Reflecting on Eight Years of Living in Las Vegas

It was eight years ago today that I backed a 26-foot Uhaul truck into my Las Vegas home’s driveway. I drove it from a tiny community called Johnson Siding in the South Dakota Black Hills, where my family spent about five years. I lived the rest of my life in suburban Atlanta.

It was time for a new adventure. While I loved living in the woods on a large property, and the great neighbors, it was tough to raise a family in that isolated community of about 800 residents. The business district consisted of a gas station, bar, storage facility, church, volunteer fire department and six-room motel. Anything else, including schools, were more than 10 miles away.

Buying a house during the bust was difficult

My wife and I struggled to find a Las Vegas home that was move-in ready. While it was a buyer’s market, most of the homes had significant issues. Vandals, burglars and squatters took their toll on the housing inventory. We looked at about 30 homes. Only 2 did not need immediate repairs. We chose one in Summerlin.

Moved to Las Vegas to open live poker site

The main reason we chose Las Vegas was because I found a company that agreed to a partnership to develop a live poker site. We were going to compete with All Vegas Poker, which later merged with Poker Atlas. The goal was to get it off the ground and eventually use it to promote licensed Nevada poker sites. We were taking a bit of a gamble as online poker was not yet legal, but this was Las Vegas.

There were about 50 poker rooms in Las Vegas at the time. I knew little about any of them. It turned out to be more than I could handle. My partner and I decided to amicably part ways.

This was a blessing in disguise because Nevada online poker became a total disappointment. Two of the three licensed poker sites failed. The last one standing is a dumpster fire.

I decided to play online poker for a living. I had done this off and on over the years.

Online poker’s Black Friday changed that plan

Property crime was high when we moved to Las Vegas. The economy was in shambles. On the morning of April 15, 2011, someone tried to break into my house. My big dogs scared them off. It turned out I was one of many in the neighborhood that was targeted. It was a group of teenagers going door-to-door.

One of my neighbors confronted a suspect at gunpoint. Metro Police cars raced through the neighborhood for an hour. A low-flying helicopter came out to catch the criminals. It was crazy.

Once that chaos subsided, I got online and found out PokerStars, Full Tilt and Absolute Poker were indicted on a day online poker describes as Black Friday. I only had money at PokerStars, so I got paid quickly. However, it was time for a new source of income.

I started writing about Las Vegas and Black Friday on my old blog. The owner of USPoker.com saw it. I started doing work for that company and continue to do so. I am also working on this website and doing other odd jobs.

Riviera closure was my favorite event since moving to Las Vegas

Riviera’s closure was the most fun I have had since moving to Las Vegas. I enjoyed covering the resort’s last week. Watching the workers struggle to remove the ‘Crazy Girls’ statue is something that I will never forget. I had a perfect position, perched on the five-foot base of a support beam.

The liquidation sale was interesting. I took many pictures in this article. It was a blast to wander the ruins of the hotel as if the apocalypse hit.

I sat outside Riviera all night when the Jason Bourne scene was filmed there. The last step was watching the implosion of the Monaco tower. We got a hotel room at SpringHill Suites for that. The parking deck we viewed it from is about 800 feet from the implosion.

Raising a family in Las Vegas can be normal

Some people have the stereotype of Las Vegas being a terrible place to raise kids. It certainly has its bad elements. However, any big city does. It is all in the parenting.

Both of my kids grew up in scout programs. My wife is a scout leader. Both kids played hockey years before the Vegas Golden Knights came along.

Summerlin offers many activities that appeal to kids. Every neighborhood has a large park. You can keep your kids out of trouble if you are involved, just like anywhere else.

The public schools have significant funding issues. We know this firsthand. My wife is a Clark County School District teacher. Her job is challenging, to say the least. The classes are overcrowded. The building is 50 years old and dilapidated. There are not enough supplies. Stories like this are common in the CCSD.

Adjusting to living in Las Vegas can be difficult

Living in Las Vegas is what you make it. It is not for everybody. Living in a 24-hour town can be a problem. It took me some adjusting to be able to pull it off. I have seen many others not make it and fail quickly. You cannot live like a tourist as a resident. Some people do not figure that out in time.

My wife and I are the type that like to move every few years. We have been unable to come up with anywhere else better, so we have stayed in Las Vegas longer than anywhere else we have lived.

My wife and I are used to having all the dining and entertainment options available. We certainly take advantage of that. It would be hard to live somewhere that we could not choose between 50 shows on a random Tuesday night, especially with so many ways to get discounted or free show tickets. Having those options is one of the best features of living in Las Vegas.

Most of my work revolves around Las Vegas tourism these days. That would be tough to do if we lived somewhere else. I figure we will live here for many more years for that and many other reasons.

I hate the weather

The weather is worst part of living here. I cannot stand going outside during the day from the end of May until mid-September. On the other hand, my wife loves summer here. She accepts that I think she is crazy for that.

I like rainy days. We get very few of those. I miss having a winter and an occasional snow. We have had measurable snow twice since moving here. The first was in January 2011. The last was in February 2015. I will end with pictures of that with the hopes that we see more soon.

Feel free to ask questions about living in Las Vegas

There are many myths about living in Las Vegas. If you have any questions about it, feel free to leave a comment below.

Snow covers the Red Rock Resort parking deck, January 3, 2011.
Snow at Desert Breeze with the Las Vegas Strip in the background, January 3, 2011.
Downtown Summerlin snow, February 23, 2015.
Downtown Summerlin snow, February 23, 2015.

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