Are you looking for a change of pace from the overcrowded West Coast? Want to escape the high cost and congestion of California? Take a look just east in Nevada! With a population of only 3.15 million (compared to Cali’s whopping estimated 45 million), the Silver State shines with its many attractive selling points – affordability, more breathing room, gorgeous mountains & desert vistas, and of course entertainment galore in both Reno and Las Vegas. Before you say goodbye to the overpriced living expenses in California, be sure to check out our guide to make your relocation as smooth as possible.
What to Know About Moving from California to Nevada
Though Nevada and California share a border, there are a few key differences between the states. If you’re pondering a move from California to Nevada, here are several factors you’ll want to consider before you make your way to the Sagebrush State.
Let’s begin with the fun stuff: taxes. Okay, maybe not so fun, but you’ll be happy to hear what we have to say. Coming from California, you know the pain of paying higher taxes. Guess what? Nevada has no income tax! California, on the other hand, has an average income tax rate of 9.3%. Sales tax is pretty close, though, with Nevada sporting an average of 8.1% and Cali with an average of 8.5%. As for property tax, according to Smart Asset, the average county property tax in Carson City is $3,300 (based on an assessed home value of $500K and 0.660% rate) vs. San Jose, CA, where it is $3,725 (0.745% rate).
Economy and Job Growth
Nevada and California are both big states when it comes to size, but California far more populated than Nevada. The sheer volume of people, of course, leads to California having the larger state economy. But you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised by how the Silver State compares. According to the most recent state economy rankings, Nevada lands in the Top 10 at #8. This ranking is quite an achievement since the state ranks #33 in population. In terms of its economic strength, NV isn’t too far down the list from California, which holds the #4 spot. The state of Nevada currently has an unemployment rate of 4.6%, which is higher than California’s rate of 4.2%. Experts anticipate future job growth in Nevada of 41.4%, higher than the Sunshine State’s projected rate of 34%.
Weather and Climate
Nevada’s northern region is mountainous and therefore cooler than its southern counterpart, which is mostly lowland desert. The summer high in Nevada averages around 96°F (CA high is 87°F), while the winter low is about 27°F (CA low is 39°F). ‘Better weather’ is a matter of preference, but California is known for its sunshine and temperate climate. However, Nevada offers an overall more significant seasonal variation with snowier winters in the north. It also gets its fair share of rays (252 sunny days vs. Cali’s 258). The state of Nevada is drier than California, receiving only 8 inches of rainfall versus California’s average of 22 inches. When it comes to snow, it’s the inverse: Nevada with 22 inches of snowfall and CA with only 7 inches.
Composed of desert, semi-arid areas, mountains, and grassy valleys, Nevada is a western state bordered by Oregon and Idaho to the north, Utah to the east, Arizona to the southeast, and California to the west. It’s also the most mountainous state in the contiguous United States, home to 172 mountain summits (and 30+ peaks that reach over 11,000 feet, including famed Boundary Peak at 13,146 feet). The varied terrain – glistening lakes & rivers, snow-capped mountains, colorful canyons & ridges, and even open prairie – lend Nevada an abundance of natural beauty resources and beauty. Covering approximately 110,540 square miles, Nevada is the seventh-largest state by landmass (but only #33 in population).
Housing and Cost of Living
Living in Cali is costly. The cost of living is one of the top reasons most people move out of the state. As with taxes, we’ve got some more great news about the Sagebrush State. While California has a median home list price of $533,500, Nevada offers a median list price of just $324,000. And CA’s list price doesn’t even take into account how expensive it is along the coast and in major cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco. As for the cost of living, there’s even more good news. California has a cost of living index of nearly 150 (which considers groceries, health, housing, utilities, transportation, etc.) while Nevada has a cost of living index of only 110.5. Now, that’s technically higher than the US cost of living index of 100, but it’s cheap compared to the West Coast!
Things to Do
It’s hard to compete with all the things you can do in CA. That said, Nevada is no slouch. If you’re an outdoorsy person, you’ll fall in love with your new home state! From magical desert sunsets to epic mountaintop views, the Silver State offers a plethora of adventures for nature lovers. Popular destinations include Red Rock Canyon, Lake Tahoe, Great Basin National Park, Lake Mead Recreation Area, and Black Rock Desert (home of Burning Man music & art festival). If nightlife, gambling, shopping, concerts, and indoor activities are more your thing, Nevada’s got you covered! The state is home to both Reno (The Biggest Little City in the World) and Las Vegas (considered the Entertainment Capital of the World).
