Salt Lake City panoramic overview in the evening.

City Guide / Salt Lake City

What Is the Cost of Living in Salt Lake City, Utah?

By Bri Hand | Nov 11, 2021

From the stunning desert landscape to the picturesque Wasatch Mountains, Salt Lake City is a place like no other. Utah’s largest city offers plenty of attractions and entertainment options, along with a fairly affordable cost of living for a major metropolitan area. 

It’s important to understand the pros and cons of living in Salt Lake City, including a general idea of how much it’s going to cost. Fortunately, this guide has all the answers you’re looking for to stay on budget and will cover the following factors that contribute to the cost of living in Salt Lake City, Utah: 

  • Overall cost of living
  • Housing
  • Utilities
  • Transportation
  • Food 
  • Entertainment

Let’s get started! 

Overall cost of living

On the cost of living index, Salt Lake City earns an overall score of 118.9—which is slightly higher than the national average of 100. Salt Lake City ranks significantly higher on this index than many of the Southwest’s large cities, such as:

  • Santa Fe: 115.4
  • Las Vegas: 111.6
  • Phoenix: 103.7
  • Tucson: 91.6
  • Albuquerque: 91.1
  • San Antonio: 89.7

That being said, Salt Lake City compares favorably to some of the nation’s more expensive metropolitan areas, including:

  • New York City: 187.2
  • Los Angeles: 173.3
  • San Diego: 160.1

The overall cost of living in Utah is slightly lower than Salt Lake City, with an average score of 110.8. Of course, several factors contribute to the cost of living in the state’s capital city—so let’s jump into it.

Housing costs

In Salt Lake City, the biggest factor that contributes to the higher cost of living is housing. The city earns a score of 146.3 in this crucial category—which is much higher than the national average. If you’re looking to rent an apartment in this area, these are the average rent prices depending on the property:

Apartment SizeSalt Lake City Rental CostNational Average Rent Cost
Studio$835/mo$949/mo
One-bedroom$946/mo$1,048/mo
Two-bedroom$1,139/mo$1,278/mo
Three-bedroom$1,583/mo$1,681/mo
Four-bedroom$1,855/mo$1,950/mo

After looking at these figures, you may notice a trend: Salt Lake City apartments seem to be cheaper than the rest of the country—and yes, that’s true. 

Utah’s capital is a great place to live if you’re looking for an affordable rental home. Why, then, does the city’s housing category earn such a high score on the cost of living index? 

The answer? Homeownership. 

Home values

While a majority of Salt Lake City residents rent their homes in Salt Lake City (53.4%), the city has a large number of homeowners, as well—46.6%, to be exact. According to Zillow, the median home value in Salt Lake is $565,021, a 24.7% increase over the past year. This is quite a bit higher than the national average of $269,039, which contributes significantly to the city’s higher cost of living. 

A recent report from STESSA also shows that homeowners in Salt Lake City may be paying up to 39% more per month than their renting counterparts, making it the fourth most expensive city for homeowners in the country

So, if you’re looking to keep housing costs down when living in this community, renting is definitely the way to go. If you’re unsure where to live, check out the best neighborhoods in Salt Lake City.

Utilities

Now that we’ve talked about housing, it’s time to discuss some of the more affordable aspects of living in Salt Lake City. Utilities, in particular, rank fairly low on the cost of living index, with a score of 94.6. 

The average utility bill in Salt Lake City is approximately $135 per month, which includes the following:

  • Garbage
  • Water
  • Heating and cooling
  • Electricity

Since 2018, many residents have also begun receiving their electricity bills in the form of tax credits. This change has led to a 3.45% drop in overall utility costs

As for internet costs, Salt Lake residents can expect to pay about $60 per month for a standard Wi-Fi plan, which is about average in the United States. 

Transportation

Another area where locals can save some money is transportation. While many people in Salt Lake City do own cars, it’s easy to get around without one. In fact, Utah’s capital was actually voted the No. 8 on 24/7 Wall Street’s list of best cities to live in without a car in 2011—and things have only gotten more convenient since then.

Not only is downtown Salt Lake extremely walkable, but the city also offers a number of public transportation options. There is a public bus and the popular TRAX light rail, which both offer free transit within a certain distance. Beyond the “free fare zone,” passengers can expect to pay $2.50 for a one-way ticket or $6.25 for an all-day pass. 

Utah as a whole is also home to some of the cheapest gas prices in the country, with an average cost of $3.71 per gallon in 2021. Salt Lake City boasts even cheaper rates, with an average price of $3.20 per gallon. So, even if you plan on owning a car, it’s still easy to travel on a budget. Other factors to consider when purchasing a car include:

  • Registration: The average registration fee for a new car in Salt Lake City is $110, with older vehicles costing between $10 and $80.
  • Insurance: The average cost of car insurance in Salt Lake is $784 per year, or $65 per month. 

Food

Salt Lake City earns another affordable score of 95.8 in the category of groceries. The average Utah resident spends approximately $3,792 annually on groceries, or $316 per month.

While groceries won’t cost you much in Salt Lake City, it’s important to factor in the occasional restaurant visit as well. The average inexpensive meal for one person will cost about $12 at a restaurant in this area. On the other hand, a three-course dinner for two may cost upward of $60 at a mid-range establishment. 

Entertainment

In Utah, you’ll have no trouble finding fun activities on a budget. This is especially true if you’re a fan of the great outdoors. Locals can visit one of the state’s “Mighty Five” national parks for as little as $3 to $12 per person. These include:

  • Arches National Park in Moab
  • Bryce Canyon National Park in Bryce
  • Canyonlands National Park in Moab
  • Capitol Reef National Park in Torrey
  • Zion National Park in Springdale

Alongside this affordable entertainment, Salt Lake City offers a number of free activities that locals can enjoy, including:

  • The Natural History Museum of Utah
  • The Historic Temple Square
  • Utah Olympic Park
  • The Utah Museum of Fine Arts
  • The Living Traditions Festival

Although the state of Utah is home to several dry counties and stricter-than-average liquor laws, Salt Lake City has no shortage of bars if you’re looking for a little nightlife. In fact, Salt Lake City county is home to 192 different drinking establishments. That being said, grabbing a drink in this area won’t come without cost. The average price of one cocktail in downtown Salt Lake City is about $10.

Find your next apartment in Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City is a renter’s dream, and it’s time to find your next home in this affordable city. Navigating the real estate market on your own can be tricky, though—especially if you’re new to the area. Fortunately, that’s what Landing is for.

Landing makes it easy to find your next short-term rental. With our flexible leasing options, furnished apartments, and even pet-friendly homes, it’s never been easier to get settled in Salt Lake City. Get ready for your next adventure, and leave the home search to us. Browse our available apartments in Salt Lake City today!

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About the author

Bri Hand

Bri Hand is Landing's Content Marketing Manager. She currently lives in Salem, Massachusetts, with her partner and dog, Arlo, but relishes any opportunity she can to travel so she can try new foods, see gorgeous sights, and daydream about living somewhere new after visiting there for less than 24 hours.