Reno, Nevada, has earned the reputation as 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. In the winter months, you can hit the nearby slopes for some skiing or snowboarding. When it’s warmer, you can row over whitewater rapids on the Truckee River. Rock climbing enthusiasts can traverse the ridges of Donner Pass or enjoy the tallest indoor climbing wall at the Whitney Peak Hotel.
Nevada’s zero income tax lures many people to put down roots in Reno. However, that’s not the only reason why you’ll want to consider moving to Reno. It’s a growing city with terrific potential for a wonderful quality of life. Eclectic job choices, friendly folks, attractive neighborhoods, and proximity to California (without CA’s high cost of living), are additional reasons why Reno is a popular city for new residents.
Living in Reno, NV: What to Know Before Moving to Reno
Reno, with a population of about 248,853, is located 15 miles east of the California border, about 22 miles east of Lake Tahoe, and is a mid-sized city on the rise. Some people move to Reno to take advantage of Nevada’s zero income tax, others for access to the amazing outdoor opportunities in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Whatever the reason for moving to Reno, everyone agrees that Reno is a friendly city that offers its residents a great quality of life.
Pros and Cons of Living in Reno
There are a lot of reasons to love Reno. However, no city is a perfect paradise. Here are the advantages and disadvantages to think about when considering moving to Reno, NV.
- No state income tax
- Close to all the outdoor opportunities in the Sierra Nevada mountains
- Fun road trips like Napa Valley and San Francisco make great weekend getaways
- Positive job growth
- Suburban sprawl as the city continues to grow
- Living costs are increasing with the expansion of the city
- Cold, snowy winters
- Limited public transportation options outside of downtown
- Property Tax: The average county property tax rate is 0.664 percent. For a $370,600 home, you’ll pay $2,461 in annual property taxes.
- Sales Tax: The combined sales tax rate in Reno is 8.27 percent, almost a percent higher than the US average of 7.3 percent.
- State Income Tax: Huzzah! Nevada has no state income tax.
The median home price in Reno, as of November 2019, is $373,800, well above the US average of $231,200. However, the median price of currently listed homes, at $435,000, is considerably higher than the median home value. In Reno, home values rose 3% in the past year, but experts predict values will only rise 0.6% in 2020. Some 53.6 percent or just over half of Reno residents are renters. They pay a median rent of $1,825 per month, which is a bit higher than the US average of $1,470.
There are always neighborhoods within a city that are more affordable than others. The five most affordable neighborhoods in Reno are West Reno, West Sparks and North Valleys, Northeast Reno, Airport, and Brinkby/Grove.
Cost of Living
Bestplaces.net calculates a city’s cost of living based on a US average index of 100. If the index is over 100, the cost is more expensive than average, and below 100, it’s cheaper than average.
The cost of living in Reno is relatively affordable, with an index of 116.2. Housing, rated 160.3, is the biggest contributing factor to the above-average score. Health, 92; Utilities, 95.6; and Transportation, 94.2; are all below the US average index. Grocery, 102.3 is close to average but still a slightly above-average cost.
The median household income for a Reno resident is $48,815. According to the EPI’s Family Budget Calculator, a family of four would need to earn $6,761 per month or $81,138 annually to live a moderate lifestyle in Reno.
Weather & Natural Disasters
You’ll be able to enjoy all four seasons in Reno, a perk when you consider the bevy of outdoor activities available. July and August are the hottest months, with average highs of 92° and 91° and average lows of 58° and 56°, respectively. Many people find the summer heat is tolerable because the air is dry. The coldest months are December and January, with average highs of 46° and average lows of 25° for both months, so make sure to have plenty of layers on hand so you can enjoy the outdoor fun.
The average annual snowfall is 22 inches, and, of course, it’s much higher as you climb into the foothills behind the city. The annual rainfall is just a fraction over 7 inches, so it’s likely you won’t even need an umbrella. Outdoorsy Reno types just pull up their hoods and go on with their day.
Natural disaster threats include floods, wildfires, and earthquakes. In case the unthinkable does happen, it’s important to have a plan. The city of Reno has put together a helpful site for forming a plan in case of an emergency.
