Welcome to Las Vegas, Land of Surprises – a.k.a. You’re Not Living in a Hangover Movie

red rock canyon

If you’re not from around here, life in southern Nevada may surprise you. We talked to some fellow locals to get their scoop on living in and near a place that non-residents tend to associate with bachelor parties and sales conventions. The truth is, there is far more to Las Vegas and southern Nevada than pop culture would have you believe.

It’s a 24-hour town.

You may never hear the words “last call” or get the blinding overhead lights when you were just about to bust a move on the dance floor. Drink and dance all day and all night if that’s what you’re into. And as you’re leaving in the wee hours of the morning, be prepared for rush hour traffic as the casino workers are driving home from their shifts.

Well, it is the desert.

Southern Nevada is the desert and temperatures are extreme in the desert. Summer days regularly hit 110˚ and winter nights in the cool mid 30s are common. Within a single day you can see a temperature swing of 25˚ from midday to midnight. So, like a Boy Scout, be prepared! Wear layers and pack what you need to stay comfortable in the desert’s varying climate.

The summer in Las Vegas is no joke. Your first year will take some “getting used to”, but it does get easier. Locals do not open their windows in the summer. They stay inside and get their air conditioners checked annually. They also cool their cars before they get in them much like people warm up their cars in the winter in cold climates. Black leather interiors are not advised and avoid parking outside if you can.

Be prepared for flash floods, especially in the summer. Our soil has poor absorption, so when it rains hard, it floods. Do not attempt to drive on flooded roads or walk through flood waters, bad things happen, and you may end up on the nightly news.

The perks of being a tourist, without the fanny pack.

Everything that makes Las Vegas a draw for visitors is also available to locals, often at a huge discount. All the elaborate things casinos have built to attract visitors – high-end shopping malls, aquariums, botanical gardens, art collections, water parks, celebrity chef restaurants — are yours to enjoy as a southern Nevada resident. Locals can often take advantage of free and discounted meals, free shows, access to swimming pools and discounted parking.

Natural beauty, yep we’ve got that.

To the outsider, glitzy high-rise casinos and poker tables may be the first images that come to mind when you say Las Vegas, but locals know there is a wealth of natural beauty and outdoor recreation in our backyard. Sixteen national parks are within driving distance of Las Vegas, including the Grand Canyon, Death Valley and Zion National Park. You can get to the California coast from the Strip in four hours and forests filled with ancient Sequoias are reachable in six. Want winter? Drive an hour north to Mount Charleston and you can hit snow-covered ski slopes. Lake Mead, the Hoover Dam, Red Rock Canyon, Lake Las Vegas and Tule Springs Fossil Beds are among the many nearby recreational and sightseeing options.

Sports for playing and watching.

Las Vegas has mastered man-made recreation, too. The area is a mecca for junior baseball, softball, football and soccer leagues, which can compete outdoors, year-round. There are dozens of golf courses (like 55 last time we counted) plus Top Golf, a quasi-golf/reseort experience. There is also no shortage of sports spectating. Las Vegas hosts the Vegas Golden Knights hockey team at the T-Mobile Arena, the Las Vegas Aces, a WNBA team, and coming soon, the Las Vegas Raiders. The town is also host to top-tier ultimate fighting and boxing events, NASCAR, professional rodeo and bull riding.

We’re an entertainment mecca.

World-class entertainment — from Grammy-award winning singers to comedians to Broadway shows — comes to this city on a regular basis. You don’t need to travel to see your favorite performers because it’s likely Las Vegas is a stop on their tour. There are also some great expositions and international trade shows like CES (consumer technology) and G2E (global gaming). As a local, you get to attend these great events during the day and sleep in your own bed at night. No plane tickets required!

Suburban neighborhoods that feel like home.

The residential communities around Las Vegas offer accessible suburban living with planned communities, parks, schools, restaurants and shopping. Summerlin, Henderson and Southern Highlands (just to name a few) are great places to raise a family, offering a true neighborhood feel that seem much farther from downtown than they actually are.

Southern Nevada is a good place to buy

Smartasset calculated the price-to-rent ratio in 76 U.S. cities. Two southern Nevada cities ranked in the “quite favorable to buy” range with Las Vegas at 19.34 and Henderson at 21.55. Compare those with unfavorable ratios in San Francisco – 45.88 and New York – 35.65.

Post-recession, Nevada home prices have been climbing in recent years. Southern Nevada median home prices were $303,000 in July of 2019 according to the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors. Whether that’s a screaming deal or a little on the stiff side, depends on where you’re moving from, but for the west coast, that’s a good value.

Like any new place, southern Nevada takes some getting used. But if you’re anything like us, you’ll find that it’s a pretty amazing place to live. Just remember to keep sunblock and bottled water in the car. We’ll see you at the buffet. 

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