Looking to further your education in NV? The state has room for improvement in this category when compared to California. According to US News, it lands at #45 in education rankings (compared to #21 for Cali). However, it does rank #12 in the best high school rankings (CA comes in at #2). Top NV public school districts include Douglas County School District (Minden), Storey County School District (Virginia City), Washoe County School District (Reno), Eureka County School District (Eureka), and Pershing County School District (Lovelock). As for post-secondary education, Nevada is home to the University of Nevada – Reno (Reno), Nevada State College (Henderson), and the University of Nevada – Las Vegas (Las Vegas).
Culture, Diversity, and Demographics
We all know California is culturally diverse, but what about Nevada? It might surprise you that it’s actually very diverse. According to HomeSnacks, the state is not only among the most diverse states in the US, but it ranks #3 (just behind California and Hawaii). Whites make up less than half of the population, Hispanics account for a third of all Nevadans, and Asians & Blacks make up approximately 10% of all residents. As the Entertainment Capital of the World, Las Vegas forms a big chunk of the population (about 25%). Due to this city’s global appeal, it attracts folks from all different countries, cultures, and ethnicities.
Transportation and Traffic
When it comes to transportation, Nevada is a cut above the rest! According to recent transportation rankings, the state takes the #1 spot based on several categories. It ranks #22 in commute time, #10 in public transit usage, #16 in road quality, and #2 in bridge quality. By comparison, California ranks a dismal #41 overall. A breakdown of categories shows CA ranked #46 in commute time, #9 in public transit usage, #48 in road quality, and #19 in bridge quality. According to Index Mundi, the average commute time in Nevada by county is 24 minutes for Clark County (Las Vegas), 21.6 minutes in Washoe County (Reno), and 19.2 minutes in Carson City County (Carson City). If you’re coming from Los Angeles, San Francisco, or another major metro, Nevada’s shorter commute times are a huge plus.
Want to hear something surprising? Thai cuisine is huge in Nevada. With over 300 Thai restaurants throughout the state, this cuisine has become legendary in both quantity and quality. Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas, for instance, is rated as one of the top Thai restaurants in the United States. Along with Thai, Nevada is well-known for its wide variety of food offerings. Shrimp cocktail, a staple on the Strip, has become an icon in the southern portion of Nevada. And of course, with all the casinos, buffets are a big deal across the state. Today, there are more than 200 buffets in Vegas alone.
Best Places to Live in Nevada
Whether you want to live near the glitz and glam of The Vegas Strip or away from it all, Nevada has something for everyone. Here are our top recommendations for starting your home search in the Silver State:
Known as “The Entertainment Capital of the World” or “Sin City,” Las Vegas, Nevada, is an international vacation destination famous for gambling and vice. But looking beyond its reputation as a sinful tourist trap, Las Vegas is also a growing mecca for families and young professionals looking for a place to call home in the desert. Off the Strip, this surprisingly family-friendly city has lots to offer its residents. Read more about moving to Las Vegas here.
Henderson, Nevada, may sit in the shadow of Las Vegas, but it’s a pretty fantastic city in its own right. The town gets accolades for its 50 beautiful parks, highly rated schools, hiking trails, excellent quality of life, and gorgeous master-planned communities. Despite being the second-largest city in Nevada, Henderson still retains a small-town feel. Plus, with Las Vegas just a twenty-minute drive north, there is no limit to the nearby activities you can find to enjoy. Read more about moving to Henderson here.
Reno, Nevada, has earned the reputation of the “Biggest Little City in the World.” Just east of Lake Tahoe and the California border, Reno sits at the foot of the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in a high desert river valley. With a history of mining, today, Reno is all about casinos, friendly residents, good jobs, lovely neighborhoods, and outdoor fun in the beautiful surrounding areas. Read more about moving to Reno here.
One of the top places to raise a family in the state, this city of fewer than 55,000 is also Nevada’s capital. It offers quieter living (especially compared to Reno and Las Vegas) and a strong sense of community (perfect for retirees and families). Read more about moving to Carson City here.
This census-designated place (CDP) of over 230,000 is considered one of the top five places to retire in the US. About a twenty-minute drive south of Las Vegas, it offers convenient access to entertainment, activities, shopping, and everything in between. Read more about moving to Paradise here.
If you’re looking for something outside the hubbub of city life, then Incline Village might be the perfect fit. This charming small town, population 8800, sits on the north shore of Lake Tahoe. This tiny village comes with hefty price tags, but when you have all that Tahoe has to offer in your backyard, it might just be worth it. Read more about moving to Incline Village here.
Cost of Moving from California to Nevada
On average, it costs between $1800-$3500 to move from California to Nevada. Though this might sound expensive, consider that depending on where you’re headed, you might be hauling your stuff several hundred miles across state lines. The total cost of your move will depend on several variables, including your origin and destination cities, the time of year you’re moving, the size of your household, and which services you require. The best way to get an accurate estimate is by scheduling an in-home or virtual (no contact) walkthrough with a licensed and insured interstate mover. Get free moving quotes from the best California to Nevada movers now!