Despite being a wonderful place to live, Washington City, Utah still can strike a bit of dread in the locals. From unyielding summer heatwaves to the high cost of rent and water rights, living in Washington can be tough.
So why would someone not want to move to Washington City, Utah?
1. The Overwhelming Summer Heat
Southern Utah is a desert. Hot, arid, and dry, with summer averages settling in at 102° Fahrenheit, often with the temperature scoring much higher. The highest all-time recorded temperature is 117° Fahrenheit, with the most recent scoring of that all-time record in 2021. The last intense heat wave of that magnitude was in 1985.
The intense heat makes it difficult to get any work done outside during the day and difficult at night due to how the red rock bakes at high temperatures and then radiates the heat long into the night, making it difficult to cool down.
The only time to be able to do any sort of yard work is the very early morning before the sun comes up and begins to bake the world again.
The high temperature discourages the youth and young children from playing outside in the summer months – unlike in other less hot environments. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are common ailments that paramedics deal with when rescuing unprepared hikers alongside the hiking trails.
2. Costly Water Rights
Due to the location, despite receiving water fed from the Virgin River and other surrounding aquifers, water is scarce in Washington and St. George and the other surrounding cities in Washington County.
The Virginia Watershed has a tendency to suffer drought conditions and will become insufficient for the demands of a population by 2060, due to how the population is projected to more than double by that date.
This scarcity leads to a very costly water bill and heated debate over where a secondary source of water could be found to serve the community.
3. High Rent and Property Taxes
According to locals, rent and property taxes have risen to incredibly high heights, with an average 2-bedroom apartment’s monthly rent costing $1,700.
Many locals blame the soaring rent and other costs of living due to the influx of people moving from even higher cost-of-living states such as California and driving prices up.
4. The High Amount of Scorpions
The warm winter and incredible heat of summer lead to the strong presence of many scorpion species. One of which is the extremely painfully venomous Arizona Bark Scorpion.
The Arizona Bark Scorpion’s sting can cause severe pain, coupled with numbness, tingling, and nausea in adults. Temporary dysfunction (i.e. immobilization or convulsions) in the area stung can occur. Other symptoms include the potential loss of breath for a short period of time. These symptoms typically last between one to three days.
Like most other scorpions, the Arizona Bark Scorpion will glow when exposed to a blacklight. This is very useful as the Arizona Bark Scorpion is most active at night and its coloration of tan or light beige blends in well with the natural rocky terrain.
5. Strong Conservative Presence
Washington is a city rich in historic sites and history, and with its strong ties to history come strong ties to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints colloquially known to most as Mormons to which the city owes its founding when the current leader of the church (Brigham Young) recruited 38 families to move to Southern Utah to grow cotton in 1857.
As a cultural heritage, there is a deep-rooted desire to honor and revere the pioneers who toiled to ensure their future generations would survive and live in their faith. This has led to a very strong conservative movement and many of Washington’s residents are Republican in order to protect their family heritage and ways of life.
Traditional family values and the nuclear family model are held in high regard, and often those who are more liberal and/or non-traditional may find themselves feeling excluded unintentionally, despite the welcoming and neighborly values that many Washington residents may exhibit, simply because of the differing viewpoints one may bring.
6. Too High of a Growth Rate
Washington City is nestled in with St. George in Washington County and is ranked the fastest-growing metro area in America.
This rapid growth is attributed by local residents to the high cost of living in California and the comparatively lower-priced homes and cost of living in the Washington County area. Other locals attribute the family values as a reason for why more people are moving to Washington County and triggering such a massive amount of growth.
This growth has led to several problems that city officials and other local government bodies are still working to overcome and plan for, such as new infrastructure and supplemental water rights.
7. Too Much Traffic
A side effect of the massive amounts of growth within the population, traffic is difficult to avoid on the best of days.
On major holidays and during high tourist season, the traffic in and around Washington City is a nightmare as floods of people surge into the shopping centers and the surrounding food chains.
Often the traffic gets so bad that entire blocks are in a gridlock through several changing green lights and it can be difficult for locals to even manage simple milk run during the highest peaks of these high-traffic seasons – honorable mentions going to Christmas season and the many tournaments held in Southern Utah and further afield to Las Vegas as many tournament goers will stop through on their way to the great city of lights.
8. The Roads Were Not Planned for the Growth
Many of the roads that lead into local neighborhoods and later developed areas of Washington are one lane both ways with little flow for the massive amounts of traffic that has begun to outpace the capabilities of the roads they drive on.
City officials have begun the process of construction to widen these roads and to slowly broaden two-lane roads to four in places to allow for more traffic to be able to flow. This has been received with mixed views due to the disruption of already congested thoroughfares and high amounts of traffic being rerouted into areas that can cause major disruption to otherwise quiet locations of traffic.
