Hi all. DH and I exploring the idea of a move west. Was wondering if anyone could tell me what it's like living in Provo? We are fairly AP (homebirth, no vax, cosleeping, bfing) but I am a working mama as is DH, so would need good child care options.
What's life like in general? What do people do for fun? Is there a lot of traffic? How's the weather?
What about laws regarding vaccines, homeschool, homebirth etc?
Also, we are not Mormons. Would we be outcasts?
Mumma to DS July 2010 and expecting another baby boy late July 2012
I live north of Provo. Utah has a personal exemption option for vaxes--you just go to the county health dept. and tell them you want a personal exemption form. It's pretty easy. Utah supports homeschooling, but not homebirthing. Lots of people breastfeed. Provo is like the rest of northern Utah--cold, snowy winters and hot summers. Utah has a high rate of pollution/smog in the winter. Personally I wouldn't move to Provo not being LDS, though. You won't totally be "outcasts," but it will be hard for your kids to make friends, IME. Salt Lake City proper is much more diverse.
My husband and I lived in Logan while he was at Utah State finishing his master's. I have not been to Provo but based on our experience living in Logan, I think Provo would be really really hard if you're not LDS.
Utah, climate-wise and in many other ways (access to the outdoors is amazing), is a wonderful place to live. We had acquaintances in Logan who were not LDS who had children and culturally, they struggled. Things like Boy Scouts are all run through the church; there were always ads in the paper of non-LDS Boy Scout packs (?) looking for leaders. So SO much is done through the wards and stakes, it's often the first question people ask when meeting new people.
There are also other laws that make things a little odd like 3.2 beer in grocery stores. Proper beer and wine are available in state run liquor stores but beer was then sold by the bottle. I know similar laws exist in other states but this just really stood out to us. Bars (not that we'd frequent them now with children) are run as private clubs? I never really understood the system. We did manage to find a fantastic hole-in-the-wall homebrew store two towns north of Logan.
On campus at USU, there were two places you could buy a cup of coffee - in the student center and in the College of Natural Resources. In town there was one coffee shop.
With as restrictive, so to speak, as we found things in Logan, I cannot imagine what the general vibe is in Provo. I'd definitely visit but even then, I'm not sure you'd truly get a feel for what life would be like living there. I do often think of moving back to Logan but with certain conditions on what we'd need to make sure was in place.
I have family that lives in Provo and Orem. They are LDS and as a non-LDS myself I always feel kind of on the outs when I visit. People ask what ward I go to or where my DH had his mission when they meet me, until I tell them I'm not LDS. ;)
My family goes to lots of movies, yogurt shops (popular right now) and out to eat. There are TONS of restaurants in the Provo/Orem area. They also do many outdoor sports depending on the seasons like: mountain biking, snowboarding, sledding, skiing, running, biking, etc. Sundance isn't far from Provo and there are a few skiing areas nearby.
It is beautiful there right up against the mountains. Cold/snowy in the winter and hot in the summer. During part of the year they have crazy weather changes where it could be 70's one day and snowing the next!
I personally feel a pressure to look my best when I'm there as that seems to be a part of the LDS culture. They don't go anywhere (ie grocery stores) without their hair done and coordinated outfits.
Semi-crunchy Momma to a 4 year old girl and a baby girl born in July of 2011.
I'm LDS and I live in Springville just south of Provo. There is lots to love about this area, but the winters KILL me. They last forever and they are bitter cold and often windy. It is, however, a great place for outdoor adventure. Camping, hiking, rock climbing, horseback riding, skiing, snowboarding, all that. But in the winter I hate this place. I can handle the heat of summer, but the bitter cold winters? UGH!
I'm not a huge fan of the overarching Utah LDS culture, which is different from the LDS culture outside of Utah, but my neighborhood is awesome. Very accepting and friendly regardless of religious beliefs. There are several homebirthing, homeschooling, non-vaxing, etc. families in my neighborhood and in the community in general. This is a GREAT area for homeschooling families--LOTS of support for that! And it's just a matter of filling out a form as far as legalities. Homebirthing is a piece of cake--just find a midwife you like and you're good to go.
Oh, and traffic right now is kind of a pain. They're widening the freeway all through the valley so rush hour is no fun and at random other times they will close down the freeway (usually in the middle of the night) to move a bridge into place or something.
If the culture is your major hang-up, you can for sure find an area that suits you but you will still get asked what ward you're in and other LDS base questions. There's also a certain camaraderie among people who aren't LDS, like my non-member aunt got free treats from our non-member waiter simply because they had a "we're not LDS" connection. I'd say that no matter what one believes, it is very nice to live in a community that generally has very high moral values and lots of integrity. LDS folks certainly have their faults, but there is nothing like losing something valuable and finding it right where you left it or having it turned in to a lost and found completely intact. But if 6 months of winter would be a problem, I'd suggest you opt out of Utah entirely and find an area with a milder climate.
