When we think of Las Vegas, it often has a connotation of big parties, gambling and expensive fun. Most people who go to the Entertainment Capital of the World are there for a good time and want to experience the food, shows and casinos. But what's it like for the locals who are working and living in Las Vegas?
It's a fairly big city, and residents have access to all of the fun and excitement as other out-of-town visitors. But every day isn't a party when you're living there — people have homes, families and careers to think about.
There are lots of surprising aspects of living in Sin City, and it just might be the kind of scene you're looking for.
1. Get ready for discounts
In the Entertainment Capital of the World, many hotels, casinos and even restaurants give discounts to those who live locally. That means you'll get discounts on Las Vegas attractions, spas and even shows, such as Cirque du Soleil, so you can enjoy the perks of the city without draining your bank account.
2. There are lots of pools — and you'll be grateful for them
Since it can get pretty hot and be fairly warm for eight or nine months out of the year, many residents in Las Vegas have pools. Most apartment complexes have pools, but if yours doesn't have one, you'll inevitably have friends with access to a pool. Or, you can head to one of the hotels with a luxury pool for a little weekend staycation.
Whatever pools you can access, you'll be glad you have them. There are plenty of days when it's too hot to do much else outdoors and slipping into the cool water might be the only thing that keeps you sane.
3. The heat is extreme
Most people haven't experienced Vegas-style heat — we're talking 120 degrees Fahrenheit or more on some days during the summer. That might sound bearable when you can hang out in the pool all day, but at temperatures climb that high, even a pool will feel like a hot tub.
When it gets unbearably hot, you can plan on hanging out inside with the air conditioner cranked up and eating popsicles all day long to stay cool.
4. Grocery stores are extra convenient
Being known as one of the cities that never sleeps, most Las Vegas grocery and convenience stores are open 24/7, so you can head out and get what you need without checking the time and worrying that stores will be closed. Plus, wine, beer and spirits are sold in the majority of grocery stores.
5. It's surprisingly affordable
Most larger, well-known cities are quite expensive when you take housing, transportation and food into account. But living in Las Vegas is surprisingly affordable — it's actually one of the most inexpensive places to live in Nevada. The cost of living in most categories is quite close to the national average, which is surprising for a larger city.
It has a thriving housing market, where there are plenty of homes available for fairly reasonable prices, and rent isn't sky-high. The average rent in 2020 for a one-bedroom apartment is a little more than $1,200 a month — well below the national average of $1,600. And because there are plenty of quiet suburbs outside of the Strip and downtown areas, there are lots of supermarkets, restaurants and shopping malls readily available.
Most of the expensive places, whether they're high-end stores or five-star restaurants, are located on the Strip or in downtown Vegas. Outside of that, most stores and restaurants in the valley are affordable and easily accessible to the locals.
You'll rarely have to pay for parking, which is uncommon in a big city. Since hotels often have stores and attractions within them and casinos want people to come inside and play, they often will have free parking garages to attract potential customers.
6. There's unique outdoor recreation
Las Vegas isn't usually known for its camping and hiking scene, but there are some fun and different places to explore in the area. Some of the best spots are Valley of Fire and Red Rock Canyon. You can even go skiing during the winter months at Mt. Charleston, which is a reasonably short drive from the city.
And if that's not enough for you, you'll only be a few hours away from the state and national parks of Utah and California.
7. It's best to have a car
In many bigger cities, there's great public transportation, and it's often preferred by the locals because of high parking costs and traffic congestion. But most Las Vegas residents don't rely on public transportation to get around, and many people own cars.
Although there's some public transportation, it's mostly buses — the city is quite sprawling, making public transportation an extremely time-consuming option, especially if you're going from one end to the other.
As far as driving goes, the most traffic-heavy places in the city are downtown and the Strip, and most other places aren't too bad. Just beware of the Spaghetti Bowl, which is where multiple freeways merge together near downtown — traffic can get pretty congested there during rush hour.
8. No more state income tax
Unless you're moving to Las Vegas from one of the other few states that doesn't have an income tax, this will be a happy surprise. Nevada doesn't have a personal income tax or corporate income tax.
9. Major league sports are coming in hot
In just the last few years, Sin City has become home to two major-league sports teams. The Raiders football team relocated there from Oakland earlier this year, giving residents something to be happy about, despite the other events of 2020.
But perhaps the most exciting thing was the creation of the Golden Knights, an NHL team that now plays in Vegas. When the team was first created, many people had low expectations — but the team ended up getting within only a few games of winning the Stanley Cup in its very first season. So, even if you're not a hockey fan now, you'll definitely become one when you move to Vegas.
10. Watch out for desert critters
Most of us have had spiders or ants get in the house — that's going to happen no matter where you live in the U.S. But have you dealt with cockroaches, lizards and scorpions?
While scorpions aren't an everyday thing, you should still be aware of them and know that they could show up in your yard. And although most of the lizards are harmless, it can still be unsettling to see them basking in the sun all over the rocks around your home. But the cockroaches are something else. You'll want to invest in good pest control because they'll find a way to sneak into your bathroom and kitchen, even if you live on the fifth floor of a building.
If you have a pet, keep in mind that their food will attract more roaches, so keep their bowl in a high-traffic area of your house to ward off the pesky little critters. And make sure you seal the excess food in a container or bag so you don't reach in and scoop up a handful of cockroaches when your pet is hungry.
Living in Las Vegas is full of surprises
In spite of its nickname being "Sin City," living in Las Vegas can be a great experience. It's a diverse place and contains all of the perks of a big city without the cost and without feeling like such a busy, overcrowded place all the time. The longer you live in Vegas, the more the city will surprise you.