Are you thinking about moving to Las Vegas, Nevada?
I have lived in Las Vegas for the past 8 years and still find completely enthralled with this lively and easy going city.
Home to 630,000 residents, but mostly known for the iconic Vegas strip, it turns out there’s so much more to daily life in Vegas than the nightlife its known most for.
Las Vegas offers the perks of a big city (tons of restaurants, shows, music venues, etc) while maintaining a manageable and non-overwhelming city feel.
Today I’m sharing my personal list of the honest pros and cons of living in Las Vegas. While reading this, keep in mind that this is a personal list, not everyone will feel the same way about living in Vegas.
With that said, let’s get to it!
Pros & Cons of Living in Las Vegas
Note: This post is part of the Local Living Series, wherein locals share honest insights of living in a specific city through comprehensive pros and cons lists. If you’d like to reach out to the author directly with questions, please do so in the comments below and our team will ensure it gets to the right person.
Let’s cover the pros of living in Las Vegas first
#1. Low cost of living
Las Vegas has a lot of great amenities for a city its size and a relatively reasonable cost of living. This may catch some folks by surprise because affordability may seem counterintuitive in a city like Las Vegas, but hear me out.
By and large, the cost of living in Las Vegas is only 3% higher than the national average, which is striking for a city with more than half a million residents.
I’m currently renting a two-bedroom apartment and paying $1,400 per month. The average cost of a home in Vegas is $364,000, which means buying a home is actually an option for me!
I mean, consider the similarly-sized city (by population) of Portland, Oregon where the cost of living is 29% higher than the national average. Based on firsthand experience, Vegas is definitely an affordable place to live.
#2. There’s never a shortage of things to do
The one thing you’ll learn quickly after moving to Las Vegas is that there’s never a shortage of things to do, and a plethora of places are open 24/7 to boot!
You can catch a show at the Smith Center, enjoy live music or try your luck at a casino. If you’re into the party scene, check out the Strip and Fremont Street.
The nightlife is abundant and the list of events is never-ending so you’ll never have a reason to be bored.
#3. Mild weather
One of my favorite things about living in Las Vegas is that I can get by wearing shorts and t-shirts most of the year.
The winter weather is especially enjoyable and provides a great opportunity to enjoy the awesome outdoor recreation nearby.
We moved from Seattle where winters were especially rainy and grey so the joy of mild winters is not lost on me.
But take note, one thing that has surprised me most since moving to Las Vegas is how windy it is here! Seriously, fall, winter and spring are surprisingly windy so be prepared for that.
#4. The food scene
The food scene is Las Vegas is surprisingly solid, maybe one of the best for a city its size.
This is largely thanks to the tourist hub that is the Vegas Strip, where world-class restaurants pepper every other block. You can find a lot of big-name restaurants in Vegas that originated in larger cities like New York.
Having access to incredible food makes living in Las Vegas easy because you’ll never go hungry.
#5. There’s no state income tax
There’s only 9 states in America without state income tax — and Nevada is one of them, so your take-home pay will be slightly more than if you live in a state with an income tax.
The sales tax in Nevada is 4.6%, coupled with Clark County’s sales tax of 3.78% means you’ll be paying 8.38% in sales tax while living in Vegas.
#6. Access to outdoor recreation
If you’re an adventure nut, you won’t find it hard to enjoy daily life in Las Vegas. You’ll have a ton of great places to choose from, from Red Rock, Lake Mead, Mount Charleston, Valley of Fire and the Colorado River, just to name a few.
What’s more, there’s a handful of national parks in the surrounding area, Bryce Canyon and Zion are just two hours away!
If you don’t want to drive, there’s plenty of great local trails and parks within city limits as well.
#7. The airport
Did you know that there are six airports that serve Las Vegas? Including the 7th busiest airport in America, McCarran International Airport.
Since I travel a lot for work, having an effective international airport within city limits was non-negotiable for me and thankfully Las Vegas delivered.
#8. Traffic isn’t too bad
Considering the nightmare traffic in other cities I’ve lived in, I can confidently say that traffic in Vegas isn’t too bad. A trip across town seldom takes longer than 30-45 minutes, which is hardly worth a mention.
Cons of Living in Las Vegas
#1. The summer heat
Oh man, where to begin? Summers in Las Vegas are brutal with average temperatures hitting 107°. Unlike most US cities, people mostly stay indoors during summer because they don’t want to deal with the heat.
