Las Vegas, or Sin City to some, is known for its high-end hospitality and world-class entertainment. However, for those who live in the Entertainment Capital of the World, however, day-to-day life isn’t all glitz and glamour. It’s much more!
You’ll be surprised to learn that Vegas offers its share of friendly suburban neighborhoods and hip downtown historic areas, along with close-to-the-action living spaces that give it a diverse, international flair and uniqueness.
Whether you are moving to Las Vegas to get a fresh start or for a new job, there are things you’ll want to know to make it a smooth transition. After surveying over 100 Las Vegas locals, we compiled some of the best tips to make your move to Las Vegas as easy as possible. Locals will never know you just moved into town once you finish reading our guide to moving to Las Vegas.
Table of Contents:
- Life in Las Vegas
- Best Places to Live
- Cost of Living & Taxes
- Housing & Job Market
What’s it Like Living in Las Vegas
The weather is a hot topic when talking about moving to Las Vegas. You’ve undoubtedly heard all kinds of stories of 110-degree heat and rising.
Let’s face it – 110 is 110. But Vegas has a desert climate, and there is a significant difference between dry heat and humidity. Instead of walking outside and immediately wondering if your deodorant did the trick, you feel the sun on your face. It’s hot but not immediately sweat-inducing.
Winters, on the other hand, can be surprisingly cool, especially in the morning. Mid-day temperatures are often in the 60s or 70s and are perfect for a round of golf. The desert environment has large temperature swings, though, so in the morning don’t be surprised to see temps dipping into the 40s.
What to Wear Living in Las Vegas
Don’t toss all of your nice sweaters just yet. Hot summers and cool winters mean a diverse wardrobe works well in Las Vegas. Yes, you’ll need plenty of summer attire for most of the year, but you’ll want to dress in layers. They’ll accommodate hot temperatures outside and cooler, air-conditioned temps indoors.
During the summer, you won’t shutter your home and live like a hermit because of the heat. However, you might take more time to find the closest parking spot, and your air conditioner will run continuously.
There might be some apprehension about moving to Las Vegas because of three-digit temps. However, locals spend very little time outside without fans, misters, or a pool.
Winters can get cool, and December and January will have their share of cold days. You might need a light winter coat. Average winter high temperatures in Vegas run in the mid-50s to 60s during the day and in the 30s at night.
Fashionistas appreciate the change in the climate. You probably won’t pull out your winter parka. However, you can accessorize with jackets and boots that won’t suffer from salt damage.
When you considered moving to the Vegas area, you probably heard endless references to the dry heat. It’s more like an oven and less like a sauna. You’ll get used to it in no time and might even embrace it, especially if you’re getting away from six months of snow shovels and ice scrapers.
As a new resident, you’ll want to be prepared, though. Sunscreen, a good lotion, and lip balm are necessities.
But there’s one tip that we consider to be the most valuable to anyone visiting or moving to Las Vegas – drink plenty of water. When you think you’ve had your fill, drink more. Dehydration is common, especially when you’re getting used to the dry climate, and it’s not fun.
Spring & Fall
From March through early May and September through November in Las Vegas, the weather is about as good as it gets. Spring and fall are when the locals say, “This is why we moved here!”
Your windows will be open, light sweaters will come out at night and the sunshine will be bright and plentiful during the day. You’ll need sunscreen, but that’s only because you will love to be outdoors.
Rain? What’s Rain?
It doesn’t rain much in Las Vegas. You’ll only see a few inches of it a year, not even to grow a cactus.
Summer in Las Vegas occasionally brings monsoonal moisture to the area. You’ll see a few thunderstorms along with some imposing cloud formations that dump a lot of rain quickly.
It’s a welcome respite, as rainy days are rare, but watch out for flooding. Every few years or so, locals deal with their share of it as the flood control system needs some work. Cars and people getting stuck or swept away is a real thing in the Las Vegas Valley.
The People: Las Vegas Locals
According to the US Census Bureau, the city of Las Vegas’ population is well over 650,000 and rising, but that only scratches the surface.
In 2020, the population in the Las Vegas metro area reached 2,699,000, up 2.98% from 2019. That solidified Vegas’s position as the second fastest-growing city in the US, just under Greenville, South Carolina.
The US Census Bureau also confirms that Las Vegas is about 43% White, 31% Hispanic, 12% Black, 10% Asian, and 4% other. There is a large population of Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders. That’s why Las Vegas is often referred to as the “Ninth Island.” Flights to and from Hawaii are among the best priced in the US. You might consider inexpensive flights another perk of moving to Las Vegas.
