I absolutely love living in Las Vegas. Even if cost was not a factor, I would choose living there over any other city in the world (ok, I'd have to think hard about Tokyo). This generally surprises people who don't live in Las Vegas (and even some who do), and would have surprised me at least a little bit if you had told me a few years ago that I'd feel this way.
Unlike some other cities, though, it's not obvious why living in Las Vegas is so great. The strip is indeed so flashy and glittery that it tends to leave everything else in its shadow. But lots of what makes Vegas great is outside of the strip.
Even though I love it regardless of cost, I have to mention cost to put everything in context. Vegas is an extremely inexpensive place to live. Housing is dirt cheap, there are no state income taxes, and just about everything else you'll pay for is cheaper than other cities, too. The tourism industry effectively subsidizes the entire city, so you get a great value.
Money aside, here's how to love living in Las Vegas:
1. Buy or rent an awesome home. If you live in any other major city, I bet that you can cut your rent, mortgage payment, or home investment in half and get a better place than you live in right now. It is a true luxury to have a really nice living space that is tailored to you and your lifestyle exactly. My wife and I spent around $100k for two adjacent apartments which we did some light renovation on. Now we have a guest room, full gym, tea room (and dedicated tea kitchen), an office, and all the normal stuff.
2. Eat at amazing restaurants. I eat at a place called Lotus of Siam all the time. It's rated the best Thai restaurant in the US and it's probably the same price as the mediocre one in your city. There are tons of very unpretentious and affordable restaurants all over the city with great food.
3. Have friends visit. You live right near one of the top 10 busiest airports in the US, and no one knows anyone who live in Vegas. It's really cool to be able to hook people up with a place to stay and to be able to show them a side of Vegas that they won't otherwise see.
4. Visit friends. As far as I can tell, Las Vegas is the least expensive airport in the country. There are always cheap flights everywhere, and though the West coast and central US are most convenient, there are tons of flights to everywhere on the east coast.
5. Buy a car. I know it's out of style to want or to buy a car these days, but having one in Vegas is extremely convenient. You can get parking pretty much anywhere and everything is a 10-20 minute drive away. If you get the right credit cards you can also get free parking at MGM and Caesars properties, which are most of the strip casinos. Off the strip is always free.
6. Take classes. One of my friends who moved to Las Vegas is totally in love with it for a reason I never thought of. It is very inexpensive to take classes in just about anything. Space and labor are both cheap in Vegas. If you happen to be interested in MMA classes, some of the best gyms in the world are here (check out Syndicate MMA where my friend Roxy trains).
7. Subscribe to Houseseats. Houseseats lets you get free tickets to shows that have extra seats. I've seen Blue Man Group, Mystere, Miss USA, Rod Steward, Nicki Minaj, Redman/Method Man, Fetty Wap, La Reve, and all sorts of other shows. You can get packages that allow you to have up to four tickets at a time, so you can take friends.
8. Visit Downtown. Tony Hsieh essentially purchased most of the Downtown Las Vegas area (fifteen minutes from the strip) and turned it into a slightly bizarre San Francisco. Publicus is a cool coffee shop that has excellent tea, Container Park is pretty cool, and Pizza Rock is amazing pizza. One of the nice things about Vegas is that it's really three cities smooshed together, The Strip, Downtown, and then everything else. Each is totally different from the others.
9. Enjoy the weather. You can complain about the dry heat in the summer, and yeah, it really is pretty hot, but you can also be glad to live in a place where it's sunny nearly every single day of the year. The winter isn't very cold, and the fall and spring are amazing.
10. Get outside. Maybe not during the really hot parts, but for the rest of the year there are some really great national parks nearby, namely Valley of Fire, Red Rock, and Mt. Charleston. People don't think of Vegas as a nature place but in a recent thread where I was reading about what locals loved most about Vegas, nearly half of them mentioned the nature. You can also drive a few hours north and do a day trip to Zion or Bryce canyon.
