Empire State vs. Beehive State. Who would win in a fight? The Empire or Bees? But seriously, just how different the nicknames of these states are shows just a portion of how different these States are in general.
I have lived in New York for about 20 years and I’ve lived in Utah for about 4 years. It could be easy for me to slip into a storm of bias against Utah in favor of New York, but genuinely after living in Utah, I can honestly say it’s about even in terms of pros and cons.
So before we begin if you sense a bit of extra love for New York, just know it is probably due to longevity rather than objective truth. Here are 17 pros and cons of moving to New York vs. Utah!
17. Travel Access: Advantage Utah
Utah itself isn’t the most sought-after destination, but it is incredibly close to many places that are. California is just a 2-hour plane ride or a 12-hour drive away. Mexico is a common destination for Utahns. So is Hawaii. In fact, it feels like just about everyone in the state has been to Utah. Canada also isn’t very far. Not to mention Las Vegas is just a 5ish-hour drive away. People travel when they live in Utah.
The same isn’t as true in New York State. People travel to Philadelphia and D.C., but getting anywhere truly vacation-like isn’t so easy. South Carolina and Florida aren’t very far, but those don’t seem to be terribly popular or plausible for many people.
16. Prestige: Advantage New York
Saying you’re from New York holds a lot of weight in people’s minds, especially internationally. People get an idea of where that is and associate you with everything that comes from New York, which is a lot of great things.
Most people know basically nothing about Utah, and almost no one international has really even heard of Utah.
15. Physical Activity: Advantages of Utah
Utah’s mountains, parks, and mild weather have created a culture of getting outside. Most families spend free time playing Spikeball or going on a hike. It is strange that basically, every single person in Utah is an outdoors kind of person.
The same cannot be said about New Yorkers. I could probably tell you the name of all the kids I went to school with who would consider themselves “outdoorsy”. It wasn’t very many.
14. Diversity: Advantage New York
Utah basically has two kinds of people. White people and Hispanics. There are minorities of Asian, islander, and African-American, but these make up less than 5% of the total population.
Those same three minority groups in New York account for closer to 45% of the population.
Growing up there, there are also lots of immigrants and 2nd generational people from Europe. Going to high school in New York there were plenty of kids who or their parents were born in Ukraine, Russia, Italy, Macedonia, Bosnia, and Greece.
13. Environmentally Friendly: Advantage New York
There are lots of regulations in New York, much to many people’s chagrin. But one area that is well-favored, is how well New York preserves and helps the environment. Water levels are safe, pollution is low, electric cars are well-loved, and parks are well preserved.
If you want to know how Utah’s doing with being environmentally friendly read about Utah Lake. It’s not pretty.
Utah does have some iconic national parks, but those are federally regulated so those are not under the control of Utah.
12. Economics: Advantage Utah
Ok, this is crazy to hear because, in terms of money made, New York is one of the top states in the nation. Wall Street and many other important organizations are located in New York. The City itself is the largest city in America and lots of important economic practices go on there.
But when it comes to opportunity, Utah is #1. As mentioned below, Utah is the fastest growing state by percentage and the number of businesses coming to Utah is insane. If you’re curious about some specifics, look up the Silicon Slopes. This is a region of Utah that is emerging as a tech powerhouse.
Utah has thousands of acres of available land, and without much government regulation, businesses flourish.
11. Sports: Advantage New York
It’s a blowout win for New York. New York Hosts the New York Giants, New York Jets, New York Mets, New York Yankees, New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Buffalo Bills, and Buffalo Sabres. That are just the 4 main American Sports.
Utah is home to the Utah Jazz! That’s it. There are a few minor league teams and an MLS team, but it doesn’t even compare to New York.
10. (American) History: Advantage New York
This is closer than you might think, but New York still gets the edge.
New York is/was home to one of the most powerful Native American leagues in the nation, the Haudenosaunee. They played important parts at the beginning of colonialism and many decedents still remain today.
New York is also home to the main roots of women’s suffrage in America. Suffragists like Susan B Anthony, Elizabeth Canton, and the famous abolitionist Frederick Douglass all helped their movements from Upstate New York. Important battles of the American Revolution and some of the oldest towns are in New York.
Utah has a great history too. The people (mainly those of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) played an integral role in Westward Expansion including the transcontinental railroad. But the rest of important history is regulated to a local level.
9. Government regulation: Advantage Utah
This goes along with the category down below. Utah is a conservative state, and as such its philosophy is a little more laissez-faire. New York is the very opposite (ne laissez pas faire?).
Here’s a great example. My younger sister used to be in Girl Scouts and every summer her group would go to a camp on the edge of a lake to practice outdoor skills. However, New York State kept putting more regulations on how they could use the lake until eventually the leaders just gave up on using it because of all the red tape they had to jump through.
Here’s another. About 10 years ago New York State decided they wanted to change the license plates. Usually, this kind of thing is lackadaisical and a new license plate is just an option. Instead, they told everyone they must buy the new plate for $150. What if you wanted to keep the ones you already had? That’s fine! they said. Just pay $200! So yes it’s little things like this that really get on the nerves of a lot of people.
Of course, there are two sides to everything. In Utah, you are more likely to have more latitude when it comes to things like this, but the problem is there are more likely to be consequences. Example: Most fireworks in New York are heavily banned and regulated. The opposite is true in Utah. Utah has had many more problems from goofballs with fireworks.
