Everything You Need to Know Before Moving to Las Vegas

Most people think of Las Vegas as an escape from reality. Sin City is branded as America’s gambling capital, filled with revelers who eventually fly home.

But what is life like as a Las Vegas local? What do you need to know before you move to this desert oasis that thrives on its reputation as Sin City?

Moving to Las Vegas

There’s a lot more to Las Vegas than the glitz and glamour of casinos and cabarets. Distinctive areas of town are home to the locals who have taken advantage of the city’s booming job market. Here are some of them:

  • Summerlin: Propped up against the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Summerlin is a luxurious neighborhood removed from the strip. Residents of Summerlin don’t need to travel far to enjoy casinos, shopping, dining, pool parties, and sports—it has casinos, malls, world class golf courses, a Wet-n-Wild, and a Triple-A baseball team.
  • Henderson: Located about 15 minutes east of McCarran International Airport and 25 minutes west of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Henderson’s close proximity to both work and day trip opportunities make it the perfect home base for many of the strip’s hotel and casino employees.
  • Downtown: Old school casinos like The Golden Nugget, The Four Queens, and Fremont Hotel and Casino are located in downtown Las Vegas. Any local will tell you that the Fremont Street Experience is a must-see for all visitors—a panorama of lights and spectacles encased by the neon glow of vintage Vegas.
  • The Strip: The world-famous Las Vegas strip is a length of road lined on both sides with glamorous hotels and casinos that offer gambling opportunities, bars, restaurants, comedy clubs, aquariums and just about anything else a person could want. And now that Las Vegas is home to The Raiders football franchise, visitors and locals both can watch NFL games at Allegiant Stadium, which is right off the strip. If you are on the strip and don’t have a car or the patience for a cab, just hop on the convenient monorail and skip from one casino to the next.
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Las Vegas at a Glance

The entertainment capital of the world should also earn recognition as a downright pleasant place to call home. Here are some current living stats for those thinking about moving to the Las Vegas area.

  • Population: 651,319
  • Cost of living: 1.9% Lower than the National Average (Salary.com)
  • Median 1-bedroom apartment cost: $925 (Renthop.com)
  • Average salary: $80,000/yr (payscale.com)

For the latest updates on the coronavirus COVID-19, visit the LAS VEGAS HEALTH DEPARTMENT website.

20 Things You Need to Know Before Moving to Las Vegas

Keep these handy tips in mind and you’ll be a local Vegas legend in no time.

1. Locals Rarely Visit the Vegas Strip…

The Strip is crowded, expensive, and choked with stop-and-go traffic. As a Vegas local you’ll almost never go to the Strip, choosing instead to enjoy restaurants and entertainment in areas like Downtown Summerlin, Downtown Vegas, and Town Square.

2. Unless Friends Visit.

The exception to the rule above? Your out-of-town friends will arrive unannounced, invite you to party with them on the Strip, and then ask to crash in your guest room indefinitely.

During your first year as a Vegas resident, your home will be a revolving door to a nonstop parade of friends who’ve decided to visit. Pace yourself, and good luck.

3. The Strip and Downtown are Not the Same.

Let’s clarify that the famous Las Vegas Strip is a separate place from Downtown Las Vegas.

The Strip is located in unincorporated Paradise, Nevada, and runs north-south along an approximately 4-mile stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard. That same road then runs through another few miles of scattered shops and businesses before it connects to Downtown Vegas, a newly-revitalized neighborhood that’s drawing lots of new residents.

4. Downtown Vegas Holds the City’s History.

If you’re a history buff, you’ll love Downtown Las Vegas, also known as “Old Las Vegas.”

This neighborhood was the hottest spot in the area during the 1950’s. Gambling and tourism later moved to the Strip, but tourists still flock downtown to check out the Fremont Street Experience, featuring 1950’s-style casinos and restaurants clustered under an overhead LED canopy.

5. Downtown is Revitalizing – Big Time.

Downtown Vegas, abbreviated DTLV, is a new hotspot for artists, entrepreneurs and a growing startup culture.

Online retailer Zappos is headquartered in DTLV, and founder Tony Hseih previously invested $350 million directly into downtown’s revitalization. Millions went to neighborhood businesses ranging from a toy store to a gourmet jerky shop.

6. Chill Out at the Container Park.

One favorite local hangout is a three-story outdoor retail and restaurant plaza built entirely from shipping containers called the Container Park.

