I think it depends.
It’s a good place to live if:
1) You have no kids. The education system here is dreadful. Unless you can afford to move to a neighborhood with a good school, it’s really not good. And the atmosphere is not kid friendly, Vegas is, after all, a place where people come to party and play. And the university system is not strong compared to next door California, or even Arizona. Depending on what your kid wants to major in, figure on sending him/her to a school outside of the state.
2) If you like to go out. Can’t beat the nightlife-it’s 24 hours with some of the best restaurants, shows and clubs in the country. And the variety of food is unbelievable. There are tons of places to get a late night meal and drinks and watch the world go by, or if you prefer clubbing, every resort has a club you can go to.
3) If you like the heat. Vegas is pretty easy to live in, there are no earthquakes, or hurricanes or any severe weather. It’s just very hot in the summer. It can get cold in the winter, but it rarely snows or rains hard.
4) If you are retired. If you don’t need a job to survive, cost of living is lower than in many cities, housing is extremely cheap especially if you are moving from a place like California or New York, and your income/pension will go farther-there is no state income tax.
It’s a terrible place to live if:
1) You have children. See first point above. Vegas has a horrid educational system, and a government that talks a good game but doesn’t do anything about it. Be prepared to shell out good money for either a private school or move to a neighborhood with a decent school. And the party atmosphere and the fast buck culture can warp a kid if the parents don’t get a hold of the kid and show them there is a world outside of the resorts and strip clubs. You as a parent will have to really pay attention and really work hard to combat the messages these kids will get regarding the casino/entertainment industry-it will be tempting for them to forgo higher education or vocational training to get a job in the casino industry with just a high school diploma. People can make good money doing mundane jobs like tending bar or waitressing to questionable jobs like working in a strip club (not all of them are seedy so the image is a glamourous one, especially to very young women who want to work as entertainers) in this town, and the lure can be overwhelming.
2) If you are a tech professional. Vegas’ economy does not support a lot of high paying professional jobs, especially tech jobs. The economy here is largely a service industry, with much of the population working in retail, food/beverage, hotel, or the gambling industry. If you don’t have a degree in law or medicine, you might have a pretty rough ride finding a job as a college educated professional. Vegas has one of the lowest rates of college educated people for a major city, and there is a reason for that-most jobs that are available do not require anything beyond a high school diploma.
3) If you have addiction issues of any kind. Vegas is not a place for people who cannot control their appetites. Remember that this is a place whose very economy depends on people indulging their vices as much as they want to, and, believe me, EVERY vice can be satisfied here relatively easily. Whatever you want, you can get very easily, legal AND illegal. Don’t kid yourself if you are battling addiction issues. This place will eat you alive if you cannot handle yourself.
4) If you like culture. Vegas is pretty much a wasteland if you like the symphony, the opera, museums, or good Broadway caliber stage plays. Not much of that around like you’d see in a big city. UNLV might be the only place where you can find something once in a while, and there is a local orchestra, but other than that, there aren’t really any places one can go for a steady diet of cultural activities like you’d find in most major cities. If you are an amateur performer, like I am, forget it-there is very little community theater or choruses or other opportunities for amateurs you can participate in.
5) If you are single and looking for a serious relationship/friends. Since I’m married, I haven’t directly had to deal with this issue, bu I’ve had single people tell me that it is HARD to be single in Vegas-the quality of people available is pretty bad if you are looking for a serious relationship. The people they meet are either looking to make a fast buck or they are simply into the partying atmosphere to the point where settling down isn’t something they want to do-they just want to play and have someone to play with. Because of the glitz and the image, Vegas is very image conscious-lots of young, pretty people who can be shallow and well, shifty. Peter Pan syndrome is alive and well here-there are lots of men- and women-children who are into their looks and status floating around out here who populate the bars, clubs and other hot spots. It is not uncommon to see middle aged men dressed like twenty-somethings, and middle aged women wearing revealing/tight clothing like far younger women. It is also a highly transient city-people don’t stay for long periods of time, especially now that the economy isn’t booming anymore. If you are an older person, there really isn’t a whole lot of community activities for you to indulge in, or opportunities to meet people unless you belong to a house of worship. Lots of older people spend their days at the local casinos playing video poker-it can be a sad thing to see.
6) If you are looking for a job. The unemployment rate is still rather high here, so don’t move to Vegas without a job. During the boom times, it was pretty easy to find a job since construction was booming and it created a ton of jobs everywhere. But now, that’s not the case-people have moved out of the city because their jobs dried up when the economy did. Have a job if you come here. Many jobs here, especially in the hospitality/entertainment sector are on a “who you know” basis-it’s pretty hard to come in from the outside and find a job that will pay you well if you don’t have anyone to help you.