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Las Vegas: A local’s FAQ

it's not California

This post is from my friend Marci from LVGurl. Thank you, Marci!

My husband and I moved to Las Vegas in January 2002. We fled the San Francisco Bay Area amid the “Dot Bomb” and all its layoffs. We obtained all the things we hoped for—an affordable house, a better cost of living, job opportunities, and ultimately a family.

Leaving California didn’t come without without strange looks, eye rolls, and thousands of questions from our friends and my husband’s family (my family was thrilled since they moved to Las Vegas when I was in college). “Are you nuts?” “Why would you ever want to leave California?” “UGH, gross. I hate Vegas.”

Over the years, Las Vegas has raised its profile and people are actually intrigued to hear more about it. Whereas it was an uncool move in the early 2000’s, living in Las Vegas now has certain cachet.

For those of you who are curious, here are a list of questions that I field on a regular basis along with my answers:

How do you live in a place that is always so hot?
If Vegas were always hot, nobody would live here. In fact, Vegas only reaches its scorching temps during June, July and August. The rest of the year it is mild. The weather isn’t any different than the Bay Area at that point. Well, except for the lack of clouds and rain. I really wish we had more cloudy days here.

Do you see a lot of shows?
We do, but not the kind you’re probably thinking of! We rarely see the big shows on The Strip, like Cirque du Soleil or magic shows. One of the greatest perks of living in Vegas is that nearly every major concert tour makes a stop here…sometimes for two nights. Collectively, we have seen U2, Smashing Pumpkins, The Rolling Stones, The Police, Tool, The Beastie Boys, Duran Duran, Morrissey, Audioslave, and Incubus, and we’ll see the Foo Fighters next month.

What do you do for fun? Do you go down to The Strip a lot?
We rarely venture down to the hot spots. We live 15 miles away, which is just far enough to feel like The Strip and all its debauchery doesn’t exist. When we first moved here, heck yeah we were down there all the time. But now we drive down there for cool dinners or to see a band play.

For fun, we exercise. A LOT. We also spend time with my family, with our friends here, and with friends when they swing into town. (There is always someone visiting Vegas!) There are some beautiful, amazing places that are close to our home: Red Rock Canyon, Mount Charleston, Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead.

Is it hard to be landlocked? Do you ever feel trapped in the middle of the desert?
The beauty of Vegas—for us—is its proximity to Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco. We can hit the Southern California towns within a four- to five-hour drive or a 45-minute flight; San Francisco is a nine-hour drive, or a one-hour-and-15-minute flight. We make an effort to leave these parts whenever possible! We’ve also visited New Mexico, something we’d never have done if we were still in the Bay Area. The Las Vegas airport is really great, and with the tourist draw, we can fly all over the world from this airport. My husband flies to Europe on a semi-regular basis for work, and I joined him in Paris once.

How are the schools?
Meh, some are great, some aren’t. Like any large metropolitan city, Las Vegas schools range from excellent in the nice areas, to scary in the high-risk areas. Luckily, we are close to a great elementary school. I’m thrilled! I loved going to public school, and I’m glad my girls can do the same. Have you seen the price tag on private schools these days?

Will you ever move back to California?
If we had several million dollars…maybe. It would be great to raise our girls with the awesome, relaxed surroundings where we grew up. With all the naturally occurring vegetation, coastlines, universities, little towns…all that. But unless you’ve lived in California, you really have no idea how expensive it is…how difficult it can be to make a living. California is deep within us, and we *sorta* ache when we go back to visit. But we stay long enough, and we quickly realize how good we have it in fabulous Las Vegas.

If you would like to guest post on this website, please email me (SAJ). I have about four days open without posts before I start posting again on the 15th.

I miss you guys! I can’t wait to start blogging again!


  • gorillabuns

    Heck, the weather here is around the same as yours though, we are very lucky to receive rain and clouds.

    Someday, I SWEAR I’m going to make it out there to meet you.

  • 180/360

    Gee, if I knew you were guest posting about Las Vegas, I would have had you do my “Stripping Las Vegas” series I never finished. Actually, you still can! Would you guest post even if I’m not going anywhere? :)

    Las Vegas rocks.

  • bethany actually

    I will admit that I am one of those people who can’t stand Las Vegas. I have been visiting relatives there for the past twelve years. I have lived in Phoenix and liked it there where it’s also desert-y and freaking hot much of the year and I liked it there, so it’s not the climate. I’ve been to a wedding there; I’ve stayed on the strip in hotels, off the strip in hotels, and with family in their homes; I’ve been to Lake Mead, hiking in Red Rock Canyon, and visited Hoover Dam, and…I still don’t like it. :-) But I know my sister-in-law and her husband loved living there for many reasons, and you clearly do. Thanks for your passionate, informed defense of a much-maligned city–it was a good read, even if I am not convinced. ;-)

  • Kami

    I have only been to Vegas once and regretted on the flight out that we never left the strip. I would love to go back and see the surrounding area, it looked beautiful from the sky!

    But O was fabulous!

  • Camels & Chocolate

    Very interesting, Marci! Having recently moved to the Bay Area myself, I definitely have experienced the whole “There Isn’t Life Outside of California”mentality firsthand. I’ve never really been to Vegas before, but my mom and sis are huge fans. On a recent flight back to SF, we had a few hours to kill on a layover, so we ventured into town and ZOMG, the heat about knocked me flat on my behind! And I lived in TN for 20 years where the summer heat and humidity is stifling! (And another three summers in the AZ desert.) But man, I can’t imagine living in LV from May-August. Thanks for letting us peek into your life!

  • Jill - GlossyVeneer

    We’re the same way with The Strip, we only venture there is it’s a “special” occasion, for a good meal or something. Or if out-of-town visitors want to go there. It’s kind of cool to have such an otherworldly place so near, it’s like going on a mini-vacation and still getting the comfort of your own bed!

    I’ve totally adapted to the heat. I make jokes that you know you’ve been here too long when you go out for a run and say (in all seriousness) “Wow.. it’s only 103 now.”

  • Christina in MO

    Great Post~ We left Cali in 2006 for the midwest.. and I’m pretty sure you heard pretty much the same thing we heard when we decided to make out move. (actually at one point in our california dreamin’ we lived in Santa Rosa and worked in Petaluma, so I know what you mean about the beauty)
    We don’t regret our move at all. Not even during this winters ice storm. Which was a hoot for me (I lived in KS until I was 14) but very scarey for the dh who needed back surgery. We now ask ourselves.. what took us so long!!
    Thanks for sharing your piece of the pie~

  • Lori

    I’m also a former Bay Area resident (and still Bay Area employee) who now lives in Philadelphia, I can empathize with the sentiment that you don’t realize how truly expensive it is to live there until you leave. We’ve talked about moving back, but the math doesn’t really add up. I’m not sure how it ever did! And in the meantime, we’ve started to establish roots in Philadelphia. We’re starting to talk more about staying now than going back (after 5 years :-).

  • Mother Musings

    Great information! Thanks for sharing!

    The husband & I are out in Vegas at least 4 times a year for both business & pleasure. We live in the Bay Area (both of us born & raised) and have *REALLY* thought about moving to Vegas area many times. Esp. when you consider the tax advantages of running a business there! But we always change our minds when we think about not having our families so close. Our girls are so attached to their grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins we just can’t see leaving.

    But it is still very, very tempting!!