Off to Nevada, huh? Or maybe you’re still just thinkin’ about it. Either way, this little guide of ours will teach you the ins and outs of life once you’re here or give you the extra info you need to decide if ‘Vada is the right place for you.
We’ve scoured the info books, travel brochures, blogs and beyond to put together this helpful handbook of stats, facts, trivia, sights and even some weird stuff, just for fun. So, let’s get to it.
Nevada for Newbies
Nevada is also known as The Silver State, dating back to the silver rush of the 1800s. The state's also called The Battle Born State, after earning a spot in the union in 1864, during the Civil War. But two nicknames just ain’t enough, so it’s also been called The Sagebrush State, after the wild sagebrush that grows like crazy all over the place.
Now, a lot of folks out there might be concerned that Nevada only has Las Vegas to offer, and that unless you love slots and showgirls, you won't fit in. It's true that the Vegas strip is one of the top tourist destinations in the country (ranked #8 on touropia.com's in 2018), and that the Vegas area is home to three-quarters of the state’s entire population, but Nevada is big, with a lot going on.
In fact, Nevada is actually the 7th biggest state in the country by land area, and it’s full of way more than just buffets and bachelorette parties.
For starters, the state is home to lots of scenic nature and several national parks, including Great Basin National Park and Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Nevadans keep themselves busy with all sorts of outdoor activities, not just cooped up inside casinos with no clocks on the walls.
So let’s talk more about the state of Nevada, and why about 3,056,824 people currently call it their home, according to worldpopulationreview.com. And maybe why you might want to make it yours too. Let’s start with the job scene.
Unless you’re an heir or heiress to some sort of ridiculous oil money fortune, you’ll need a job when you land. To start, the state's unemployment rate is 4.9%, which is a hair above the national average of 4.1%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Its minimum wage is $8.25/hour, which is a buck above the federal minimum. But what’s hot out here, besides the sidewalks?
According to zippia.com, some of the fastest-growing jobs in Nevada include: electronic assembler, industrial engineer, line leader, machinist, inspector, cement mason, taxi driver and electrician. But if you’re looking to retire earlier, the highest-paying positions in the state are: anesthesiologist, surgeon, pediatrician, airline pilot, dentist, CEO, psychiatrist and judge.
Looks like no matter whether you’re bringing your current career with you or looking for a fresh start, there’s plenty of room for success here. Which is nice.
Unless you're planning on holing up permanently in one of the many hotels in Vegas or tentin’ it deep in the Mojave desert, you’ll also be needing a place to live. And considering that 58,785 people moved here in 2017, according to worldpopulationreview.com, you won’t be alone. So let’s see what’s out there for you.
For starters, zillow.com says that Nevada’s median home value is around $278,000, increasing a whopping 13.5% over the past year. Homes are currently listed on the market for an average of $314,994, and are selling for about $277,900. But if you’re looking to just rent a place, the average home rental will be around $1,153, depending on where you’re looking.
Or, if you just totally fear 30-year commitments, you can always go with an apartment. According to rentcafe.com, one-bedroom apartments in Las Vegas are around $959/month; that's similar to Carson City, the state’s capital, where you’ll be paying about $977/month. On the higher end, you’ll find that in Reno, Henderson and Sparks, the same one-bedroom apartment goes for between about $1,136/month and $1,209/month.
The majority of Nevada homes were built from the 2000s and on, with a ton of new construction underway on the state's western edge, in and around Reno and Carson City. There's also lots of development in the southern tip of the state too, in and around Las Vegas, Boulder City and Bullhead City.
Beyond that, however, you’re pretty much just looking at desert—not a lot of new construction going on. So chances are you won’t be stuck in some massive money pit of a home that needs a complete remodel.
Culture and Natives
The Battle Born State was ranked the 8th-most diverse in the country in 2018 by WalletHub—way to go, Nevada! 69.7% of the population speaks English only, with Spanish coming in second at 21.1%.
Yep, you'll find people of all kinds, shapes and sizes here—car enthusiasts, foodies, outdoorsy types, free spirits, and of course, card sharks. Nevadans claim that their fellow locals have lots of state pride—so much, in fact, that they have an official state holiday known as "Nevada Day."
When it comes to the approachability level of residents, quora.com and movoto.com vary a bit. Some say that Nevadans are laid-back, open, accepting and welcoming. Others claim they’re uptight, unfriendly and won't do things like wave or engage in a little friendly chit-chat.
