How I Decided to Move to Las Vegas In 12 Hours

My friend Leo suggested once that I write a post about how I make decisions. Since then I’ve been waiting for the right moment, one where I made a large decision in a very short amount of time. That happened today, when I decided to move to Las Vegas.

From time to time I check real estate prices in Detroit or Las Vegas. They’re the two major US cities I’m aware of that were disproportionately crippled by the housing crash. Detroit more so, but it’s cold up there and I’ve never been, so buying a house there isn’t just fantasy.

On the other hand, I go to Vegas all the time, so I’m familiar with it. I like to play poker there, I have a handful of friends there, and I’ve been frequently enough that I have a bunch of favorite haunts. The Ethiopian restaurants are amazing.

Last night, after work, I spent half an hour looking at condos and townhouses for sale. In case you don’t have this particular hobby, there are lots of condos in Las Vegas that are under $75k. The mortgage on one of these things would be less than $300.

They all seem to have HOA fees of $100-200, which is a little bit annoying, but I didn’t realize until last night how cheap the taxes are. All of the ones I was looking at were $350 annually.

This is unbelievably tempting to me. I could buy a place in a city I really like for less monthly cost than I pay for a parking spot for my RV.

I’m no real estate expert or anything, but it’s hard for me to fathom real estate values not going up in the long term. These places are 2-3 miles from the strip, less than 20 minutes from the airport by public transportation, and there’s a Chipotle ten minutes away.

The problem I always come to, though, is that I just don’t want to live in Las Vegas all the time. It’s crazy hot in the summer and my best friends are in San Francisco and New York. Moving to Las Vegas would be crazy.

I went to sleep telling myself to give up the idea.

Then this morning, as soon as I woke up, it occurred to me that I didn’t need to live there all the time. After all, I don’t live anywhere all the time. For a few hundred bucks monthly, why not make Las Vegas one of my home bases?

If I did that, I could spend more time there, which I want to do anyway. It’s the cheapest airport in the US for major cities, so I could easily visit friends on both coasts. It would be easy to store my RV there, and then drive it up to SF or LA for a couple months each year.

And I could finally have a place to invite people to visit. I always want my family and friends to come visit me, but that’s not possible in the RV. Now they could come see me in Vegas.

Most of all, there’s something appealing to having a permanent spot to call my own, especially with low ongoing costs. I love building things, so it would be fun to take a ~1000 square foot condo and remodel it over a few years.

And what’s the real risk? When you buy real estate you lose about 6% instantly, because that’s what it costs to resell. That’s not peanuts, but it’s low enough that I don’t have to agonize over the decision. Plus, I can just AirBNB it to recoup money. It seems like a cool thing to do that could be a big positive factor in my life. May as well go for it.

So I booked a trip to go scout out places. If I see something I like, I’ll make an offer and try to close quickly. Or maybe this neighborhood is actually in the middle of a gang zone and I’ll change my mind. Seems unlikely, though.

And, of course, my friends are awesome and two have already decided to do the same, with another couple leaning towards it. Maybe we’ll end up taking over the neighborhood.

I think that this is a good example of how easy it is to make quick decisions when you’re not too attached to things. A lot of the time what makes “big” decisions “big” is the emotional attachments we have to our comfortable situations. It often takes only a minimum of rational thought to realize that real risks are small and what’s holding us back is just fear of moving out of our comfort zones a bit.

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Photo is the Mandarin Oriental Tea Lounge, one of my favorite places on the strip. Decent tea, amazing atmosphere.

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