Retirement and Las Vegas

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 in Las Vegas with family for a few days of fun. It’s a combined birthday celebration for our three sons. We have been here twice before as a family, when our children were not old enough to drink or gamble. Vegas was more family-oriented then.

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.


  1. RR says

    I don’t agree with you regarding Las Vegas. We had the occasion to stay there
    for 2 weeks. We purchased 3 condos. They originally were $280,000 each and we purchased them for around $ 56,00 each. 3 bedroom newer, 1600 sq ft. There are lots of newer areas with lots of infastructure. Restaraunts, hospitals, strip malls, major retailers, major discount retailers, banks
    movie theatres and yes lots of grocery stores. I would not go near the strip for anything. Las Vegas was beautiful. I don’t know how it will be in the summertime but I bet retirees will like the warm weather.

    Where else can a senior buy a 1600 sq ft newer condo for monthly payments of
    $ 350 per month (includes HOA, Taxes and Insurance). What’s great about it is
    you can get in the car and in 4 hours be in California (where my family is)

  2. RonNV says

    I am semi retired and live up in the Anthem area although not in a retirement community. This is the place to retire to. Tons of things to do even if you do not gamble (I don’t but my wife does a little). The quality of medical care is good. Dining is incredible and many of the casinos offer 2 for 1 buffet coupons. The weather is far better than Florida or the Midwest. No snow. It does get hot during the summer months but everything is air conditioned. If you want to just sit back and relax the play the stock market this is a great place. No income tax and no inheritance tax. Think about that if you live in a place like New Jersey.

  3. Acajudi says

    I spent bout three weeks in LV during July and August. I loved it, and I do not gamble. I am still working in a second career, but I love Kalispell, Montana, and I plan wineter in LV. I am in Illinois now.

  4. RR says

    I just wanted to update you since I posted in March/2010. We have since purchased 10 condos and they are all rented with good tenants. We bought a huge house for us (4,000 sq ft) almost new with $ 170,000 in upgrades. We purchased it for $ 270,000. We have spent the hottest part of the summer in LV (July/August) AND LOVED IT!! We came back to Southern California and put
    our house up for sale. We live 8 miles from the beach and high on top of a hill. We loved Vegas. The people there were really nice and there is almost
    no crime in the neighborhood that we are moving to. Where else can you
    buy inexpensive housing, no state tax, nice weather, nice people, cheap
    groceries, restaraunts and utilities. This will enable my husband to retire
    at 53 and we can get out of this rat race here in Southern California.

  5. funny says

    To the original poster,
    You don’t want to live in the strip. It is for tourists.
    And most people living in the country (any states) have to drive to grocery stores. I rarely hear people say they walk to buy groceries.

  6. debra says

    I have been to vegas about 50 times. When someone wants to retire to vegas you don’t look for a place to live near the strip unless you have the need to gamble
    My brother has lived their for 17 yrs. In a senior mobile home park. It is a good place to retire, no state tax, cost of living is 25% cheaper than san diego. the original writer stated he had only been there a few times, so he doesn’t know squat.

  7. cindy S says

    I am thinking of moving to Las Vegas. I’ve tried the gulf of mexico, was too humid for my liking. I have lived in s. calif. for 3 yrs out at Edwards AFB, and loved the weather. I am alittle worried about crime, looking for a nice apt. that is safe.

  8. Alex says

    It appears the writter never left the South strip. go 2 miles either way and stores and transportation is avaliable. as for crime eliminate the strip and the crime is lower than most comparable citys,

    Also health care is affordable and efficent. also there is 24 hr night life.

    I have been to other cities and some shut down as early as 6:00p.m. and as late as 12:00 a.m.

    On top of that great weather and receration when away from the strip.

    • RR says

      Well here is another update. It is now April/2012 and we are still lovin Las Vegas. The cost of living is much lower than in California, food is cheaper, utilities, entertainment, etc. We thought that we would return to
      Southern California often after we moved here – we haven’t been back
      even once, and have no desire to. This is a fabulous place to live!

      • Patrick says

        I totally agree and my wife and I love it!! We moved back to Vegas after trying Florida and South Carolina, couldn’t wait to get back!! We actually live up in Sun City Anthem Henderson but now we are moving back down to the west side of Vegas, near “The Lakes”. Even though Sun City is nice,the vibe here is too slow and too far away from the best shopping and action. We are retired but Sun City is simply to far from the best the area has to offer and is very car dependent…Sometimes I like to walk or ride the bus. Now we can take a cab to the strip or a place like Red Rock Casino(which we love) and not have to pay a fortune to get there. The weather, the entertainment, the shopping and recreation are second to none!! People looking for a little or alot of everything, Las Vegas has it!!!

  9. Acajudi says

    I may buy one of those 56k condos, so
    I will have own place in LV! I love the public
    transportation, and groceries can be ordered
    online and placed on your kitchen table!

    The LV people were very nice and friendly!
    Crime can happen anywhére , so do not carry
    a purse, and do not wear expensive clothing or
    jewelry. I am a senior citizen, and have been
    al over the world, without any problems.
    I am ready to eliminate any problems, so they
    read my body language, and they move on.

  10. Chris Barfoot says

    RR, can you give me any links to condos available?? I don’t know what prices are like now in September of 2013?? But I’ve been to Vegas twice now and sure would like to set myself up for retirement… Thanks for any help you can provide.

    Newfoundland, Canada

  11. George says

    We moved back to Henderson NV, 15 mins from the strip, to retire for several reasons. Our property tax is 1/4 of what it was in Upstate NY, and half the cost when we lived San Antonio. NV has no state income tax and 55+communities offer us a club house with a pool, tennis, golf and any kind of club you can think of. We seldom go to the strip, our local casinos offer all us need with cheap prices, prime rib is still under $10.00 and breakfast goes for $1.49. We can live so much better here with the Las Vegas cost of living and there’s always something to do here. Come here and spend some time off the strip, I know a great realtor to help with your relocation.

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