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What surprises are waiting for you in Las Vegas? Hear what it’s like to be a local from a local.

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So you’re moving to Las Vegas! Everyone, even those who only know Sin City from movies and TV shows, know what comes with Las Vegas. Parties, celebrities, neon lights, $1 shrimp, UFC fighters, hot weather, The Strip… “What Happens Here Stays Here” is the city’s motto for a reason.

But what happens when you arrive without a return ticket? What about if YOU’RE the one staying “here”? There are some surprising things to know before moving to Las Vegas–a city designed to be a playground, such as…

1. Your group of friends will instantly increase exponentially.

The moment you announce that you’re moving to Las Vegas people will take a sudden interest in your life, many of whom you haven’t spoken to since grade school. They may need a place to stay, a comp experience, or help getting to the front of the line.

It’s great to show your out-of-town friends the perks of a Las Vegas life – but don’t feel obligated. Sometimes your response to their text should simply be a link to a website with discounted hotel rates.

Things to Know Before Moving to Las Vegas - Traffic

2. You will drive a taxi or be a babysitter.

You might not be paid to drive a taxi, but with so many people working in the food and beverage industry as well as in entertainment, there is a good chance that their children will need rides. These will be your new friends and neighbors, and neighbors pitch in and help each other out.

Soon you will be driving four kids to soccer practice and helping out with homework. Don’t worry, the perks of this are that date nights get real interesting when your child’s best friend has a dad that is the general manager of the best restaurant in town.

Things to Know Before Moving to Las Vegas - Blue Skies on the City Line

3. Las Vegas is a “real” city.

Las Vegas is home to doctors, accountants, lawyers, plumbers, manufacturing plants, a medical school and even a professional hockey team! Not everyone lives or works in a hotel or a casino.

The city has its share of traffic snarls and seedy neighborhoods. The DMV is always crowded and they will charge you anywhere from $250-500 to register your car each year.

4. You’ll keep the reputation you earn.

For as big of a city as it may seem, Las Vegas metro has fewer than 2 million residents and it feels even smaller when you realize everyone knows everyone. Chances are, the people you work with will become the people you play with, and soon enough you’ll be working with people who were competitors who will become friends.

It takes one or two phone calls from a potential boss, date or friend to check up on anyone who has been in Las Vegas for more than a year, so work your butt off to make sure you like what’s being said on the other end of the phone. It’s like the old adage that you meet the same people going up as down. In Las Vegas, it turns into a spiral of the same people again and again.

No one cares what college you went to, where you grew up or what your last job was. What matters is what your last project was, how well you’re working for the success of your current project and what’s next. You’ll be surprised to learn how many high power executives started as line cooks, some who don’t have college degrees. The moment you assume you have a leg up because of your pedigree is when the other guy hustling will pass you by. You will also be shocked that at morning drop-off at the elementary school, nobody really cares about how expensive your car was. They just want to get their kids to school so that they can race off to work as well.

Things to Know Before Moving to Las Vegas - The Weather

5. Change your definition of the seasons.

Las Vegas is so hot in the summer (think 120 degrees) that you’ll avoid going outdoors. Locals spend summer going from one air-conditioned space to another. The best time to enjoy the outdoors is spring and fall, which is also when your garden will bloom should you choose to plant one.

Winter is also mild, although be prepared for a dusting of snow every other year or so. If you need snow, Mt. Charleston gets enough to open the local ski hill for a few weeks each winter.   Wind can be incredibly strong all year, sometimes creating haboobs (dust storm), which are both scary and beautiful.

Because of the weather, you’ll also need to keep closer tabs on your car. A car battery only lasts a couple of years in this kind of heat, so keep your warranty in your glove box to redeem when your car dies. Most casinos can give you a jump if needed, but keeping jumper cables in your car will help you or a new friend. The air is so dry that the rubber parts of your car will wear out more quickly.

On the bright side, a byproduct of very little rain means that your pets will not have a flea problem since there is very little water to help fleas flourish.

6. Las Vegas’ bedrock changes everything: storage, gardening and rainstorms.

Las Vegas is largely built on hard bedrock. This means that virtually no homes have basements and many people rent storage units or use their garage for storage. This hard ground also means that digging deep holes in your garden is next to impossible. Lastly, the ground doesn’t absorb water so when monsoons burst through the desert, the roads will flood, made worse by the water running off the mountains that surround Las Vegas. Prepare yourself for the phone call from your babysitter about a flood in your backyard.

