Reno combines the two greatest inspirations of the American west: mountains and desert. With hiking, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, snow boarding, mountain biking, fishing, and everything else offered in the fresh air of the great outdoors, it's more of a wild west town than a gambling town. Of course, it packs a punch of Vegas flair as well... if that's what you're into. Either way, it's prime time for renting in Reno, so let’s cash in those chips and get going.
Don't go towards the light. Yes, those casino lights are bright and twinkly and oh-so pretty. But, wouldn't you rather watch the lights from a distance than from across the street, beaming into your windows at four in the morning? Living in casino-land is completely different than your average downtown drinking, gambling, and general party escapades. The killer combo of gambling and a grim economy has the homeless population growing, the pawn shops and liquor stores thriving, and the crime rate increasing. For the sake of your sanity and circadian rhythm, we recommend heading out of town, toward the mountains or the desert. Just getting a few miles away from downtown puts you in a whole different world, and a whole different state of mind. There is so much more to Reno than gambling. Go towards the wilderness.
Beware of the mismanagers. There are some good apartments in the worst parts of town, some bad apartments in the best parts of town, and it all depends on the apartment manager, or mismanager, in this case. A good apartment manager shouldn't be conspicuously charming. They shouldn't be vague about important details like utility bills, security, maintenance or parking spaces. And, you shouldn't buy into any promises that aren't written clearly in the lease. Many bad apartment managers will say anything to get you to sign, so make sure to prepare some key questions, address your concerns, and read the fine print. Be on guard.
Living without a car. Luckily, there are plenty of areas around Reno where you can get by without a car to just about anywhere you want to go. The Sierra Spirit bus line provides free rides in the downtown area and the Reno Citifare‘s 65 buses operate throughout the entire metro area. Spotted throughout downtown and the arts district are tons of bicycle shops and cycling clubs for all you two-wheeled riders. There are also plenty of walkable and bicycle friendly neighborhoods, such as West University, Old Southwest, California Avenue, and Wells Avenue. If you need a dose of fresh, coastal air, you can even cross the mountains to San Francisco via the California Zephyr, which just so happens to be the most scenic train ride in the U.S. How about them apples?
Reno is like an enigma inside a conundrum inside a casino inside a desert and pine-forest sandwich (Take that, Inception). Within each ward, there are good and bad neighborhoods, and within each neighborhood, there are good and bad streets. So, as you scan through the neighborhood breakdown, keep in mind that there is great diversity throughout the Biggest Little City in the World.
Old Southwest. This neighborhood is as close to the old west as you can get while maintaining walking distance to the nightlife of downtown and the arts district. Old, towering trees line streets filled with tiny brick cottages, well-preserved houses from the 1900s, as well as a few newer homes, mansions, and apartments. Idlewild Park sits on the Truckee River, providing a very scenic gateway to downtown. However, like any neighborhood near a downtown area, apartment life can be pretty sketchy. In this area, you will be safer in an apartment along the southwestern boundary. If you’re a sucker for natural beauty (and really, who isn’t?), the proximity to the pine-forest foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range will have you sold on the southwestern ‘hood in no time. $ - $$$$$
South Meadow. Just a few years ago, the raw landscape that previously occupied this area was replaced with houses and buildings from the pre-recession real estate boom. The resulting neighborhood is one of boxy, modern architechture coupled with flat, winding roads, wide bicycle lanes, and a few brand-spankin'-new apartment complexes. It's very walkable and bikeable, with plenty of parks, shopping, restaurants, and employers in the neighborhood. However, if you plan on commuting to the city center, or any of the amazing wildernesses surrounding Reno, you’ll need a set automotive ride to get you there. Rental rates are higher, but it's worth the price for the peace and quiet of a new apartment in a safe neighborhood. $$$$$
