I recently read an article about living in Las Vegas and it outlined ten or so important things to know before you move here. I’ve lived in Las Vegas for seven years and came from Michigan. None of the things they listed were (in my opinion) important to know before living here! They were all wonderful reasons to move here, the perks of living here. The fun, the “don’t worry, we’re family friendly!” reasons are great, but I want people relocating here to know THE TRUTH. I love Las Vegas. There a million different and wonderful things about this city and it’s people, but the wonderful things are pleasant surprises that you’ll find after being here for awhile. The not so wonderful things are the things you should be prepared for BEFORE you move here. Here are a few.
1. The bugs.
You MUST have an exterminator living here. If you live in an apartment complex, they will automatically spray the grounds for you, but houses are fare game for cockroaches, scorpions and other creepy crawlers. Cockroaches here are not like cockroaches in the Midwest. Growing up in Michigan the only time I ever heard of them was if someone’s house was horrifically dirty. I had never even seen a roach in person. Here, it doesn’t matter how clean you are, those little bastards are everywhere. And they multiply quickly.
2. Dry heat is still hot.
Everyone tells you that it is hot here, but they quickly follow that with, “But it’s a dry heat!” And it is. However, a “dry” 115 degrees is still really f’ing hot. The sun is relentless in the summer. It melts your steering wheel, makes it impossible to touch door handles, walk barefoot, or be outside for any period of time over an hour. Swimming pools help, but the water is 90 degrees and not all that refreshing. While it is true that the humidity is virtually nonexistent, that leads to other issues. Skin, hair and nasal passages are painfully dry. You’ll have nosebleeds like you’ve never had before. You’ll lotion up a lot. Your hair will never look the same. I adore summer but after surviving two pregnancies during summer months, I have been brought to my summer loving knees. Can I please get some cloud cover and a 60 degree day? Please!
3. There are temptations everywhere.
If you have an addictive personality, DO NOT MOVE HERE. I am serious. Yes, it is true that locals aren’t really hanging out on the strip that much, but you don’t need to in order to gamble here. Slot machines are EVERYWHERE. I don’t know if you’ll fully grasp the concept of everywhere, so allow me to explain. They are in casinos obviously, but also bars, restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, pharmacies and even big box stores. There are kiosks for sports betting at your local pub. You do not have to hang around a casino to blow your entire paycheck. This goes for drinking and drugs as well. Alcohol is available round the clock and you can drink everywhere. That means you may legally walk down the street chugging liquor. (You still can’t drive with open containers, FYI. Just in case you thought we were total animals.) Nothing closes. Bars are open constantly, there is no, “Hey! It’s 2:00 am and we are closing. Go home now.” speech from your bartender. Drugs are ridiculously easy to acquire, even if you don’t know anyone. The atmosphere in Las Vegas is designed for partying. If you’re on vacation, that is amazing. If you are trying to live every day life and happen to have a weakness for gambling or substances, (or strippers or hookers or general debauchery) it is not. This place will chew you up and spit you out. I’ve witnessed it first hand.
4. It is hard to make friends.
Las Vegas is on the move. People come and go constantly, visiting here, moving here, leaving here. There are no specific work day hours, this is a 24 hour town and people work all kinds of crazy hours. It makes it hard to make and keep lasting relationships. In seven years, we’ve met A TON of really, super cool people. About three of them still live here that we see regularly. It is hard if you’re the type of people that like to do things with other couples or close knit friends. Las Vegas folks are here today, gone tomorrow.
5. There are very few REAL locals.
Everyone is from somewhere else. In seven years, I have met three or four people who were born and raised here. This is amazing and weird at the same time. There are no sport teams, so unlike most big cities, you don’t see a ton of the same jersey or hat on the street. It is not uncommon to find a Yankees fan, Cubs fan, Tigers fan and Dodgers fan all in the same bar. There are a ton of different accents, customs, looks, and cultural norms. It is one of my favorite things about this city, the big coexisting melting pot. I love it. However, if you aren’t a tolerant person or come from a place where everyone looks the same and everyone speaks English, you might have a hard time.
6. Weird becomes the new normal.
After a year or so of living here, nothing will surprise you. Girl in a corset and fishnet stockings pumping gas? Once, it was weird. Now, you don’t bat an eye. Homeless man with no pants sitting at a slot machine at CVS? Once, that was strange. Now, it is a normal Tuesday morning. There are a lot of creative people here, many celebrities, many conventions and functions happening all around town. This brings in people from all walks of life. You may see rodeo people in full cowboy gear at the same time you see porn stars in next to nothing, all just going about their business. Las Vegas is not for the faint of heart.