Economy & Job Market
Reno has seen positive job growth over the last year, with the job market increasing by 4.6 percent. Over the next ten years, it’s expected to grow by 51 percent. The unemployment rate in Reno is 3.6 percent, which is lower than the US average of 3.9 percent.
The gambling and tourism industries are strong in Reno, while computers, electronics, financial services, and communications are industries that add to the diverse and growing economy.
The top employers in Reno include Washoe County School District; University of Nevada, Reno; Washoe County; Renown Regional Medical Center; Peppermill Reno; International Game Technology; Atlantis Casino Resort; Circus & Eldorado Joint Venture; HG Staffing LLC; and Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center. If you need help finding a job, Nevada JobConnect is a helpful resource, and also check online job sites such as indeed.com, linkedin.com, simplyhired.com, and others.
Traffic and Transportation
Though the growth of Reno has resulted in some sprawl, it hasn’t seriously affected the traffic yet. On average, the one-way commute is 19.5 minutes, quite a bit below the US average of 26.4 minutes. The majority of commuters – 76.3 percent – drive themselves to work, while 11.5 percent carpool, 3.9 percent work from home, and 2.4 percent use public transportation. The Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County operates bus service in Reno.
The Victoria Highway and a branch of Lincoln Highway both serve Reno, NV. North-south US Route 395 and I-580 merge in central Reno, with US Route 395 running north to rural eastern California and I-580 running south on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. I-80 runs east-west and connects Reno with Sacramento and San Francisco on the west, and to Winnemucca, NV and on to Utah on the east.
Reno isn’t particularly walkable or bikeable, nor does public transit provide extensive options. Therefore, you’ll need a car to run errands, commute, and access fun adventures. The walk score is 38 out of 100, the bike score is 4 of 100, and due to the limited mass transit options, the city’s transit score is 28 of 100.
What to Do
You may already know about Reno’s casinos and gambling opportunities, which predate those in Las Vegas. However, Reno also has access to amazing outdoor activities, has amenities of a big city, but retains a friendly small-town community vibe. These characteristics have earned Reno the moniker, “Biggest Little City in the World.”
If you’re moving to Reno for the fantastic outdoor options, you’ll have lots of great choices. The Bartley Ranch Regional Park is a popular venue for weddings and concerts. During the winter months, you can hit the slopes at Mt. Rose Ski Resort. If you’re looking for on old west vibe, you can take in the Reno Rodeo Cattle Drive. There are also beautiful golf courses, like LakeRidge, or you can practice your swing at Sierra Bay Aqua Golf, where you aim at floating targets. If you’re looking to wander around and see the city, enjoy the Truckee River Walk with its river views, boutiques, restaurants, and some cool coffee houses.
Reno’s museums offer a variety of displays and exhibits. Auto aficionados flock from all over to check out the awesome wheels at the National Auto Museum. You can also pop into The Discover – Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum or the Nevada Museum of Art. See heavenly objects and stars at the Fleischmann Planetarium and learn interesting facts and details about the state at the Nevada Historical Society.
None of the major four sports have teams that call Reno home. However, the Reno Aces, the AAA affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, play in the city. Fans of college sports can support the University of Nevada – Reno and Western Nevada College teams.
Schools and Universities
Washoe County School District serves Reno. Greatschools.org provides schools’ ratings out of a score of 10. Eight elementary schools have perfect ten ratings. These include Hunter Lake, Pleasant Valley, Roy Gomm, Elizabeth Lenz, Caughlin Ranch, Ted Hunsberger, and The Davidson Academy of Nevada, which runs through 12th grade. North Star Online School, also K-12, has a 9/10 rating. TMCC Magnet High School has a perfect 10/10 rating.
If you or a family member will be interested in higher education, great opportunities are available at the University of Nevada, Reno. UN is one of only 130 universities to receive the RI designation, awarded to universities that grant doctorates and have high levels of research activity. Additionally, Truckee Meadows Community College offers 160 undergraduate degrees. There’s also the Career College of Northern Nevada, which specializes in training students for technical fields in rapidly expanding industries. University of Phoenix’s Northern Nevada Campus is in south Reno.
