The Las Vegas cost of living is, yes, a bit higher than in many places. But that’s the overall cost of living in Las Vegas.
Living costs vary widely from neighborhood to neighborhood. And while the overall Las Vegas cost of living is slightly higher than the national average, it is in fact only about 1% higher than for Nevada as a whole.
In addition, when calculating living expenses in a particular area or city, you also need to consider specific cost-of-living factors – because some are much more important than others. In Las Vegas, for example, health and healthcare costs are almost 8% below the national average.
So read on for a closer look at some of the things many people aren’t aware of concerning Las Vegas and the cost of living.
1. Shattering Preconceptions
We all have an image (or images) of Las Vegas based on certain preconceived notions – many of which are true and many aren’t.
First, there’s the cost of living in Las Vegas, which we have been told is and led to expect to be almost prohibitively high. But that’s not necessarily the case because it can vary so much.
“The cost of rent, food and even things such as gas vary wildly in Las Vegas depending on the neighborhood. Not surprisingly, everything is more expensive around The Strip, where tourists, many of them wealthy, descend in droves with piles of money to spend on entertainment. Even on the outskirts of town, certain suburbs, such as Henderson, cost more to live in than others, such as North Las Vegas.”
And then there are these shattered Las Vegas expectations . . .
Las Vegas is, as we all know, called Sin City owing to the gambling and vibrant, non-top nightlife and reputation as a huge tourist draw. In reality, though, the city has residential areas with neighborhoods home to many full-time residents. And, yes, many of these people work in the hospitality industry, but you can find them in all other professions and walks of life.
The city’s strengths and attractions can also be its weaknesses. Take, for example, the climate.
Las Vegas has, on average 330 sunny days every year – a big plus for many people. “The city’s warm and dry climate is attractive and rents are reasonable compared to other medium-sized cities in the U.S.” But those sunny days, many of which can be pretty hot, also mean higher utility bills to keep those air conditioners running. But then, on the other hand, the very mild winters make for low utility bills. It’s just not always what you’d expect.
So just what is the Las Vegas cost of living and how much money do you need to make to live there? The answer is . . . it depends.
“The income you need to live in Las Vegas depends on factors that include the part of town you call home and whether you have dependents to support. Average costs for necessities such as rent, utilities, food and transportation provide an excellent place to start.”
Let’s start there then.
2. Variations in Cost-of-Living Categories
When you look at various these categories for Las Vegas, you’ll likely be surprised to see that there really isn’t much across-the-board uniformity. For example . . .
“Food costs in Las Vegas hover around the national average. A gallon of milk costs $3.41, and you can get a dozen large eggs for $2.35. A loaf of bread costs $2.26, and $4 can buy you a pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts. By grocery shopping in bulk and severely limiting meals eaten in restaurants, you can maintain a healthy, filling diet in Las Vegas for $400 per month or under.”
With scorching summers, occasionally cold winter weather, and typically mild falls and springs, utility bills in Las Vegas, as we mentioned, can swing wildly. So these bills will vary significantly according to the season. On average, though, you can expect to around $180 per month for living in a 1,000-square-foot apartment – only slightly above the national average.
Transportation costs in Las Vegas can be higher than in comparable cities, chiefly with respect to insurance and gas. “Monthly insurance premiums run twice as much in Las Vegas compared to other cities in Nevada. Even for minimum coverage, it is not uncommon to pay $100 per month or more. Gas is similarly costly in Sin City. As of August 2019, the average Las Vegas gas price is $3.22 per gallon, which is 14% higher than the national average.”
On the cost-of-living index for housing, Las Vegas comes in at 118.2 (based on a US average of 100). But it is significantly lower than Nevada overall at 127.5. The median home price nationwide is $231,200, for Las Vegas it is $273,200, and for Nevada it is $294,700.
When it comes to apartment rents in Las Vegas, “[l]uxury apartments on or near the Strip frequently can rent for more than $3,000 per month. On the other end of the gamut. Some of the least expensive apartments rent for under $750 per month” (though these are often in less-desirable neighborhoods).
More Las Vegas Living-Costs Stats
Now consider some of these unexpected and slightly better cost-of-living percentages . . .
- Las Vegas living expenses are 4% lower than the average for the state of Nevada.
- They are 1% below the national average.
- Nevada sales tax is 35% higher than the national average.
- State income tax is 100% below the national average – because Nevada has no state income tax.
3. Las Vegas Suburbs and Neighborhoods
For a city that is typically considered to have a high cost of living, it’s pretty remarkable that some Las Vegas suburbs and nearby towns made Niche.com’s list of “2020 Suburbs with the Lowest Cost of Living in Nevada.”
One of these is Whitney. It is “a suburb of Las Vegas with a population of 43,072 . . . in Clark County. Living in Whitney offers residents a dense suburban feel, and most residents own their homes.”
Of course, Whitney isn’t strictly in Las Vegas, but it serves to give you an indication that the possibilities for a lower cost of living. The Strip and its environs are not representative of all of Las Vegas.
In fact, Las Vegas has a wide variety of neighborhoods suited to different people and often without that putative high cost of living . . .
Singles typically want to be close to the nightlife action, but they also want quality living and economic opportunity. With those criteria, the following neighborhoods were ranked as “the best places for singles in Las Vegas”:
- Downtown Summerlin
- Downtown near Arts District
- Downtown near Container Park
- Lone Mountain
Based primarily on safety and quality of schools, here are the best Las Vegas neighborhoods for families:
- Green Valley
- Centennial Hills
- Southern Highlands
- Seven Hills
- Anthem/Anthem Highlands/Madeira Canyon
Owing to a relatively low cost of living compared to the state as a whole and the clement weather, many retirees find Las Vegas attractive. Factoring in proximity to amenities like golf courses and shopping, the best neighborhoods for retirees are:
- Sun City
- Green Valley
Is Las Vegas Right for You?
Once you shed the stereotypes and preconceived notions, it very well may be.
It all depends on whether you like sunny days, neighborhood diversity, and no state income tax.