Vegas really is an incredible place to live. The value proposition is far higher than any other city, and I find that there is much less friction than any other big city. LA has traffic, SF has crime + bad public transportation + no parking, NY has bad weather + long commutes + so many people. In Vegas you can really have an amazing pace of life, scaling all the way from hikes and days at home working to eating at some of the best restaurants in the world and and seeing some of the biggest shows for free.
Photo is my living room in Karaoke mode. Of course there's karaoke mode.
I’ve never been to Las Vegas- been living in Moscow, Russia for the last 7 years. Would you recommend it as a place to visit?
Agree with most of what you wrote. However, what about school district and kids' education? For a family with school age kids, I heard the public school education in Vegas/Nevada is not so great. I know you don't have kids yet, but would love to hear your perspective.
Agreed that if you have kids in the public school system, it's probably a bad choice. Not sure what the private options are. If I have kids I'd like to homeschool them.
I've been to Vegas a few times but not sure I'd want to live there. If I ever left the East coast I'd probably end up in Seattle.
I lived in Las Vegas 2006-7, and the driving scares me. I've put well over 100,000 miles commuting on motorcycles, but I wouldn't do it there. The % of people who are looking for the place to have their next accident is significant. I'd want something closer to a literal tank to drive there.
Ya know....I follow your posts because for the most part I find them entertaining and informative. But sometimes the lack of proper grammar is just plain annoying, Tynan. ie, "and no one knows anyone who live in Vegas"....what does that mean? In addition, your broad comment "I know it's out of style to want or to buy a car these days" is just plain incorrect. I suspect the MAJORITY of people who reside in the United States would disagree.
Just some food for thought....
I'll keep reading because I find you fun and entertaining.
FYI...I live in Vegas. Southwest.
I agree with you! A few years ago, we flew into Las Vegas from Cleveland with two teenage daughters. We rented an Airbnb off the strip that was super cheap but very nice. I was amazed at how cheap groceries were and there was a ton of things for us to do and see at a lot cost. One thing you didn’t mention that I was super impressed by was all the shopping options. There was every type of store imaginable, outlet malls, upscale open air shopping with nice restaurants, souvenir shops, you name it. It was during that trip that I realized Las Vegas is actually better off the strip than on it!
Great post, Tynan. I've been doing a conference circuit in Vegas for about 20 years now, and it has somewhat soured me on the city... but I appreciate the perspective, and agree with virtually every point you've made in this post. While Vegas isn't currently on my short-list, remembering the things I like about the town does help me feel less anxious and irritated about going back next time. ;)
As I mentioned in other posts, I've bought a place in Vegas and have officially moved there (although I still spend a lot of my time traveling). Living in Vegas is a weird sort of loophole that most people probably aren't even aware of, so I figured I'd talk about why I decided to do it, and the unique advantages that Vegas presents.
If you work independently or remotely, Vegas is very likely to be a place you should consider moving. If doing so would require you to find a job, Vegas is probably not for you. The job market here is terrible, which is part of why this opportunity exists. That barrier is suppressing demand for housing.
The biggest reason to consider Vegas is the very low cost of living. There's no state income tax, and housing is cheap. Ridiculously cheap. My place would have cost approximately twenty-two times as much if I had bought it in San Francisco. Thats crazy! I bought a 1000 square foot place for under $45,000.
The thing that makes this amazing is the location. My place is six minutes from the airport, eight minutes to the center of the strip, twelve minutes from downtown, and five from Chipotle.
As many of you know, I just moved to a new apartment in downtown Nashville, TN. I went from living in the quiet and lovely suburb of Hermitage to a place that is in the middle of everything. The image above is one of two main entryways into the building I live in. Built with crab orchard stone, it is a gorgeous old building designed in collegiate gothic architectural style.
My complex is sandwiched in between music row, Vanderbilt University, and Belmont University. This past weekend, it was not uncommon to see parents walking around with their son or daughter and lugging around bags and furniture to be used in their dorms. There must be hundreds of students from all kinds of places moving into the area right now. There happens to be a huge contingency of Asian students. This makes me quite happy. (-:
This building is a neighboring one right next to mine.