A First Year’s Impressions—I’ve lived in St. George a year now, having moved from 40 years in Santa Barbara following 17 years in Los Angeles, California. After of the first question always posed to me, “Why on earth would you do that?!” I tell them what I love about St. George.
- The people here are incredibly friendly, nice and helpful—salt of the earth type of people. It doesn’t matter if some of them are of a different religion; they’re generally caring, warm and accepting of others. They go out of their way to be helpful….EVEN at DMV and the Social Security Office!
- Yes, the weather during the summer is HOT HOT HOT! It’s a dry heat, and I had to learn to really wear sunscreen…not just give lip service to it, and clothing that protects you from the intensity of the UVs. Yet, all that withstanding, there are more seasons here than So. CA. WIND! It’s something! If you have asthma, make a game plan to manage this because once the wind kicks up, the desert sand and pollens hang in the dry air, suspended, instead of being weighted to the ground with humidity. Having moved here in summer, I was missing the color green fiercely, but then Spring arrived the following year and wow! Green and colorful with a whole new flora to get to know! I had to study up on how and what to plant in this area as pretty much anything grows in Santa Barbara; not so here due to the extreme heat in the summer and intense cold in the winter. Being surrounded by snow-covered mountains is a new one for me and quite beautiful, with very rare dusting of snow in the city, drying before the day’s end just for ambiance. Most of all, I fell in love with the skies—wide open “big sky”. I’m having to learn about thunderstorms on a grand scale though and how to protect your home from lightening strikes. So I traded earthquakes for thunderstorms….a fair trade in my book!
- Grammar/Middle Schools— I can only speak for one at present since that’s all I know, but I have never been so impressed with a school in all of my 26 years of teaching. George Washington Academy has 1000 students, and feels like 300 because it is so well run, the teachers, students and parents are so happy, committed and involved. It’s a public charter school committed to a rigorous and well-rounded education, with high emphasis on character development. I’ve worked at schools before that hope to attain this, but GWA really accomplishes its goal. If all the schools are like this, young parents should be thrilled to send their children to school here!
- Housing— Let’s just say that this is the first time in 50 years that we’ve been able to afford a home! There are lovely communities throughout St. George, and more being added. In fact, the amount of residential developments going on right now is mind boggling. I’ve heard that St. George has been the fasted growing city in the nation for the past 4 years. There are large family developments and active senior developments as well. The homes here are built with excellent air conditioning too—something I didn’t think much about before. My only caveat here is that it is disheartening to me to watch some of the beautiful buttes being bulldozed for houses as well as houses being built right on top of the capstone of the stunning buttes, ruining the natural beauty of our area, only in my opinion. I know people like “rooms with a view” but then just build on the “uplift” side of the butte and keep the roof tops just under the capstone line to protect the natural beauty of our area for all generations to enjoy and marvel at. Just my opinion.
- Cost of Living— Much less than California. Food, gas, utilities, restaurants (except for the big chains) are all less expensive than where I lived most of my life.
- Outdoor Recreation— Okay, so I traded surfing and sailing (which I never did) and beach walking for biking and hiking. We have a great, and daily growing, bike path route for road bikers, and 100’s of established dirt trails for mountain bikers, and larger established dirt roads in the back country for those off road vehicle thingies (you can tell I’m of the former ilk, rather than the latter!!) Still, I hear you can paddle board and sail at Sand Hollow lake, so perhaps you can get the best of both worlds. My husband has been a rock climber (real rocks, not gyms) so he is in heaven with some of the best rock climbing areas in the nation right here. The views where you do these things are incredible though….
- Countryside— Others have mentioned already Zion National Park, Kolob Canyon, Snow Canyon, Petroglyphs and fossils pretty much anywhere, Pine Mountain, Toquerville Falls, Warner Valley, the red buttes and bluffs, all within a 40 minute drive and viewable from your own back yard. Every weekend we explore the back country and never run out of new places to discover on our own. The only caveat is the crowds at Zion are daunting, to understate it. They are working on a system to limit overcrowding and the attendant wear and tear on one of the most beautiful canyons in the entire world, but so far it’s still a huge challenge.
- Culturally— A lot has already been said by other reviewers on this in terms of theater, so I won’t repeat it, but the Visual Arts are also growing in St. George. Kayenta Arts Community is a favorite of mine, with its community festival of street chalk painting “Kayenta Arts Festival” galleries and art shows. I thought it would be all “Southwest Art” (you know, cowboys, native americans and desert/mountains in red oxide and yellow ochres), but while there is a large number of outstanding artists in this genre, there are also many contemporary artists and wonderful art going on!
- Heath Care—Phenomenal. I’ve been totally impressed, although the doctors are overworked…not enough for the growing population, but they still really seem to care, as do nurses, home care nurses, etc.
- Quiet— If you’re not right in the city by the university, the residential areas are quiet! You can hear the desert night insects, and the lack of light pollution blankets you in a night sky that is better than any manufactured light show. The night has its own nature’s symphony of its own that you won’t find in many other cities.
Perhaps this answers why on earth would I move here.
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