Oh, one more thing. The Provo area has LOTS of cheap entertainment. Dollar theaters, the zoo is $8 for adults and $5 for kids, you can go to pools (indoor and outdoor) with climbing apparatuses IN the pools for $5 for adults and $3 for kids, mini golf, bowling, lazer tag, paintballing, comedy club--all kinds of stuff for really cheap.
Good luck finding a new location that suits your family!
@Tea Time Haha. I just think it's cute that you feel you need to look your best. I am always such a bum. I understand to a certain extent. Sometimes I feel that way when I am really going out, like I wouldn't go the movies on a weekend in my PJs (and you could totally do that in AZ w/out feeling incredibly awkward).
@Little Birdy where did you end up going? I love Provo for so many reasons. I love the whole feel of it and the way they celebrate the 4th of July. I also have a really down to earth and awesome neighborhood - hard to come by for certain. I am about to do my first home birth and I have found LOTS of options. there are also a few birthing centers nearby and I have a great ped who is supportive of non-immunizing moms. My neighborhood is totally hippy-tastic. We have so many women who love home births and essential oils and not vaccinating, vegan/whole foodists, etc. It's fun. :) We are a pretty LDS populated neighborhood, but everyone is just open arms and loving to any good people - it's just the druggies and Fbomb droppers (around the kiddos) we don't like so much. ;) We do talk about religion a lot, because it's just a part of our lives, but it's not really incredibly awkward or so deep that anyone else would feel unwelcome. I think anywhere you go you'd have to adjust to the new culture, and I think that is neighborhood to neighborhood within ANY city.
I live in Lehi, north of Provo. I'm not LDS. I grew up in southern utah county and was definitely an outsider because of my non belief. I grew up here, so I can pass, but I can't imagine trying to live here without knowing the ins and outs of LDS culture. My whole family is LDS, and mostly it doesn't get to me too too much, but I honestly can't fathom why anyone who wasn't from here or didn't have lots of family would ever want to live in Utah county. Okay, maybe Northern UC isn't so bad, but Orem and southward, nope! Utah Valley is really, really family friendly. I like that. there are a lot of homeschoolers here, homebirths seem to be almost normal these days. My ped in American Fork hasn't mentioned a word about our delayed/selective vax plan.
OP, if I were you, and I were coming from out of state and was NOT familiar with LDS culture, I would look northward. I'd say Lehi up to Ogden. Sugarhouse is awesome. SLC in general is awesome. The suburbs are not so awesome. Still tons of LDS folks in between, but LOTS LOTS LOTS more gentiles. No dig at LDS folks, but it's not easy being the only non-LDS one around. DH and I actually probably will move down toward Spanish Fork/Payson area in the next few years, but we're both from here, and we have lots of family here, so the isolation isn't so much a factor for us. If we didn't have family in Utah, we'd leave the entire state in a heartbeat.
Sorry. It doesn't feel right threadjacking, but it doesn't feel right starting SUCH a similar thread. . Hopefully any info you can offer me will also be helpful to the OP.
I was a teacher in Provo school district for 3 years up until my daughter was born. More kids in each class were LDS than not, but it wasn't all of them by any stretch. There are, however, interesting social dynamics that can develop. It can be hard for any new kid who moves in (LDS or otherwise) because these kids are not only in the same class, but in many areas of Provo, have been neighbors almost their whole lives. Also, their parents are often well-aquainted from church functions, and the kids see each other on Sundays as well.
The website meetup.com has had some non-LDS mother groups that meet together in Utah county, and I really think most people in the area are open minded enough to where it really shouldn't be a problem. Adjusting to any new neighborhood will be an adventure; Provo is no different. Truthfully, it could take longer here due to the LDS dynamics, but not forever. Unless you're into playing the perpetual victim, which I guess some folks are. (Don't really get that vibe from you though!) And you'll be richly rewarded by living in an area with:
- TONS of family activities and events!
- several great whole foods/nutrition store AND herb specialty shops for those that like to make their own tinctures and pills
- CHEAP outings -- it's a college town and there's lots of groupon type specials for restaurants
- an awesome farmer's market (right across the street from me!) with easy access to grass-fed beef, organ meats, farm co-ops, etc.
- The School of Natural Healing (which, I believe, is the oldest herbal school in the US...?) is just 10 miles away. It's a great resource for herbal/health supplies as well as classes
- lots of historic homes in the area, and lots of love for them from the folks who live in them
- Many older homes were built with mother-in-law apartments, which is awesome for renting out to college kids! Ours covers our whole mortgage! (But we're in a minority. Still, it's a sizable dent for most.)
- Lots of support for the arts and cool functions on campus -- plays, concerts, and the like
- A very energetic vibe throughout the town -- maybe even frantic. The kids at BYU are academically very rigorous, and it can make the whole town feel young and vibrant, but also a bit anxious at times. I don't think most people notice this; I just tend to pick up on the moods of a public place very easily.
- Some fun ethnic restaurants! LDS kids serve missions throughout the world, and with so many of them in Provo, there are not only great restaurants but also ethnic shops in the area. Chow's on University is not to be missed.
- Perfect for lots of outdoor activities! The canyons and hikes are beyond incredible; the mountains are breathtaking (!) the snow skiing is incredible, and you'll be just a couple of miles away from Utah lake, too!
