More attracted to what Ogden, its residents have to offer

Jan 8 2011 - 12:49am

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(ROBERT JOHNSON/Standard-Examiner) Jan Zehner, 72, skis every day he can at Snowbasin after moving to Ogden more than a year ago from Ohio. “Basically, I moved here for the skiing. Just look around here,” Zehner says. More people are moving to Ogden after learning what the area offers.
(ROBERT JOHNSON/Standard-Examiner) Jan Zehner, 72, skis every day he can at Snowbasin after moving to the Ogden area more than a year ago from Ohio. He says his only regret is that he didn’t move to Ogden sooner.
(ROBERT JOHNSON/Standard-Examiner) Jan Zehner, 72, skis every day he can at Snowbasin after moving to the Ogden area over a year ago from Ohio. “Basically I moved here for the skiing,” Zehner says. “ Just look around here.” He says his only regret is not moving to Ogden sooner and that his secret to staying in shape for skiing at his age is to simply just keep doing it.
(ROBERT JOHNSON/Standard-Examiner) Jan Zehner, 72, is ready to hit the slopes at Snowbasin.
(ROBERT JOHNSON/Standard-Examiner) Jan Zehner, 72, skis every day he can at Snowbasin after moving to Ogden more than a year ago from Ohio. “Basically, I moved here for the skiing. Just look around here,” Zehner says. More people are moving to Ogden after learning what the area offers.
(ROBERT JOHNSON/Standard-Examiner) Jan Zehner, 72, skis every day he can at Snowbasin after moving to the Ogden area more than a year ago from Ohio. He says his only regret is that he didn’t move to Ogden sooner.
(ROBERT JOHNSON/Standard-Examiner) Jan Zehner, 72, skis every day he can at Snowbasin after moving to the Ogden area over a year ago from Ohio. “Basically I moved here for the skiing,” Zehner says. “ Just look around here.” He says his only regret is not moving to Ogden sooner and that his secret to staying in shape for skiing at his age is to simply just keep doing it.
(ROBERT JOHNSON/Standard-Examiner) Jan Zehner, 72, is ready to hit the slopes at Snowbasin.

OGDEN -- When Jan Zehner, 72, gets up most mornings and heads up the mountain for a day of skiing, he feels like he's in heaven.

He moved to Ogden two years ago and remembers well the first day he hit the slopes.

"I said, 'This is where I want to ski the rest of my life,' " he said of the snow he found at Snowbasin resort.

Acknowledging that he lives to ski, Zehner said he found out about Ogden from world-renowned ski filmmaker Warren Miller.

"At home where I lived on Orcas Island in Washington state, I played golf with him," Zehner said. "We talked about skiing."

Zehner isn't the only person who has found a home in the Top of Utah.

Experts have predicted a doubling in the population over the next few decades.

Bob Hill, president of the Northern Wasatch Association of Realtors, said people like to move here for a host of reasons.

"One of the things people are most impressed with is, we have every price range of home," he said. "We have houses for $20,000 and $20 million and everything in between."

Hill said Realtors actively promote the area's attractions on a regular basis, especially when they are out of state.

And he said positive responses are apparent but not quantifiable.

"If you are not marketing your city as a Realtor, you are not a good Realtor," Hill said.

Other factors are involved in more and more people's decisions to relocate to the area, he said.

"A lot of people are moving here because their companies are moving here. People say they love it here. We've got a lot of people who come here because of the military, and then they come back."

Katherine and Charlie Lovatt, both in their early 30s, said it was a Realtor website that brought them to Ogden.

Findyourspot.com is a site Realtors have put together to help people pinpoint where they want to be. It selects a city based on their answers to a questionnaire.

The couple -- originally from Michigan and who were living on the island of Maui, Hawaii -- moved here sight unseen largely based on the information they got from the site.

"We were open to move to anywhere back in the mainland," Charlie Lovatt said. "The sunny weather was a big draw for us."

He also listed the proximity to the mountains as well as a city center as key reasons why the couple selected Ogden. Lovatt said he was also sold by an online presentation Mayor Matthew Godfrey gives about the city.

He said his wife flew in for an interview and got a job as a school therapist here based on what they had read. The two moved here in September 2009 without his having seen the area at all.

"We're excited to be here in Ogden, and we definitely enjoyed it," he said.

Living a few blocks west of Harrison, he said, proved economical as well as socially advantageous.

"We paid twice as much for a studio apartment ($1,100) in Hawaii. We pay a little bit over $700 for a whole house here. We're quite excited. ... We were very welcomed by neighbors on our street."

Zehner, who lives in the Skyline Towers at the top of 29th Street, said he also likes the people and the atmosphere in Ogden.

"My only regret is I didn't come earlier," said Zehner, who is retired from the diplomatic corps. "I came for the skiing, but I really like the area. There's so much to do."

In the off-season, Zehner said he likes to hike, play golf and swim at the Ogden Athletic Club or at Pineview Reservoir.

Wednesday, people he only vaguely knew invited him to a party in the Snowbasin parking lot.

"It's been easy to make friends here," he said.

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