1) We’re Not as Straight-Laced as We Look
Utah ranked eighth highest in the nation for paid subscriptions to Ashley Madison and a 2009 Harvard study showed that Utah was the highest in the nation for paid subscriptions to online porn sites. What some Utahns say and do in public is VERY different from what’s going on inside their homes. No judgment here...just know that the white-shirt-and-tie, conservative family values exterior isn’t always reality.
2) The Liquor Laws are Weird and Confusing
The main thing for you to know is that, if you’re having a backyard BBQ on a Sunday afternoon and want to serve cocktails, you’d better get your liquor by Saturday evening. All hard liquor in Utah is sold through the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (aka Utah State Liquor Stores). Be prepared to pay about ⅓ more per bottle. Laws in restaurants are confusing and change all the time; your waiter will clue you in pretty fast.
3) You CAN Get Decent Beer in Utah
Yes, you can certainly find plenty of horrible, watery beer in this state. But we also have an emerging craft beer industry, and it’s producing some incredible stuff. Uinta, Epic, Wasatch, Squatters...these breweries are winning awards. Go forth and try some before you judge too hastily.
4) We Don’t Take Snow Days
Utahns are hardy folks — a little old storm dumping a half foot of snow doesn’t even faze us. Bundle your kids up and send ‘em to school...it’s in session. And your boss plans on you showing up, too.
5) You’ll Learn a Lot of Mormon Lingo
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.
6) Education isn’t Quite 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.
7) There Are Plenty of Non-Mormons in the State
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) You Won’t See Many Polygamists
Polygamy gets ratings, apparently. Don’t believe everything you see on TV. Yes, you might occasionally run into a random polygamist (well, two or three...they travel in packs, after all). But that’s really, really rare. Most Utahns stick to one mate. Except for those Ashley Madison subscribers, whom I’ve already mentioned. In any case, don’t get all freaked out by polygamy — you’re not really going to see it.
9) Some 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.
10) You Don’t Have to Learn to Ski
We’ll be your friends even if you don’t want to learn how to ski. Well, some of us might be kind of snobby about it. But you’ll find that some Utahns don’t even LIKE to ski. They don’t like the cold, they blew out their knee once and never went back, or they’d rather snuggle up and watch So You Think You Can Dance all winter. It’s OK if you don’t want to learn to ski — we won’t make you.