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My wife and I are planning to move to St. George next year. Our reasons for choosing this location are that we want to live close to family (who are in the Provo area and in Southern California), and we want to live where the weather is generally comfortable (minimal snow and freezing temperatures, and plenty of sunshine to allow for outdoor recreation).
I have driven through the area several times before, when I was a student at BYU and would travel back and forth between Provo and California, and I always thought the St. George area was beautiful. I like the idea of living in a smaller community, as I have grown tired of the overcrowded feeling of larger cities, and it would be a nice change not having to worry about traffic on my way to and from work.
I just have a few concerns, which I'd like your opinions on. First, I'm not a huge fan of being in a hot desert. I've lived in hot places before, including Las Vegas and Phoenix. While I enjoy the nice weather when the temperatures are cool, I am really not a big fan of the heat. That being said, I know that the dry air does make a difference. For example, I've had the experience of walking outdoors in the Las Vegas summer, in the middle of the day with temps above 100, and not even breaking a sweat... but in other parts of the country with high humidity, I'd be sweating with temps in the 80s even after the sun has set, and I'd have to take a shower after going for an evening walk. But the heat can drain my energy, and I hate getting into a hot car that has baked in the sun all day, and I hate it when you can't get a breath of cool fresh air in the morning. I remember living in Phoenix and when I'd go outside first thing in the morning, it would already be 90 degrees and my car would be hot to the touch. During the summer it always felt like stepping into an oven whenever I went outside, even late at night. And I couldn't cool off by taking a cold shower because the water in the pipes was always warm. How does this compare in St. George?
Another thing I don't like about the desert is the lack of rain. I enjoy the rain. Really, choosing to live here is a bit of a compromise on my part because my wife does not tolerate much rain, and I want her to be happy. At one time we lived in the Pacific Northwest. I loved it there but my wife was always in a bad mood during the non-summer months, due to the frequent cloudy days and almost-constant rainfall. And because there is less rain in the desert, there is less green stuff around... fewer trees, less grass, more dirt and rocks. I feel that in St. George this would be okay to live with, though, because the scenery is actually quite interesting. But what about neighborhoods? Do many people have grass, or is it mostly desert landscaping with cacti and rocks in everyone's yards? Is there anywhere nearby to enjoy water recreation, such as rivers or lakes?
Finally, what are the demographics like? I have a brother in the Provo area who says that St. George is mostly full of old people and college students. My wife and I are about 40, and we have kids ranging from 1 to 14. What's it like for kids to grow up in this area? How are the schools? We enjoy activities such as youth sports, children's museums, parks, and zoos. What kinds of things are there for families to do here?
Thank you for reading this far, and I appreciate any insight you can provide!
You hit the nail on the head when you mentioned the word 'compromise' given your preferences. Southwest Utah is a place where the weather is generally comfortable with minimal snow and lots of sunshine. Outdoor recreation is abundant - anything you can think of. It is a smaller city, but it's large enough to have typical amenities you might have enjoyed in Phoenix or Vegas (well, maybe not shopping).
As for hot desert. June, July and August are hot (averaging 100 for highs) - but typically at least 10 degrees cooler than Vegas and Phoenix. Unlike those two cities, we don't have nearly as much concrete, so it does cool off more at night. Lows are typically 30 degrees less at night than the daily high. So, if it's 100, expect low 70's when you get up in the morning. What I've found is that if you get up and do things early in the morning - before 10 or 11, it's pleasant during the summer. You're right, low humidity is the key. I'd take 110 all day compared to the 95 with high humidity we saw when living in IL. The other option you have is escaping to the mountains when it heats up. Two weekends ago it was 108, so I drove 1:15 to Cedar Breaks to hike in 75 degree weather (there was still snow up to 8 feet deep in places on the trail). Plenty of places to get away and cool off. The remaining 9 months are amazing. My favorite months are Jan/Feb with temps around 60, always sunny, no wind - very nice for outdoor activities.
Lack of rain is where you're going to compromise the most. It's always sunny and nice here with little precipitation (a huge mood booster for the wife). It does rain more 'around' us, so maybe that's a consolation. Often you will see storms on Pine Mountain or the mountains to the south. It just doesn't rain here. So, you can see it raining, but won't be able to be in the rain much. Most of the new construction has more hardscape and less grass. Older areas of the city (like Bloomington) have large trees and much more grass. Areas like Washington Fields have a lot of green fields, but it's mostly newer homes with small trees and little grass. The green fields are slowly disappearing as new subdivisions and schools are built. Not sure how long it will remain 'green'. Go to Google Earth and you can look around at homes with street view to get a feel. If you miss green, a short drive to Cedar City and up Route 14 will cure that. Probably the most diverse place I've ever lived in regarding terrain and vegetation. I'm amazed by the huge variance in scenery in such a short drive. In the spring, you can literally snow ski at Brian Head in the morning and water ski in the afternoon (Sand Hollow, Lake Powell, Lake Mead).
St. George is not just old people and college students. There are a lot of 30-50 year olds and tons of kids. Very little diversity here. We have found Washington County School District to be very good overall (I would assume a huge improvement from Phoenix and Vegas). There are about 30,000 students in a county of just over 150,000 people.
Things for families to do: Movies in the park (I think all 4 cities have movie nights outside in the park), regular movies, splash/regular parks, disc golf, skim-boarding, fishing (stocked ponds), pickleball, hiking, skiing, camping, boating, ATV'ing, geocaching, theater (Tuacahn), ice cream, aquatic centers, and tons of organized sports. No zoo, but we have nature all around.
