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What is the cost of living in Reno, NV?

The Cost of Living in Reno, NV

Updated on April 20, 2021


If you're a long time resident of Reno, NV, then you remember when the cost of living in the Biggest Little City was an attractive alternative to California's seemingly impossible cost of living requirements. Startling - almost frightening - to think things in California have gotten worse over the years to the point that an 800 square foot, two bedroom home in the Bay Area costs roughly half a million dollars.

While financial conditions aren't as prohibitive in Reno, the city has experienced some amount of 'castoff' effect due to the large numbers of residents moving out of California (dare we say fleeing?), and the fact that Reno is so ideally located that one can be in any part of California within an hour's flight time.

In the meantime, Reno has undergone a period of adjustment over the last 20 years as the city actively shifted its industrial focus away from gaming and tourism to an actual industrial based economy. More companies and corporations have moved into the Reno area than any time in its history, and moreover, more companies have migrated to Reno in the last two decades than any other city in the history of the United States.

Reno is experiencing a modern day industrial boom thanks to the aforementioned geographic location and the attractive tax situation as compared to California. At the time of the writing of this article, 120 companies a year are leaving California - many that were formed in California and many others that were once considered part of California's history - and most of them are landing in neighboring Nevada, particularly Reno. This is in part due to the city's location on both Interstate 80 as well as the trans continental railroad; it costs less to transport goods to the California ports then it does to have a business in California, and shipping goods back east is much simpler.

But it's not just a matter of logistics that makes Reno an attractive place to be for many corporations. Corporate taxes are low, and there is no state personal income tax, which means Nevada (and specifically Reno) is an appealing place to be for both the corporation and its employees.

Let us be clear on this, there are many, many positive aspects to this situation. More jobs are available in the Reno area than ever before. On the whole, these jobs are better paying and have more benefits compared to the majority of jobs that used to originate in the gaming industry as recently as 1995. This means a higher standard of living that branches out into all areas of society: more stores, restaurants and entertainment venues have opened up in Reno than at any other time in its history. Where once the main form of entertainment could only be found in the casinos, Reno now has two minor league sports teams (The Reno Aces baseball club and the Reno Bighorns basketball team), a luxury movie theater with an IMAX venue, multiple concert venues for visiting entertainment acts (used to be a time when every traveling entertainment act not performing in a casino was staged at Lawlor Events Center, now there are five or six large sized concert and entertainment venues in the area), a high end outlet shopping center at the Sparks Marina on the north end of town (The Legends) and another at the south end (The Summit Shopping Center).

How Has This Affected Cost of Living in Reno NV?

But for all the benefits that have come with the recent and rapid growth pace Reno is experiencing, there are drawbacks. Increases in property taxes in Washoe County have outpaced all counties in Nevada and most of the counties in the United States. Sales taxes have similarly risen, and in Reno, gas prices are the highest in the state thanks to a Washoe County tax levy of 18 cents per gallon (if you live in the Reno area and have ever driven to Carson City or Fernly, you will have undoubtedly noticed that gas is 30 cents a gallon cheaper in those areas.

Housing costs have gone up across the state, but Reno is in the lead thanks to the influx of new residents coming over from California. Construction has not been able to keep up with demand, and the resulting shortage has meant higher prices on homes as well as increased rates in rents and leases. This also means utilities are being stretched, and the cost of electric and gas natural gas have gone up.

It should be noted that while all these drawbacks do sound like a frightening story, and for many who remember how affordable it used to be to live in Reno that's exactly what it is, Reno is still just above the national average in terms of ranking mid sized to large cities. The national average for cost of living is a ranking of 100 (based on factors such as housing prices, food prices, fuel costs, crime, etc.). This means the cheapest city is ranked at 50, while the most expensive city is ranked at 150, with Reno ranked at 116. To put it another way, of the 83 major cities in the United States ranked for cost of living, Reno stands at #53, which is definitely in the lower half.

So while Reno is not the most expensive city to live in, the increases in cost of living Reno has seen have been steadily more than the national average, and it doesn't look like things will be slowing down any time soon.

That having been said, there is no question Reno is one of the greatest cities to live in anywhere in the U.S. Lake Tahoe and all its recreational activities are just a half hour's drive away. As said before, you can get to any California city for a visit in about an hour on a plane, and if you prefer solitude, empty desert can be found just twenty minutes to the east.

And while housing costs have risen, at least they haven't skyrocketed as has happened over in California.

If you've experienced the increased cost of living as a Reno resident and find yourself in a time of financial need, come see us at 5980 South Virginia Street, Building 1 in Reno and we'll help you adjust to those pesky cost of living increases.

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Noel Ballon

Noel Ballon is a skilled personal finance writer passionate about helping people to succeed financially.

As a guest writer for CASH 1, Noel has shared his knowledge on a variety of financial issues, including budgeting, saving, investing, and retirement planning

Noel has a background in economics and finance with over five years of experience writing in the financial sector.

He works to simplify complicated financial ideas so that people from every area of society may understand them.

When Noel isn't writing, he likes keeping current on the latest financial sector changes and looking for fresh approaches to assisting people in choosing wise financial decisions.