Nevada is a state that is filled with big skies, tall mountains, and beautiful natural wonders. About 150,000 people visit the Great Basin National Park each year, a figure which has double since 2008. You also have all of the adventures that Las Vegas offers when visiting, the charm of Carson City, and the lights of Reno to enjoy. Lake Tahoe is the perfect place to relax during a warm summer day, while the desert offers a unique biome to explore throughout much of the state’s middle.
Nevada would become the 36th state in 1864 after the local government telegraphed their constitution to Congress just days before the presidential election that year. At the time, it was largest and most expensive transmission sent by this means of communication. The vote was rushed to ensure that the additional 3 electoral votes for the upcoming election could add to the Republican majority at the time.
The first settlers to arrive in the state were small Mormon communities that were living along the border in Utah. When there were the silver booms in the 1850s, large numbers of people moved West in the hopes of striking it rich. The state when from lofty idealism to a 25% population decline in less than a decade until gambling arrived in 1931.
If you are thinking about a move to Nevada, then here are the pros and cons that you will want to think about before finalizing your plans.
List of the Pros of Living in Nevada
1. You will find plenty of sunshine available when living in Nevada.
Nevada is in the top 10% of states for the number of sunshine days that it receives during the year. That advantage occurs because of its high desert location, where the moisture tends to be lacking so that cloud formation is kept to a minimum. The only place where you may not receive as many days of sun in the state is along the border with California, where the Sierra Nevada mountains can sometimes help fronts develop into storms that provide moisture to the region.
2. You will usually pay less in taxes in Nevada compared to other states.
Nevada offers one of the lowest overall tax burdens to its residents in the United States thanks to the revenues which come through because of the tourism industry. Casinos, entertainment venues, and even the national park all contribute to a significant pile of revenues that the government uses to support social programs, infrastructure, and the various needs of the population.
The current sales tax rate in the state is 4.6%, although local regulations can push that number as high as 8.265%. Other rates of taxation involve complex calculations, so it is essential to understand what your responsibilities would be in this regard before you start to live here.
3. You can participate in numerous activities that would otherwise be illegal in Nevada.
Gambling is one of the reasons why people come to Nevada because it is legal throughout the state. You will find casinos open in most of the significant cities or hub towns in the region. Las Vegas and Reno gain most of the notoriety, but even border towns on Highway 50 in literally the middle of nowhere offer the chance to play slots too. There are areas in the state where prostitution is also legal. Some open container laws are not as restrictive as well, so you can take an open beer and walk down the street if you wish. Recreational marijuana is another advantage to consider.
4. You can enjoy numerous outdoor activities while living in Nevada.
You will find that the skiing opportunities which are available in the state are some of the best in the world. There are places where you can go rock climbing, mountain biking, or camping in the backcountry and be on your own throughout the entire experience. Many of the parks in the state, such as Bowers Mansion County Park in Washoe County, offer extensive hiking trails where you can explore several miles of wilderness right near the border of California. Great Basin National Park offers world-class outdoor opportunities to explore as well.
5. You can find a party on almost any day of the week in the state.
If you enjoy being able to go out whenever the feeling is right, then Nevada is the state where you will want to be. Reno, Carson City, and Las Vegas all have a variety of nightlife options from which to choose. Even if you want to have a great time on a Wednesday evening, there are choices available when you start living here. This advantage makes it a lot easier to meet new people, form friendships, and enjoy the time that you have away from work and home.
6. You can discover numerous housing options available in Nevada.
Because of the tax-rate advantages that you can find in Nevada, there are numerous vacant properties which are available in almost every community. There are no state, city, or county taxes to worry about because of the financial structure of the government, so you can find a great deal on a property because numerous neighborhoods are overbuilt. If you want to find a place to stay and don’t mind a little traffic, cities like Reno and Las Vegas offer affordable starter homes that are not going to break your budget.
7. You will find many world-class restaurants are available to sample.
Las Vegas might bring in the famous names in the culinary industry like Gordon Ramsey or Wolfgang Puck, but it is also an amazing pizza town. Delivery options are available around-the-clock in almost every neighborhood. You will also find some amazing places like Hash House a Go-Go serving some incredible dishes like their chicken benedict. If you travel to some of the rural communities, you will discover authentic cultural places that feel like a hole-in-the-wall, but they will still offer you some of the best food that you’ve ever eaten in your life. If you love to eat, there are endless opportunities to explore when you start living in Nevada.