If you’ve visited Vegas in the past, you’re probably familiar with the tourist corridor. It’s the area along Las Vegas Boulevard that gets most of the publicity because of mega-resorts like the MGM Grand, Bellagio, and The Venetian. But it’s just a small part of what Las Vegas life is all about.
Locals don’t spend a lot of time here because everything you need and want can be found right in your neighborhood and at lower prices. However, if you love world-class food and top-notch entertainment, you may still visit the Strip, especially when out-of-town guests come to visit.
The Best Places to Live in Las Vegas
When you’re moving to Las Vegas or anywhere new, it’s challenging to figure out where to look for housing when you’re not familiar with the area.
Neighborhoods Circle the Strip
You can think of Las Vegas as a large circle with the Strip running vertically through the middle. East of it, you get a touch of old Vegas with some trendy neighborhoods featuring homes from the 1960s (considered rare in Sin City). There are also the Green Valley and Henderson areas, Nellis AFB, and Lake Las Vegas.
West of the Strip, you’ll find Summerlin, Southern Highlands, and Mountains Edge. North Las Vegas and the downtown area lean more toward the east but slightly overlap.
Best Neighborhoods for Single People
Being single in Las Vegas means you may be dancing at Stoney’s Rockin Country Bar at Town Square or meeting friends for drinks at Public School in Downtown Summerlin, or even engaging with entrepreneurs in downtown historic neighborhoods. Where you rest your head is just as important.
Our survey ranked these neighborhoods as the best places for singles in Las Vegas:
- Downtown Summerlin
- Downtown near Arts District
- Downtown near Container Park
- Lone Mountain
Best Neighborhoods for Retirees
Retiring in Las Vegas is attractive because of the low cost of living and the ability to lead an active lifestyle in good weather. The people we surveyed found these five neighborhoods to be among the best for those looking to retire in Southern Nevada. They are appreciated by retirees for their cleanliness, proximity to golf courses, shopping and numerous neighborhood amenities that retirees love:
- Sun City
- Green Valley
Best Neighborhoods for Families
Safety and quality schools drive the conversation when looking for a good community for your family. Each of these neighborhoods has many family-friendly amenities:
- Green Valley
- Centennial Hills
- Southern Highlands
- Seven Hills
- Anthem/Anthem Highlands/Madeira Canyon
Learn more about these neighborhoods in our neighborhood guide: These Are The Best Neighborhoods in Las Vegas
Taxes and Cost of Living in Las Vegas, Nevada
There is no state tax in Nevada! If you’re moving from a state with high taxes, that alone will make you feel like a winner.
While the cost of living in Las Vegas is relatively low, it is important to understand that salaries are also lower than in many major cities. That’s particularly true compared to the east and west coasts. The average salary in Las Vegas, according to Payscale, is approximately $60K which is right at the national average. Compare that to the average in Los Angeles at $74K, San Francisco at $94K, and New York City at $74K.
Compare Rent When Moving to Las Vegas
The average rental of a one-bedroom apartment has increased over the past few years but is still just slightly over $1,100. On the other hand, the average cost to rent a one-bedroom apartment in LA is $1,949. You can easily double that for an actual single-family dwelling.
San Francisco is much more expensive at $3,257 for a one-bedroom rental. So, as you can see, those lower wages are also matched with lower housing costs. You don’t need to make as much in Las Vegas to enjoy a comfortable living.
The Housing and Job Market
Las Vegas Housing Market
Mortgage payments in the Las Vegas area tend to be slightly higher than monthly rent payments, according to Bankrate.com.
But buying is always better,” says Sean Balasuriya, Las Vegas Real Estate pro. “People usually stay at least two or more years in a rental. All that rent could be building equity in a bought property.”
Rent is affordable in Las Vegas compared to the national average and when directly compared with other major U.S. cities. The Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors lists the median Las Vegas home price currently just under $400,000. Buying a condo or townhome is even more affordable at an average price of $171,250.
Why Storage is Essential Before and After Moving to Las Vegas
For those moving from the east coast or Midwest, you may be surprised to learn that most Las Vegas homes do not have basements. The soil in this desert is not ideal for deep digging (unless you’re building a resort, of course). Builders tend not to build homes with this amenity commonly found in other housing markets. For extra storage space, residents turn to self-storage units in Las Vegas to store seasonal and other belongings.
Las Vegas Job Market
It was once said that some of the wealthiest people in Vegas were valet attendants at the luxury hotels.
That’s less the case today, as Southern Nevada’s economy is much more diverse. Other industries such as aerospace, health and information technology are now finding their footing in the Silver State. That said, tourism is still the dominant employment category, with health care and social assistance coming in second.