7. There are tanning salons everywhere.

It doesn’t make sense that a city known for its sunshine has so many tanning salons, but it’s so hot that to have a tan in the summer most go to the tanning salon or get spray tans. Keep this in mind when you walk in for parent conferences and your child’s second-grade teacher has an orange hue to his skin. These tanning beds seem to be on every street corner so if you like to work on your color you should have no problem finding one.

Things to Know Before Moving to Las Vegas - Outdoor Activities

8. Get ready to enjoy the outdoors.

Las Vegas has some of the best and most diverse selection of outdoor activities, all within about a thirty-minute drive. Rock-climb, road bike or hike in Red Rock Canyon. Water-ski, wakeboard or kayak on Lake Mead. Mountain bike, hike, horseback ride or even ski at Mt. Charleston, some seasons even into late spring. Starting the day skiing on the mountain and ending poolside is a pretty fun way to spend a day.

9. Grocery stores have it all.

Depending on where you’re moving from, this could be major. Grocery stores in Las Vegas not only sell beer and wine (full proof, not the 3.2% stuff) but also liquor. And, like everything else, they are open 24 hours. It makes it your one-stop shop. Some even do tastings of wines in the evenings led by incredibly knowledgeable sommeliers. Soon you’ll have a “guy” at your local store, pointing you in the right direction and even saving you a few bottles of things you might like that are going fast.

10. Yes, there are slot machines everywhere. No, you won’t notice it.

You land at McCarran; slot machines greet you. You run into the gas station for a slushy; slot machines on the left. The grocery store has slot machines that are somehow always occupied.  You think it’s a nuisance at first, but before you know it; you’ll be walking through a different airport and realize you miss the constant dings coming from the slots. It’s like the lullaby for a Las Vegas local.

11. Friday nights are NOT what you and your friends back home will expect…

Las Vegas is the city that never sleeps. This is true on weekdays too. With events and parties and work obligations, it’s likely you’ll be out late every school night. Come Friday, the overwhelming majority of locals are in loungewear, at someone’s house with a few bottles of wine and take out, rehashing and recovering from the week. Or, just as likely, you’re asleep on the couch by 8:30 with whatever show you were so excited to catch up on running in the background and your dinner barely touched.

If you have kids, well, you’ll be at late practices because once the sun goes down the temperatures are more bearable. Take a nap in the early afternoon because your late nights will consist of sitting on the sideline cheering on your kids.

12. …unless you’re meeting someone from out of town.

If you have friends visiting and you’re going to meet up with them, do it the first night they get in which is usually Friday. Countless times a group comes in and you’ll have plans to meet up with them Saturday, but they go too hard Friday night and/or at the pool parties Saturday (rookie mistake) and you’re stuck trying to have fun with low-energy friends nursing hangovers over pizza and Gatorade. If family is coming into town, you can be sure that you will have to babysit because they have an agenda and it often does not include you.

Things to Know Before Moving to Las Vegas - Pool Chairs

13. Take advantage of being a local.

Almost every tourist spot has local deals. Take advantage of living in one of the most sought-after cities in the world by booking the spa treatment, seeing the show, going to the museum or riding the tourist attractions. There are usually stipulations on days or times, but businesses want you to experience what they’re offering: 1.) out of the kindness of their hearts and 2.) so you’ll recommend their spot next time someone comes to visit.

Read Also: The 5 Best Places to Gamble in Vegas After Moving There

Things to Know Before Moving to Las Vegas - Your Vices May Be Exploited

14. Your vice will be exploited.

This reminder is obvious, but also potentially life-saving. Las Vegas is a wonderful city full of interesting people and the opportunity to do almost everything. Whatever your vice is, it WILL be exploited. Whether it’s shopping, food, gambling, the list goes on. Check in with yourself every now and then to make sure you’re taking advantage of living in Las Vegas, and it’s not taking advantage of you.

Be safe, have fun. Viva Las Vegas!

About the Author

Zeke Quezada

Zeke Quezada is a Southern California based travel writer who has been covering Las Vegas for the past 15 years as the Expert and Guide at About.com/TripSavvy.com. He is the author of "Restaurants in Las Vegas: The Best for Less." From his early visits as a child to his brief but eventful time as a resident of the Las Vegas valley, Zeke has experienced the growth of the city from a dusty tourist destination to a sprawling quasi-metropolis. He claims the Vegas Golden Knights as his second favorite hockey team but Las Vegas as his first favorite food city.

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