By Flo Williamson
Note: This is the 3rd in Flo’s series about retirement in the Lake Tahoe area. In this installment she concentrates on some surprising Nevada towns that make great places to retire, and are a less expensive alternative.
March 18, 2018 — In this article, we’ve got some good news – there are several Nevada towns close to Lake Tahoe where you can benefit from the Tahoe lifestyle without spending a small fortune.
One of the best, and less expensive alternatives is Reno, Nevada, “The Biggest Little City in the World”. I have to admit, that while I’ve flown in and out of Reno, dozens of times over numerous years, my main objective was getting to Lake Tahoe ASAP. I’ve spent little time in the town, but my research on the benefits for retirees in Reno proved to be a most pleasant surprise. Reno is VERY retiree friendly.
Reno is located about 30 miles from Lake Tahoe, over the Sierra Mountains by way of the Mt. Rose highway which starts in Incline Village. The Reno, Nevada climate is similar to a high desert. The winters are cold, with some snow, but it’s usually not nearly as cold or snowy as at the lake next door. There are lots of sunny days. Summers are hot and dry, but the humidity is low, which many find appealing.
Plenty to do in Reno
The University of Nevada at Reno hosts an Osher LIfelong Learning Institute. On the informational website, NewToReno.com, the site map shows many pages dedicated to seniors. The city of Reno publishes a monthly newsletter for seniors about activities, events, and news, and has started a TV network on its public broadcast channel that is run “by seniors, for seniors, and about seniors”. There is plenty to do here in the way of volunteering and activities. There is minor league baseball, a basketball farm team and the UNReno teams are a big part of the sports scene. Big name entertainment can be seen at the numerous resort casinos. There are Hot Air Balloon races and the Annual Cattle Drive (through downtown) and Rodeo is a popular event. You’re still in the west here, folks! For those so inclined, the Burning Man festival is held 80 miles east of Reno. Recreational marijuana use is legal in the state of Nevada. (The Senior Page on NewToReno.com, actually has info on the NEW Cannabis that’s out there now- what to look out for and where to get it)!!
There is a Veterans’ Hospital here, as well as two other medical centers. There is plenty of public transportation and many senior centers. Reno has a new and efficient airport and Amtrak stops here. Interstates 80, 395, and the new 580 run through town.
Nevada has no income tax
The main benefit for retirees is that Nevada has no state income tax. Sales tax in Reno and the surrounding counties varies from 4.6 to 8.265% depending on the item and the location of purchase. A brief look at real estate taxes showed that the tax on a $300,000 home was thousands less than what is paid on a similar home in the Northeastern US.
The Reno-Sparks (Reno’s next door neighbor to the east) area is bustling with new industry. Tesla, Apple, Google, and Panasonic have opened factories, research facilities, and offices here. UNReno engineering and computer grads are now sticking around instead of leaving town. Long known for its reputation of casinos, gambling, and quickie divorces, Reno is being transformed into a young(er) and more vibrant town. There are urban parks and a riverwalk. Old casinos are being replaced with boutique hotels. Pawn shops and tattoo parlors are now farm to table restaurants, coffee shops, trendy stores and well, hipster tattoo parlors!!
Housing starting to get expensive
All this comes with a price; however, and Reno is currently in a housing shortage crunch. According to Zillow, the average single home price is $334,900. Housing is available though, just make sure to keep on top of what comes on the market and be ready to pull the trigger when it does. Unlike its sister city of sin, Las Vegas, Reno has few dedicated 55+ communities. More info on the Reno Sparks 55+ housing market can be found on the TopRetirements.com website under the Best Places tab, or the “Find a Community” tab at top right of most pages (select the State you are interested in).
Head south to Carson City
For those of you who want to get away from city and suburban life, we’re going south of Reno to investigate the towns that lay in the Carson Valley. First stop is Carson City, Nevada’s capital. Carson City is about 30 miles south of Reno via routes 580 and 395. It lies in the beautiful, agriculturally rich, Carson River Valley, with the Sierras to the West and the Pine Nut Mountains to the east. From Carson City, along Rt 50, 25 miles over a mountain pass and along Lake Tahoe is Stateline and South Lake Tahoe.
Carson City came to fame in the 1800’s when silver was discovered nearby. For history buffs, the historic district in town still boosts opulent homes and buildings from that era and walking tours of the area are popular. Downtown Carson City has casinos, small shops, and restaurants, with major chain and box stores south of downtown. Carson City has local bus transportation with additional routes to South Lake Tahoe and the Reno airport. Greyhound Bus service stops in downtown Reno.
The biggest draw to the Carson Valley are the recreational activities. With mountains to the east and west, hiking, bike, and dirt bike trails abound, There are plenty of fishing opportunities in the Carson River and its tributaries. AND, don’t forget, Lake Tahoe with all its recreation and entertainment is just an easy trip over a four lane highway. There is a newer hospital in town and the town has a senior center which offers activities and informational and health programs.
As in other areas, real estate prices here are increasing, Zillow has the average price for home at $278,500. While there are many apartments and assisted living facilities for seniors, 55+ housing communities are limited.
There’s more south of Carson City
Going further south into the Carson Valley, about 20 minutes from Carson City, are the neighboring towns of Minden and Gardnerville. These areas have become quite popular with retirees and others due to their proximity to Reno, Carson City, and Lake Tahoe, which is about 30 minutes away over the Kingsbury Grade, ending in Stateline and next door South Lake Tahoe. Minden and Gardnerville are also close to fishing, golf, and hiking which are especially popular and snow skiing is only about 15 minutes away. The California mountains are also nearby for hiking, fishing, and camping for those who prefer more “wooded” vistas.
The Gardnerville/ Minden area has numerous opportunities for active seniors. There is a Douglas County Senior Center in Gardnerville which sponsors activities and trips and there are MeetUp groups here. Public transportation runs throughout the two towns and there are scheduled routes to Lake Tahoe. There is a Medical Center in Gardnerville. Outside of the prerequisite Walmart, national chain type stores in this area are somewhat limited, with most traveling to Carson City for any kind of serious shopping. Fine dining restaurants are limited as well, but most residents appreciate the “small town” atmosphere of these two towns which boast numerous fairs and festivals and the recreational opportunities the area provides.
Similar to other areas in this section of Nevada, there are few dedicated 55+ communities. Most housing dedicated to seniors are assisted living facilities. Housing prices here have escalated in the recent years, with Zillow reporting the average price in Gardnerville at $339,000 and Minden at $358,000, but both are less than a house in busy South Lake Tahoe, CA, the least expensive area on the lake, coming in at $392,000. And don’t forget— There’s no state income tax in Nevada!
Check out TopRetirements.com for more information on these interesting retirement towns!
About Flo Williamson: Flo has been so helpful to Topretirements as volunteer Blog and Forum moderator, frequent Blog commenter, as well as editorial contributor. Here are links to some of her other articles – we think you’ll like how she describes the retirement experience in the places she has lived and/or spent large amounts of time visiting.
Flo’s Lake Tahoe Retirement Tour: Part 1
Part 2: Lake Tahoe Retirement: The West Shore
Part 3: Some Surprisingly Nice Places to Retire in Nevada
Flo’s North Carolina Visit
Flo’s Observations about South Carolina Retirement
Comments? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below.
Comments? Are you thinking about a Nevada retirement, or do you live there already? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below.