Sister Wives‘ The Brown family moved to Las Vegas, Nevada in 2011 because the state of Utah filed a criminal investigation against them because of their plural marriage. While in Las Vegas, the Browns won a lawsuit against the state of Utah. Utah then appealed and reinforced a stricter felony for plural marriage, which they call “bigamy” under the law. As of 2020, polygamy has been pretty much “decriminalized” in Utah. It carries about as much punishment as a parking ticket, but it was still a felony when the family decided to move from Las Vegas, Nevada to Flagstaff, Arizona in 2018. Why did they decide to move to Flagstaff and will they stay there?
The family never intended to say in Las Vegas permanently. Kody originally wanted to move back to Utah, but because that seemed impossible in the face of the law, the family set their sights elsewhere.
In an early season 13 episode, which aired in 2019, and was filmed in 2018, Kody called all the wives together to pitch the idea of moving to them. He had an entire presentation prepared including visual aids printed on cardboard. The crux of his argument was that they needed to move out of their Las Vegas homes while the housing market was still high in that area, and it made the best financial sense to move out now and then buy cheaper houses elsewhere. This argument became lost as they actually started making decisions to leave Las Vegas, as they found the prices of housing in Flagstaff to be pretty high.
After considering where they wanted to move, they decided that they wanted to stay in the same general area in the West to stay near family. Robyn brought up the idea to Kody that they should try for somewhere beautiful since it really didn’t matter where they ended up.
They decided that Flagstaff, Arizona was a lovely place to settle in. Kody liked that the state was conservative because of his own political leanings, but he also liked that the town of Flagstaff itself is liberal, as he’s found that people on the left are often more accepting of his family.
The dream was to buy a plot of land in the Flagstaff area that the family could build their permanent homes on. They settled on a bit of land called “Coyote Pass.” They basically pooled all of their collective cash to purchase the property and would need to sell their homes in Las Vegas to actually start building their homes on the Coyote Pass property.
In Season 13 Kody devoted all his energy to convince his family that moving to Flagstaff was a good idea, and pretty much all of them raised objections, or just offered up the advice of all the planning and sacrifices they would have to make to ensure this happens. Kody didn’t seem to listen to his wives until the mortgage was approved for the land on Episode 7. At that point, Kody freaked out about all the work, responsibility, and stress in their future. His wives stood in shock as he stressed out about all the concerns they had brought to him when he was pitching his plan as if he were just thinking of them for the first time. Upon hearing that they had just purchased the land, he seemed upset with having the burden of working toward this dream instead of being excited that the dream was moving forward.
Despite the hot real estate market in Vegas, it’s taken them surprisingly long to sell their houses. In the meantime, the family has worried quite a bit about finances as they tried to settle in Flagstaff. Christine has a mortgage on her $520,000 Flagstaff home, Robyn has a mortgage on her $890,00 home, and Meri and Janelle are renting.
Kody initially wanted to build one house for everyone on the land, but Christine has put her foot down about never living with the rest of the wives again. She used to live in a group situation with Meri and Janelle, and at the time she always felt that everyone else’s needs came before her own.
Moving has been a staple activity for the family. They have moved 20 times over the years, most of the moves happened between Utah and Wyoming, and occurred before Robyn became a part of the family. One of the moves was from rental properties in Las Vegas, to custom homes they had built on a cul-de-sac so they could all be near each other. Even though they were in close proximity to each other, many of the wives have expressed feeling lonely in this setup.
Since they’ve been in Flagstaff, the wives have been even farther apart from each other. All of their houses are miles away. When the coronoavirus pandemic began in 2020, the divide between the households set in further. Kody, who had stopped visiting Meri’s house completely before the pandemic, did not even come over to visit his daughter when she and her fiancée Audrey Kriss abruptly left Chicago to stay with Meri for awhile. To further the separation, Janelle asked Kody to stop coming to her house as well because her children were not social distancing.
Kody found himself going only between Robyn and Christine’s house. Before all this happened, the dream of building on Coyote Pass was already faded for Kody. He admitted that he would stall his wives when they tried to plan where to build because he didn’t want to think about it. When he was thinking about the property, his thoughts were about selling it. “I just know that families go as leadership does and I just frankly don’t give a sh!t anymore,” Kody said on Season 15, Episode 3.
There are so many issues standing in the way of the Brown family breaking land and finally building on their Coyote Pass property. First of all, there are huge emotional rifts within the family, especially with Meri, but there appear to be big issues with each of the wives. There is also the problem of agreeing on where to build each house on the property. Misunderstanding and miscommunication between Meri and Kody about where she would build her house on their land seems to be a huge issue.
The fact that Utah recently decriminalized plural marriage makes moving back there more attractive, at least to Christine and, possibly, Kody. Robyn doesn’t ever want to move again, and both Janelle and Meri seem to be happy and settled in Flagstaff.