8. You can find many businesses which are open 24/7 in Nevada.
When you live in Nevada, then you will discover that almost every community has a store that is open throughout the night. You can go grocery shopping at 3am if you so choose. The laws of the state allow for bars to stay open all night as well if that is what they want to do. You won’t encounter some of the strange liquor purchasing laws that are in other western states either, which means you can buy whatever drinks you want at whatever location you choose without running into a problem.
9. You will discover that housing is surprisingly affordable in the state.
Even if you decide to live in Las Vegas, which offers one of the highest median home values in the state, you are going to pay about $200,000 for a reasonable property. If you prefer to rent while living there, then the average cost to do so is $1,200 per month. That means the city has turned into what Austin, TX, or Denver, CO, used to be before they became expensive due to overcrowding. If you have always wanted to experience what life would be like when living in Nevada, now is the time to pack your bags and go before the costs begin to rise.
10. You will discover that people are genuinely nice.
Although there is a certain attitude of suspicion that you can find when living in Nevada, you will also discover that the average person is genuinely nice. You will find genuine conversations about more than small talk when you encounter them over the course of your day. This advantage is especially true as you move away from the urban centers of the state. There are efforts to establish world-class shelters, offer sanctuary to those who need it, and everyone works to improve the educational system.
11. You will find that there are several unique museums to explore in Nevada.
Did you know that there was an operational mint in Carson City for over 20 years? It minted primarily silver and gold coins between the years of 1870-1893. You can know if the coin was produced there because it bears the CC mark, facilitating the use of silver taken from the Comstock Lode. It is now one of the best museums in the state. There are several other unique tours to visit, such as the National Atomic Testing Museum, the Neon Museum, and the historical museums of each country that tell the stories of settlers during the mid-19th century silver rush.
List of the Cons of Living in Nevada
1. You will experience a generally higher rate of crime in the state compared to others.
The crime rate in Nevada is largely dependent on where you choose to live in the state. Many of the rural areas are relatively free of violent crime, whereas the urban areas can be somewhat challenging to manage in some neighborhoods. According to data supplied from Safewise, the violent crime rate of 5.96 is more than a full point above the national rate of 4.49. The state exceeds the national property crime rate as well at 27.43 incidents per 1,000 people compared to 27.11 for the United States.
You can avoid many of the high crime areas by living in places like Dyer, Spring Creek, Hawthorne, Yerington, or Wells. Many of these locations are located in the middle of the desert, so there are unique challenges to face when living there too – which is often why the crime rate stays low.
2. You may encounter issues with healthcare access in Nevada.
If you decide to live in one of the three significant urban areas of Nevada (Las Vegas, Reno, or Carson City), then this disadvantage may not apply assuming that you have employment that gives you a health insurance benefit. For those who live in the more rural areas of the state, accessing the care that you need could be challenging. The state is ranked in the lowest 20% in the U.S. for the quality of access.
Nevada does offer a state-based Office of Rural Health that seeks to recruit rural physicians to help the 300,000 people who live in the frontier communities of the state, but you may find yourself driving upwards of an hour each way to visit your primary care provider in some living situations.
3. You may experience a drop in your standard of living.
The cost of living in Nevada makes it 50% more expensive to live in when compared to the national average. There are some ways to mitigate this cost, such as choosing to live in a rural area, and having your needed supplies shipped to you instead of driving to purchase groceries and similar essentials. Whether you live in a rural area or you choose Reno or Las Vegas, the actual cost of items is more expensive for a variety of reasons. You will want to secure a higher paying job than what you have now if at all possible before deciding to move.
4. You will experience a lot of heat when living in Nevada.
It is not unusual for the temperatures to climb well over 100F during the summer when living in Nevada because of the high desert climate. When you get to the southern portion of the state where the altitude is lower, there have been temperatures above 110 in July and August frequently. If you are used to living in colder climate, then the air conditioning costs that you pay during the hot months is similar to what your heating expense would be during the cold months.
