The first rule of living anywhere is being able to afford it. Like anywhere else, that definitely holds true in Sparks. Northern Nevada is a completely different experience than southern Nevada (aka Vegas), the only common thread being legal gambling. It is, actually, almost a counterculture. Many people seek out Sparks as a respite from the fast living that southern Nevada can entail, in exchange for the slower pace, fresher air and the mountain views that aren’t actually, well, brown.
However, what some relocators may not realize is that living in Sparks can be a bit pricey. You have to consider that while Nevada is huge in the geographical sense, livable areas are more sparse due to its breathtaking, yet rough terrain. Sparks is the fifth most populous city in the state and that puts its residential possibilities in the high-demand category. Affordable living is absolutely possible, you just need to know what you can actually afford.
Downtown: This is a more affordable place to reside in Sparks if you like or don’t mind urban living. This is where you will find high-rise apartments and condos, as well as a few single-family homes. City life is alive and well in this area of Sparks, for better or for worse. Trendy eateries and cultural diversity are all around, but so is an elevated crime rate. $
Las Plumas/Wingfield Springs: This area is ensconced within the central portion of Sparks. Recreational parks and lakes are within easy reach and crime is relatively low. If this sounds ideal, it is because it is. However, you will pay for that idyllic living. $$$$
Malapi/Wedekind: More urban than suburban, but also extremely family-based. Three elementary schools are within close proximity and it isn’t too far from downtown Sparks or greater Reno. This is also one of Sparks’ most ethnically diverse areas and the crime rate is comparatively low. $$
Prater Way/12th St./El Rancho: Prater Way cuts a heavy swath through the southern portion of Sparks, with quite a few cross streets on the path. This area would be considered to be heavily urban, but it is also very affordable. There is some crime, but also a lot of hipster spots and cool culture. $$
Primio/Festa: Primio/Festa is the residential area in Sparks that decidedly urban families tend to homestead. Many executives claim space in Primio/Festa, but families that prefer a progressive and urbane lifestyle seek its boundaries, too. It’s trendy, sophisticated — and pricey. $$$
Pyramid Lake/Calle de La Plata: One of Sparks’ largest residential areas — and one of its priciest. While you don’t have to quite cough up Las Plumas money to live here, it’s still a good idea to brace for some elevated costs. This area covers the easternmost area of Sparks, extending out toward city limits. Commuting to Reno will take longer, but the lower crime rates might make it worthwhile. $$$
Pyramid Lake/Dolores: This area borders the central portion of eastern Reno and is on the slightly more affordable side of living in Sparks. The neighborhood is a decent blend of city hipsters and families. It also strikes a nice balance between affordability and lower crime rates. $$
Pyramid Lake/E. Sky Ranch: This is the priciest residential area in Sparks, dominated by single-family owned homes. Extremely quiet and considerably safe, it is a highly desirable place to live. Just north of the Las Plumas/Wingfield Springs area, you certainly get what you pay for — if you can afford to pay for it. $$$$
Spanish Springs: This northwestern area of Sparks is a bit more affordable than other areas. Bordering eastern Reno, Spanish Springs host an eclectic mix of residential types, from families to college students. Although it is not the least expensive place to live, you get a bit of urban kick from the Reno border. $$$
Sparks Blvd/Howard Dr/Springland Dr: Sparks Blvd. is another long corridor that crosses Howard and Springland Drives. However, the affordability changes from east to west. Howard Drive is the westernmost cross street of Sparks Boulevard and the residences are more affordable than the easternmost cross street of Springland Drive. While the Howard end is indeed more affordable, the price range is closer to medium as opposed to low. $$-$$$
Vista: Vista is a popular choice for those new to Sparks because of its affordability and suburban feel. Situated in the southern area of Sparks, Vista has a little bit of everything. Large single-family homes, medium-sized dwellings, smaller apartments and trendy high-rise condos dot this neighborhood’s landscape. Due to Vista’s wide range of residential options, a diverse population calls this area home. Anywhere from college students to executives to families, Vista plays host to all. $--$$$
It is important to note that Nevada as a whole is a largely inhabitable state…for humans. So, when you consider living anywhere — including Sparks — you need to remember that all of Nevada is essentially high desert. And with high desert comes its natural wildlife inhabitants. Sparks, being east of Reno, does extend into naturally rugged regions especially the more eastern and northern you head. In more undeveloped areas, it is not impossible to encounter a few animal neighbors. Understanding where you live and respecting nature can render living near such fantastic wilderness as an unparalleled experience. Although encountering certain types of neighboring species is highly unlikely in more developed areas, it is not uncommon in more rural parts. Using a bit of common sense and appreciation, living in Sparks should be just grand.