Here in Utah, we’re unique, and if you’ve never been here, it can be confusing. Some of the things you’ve heard about us are stereotypes… most of which aren’t true… but some are. Here are 10 things you should know.
1) The Liquor Laws are Weird and Confusing
Want liquor? You have to get all your liquor from a state-run liquor store, and they’re closed on Sundays and Holidays. You’ll pay about 30% more, too. Don’t try to stop at a restaurant for a drink either, if they have a liquor license , you’ll be required to order food with that drink.
2) You Can Get Incredible Beer in Utah
The stuff you but from the grocery store is going to be slightly less alcoholic than you’re used to. But we also have huge craft beer industry, and it’s producing some incredible stuff. Uinta, Epic, Wasatch, Squatters…these breweries are winning awards. So you can get the good stuff, you just need to know where to go.
3) We’re Not as Demure as We Look
Utah ranked eighth highest in the nation for paid subscriptions to Ashley Madison. What some Utahns do behind closed doors is VERY different from what you see walking down the street.
4) We Don’t Take Snow Days
Life does not stop just because there’s a foot of snow on the ground. We’ve learned to work around it, we’ll drive to work in blizzards, and kids will stomp to school though it. So invest in some snow tires, or put it in 4-wheel drive!
5) Most of Utah is Very LGBT Friendly
Yes, many Utahns are very conservative, and a lot of them aren’t so keen on gay rights. But Salt Lake City was ranked #3 for number of gay couple households in mid-sized U.S. cities in the last Census. The annual pride parade in Salt Lake has attendance well over 30,000 people, and The Advocate named Salt Lake the “#1 Gayest City in America.” You’ll find many Utahns — both straight and otherwise — waving a rainbow flag here.
6) You’ll Learn a Lot of Mormon Words
While you were likely aware of the Mormon population here, I bet you didn’t know that Mormons have so many words specific to their religion, and that you’d hear them during the course of conversation in meetings at work, casual conversations with friends and on the nightly local news. Make a new Mormon friend and ask him so you won’t be hopelessly confused.
7) There Are Plenty of Non-Mormons Here
The 2010 U.S. Census showed that Utah was 62 percent Mormon, which might be a lower percentage than you’d expect. Nearly 40 percent of Utahns don’t identify with the majority religion, so if you’re not Mormon you’ll still find a congregation in your religion of choice, or find friends who aren’t religious at all.
8) Education isn’t as Bad as You Think
Utah comes in dead last for per-pupil education spending. It’s been that way for years, and will probably be so in the foreseeable future. That’s not a statistic for which we’re proud. But our kids are doing better than might be expected. In 2014, Utah’s fourth-graders ranked 25th in the nation for math achievement, and 22nd for reading. Utah’s eighth-graders ranked 25th in math and 12th in reading (as per The Education Week Research Center annual report). Not the very best scores in the nation, by any means — there’s still work to be done. But it’s not as bad as you’d think.
9) You Won’t See Many Polygamists
Don’t believe everything you see on TV. Yes, you might occasionally run into a random polygamist pack. But that’s really, really rare. Most Utahns stick to one mate. Except for those Ashley Madison subscribers…
10) You Don’t Have to Ski or Board
Not all of us love winter sports, some of us rather hibernate and watch Netflix all winter. It’s OK if you don’t want to learn to ski or board, we’ll still like you.
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