Nevada doesn’t relent in the winter either. Although temperatures in Las Vegas are routinely in the 50s during the coldest months of the year, there are places in the state in the mountains where you can get below freezing for extended spells. The swing in temperature can be a little rough until you start to get used to it.
5. You must have high levels of self-discipline to be successful in Nevada.
If you struggle with any vice, then Nevada is going to be a state that will tempt you without mercy. You can gamble whenever you want, almost wherever you want, and play the games that you prefer at most casinos. Drinking is available throughout the state in abundant quantities, with some gaming centers offering free drinks if you are playing a table game or engaged with the slots for a while. Getting high is easy enough to do in a place like Las Vegas as well. Living in Nevada with these issues could make life challenging, to say the least.
6. You might find it a challenge to find a good job in the state.
There is a certain level of suspicion that you will find amongst Nevada natives when you mention that you recently moved from out-of-state. Finding suitable employment that is a living wage for you can be challenging if you are not currently a professional or hold a degree in your field. It is not unusual for the positions to be part-time or temporary when you first arrive, which can make it difficult to pay your initial moving expenses. You can offset this disadvantage somewhat by saving before you move, but it may not feel like home for a little while until you become a familiar face.
Most of the jobs that you will find in the Las Vegas area are related to food service. Roughly 16% of all employment options are related to restaurants, serving, or food preparation, which is almost double the national average. Bartenders are employed over 3 times more than in other communities in the United States.
7. You may find that the traffic is a nightmare in some of Nevada’s cities.
When you start traveling through Nevada on Highway 50, the rural communities call it the loneliest road in the country. You can go through stretches of 70+ miles before encountering another community on that road, and there are plenty of spaces where you are the only vehicle driving. Then there are the traffic problems in Las Vegas, where you need to plan on leaving at least 30 minutes early to ensure that you get to where you need to be on time. There are public transportation options available, but it is almost a requirement to own a vehicle when you start living in Nevada.
Because public intoxication is not as illegal in the state as it is elsewhere, DUIs are more common in Nevada than in other places where you could live. They account for up to 30% of the fatalities that occur on the roadways each year according to information supplied by the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration.
8. You will discover that it is expensive to own a vehicle in Nevada.
The car registration fees that you pay for your license plate tabs each year in Nevada are based on the value of your car. That means if you purchase something new, the expense is several hundred dollars more than what you would pay in other western states like Idaho, Utah, or Colorado. The insurance rates for vehicles in the state is typically higher for the average driver as well because there are more accidents that occur. You must also work with someone who is licensed to provide a policy in the state for coverage, which means you could lose the benefits that come with a long-term relationship when you consistently renew the same policy.
9. You may want to consider a private school for your children.
The rankings that Nevada receives for its educational system are very low. Education Week gives the state a D grade for what it provides, which is even lower than the C average that they gave for the entire country. None of the significant areas of the system have ever received higher than a D with this ranking system either, including achievement, school financing, or opportunities for success. The best schools that are available in the state are usually private, so that means you can expect a higher cost when living here.
10. You will discover large areas of emptiness throughout the state.
The total population of Nevada is roughly 3 million people. When you put the population of Las Vegas and Reno together, then you get about 2.5 million people already. Add Carson City to the mix for another 75,000. If you want to live somewhere that is exceptionally remote, then you will see this distribution as an advantage. If you are concerned about the value of your vote and how you’re represented in government, then this issue could be a significant disadvantage to consider before you start living here.
The pros and cons of living in Nevada are an outline of the average experience. Everyone has their own story to tell when they live in this state, and many of them are quite positive. There is no income tax to worry about here, but most of the state is not very walkable, so you’re still going to have expenses. It can be a lot of fun if you plan your move proactively, which means considering each key point above to ensure you have the best possible experience.
Blog Post Author Credentials
Natalie Regoli, Esq. is the author of this post and the editor-in-chief of our blog. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington and her Masters in Law from The University of Texas School of Law. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Natalie has almost two decades of experience as a lawyer and banker. If you would like to contact Natalie, then go here to send her a message.