So You Want To Move To Las Vegas, Is It Right For You?

Who Should Move To Las Vegas? Las Vegas is once again pretty much a dirt cheap place to live. Home prices are at rock bottom with no recovery in sight as unemployment is up around 1.5% in the past three months. If you move here with a job, are an entrepreneur who can work from anywhere, or have your own nest egg or retirement income, now is a great time. If you are going to need a job, don’t fool yourself and say “I’m sure something will pop up in my field if I look hard enough”. Highly unlikely. With 1 out of every 5 Las Vegans unemployed or under-employed, employers don’t want to risk a new resident who is more likely do decide they don’t like it here and leave.

I’m Not Much Of A Casino Person, Can I Still Enjoy Living There? – This question came in a few weeks ago on the Living In Las Vegas podcast, and is a good one. It isn’t so much whether you are a casino person or not, but what kind of person you are? If you dislike setting foot inside casinos (probably not many of you among our readers, but we know that some of you may pass this page link on to others who are simply looking to relocate west), probably not the right place for you. Want to go to a movie? It will most likely be in a casino. Want to go bowling? Ditto. The gaming properties in the Las Vegas suburbs really are the local activity hubs.

Live And Let Live – If you are the kind of person who is up at 4:30 AM to do yoga, take a long bike ride, and commute to work in a hybrid with your organic lunch in a reusable bag, more power to you. Knock yourself out. BUT… keep in mind that your next door neighbor may very well work swing shift at a resort property, get off work at 3 AM, stop by the local bar for a French Dip sandwich and fries, have a couple pops of booze and a beer with his meal, then mow down a some cigarettes while he runs $20 through the bartop video poker machine before arriving home just about the time you come back from your bike ride. Which is perfectly acceptable and normal here. So if something like that is going to bother you, Las Vegas probably isn’t for you.

Sin City – If you do business nationwide (or worldwide), measure any possible side effects of being located here. West of the Rockies, Las Vegas is simply seen as another Western city. But many in other parts of the U.S. still have this notion that if you locate to (or are located in) Las Vegas, you must be crooked!

Politics – U.S. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) has been in the national spotlight significantly. That along with Las Vegas’s “liberal” approach to morals leads many to believe that Nevada must be a politically progressive bastion. Um, not exactly. Nevada is very libertarian (with a small letter “l”, I’m not talking about a bunch of Ron Paul voters). Nevada’s junior U.S. Senate seat has been in conservative Republican hands for over a decade. Both of Nevada’s past two governors (current and previous) are fiscally conservative Republicans. 2/3 of our state’s U.S. congressional delegation is in GOP hands.

Democrats hold the edge of registered voters in this state and both the Nevada State House and Assembly are controlled by Democrats. Hence, I’m not suggesting this is the most red of red states. But even with the voter edge, Rory Reid (Harry’s son, also a Democrat) was soundly defeated in his run for governor this past election cycle. If you want a super-blue state, you need to keep going until you hit a state that borders the Pacific Ocean. Some of the most unhappy people I know living here are strong progressives as the state doesn’t seem to have the will to increase taxes to fund things like education, transportation and social services.

Three Other Cities To Look At – If interested in Las Vegas, let me suggest three other cities to check out:

  • Phoenix – If you are a big-city person, the Phoenix area has it all. Major league sports teams, light rail, arts and culture, acclaimed institutes of higher learning, and a real sense of community. Or, pretty much everything we don’t have in Las Vegas! Just brace for the heat as summers are 3-4 degrees hotter than Las Vegas and summer humidity generally higher.
  • Reno – If moving to Nevada for the tax benefits but you are more of a Northern California type of person and like a more medium-size town atmosphere (while still enjoying a major airport and college sports), Reno could be your cup of tea. It does not have the Sin City image of Las Vegas and lost that “Divorce Capital” moniker decades ago. Expect plenty of Nevada sunshine, four actual seasons, and brisk winters.
  • Albuquerque – If you took Las Vegas, shrank the population just a bit, made it a few degrees cooler year-round, and removed all the casinos, you’d pretty much end up with Albuquerque. Like Reno, it has a major airport and college sports teams. Like Phoenix, a strong sense of community plus serious arts and culture plus their Rail Runner train for day trips to Santa Fe. And the Mountain Time Zone makes it a bit easier to do business with the east coast.

Me? I’m closing in on 20 years here in Las Vegas, and you couldn’t pry me out of here. But I’ve also known far too many people who relocated here from a traditional culture-rich area and ended up hating it. Do your homework first.

If you’ve made the move or are contemplating it, feel free to comment below.

Ted Newkirk