Why You Should Think Twice About Moving to Las Vegas

Las Vegas, NV is a fantastic place to live — but it also carries significant drawbacks.  

Las Vegas features more than 300+ days of sunshine per year, breathtaking hiking, rock climbing, skiing and camping, easy access to a busy international airport, top-notch restaurants and entertainment, an open-minded local population and a growing community of artists, entrepreneurs and young professionals.

The city also features a reasonable cost-of-living —the median home value is $207,800 and median rent is $1,200 per month— and zero state income tax.

“Vegas reminds me of what Denver or Austin used to be like, before they got crowded and expensive,” says William Sisk, 37, who moved to downtown Vegas to enjoy living in the West without paying the high cost-of-living of other areas.

That said, living in Las Vegas also holds drawbacks. Before you pack your bags and move to Sin City, consider these con’s alongside the many pro’s.

Limited Job Opportunities

While Las Vegas residents enjoy a low cost-of-living, they also tend to earn lower wages than their counterparts living elsewhere. They also face fewer job opportunities in certain industries.

Workers in the Las Vegas-Henderson metro area earn an average hourly wage of $20.23, about 13 percent lower than the national average of $23.23, according to 2015 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Many jobs in the Las Vegas area are related to the restaurant and food service industry. Food preparation and serving accounts for 15.8 percent of local employment, significantly higher than the national average of 9.1 percent, and bartenders are employed at 3.2 times the national average.

Yet occupations in fields like education, healthcare, architecture, engineering and production trail the national average. Jobs within business and financial operations, for example, comprise 5.1 percent of employment nationwide, but only 3.3 percent in Las Vegas — a decline of 35 percent.

The takeaway? Depending on your industry, you may have a tough time finding work in Las Vegas. You may also land a job that pays less than you’d earn elsewhere.

Overall Crime and Unemployment

The violent crime rate in Las Vegas is among the highest in the nation, according to an analysis of FBI crime data by NeighborhoodScout. The website estimated that a person’s chances of being a victim of violent crime in Las Vegas is 1 in 107.

Las Vegas also has one of the highest rates of vehicle theft, with a person’s chances of getting their car stolen at 1 in 196.

Yet there’s a small silver lining: as compared to comparably-sized cities nationwide, Las Vegas’ crime rate is “noticeably lower than the average,” NeighborhoodScout reports. In other words, Las Vegas holds a high crime rate as compared to nationwide cities and towns of all sizes, but a low crime rate as compared to communities of its same size.

The crime rate is worth paying attention to when choosing a neighborhood in which to live.

Historically, Las Vegas is a city characterized by suburban sprawl. Recently, however, the Downtown Las Vegas (DTLV) community has begun growing, bringing art walks, food trucks, farmers markets and other local community events and culture to the area.

Yet pedestrian-friendly urban living in Las Vegas is limited to only one neighborhood: downtown or nothing.

Unfortunately, downtown is burdened by high crime rates, poor schools and a scarcity of jobs. AreaVibes.com gives downtown Vegas an “F” in crime, stating that the overall crime rate is 144% higher than the national average. The website also notes that downtown’s unemployment is 10 percent higher than the national average.

Las Vegas residents must choose between a car-dependent suburban lifestyle, where they’ll enjoy better schools and safer neighborhoods, or an urban lifestyle accompanied by crime and unemployment.

Rampant Opportunity for Vices

Let’s face it: Las Vegas is known for its vices. The city offers 24/7 access to gambling, drinking, and other activities that can consume a person’s lifestyle. More than a few people have found their lives spiraling out-of-control in Sin City.

Video poker machines, in particular, are prevalent across Las Vegas; many local grocery stores feature video poker rooms near the store entrance.  

These video poker machines are described as the “crack cocaine of gambling,” a charge that its own inventor does not dispute.  William “Si” Reed, the creator of the modern video poker machine, urged gambling addicts to leave Nevada if necessary, according to the Las Vegas Sun.

If you have a predisposition for gambling or alcohol addiction, Las Vegas may not be the most nurturing environment.

It’s Hot AF

Las Vegas features a moderate climate through most of the year. The average low temperatures in December and January hover around 39 degrees, making Las Vegas an ideal climate for those who want to escape the cold northern winters.

Spring and fall are mild, with April featuring average lows of 55 degrees and highs of 77 degrees. October, with average lows of 59 degrees and highs of 82 degrees, mirrors this pleasant climate.

Yet the summer months can be brutal, with average highs in June, July and August above 100 degrees. Locals are quick to point out that Las Vegas features dry heat.

“This is nothing compared to Houston,” said Siobhan Norton, a Texas resident who visited Las Vegas in summer 2016 and described the heat as “not as bad” as she had expected.    

Yet July’s average 105 highs are uncomfortable, even in the driest conditions.

Perhaps that’s emblematic for Vegas. If you can’t take the heat, along with the intensity that comes from living in this city, you may want to live elsewhere. But if you welcome the challenge, Las Vegas is full of surprises.

Paula Pant