Cost of Living in Logan
So you’ve heard back from all your graduate programs, and Utah State University accepted you. Congratulations! But now that you know where you can go, you have to decide where you want to go. Is Logan the place for you? Probably, and here’s why: besides being named the 2nd best college town in the country in Livability's 2014 top ten list, living in Logan will stretch your stipend farther. While it may be smaller and more isolated than surrounding cities such as Ogden, Salt Lake City, and Idaho Falls, Logan is the best value for your money. In Logan, you’ll be able to afford your rent and a quick trip to or two to Salt Lake City (located only an hour and a half away) for when you feel like a more metropolitan experience. Simply put, when it comes to things like rent, transportation, groceries, and activities, Logan offers the best value for graduate students.
According to City Data, the median house or condo value in Logan is $163,721. Comparatively, the rest of Utah has a median house/condo value of $207,500. If you’re looking to rent instead, you can expect a range between $375 for a studio apartment up to the lower thousands for a multibedroom house, with the median gross rent being $642.
To give a point of comparison, consider that a resort style apartment community in Logan, commonly including amenities such as a pool and hot tub, fitness center, landscaped grassy areas, dishwashers, washer and dryer hookups, air conditioning, garbage disposals, and pet friendly communities, will cost about an average of $661.60 a month for a two-bedroom apartment. These complexes are spread out all over Logan, but the compactness of the city means that you are rarely more than a ten minute drive from the university regardless of what complex you choose. In contrast, in the Salt Lake area, similar apartment communities will cost significantly more. For example, a one-bedroom resort style apartment that includes the same amenities as communities in Logan will average about $743.00 a month, and that’s for places in suburbs like Murray, not Salt Lake City proper. If you look to live in the city itself, prices rise even more. While these apartment communities are nice, their location means will take at least fifteen minutes to get downtown, to the University of Utah, or Westminster college. Also, note that that price applies to one-bedroom apartments. Unless you’re living with a partner or willing to share your room with a roommate, that $743.00 is all on you—and two bedrooms are even more expensive! In Logan, you can rent a very nice apartment complex, with at least one other roommate, for less than $400/mo. If you’d prefer to live alone, there are a variety of studios and one-bedroom apartments to be found for under $500/mo. And, if you’re more budget conscious, Logan has a vast variety of living options, from the very bare necessity basement apartments to the aforementioned resort-style communities. You’re sure to find someplace that will fit your budget and your lifestyle, as well as allowing you to get to campus quickly.
Okay, so Cache Valley doesn’t have the same extensive UTA Trax (lightrail) system that Salt Lake has. Our transportation situation, however, is relatively great, especially when you consider that it is completely free. And it’s not just free for you because you’re a student in possession of the coveted free public transit card, but it’s free for everyone. Your partner, your kids, your mom, your dog (okay, maybe not your dog…) can all take the bus wherever you need to go. Cache Valley Transit District (CVTD) is a countywide, free bus system that that runs from the university, to Logan’s central shopping district, to surrounding neighborhoods and townships, and beyond. All buses go through Logan’s Transit Hub near 500 N and 100 E, which means that even if you hop on a bus in Hyde Park, you can make it to the university in a relatively short amount of time. No car needed!
When you’re on campus, you can take advantage of the free, natural gas-powered, Aggie Shuttle, which has multiple lines that stop at strategic areas around campus. Park at the stadium and need to make it up to the Engineering building in record time? Hop on the red line and get off at the fine arts building, or hop on the green line and get off at the library. Either way, you’ll save time and leg muscles by taking the shuttle.
If you prefer to walk or bike, Logan is a very pedestrian and cyclist friendly city. There are multiple walking paths leading up to the university, and around town, many roads have sidewalks. You will, however, have to deal with hills, so make sure you take that into consideration!
Need to get to the airport to attend a conference, or go home for the break? Or maybe you need to get to the Greyhound station and you really don’t want to leave your car in the parking lot for an extended period of time. Or maybe you reallllly want to go to Salt Lake Comic Con, but all of your friends think you’re weird and won’t go down with you. You don’t have to sit out or suck it up and spend the gas money—just take the Salt Lake Express! The Salt Lake Express is a CVTD sponsored charter bus that shuttles back and forth between Salt Lake and Logan 12 times a day. All you have to do is buy a ticket, be in the pick-up spot at the right time, and be on your way. All of the ease of driving to Salt Lake without the actual driving part. What could be better? (Besides a link to Frontrunner, of course…but there’s time for that).
So you’ve got a place to live, and you’ve figured out a way to get to campus and back…but what about the time spent off-campus? What about groceries? What if you accidentally (or purposely, if that’s your thing) roll down the hill and twist your ankle? What about shopping?
Luckily, Cache Valley is not only a good value in housing and transportation, but also in its day-to-day living expenses. While some things, like groceries, are a little more expensive than they are in similar cities, those costs can easily be mitigated by using coupons, shopping sales, and taking advantage of local-known secrets, such as Lee’s Marketplace offering a gallon of milk for $2.29 every Wednesday. When you know where to shop, your grocery bill will likely plummet. If you want to eat out, Logan has a variety of dining options to suit every taste and budget (see more information on dining here).
In terms of healthcare, Logan has some excellent medical centers, including a full service hospital, an Instacare (operated by Intermountain Healthcare) and multiple standalone dentists, orthodontists, and optometrists. If you are enrolled under the subsidized graduate insurance plan, you can go to the student health and wellness center for many of your health needs, including prescriptions. Whether you have an emergency or just a routine check-up, you’ll be able to find the medical services you need in Logan.
What about goods and services? Surely a college town will be lacking in those, things, right? Not at all. Logan has a variety of beauty salons, barbers, and shopping outlets for you to get that haircut, manicure, or perfect pair of shoes. While you could go to Salt Lake for those things, you certainly don’t have to—Logan has you covered.
Perhaps one of the greatest values of living in Cache Valley is the amount of outdoor recreation right at your fingertips. That famous Utah snow that brings in people from all over the world? That’s in your backyard. Internationally known national parks like Zion and Arches? A day trip away. Want to take a hike? Just drive up Logan Canyon (located about two minutes driving distance from campus). When you attend Utah State, you not only have the opportunity to earn an advanced degree, but also to explore one of the most varied, beautiful terrains in the entire United States. People travel from all over to see this stuff, but you get to live here. How awesome is that?
This chart compares the overall cost of living in Logan, UT to similar cities around the nation. Factors calculated include housing, groceries utilities, transportation, medical care, and goods & services. For the most part, Logan comes out ahead in almost every instance.
|Salt Lake City||9.7%|
|Fort Collins, CO||11.4%|
|Las Cruces, NM||2.1%|
|Las Vegas, NV||18.2%|
|South Bend, IN||-4.4%|
In short, Cache Valley is a great place to live for many reasons—a low crime rate, a family-oriented community, ample recreational opportunities, and more. One of the most appealing aspects of Cache Valley, however, is how good of a value it is. Your money and resources simply go further in Logan and its surrounding areas. Choosing to live in Logan means that you can enjoy the amenities and benefits of a small, university centered community while still having access to more metropolitan amenities. And because Logan is so affordable, you can actually partake in those opportunities!