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OPINION: Reflections on a decade in Utah

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As my wife and I reflect on our 10-year milestone of living in Utah, I can’t help but feel full of gratitude and thanks for this great place. 

It all started on July 18, 2012. After being born and raised in Northern California and attending two years of community college, it was time to find a university. With California’s cost of living and education out of reach, we were feeling the crunch. We had several friends attending BYU and UVU at the time, and in the midst of conversations, they suggested we give UVU a look. 

After researching for a few weeks and contemplating moving to a new state, we decided to make the leap. Our families thought we were crazy, especially considering they were also raised in our California city and had never left. When we were leaving, my wife’s grandfather said, “enjoy your vacation with furniture,” assuming we’d be back. 

July 18 came around, and off we went on our 12-hour U-Haul drive to Provo, towing one car while my mom drove the other behind us. We settled into our six-plex cinderblock apartment built in 1928, with no air conditioning or dishwasher, two blocks south of the BYU campus. I felt on top of the world in that $650 run-down and outdated unit. We had our own place, which was an unattainable accomplishment in California. 

We attended UVU, and I worked at the nearby Provo Towne Centre Mall to go to school without going into debt (another luxury we couldn’t have had in California). We enjoyed Provo’s social life and outings, from BYU football games at LaVell Edwards Stadium, bowling at FatCats, walking to Bridal Veil Falls, to getting cream-filled croissants at the Provo Bakery. 

A decade later, we are blessed to live in this great place. We now own a home in Lehi, nicer than the homes we grew up in. We are experiencing “The American Dream” afforded to us in Utah, thanks to public policy that fosters job growth and economic prosperity, an attainable cost of living, and a society that prioritizes family. 

We are grateful each day that we get to raise our son (soon-to-be sons) in this state and this county, and this city. We are in a community that values family and the well-being of others. There is something special and heartwarming about our neighborhoods and culture here– they call Utah County “The Bubble,” after all. We wave to neighbors as they drive by, host neighborhood game nights and firework celebrations in July, help neighbors lay new sod and deliver neighborhood Christmas gifts and treats. This isn’t the norm everywhere. It is here. We have something special. 

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We are so fortunate to enjoy and continue the traditions of the people who came before us. We look forward to the summer festivals in each city, especially our Lehi Round-Up week. We love cheering on the Cougars in Provo on Fall Saturdays. We love exploring all that Thanksgiving Point offers right in our backyard. We love supporting local restaurants started by savvy entrepreneurs and frequenting our Utah favorites like Swig, Crumbl and Costa Vida. Sugar is the vice of choice in Utah County. 

As a transplant myself, I’ve seen the growth. Our roads and amenities are getting busier by the day. Although we’ve grown much larger, our small-town feel isn’t lost. Our people continue to be friendly, helpful and generous. It wasn’t nicknamed “Happy Valley” for nothing. 

Brigham Young was right… this is the place.

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