Bestplaces.net rates cities’ crime on a score of 100. Violent crime in Reno is rated 34.8/100, which is above the US average of 22.7/100. Reno’s property crime is 44.7/100, which is also above the US average of 35.4.
- Electric service: NV Energy, 6100 Neil Rd, Reno, NV 89511. (775) 834-4444
- Water service: Truckee Meadows Water Authority, 1355 Capital Blvd, Reno, NV 89502. (775) 834-8080
- Gas service: Tuscarora Gas Transmission Co, 1140 Financial Blvd #900, Reno, NV 89502. (775) 336-3200
- Internet/Cable service: DIRECTV, AT&T U-verse, Spectrum, Cable ONE TV, dish
Best Neighborhoods in Reno, NV
There’s a lot to like about Reno, especially among the great variety of neighborhoods. Here are the top eight:
Rated as the #1 neighborhood in Reno by areavibes.com, South Reno has a population of 21,203 and is a relatively new neighborhood with a suburban feeling. The homes are all modern construction, many with nice yards. The median home price in South Reno is $418,300, and the median rent is $1,358. Just over half of the residents of South Reno, 52 percent, own their homes and consider the neighborhood quiet, safe, and well-kept.
South Reno is about a 15-minute drive south of downtown. The neighborhood borders I-580 to the east, SR 671 to the north, Thomas Creek Rd to the west, and Arrowcreek Parkway to the south.
Hinoki Sushi, rated 4.5 stars on Yelp, and The Twisted Fork, four stars on Yelp are favorite spots that locals enjoy for a good meal.
Double Diamond Elementary School, rated 7/10, serves students pre-K through 5th grade in South Reno; Edward L Pine Middle School serves 6-8; and Damonte Ranch High School, 8/10, serves 9-12.
The #2 rated neighborhood in Reno is also one of the most family-friendly, according to its residents. Forty-four percent of the residents in Northwest are families with children, and this is a super popular area for Trick or Treating come Halloween. Northwest, with a population of 26,555, is also one of the more newly developed neighborhoods in Reno, with many large, modern homes. The median home price is $403,600, and the median rent is $1,950. Fifty-eight percent of the Northwest neighborhood residents own their homes.
Northwest is just over a 10-minute drive from downtown and is bordered by the hills of North Canyon to the north, McCarran Blvd to the east, Mae Anne Ave to the south, and Dakota Ridge Trail and Peavine Valley Rd to the west.
Casa Grande, rated four stars on Yelp, is a great spot for Mexican food and margaritas. Ijji 4, rated 4.5 stars on Yelp, is a very popular Korean BBQ restaurant in Northwest.
Rollan D Melton Elementary School has a 9/10 rating, BD Billinghurst and Archie Clayton are the middle schools that serve the neighborhood, and Robert McQueen High School is rated 10/10.
Old Northwest-West University
True to its name, this neighborhood is less than a 10-minute drive northwest of downtown. It’s bordered by SR 659 to the north, Coleman Dr and Keystone Ave to the west, I-80 to the south, and Evans Ave to the east.
This neighborhood isn’t as new as the previous two, but there are still some modern builds happening to complement the rest of the craftsman style homes. For the 20,849 residents, it’s one of Reno’s more affordable of the top-ranked neighborhoods. Old Northwest-West University has a median home price of $159,433, which is lower than the median home price for the city overall. The monthly rent in this community is approximately $924. About 54 percent of the residents rent their homes.
Piezzetta Pizza Kitchen, rated four stars, is popular for its homemade pizzas and paninis, and Homage, rated four stars, is a great bakery if you’re looking to satisfy a sweet tooth.
Peavine Elementary School, rated 7/10, serves pre-K through 6th grades; The Davidson Academy of Nevada, 10/10 serves 5-12; and Reno High School is also rated 10/10.
If you’re looking for a neighborhood with green space, trails, and good schools, Southwest is a great one to consider. This suburban-feeling neighborhood has plenty of parks and trails to explore. The median home price in this neighborhood of 35,520 residents is $281,517, while the median rent is $802. About 51 percent of the residents in Southwest rent their homes. Southwest is a particularly strong choice for families with school-age children as all the public schools are rated 10 out of 10.
