"Now the dawn's broken even On a empty horizon / No reason for folding / No reason to stay / It's too soon to be leaving / Too late for criticizing / And the sands of Nevada / They go drifting away" - "Sands of Nevada" by Mark Knopflerplant
Life in Nevada

With 86 percent of Nevada owned by the government, you can understand why the majority of the population lives in the Las Vegas urban area in the southern region of the state. But besides the Sin City glitter and glam you see on half the TV shows and movies made these days, Nevada is more than its most famous city. It's the seventh largest state by land area, and its terrain varies from vast swaths of the Mojave and Great Basin Deserts to snow-speckled mountains, forests, canyons and UFO landing pads.

Renting an Apartment in Nevada

Nevada had a huge housing boom in the early 2000s that left it with more rental properties than it probably needs. "Probably" is generous. But hey, that's good news for you. A lot of people have gone to Nevada "for the weekend," but ended up staying a bit longer, like a month or 20 years. This is another aspect of the state that makes it a little easier to find an apartment in Nevada than many other places -- they're used to people in a hurry. Prepare to hand over proof of income, rental history and a credit report, but the application and lease terms might be a tad more lenient than you expect.

You should know that afternoons in July and August can reach 115 or so degrees in much of Nevada, including the Vegas area. By "afternoon" we mean "all sunlight hours." It's a "dry heat," they say. Okay, but it's too hot to lug around your collection of vinyl records and your favorite coffee table. Winter should be no problem. Even in the colder locales in the north, such as Reno, it gets chilly mostly just at night, and precipitation is the lowest in Nevada of any state in the US. Rain, snow, sleet, hail...not much falls from the sky here except skydivers, fireworks and unidentified flying objects.

Gas stations can be sparse in this part of the country, not only in Nevada but the surrounding parts of California, Utah and Arizona, so keep an eye on the gas meter. Also, make sure you bring enough water, some backup radiator fluid, a spare tire and 50 pounds of beef jerky. Just in case.

State income taxes? Zero.

Like anywhere, you're expected to make a pilgrimage to the DMV to get a local ID and register your Ferrari with Nevada. Smog checks are required on all vehicles newer than 1968, so hang onto the 57 Chevy.

Where to Live in Nevada

It's important to figure out where you're going to live since so much of Nevada is hogged up by the government. Check out the areas below to see which appeals to you most.

Las Vegas: Vegas was once just a desert playground for the Hollywood crowd and tourists from across the world. But after being the fastest growing city in the country for the past few decades, Las Vegas is a metropolis in its own right. There is a technical difference between the city of Las Vegas and the city Paradise, but few people who live there even know when they're in one or the other, so we won't confuse you.

Downtown Las Vegas: Here you'll find the oldest buildings around, with narrow, high rise casino/hotels such as the Golden Nugget and Binion's Horseshoe, as well as government buildings and giant glowing beer mugs (no, they aren't drinkable). In recent years, Downtown Las Vegas has also become the hip place to live. There are duplexes to rent in the arts district, as well as new lofts set above pizza parlors and cigar shops.

The Last Vegas Strip: Yes, people actually live on the Las Vegas Strip. There are luxury condos built on the premises of some of the newest uber-casinos, as well as long-term motels and even some more or less normal places to live in. Try not to eat too many of those 1.5-pound hot dogs for dinner. At least put plenty of relish and mustard on them for nutrition.

East Side of Las Vegas: You don't have to go more than a few blocks from the Strip to reach something like normal life. Most bars stay open 24 hours, and there are a lot of bars, but they're usually devoid of tourists and not loud enough to hear from your home. Good prices on international cuisine and plenty of supermarkets, plus nightly live music at legendary dives such as the New York Cafe and Double Down Saloon make this a cool area to live.

West Side of Las Vegas: West Side is fairly similar to East Side. Plenty of new and old house rentals on both sides. And you can always see the MGM Grand, the Stratosphere, the Luxor and the rest of the Strip glowing above you, reminding you that yes, you really live in Vegas.

The 'Burbs of Las Vegas: Green Valley, Spring Valley and Summerlin sprawl out around the Vegas-Paradise center. These are suburban and even exurban areas of mostly modern homes and apartments, though a few classic '70s houses are still around. There's always a casino nearby, but the 'burbs in Vegas are mostly tame.

Reno: With an elevation of 4,400 feet, Reno is a picturesque mountain town in northern Nevada. It too has grown rapidly in recent years, topping 225,000 residents in the 2010 census. Reno is a walkable city, with a reputation for a bohemian scene and healthy food options. (No, 1.5-pound hot dogs aren't healthy). They call themselves "The Biggest Little City" in the World. We're not sure what that means, but it sounds intriguing.

Carson City: Nevada's capital had 55,274 people in the 2010 Census. It lies in a high desert valley on the California border. Its city limits actually extend over Lake Tahoe, but there are no floating apartments.

Living in Nevada

So other than the parties in Vegas, what else is there in Nevada? Paris Hilton. But your lifestyle will probably differ greatly from hers (we hope), so don't worry about running into her here.

Even in Vegas, you're only 20-50 minutes from gorgeous places to hike, including Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire and Lake Mead National Recreation Area. The mountains aren't huge, but they change through a wide spectrum of colors and formations, while being home to Gila monsters and wild donkeys. And if you live in a town outside of the Las Vegas metro, well, you're already in the wilderness.

Yes, Nevada has culture, not just debauchery. From local indie and punk bands to classic jazz acts and big name concerts, the music scene is dynamic. Northern Nevada is also home to Burning Man. If that isn't enough culture for you, what do you want? If it's food you're looking for, whatever you want to eat, you can find it.

NV Renter Confidence Survey
National study of renter’s satisfaction with their cities and states

Here’s how NV ranks on:

Overall satisfaction
Safety and crime rate
Jobs and career opportunities
Recreational activities
Social Life
Commute time
State and local taxes
Public transit

Overview of Findings

Apartment List has released Nevada’s results from the third annual Apartment List Renter Satisfaction Survey. This survey, which drew on responses from over 45,000 renters, provides insight on what states and cities must do to meet the needs of 111 million American renters nationwide.

"Nevada renters expressed general dissatisfaction with the state overall," according to Apartment List. "Interestingly, ratings for Nevada vary widely across categories such as recreational activities and pet-friendliness."

Key findings in Nevada include the following:

  • Nevada renters gave their state a C overall.
  • The highest-rated categories for Nevada were weather, which received an A+ grade, and recreational activities, which received an A-.
  • The areas of concern to Nevada renters are quality of local schools (F) and safety and low crime rate (D).
  • Millennial renters are moderately satisfied with their state, giving it an overall rating of B, while renters who are parents are more satisfied, giving it an A-.
  • Nevada did relatively poorly compared to nearby states, including California (A-), Arizona (B) and Utah (A-).
  • Nevada did relatively poorly compared to other states nationwide, including Texas (A), Georgia (B+) and Virginia (A).
  • The top rated states nationwide for renter satisfaction include Colorado, Alaska, South Dakota, Idaho and Minnesota. The lowest rated states include Wyoming, Arkansas, Mississippi, West Virginia and Louisiana.