Employment Beyond Tourism
In 2016, 44 percent of the total workforce was supported by tourism. However, of the top 25 employers in Nevada, only 11 are hotels or casinos. As much as the city’s economy is dictated by tourism, the opportunity to work outside that industry is still very good. The rejuvenated housing market and the expansion of existing resorts mean construction jobs are growing again as well.
Education in Las Vegas and Southern Nevada
There are a number of opportunities for families looking for the right school for their children. Southern Nevada has public, private, charter and magnet schools serving its youth.
The Clark County School District is one of the most diverse school districts in the state. It boasts some well-reputed schools rivaling some of the strong private and charter offerings. Many Henderson and Summerlin-area high schools and elementary schools are also top performers.
Best Las Vegas Colleges and Universities
The University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV)
UNLV is located in the heart of the city. It is home to one of the top hospitality schools in the country. The research university, ranked by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, is among only 130 universities nationwide to receive a “very high research activity” status. UNLV offers bachelor and advanced degrees in a variety of disciplines and recently opened a medical school.
College of Southern Nevada (CSN)
The College of Southern Nevada supports the university system by offering associate’s and bachelor’s degrees as well as prerequisite courses needed for transfer to a university. The cost is a fraction of the university price. The school has two campuses and numerous satellite extension facilities.
Nevada State College (NSC)
NSC, a young, growing state college, also offers four-year degrees. Learn about nursing, business, communication, the sciences, and other disciplines at this Henderson-based institution.
For more details on schools in Las Vegas, see our article on moving to Las Vegas with kids:
Getting Around Las Vegas
The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC) oversees public transportation in the city. Through the years, RTC has expanded service out of the urban core and to the far suburbs. While it may not be as robust as you might find in some more established urban environments, it is improving as the city continues to expand.
Traffic & Driving Tips for Vegas Residents
There isn’t a lot of traffic in Vegas, but getting around will take some navigation skills. Here are the best driving tips, as voted on by the locals in our survey:
- The Spaghetti Bowl, just northwest of Downtown Las Vegas, is where the I-15, I-515, US 93, and US 95 merge. Avoid this area during rush hour if possible.
- Do not try to drive on Las Vegas Blvd. If you’re going to a show on The Strip or meeting a friend at a resort, check traffic and get a feel for how much or little you’ll need to be on I-15. Then find the right street exit to get to the resort. To the East of The Strip, Koval Lane runs parallel to Las Vegas Boulevard. It provides some good opportunities to get into resorts on the East side of the resort corridor.
- Locals heading to the Strip from the south use the Frank Sinatra Boulevard exit off of the I-15. It runs behind casinos like Mandalay Bay and Caesars Palace so that you can avoid Las Vegas Boulevard from the west side as well.
- Avoid the I-15, especially after 3:30 pm. The I-215 Beltway which goes around the city is a better option. You still need to watch traffic flows before you use it though.
- Both I-15 and US 95 are busy during typical morning rush hour commutes.
- When you use the I-15, you’ll notice that speed limits change as you travel adjacent to the Strip. Keep a lookout for frequent signs, as you could go from 55 to 35 in the blink of an eye.
Best Restaurants for Vegas Locals
The Las Vegas food scene is impressive and it is as good as in any big city. That includes LA, NYC and San Francisco. As much as you may not want to rub shoulders with 43 million tourists – they may be onto something.
Best Restaurants On The Strip
And don’t forget, there’s tons to taste off The Strip. Just west of Las Vegas Boulevard, on Spring Mountain Road, is a rich collection of Asian cuisine in Las Vegas’ own Chinatown. Popular neighborhoods in Summerlin and Henderson, as well as the revived downtown scene, all have something different and creative as well.
Best Restaurants Not On The Strip
- Other Mama
- Sparrow and Wolf
- Honey Salt
- Echo and Rig
- La Strega
- Herbs & Rye
- Nora’s Italian Cuisine
Your new hometown has endless options for entertainment. Even if you stay off The Strip, you’ll soon discover all the reasons why locals love Las Vegas. The Smith Center, the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, music festivals and touring shows, there’s always something to see and do in the Entertainment Capital.
Las Vegas Attractions
The Smith Center for the Performing Arts
The Smith Center for the Performing Arts is located in Downtown Las Vegas. It’s a world-class performing arts center and home to the Las Vegas Philharmonic and the Nevada Ballet Theatre. Broadway shows, intimate jazz performances and seasonal performances round out a calendar of events to rival any major city.