Wells Avenue. Popular for its location, walkability, and affordability, Wells Avenue neighbors downtown, the** Truckee River Arts District, as well as **Wingfield Park, a whitewater rafting park right in view of downtown. The scenery and vibe range drastically. Everything from old and decrepit, to sturdy and historic; from new and beautiful, to terribly ugly and hastily built, variety certainly isn’t lacking in this area. The same goes for whatever you’re into, as this neighborhood comes packing some great little dive bars, bodegas, and tattoo parlors, as well as upscale to hole-in-the-wall-type eats. Beware of the streets closest to downtown and the suspiciously cheap apartments, though, as these are the typically hot crime areas, and we don’t “hot” as in “attractive”. $$$
Donner Springs. This neighborhood is safely tucked away in the open and green space just southeast of the airport bordering the Truckee River to the north, Mira Loma Park and the Rosewood Lakes Golf Course to the east, and the hiking trails of Huffaker Hills to the south. Ever get annoyed by the sounds of planes swooping in to land? If so, you might want to reconsider as the noise from the Reno/Tahoe International Airport and traffic from McCarran Blvd can often annoy. However, the money you save on rent due to this factor can buy you a nice, big entertainment center, or some sound isolating headphones to drown out any sound from the outside world. Whether you decide to move here or not, be sure to take a nice, long hike to the top of Huffaker Hills for a bird's eye view of the Truckee River Valley. Make sure you send us your subsequent nature poem. $$
Northeast Reno. Located far north of downtown, and just east of the mountains, this area of Reno is exceptionally rural. Sitting pretty in between the University of Nevada and the Truckee Meadows Community College, this is a great location for students looking to rent a pad a bit nicer than student housing. Outdoors enthusiasts live on the western part of this ‘hood, which has quick access to Rancho San Rafael Park and the expanse of mountain wilderness beyond that. For shopaholics, consider living in the eastern part of town, near the University East Shopping Center and the North-South Freeway. The benefits are many, but we’re sure you’ll enjoy the easy 15-20 minute commute to other shopping hotspots in the city center without the hassle of living there. $$ - $$$$$
West University. If you were to live in Reno without a car, this would be the neighborhood to do it in. Within walking/biking distance, you have the university, downtown, the Truckee River Arts District, and Rancho San Rafael Park. Need we say more? $$
Northwest Reno. In the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, this part of town is surrounded by wilderness to the north, west, and south. Apartments are hard to come by, lightly speckled here and there. When you do happen across one, however, the first thing you’ll notice is that price tag, and not for the big savings. They’re very pricey, yes, but well worth it for the amazing views, safe neighborhoods, and quick access to nature, education, and gritty downtown nightlife. $$$$
Downtown. Last, but not least, we have the infamous downtown area of Reno. It is here that you drive under the arch with the slogan "The Biggest Little City in the World". The glittering skyline is full of brightly-lit casinos and hotels surrounded by shady pawn shops, bars, liquor stores, and roaming bums asking for change and cigarettes, refreshing, ain’t it? Once you get out of the grit around casino-land, however, you can find cultural treasures such as the West Street Market, Whitewater Park, and a growing arts district just south of the Truckee River. There's art museums, art galleries, and artsy bars, tearooms, and coffee shops, all brought together by monthly wine walks and the annual Artown Festival. And here you were, doubting the place. Tsk-tsk. If you want to be fully marinated in the artsy culture of Reno, look for artist’s lofts and condo conversions of old casinos, which are often rented out by individual owners through the classifieds. $ - $$$$
California Avenue. Just south of the Truckee River Arts District, this neighborhood is undergoing its own artsy revival. There are a lot of trendy boutiques, independent stores, and restaurants. Not to mention it's easily walkable to anywhere in the downtown area. You’ll find a ton of price ranges here, so it’s really dependant on how deep your pocket is. $ - $$$$
Reno may be "The Biggest Little City in the World", but it's still just a seed... a seed in the desert, growing in between the annual insanity of the city of Burning Man and that year-round artistic conglomeration known as San Francisco. It will grow tough, prickly, and beautiful. Somewhere in there, there’s an apartment with your name on it. So get out there and find it! Just remember to send us that poem if you write one. Happy hunting!
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