February 23, 2023
A few weeks ago I wrote a column about my encounter with some dunderheads that were visiting our wonderful state and weren’t happy with their experience. I got to thinking about Wyoming, and what makes me love it here so much. I spend my childhood on the west coast, and sometimes I get homesick, but not enough to move out of the Cowboy state. So, I started pondering and researching what is so appealing about Wyoming, where winter can seem a year long, and it take two hours to get to an Olive Garden restaurant. Here are some of my thoughts on why people land here and never leave.
The traditions and culture of the American West are alive and well in Wyoming. The Wyoming State Fair in August, Jubilee Days in July, Woodchoppers Jamboree in June, The Cowboy Gathering and the Mountain Man Rendezvous in July, as well as Cheyenne Frontier Days and many more competitions and festivities that celebrate the western way of life. Out of the limelight, across the mountains and prairies, there are ranches, and farms with genuine cowboys and cowgirls, organic gardeners, and chicken farmers living a life that the majority only dream of.
Wyoming’s love and preservation of history leave me in awe. Nearly every town has a museum, with thousands of artifacts, many provided by the local population. Historical preservation isn’t confined to museums, it is also preserved in the arts. Cowboy poets and musicians, photographers, sculptors, authors, and painters bring to life the Wyoming culture. Every county in Wyoming has at least one library, as do most of the small towns.
Wyoming ranks 50 in population and ranks #10 as the safest state in the United States. It ranks 43 highest in the United States. Pretty nice statistics. Obviously, the highest crime rates are in the growing cities and towns, but even they rank way below national standards. I think it’s because the majority of people in the state are good people. This is comforting to a single woman living alone. Small town goodness is still a thing here, and neighbors and communities do jump on the band wagon when someone needs help. In the past few months I’ve seen several local fund raisers for families in need, and they were quite lucrative.
Let’s check out the cost of living index. In Wyoming in 2022. Wyoming falls at 98.1, meaning it is about 2% more affordable to live in Wyoming than the national average. Wyoming residents spend an average of $843 per month on rent, and the median home value is $272,700 which is 6.5% less than the national average. Utilities and transportation costs are also below the U.S. average, but Wyoming’s healthcare costs are above the national average.
As more people find Wyoming appealing, the competition for homes is increasing by leaps and bounds. When COVID shutdowns started, people flocked to Wyoming from bigger cities hoping to enjoy the Wyoming way of life.
They were looking for freedom, relief from being locked down during the pandemic. They
admired the old fashioned ideals, the Cowboy way if you will. Unfortunately, many found
Wyoming-ness a little more difficult than they imagined and have since gone back to whence
they came. However, there are those few hardy souls that came to Wyoming, or were born here
and chose to make their home in a state with less people than many towns and cities in
America. What keeps us here? What is about Wyoming that seeps into your pores and makes
you crave it's wide open prairies and mountains as old as time? Is it the fact that you can drive
in any direction just a few miles and find peace and quiet? Is it the wildlife that not only peppers
the epic landscape, but also live amongst the population in even our largest towns? Maybe it's
the smell of sage brush and evergreens after a thunderstorm moves through with it's cleansing
rain, or the stillness in the air after a snowfall when sound is muffled or non-existent. It could be
the 27 million acres of public land filled with scenic vistas from the top of mountain passes, or
maybe it's the thousands of lakes that invite you to take a dip in crystal clear water that flowed
from a mountain glacier. But, Wyoming isn't just about the outdoors. It's filled with art galleries,
theaters and even symphonies, and resorts.
Wyoming's diversity is what draws us here, and for many, it's what keeps us here. Wyoming is
one of the most beautiful and visited states in the USA, with windswept plains and crowd-
drawing parks, it's no wonder millions of visitors come to our Wyoming every year. But, as much
as we appreciate the revenue from our visitors, it is nice when things settle down for awhile and
the lines thin out at the grocery store. I feel blessed to live here, even with the challenges and
isolation that winter can bring I can't imagine not living here. I may not have been born here, but
I got here as soon as I could.