If you are new to Nevada, welcome! We have assembled a few helpful tips and some sage (Get it? Sage?) advice for those who are new to the northern part of the Silver State.
Say it like a native.
Nevadans are a friendly bunch and one of the friendliest things we can do is advise you on how to pronounce the name of your new state. It’s “Nev-AD-a,” not “Nev-AH-da.” This is not a small point. Saying it incorrectly immediately identifies you as an outsider and someone who doesn’t appear to care about the state. Seriously, it makes news when people say it wrong.
Know your geography.
This is a problem predominantly for people who have never been to northern Nevada, not those who live here, but there is an assumption that the whole state is Las Vegas. It’s not. Las Vegas is a large, metropolitan city with many high rises and famous casinos. Northern Nevada is more rural, our population centers are more spread out, and our high rises are few. While there are casinos across the state, both northern and southern Nevadans will likely tell you, casino culture does not define us.
We may or may not have any traffic
If you’re coming from California, we don’t have any traffic.
If you’re coming from a small town in the Midwest, we have some traffic. Like from 7:45 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.. On some roads. When it comes to negotiating our roads, however, be advised we have a mix of drivers and capabilities.
Some know how to use traffic circles (aka “roundabouts,” a relatively new addition to the Nevada landscape), others are still on the learning curve. Some understand how to merge onto the highway, others are confounded by the idea of approaching “highway speed.” And when it snows — and it will — there are those who know how to drive in it and those who do not (more on that below). Those who do not, either a) drive too fast causing accidents, or b) drive too slow causing accidents.
It snows here.
Every winter, at some point, it will snow. Some years it’s feet of snow right in town that lasts for weeks. Other years, it just a dusting here and there that mostly melts off by noon. You will need snow boots, a windshield scraper and a snow shovel handy between October and April. Mark our words, if you put it away in March, you will have to dig it out again.
When snow and/or ice cover our roads, driving conditions change. These “winter driving conditions,” require slower speeds and more room for braking. Heed them and be prepared for others on the road who don’t (see above). While having a 4WD/AWD vehicle in northern Nevada is not a necessity, if you plan to drive over the pass – aka head west into the mountains and or through them on the way to California – 4WD/AWD is highly recommend. Have you ever chained up on the side of a highway in a blizzard? Not fun. With 4WD/AWD or snow tires, you won’t have to.
One important note. Having 4WD/AWD does not make you invincible, no matter what the commercials lead you to believe. You still have to drive slowly and watch out for other drivers. And 4WD/AWD doesn’t help when you’re driving on ice.
The weather changes. Often abruptly.
The weather in northern Nevada is fickle.
Temperatures in a day can fluctuate tremendously – you may start watching a soccer game in a t-shirt and end it needing snow pants. And it is not unusual to have a week in the 60s followed by a week in the 20s. In December or April.
On the upside, the sun shines a lot.
And compared to the east coast and midwest, our winters are downright mild. Even when it gets cold, the sun tends to shine, and it’s not damp, so you don’t get that bone-chilling winter cold.
Houses are a bargain (or not).
While the affordability of northern Nevada housing depends largely on where you’re coming from and what you have been paying, our housing prices are going up and supply is tight, even as builders ramp up production. If you want to buy, we recommend you get on it sooner rather than later. The median price for a single-family home in Reno-Sparks recently reached $370,000 – that prices may seem low, if you’re coming from California or Miami or New York – but it’s a record high for us and economists think it’ll keep going up for a few years.
Again, if you’re coming from California (as many of our new residents are), you’ll enjoy utility costs that are about 1/3 what you were paying. Not to mention no state income tax, woo!
Get help choosing the right neighborhood.
With the housing supply tightening, you may be tempted to get what you can, where you can. But recognize that where you live will greatly impact your quality of life, so don’t be hasty. Sit down with a qualified local real estate professional to figure out your priorities – work commute, school ranking, open space, access to services, etc. Finding the ‘right place’ may well be worth the wait.
Take advantage of what makes this area special.
If you’re a skier, camper, hiker, mountain biker or kayaker, you likely know you’re moving to outdoor recreation nirvana. If you’re not, check out what you’ve been missing. Northern Nevada is unique in its accessibility to world-class recreation, so why not try something new? From exploring trails on Peavine Mountain north of Reno to kayaking the Truckee River to hitting the slopes at a local ski resort, adventure is close at hand.
Beyond our recreation, there are historic, cultural and gastronomic delights as well and many of them are summarized in the fun book, 100 Things To Do In Reno Before You Die.
What you’ll discover here in northern Nevada, and how you feel about it, depends very much on where you’re coming from and what you’re used to. But we sure like it here and we’re glad you’ve come. Now, sshhhh, don’t go spreading the word about how awesome this area is or we’ll be overrun.
Stay tuned for a future blog, when we explore all the things that make southern Nevada unique. Spoiler – it’s not just about the casinos.