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The Mountains of Nevada Offer Surprising Places to Retire

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States

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,, 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 a few legal tidbits to knnow if you a fan of gambling or casinos in general, is a good one. The laws vary state to state so if you are moving from out of state you should definitely read abou t the laws here. 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, actually has info on the NEW Cannabis that’s out there now- what to look out for and where to get it)!! If you are looking for cbd you can check out Medterra.

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 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.

Blue Lake near Minden

Bodie – a ghost town in the area

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 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.

Posted by Admin on March 17th, 2018


  1. I have been tracking Reno weather during winter time and thought the temperature is not too bad comparing to Seattle/ Puget Sound area where I live. To confirm my assessment I visited Reno this past February and realize that wind chill factor makes a 37F feels like 30F. It’s bitterly cold in the evening and uncomfortably cold in the morning. Reno experiences lots of high wind in late fall and winter. Overall Reno is a great retirement town, not too big, not too expensive, and not congested like other big cities. Lots of recreational options. Restaurant choices and quality is good. If you can handle cold weather Reno is an excellent choice. I am moving Reno to second choice on my list. Austin, TX is now my top choice and plan to visit it again in the summer. Yes, I heard about the summer heat but between hot and cold I will take the hot.

    by Robert — March 21, 2018

  2. I’m interested in exploring Mount Shasta for a vacation/retreat …..possibly a retirement location……does anyone have any comments/relocation information they want to share about Mount Shasta in CA? I’m also interested in traveling to Tofina in British Columbia/Vancouver Island for a summer vacation…..also possibly renting, maybe relocating….. understand the beaches, surfing and hiking/biking trails are incredible……let me know…..thanks…..K/NYC…..

    Hi Kennedy
    You can go to “Look up Retirement Towns by State” and scroll down to get some information. Canada is listed as well. You can also use the search engine and check out the forum for more info.
    Hope this helps!!

    by Admin — March 24, 2018

  3. I have visited Reno many times due to having family there. I have really looked into retiring there. The things I love about it are as follows. High desert climate with four seasons. Proximity to outdoor activities. Lake Tahoe being one of the most beautiful places in N.A. Sierras are stunning. No state income taxes!
    Cons for me are the distance from the east coast. Reno is actually farther west than L.A. and there are few direct flights from the east coast. It is a long day of travel to get there from the east. Housing prices are not that cheap. Right after the recession would have been the time to buy. I think major employers like Google, Amazon, and Tesla have really boosted their housing as well as being next door to California.
    If you are looking to retire to a four season town, love the outdoors and are from California, Reno would be a great option. Housing prices would still be very reasonable for you.

    by RJ — July 28, 2018

  4. Hello, Here is my two cents on Reno NV. I have lived in Reno for 40 years, originally from San Francisco California. Reno use to be a very nice small to mid sized town. It is now very expensive to live here. The medium home price just hit an all time high of $400,000. Rent’s are also very high $1,200-$1,500 for a decent one to two bedroom apartment. $1,500 and up for a house. It gets hot in the summer but cools down at night and can get bitter cold in the winter. We get snow but it doesn’t stay on the ground for long after a big snowstorm. The economy is booming, with Tesla, Amazon and other huge employers who recently moved to the area. No state tax is a big plus. There is a lot of natural beauty to the north, south and west in the Sierra mountains, the east is pretty in its own way but is high desert. It is about four hours to San Francisco and the Pacific ocean. Traffic has gotten bad compared to just a few years ago. There are many large special events most every weekend through the summer. There are lots of homeless people begging on the side of the road and the shelter is located to close to the downtown area. If you have a substantial income and about $400,000-500,000 to buy a nice house this could be a good fit for you. If you are like most of us on a limited budget your standard of living will not be very good here.

    by Michael — July 29, 2018

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