Thinking about moving to Las Vegas?
While Las Vegas is widely considered to be a great place to visit — The Las Vegas Strip is, after all, the most visited tourist attraction in the world — it hasn’t been widely considered to be a great place to live. Ironically, the attractions that draw millions of people to Las Vegas every year for vacation—the epic pool parties, yard-long cocktails and a “what happens here, stays here” mentality — are some of the same things preventing people from seriously considering calling the city home.
But as the locals will tell you, there is a lot more to Las Vegas than what most people glimpse during a weekend bachelor or bachelorette party. While Vegas certainly isn’t for everyone, for the open-minded person in search of a city that’s truly unique, this desert oasis can be a surprisingly wonderful place to live.
Population growth has been on the rise in Las Vegas for several decades, especially among 20 and 30-somethings, and it’s easy to see why. The low cost of living and the variety of high-paying jobs in the service and hospitality industry make the Neon City an affordable place to live for aspiring young professionals. While it’s mostly a myth that a casino valet can earn six figures parking cars (the “after tips wage” is thought to be more in the $60-70,000 range), valets and other resort employees are still able to live a middle-class life working an entry-level job, thanks in part to low housing costs. The typical two-bedroom home in Vegas sells for $135,000, with rentals averaging a low $795 a month. Nevada is also one of seven states with no state income tax. Read our guide to top Las Vegas neighborhoods, then consult our list of best Las Vegas realtors to help make your search easy.
Despite Southern Nevada embracing “car culture,” traffic here is relatively mild, especially in comparison to neighboring Los Angeles, where commuters spend an average of 90 hours a year in traffic (yikes!). The commute time for drivers in Sin City is just 25 minutes, which is on par with the national average. And with the exception of a three-mile stretch of freeway on the I-15, routine bumper-to-bumper traffic is uncommon. The same cannot be said, however, of bad drivers. Frequently distracted, aggressive and even buzzed (DUI arrests remain at a shamefully high rate), Las Vegas drivers are so lousy, bankrate.com ranked Nevada as a top ‘bad driver’ state (Nevada came in at 11 out of 50).
Beat the commute: Vegas locals recommend avoiding the “Spaghetti Bowl” during rush hour, as the point where the I-15 meets the 515 and US Routes 93 and 95 can get severely congested during peak traffic times. Watch out for distracted drivers making quick, last-minute lane changes between the Tropicana and Sahara corridor on the I-15. This area is a hot bed for rear-end collisions. Also, avoid driving in the rain if you can help it! Flooding happens quickly here, transforming streets into raging rivers, parking garages into swimming pools and residents into dangerously incompetent drivers.
People often associate Las Vegas with brutal heat, but the weather is, on the whole, relatively mild. The average annual temperature in the valley is 67 degrees, with temperatures rarely dipping below 45. While it is true that it is hot here in the summer (temperatures range on average from 90 to 104 degrees), as locals are always eager to point out, “it’s a dry heat.”
Like elsewhere in the country, Las Vegas’s economy plummeted in the years following the 2008 recession. Construction on new resorts and housing developments were abruptly abandoned in various stages of completion, leaving behind a depressing eyesore of metal beams and cement stumps in their wake. In 2015, however, Las Vegas finally started to show signs of life again. Visitor numbers and job growth have shot up, and housing prices are once again on the rise.
Today, more than one-third of adults in Las Vegas work in the tourism industry, mixing margaritas, dealing cards and fluffing hotel pillows for the over 40 million visitors that patron Vegas’s many restaurants, bars and casinos. Thus, it likely comes at no surprise that Southern Nevada’s five largest employers are all in the gaming industry: MGM Resorts International (which employs approximately 54,250 people), Caesars Entertainment Corp., Station Casinos LLC, Wynn Resorts and Boyd Gaming Corp. Other major employers with headquarters in the Vegas Valley include the online shoe retailer Zappos and the air carrier Allegiant.
Unemployment rate: 6.3% (as of November 2015)
Average weekly wages for all industries: $853 (first quarter 2015)