd driest state year-round, and the 3rd driest state in the summer months.
This is not any good for someone with respiratory ailments like asthma. It also dehydrates you and your skin, oftentimes leaving you scarcely and uncomfortable. Dry air also leads to less mucus, making it easier to catch cold and other sicknesses.
#2 College Town
Provo and the surrounding area are home to two major Utah Universities namely Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University. This means that there are a lot of college-aged students. Throughout the entirety of the town, you can see the effects of this in the buildings, the businesses, the housing, and the culture.
“Provo is estimated to have 37,605 students enrolled in college and graduate school” of the 116,403 people counted in population.”Source.
This inflates prices occasionally and means the streets are crowded with students hustles to class or other places. Places of activity like restaurants, gyms, and game centers are full of students with a need to do something.
It also means much younger drivers are prevalent and often things are catered to students.
#3 Religious Concentration
Living in Provo means being surrounded by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
As a matter of fact, “nearly 90 percent of the population is made up of members of the LDS Church, and many residents are current or former BYU students, a distinction that has shaped the city’s culture” Source.
This has impacts in a variety of areas which will be further discussed below. While this religious concentration benefits the community in a variety of ways, if you want to shy from religious pressure or opinions, Provo is probably not the place for you.
This means that the amount of churches in the area is great. On every other corner, there are churches set up.
Living in a predominantly religious place also has other perks which shouldn’t be overlooked. Here, people generally have higher moral standards, focus much more on family-orientated activities, and have a lower crime rate than most places.
The increasing amount of college students running from fun to school and to work often increases the congestion on the road, leaving you with a longer waiting time at lights and major intersections. This is only added upon by the train and tracks system frequently stopping traffic on major roadways.
The way that the roadways are set up in Utah is a grid, with 1 or 2 major roads running from North to South and East to West. Through Provo I-15 and University Avenue, and State Street run North to South, while University Parkway, and 800 North run East to West.
While this seems like a logical road layout, it has created problems with traffic and construction which causes lots of congestion throughout the day and especially around 4 and 5.
#5 Chronic Construction Zone
A common complaint among many people within Provo specifically, and throughout Utah is the outrageous amount of road construction and rehabilitation consistently happening. Winter hits and the water erosion ruins the roads, and then spring and summer hit for the construction workers to fix them, and then winter comes again and the vicious cycle of erosion and construction continues.
Oftentimes, major highways only have two working lanes and the time it takes for them to fix it can go on for months or even years.
#6 Inversion & Air Quality Problem
Emissions, nearby fires, and steel factory pollution all play into the inversion that happens yearly in the Utah Country area and all along the Wasatch Front.
The mountains and valleys create this perfect little place for the air to get trapped and go sour pretty quickly, with no real airflow.
On December 29th 2015 Provo was ranked to have the dirtiest air in all in the country, and “though Provo has not maintained that ranking since then, the website reports that it has consistently placed in the top five cities with the most polluted air” Source.
This is not good for people who have respiratory problems, and having them while living here could be detrimental.
#7 Zero Parking
In comparison to other towns, you are not very likely to find a spot to park for a couple of hours, let alone overnight. Parking is mainly dominated by student housing and businesses.
While there is street parking and other free places, they are almost always packed full of people, and you could end up walking miles from your car to your destination.
A common complaint about Provo and university campus parking is being booted. Instead of being ticketing or giving notices, Provo is known for giving out lots of parking tickets and booting your car, making your completely unmovable until you have paid the fine to have the boot removed.
Because college students are such a major part of the population, the demand for student housing is high, making it the prominent housing market. In consequence, finding housing while not being a student can be quite challenging and often times is expensive.
As a matter of fact, housing whether you find it or not, is outrageously priced. This doesn’t only apply to Provo though, as housing prices throughout Utah have been, and continue to be on the rise.
According to redfin.com the average cost of a house in Utah is $350,000.
Building a new home is also incredibly expensive within the city, though outside the city in places like Lehi and Vineyard more evenly priced building plots and prices Most houses in downtown Provo are old and in need of remodeling.