9. Too Many Cockroaches
Due to the dry heat and relatively warm winters, cockroaches are a common infestation in Washington and the surrounding Washington County areas. The area has four native species of cockroach:
- German Cockroach
- American Cockroach
- Oriental Cockroach
- Brown-Banded Cockroach
All four of these species of cockroach are nocturnal and outside of the Oriental Cockroach, are unable to survive as well outdoors, making the interiors of homes and businesses the prime target of habitat.
These pests are nocturnal and thrive in dark, moist areas, and will gravitate towards areas of food. Keep a special eye out for them in your kitchen, basement, and other dark areas.
Telltale Signs of an Infestation:
- Musty odor due to cockroach feces
- Brown smear trail from the pheromones used by cockroaches to attract more cockroaches
Cockroaches have a tendency to carry a pathogen with them and can spread it to both food and high traffic areas, making it a major risk to human health.
Cockroaches can also trigger rashes and allergic reactions due to their laying of eggs and feces.
Management and Eradication
The best way to prevent an infestation of cockroaches is to regularly spray the property with a local pest control company. This keeps the bugs from being able to take root and rapidly multiply as an infestation is difficult and costly to eradicate due to how quickly cockroaches can multiply.
Eradication is still possible however but is not something a run-of-the-mill bug spray can necessarily handle due to the multitude of cockroaches that may still be hiding, and the need for long-lasting chemical barriers to prevent the bugs from traveling in and out of your home.
10. Tension From the Native Reservation Towards Non-Native Care of the Land
The Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah (PITU) has reservation land that spans throughout southwest Utah in Iron, Millard, Sevier, and Washington counties. They have raised many criticisms of the local government’s handling of the growth of Washington County and the environmental effects that such growth has on the land.
Many native voices blame the non-native mishandling of the land, leading to an imminent water crisis and insufficient infrastructure to handle the flash flooding from the further afield slot canyons during monsoon season.
11. Dangerous Spiders Such as the Desert Recluse
Due to the hot dry climate and warm winters, spiders flourish in Washington. Unfortunately, several spiders dangerous to humans thrive in this area of Utah, such as the Black Widow and Desert Recluse.
The Desert Recluse
Found only in Washington County, this species of Recluse Spider is 1/4 to 1/2 inch long and has a coloration that ranges from tan to dark brown with a darker fiddle-shaped mark on top. It has six eyes arranged in three groups of two.
Often found outdoors in native vegetation, these spiders are seldom found indoors.
However, if a Desert Recluse bites a human, the resulting bite can result in a necrotic ulcer that can take several weeks to fully heal. If bitten, call a physician or go to an emergency room immediately after being bitten or when symptoms develop.
If at all possible, bring the spider with you in a small jar for easier identification and treatment.
12. Non-Efficient Public Transportation Despite Some Improvements
Washington has a public bus system that is less reliable than driving around in a car. Despite a schedule, the buses are infrequent and slow, with fewer stops than what the growing city needs in a public transportation system.
Several bus routes have been implemented, improving transportation in a small area where growth is booming.
13. Non-Walkable City Makes Getting Around Town Difficult
The city is not designed for those without access to a car or bus. Sidewalks often end where the city has determined the property line ends, leaving several areas with no sidewalk next to very busy, highly trafficked roads.
The areas of interest such as shopping and food courts are incredibly distant from many local neighborhoods, making it impossible to walk. Busy roads mean that even biking can be hazardous, and older roads that are often single lanes will lack a bike lane and a sidewalk for biking safety.
14. High Traffic from Tourists in Town Due to Tournaments and Races Make Navigation Impossible
Washington and St. George house many tournaments for many different sports for all ages. Some include:
- Water polo
This results in high traffic, often in the winter and fall due to the warm winters and the ability for longer outdoor play before moving tournaments inside for winter.
The many national parks surrounding Washington and the many hiking trails and races also draw flocks of tourists to the city, making peak tourist times difficult to navigate.
15. Making Money Off of a Rental Property is Difficult
Many locals scoff at the idea of making money off of renting out your house or guest house despite the warmer winters making the location a theoretical hotspot for guests due to the high cost of living and maintaining the properties.
There are only certain areas of Washington county that can be turned into Air B&B’s due to city zoning which makes renting difficult.
16. Vacation Rentals and Hotels During High Tourist Season are Difficult to Get
Hotels during tourist season are a first come first serve process that starts far beyond when the season nears, the hotels are often fully booked many months in advance – making a quick or spur-of-the-moment holiday difficult to get.
17. Lack of Big City Nightlife
Washington does not have traditional big-city nightlife. There are few bars and fewer — if any — nightclubs, despite being right next to the St. George college town.
Despite having outdoor activities such as hiking, rock climbing, and biking trails, during the extreme heat of summer, the indoor activities that can be done with friends and family remain starkly slim.
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