If you're really serious, I might consider west Provo. Although I live central, the other side of the freeway seems to have bigger land plots with homes that feel ...homey. Every time I drive out there it makes me want to move immediately. The oldest of homes are more centrally located and so, so, so beautiful. But the west side feels more homey and less busy to me.
This is helpful, Crunchykell. Thanks!
I had one of my LDS friends (a BYU grad) actually try to talk me out of it. Not a good sign. Another LDS friend explained to me (in a way that I can understand) that Mormons keep veeeeerrrrrry busy with church attendance, family nights, visits from elders, etc. The unfortunate result can be some insularity, i.e. not getting to know non-Mormons in the community. I agree that self-pity from us non-LDS'ers gets us nowhere, and there are probably enough of us in Provo/Orem to organize our own activities. I can't deny what you're saying about the scenery and outdoor opportunities! Does it get as smoggy there as SLC and the immediate vicinity?
On the other hand, you're right that it can be hard adjusting to a new community. I'm about to have another baby and have a history of wretched PPD, so it may not be a good thing for me to be Baby Bluesin' it in a new cultural environment and so far from friends and family. Hmmmmmm. Anyway, thanks again, and I'll let you know what we decide. OP, if you're still lurking after all of this time, what did you end up doing?
This is pretty much my experience. Not to mention, forming a group based solely on being non-LDS isn't necessarily going to form a cohesive group! It's not so much that I wouldn't or don't get along with LDS people and that's why I feel left out, it's more that the church is so well formed and far reaching that people have their every last social need met via the church. Granted, I haven't exactly tried to find a group to fit in with or whatever because we don't own a house yet and there is a chance we may not stay in the community for too long. However, DS will start school next year, and I am a little anxious about it. We'll see.
Utah County does not get as smoggy as Salt Lake County, but it does have bad days in the winter for sure.
Pretty much every town in the county except Saratoga Springs and Eagle Mountain have an old "downtown" and original neighborhoods with old houses. Lots of cool old houses, too. I wouldn't call them MIL apartments, more like Sister Wife apartments, though! Lol! The best ones are the polygamist mansions... probably not as many in the UC as downtown SLC. In Provo most of them have been converted into businesses and/or student housing.
If you don't mind my asking, what sets your sights on Provo? I'm always curious to know what brings outsiders in! :)
Threadjacking. . DH is strongly trying to convince me to move to the area. Neither of us are LDS. He grew up I an LDS-dominated area, but I don't have experience with those surroundings. We're Catholic, and it looks like the Catholics there have built themselves a pretty strong community. But I see that Provo/Orem doesn't have a Catholic school. Will public school be socially difficult for my children? Otherwise, are there any secular or Catholic homeschool co-ops? Are there any moms groups/play groups for non-LDS parents to meet up and not feel too isolated? How's the "crunch factor" there on things like natural food stores, farmers markets, CSA's, and baby-wearing parents? Finally, we really want to live in an older house in an established neighborhood and NOT a subdivision. Any ideas?
Sorry. It doesn't feel right threadjacking, but it doesn't feel right starting SUCH a similar thread. . Hopefully any info you can offer me will also be helpful to the OP.
Sounds like you'd like downtown Salt Lake better than Provo. You'd love the older houses and crunch-factor of SLC. It's less LDS than Provo, too.
I looked this up as I am moving to the Provo area. I am LDS. I had moved from Texas to Mesa, Arizona. Everyone is LDS in my neighborhood in Arizona. My neighbors were all from around here and needed no new friends. They were nice. But even if you are LDS, and if everyone is from a area (gone to high school together, big families) still hard to make good friends to do things with. It took many years but I did make some very good friends.LDS and other faiths. I have a variety of friends. I just needed a few good friends. And I hope to do the same in Provo.
My children had a hard time adjusting here as the kids already had friends. I was proud of how they toughed it out and blossomed here. They both ended up making lots of friends. My son even became student body president. I didn't know that would be possible as he hated it here for a couple of years. Just hang in there if that happens. Provo is a beautiful area. I feel it is a good place to live with lots of indoor and out door activies for kids.
Since Provo is a college town with kids coming from all around the United States I feel it the area may have more of a newcomers feel to it. I am a math tutor so hope to have some students to teach.
My daughter lives there with her husband and baby. She is very independent (both my kids are) so I will be making my own life and friends.
I think the area may a good place if you need help. Maybe it will take longer to make friends, like I had here, but I am sure if you have a major problem, you neighbors will help you. I had to go through chemo here and my LDS and non neighbors knew this and helped me. In the end, I still just have a few that I would call good friends. I think that is just the way life is.
It is stressful to move children. When I moved here I knew they both just needed one or two friends to start out. It only really takes one friend to help kids feel at home.
Good luck with making your choices.
Wow you took these questions right out of my mind. Wife is Mormon and I'm not. 3 young girls complete the package. we have no idea what is life like in Utah, just know that los angeles is out of control and we want out. can someone add to this or let us know what their experience was like.