Ask me ten years ago and I would have told you that Las Vegas would be a fun place to live in retirement, at least part time. It was energetic, unique and affordable if you don’t have a gambling addiction. Things have changed.
We are having a different kind of fun now. We all know that Las Vegas is hurting economically. Many believe it will recover as a destination for conventioneers and high rollers.
I have my doubts if Vegas will recapture its appeal as a retirement location for the middle classes. There are several reasons for this belief, based on personal experience and observation.
First, most of the appeal for a retiree in Las Vegas used to be the “wow” factor, i.e., a mecca of fun and entertainment. The problem is that this fun and entertainment requires spending that is as frivolous as you can find.
Boomers and retirees have learned hard lessons in recent years about what frivolous spending can do to a retirement plan. I doubt that all of those lessons will be forgotten. I know that the appeal of gambling is decreased for me. I just don’t enjoy it as much as I used to.
Second, the condo boom that attracted many boomers and retirees has gone beyond boom – it has blown up. Many thousands of condos have been built. They are all over and near the Strip. The problem is that the Strip is now a terrible place to live. Condo sales have tanked.
There is virtually no infrastructure on or near the Strip to support a household. For example, you can’t find a grocery store in walking distance. We are staying in a timeshare on the Strip. The only place to get groceries is at a drug store, at greatly inflated prices.
This means having to get in your car to do almost anything except gamble. That wouldn’t be so so bad except that the traffic in Las Vegas is just horrible, much worse that it used to be. The monorails that have been built on the Strip were designed to funnel traffic into casinos, not move people efficiently.
My guess is that everything that is done in Las Vegas is primarily intended to benefit the gambling industry. The needs of people who work or have retired here are way down the list of priorities.
Even the visitors to Las Vegas are treated as a captive audience. So many attractions in the hotels that were free in our previous visits are now costly extras. It’s a huge turn-off and not a good way to re-build the appeal of the city to regular folks.
We will probably visit Las Vegas again but I doubt I will ever think about this city – as I once did – as a retirement destination.