You won’t find yourself socializing too much or enjoying evenings in the park while living in Las Vegas. Stepping outside during most summer days feels like stepping foot into a furnace, which means you can’t take advantage of too much.
The one upside to this con is that the temperature the rest of the year is very pleasant. So even though you won’t be hanging outside during summer, you’ll probably be hiking comfortably during winter while most Americans stay huddled inside.
#2. The city lacks community charm
Okay, I can already hear the frantic and angry keyboards clicking, but hear me out. Based on my personal experience, Las Vegas lacks community charm.
I mean sure, you can find pockets of community while living in Las Vegas, but for the most part folks keep to themselves.
I think of Las Vegas as a transient city, as such, not all folks aren’t keen on sticking around for long and getting to know their neighbors.
However, a lot of people chose to move to Vegas during the pandemic so the tide is slowly shifting.
Since there’s a lot of new faces in the city it might become slightly easier to make friends now, as long as you’re willing to put yourself out there.
#3. The school system
If you’re moving to Las Vegas with kids in tow, brace yourself. Las Vegas’ schools are considered some of the worst in the country. In fact, in 2018, Nevada’s education system was rated worst in America.
The classrooms are crowded, superintendents get hired and dismissed in alarming speed and students pay the ultimate price.
To state it plainly, Nevada has 664 schools and only 13 schools have a graduation rate of 100%.
The poor school system is the major reason I would consider moving out of Las Vegas when I have kids, I can’t take that gamble.
#4. Job opportunities
By and large, the job opportunities in Vegas leave much to be desired. I moved to Vegas because I had a job lined up, but a handful of my new friends regaled me with long tales of the challenge finding a job while living in Vegas.
The majority of Las Vegas’ economy is dependent on the tourism, entertainment and hospitality industry. As such, the workforce is heavily skewed to low paying jobs that don’t require college education.
This means that if you’re moving to Las Vegas with the hopes of securing a gig in technology, medicine of education you’ll find yourself in a challenging spot. Simply put, these just aren’t big industries in Las Vegas.
#5. Lack of public transportation
Frankly put, you can’t live in Las Vegas without a car. There’s a bus system, sure, but it’s not efficient and substantially increases commute time.
#6. Lack of greenery
As you know, Las Vegas has an arid desert climate, which means you won’t see much greenery. As someone that hails from the Pacific Northwest, this was the hardest adjustment for me personally.
The first thing you need to purchase when moving to Las Vegas is this bad boy (trust me, it’s inexpensive and non-negotiable).
#7. You won’t see the stars
You won’t see stars unless you drive further from the downtown core because, according to NASA, Las Vegas is the brightest spot on earth.
Moving to Las Vegas? (Post Summary)
In sum, these are the pros and cons of living in Las Vegas
- Low cost of living
- There’s always something to do
- Mild weather year-round
- The food scene
- No state income tax
- Access to outdoor recreation
- The airport
- Traffic isn’t too bad
- The summer heat
- Lacks community charm
- The school system
- Limited job opportunities
- Lack of public transportation
- There’s isn’t much greenery
- You won’t see stars
And there you have it my friends – a quick roundup of the pros and cons of living in Las Vegas. I hope you enjoyed the post, please don’t hesitate to reach out with questions or suggestions!
Until next time,
this was a nice read and covers a lot of google searches i have done to answer individual questions great article.
sehr gut zusammengefasst:) danke muss in der schule ein referat über las vegas halten.ich heiße übrigens genauso wie du:)
Jorge H Munoz says
Perfect article for me , I lived in queen Anne next to lake union for 27 years. But after my separation from my wife and retired on one income I had to move to green valley, Henderson. Eventhough my condo was paid off, high hoa and taxes. Been here 2 and a half years. To be honest it breaks my heart and if I was still married I would have never come . Fortunately I get to travel alot in the summer. I would love to have a positive attitude like you do on living here . Let’s not forget the water shortage is very serious.
Luz E Carty says
Great information. No better place to get the real deal than from the locals!
I’ve lived in Las Vegas since 1993.
