As we are closing in on our 3rd year of living in Las Vegas, you might be surprised that none of my top 10 reasons to move here pertain to the casinos. Over 42 million visitors came to Las Vegas in 2018, https://www.lvcva.com ,and many don’t stray too far from the Strip or Fremont Street. That said, if gambling’s what you want to do – this is the place to do it. I know, I know..there are casinos everywhere, but all you have to do is spend an afternoon walking the boardwalk in Atlantic City or the streets of Reno to know that Vegas is a completely different animal with a completely different vibe. It really is unmatchable, at least here in the states. Let’s get into the list!
- Natural Beauty
Look around and you realize that Vegas is surrounded by mountains; the Sheep range to the north, Sunrise and Frenchmen Mountains to the east, and the Spring Mountain range to the west. There might not be another U.S. city so close to so many national and state parks and recreational areas/reserves. Five national parks (Zion, Death Valley, Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree, Great Basin) are within a 2-5 hour drive. Three national recreation areas/conservation areas (Red Rock, Spring Mountain, Lake Mead) are within a 1 hour drive. If you want to hike, you can hike..If you want to snow ski, you can do that too. The natural beauty of the area provides a ton of outdoor activities..all you’ve got to do is walk out the front door.
When friends come into town or I meet someone new, I constantly get asked the question “how can you live here..it’s so hot!” I’ll grant you this much, for June, July and August, it’s hot. It’s very typical to have daily highs from 105 to 115 degrees fahrenheit. But, there’s a caveat..it’s a dry heat. I know, insert some sort of wry comment here, but it’s true. I grew up in Pennsylvania, lived in Philadelphia, Boston, Washington D.C, Orlando and Chicago, where the humidity levels can easily reach into the 90 percent range – sometimes feeling like you’re walking through a hot mist. I guarantee you that if you’re swimming in Las Vegas and the air temperature is 90 degrees, when you get out of the pool, you’ll feel a shiver! The other 9 months can be spectacular – think late September for you folks from back east. Crisp, dry and sunny.
- Median House Prices
Median House prices for Las Vegas just hit $305,000, which is close to the median 10 years ago. Then the lender-caused great recession hit and prices tumbled. Now we’re back to normal, which is good for both buyers and sellers. Buyers can still get good value for their money and sellers who may have been upside down can finally get out. While walking my dog Sonny, I noticed a house in my neighborhood that had recently sold. Curious, I checked the MLS to find the house sold for $427,000. Then I checked how much it originally sold for, 10 years ago – $430,000! Good for them! Speaking of affordability, 3 years ago we sold our house in Chicago for $341,000 and rolled it into a house here in the southwest valley for $404,000. We went from 1,600 square feet to 2,600 square feet and our property taxes are less than half of what we paid in Chicago.
- Mostly Low Taxes
First the good news, Nevada does not have an income tax, corporation tax, or an estate tax. As noted above, property taxes compared to other locales are pretty reasonable as well. Now the bad news – where the local governments get their money. The combined Clark County and Nevada sales tax rate is 8.25%, which is fairly hefty. For those of you moving in from another state, do not be surprised by a “hidden” tax that I was unaware of. Car registration was $33..not bad. But Clark County also assesses a Basic Government Services Tax and a Supplemental Government Services tax against the value of your vehicle. The taxable value is based on original MSRP and lasts for 10 years. For example, you have a car that is 3 years old. The tax is based on the original MSRP (from 3 years ago) X 70%. Next year that goes down to 60%, and so on.
Where to start..a few years ago MGM Resorts ran an ad campaign titled “We are not in the hotel business..we are in the holy sh** business.” That about says it all. The valley is an entertainment capital. On a recent weekend, I counted 57 featured shows at the Strip properties alone – not including so many spots where you can just walk into a piano bar or catch some jazz. Boyz II Men to Carrot Top, Santana to Penn & Teller, Willie Nelson to Absinthe. The variety is huge and fits any taste. Go off-strip and you’ll find the same kind of buzz. Shows not your thing? The Golden Knights (NHL) games are a blast and the Raiders are coming to town in 2020. Like NASCAR? We got that. How about Rodeo? National Finals are held here – don’t forget your cowboy hat! Like college basketball? The PAC 12, Mountain West, and Western Athletic tournaments are held in Las Vegas, on the same weekend in March. You want it..Vegas has it.
