For years, Nevada has consistently been among the top states that people move to in the United States. Maybe this is because the landlocked desert and mountain state was so empty to begin with. It simply has the space to accommodate new people moving to Nevada.
As someone who lived in the state for two years, I can honestly say that Nevada has some appealing characteristics and definitely some downsides. Culturally, its residents are honest and forthright. They feel free to be themselves. I regard this as a positive, so you don’t really have to worry about being able to fit in. As you ponder moving to a new state, here’s the good, bad, and ugly about the Silver State.
1. Southern Nevada Is REALLY Hot
If you’re thinking of moving to Nevada, chances are you’re looking at Southern Nevada where the bulk of the state’s population live in the Las Vegas metro area. You will be in a very hot desert climate.
Expect four to five months of temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit every day. The bare desert landscape and concrete jungle of the city absorb heat and the land stays very hot overnight. Overnight lows might get down into the 80s. Maybe. Overall, you have to take the heat very seriously due to the extreme danger that it poses.
The fall and spring months will be largely pleasant with 70 and 80 degree weather although days over 90 degrees would not be out of the ordinary. In the winter months, daytime highs should be largely in the 50 to 70 degree range. Lows in the winter might dip into the 40s and 30s, but actual freezes will be rare except at alpine elevations.
As you move northward through the state, the temperatures moderate somewhat. The state’s other urban areas around Reno and Carson City don’t have as much triple-digit weather in the summers with highs mostly in the 90s. Alpine locations, like Tahoe, have cooler temps running in the 80s and 90s during the summer.
2. No State Income Tax in Nevada
Tax time is a little less of a hassle for residents of Nevada because you don’t have to file state income taxes. Nevada does not have a state income tax, and you’re not likely to hear anyone complain about its absence. This is a great part about living in the state that derives most of its tax revenue from taxing hotel stays and sales.
3. Auto Insurance Rates Are High
If you’ve been living in a place with low auto insurance rates, moving to Nevada will make your eyes pop out when you insure your vehicle. Thirty-nine states have cheaper auto insurance rates than Nevada where car insurance costs 21% above the national average.
Auto insurance rates are high in Nevada for a couple reasons. First, on the open highways out in the desert, some people succumb to the temptation to drive at a ridiculously high rate of speed. High speeds increase the chance of crashing and worsen damages and injuries.
Speaking from personal experience having lived in Las Vegas for two years, traffic in the city is difficult and dangerous. Many tourists have no idea where they are going, and many people (visitors and locals alike) are drunk or on drugs if we’re going to be honest. You are in the Wild West.
4. Cost of Living Is Above Average
Relocating to Nevada probably won’t reduce your cost of living unless you’re coming from an extremely expensive coastal metro area. In 2022, Nevada ranked 36 out of the 50 United States for cost of living, meaning 14 more states were more expensive to live in and 35 were less expensive. Essentially, the state is not outrageously expensive nor particularly affordable.
5. Tourists Get Annoying
As you well know, Las Vegas is a major tourist destination both for international and domestic travelers, especially people from neighboring Southern California. Although many places throughout Nevada attract tourists, the bulk of them go to Las Vegas.
If you’re planning on living in the Las Vegas area, expect to encounter throngs of tourists. In 2019, over 42 million people visited. Of course, that number plummeted in 2020 but rebounded to 32 million in 2021.
For some perspective, the population of Nevada is just above 3 million.
The overwhelming presence of tourists means that traffic is congested in the urban areas. If you live anywhere near Harry Reid International Airport (formerly McCarran), busy flight traffic produces a lot of noise.
Should you need to travel across the city, meaning that you cross the Strip (Las Vegas Boulevard) then hordes of pedestrians and vehicles make for slow going. The tourists clogging the roads also contribute to the high auto insurance rates.
If your home and work keep you on the outskirts of the city or a quieter suburb like Henderson, then tourists won’t be as annoying, but their presence is omnipresent, and they outnumber the locals.
However, you should also consider the other annoying thing about living in a tourist destination:
Relatives and friends will show up in town, often on short notice. Although you may be glad to see them, you may not be so keen on dropping everything to “go out on the town” with them. You could be enlisted as a free tour guide even if you’re tired and really not in the mood to visit the Strip or gamble. This is something that will probably happen to you multiple times a year.
6. Major Cities Have Bad Air Quality
Like many major cities, the air quality is not good, especially in Las Vegas where fuel exhaust and desert dust form a brown dome over a sprawling concrete jungle.
According to a 2021 report from the American Lung Association, both Las Vegas and its northern cousin Reno rank among the 25 worst U.S. cities for particle pollution and ozone. Both of these pollutants trigger asthma attacks and promote cardiovascular disease and premature death.
7. Strong Job Market
Your chances of getting a job or building a career are good in Nevada. This is why many people choose to move to Nevada. Although the bulk of the state’s jobs are related to hospitality (hotels, restaurants, and casinos), other industries are growing, like:
- Oil and mining
- Real estate
- Federal government
8. Gambling Temptations Are Everywhere
If you’re not in the habit of gambling, good for you. It’s not something that you want to do regularly unless you’re wealthy. The occasional night out at a casino can be fun. A regular gambling habit is a pathetic waste of money. If you’re unfortunate enough to become addicted to gambling, you will ruin your life. Gambling addiction is a terribly destructive behavior.
Living in Nevada will expose you to the opportunity to gamble at every turn. Slot machines are everywhere, including the supermarket.
If you’ve ever struggled with gambling addiction, this is probably not a safe environment for you. If you’re not really familiar with gambling as a recreational activity, approach it with caution. Don’t trick yourself into thinking that you’re lucky or have a “system.” The casino or an online gambling phone app has a system, and that system is to take your money. It’s really that simple.
9. Nevada Offers Plenty of Entertainment
As a big tourist destination, you can expect your favorite performers to have tour stops at Nevada cities. The big shows at the Las Vegas resorts are mostly impressive.
Sports fans have more to enjoy in Nevada than ever before.
In Las Vegas, you can attend:
- NHL hockey games
- WNBA games
- USL soccer games
- NFL games
- NASCAR races
- Minor league baseball games
- Boxing matches
10. Nevada Has an Above Average Crime Rate
You can earn a living and have a good time in Nevada, but you’ll want to watch your back. From petty theft to violent crime, the state and its urban centers have an above average crime rate.
In 2019, the state ranked in the top 20 states for high crime. Crime rates are about 12% higher than the national average. By 2022, Nevada had recorded some improvements in crime rates, but its violent crime rate was still above the national average.
When I lived in Las Vegas, I witnessed muggings on the streets and open-air drug transactions. Most residents take these things in stride. Most people are lovely citizens but acknowledge that they live among addicts and scumbags of every stripe. Living in Nevada, you just expect a certain level of nasty activity, and you should definitely take precautions to keep yourself safe and your property secure. There are crazies out there. Once upon a time, a homeless man stabbed a tourist to death on the Strip outside a hotel I worked at.