8. Taxes: Advantage Utah
The difference is stark in many ways. When it comes to individual income tax, New Yorkers will pay more than double that of Utahns. Utah’s tax rate right now is 4.95%. New York just recently raised theirs to 10.90%. New York also hosts 5 of the 10 highest property taxed counties in America. After all the taxes add up, New Yorkers lose a significant portion of their paychecks.
7. Schools: Advantage New York
Well, at least all those taxes count for something! One of the most apparent ways those heavy taxes are given back to the public is by having a phenomenal education system.
Don’t let kids convince you their schools are terrible. Some of the top public high schools in the nation are in New York, and most receive very generous funding. New York spends more money per student than any other state in America. Having kids going to school in New York is a privilege. New York also pays their teachers better than any other state, so if you want to work as a teacher, New York is the place to go.
Compare this to Utah which is 30th in terms of the average salary of teachers and it is clear why the education system in New York is so highly praised.
6. National/State Parks: Advantage Utah
This one isn’t even close. Utah has Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Arches, and Moab among many other smaller parks that all draw national attention. New York has the Adirondack Mountains but they are nothing compared to the grandiose of Utah.
There is no shortage of hikes in Utah. I almost literally mean it is impossible to visit them all. Every town has its own piece of mountain and so there are thousands of hikes everywhere. Whether you’re hiking Mt. Timpanogos, Subway, or Zion there is always another part of the beautiful country to explore.
New York is rich in nature, but there is just nothing that really compares to what Utah has. The most geologically interesting feature I’ve seen in New York is the Chimney Bluffs or maybe Letchworth Park. They’re nice, but it’s no Rocky Mountain.
5. Real Estate Quality: Advantage Utah
New York is riddled with classic and charming Colonial and Tudor homes, but age and weather take a daily toll on most homes.
I used to work for a property maintenance company and the problems that every home go through are numerous and time-consuming. For starters, older houses have to be repainted frequently. The hot summers and constant humidity ensures that paint peels off like skin from sunburn.
The humidity also causes wood to rot quickly. Rotten wood leads to bug infestations, damaged structural integrity, peeling paint, and a lighter wallet. Wooden fences have short life spans. I have had my fair share of removing decks that have given up on resisting the rain and wind that demolish them.
Another great problem is flooding basements. Many homes are so old that they have cellars where the mortar has broken away and every rain storm means a diligent repulsion of groundwater. Flooding also can come from old pipes that service many homes. Beware.
4. Real Estate Price: Advantage New York
Utah is one of the fastest-growing states in the country. In fact, in terms of percentage of growth, no U.S. state or territory grew more than Utah from 2010 to 2021 (18.4% growth!). Adding more than 500,000 people in about 10 years means the price of homes in Utah has skyrocketed. My wife used to work for the Assessor’s Office of Utah County and they were reporting that some homes increased in value by 100%. In 2021 alone, many homes increased in value by over $100,000.
So if you’re trying to buy a home in Utah, prepare to break the bank or maybe just rob one if you want to afford a home (please don’t actually rob a bank).
3. Roads: Advantage Utah
Utah’s motto is “Industry” and it shows starkly in its roads.
The I-15 interstate is THE road of Utah and it functions near perfectly. It runs the entire North-South of Utah and it makes travel very easy and simple. A majority of the population of Utah lives along this road and so all you need to know is how to follow road signs to enter the I-15 and which exit to get off at. Traveling 300+ miles is easy, manageable, and common.
Compare this to New York and you will understand the praise of Utah roads. New York’s roads were established hundreds of years ago and so they are very twisty and rarely run in just one cardinal direction. Yes, they are charming and all the trees make them fun to drive on, but in terms of function, they get about a 4/10.
New York roads are also ravaged by potholes every year. Once the snow clears millions of potholes are exposed and cause extreme damage to cars. And even once the potholes are fixed, the roads are now left with ugly patches that aren’t that much better than what was there before.
Another plus of Utah roads: wide and numerous lanes. The I-15 expands in some places to have 6 lanes whereas typically highways in New York only have two lanes.
2. Weather: Advantage New York
This is by far one of my favorite parts about New York and something I longingly miss when I’m gone.
New York’s weather is incredibly diverse with the only constant being humidity. The winters are sometimes mild in both temperature and weather and other times temperatures drop below -25 Fahrenheit and snow covers the ground from November to April.
Utah’s weather is fairly consistent across the year and to me is rather dull. Because it is technically in a desert, rainfall is limited. It seems that it rains probably less than 15 times a year for a given city, and there are only a few times a year where there is something close to a downpour.
The plus side of Utah is that it is fairly warm all the time and sunny. There’s generally a lack of clouds (to my dismay) but it does provide excellent weather for hiking, swimming, and other outdoor activities.
But there’s nothing like the full range of seasons of New York. I mean this quite literally, Autumn in the North East United States is the best season ever.
1. The People: Tie?
There is a famous stereotype that East Coasters are meaner than West Coasters. I think I see where this comes from but I would have to disagree. But to be fair they definitely aren’t nicer.
I honestly believe there is literally zero difference in how nice everyone is. I think the difference is the norm for treating strangers. In New York, most people tend to keep to themselves in the face of strangers. People are less likely to strike up a conversation in public and things like that. So that’s how it comes off as mean.
The opposite effect in Utah is that everyone is so talkative to strangers that it comes off as fake and disingenuous. It feels like people compete to see how friendly they can be and so that’s where that stereotype of fakeness comes from.
So in the end it’s going to come down to preference. Of course, you can be a more closed person in Utah or a talkative person in New York (both of these with respect to strangers) and that’s fine! Just know there are cultures with norms wherever you go.