But one aspect that was unanimously agreed upon was that people here are pretty desensitized. They say that since Nevada's visitors and residents are so diverse, they’ve pretty much seen it all, making it impossible to shock them.
Nevadans like to get outside and take advantage of the many outdoor activities available to them (when the heat's not too hot to bear, that is). Locals enjoy rock-climbing, zip-lining, camping, skiing, snowboarding and tubing along the Truckee River. Residents also frequent car shows and races in some really super-tricked-out rides like they were auditioning for the 12th Fast & Furious movie.
Another almost unanimously agreed-upon point among the locals is that the Las Vegas strip gets old fast when you live in Nevada. Residents here make it a point to seek out the areas that tourists haven't yet sniffed out for themselves. They know the best casinos and nightlife spots, as well as restaurants and theaters to hit up where they won't be swarmed by dudes on their annual “Bro trip to the strip.”
Sagebrush State Trivia
Now we’re gonna run through a bunch of rapid-fire trivia that’ll totally come in handy on your new journey—if not at least at your next pub trivia night.
Nevada became famous and experienced a huge population boom back in 1859 when the Comstock Lode silver deposit was found. Today, the state is the leading producer of gold in the country, and one of the largest in the entire world. But that ain’t all that glitters, here—Nevada sees about 300 marriages every single day (consequently, the divorce rate in the state is 50% higher than the national average). Ahh, the kids these days.
You’ll find slot machines all over the place in Nevada, even in the first gas station after crossing the border. The first-ever casino in Las Vegas was the Golden Gate Hotel and Casino, which opened in 1906 and has blown up since then. Las Vegas has the majority of the world's biggest hotels within a single city's limits, and also has more hotel rooms than anywhere else in the world.
Nevadans take great pride in their state for having a rich pioneering history, and even have annual festivals that feature ox wagons and stagecoaches—it’s like a real-life version of the Oregon Trail game, without the dysentery.
And speaking of sick adventures, residents also partake in an activity known as "land sailing," where little vehicles with wheels and massive sails cruise through desert sands at high speeds.
One thing to note about Nevada is that it's mostly desert, and as a result, it gets hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk (you’ll want to just take our word for it). Many days in summer reach temperatures well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
And if you come from somewhere full of lush, green grass, you might need a bit of an adjustment period—just dirt, sand and rocks here. Locals who have migrated to the state say that they started to miss grass after while, though probably not the mowing it part.
The desert atmosphere, however, makes the perfect home for the annual Burning Man festival. This counterculture-embracing week-long event takes place in the Black Rock Desert of northwest Nevada, and is a chance for participants to indulge in "radical self and artistic expression."
Because of Nevada's high-draw tourism industry, the state is host to tons of events annually, and not just in Vegas. There are dozens of concerts, art shows, festivals, car shows and other special events each year, including Cirque du Soleil.
But probably one of the most famous and mysterious locations in Nevada is the conspiracy theory-ridden US Air Force facility known as Area 51. It's out in the southern desert, and its official purpose is not disclosed to the public.
However, theories and historical evidence suggest that mainly weapons development and "experimental aircraft" testing goes on inside the extremely secure site. The area is not open to the public, and those who attempt to get in run the risk of being shot by patrolling security guards. Totally not worth it.
Can't-Miss Nevada Fun + Activities
No matter if you're a Vegas Strip bum or an Area 51 conspiracy theorist, here are a few top must-sees in the state to show you just how diverse the list of things to do here is.
Here are just a few of the state's main attractions:
- Fly Geyser: Outside Gerlach, you'll find a "rainbow-colored geological wonder" at the edge of the Black Rock Desert. In 1964, a geothermic energy company drilled a test well and struck 200-degree water. They tried to reseal the dig site, but whatever they shoved in there didn’t hold. The result came to be known as Fly Geyser, which has grown substantially over the past 50 years due to minerals from the desert surface. The red and green hues were formed by thermophilic algae, covering the geyser's outer layer.
- Bristlecone Pines of the Great Basin: You'll find the longest-living non-clonal organisms on Earth in Baker, Nevada. Some of the quirky trees have been found to live for almost 5,000 years. These amazing plants are so resilient that they can survive freezing temperatures, snow and ice storms, and strong winds. They grow in the hard rock of the desert, further proving their toughness. The oldest living specimen was named Prometheus, and was found to be 4,862 years old - older than any single-celled organism in the world.
