Californians talk about why they moved to ‘cheaper’ Las Vegas – Las Vegas Review-Journal

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Charles Lee got the opportunity millions of Americans dream of and many actually received during the pandemic — the chance to keep his job but work remotely from anywhere in the country.

He and his wife chose to leave California for Las Vegas.

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“Once they sent us home from work during Covid, I kind of realized it was going to be permanent,” said Lee, who works in the insurance industry and relocated from San Diego. “So I started doing some research and realized my wife and I were free to go wherever, and San Diego was getting really pricey in terms of real estate.”

Lee said he was looking for a good “boom town” to relocate to and considered Phoenix, Nashville and Charlotte, along with Las Vegas. Lee and his wife settled on Las Vegas — and Spring Valley in particular — moving two years ago for several reasons, including climate, lower taxes and proximity to family.

But at the end of the day, Lee said the biggest driver was bang for his buck when it came to buying a new house.

“You know really the main thing was getting a nice house, and in San Diego that was going to be over a million dollars,” he said.

Californians relocating to the Las Vegas Valley and Nevada as a whole has been a trend going back since the inception of the state itself in the 1800s. Transplants from the Golden State consistently make up roughly 30 percent of all new residents to the Silver State, according to multiple sources including U.S. Census data and UNLV population research reports.

The median price for a single-family home in the Las Vegas Valley is currently at $410,900 compared to more than $900,000 in San Diego, according to real estate brokerage Redfin.

Redfin estimates the pandemic-driven migration boom waned in 2023, as the share of relocating homebuyers hit its lowest level in 18 months as of the end of December. But California — and Los Angeles in particular — are still making up the majority of new residents moving to the Las Vegas Valley. Redfin estimates the valley added 6,400 new residents alone in November, with Los Angeles being the No. 1 place they are moving from. Los Angeles leads the country for residents leaving and moving to other metros.

Only Sacramento is currently seeing a bigger influx of new residents than the Las Vegas Valley, and the majority of their new residents are coming from New York, according to Redfin.

Valley real estate agent Amy Allen of Leading Vegas Realty, who worked with the Lees to buy their house, said there are a number of driving factors for Californians relocating to Las Vegas, including affordability, job opportunities, less traffic and Nevada’s lack of personal income tax.

“Nevada’s tax-friendly policies have made it a magnet for individuals looking to save on income taxes,” she said. “With no state income tax and comparatively lower property taxes, many Southern Californians are finding that relocating to Las Vegas offers significant financial advantages.”

Money and location, location, location

For Adam Goldstein, the No. 1 reason for his move from the Los Angeles area to Las Vegas was money.

“Financial stability and it’s cheaper,” the truck driver said. “And the ability to buy a house in Las Vegas is a lot more possible than it is in California.”

Goldstein, who moved to Las Vegas in November 2022 and bought a house last September, said his friends in California are having to put down more money to buy homes and their mortgage payments are still higher than his.

He said Las Vegas was an easy sell when it came down to it, and he has no plans to leave the city.

“I fell in love with Vegas immediately,” Goldstein said. “I mean the minute I moved to Vegas I am already saving like $9,000 a year in state tax opposed to California.”

Nevada is one of nine states that does not have personal income tax, and California has the highest rate in the country at 13.3 percent.

Kimo Quance, a real estate agent based in La Mesa, California, said Nevada is not only cheaper, but the closest of the more affordable states based on taxes and real estate prices.

“I have clients that move to Las Vegas mainly for cost of living, being more inexpensive than Southern California, Nevada not having state income tax, and seeking a better political environment to closer meet their views yet staying as close as they can to California,” he said. “They want to stay close because a lot of clients will still have family that want to see that still live in California so you’ll see them move to Las Vegas or the Phoenix area.”

Another transplant from California, Matt Shihadeh closed on his high-rise condo just off the Strip in December. The consultant and former F-18 pilot is working at Nellis Air Force Base and plans to split his time between Vegas and San Diego, where his chidlren still live.

He said Vegas is “the best of both worlds.”

“I’ve spent a lot of time in Vegas over the years at Nellis or just for fun, so I was pretty familiar with the area and I have several buddies who lived there who gave me a lot of info,” Shihadeh said. “So far everywhere I have been in Vegas has been a really good experience and even friendlier and more accommodating than what I’ve seen in Southern California.”

Lee said he and his wife don’t regret their move from San Diego, but one thing really took him by surprise — the food scene.

“Everywhere we’ve gone the food is good and I mean San Diego has some good restaurants, but the thing is here I can go to a dive bar and they’ll still have really good food.”

Contact Patrick Blennerhassett at [email protected].

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