Cirque Du Soleil
Much like the world-class dining found on the Las Vegas Strip, some entertainment requires a trip to Las Vegas Blvd. Cirque du Soleil is one of those attractions. Mystere, O, the BEATLES Love, Michael Jackson ONE are just some of the memory-makers Cirque offers.
Soon after you move to Las Vegas you’ll discover that this valley has a rich natural history. Before the bright lights, settlers looking to move west made this area their home. The Springs Preserve and its interactive exhibits not only narrate the history of the region but also explain how the area is adapting today. This family-friendly attraction offers outdoor trails as well as indoor exhibits and a large calendar of community events.
If you’re moving to Las Vegas with young children, the Discovery Children’s Museum is home to many interactive exhibits kids love. While the exhibits are geared to the younger population, adults find plenty of things to do here, too.
NHL Hockey – Vegas Golden Knights
The Vegas Golden Knights have turned Sin City into a hockey town. The arena is loud and the intensity in the crowd is just as high as it is on the ice. This expansion team has taken the city by storm and it’s hard not to become a loyal fan after visiting the arena and seeing this only-in-Vegas experience first-hand.
NFL Football – Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders are here! NFL’s Oakland Raiders followed through on their plans to move to Las Vegas. Now, the Las Vegas Raiders call the new Allegiant Stadium home.
While the Raiders are a hot ticket, you can see what the new arena looks like as you travel the I-15. You can’t miss the giant dome on the opposite side of the highway from Mandalay Bay.
Outdoor Recreational Opportunities
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Area is home to a lot of natural beauty. On the east side of the city, near the border of Arizona, the Lake Mead National Recreation Area is home to miles of hiking and biking trails, camping and the historic Hoover Dam.
The lake itself is popular for boating, water and jet skiing. Visitors also enjoy walking through and having lunch at the pleasant, historic sleepy town of Boulder City, which you can pass through on your way to and from Lake Mead.
Red Rock Canyon
On the west side of town, outdoor enthusiasts enjoy hiking, bird-watching and nature reveling at the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. You can go horseback riding and take a hiking tour or enjoy the 13-mile scenic drive inside the gorgeous Mojave Desert conservation area.
And to many new residents’ surprise, ski slopes are closer than you’d think, even though you’re moving to a desert. Only a 30- to 45-minute drive from most Las Vegas-area homes is the ski resort known as Lee Canyon near the top of Mt. Charleston, just northwest of Las Vegas. In the summer, it’s a pleasant reprieve from the heat with plenty of hiking trails. In the wintertime, the area is home to sledders, skiers and snowboarders. After a full day on the slopes, you’re only 45 minutes from the moderate winter temperatures of the desert. It’s the perfect way to enjoy both summer and winter for those who like to get away from the city hustle and bustle.
When you move to Las Vegas, you’ve got access to some of the top designers in the world, showcasing their latest collections in the mega-resorts on the Strip.
However, most locals save shopping (like dining) on Las Vegas Boulevard for special occasions. That’s why you’ll want to get to know two major outdoor retail centers.
You’ll find Downtown Summerlin located on the west side of the city, right behind the Red Rock Casino-Resort on Charleston and the 215.
It features indoor and outdoor dining and top retailers, like Apple, Dillard’s, and Nordstrom Rack. Additionally, it’s the home of the Las Vegas Ballpark for Triple-A minor league baseball action. Plus, the Vegas Golden Knights team practices at City National Arena – all within walking distance.
More centrally located, you have a similar type of fresh air shopping destination south of Mandalay Bay on Las Vegas Boulevard and Sunset Road. Town Square Las Vegas is popular with both locals and tourists.
You can dine outside at Brio or Lazy Dogs, grocery shop at Whole Foods, and see a movie. For retail therapy, you’ve got Saks Off 5th, Sephora, Ulta, and Tommy Bahama. If you still have energy to burn, Stoney’s Rockin’ Country has the ideal music for a bit of two-steppin’.
Outlets and More
Las Vegas also boasts two outlet shopping centers. One is north of the strip, and the other is a few miles south. While indoor malls aren’t quite the rage they used to be, there are still a few open for business. Fashion Show Las Vegas on the Strip is the best around, though. It’s the largest indoor mall in the area, not housed in a casino.
Are You Moving to Las Vegas?
After hearing it from the locals, we hope you are as excited as we are about moving to Vegas. We know the process of relocating to a new city can be stressful though. That’s why we offer self-storage rentals in Las Vegas in a variety of sizes and access hours to help smooth the transition.
- This post was originally published on March 15, 2018.
- It was revised on November 20, 2019, with new information from Las Vegas expert Brian Sodoma.
- It was revised on May 23, 2021, with new information from Las Vegas expert Lu Ann Wall.