- Food and Drink
If you met me you could tell that I don’t miss many meals. Las Vegas is a foodies playground and I’ve been happily sampling the selection since we moved here. Celebrity chefs abound, and they’re too numerous to name all of them – Gordon Ramsay, Tom Colicchio, Wolfgang Puck, to name a few. You ever heard of Rao’s New York? It might be the most difficult restaurant in America to get a table. It has 4 tables and 6 booths, reservations are not accepted, tables are assigned, and when you die your family can “inherit” your spot. It’s been open for 123 years. Why do I tell you this? Walk in to Rao’s Las Vegas (Caesars Palace) and get the same food. Go for the seafood salad (it’s off menu). https://www.caesars.com/caesars-palace/restaurants/raos#.XgE0yC3MwWo Jaleo in the Cosmo has the best gin & tonic in the world. Guy Fieri’s Bacon Mac”N”Cheese burger requires a lot of napkins. Go off strip to Southern Highlands and Spaghetty Western has the best vodka sauce I’ve ever tasted. Next door Rise & Shine might be the best breakfast place in town (the servers all wear their PJs) .
- Ease of Travel
The airport is centrally located and as I mentioned in an earlier posting, we moved to Las Vegas from Chicago three years ago and our house was about half way between the Loop (downtown to you Chicago neophytes) and O’Hare airport, or 7 miles. When I had to get to the airport I would give myself 45 minutes to an hour, and sometimes that wasn’t enough. Conversely, when I pick someone up at McCarran, also about 7 miles away, I tell them to call when you get to baggage claim – 15 minutes from my house to airport pickup.
I-15 is the major artery going north to Salt Lake City and south to southern California and most residents can get to it in less than 15 minutes. Going out for the night for a few cocktails? There are over 40,000 ride-share drivers in Las Vegas. I’ve never waited more than 8 minutes for a ride.
- Quirky Stuff
Are you the type that has a little twist to your personality? Las Vegas isthe town for you. I tell people to start with a little stroll down Fremont Street on a Friday or Saturday night. You’ll see all types of people and this is the warning that I give to my first-time friends – “Remember, you can’t un-see what you’re about to see.” We have a Mob Museum, a Haunted Museum, numerous pawn shops, and an Erotic Heritage Museum, which coincidently, is in the shadows of the Trump International Hotel. You can attend the largest Consumer Electronics Show in the world, the largest pizza show in the world, Roller Con (roller derby buffs), Star Trek Las Vegas, and of course, the Adult Entertainment Expo.
It’s a given that casinos never close. According to the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority, 164,000 people work directly for southern Nevada casino companies, with another 70,000 working in tourism-related businesses such as bars, restaurants, nightclubs and sightseeing tour companies. Throw in another 40,000 or so ride-share drivers and it’s obvious that many workers in the valley don’t have a typical 9 to 5 job, and local businesses respond to that. There are a lot of bars and restaurants open all day. Is your Walgreens and your grocery store open 24/7? Mine are. When I first moved here I thought it was odd to see residential real estate open houses on a Monday or Tuesday. Isn’t that a weekend thing? Not here – think about it – if you work in a casino, restaurant, or club, what days and nights will result in the biggest tips and most volume? The weekend. Local businesses keep this town buzzing, day and night.
- Friendliness and Community
I personally think Las Vegas gets a bad rap for being a soul-less place. I couldn’t disagree more. I know my neighbors, and they know me. When walking our dog Sonny, we get numerous waves and shouts out the car window as the neighbors drive by. I know at least a half dozen baristas at Starbucks by their first name. Pam at the grocery store is always ready with a smile and will have a chat with you, Clemente and Alex at our favorite Italian restaurant will greet you with a handshake and maybe a hug (if you’re good)! Churches and temples of all denominations abound. A Buddhist group bought 12 acres at the corner of Sahara and Paradise (next to the Sahara Casino) – for what? They’re planning on building a temple! Maybe it’s because so many people work in the hospitality business and they’re trained to work with the public; maybe it’s because we’re surrounded by natural beauty and sunshine most of the time; maybe it’s because Las Vegan’s have a can-do spirit (if you build it, they will come), whatever it is, it makes this town a friendly town. Why don’t you give it a try.