I went from being homeless at age 26 with $400 in my pocket and sleeping in my car for the first three months I lived here to owning a $700,000 home, becoming a registered nurse, getting married and having two wonderful children. That is 29 years of living here. I’ve seen dramatic changes since being here. The most dramatic is the cost of living has skyrocketed. Las Vegas up until about five years ago actually was an extremely inexpensive city to live. I do not partake in any of the casinos. I live in the far Northwest part of town near Centennial Hills which is 20 minutes at least to get to Las Vegas Boulevard. When I come home to my neighborhood it doesn’t even seem like you live in Las Vegas because it’s a suburb far away from all the tourist attractions. It’s extremely hot in the summer and it’s only getting worse. Before I could wait until the middle of May to turn on my air condition, it is now April 9th and my air conditioning and has been on for 2 weeks already. Now for the next five months I’ll be paying $600 a month to cool my 3200 square foot house.
Supposedly the healthcare here is very poor. I am an RN and work in a major trauma center. I’m in my early 50s and I have not seen the negative effects of poor health care as I am healthy. Only time will tell with this one.
But from what I can see, Healthcare is definitely 10 to 15 years behind in Las Vegas compared to other major cities.
Another area of concern is the Clark County School District. It is supposedly the worst in the nation. I don’t know how that’s possible? Look at the poor areas of Mississippi and Louisiana etc., there’s no way our schools are worse than those areas.
Having said that, I have two children, both boys. One is 25 and the other is 20. The 25-year old graduated with high honors from UNLV. It cost about $30,000 total for him to graduate and he’s now working for the justice department as a computer scientist making $100k.He had an excellent education and he went to a magnet school here, The Las Vegas Academy of the Arts which was an amazing performing arts School. (My son played the cello).
My youngest son was valedictorian of Arbor View High School. He is going to the same UNLV School studying computer science and he will also graduate with high honors. This child, luckily, is on a completely free ride because he was valedictorian. So I guess the school district is only what you put into it.
You cannot expect to send your kids to school in the morning and have them come home educated.
It does not work like that. You have to put a lot of work into it yourself. I worked a lot with my children when they were young. ( many many hours per week).
I wanted to move out of Las Vegas for years. Every time I talk to my wife about it there is always an excuse why she cannot leave.
My wife’s excuses, lol, are as follows:
Wait until the kids are done with elementary school then it was Middle School, then it was high school, then it was college and now it is let’s retire first. She loves it here. She loves the hot weather. It just seems like it’s getting so overcrowded here and with global warming it’s getting really really hot. And every empty spec of desert that you see they just keep building more shopping centers, warehouses and residential houses. And don’t forget Lake Mead is almost dried up compared to when I first moved here in 1993. What is Las Vegas going to do when there’s no water left? Are we going to bring water in from somewhere else? We will be paying 10 times the amount for water than we pay now.
ANEESAH FURQAN says
True facts, Jorge! Green Valley is one of the nicest places to live but I get you on the HOA & Taxes!
Steven L Brown says
I really Njoyed reading your pros and cons of Las Vegas, Can’t wait until I retire and relocate there.
Tadjudeen A says
Me and the wife are considering to move here. Like everywhere else, research research and research before we do anything big move like that. You have an enjoyable article and thanks for your input. It would be nice to add more about weather like how often it rains, winter if it snows heavily, etc.
To be fair, I think most places where one lives today will “lack that community charm”……People in an apartment or townhome complex stick to themselves and don’t bother with new neighbors…think this is true in most US cities – large or small
The days are long gone when you move into the neighborhood and someone rings your doorbell with a cake or pie and says “Welcome new neighbor, here’s a delicious pastry for you & yours to enjoy”
Jason H says
For those people talking about “High” HOAs… it’s kind of relative. For example I moved here from Washington DC. My HOA for my TOWNHOUSE was $422/mo. Here we have a great 4000sqft home in a subdivision, and my HOA is $22/mo. I’m also a realtor, very few HOAs have fees higher or equal to where I came from. I’d say “LOW HOAs” are more of a pro than high HOAs being listen as a con.
“How often it rains”… it doesn’t. We used to get monsoon rains in the summer but now it’s going hundreds of days without a measurable rainfall. And maybe a light dusting of snow once every 8-10 years.
David Horn says
Being Life Long Orgoinian’s Far PNW Born and Raised Gay couple of 25 years. Is La Vegas and the area a Friendly place for us to Longterm retire at?
thank you for a great to point no bs article i am young 70ish, my husband a great guy at 62 very heathy. want to retire in vegas. we are non drinkers, non smokers or big gamblers. I worry if our hidden demons would surface; , nonetheless, how much trouble could an older woman get into.
