Las Vegas, or Sin City to some, is known for its high-end hospitality and world-class entertainment. For those who live in the Entertainment Capital of the World, however, day-to-day life isn’t all glitz and glamour. 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 need 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 It’s Like Living in Las Vegas
The weather is a hot topic when talking about moving to Las Vegas. While summer is brutally hot in July and August, monsoon storms are a welcomed reprieve from the heat during those hot months.
It doesn’t rain much in Las Vegas. You’ll only see a few inches of it a year, not even enough to grow cactus, but there are plenty of ways to stay cool with water parks and indoor entertainment. 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
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 to 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. You will, however, take more time to find the closest parking spot and your air conditioner will run continuously. Your car will be a hot box and you will sweat – a lot.
They say it’s a dry heat, as in: more like an oven and less like a sauna. Just prepare yourself for it to be hot and dry. Load up on sunscreen, lotion and lip balm.
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.
Summer in Las Vegas brings monsoonal moisture to the area and you’ll see a few thunderstorms along with some very impressive cloud formations that dump a lot of rain in short periods of time. This is a beautiful time of year, but watch out for flooding. Locals deal with their share of it as the flood control system is not quite as good as it should be. Cars and people getting stuck or swept away is a real thing in the Las Vegas Valley.
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.
The People: Las Vegas Locals
The city of Las Vegas has a population of 644,600 per the U.S. Census Bureau, but Clark County Nevada has a total population of more than two million people and growing. According to UNLV’s Center for Business and Economic Research, Nevada’s population grew 8.5 percent from 2011 to 2016, making it the only state with a growth rate of 25 percent or more. It has been the fastest-growing state for the last 50 years.
According to the US Census Bureau, 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” and flights to and from Hawaii are among the best priced in the US.
If you’ve visited Vegas in the past, you’re probably familiar with the tourist corridor. It’s the area along Las Vegas Boulevard where all the hotels are located that gets most of the publicity, 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. 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
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, especially those on 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.
The average cost of a one-bedroom apartment is $810 with a typical family home topping out at around $1,328, per a report by RentRange. One 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 median Las Vegas home price is currently $307,000 according to the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors. Buying a condo or townhome is even more affordable at an average price of $171,250.
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). Bbuilders tend not to build homes with this amenity commonly found in other housing markets. For extra storage space, Las Vegas residents turn to Life Storage 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.
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. The Kaufman Index ranked Las Vegas as the number five destination for startups. Unemployment is at 4.3% according to the BLS.
Education in Las Vegas and Southern Nevada
K through 12 Education
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 also has a number of high performing schools within it that rival some of the strong private and charter offerings. A number of Henderson and Summerlin-area high schools and elementary schools are top-performers.
Best Las Vegas High Schools
Colleges and Universities
The University of Nevada, Las Vegas (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.
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, a young, growing state college, also offers four-year degrees. Learn about nursing, business, communication, the sciences and other disciplines here.
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.
- 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.
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
- Joel Robuchon
- Le Cirque
- Costa Di Mare
- Bazaar Meat by Jose Andres
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
- Flock & Fowl
- Atomic Liquor
- Honey Salt
- Echo and Rig
- Chada Thai
- Eatt Gourmet Bistro
- Abriya Raku
- La Strega
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.
The Las 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.
The Las Vegas Raiders
The NFL’s Oakland Raiders will relocate to Las Vegas soon, calling the new Allegiant Stadium home. With Sin City already being home to its share of California transplants, the team is sure to have no problem filling the seats; and given the Golden Knights success, it only remains to be seen what kind of entertainment will live alongside the NFL action in this city.
Other 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.
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.
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 a variety of sizes and access hours to help smooth the transition.
Update: This post originally published in March of 2018, and was revised on November 20, 2019 with new information from Las Vegas expert Brian Sodoma.