This family-friendly destination features 30 locally-owned shops, salons, restaurants and bars. A treehouse playground sits in the center of the park and free family-friendly movies show on a park screen on Thursday nights during the summer. It’s ideal for locals who want to experience the mellow side of their hometown.

7. Meet the Mantis.

The Container Park is best-known, however, for the 40 feet tall, 30 feet wide fire-breathing praying mantis that sits at the entrance to the park. This 150:1 scale replica of a praying mantis shoots fire from her antennae, and the flames reach six stories high.

The mantis burns 50 gallons of liquid propane each day while shaking to a 4,000-watt sound system.

8. Summer Isn’t As Bad As You Might Fear …

You’ve probably heard horror stories about the summer heat, which can reach highs of 120 degrees.

It’s not as bad as you imagine. Yes, you’ll definitely want to park your car in the shade. But Vegas is a desert environment where the humidity levels are often less than 5 to 10 percent — and this makes a huge impact during the city’s hottest summer days.

9. But You Might Want to Plan Vacations in July and August.

That said, many locals escape the Vegas heat, venturing north during the summer. They return to enjoy the temperate climate Vegas provides throughout the fall, winter and spring.

10. You’ll Enjoy Low Costs of Living.

Vegas features an ultra-reasonable cost of living, with affordable prices on everything from housing to utilities to groceries as compared to most major cities across the nation. If you’re moving to Vegas from a high-cost city, prepare to feel pleasantly surprised.

11. Flying is Easy.

If you’re a frequent traveler, you’ll have no problem using Vegas as your transit hub. Thanks to Vegas’ popularity as a tourist destination, flights are abundant and cheap.

12. Check out First Friday.

One popular Vegas local destination is the First Friday Art Walk, held on the first Friday of every month in the arts district of DTLV. This event features local food trucks, booths with local artists displaying their wares, and plenty of live music.

13. Head to Downtown Summerlin.

Another popular local destination is Downtown Summerlin, a collection of big-box and national chain retailers and restaurants located in the heart of one of Vegas’ suburbs. This outdoor walking mall doesn’t have the same local flair as the Container Park, but that’s okay – sometimes you want the national brand names.

14. The Traffic is Manageable.

Okay, “manageable” is in the eye of the beholder, but Las Vegas traffic is far less congested than major cities like Los Angeles, Atlanta or Boston. If you’re accustomed to rush-hour gridlock, you’re in for a treat. As a general guideline, though, the worst traffic in Vegas centers around the Strip, as well as a highway intersection near downtown called “spaghetti junction.

15. Our Cultural Centers Are Unique.

Most cities feature art museums or history museums. Vegas is different: our cultural centers include The Mob Museum and The Neon Museum. If you’re looking for a more traditional cultural center, The Smith Center in DTLV features Broadway shows and the Las Vegas Philharmonic.

16. The Clark County Library is Amazing.

You might not associate Las Vegas with libraries, but don’t let the city’s reputation fool you: the Clark County library system is a fantastic resource. The library offers more than a dozen branches across the metro area.

17. Hike Red Rocks, Valley of Fire and Mt. Charleston.

Las Vegas is an excellent base camp for outdoor recreation, and three popular hiking and rock-climbing spots – Red Rock Canyon, Valley of Fire State Park, and Mt. Charleston – are close enough to the city that you could routinely jog there after work.

18. Explore on the Weekends.

Many major national parks, including Grand Canyon and Zion, are located within a 2- to 3-hour drive from Las Vegas, close enough to satisfy any weekend warrior. Buy an annual parks pass for $80 and hit the trails every weekend.

19. Ski Vegas.

You can hit the slopes at Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort, located 35 miles northwest of the city at Mt. Charleston.

Here’s a secret: between the abundant hiking, climbing, camping and skiing opportunities nearby, many Vegas locals enjoy a healthy, outdoor-centered lifestyle.

20. Locals Love Meeting Newcomers.

Two million residents live in metropolitan Las Vegas, many of whom work in the hospitality sector. Maybe that’s why locals are known for being so friendly. Feel free to make eye contact and wave; Vegas locals are easygoing.

After you move to Vegas, you might feel as though you’ve joined a club. You have a shared experience of the city that only other locals understand – and this creates instant camaraderie with Vegas locals that you might meet elsewhere.

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Paula Pant