#9 Bad Drivers
On and off throughout the last 10 years, Utah drivers have been ranked among some of the worst drivers. This is calculated not only by their amount of tickets and accidents but also by their rudeness.
In 2016, QuoteWizard ranked Utah as the worst driving state in all of America, and though it has gotten better throughout the years moving from worst, to 3rd, and then on to 9th, it still remains in the top ten worst drivers. Provo was #18 on the worst driving per city.
#10 No Diversity
Compared to other major cities throughout the United States where there are pockets here and there or other nationalities and cultures, Provo is home to a population of 87.95% white people.
The biggest minority are Hispanics, but generally, the population is white with similar views that can sometimes be seen as close-minded and naive.
According to worldpopulationreview.com, about 4% of the population is two or more races, 2.69% are Asian and 1.34% are Pacific Islanders. This provides little variety in authentic food choices and a lack of outside world experience.
#11 Busy City Events & Distances
During the spring and summer and around Christmas, you will find that city events become more prevalent and more crowded. There are always a plethora of people congregating and the chances that you lose a kid or two get higher as the amount of people increases.
For people who travel frequently, or need quick access to an airport, Provo is not the place to go. It is a 45-mile drive to the Salt Lake City International Airport and other airports are much further.
#12 No Night Life
The religious culture of Provo, namely members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints abide by religious beliefs that change their lifestyle.
They do not believe in the consumption of alcohol or other recreational drugs, and they also abstain from sexual relationships outside of marriage. Both these and other beliefs limit the number of bars in Provo. Not only that, but most places close around 9 or 10, and past then there is not much going on in the city.
There are hardly any nighttime bars and other nightlife festivities. If you’re looking for a hopping nightlife, Provo is not the place to come.
#13 Conservative Opinions
While this is not a bad thing, the majority of the population of Provo and the surrounding areas is conservative. Lots of policies and laws passed locally are in favor of conservative views.
This follows the pattern of the entire state and their prominent religious beliefs which lead them to lean republican in elections and polls.
#14 Bland Downtown Areas
While Utah does have the beautiful scenery of the mountainous views and the calming reservoirs and lakes, the downtown areas and residential areas can often be seen as bleak and bland. They contain many greys and old buildings are prevalent in the downtown areas.
Fun is a little disrupted as well, added to the bland feel. As mentioned before, the air is dry and low quality, and fires as often associated with that. Utah often has tough fire bands and firework bands, taking away from nice campfires or celebratory independence days.
Walking the streets of Provo, it becomes annoying obvious just how many people there are. No matter where you go or what you are doing you’re bound to run into crowds of people pursuing the same thing.
“Provo reached its highest population of 117,583 in 2017. Spanning over 44 miles, Provo has a population density of 2,798 people per square mile.”Source.
That is a lot of people. From my own experience, the wait at restaurants is a great demonstration of this. There are waits no matter when and where you go, sometimes exceeding 3 hours, getting worse on the weekend.
#16 Depression Problems
Due to a variety of reasons like the weather and religious pressure throughout the state, Utah ranks above the national average on mental health issues. According to kff.org, Utah reports 26.6% of adults reporting anxiety and depression, compared to the national average of 22.5%.
Utah also has one of the highest rates of suicide. This and the high depression rates are in connection with the increasing number of people who fail to get and receive proper treatment for such disorders.
“While more than a third of adults in some Utah communities are suffering from depression, less than half of adults with mental illness have received any treatment or counseling”source.
#17 Gender Wage Gap
When it comes to pay, Utah in general ranks 6th worst state for gender wage gap. Women’s earn 70 cents to every dollars than $1. Women have children and maternity leave. Women make an average of $0.74 to every dollar that men make.
This is mainly due to the larger amount of children Utah women have and their required maternity leave and other implications. “According to The Ascent study, in Utah, women who work full-time will earn $14,067 less annually than men” Source.
This is something that Utah has been working to improve as policies and laws are changed to adopt new attitudes.
Provo, while containing many good qualities and perks, also contains a variety of downsides which should be considered before moving to Provo or the surrounding areas.
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