Thank you for your wonderful and thoughtful response! All things considered, St. George sounds like an ideal place for our family. It's nice to know that there are places nearby where we can go for some variety in the scenery and to cool off when it's hot. I was actually considering Cedar City at one time, but it seems to get too cold there in the winter for our liking. It looks like there are plenty of fun things to do with the family outdoors, which is great! That is what we like. The lack of a zoo isn't really a disappointment; as it turns out, we have a zoo membership where we live now but have only been maybe 2 or 3 times in the past year. Personally, I prefer hiking, camping, bicycling, sports, and some of the other things you mentioned anyway.
The entire surrounding area is a mountain bike and hiking mecca. People are literally coming from all over the world to mountain bike in the area, specifically Gooseberry Mesa outside of Hurricane. If you ask me, St George itself is becoming a "larger" city as it pertains to traffic on the city's surface streets. I much prefer the Washington and Hurricane areas myself overall. That being said, Washington is essentially running together with St George for the most part...kind of like the urban sprawl you see elsewhere.
Thanks for the input, k2rider. How long would you say it takes to get around town? I currently live in an area of about one million people, and it usually takes me 45 minutes to get downtown from my neighborhood in the suburbs (or 35 minutes when there is no traffic).
I moved to St George and used to live in a large city (in the East). I was surprised for a city that is nearing 100,000 people there is no real downtown or place where people work. There is no rush hour or traffic issues at all. Many families live in Little valley or the fields which is the southeast area. Anytime of day I can be to a grocery store , pharmacy or school within 5 minutes. If you are speaking of work commute , it is up to you how close to work you choose to be. Again there is no downtown or office buildings just mostly small businesses all over the city. Most families choose to live in certain school areas so if your work is on the other side of town you could be driving 30-40 minutes (not due to miles but lack of major roads to get from small areas of the city). The other commute is the medical commute. St George has basic medical care(or great if you need a hip or knee replaced) but if something happens that isn't straightforward you will hear the dreaded We are a rural medical community go to SLC. Our city has little pediatric specialites and only 1 of many adult specialists. I would not say our family is unhealthy or has any very odd medical issues but we have to drive like many families to SLC which is 600 miles in a day for a 15 minute check up with a specialist.
I would make sure you look at the schools closely. We enjoyed out first few years here. The life was slower pace and we enjoyed the outdoors. We researched schools closely and found what we (and many people) belive to be the better schools. Now these schools are very overcrowded and understaffed. This year was CRAZY, the lines were up to 10 hours long to try and get your child into classes due to massive overcrowding. My oldest in high school wanted 5 classes and only got one and these were classes they needed for college. Many of us moms were shocked or in tears hearing due to lack of staff and too many kids our options was online or nothing (I don't want my kids taking foreign language or science labs online). While I 100% feel my kids are safe at school compared to the larger city we lived in, my daughter has over 40 and closer to 50 kids in every class and my oldest in high school has not had a steady science for going on 3 years due to teachers quitting. Teachers are some of the lowest paid in the nation and now the district is cutting benefits (5 of my oldest 8 high school teachers were cut to part time without benefits). They are building new schools but if they cant find staff at the current schools how will they find staff for the new school? I 100% appreciate all of my kids teachers that work for next to nothing and work so hard. You know that they really love the kids or they would be gone. The schools have changed so much in the past 5-10 years. I am a mom that visited every school before I bought our house. There were schools I would never let my kids go to then. Now with the overcrowding and lack of teachers I almost considered sending one of my kids to the school with more "social problems" just to have experienced teachers and get the classes I needed.
My kids at first liked going rock collecting, hiking, and geocaching. Now they miss museums, art lessons, and indoor kids activites. This summer the heat was bad. From the time school got out till the a few days ago when it started there were only a handful of days under 100 and many over 110. There is very little indoor for kids to do in the heat. We have no roller rink, ice rink, arcade, nothing art related for kids and few indoor summer camps. For kids it is all sports, music lessons and church activites. Not all my kids love sports or music, if your child is more academic there is so few things to enrich what school lacks. The city turns down so many businesses for kids and families. It is sad. You would think there would be a water park of some sort with 45k kids in St George area but nope, the city turns it down every time it comes up.
The other pet peeve of many is the city lacks a lot of retail. While shopping online is easy, as a women I like to buy makeup or try on jeans in a store. School shopping for clothes has to be done online or Vegas or SLC once kids outgrow the 4-14 sizes. Our mall for some reason got rid of the tween/teen stores(like American eagle or Hollister). There is also very few non chain resturants. It might sound silly but after awhile I missed little family run bakeries and shops. I don't like fast food and not a fan of paying $12-15 for pasta at olive garden or $20+ for "seafood" at red lobster. The rents are so high for retail it makes it hard for small family owned places to stay in business.
Dixie Regional Medical Center is a Level 2 Trauma Center and can handle almost anything thrown at it, with several subspecialties available. It is undergoing a major expansion currently that will double it's size by 2018.
We did not have several days of over 110 degree weather this year. Maybe a week at most, which is normal for STG and happens every year.
Schools are crowded but many new schools have been built recently to accommodate incoming students and more are being built right now.
Limited shopping options are expected for a small to moderate sized metro. Unsure why that comes as a surprise. World class shopping in Las Vegas only 1.45 hours to the southwest.
I am not sure where to choose to retire. I have been to Arizona and New Mexico.
I would like to know from someone who lives in St. George Utah, how is the weather summers and winters. I hate snow and cold. I am looking for a dry area.
In south I did not like because the summers are very very hot.
I would be very grateful for some advices.
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