This neighborhood, just under a 10-minute drive south of downtown Reno, is bordered by Plumb Lane to the north, SR 659 to the west, McCarran Blvd to the south, and Plumas St and Lakeside Dr to the west.
Peg’s Glorified Ham ‘n Eggs, rated 4.5 stars on Yelp, is a popular breakfast and brunch spot in the neighborhood. Wild River Grille, rated four stars on Yelp, is a great date night choice with new American cuisine and creative cocktails.
Roy Gomm, Caughlin Ranch, and Hunter Lake, all rated 10/10, are the elementary schools that serve this neighborhood. Reno High School also is rated 10/10.
Located just over a 10-minute drive directly south of downtown Reno, East is one of the older and more established neighborhoods in the city. This neighborhood borders Stewart St to the north, Holcomb Ave to the west, and Plumb Lane to the south.
Since most of the homes in this neighborhood aren’t new builds or remodels, the median home price is $134,883, which is well below the median home price for Reno overall. The median rent is $917, with 66 percent of the neighborhood’s 38,120 residents renting their homes.
Bricks Restaurant & Wine Bar, rated 4.5 stars on Yelp, is a popular choice for new American cuisine and some vino. Lulou’s Restaurant, 4.5 stars on Yelp, is another popular new American spot in the neighborhood.
Mount Rose Elementary School, rated a 7/10, serves pre-K through 8th-grade students, while the Academy of Arts Careers and Technology has an 8/10 rating.
This neighborhood is about a 25-minute drive north of downtown Reno. The Nevada-California border runs along part of the west side of North Valleys, while the remaining neighborhood borders look like a heavily gerrymandered map.
The homes in North Valleys are a mix of new builds, remodels, and properties that date back to the neighborhood’s establishment. The median home price is $145,152, no doubt affected by the older homes on the market. The median rent is $929. Only 38 percent of the 32,035 residents in the neighborhood rent their homes.
Longboards Beach Fired Pizza, rated 4.5 stars on Yelp, is a local favorite with a great selection of regional craft beers. The 395, rated five stars on Yelp, is another very popular place to enjoy a craft beer and cocktails.
Silver Lake Elementary School, rated 5/10, serves pre-K through 5th grade. Cold Springs Middle School serves grades 5-8, and North Valleys High School has a 3/10 rating.
In South Central, renters are in the majority at 71 percent of the 25,682 residents. The neighborhood has a suburban feel, with many apartment buildings in the mix along with some new builds, remodels, and original homes. The median home price is $203,786, while the median rent is $762. The older homes in the area likely contribute to the lower than average housing costs.
South Central is about a 10-minute drive southeast of downtown Reno. Plumb Lane serves as a border to the north, with Carson Reno Pkwy and Lakeside Dr as the western borders, S McCarran Blvd to the south, and Martin Luther King Memorial Hwy as the eastern border.
Naan & Kabab, rated four stars on Yelp, is a popular Mediterranean restaurant. Atlantis Bistro Napa, rated 4.5 stars on Yelp, is a great wine bar and restaurant that locals adore. If you feel like throwing the dice, Peppermill Reno, a resort and casino, sits in the heart of South Central.
Huffaker Elementary School serves students pre-K through 6th grade and has a 7/10 rating, Edward L Pine Middle School serves students 6-8, and Reno High School has a 10/10 rating.
Residents of the Northeast neighborhood appreciate it for its convenience to anything they may need in the city. It’s another neighborhood where renters reign, with 63 percent of the 23,736 residents renting their homes and paying a median rent price of $848 per month. If you’re considering buying a home in Northeast, you’ll be happy to hear that the median home price is $114,596.
Unsurprisingly, the Northeast neighborhood is less than a 10-minute drive northeast of downtown and is bordered by N Virginia St to the west and N McCarran Blvd to the south.
The Daily Bagel, rated 4.5 stars on Yelp, is a favorite place to get your bagel fix. When you get settled into Reno and want to treat yourself to a staycation, look no further than The Jesse, a Northeast hotel with a great bar, rated 4.5 stars on Yelp.
Mount Rose Elementary School, 7/10, serves students pre-K through 8th grade. Reno High School has a 10/10 rating.
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