7. “Water” means something different here.
Growing up in Michigan, water was everywhere. Not only is the state mostly surrounded by water, there are 11,000 inland lakes and an amazing 36,000 miles of streams. I knew I was moving to the desert when I moved here, but I also knew about Lake Mead. Lake Mead is a huge man made lake, right outside of Las Vegas. You can boat and swim and fish and do everything you ever wanted to do on the water right at this one lake. Except that is isn’t the same kind of lake that I was used to having. The water is murky, as in, you can’t see your feet in three inches of water murky. You have to wear shoes in the water because there is no sand, the beach is sharp rocks and barnacle covered stones and broken glass. People are constantly dying there, partying on boats and jumping in the water in unsafe areas. It just isn’t the best fix for a person used to having an abundance of fun water choices. The ocean is a five or six hour drive, so that isn’t too awful and a definite plus for those of us who aren’t used to having a real beach close by, but hard to do in one day.
8. Driving is dangerous.
You’d think that a place with 300 days of sunshine a year would have a relatively low rate of traffic accidents. But…no. I do not know what goes on in the minds of Las Vegans, but they cannot drive! Along with driving either way too fast or way too slow, they also like to drive sideways; sliding across three lanes of traffic without so much as a glance over their shoulder. Pedestrians and motorcyclists are hit regularly, and if it happens to rain…God be with you.
9. The Mormons.
Las Vegas is home to a huge Mormon population. If you come from an area where there are few or no Mormon churches, you may wonder who these young men in white button down shirts and Dockers are riding their bikes all over the place. A few weeks after moving here, I was very alarmed when two young men followed me to my car after grocery shopping, asking to carry my bags for me and trying to engage me in conversation. I was alone, it was almost dark and they were persistent! I kept saying, “No thank you!” and ran to my car, locking doors behind me. They probably thought I was unstable, but I had NO idea who they were or what they wanted. I figured it out after two more showed up at my door a week or so later. Of course, these guys are harmless, friendly kids and just fulfilling an obligation to their place of worship, but I must admit that I no longer answer my door when they knock. I’m still holding a grudge after a visit on Christmas morning of all days.
10. You Will Become a Tour Guide.
In seven years, we haven’t had nearly as many visitors as we thought we would have, and have done the bulk of the travelling to see family and friends back home. It is wonderful to have people come and visit you when you live far away from everyone you love. It is a huge relief not having to fly, then drive all over to see everyone. I’d much prefer to spend quality time when people come to me. I love showing off all of the fun that Las Vegas has to offer to people. But, there are a few downfalls. Most people have a huge list of stuff they want to see and do when they come here, but have no clue where all of these places are in conjunction to each other. Since you live here, you know how best to get to these places, the best day and time to go, how to organize time and you have a car to take them there. You WILL become the go-to tour guide for not only your family and friends, but acquaintances and friends of friends who are visiting. You will see the Fremont Street Experience, the strip, the sign, the fountain show, the sirens, the volcano, the conservatory, the Linq, Red Rock Canyon and every single casino a gazillion times. It is both fun and exhausting. You get your tour perfected after the third or fourth run, and seeing the joy on someone’s face who is experiencing these marvels for the first time IS pretty rewarding. You just hope for well behaved guests who are willing to leave the Black Jack table when you say it is time to go.
See, you (hopefully) stop being a tourist after you receive your Nevada driver’s license. Las Vegas ceases being “The World Famous Las Vegas Strip” and becomes “Home.” You get up, go to work, walk your dog, raise your family, grocery shop, and maybe gamble once in awhile. You bitch about the heat in the summer, and complain about the cold in the winter. You start adding THE to the names of our three highways (THE 95, THE 15, THE 215) without understanding why, but because everyone else does it. Your shoe collection starts to include a lot of flip flops. You forget that most back yards are covered in grass instead of rocks. Shades of brown become the backdrop of life. You enjoy summer without mosquitoes, and winter without high heating bills. You start to love the rain. You forget what driving in snow is like. You become comfortable with not having a white Christmas, ever. You one day realize that you have thirty-seven plastic players club cards and the only thing you use them for is to get a discount at the breakfast buffet. Before you know it, you groan at having to go to the strip and find yourself cursing the wild, drunk tourists having the time of their lives.