Las Vegas is great if you like gambling, eating and a night life. However, it’s certainly changed through all my 27 years here. Las Vegas’s cost of living is actually higher than many other states. Housing is not cheap. I know someone renting a 600 sq ft apt for $1600. In addition, many places are constantly raising the rent. The average speed on the highway is 80 mph, even on the slow lane. They are constantly building, in the midst of a water shortage. Water bills will probably be increasing in the near future. Nice to live here for a little while, but it has grown into a bustling city ready to burst at the seams.
Carlise Ballinger says
It’s 2022 and most moderate to low income people have been priced out. I moved here in 1988 and now finding myself needing to move because it’s just to expensive, not just housing.
My electric bill has almost tripled, my rental house has been sold and finding anything decent and affordable is out of the question.
My food bill for example has gone from$400. A month to $ 750. not including water or cleaning supplies etc..
As far as racial tension it has never been an issue for me and that’s saying something for a dark skinned American these days.
Schools are not great and my family had some issues there but not from white Americans.
I am really up set, disappointed that I find myself searching for an affordable, safe place for all my family when there is no where else I would rather be.
I love planet Las Vegas and resent that I can no longer afford to live here.
Great comments! I’ve been in LV since 2008. Back then I was single, had just graduated from USC and didn’t know what I was doing with my life. No responsibilities, etc.
Flash forward to now, I have a family (wife and two small kids). One kid is a hair on the Autism Spectrum and is “twice exceptional” (meaning he has a genius level IQ but also because he is on the spectrum and thinks differently, has challenges with behavior/socially in school). He is at a charter school here in LV (Doral) and is in 2nd grade. We are considering moving back to CA mainly to get him exposed to “better schools” – but to your point, I’m not sure how much of that is perception vs reality.
Involved parents are so key. We go back and forth on this (daily). It’s frustrating. When I go to the charter school I’m honestly underwhelmed by the curriculum and can see how it contributes to behavior issues with “gifted” kids being bored. Gifted really is a form of special needs and is as much a curse as a blessing. I’ve also noticed a shift in Vegas that started about 5 years ago when I think LV was at its peak.
The cost of living argument isn’t what it used to be as it’s become much more expensive to live here thanks to the influx of Californians (it seems my entire Summerlin neighborhood is full of SoCal transplants who moved here within the past 5 years). The scenery here is both beautiful and depressing, so much blah browns. My aging parents are in San Diego, I’d be hesitant to move further East for that reason.
Otherwise Florida may be on the table. We thought about San Diego but aren’t sure it’s worth the headache (cost, politics, congestion, etc). LV has yet to diversify its economy away from hospitality/gambling, which means when recessions come (hello 2023) we get crushed here. The healthcare system is a joke, we go to LA for anything important.
Animals and nature says
I was in Las Vegas decades ago for a few months. It really is beautiful and fascinating. The winter’s great, but the summer’s awful. And the stars seem so far away and small. You CAN see them in Vegas, maybe not downtown, though.
I don’t know if it’s still the way it was. It was so long ago. But some 30 years ago, you could walk into a casino and buy a steak sandwich and fries for one dollar! I bought breakfast with a quarter. And drinks are free in a casino, not just alcoholic, but also orange juice for free!
I thought public transportation was going to get better. Just before I left Las Vegas, they said on the news they were going to upgrad public transportation.
Boy this is the way I see Las Vegas. I’ve lived here since 1982, this city was best before the boom started and it was the fastest growing city in the United States.
People were a lot friendlier back then, after 40 years a whole lot of mean people move here lots of them, there was a point where you UNLV played other college teams and the other college teams families move to this Valley. I find most of those people that played on that college team or the people that moved from where that college team came from I really mean like excessively the good about it. It never sleeps if you want something at 1:30 a.m. you can get it. If you want something at 2:00 in the afternoon you can get it.
A 24-hour town is a good thing as far as jobs. I look at a list of jobs everyday, hundreds of them. There’s no reason for you not to work. If you have a college degree you should be more applicable to choose a different career. I don’t find a job seeking a problem here.
I can walk to my corner from where my house is and at least five to seven of the businesses have helped wanted. In a nutshell I would have left your 25 years ago before the boom started. Furniture has changed ! !
V’illa Davis says
The article was written well and it is very informative. It really opened my eyes to the possibility of living in Vegas.