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Cities to watch in 2024: Las Vegas is drawing movers who want glitzy, big-city perks with an affordable price tag

Jordan Pandy   

Cities to watch in 2024: Las Vegas is drawing movers who want glitzy, big-city perks — with an affordable price tag
  • Las Vegas has become popular among movers seeking a more affordable and laid-back lifestyle.
  • According to Census data, people are mainly moving from California, Texas, Arizona, and Washington.

Richard Katz, a 66-year-old optometrist who lived in Virginia for over 20 years, was looking for the perfect place to retire.

He wanted to move to a city with a lot to do. An added bonus: being closer to the West Coast would allow him to more frequently visit his sister in Sacramento and his son in Seattle. But he wanted to avoid coastal cities because of their tendencies for harsh weather.

"That ruled out Florida easily," Katz told Business Insider. "Texas is just not our cup of tea. Colorado, it's too much snow. Reno has too much snow. Seattle is too hilly and in California, everybody's moving from California to come here."

Katz moved to Las Vegas in 2022.

He told BI the weather had the perfect balance: "No snowing, no blowing, and no mowing."

Las Vegas — also known as "Sin City" — offers those looking to relocate a lot more than a strip of casinos, top-tier dining, and concerts and shows every night.

"If you're not investing in Vegas, you might regret it," the Las Vegas-based real-estate agent Andrew Arevalo told BI in November, citing the city's relative affordability and rising status among movers. "It's going to be the new LA. I don't even call it Las Vegas anymore. I call it Las Fornia."

According to the Census Bureau,
48,836 people moved from California to Nevada between 2021 and 2022. Not all of those movers landed in Sin City, but it lends credence to the idea that folks are ditching pricey coastal markets for landlocked cities that offer more bang for their buck. Movers also came to the state from Texas, Arizona, Washington, and Utah in that same time period, according to Census data.

Those looking to relocate are learning the city of 656,300 offers some perks of the quiet life as well — but the key factor is affordability.

The price is right in Las Vegas

The high cost of living is driving many people, even the wealthiest, out of California.

"For quite some time the people that were leaving California were lower-income individuals, but more recently, those who are very wealthy are leaving to get out of the tax challenges and to get out of the regulation," Bob Hamrick, the chair and CEO of Coldwell Banker Premier Realty, told BI. "Las Vegas has been the benefactor of that."

Michael Too, 31, is one of the many people who left California for Nevada. Too, an artist and student, was living in San Francisco in a home his family owned when he realized that the cost of living in the Bay Area wasn't worth it to him.

Too said his family sold the three-bedroom duplex in San Francisco for about $1.1 million and purchased a three-bedroom house in Las Vegas for between $400,000 and $500,000. The Vegas home is three times the size of the one in San Francisco and has a backyard, he added.

Real estate isn't the only thing that's cheaper. Too said groceries, gas, and even movie tickets are cheaper in Las Vegas.

With a median home price of $435,900, according to Redfin, Nevada homes are slightly more expensive than the national median of $408,537. But they're still way cheaper than homes in neighboring California, where the median home price is $793,400. And with no state income tax in Nevada, that money saved goes much further.

"Income tax is zero here," Arevalo said, which isn't the case in California. "At the end of the day, all they really care about is their bottom dollar in their pocket."

There's always something to do in Las Vegas

Sure, Las Vegas's casinos are open 24/7, but that's not the only perk of the town. A vast landscape brimming with outdoor activities surrounds the desert city.

"There's definitely a lot of outdoors, and that's something I started getting more into when I moved here," Too said. "In other places I've lived, it's a lot further of a drive. Here you can get out to the public lands within 30 minutes."

Katz, who admitted he wasn't much of a hiker, said that there are several scenic locations a short drive outside Las Vegas such as Red Rock Canyon, Mount Charleston, and the Valley of Fire. He also said even the Grand Canyon is doable, though that drive is just over four hours.

Outdoor activities aren't the only non-casino perk of Las Vegas, though. Katz, who's a big sports fan, said some of his favorite things to do in the city are watching the Vegas Golden Knights and the Las Vegas Aviators, a Minor League baseball team affiliate of MLB's Oakland Athletics — who are moving to Las Vegas in the near future.

With the 2024 Super Bowl taking place in Las Vegas, Hamrick said the city has recently become a sport "mecca."

Not to mention the city's new, buzzy entertainment arena, the Sphere, where U2 is in residency through early March.

The suburbs are a short trip from the Strip

Katz bought a home in a 55-and-over enclave in Summerlin, a 22,500-acre residential community in Las Vegas for around $742,000, and enjoys the neighborhood feel with the option to head into the city for entertainment. He's just eight miles from the Strip.

Too, originally from Indiana, said that the energy in Las Vegas mimics that of a Midwestern town more than a Western city.

"When I'm walking to the gym, or anywhere within walking distance, I'll see someone on the sidewalk and I can say hi and I get greeted back," he said. "Everyone's very pleasant and kind."

To receive that kind of hospitality, you don't have to venture far from the bustling parts of Las Vegas. Too said he lives only three miles from the Strip but feels worlds away from the flashy Las Vegas people envision.

"It's not always a fast-paced, super glamorous lifestyle living in Vegas, it's actually quite a small pocket," he said. "You can get the glitz and glamour, the flashing lights, the shows, and performances, but then you can also retreat to your residence in the suburbs."

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