- International Car Forest of the Last Church: Two local artists in Goldfield took more than 40 automobiles out to the desert and stuck them vertically in the sand, with some stacked on top of each other. Each of the cars is decked out and painted with its own unique graffiti. The art installation's name was inspired by the artists' beliefs that renounce organized religion.
- Jarbridge Wilderness: Known as one of the most remote spots in America and the first protected wilderness area in Nevada, this is a place where you can see moose, mountain lions, elk, alpine forests, cold deserts and tree carvings from the 1800s. It remains one of the most serene and least-polluted areas in the country. So if you're looking for some peace and calm to finally finish that novel you’ve been working on, check it out.
- Neon Boneyard: This storage yard features neon displays from the Golden Age of Vegas, including the original Aladdin lamp from the first Aladdin Casino. There are more than 150 formerly used signs together in one place. Tours are available during the day or night, though visitors get a special treat if they spring for the night tour when everything is totally lit up.
Pros and Cons of Living in The Silver State
Before you uproot your whole life and move off to ‘Vada, it might be handy to hear some pros and cons to life in Nevada from actual Nevada-ers.
Pros (as told by real-life Nevada residents):
- Stuff to do: One thing Nevada is certainly not lacking in is stuff to do. From the Vegas strip, to the outdoor activities, to the events and festivals, you’d be crazy not to find some sort of entertainment and thrills here.
- 300 sunny days: Many locals pointed out that a major pro of their home state is the fact that Nevada boasts 300+ days of sunshine each year. This does contribute to the desert heat, of course—but at least it's a pretty, bright, shoe-melting heat.
- No state income tax: The Sagebrush State is one of just a few in the country with no income tax. And the state overall has a lower tax burden than average because of the ridiculous amount of revenue generated from their tourism industry, and their many casinos.
- Outdoor activities: The stereotypical mental image of Nevada might include someone sitting inside a neon-lit casino glued to a cling-clangy slot machine, but many spend the vast majority of their time outside. From the national parks to the outdoor art installations and events, residents here see soak up a ton of that sunlight.
Cons (also as told by real-life Nevada residents):
- Tourists, tourists, everywhere: Nevada is home to one of the top 10 tourist destinations in the country, Las Vegas. With more than 40 million tourists drawn to the area annually, that's a lotta extra people. Of course, with tourists comes more traffic. So maybe brush up on some alternate routes as soon as you can.
- DUIs and public intoxication: Public intoxication is legal in Nevada, which in itself can cause an annoyance for many. However, even worse are the people who take their public intoxication to the roads. DUIs account for roughly 30% of road fatalities in the state, according to statistics from the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration.
- Crime rate: Nevada has the nation's second highest crime rate in 2018, according to worldatlas.com. The violent crime rate was found to be 678 per 100,000 residents. WalletHub states that Nevada also has the most assaults per capita, and that Las Vegas's crime rate is 32% higher than the national average.
Let’s lighten the mood a bit with some of the strangest, wackiest, head-scratchingest and most outdated Nevada laws still in existence.
- Anyone walking the streets in Elko must wear a mask. Wait, what? Why?
- It's illegal to drive a camel on the highway. What we'd really like to know is, how is it possible to "drive" a camel anywhere?
- Benches can't be placed in the middle of any street in Reno. You know, it could really hold up traffic if someone decides to crack open a newspaper and a cup of coffee right in the middle of the road.
- You can legally hang someone if they shoot your dog on your property. Because that's just not cool. Don't do that.
Land Sailing through the Sagebrush to Nevada
Well, there it is. Your backstage pass to all things Nevada, jam-packed with some insider trivia to help get you started on making that decision. Though sadly we probably couldn’t tackle all of your concerns and questions, we hope to have given you a great start.
If 5,000-year-old trees, rainbow geysers, off-beat festivals, showgirls and sun are your thing, you’re gonna love Nevada.
Good luck, and remember to pack plenty of extra water—it's flippin’ hot.
NOTE: if you decide Nevada isn't right for you, we've covered all the other states, too, to help you find YOUR spot. If devil’s armpit hot isn’t your thing, have you thought about Vermont?