States – Nevada


Nevada has many of the features that many retirees are looking for. It has a wide range of living options, from the Sierra Nevada mountains to the Mojave Desert. There’s also Lake Mead and the Humboldt River for those who want to live by the water. Nevada is one of the least densely populated states, so there are many wide open spaces to choose from. It also is one of nine states without a state income tax, and there is no inheritance tax.

There are also downsides to living in the Silver State. Its violent crime rate per capita is the second-worst in the country, and life expectancy for seniors is below the national median. The economy is also not particularly good: in 2012 the state’s per capita income at $37,361 was ranked number 37 in the country and has been declining over the last decade. These factors led to rate Nevada among the 10 worst states to retire in 2014. The Fiscal Times in 2011 ranked the five worst places to retire, and two are in Nevada, because of high crime and poor economic conditions.

Nevada is known for the neon and glitz of Lake Tahoe, Reno, and Las Vegas, and tourism does account for the majority of the state’s economy. The service sector employs about half of Nevada’s workforce. The areas around the tourist areas can be expensive: the neighborhood around Lake Tahoe has a cost of living 50% above the national average and median home price around twice the national average.

But there are some places that have good amenities and reasonable living costs.


Located in the west corner of Nevada, Gardnerville is a tiny town of 6,000 with a good quality of life and low crime. It has a Mediterranean, subtropical climate with temperatures ranging from high of 90 degrees in July to low of 17 degrees in January.

The location provides opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. Lampe Park is a city park and community gathering place with ball fields, tennis courts, picnic areas, and a stream. In the summer there is a farmers market, carnival and fair, and various other community and sporting events. The Carson Valley Golf Course provides a scenic venue to get in nine or 18 holes. There is also a balloon center that provides hot air balloon rides.

Those interested in the history of the local area can explore the Carson Valley Museum and Cultural Center. The scenery in the area has been the setting for several major films, most recently 1989’s The Wizard starring Fred Savage. Gardnerville is 50 miles from Reno, which has an international airport.

Boulder City

Boulder City is located in the south part of the state, just 26 miles from Las Vegas. It is adjacent to Hoover Dam, whose construction was responsible for the existence of the town and still employs a good part of the town’s 16,000 people. For a small town, Boulder City has a good number of amenities. There are two city golf courses and a private course, a city pool, a racquetball complex, tennis courts, athletic fields, and a BMX bicycle track.

There are also many mountain hiking and bike trails, some at the Bootleg Canyon Mountain Bike Park. Also,  Lake Mead is just a few miles away. Boulder City Municipal Airport serves private planes, and supports skydiving expeditions and scenic aerial tours of Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon.

Other attractions include the Alan Bible Botanical Garden and the Nevada Southern Railroad Museum. Healthcare is provided at the Boulder City Hospital. Notable residents of Boulder City include actor-musician Desi Arnaz, Jr., who owns the Boulder Theatre, home to the Boulder City Ballet Company.


Henderson is just 16 miles from Las Vegas and, with 280,000 people, is Nevada’s second-largest city. Not surprisingly, Henderson has lots of amenities and attractions. More surprisingly, Henderson has a very low crime rate considering its proximity to the Sin City. In fact, Henderson was ranked by Forbes magazine in 2011 as America’s second safest city, and was one of the 10 safest cities in the United States according to the 2014 FBI Uniform Crime Report. Bloomberg BusinessWeek also named it one of the best cities to live in America.

With its 37 miles of hiking trails, Prevention magazine listed Henderson as the sixth best walking city in America in 2007. There are many attractions in town, including the Wildhorse Golf Club, Clark County Heritage Museum, Ethel  M Botanical Cactus Garden, Green Valley Ranch Resort, Spa, and Casino, and Henderson Pavilion Concert Theater and Recreational Plaza.

There are also several colleges and universities in the area for those wishing to continue their education. McCarran International Airport is located northwest of the city.


Located in the southern tip of Nevada, near the border with Arizona, Mesquite is a small town with lots to offer. There are many places to stay active outdoors, starting with the nine golf courses that draw avid golfers from all over the area. The Wolf Creek Golf Club has amazing scenery and intriguing elevation changes, steep hills, and elevated tees along the 18-hole course.

Mesquite also has several casinos, including the Virgin River Casino, CasaBlanca, Eureka Casino Hotel, and Stateline Casino and Motel. The Virgin Valley Heritage Museum displays exhibits about the history of the area. The museum building is itself listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The Mesquite Fine Arts Gallery displays local artwork. Mesquite Airport supports private aviation and skydiving trips. It hosts the annual RE/MAX World Long Drive Championship, a world championship in long drive golfing.


Fallon is in the desert in the western part of the state and has a desert climate, with hot summers and mild winters. It also has many things to do for a town of about 9,000. Grimes Point, one of Nevada’s top National Recreation Trails, is 11 miles east of Fallon and displays petroglyphs and rock writings by ancient native settlers, many dating from 8,000 years ago.

There are also several sites within an hour’s drive of town that display life in the Old West. Cold Springs, about 60 miles east, has ruins of freight and telegraph relay stations, and an exhibit on the history of the Cold Springs Pony Express Station.

For more recent history, there’s the Project Shoal area, site of an underground nuclear weapons test in the 1960s by Los Alamos National Laboratory. For even more history of the area, there’s the Churchill County Museum. Those interested in the arts can visit several art galleries in town and the Barkley Theatre and Fallon Theatres, which hold live performances.


Is Nevada a good state to retire in? One man shares his views:


For more information about retirement in Nevada:

State overview in facts and figures

State taxes

State services for senior residents

Profiles of major cities

Retirement communities

Best regions for retirement