It is often said that Utah has a high quality of life. Many people born in Utah live here their entire lives, and those who leave the state for education or employment reasons often return some years later. What is it that makes Utah such an appealing place to live? Others from outside of Utah are drawn to this state, often citing its beauty, recreation or employment opportunities as their reason for moving here. It is not only Utahns who have noticed this; Forbes Magazine and other organizations often rank Utah as one of the best places in the country to live or work.
To better understand the quality of life in Utah, Utah Foundation collaborated with Intermountain Healthcare to create the Utah Foundation Quality of Life Index, a measure that will be updated every two years to track how quality of life changes and the reasons for those changes. The Quality of Life Index was created by surveying Utahns about 20 factors that influence community quality of life. Quality scores were calculated for each factor and an overall index, with a possible 100 points. Using this methodology, the first biennial Utah Foundation Quality of Life Index stands at 77.2 for 2011.
The 20 factors were organized into five sub-groups, and a quality of life score was calculated for each as well: Infrastructure and Vital Services, Social Characteristics, Economic Vitality, Cultural/Recreational Opportunities, and Physical Surroundings. In addition to rating the quality of each factor, survey respondents were also asked about the importance of each factor in influencing their quality of life.
Quality healthcare, higher education, and safety and security all rated high in importance and quality, along with other factors related to Utah’s social characteristics and physical surroundings. These are among Utah’s successes, and care should be taken not to interfere with that success with public policy changes.
Several factors were given higher importance but lower quality ratings compared to other factors. These should be considered higher-priority action items for public policy change or other efforts to improve. These include public schools, affordable housing and other living costs, the availability of good jobs, and the social factor of people being accepting of differences.
Download the PowerPoint presentations from our 10/12/2011 breakfast event on this report: