Diane Cohn

Should You Move To San Francisco?

San Francisco has a reputation for being easygoing, innovative, artsy, and beautiful. Driving into town over that festive Bay Bridge, you get the feeling that the possibilities are endless.

No longer the counter-cultural mecca it was in the 1970s, people still love living there for its creativity, culture, excitement, and weather. Today, the city has evolved into one of the leading centers of technology, trade, and business services.

One more fun fact about the city? San Franciscans are crazy about their furry friends, and the town actually has more dogs than children!

San Francisco Economy & Job Opportunities

With a population of just over 880,000 residents, (mostly young, college-educated professionals), the town has a distinct feel of hope and optimism.

Founded by Spanish colonizers in 1776, the city’s rich cultural heritage is still evident today.

But the California Gold Rush of the 1800s quickly turned San Francisco into a center for trade and commerce. Even after the rush subsided, this oceanside city remained a key shipping region, with the influx of influences from many cultures leaving its unique mark.

In the 50’s and 60’s, San Francisco had a reputation for being one of the epicenters for beatnik and hippie culture, resulting in a huge outgrowth of activism, art, and entertainment.

By the 1990s, San Francisco had begun pivoting from tourism and trade to technology. Starting with the dot.com boom, the city became home for hundreds of startups and evolved from there.

Today, with employers like Salesforce, Square, Stripe, Dropbox, and Zendesk, San Francisco is giving nearby Silicon Valley a run for its money when it comes to tech job formation.

There’s always a high demand for software developers, product managers, IT specialists, and related high-tech roles in San Francisco. Other white-collar jobs, such as accountants, administrative assistants, and marketing managers are also common.

There are numerous opportunities in the medical industry and a huge demand for service industry workers such as cashiers, retail salespeople, waiters, and delivery people.

San Francisco Real Estate & Cost of Living

The city has notoriously pricey real estate, some of the priciest on the planet!

The current median list price for a San Francisco home is $1.6 million, with an average 99 days time on market. The median list price for a condo is $1.2 million, also on the market for 99 days on average.

The Bay Area market has continued to grow briskly. Recently, a San Francisco seller received a $3.5 million bid after listing their home for $2.5 million. The city is doing better than the Bay Area lately, driven by local high-tech IPOs.

According to Altos, the city is currently in a strong buyers market as of December 2021.

The average rent for a 740 square foot apartment is $3,102 according to RentCafe.

Three of the top neighborhoods to live are Pacific Heights, Seacliff, and Telegraph Hill due to their stunning water views, neighborhood vibe, and proximity to shops and restaurants. If you’re looking for lively, less expensive options not too far from the city center, you might want to investigate Noe Valley, Cole Valley, or West Portal. 

The kinds of homes you’ll find in San Francisco are a blend of historic Victorian townhomes, modern condos, and luxury single-family estates.

Short-term rentals recently became legal within the city, but they are still highly regulated

First of all, you have to live in the unit you rent for at least 275 days per year. Second, you must be registered with the city as a business and a short-term rental. Third, you may only rent out 90 unhosted nights a year (meaning you’re not on the property during the rental period). 

There’s also a long list of prohibited properties which are not permitted to rent short-term at all, so do your due diligence before purchasing a home for this purpose in San Francisco.

Thanks to the city’s tech culture, high-speed internet is available almost anywhere from top providers like AT&T, XFinity, and T-Mobile for as low as $20 per month.

Utility costs like electricity, gas, water, sewer, trash are generally higher than the national average at varying rates.

The overall cost of living score for the town is 269.3, making it the third priciest city in the nation, and the livability score is roughly 68 out of 100.

San Francisco Food, Drink, & Entertainment

The city has some of the best restaurants on the West Coast ranging from Chinese to Soul Food to gourmet French patisseries.

It also has some inventive coffee shops, such as Mazarine Coffee, Blue Bottle Coffee, and Cafe Francisco, along with tasty breweries like Black Hammer, Fort Point Beer Company, and ThirstyBear Brewing.

San Francisco is also iconic for its incredible restaurants like Rich Table, Brenda’s French Soul Food, and Saison.

Grocery stores like Safeway, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Target are easily accessible in every neighborhood.

Areas like Union Square are known for classy cocktails (though many of the retail shops have been recently boarded up due to flash mob robberies) while spots like Mission District are the city’s official party zone (though there’s a pretty severe homeless problem there as well, so stay alert if you go).

The city also has several cultural entertainment venues, such as the Orpheum Theatre, Davies Symphony Hall, and the War Memorial Opera House.

San Francisco also has some great shopping districts including Union Square, Westfield San Francisco Center, Fillmore Street, Haight Street, and the Embarcadero District.

San Francisco Attractions & Things to Do

The city has an array of incredible tourist attractions, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, Lombard Street, the San Francisco Zoo, the Academy of Sciences, de Young Museum and Japanese Garden in Golden Gate Park, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, just to name a few.

There’s also a vibrant art scene in the DoReMi district where you’ll find numerous galleries and museums featuring local artists like Alynn-Mags, Kelly Ording, and Fernando Reyes.

If you’re a sports fan, the city is home to the San Francisco Giants, San Francisco 49ers, and Golden State Warriors. The sports that get most residents excited are football and baseball.

There are so many fabulous parks in San Francisco, including Golden Gate Park, Mission Delores, Twin Peaks, Washington Square, Buena Vista, Lake Merced, and Glen Canyon Park.

San Francisco Transportation

This city is home to the San Francisco International Airport and is known for its gorgeous interior design and decor. The airport gets high reviews for walkability and low security wait times.

Getting around on public transportation is pretty easy. The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) provides fast, electric trains that can get you to key points in the city and around the entire region. Additionally, the Muni trains and buses can get you just about anywhere in the city.

For traveling shorter distances, try the iconic San Francisco trolleys. Like other big cities, it’s also easy to find Ubers, Lyfts, and various rideshares.

You won’t necessarily need a car in the city, but if you have one, parking can be tricky. Monthly rents for parking spaces run from $150-$500 per month and up. It’s best to get a home with a parking spot, but when you need to park on the street, it can take patience to find a good spot.

And keep in mind that car insurance tends to run a little higher than state and national averages.

The average car insurance rate in San Francisco is $1,488 per year, and drivers living in the city can expect to pay about 4.1% higher than California’s annual average.

San Francisco Schools

The city has many colleges and universities including San Francisco State University and UC San Francisco, one of the top-rated medical schools in the nation. This and many other schools contribute to the city’s innovative and creative environment.

The main public school district contains a high number of above average schools according to Great Schools. However, you’ll need to shop for schools carefully because some do have poorer ratings.

There are also many highly regarded private schools to choose from including Convent & Stuart Hall, Notre Dame High School, and Adda Clevenger School.

You’ll also find a lot of great local homeschooling groups if you prefer that style of education.

The library system in the city is very extensive. Locations around town feature programs like bilingual storytime, summer reading programs, and community events for both adults and kids.

San Francisco Community Groups

If you’re religious, you’ll find a vast array of churches and temples to choose from in the region including Grace Cathedral, City Church, Dhammaram Temple, and Congregation Emanu-El.

As one of the first LGBTQ-friendly regions in the nation, the city is home to organizations like the SF LGBT Center, the Gay and Lesbian Historical Society, and the Tom Waddell Urban Health Center.

If you’re LGBTQ, you’ll find a massive amount of resources. 

The city also has numerous neighborhood and community organizations that you can become involved in, including Grateful Dogs Rescue, St. Anthony Foundation, and Conservation Society of California.

Other good places to meet people as a newcomer are local Facebook groups, hobby groups, and Meetup.com events.

San Francisco Health & Wellness

As for Covid, San Francisco has quite a few mandates, including a note that violation of or failure to comply with the Order is a misdemeanor punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both.

The city strongly encourages people to get all Covid shots and boosters, and masks are required in all indoor public settings, with some exceptions for people who are fully vaccinated.

Organizations are required to report all cases of Covid. Vaccination is required for government and health care workers, and anyone over 12 to attend large events.

Also, the city of San Francisco mandates proof of vaccination for patrons to use certain indoor facilities, like restaurants, bars, clubs, and gyms.

Curiously, there seems to be no provision for people recovered from Covid who enjoy natural immunity.

This area is quite health-oriented, so the city has a lot of fitness options (if you’re fully vaccinated). In addition to all the standard gym chains, there are also local favorites like Live Fit, Body Mechanix, Accelerate Sports Performance, Sunset Gym, and Tribe Fitness and Yoga.

As one of the leading centers for medical care in the region, the city is home to options like UCSF Medical Center, Saint Francis Memorial Hospital, and Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.

Some popular veterinary choices include the San Francisco Pet Hospital, Sunset Veterinary Hospital, and Mission Pet Hospital.

San Francisco Climate & Safety

The town usually has mild temperatures with a lot of humidity and fog. Winter temperatures are usually around 45 degrees Fahrenheit, while summer temperatures are typically around 72 degrees Fahrenheit.

San Francisco has quite high crime rates compared to other California regions. While rapes, robberies and burglaries are down in 2021 versus the year prior, sex trafficking, larceny theft, and homicides are up significantly.

After announcing plans last year to move funding from strict policing to community assistance initiatives, the city recently reversed course to cope with the rising crime rates that subsequently ensued.

Homelessness continues to be a huge problem in the city, with over 8,000 individuals counted as of 2019. That number has most certainly gone up given the increase in tent cities during the pandemic, and many believe that the problem is linked to high crime rates.

The city has allocated more funds to provide shelters in converted hotels and sanctioned encampments for approximately people, with plans to acquire 1500 more units by 2023.

But in a city with such pricey housing, mild weather, and tolerant authorities, it will likely take years to make a dent in this problem.

San Francisco Politics, Government & Taxation

San Francisco has had some recent trouble with corruption, as reported by CBS, where a private company was awarded lucrative city contracts through a rigged process by the Department of Public Works and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

The city received a D from Data-Z.org regarding its overall fiscal state.

The city tends to be highly liberal, with 62% of registered voters being Democrats and just 6% being Republican.

At 8.5%, sales tax is a little higher than state averages. 

Property tax rates are a little high too since they are 1.18% of a property’s assessed value versus the national average of 1.07%.

If you’re moving from out-of-state, you should also know that California has a top individual income tax rate of 13.3%.

While San Francisco has been rated as business-friendly in the past, lately with all the Covid restrictions, closures, and looting downtown, that prior status is seriously in question.

San Francisco’s infrastructure generally seems to be good, with an array of public projects in the works. 

First responders in San Francisco have a goal of responding within 10 minutes, 90% of the time, and they are able to hit this goal, depending on the category of emergency, 68%-91% of the time.

Police response times vary on the severity of the emergency. For Priority A calls, it’s 8 minutes, Priority B calls, 28 minutes, and Priority C calls, 90 minutes.

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, San Francisco might be the right choice if you’re young, motivated, and work in the tech or medical fields. However, if you can’t put a lot of money towards housing or want a more conservative environment, you might want to keep looking.

Good schools and cultural opportunities can make this an ideal place to raise a family. However, if you prefer a place with lower crime rates, try nearby regions like Marin, the Peninsula, or the East Bay.

Where to live in America is a personal choice, because what’s important to us may not be important to you. 

To help you find your perfect place, we recommend using a spreadsheet with weighted scores to help you clearly prioritize your choices. Our free template below can save you hours of time as you weigh your options.

Should You Move to Los Angeles?

Every time you check out Los Angeles real estate, you’re likely to hear stories about people leaving LA for the suburbs. However, despite some highly-publicized downsides, the city still has some unique perks.

Los Angeles is a place like no other. As the epicenter of the movie-making universe, this town is filled with celebrity sightings, tourist attractions, and fun things to do. All the glitz and glamor of Hollywood means that the region is filled with high-end restaurants, shopping, real estate, and more, making it easy for even non-celebrities to enjoy the high life.

Los Angeles Economy & Job Opportunities

Los Angeles is known for its thriving entertainment industry. With a population of almost four million, its residents are mostly Caucasian or Hispanic, well-educated and middle-aged.

In the 1700s, Los Angeles was just a small ranching community. However, the discovery of oil in the 1880s made the city’s economy rapidly expand. And when the city became a center for the film industry in 1910, its economy took a unique turn.

Los Angeles might have the largest number of filmmakers and major studios in the world, but that’s not the only source of jobs. 

The city is also the largest manufacturing center in the United States with the nation’s largest trading port in terms of value exchanged and tonnage handled. 

With a diverse economy that goes beyond its base of aerospace, entertainment, and tourism, there are plenty of opportunities in manufacturing, logistics, hospitality, finance, fashion, furniture, health care, engineering, and corporate management among others.

Los Angeles Real Estate & Cost of Living

The median list price of a single-family home in Los Angeles is $1,250,000, while the median list price of a condominium is $850,000, with the average number of days on the market at 98 for homes and 111 for condos.

According to Altos Research, the city is in a solid seller’s market as of December 2021.

The average rent for a 790 square foot apartment in Los Angeles is $2,563 according to RentCafe.

Three of the top neighborhoods in Los Angeles are Hollywood, Mid-City, and Alhambra due to their gorgeous homes and great entertainment options. However, if you’re looking for more of a suburban experience not too far from the city center, you might want to investigate Beverly Hills, Culver City, and Frogtown.

The kinds of homes you’ll find here are a blend of everything from rundown, outdated apartments to stunningly gorgeous mansions. Architectural styles range from ranch to craftsman to Spanish colonial to Victorian to modern.

Due to high tourism, there is a lot of demand for short-term rentals. Such rentals are restricted to one’s primary residence, must be registered with the city, and the registration number must be displayed on all advertisements.

Enforcement seems to be an ongoing challenge, and some residents worry that short-term rentals are reducing the supply of available homes and in some cases creating a nuisance.

Though the town has a reputation for being pricey, utility costs like electricity, gas, water, sewer, trash are actually lower than national averages. The average cost for utilities is $129 per month, which is $30 cheaper than national averages.

The overall cost of living score of Los Angeles is 173, which is significantly higher than national averages. Furthermore, the livability score is just 54 on a scale of 0-100 according to AreaVibes.

Los Angeles Food, Drink & Entertainment

Los Angeles is a total foodie town, with good restaurants everywhere, from Bestia to Water Grill to The Factory Kitchen. You also have access to delicious coffee shops and breweries like Verve Coffee Roasters, Earth Bean Coffee, and Boomtown Brewery.

Some of its most iconic restaurants include Cole’s Restaurant, Pig N Whistle, Spago, and Musso & Frank Grill.

Nightlife, cinema, and entertainment options include incredible spots like Elevate Lounge, 1 OAK LA, and Avalon.

Grocery stores like Trader Joe’s, Ralphs, and Hughes are easily accessible in every neighborhood.

Fun spots to shop include the LA Fashion District, Beverly Boulevard, and La Brea Avenue.

Los Angeles Attractions & Things to Do

Los Angeles has many fascinating tourist attractions including The Getty, Universal Studios Hollywood, and the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

There’s also a vibrant art scene in Downtown where you’ll find numerous galleries featuring Ayin Es, Lauren Halsey, and Jibade-Khalil Huffman.

If you’re a sports fan, Los Angeles is home to the Los Angeles Clippers, Kings, Dodgers, and Lakers. Most residents follow the basketball and baseball teams enthusiastically.

The gorgeous weather of coastal California makes the city ideal for nature lovers. For a little outdoor fun, visit Echo Lake Park, Elysian Park, or El Dorado Park and Nature Center.

Los Angeles Transportation

Los Angeles is served by the Los Angeles International Airport, which has a lot of international flights and reasonable wait times.

Getting around on public transportation is challenging. Though the city does have some good buses, subways, and light rails, everything is very far-flung. If you want to travel outside your neighborhood, you’ll probably need a car.

Keep in mind that Los Angeles traffic is notably bad, and finding a good parking spot can be tricky. 

Due to the high risk of accidents, car insurance is much pricier than national averages. The average car insurance in Los Angeles is $2,597 per year, which is pricier than average state rates of $1,966.

Los Angeles Schools

Los Angeles has numerous universities, ranging from private options like Loyola to public options like the University of California. 

Schools in the area are known for providing a good education in healthcare and finance. There are also smaller, private colleges that provide a great education for people interested in media.

The public school system has been rated average to below average by Great Schools, but there are also many highly regarded private schools to choose from including Fusion Academy, Berkeley Hall School, and Lycee International. 

You’ll also find numerous local homeschooling groups as well if you prefer to educate at home.

The library system in Los Angeles is very good, with locations around town featuring programs like ESL classes, summer reading programs, and book clubs for both adults and kids.

Los Angeles Community Groups

If you’re religious, you’ll find a vast array of churches to choose from in Los Angeles including Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, and Islamic churches.

And if you’re LGBTQ, you’ll find resources like the Los Angeles LGBT Center, the Transgender Law Center, and the Trevor Project. 

In general, the city tends to be very LGBTQ-friendly.

Los Angeles also has numerous neighborhood and community organizations that you can become involved in, including Project Angel Food, Heart of Los Angeles Youth, and LA Works, just to name a few.

Other good places to meet people as a newcomer are local Facebook groups, Meetup.com events, and local support groups.

Los Angeles Health & Wellness

As for Covid restrictions, aligning with current state standards, LA requests that all travelers test for Covid within 3-5 days of arrival.

Currently the city is largely open for business, without capacity limits or social distancing requirements. However, masks must be worn indoors in public places.

Large indoor events and some employers may require the Covid shot, while children age 12 and up may be required to get one to attend school.

Keep in mind, these rules are always changing, so check official sources before making plans.

COVID-19 testing, vaccines, and boosters are FREE for everyone regardless of immigration status or healthcare coverage and are being offered based on Federal, State, and L.A. County Department of Public Health vaccine eligibility guidance.

Los Angeles Climate & Safety

Los Angeles’s weather is generally quite comfortable. 

In the summer it’s typically no hotter than 85 degrees Fahrenheit, while in the winter it’s usually no colder than 48 degrees Fahrenheit. Fall and Spring are equally mild and have little rainfall.

The city has a reputation for being sunny, and there are usually only a few cloudy days in winter.

The city does have some serious problems with crime. According to Neighborhood Scout, it’s only safer than 13 percent of other United States cities. 

There have also been reports lately of crime spilling into the upscale neighborhoods, like Beverly Hills, for example, where homeowners are pooling resources to hire private security patrols to combat the problem.

A particularly concerning fact is that violent crime is almost twice as high as California averages. 

After significant budget cuts in 2020 and a corresponding increase in crime, in the fall of 2021, the police commission voted for a 12% increase in the police department’s budget to combat rising crime rates. 

Seriously, when the head of the police officer’s union says, don’t visit LA because, “We can’t guarantee your safety. It is really, really out of control…” I’d say that’s something to pay attention to.

The city is experiencing what many would call a homelessness crisis, with homelessness up by 13 percent from 2019. There is an especially big problem with tent cities. 

The city is working diligently to build housing and provide support, for example, government-sponsored tiny homes and camping sites that provide security and showers, but it’s a long, slow process, and not everyone wants the help.

Most city residents won’t deal with much wildlife, other than the occasional roach or harmless lizard. However, there are some reports of feral coyotes and the occasional mountain lion sighting if you live in the hills.

Los Angeles Politics, Government & Taxation

The Los Angeles city government has a reputation for moderate corruption according to the Daily News. A current FBI probe into corruption has revealed officials are often careful not to technically break laws, but they do accept a lot of indirect bribes. Overall, the city’s fiscal state is a little uncertain, and it has a very large amount of debt.

The city is decidedly liberal. As of 2021, 53% of registered voters are Democrats and 17% are Republicans.

At 9.5%, sales tax is a little higher than state sales tax, and property taxes are high as well. 

The average homeowner pays $3,938 in property taxes, higher than the national average of $2,471.

On the bright side, Los Angeles recently won the “Most Business-Friendly City Award.”

California income taxes are between 1% to 12.3% which is something to investigate further if you’re moving from out-of-state.

Los Angeles infrastructure tends to get a lot of criticism due to the urban sprawl and congested roadways. And water shortages are a recurring issue.

First responders tend to take quite a lot of time to respond to emergency calls, taking seven to eight minutes which is higher than national standards of six minutes.

The Bottom Line

If you’re single and looking for a lot of nightlife or numerous career opportunities… Los Angeles may be the right choice for you. However, it can be challenging to find housing on a single income unless you have a high-paying job.

If you’re a couple without kids looking for a town with an exciting and unique culture… Los Angeles may be the place for you. But if you’re concerned about affordability and safety, you might want to look elsewhere.

And if you want to raise a family in a diverse environment, Los Angeles may be a great choice… However, if you want low crime rates or good schools, you might want to check out nearby suburbs like Hermosa Beach or Culver City.

And if you’re LGBTQ… you’ll find the city to be very welcoming and accepting.

Where to live in America is a personal choice, because what’s important to us may not be important to you.

To help you find your perfect place, we recommend using a spreadsheet with weighted scores to help you clearly prioritize your choices. Our free template below can save you hours of time as you weigh your options.

One State, Two State, Red State, Blue State

2020 was a big year for people migrating from blue to red states. Did folks still move to red states in 2021, and if so, why?

We’re going to examine the trend of people moving to red states, explore why it’s happening, surmise its likelihood of continuing… and what this means to you if you’re planning to make this kind of move. 

The hubby and I have been looking for the best place to live in America (for us) and we came across an article predicting that more people would move to red states in 2022. We know quite a few people who’ve moved to red states in 2021, including:

  • A recruiter friend moved to Texas from California.
  • A real estate broker friend moved from Los Angeles to Austin. 
  • A couple moved last year from Nevada to Idaho. 
  • A Puerto Rico expat friend bought 200 acres in Idaho with plans to move soon.

And many celebrities have made this move too, including:

  • Joe Rogan
  • Ben Shapiro
  • Graham Stephan
  • Chris Harrison
  • James Van Der Beek
  • Elon Musk
US migration patterns

2020 US Migration Patterns

2020 migration reports published by moving companies exposed a massive trend of people moving from blue to red states. 

It is fascinating and unfortunate to see our country continuing to split politically and ideologically in a physical way due to migration. People are either attracted to low taxes, freedom-loving politicians, medical freedom, economic prosperity, strong borders or their not. It looks like they are. Duh.

U-Haul reported that 80% or four of the top five inbound state moves were red: Tennessee, Florida, Texas and Ohio.

United Van Lines reported 60% or three of the top five inbound state moves were red: Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota; and all five top outbound states were blue: New Jersey, New York, Illinois, Connecticut, and California.

Finally, according to the 2020 National Movers study, 66% or four of the 6 top inbound states gaining new residents were red: Texas, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Florida. All 6 of the high outbound states were blue: California, Washington, Michigan, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Vermont, and DC.

2021 migration reports will come out soon, so it will be interesting to see how this trend evolves.

Why Shift From Blue to Red?

With the initial pandemic housing rush starting to cool down, will people continue to make these moves?

If you ask the Republican Governors Association why people are moving to red states, they’ll say it’s because those states are focused on creating the best possible environments for businesses, workers, and families to succeed.

People who don’t like the highly-regulated, big government approach of blue state politicians, are fueling this trend.

Ultimately, I think most people just want to live someplace where they feel safe and can succeed in their endeavors, where they can enjoy life with family, friends, and neighbors on their terms, without government interference or coercion.

Another factor is that the cost of living in most red states is generally less expensive and with usually lower taxes than that of blue states.

We also highly recommend watching PragerU’s YouTube video Where Do You Want to Live: Red State or Blue State?

The Great American Divide?

It’s alarming that this trend appears to be accelerating a political, ideological, and physical divide of America. Where will this lead, civil war?

Redfin actually called out “more migration for political reasons” as a trend in its outlook for the housing market in 2022

I suppose it makes sense as we now seem to live in an era where you can’t even talk about politics without someone going off the rails, taking offense, or sending the social media mobs. People vote with their dollars and their feet.

medical freedom for families

The Question of Medical Freedom

I think another big reason driving this movement are the heavy-handed covid policies in some blue states—masks, lockdowns, and most of all, vaccine mandates, really unheard of in the freest country on Earth. People are simply tired of this.

This is exactly the point Michael Snyder makes in this recent article.

He observes that while one side wants the medical freedom to choose whether or not to take an injection, the other side wants to mandate injections for everyone. For example:

  • Mayor de Balsio of New York City just recently announced mandatory vaccinations for all private sector workers.  
  • In Massachusetts, UMass Memorial Health just let go 200 medical professionals who missed its vaccination deadline.
  • Colorado recently launched the SMART Health Card, making it easy for people to show their vaccination status… a gateway to the vaccine passport?
  • Hawaii has already created an inter-island vaccine passport program that exempts vaccinated travelers from testing or quarantining prior to traveling between islands.
  • Oregon is considering making masks mandatory indoors.

As people tire of the pressure to comply, and workers are let go for resisting the experimental injection, they may naturally gravitate towards counties and states where such measures aren’t required.

In fact, South Dakota has actually launched a campaign to encourage frustrated law enforcement officers to move to their state amid blue-city condemnation of the police.

 The Implications for Real Estate

Finally, from an investment perspective, what will this do to home prices in red states? We’ve already seen some incredible price increases there.

According to a recent ReMax housing market report, four of the five cities experiencing the highest home price appreciation year-over-year were in red states:

  1. Boise, ID, 28.8%
  2. Salt Lake City, UT, 27.3%
  3. Raleigh-Durham, NC, 20.8%
  4. Tampa, FL 19.8%

If the influx proves continued for 2021, prices for top-tier red state cities should remain strong.

So if you’re thinking about making this kind of move, it might be smart from an investment perspective to start looking in secondary metros to find better deals.

If you’re thinking of moving to a red state, I’d say don’t wait too long based on the data!

Where to live is a very personal, sometimes complicated choice, and there’s no one right answer for everyone. 

To help you find your perfect place, we recommend using a spreadsheet with weighted scores to help you clearly prioritize your choices. Our free template below can save you hours of time as you weigh your options.

Should You Move to Las Vegas?

Las Vegas, Nevada, is one of the most exciting cities in the world. With world-class entertainment, casinos, and some of the best restaurants in the United States, there is never a shortage of things to do in “Sin City.”

In addition to shopping, shows, gambling, dining, and outdoor adventures, residents also enjoy cheering their local teams—the Raiders of the National Football League and the Las Vegas Aces of the Women’s National Basketball Association. You can spend a day at the game or a night on the town, there’s never a reason to be bored here.

Las Vegas Economy and Job Opportunities

With a population just under 670,000 (most of whom are between 35 and 54 years old), Las Vegas is the most populated city in Nevada, and the 25th most populated city in the United States. 

Las Vegas officially incorporated on May 15, 1905, when 110 acres of land were auctioned off by the railroad company who had purchased ground in order to expand the nation’s railroad system. Las Vegas became a railroad town, primarily because of the abundance of water available, which made it an ideal stop for passengers who were traveling from Southern California to Salt Lake City. 

While dude ranches were popular in Vegas in the 1930s, it didn’t take long for gaming to become one of the most important aspects of the city’s economy. In fact, the first themed hotel and casino opened in 1941, and was quickly followed by three more over the next seven years.

Today, the city is known for its entertainment and gaming industries. 

It’s not rare to walk down the famed Las Vegas Strip and see countless shows from some of the most recognized names in the world of entertainment. Additionally, there are countless casinos all around town that cater to gamblers of all experience levels.

While there are obviously multiple jobs within the entertainment and gaming industries, the sales industry is actually the most common employment field for residents, with food preparation, and office administration positions coming in second and third respectively.

Additionally, there are a number of tech startups that are establishing themselves here, operating out of co-working spaces which means you can connect with other entrepreneurs and network to help propel your startup forward.

Las Vegas Real Estate and Cost of living

The median list price for a single-family home is $540,000, while the median list price for a condominium is $245,000, with the average number of days on the market at 86 for homes and 100 for condominiums.

According to Altos Research, Las Vegas is in a strong sellers’ market as of December 2021.

The average rent for an 892 square-foot apartment is $1,341 according to Rent Cafe.

The kinds of homes you’ll find vary in architectural style, and usually include Mediterranean, Pueblo, Ranch, and Spanish-Inspired.

Short-term rentals are regulated here, and are only allowed in owner-occupied homes that have three or fewer bedrooms and are at least 660 feet away from another short-term rental.

High speed internet is available from CenturyLink, Cox, and HughesNet starting at $34.95 per month.

Utility costs like electricity, gas, water, sewer, and trash are generally low when compared to the rest of the country, according to Numbeo.

AreaVibes rates the overall cost of living score at 102, so just a bit over the national baseline of 100, and the city’s livability score at 70 on a scale of 0-100.

Las Vegas Food, Drink, and Entertainment

Las Vegas has tons of good restaurants all over town, from the comfort foods of Honey Salt, to the Taiwanese offerings at Every Grain, to the wildly popular Oyster Bar. 

Las Vegas is also home to multiple coffee shops like Vesta Coffee Roasters and breweries such as Able Baker Brewing and Banger Brewing.

Some of the most iconic dining establishments in Las Vegas include Peppermill Las Vegas, Golden Steer Steakhouse Las Vegas, and Top of the World, famous for its varied drink menu and impressive offering of chilled or raw seafood.

Obviously, Las Vegas is world-renowned for the number of entertainment options available on the Las Vegas Strip. However, there are plenty of other nightlife options to consider. For instance, Chateau Nightclub and the Foundation Room are both wildly popular nightclubs in Las Vegas. 

Additionally, there are plenty of bars and lounges, including The Commonwealth and The Chandelier Bar. 

For moviegoers, Regal Red Rock IMAX and 4DX provides some of the best cinematic experiences anywhere in the country.

Obviously, if you’re considering a move to Las Vegas, it’s important that you know where to do your grocery shopping. Grocery stores like Albertsons, WinCo Foods, and Vons are easily accessible in every neighborhood.

There are plenty of other shopping options in Las Vegas. For instance, Las Vegas Premium Outlets (both north and south) provide more than 150 brand-name and designer stores at outlet prices. 

Other shopping options in Las Vegas include The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, The Grand Canal Shoppes, and Miracle Mile Shops.

Las Vegas Attractions and Things to Do

Most of the tourist attractions in Las Vegas revolve around The Strip and the various dinner shows and casinos that line one of the most famous streets in the United States. 

However, Las Vegas has many other tourist attractions including the Fremont Street Experience, gondola rides at the Venetian Hotel, and helicopter rides over Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon.

There is also a vibrant art scene located on and around the Vegas Strip. For instance, the Bellagio Gallery partners with foundations and museums from around the world to present a wide variety of compelling art pieces. Past exhibits have included pieces from Warhol, Picasso, and Faberge. 

The Arts Factory, located at the corner of Main Street and Charleston Boulevard, and The Martin Lawrence Gallery, situated in the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace are both incredible art galleries in their own rights.

If you’re a sports fan, Las Vegas is also home to the Las Vegas Raiders of the National Football League, the Vegas Golden Knights of the National Hockey League, and the Las Vegas Aces of the Women’s National Basketball Association. 

In addition to those three teams, Las Vegas is also home to a large number of minor league and semi-pro teams, ensuring there is always something for sports lovers to enjoy.

Las Vegas is also home to a number of parks and trails. For example, the Peccole Ranch Walking Trail is a hit among those who want to go outside and enjoy a leisurely walk in the ample shade, while the Burkholder Trail and the Historic Railroad Trail both provide bicycling opportunities for riders of all experience levels. 

Finally, there are plenty of family parks in Las Vegas, including Floyd Lamb Park and Centennial Hills Park, each of which provide a multitude of activities.

Las Vegas Transportation

Las Vegas is served by McCarran International Airport, which is also referred to as LAS. McCarran International Airport is incredibly easy to get in and out of, has numerous international nonstop flights, and is most noted for its wide variety of duty-free shops and the aviation museum found inside.

Getting around Las Vegas on public transportation is pretty easy, as there are plenty of options. 

In addition to Uber, Lyft, and other ridesharing options, many people prefer the Las Vegas monorail that runs up and down the Vegas Strip. You can also take advantage of the strip trams, which run along only one side of the Strip, but are free. Finally, there are multiple bus services in and around Las Vegas, including Deuce, a double-decker bus, and SDX.

You won’t necessarily need a car living in Las Vegas, but if you have one, you’ll notice that parking varies in price and difficulty based on where you’re at in the city. On and around the strip, you can often find parking that ranges between $6 and $10 per hour, while there are plenty of free parking options elsewhere in the city. 

Additionally, you’ll want to account for car insurance, which is around $2,640 per year according to TheZebra.com. That number is around $1,100 higher than the national average.

Las Vegas Schools

Las Vegas has numerous schools and universities that provide students with a variety of degree programs to choose from, ensuring that Las Vegas has another generation of well-educated professionals ready to lead the city into the future.

The public school system has been rated below average by Great Schools

But there are also many highly regarded private schools to choose from, including Building Blocks Child Care, Kids R Kids #2 Child Care Center, and International Christian Academy. 
You’ll also find numerous local homeschooling groups if you prefer to educate at home.

Las Vegas Community Groups

If you’re religious, you’ll find a vast array of churches and houses of worship in Las Vegas, including those that cater to members of the following faiths: Catholics, Protestants, Jewish, Muslims, Buddhists, and more.

Also, if you are a member of the LGBTQ community, you will find several resources in and around Las Vegas, including The LGBTQ Center of Southern Nevada, Henderson Equality Center, and Las Vegas TransPride.

Las Vegas also has numerous neighborhood and community organizations that you can become involved in, including the Las Vegas Rescue Mission, Vegas Roots Community Garden, and Spread the Word Nevada just to name a few.

Other good places to meet people as a newcomer are local Facebook groups and at Meetup.com.

Las Vegas Health and Wellness

As for Covid restrictions, Las Vegas is open for business without capacity limits. 

The state of Nevada mandates that everyone wear a mask in public indoor settings, but as of Aug 16, all large indoor events with 4,000 or more attendees may show proof of vaccination as an exception to the indoor mask requirement.

These rules are always changing, so check with official sources before making plans for Vegas. 

There are plenty of places where you can work on your personal fitness. Places such as Power Yoga + Pilates + Fitness, Kintsugi Yoga, and KILO CLUB provide great fitness options.

There are multiple world-class hospitals in Las Vegas, including Valley Hospital Medical Center, Summerlin Hospital Medical Center, and Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center. There are also several urgent care clinics, including Las Vegas Urgent Care and DispatchHealth Urgent Medical Care Las Vegas.

For elderly residents or those with extenuating health issues, there are multiple assisted living facilities in Las Vegas, including Avamere at Cheyenne, Aegis Living Las Vegas, Oakley Assisted Living, and Silver Sky at Deer Springs Assisted Living.

For pet lovers, there are several vet and kennel options in and around Las Vegas. These include Boca Park Animal Hospital, Pet Health Animal Hospital, and Just Like Home Doggie Hotel and Grooming.

Las Vegas Climate and Safety

Las Vegas’ weather is generally hot. Summertime temperatures in July average around 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Winters are generally mild, but temperatures do drop into the upper 30s. 

Spring and fall are significantly milder, with temperatures that range anywhere between 50 and 80 degrees, depending on the month. 

Because Las Vegas is in the desert, there is a myth that it’s always hot, but that’s simply not the case. December is the coldest month of the year, and even though snow is rare, temperatures often hover around freezing point, especially at night.

Unfortunately, Las Vegas does have a crime rate that is 17% higher than the national average. 

Crime here is rated an F by AreaVibes, however, Las Vegas’ crime rate is lower than metropolitan areas that are of similar size. Property, theft and violent crimes are the top three categories. 

To combat the problem, metro police in Las Vegas have recently started focusing more on The Strip, where many of the crimes committed take place. 

Clark County officials indicate that around 34,397 people, or 1.8% of Las Vegas’ population is homeless, some living underground in the sewers. City leaders are working with local shelters and other outlets to help them get access to the resources they need, but not all of them want the help.

As for pests and predators to watch out for in Las Vegas, you’ll find Cicadas, Scorpions, Cockroaches, Ants, Spiders, Elm root borer, Bees, and Crickets. You also want to keep an eye out for mountain lions and Gila monsters if you venture outside the city.

Las Vegas Politics, Government, and Taxation

Las Vegas city government does have a bit of a reputation for some financial corruption, as reported by the Las Vegas Review Journal, which provided accounts of multiple city officials using campaign funds and taxpayer money to travel and visit expensive restaurants. 

The city received a C from Data-Z.org regarding its overall fiscal state.

In the last presidential election, 53.7% of voters voted for the Democratic candidate while 44.3% of voters voted Republican. 2% of voters voted independent/third party.

Las Vegas’ sales tax is at 8.38%, making it one of the higher city sales taxes in the nation. However, Las Vegas has some of the lowest property taxes in the nation at 0.53% according to Smartasset.com. 

Finally, according to CNBC, Las Vegas is considered one of the most business friendly cities in the nation, as there is no business income tax, personal income tax, or franchise tax.

Nevada does not have a state income tax, which is certainly a bonus.

Las Vegas’ infrastructure is generally considered very good, as is the case with most of Nevada. 

The staffing of first responders is considered good, as is reflected in quick response times. For instance, the Clark County Fire Department has an average response time of around 7 minutes and 34 seconds according to Elite LV Medical Center’s website.

The Bottom Line

If you’re single and looking for a city with an exciting nightlife where you can meet plenty of new people… Las Vegas may be the right choice for you. But if you’re looking for somewhere quiet and slow-paced to call home, there may be better options elsewhere.

If you’re a couple without children and want a place that provides a healthy mix of culture and entertainment… it’s hard to beat the excitement of Las Vegas. However, if you’re concerned about crime and a rapidly growing population, you might want to keep looking.

If you have a family and want to raise your children in a thriving, diverse community with something always going on… Las Vegas may work for you. However, if you prefer a slower paced, laid-back community where you know everyone in town, you may want to consider another location like nearby suburbs Summerlin South, Spring Valley, or Henderson.

Where to live in America is a very personal choice, because what’s important to us may not be important to you. 

To help you find your perfect place, we recommend using a spreadsheet with weighted scores to help you clearly prioritize your choices. Our free template below can save you hours of time as you weigh your options.

How to Decide Where to Live

We’ve relocated our family for fun several times. We’ve moved from Silicon Valley to Lake Tahoe to Reno to Puerto Rico and back, with a bit of vagabonding “nomadic life” in between.

Although living in Tahoe is fantastic, we’re not sure it’s our forever home. So we’re starting to look at the best places to live in the United States as we approach retirement. We hope you’ll join us on our amazing adventure, because we’d love to help you find your perfect place too. Here’s exactly what you need to do to get started:

 

Step #1 – Assess Where You Are

My first significant relocation as an adult was out of Stockton, California. I didn’t care for the lack of trees or that it was flat. I disliked the hot summers, the boring culture, and I didn’t like not having a trendy downtown with cool stores and cafés.

I did like the small city conveniences of having two malls. We had some nice parks, and I liked the winter fog and the many canals around town. I also liked that you could drive to either the mountains or the sea in just a couple of hours. But I was ready to try something new.

Take a look at where you’re currently located. What do you hate about your current location? What do you like about it? To get a clearer picture of what’s essential to you, make a list of likes and dislikes.

Step #2 – Make a Spreadsheet

When we were considering relocating to South America, we made a spreadsheet to help us narrow down our choices for where to visit in Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay as well as the areas around them.

The sheet is an effective way to quickly and easily compare and score locations for various attributes. In the first column, list out all the attributes that matter most to you, which may include some of the following:

  • Affordability
  • Airport proximity
  • Churches
  • Climate
  • Community vibe
  • Cost of living
  • COVID restrictions
  • Crime stats
  • Government
  • Grocery proximity
  • Gyms
  • Hiking trails
  • Hospital proximity
  • Job opportunities
  • Local community groups
  • Medical care 
  • Proximity to family
  • Recreational activities
  • Restaurants
  • Schools
  • Shopping
  • Sports facilities
  • Startup scene
  • Taxes
  • Things to do
  • Veterinary services
  • Walkability
  • Yoga studios

Add a column that ranks the significance to you on a 0-10 scale to get more accurate results. 1 means the attribute isn’t important to you at all, while 10 means it’s very important.

Next, add columns for each place (city, state or country) that you’re comparing, for example, Miami and Austin. Rank each attribute from 0 to 10. Generally, high scores are good and low scores are bad.

To learn more about any particular attribute, look up information about the location online and make a judgment call. In many cases, such data is readily available from government sources.

If you’re weighting attributes by importance, create a second column with a formula that computes the weighted average of the rating for that place attribute. 

For each place you’ll want to compute an overall score of the weighted attributes.

If all this seems daunting, and you want to have the formulas done for you, copy our free Google Sheet to get started immediately.

We hope you enjoy it! When you begin filling in your new spreadsheet, we recommend ranking your current location to compare against the others.

Step #3 – Google for Ideas

Now comes the exciting part, researching unique locations to see what appeals.

We were seriously considering Chile before we moved to Puerto Rico because it is a huge country with a lot of interesting towns. We did a lot of online research and narrowed down the choices to a small list of places we wanted to visit in person.

One of the first things we considered was whether we wanted to live in a big city or a more rural location.

As we dug deeper, we discovered that we adore smaller towns with lakes and mountains not far from a decent-size city, with a good airport, in a climate where you can produce food.

So we Googled for the top small towns in Chile, best resort towns, where to buy small farms for cheap and so on, just to get started. 

We scoured Google maps and expat forums as well. We ended up adding Puerto Varas, Valdivia, and Pucon to the top of our list of places to explore.

As you do your research, you’ll find many websites, blog posts and listicles that address everything from top cities for entrepreneurs to top towns to raise a family to top places to live off-grid.

YouTube is also a phenomenal resource for learning what it’s like to live in any area of interest.

Put anything that looks interesting on your spreadsheet with links to resources for easy reference until you’ve exhausted the possibilities and have a good list of finalists.

Step #4 – Score Your Top Contenders

We started off by comparing South American nations that we found intriguing. This assisted us in narrowing down our list to Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay, with Chile being the winner for us.

We then used the sheet a second time on various towns that looked interesting to help us plan a tour in-country.

You can score as many places as you like and have time to compare. This will help you find the top places to visit to reduce your travel time and cost. 

We strongly recommend visiting first to get a true feeling for the area and not rely on research data. 

What looks interesting online may turn out to be a total disaster in reality—something you’d never know unless you experience it for yourself. 

For example, Diane was interested in a town called Talca in Chile because it was a farming area with inexpensive land, not too far from Santiago. 

The photos looked good on the internet, but when we arrived, it was not what we expected at all. The plaza was okay, but everything was crumbling, poor. There were insufficient services, and it just wasn’t a place we could call home. 

So make those travel plans to see the places you might consider living before making your final decision. You may want to change your scores based on what you see after or during your trip.

Step#5 – Go and Live Local

When we were looking to move to Puerto Rico, we lived like locals during our month-long scouting trip.

We went grocery shopping, to the mall, to the movie theater, to local restaurants (because we dine out frequently), and we spoke with some real estate agents.

They had so much inside knowledge, along with connections to community resources, which made the whole idea of moving there so much easier.

(And by the way, if you need an introduction to a good, local agent anywhere in the US or Puerto Rico, let us know—our team is happy to make that happen.)

So as you visit each place you’re considering, forget the touristy stuff. 

Go out to the grocery store, try the local gym, visit a yoga class, try the nail salon, walk in the park, and sample any other amenity that you need for a happy life. 

Visit the local schools, talk to people in restaurants, and if you’re thinking of buying a home, definitely meet with a good, local real estate agent to get the lay of the land.

Spend the time to get a feel for the place by doing your regular daily activities, and see if you can imagine living there long-term.

Step #6 – Decide Where to Live

Finally, after visiting each of your finalists, weighting and scoring them, it’s time to decide. Take a look at the ratings on your spreadsheet as well as any notes from your visits to the locations you’re thinking about.

Use the spreadsheet as an influential or helpful guide. Obviously, making the final choice as to where you move will ultimately be a gut decision.

You’ve only got one life, so make the most of it and go out there, broaden your horizons, and enjoy the journey.

To help you find your perfect place, we recommend using a spreadsheet with weighted scores to help you clearly prioritize your choices. Our free template below can save you hours of time as you weigh your options.