Study: Best Cities to Live in Nevada


Low taxes, moderately priced homes and some of the most impressive desert views around are just a few reasons why Nevada is one of the fastest-growing states in the country. From the bright lights of Sin City to the rugged peaks of the Sierra Nevada range, the Silver State shines as a great place to live. Whether you're starting a family, hunting for a new job or planning your retirement, you won't regret taking a gamble on calling it home.

Gaming and tourism are the economy's major players, but the health care sector continues to grow at a rapid pace. Opportunities for fun and recreation are virtually endless, but you'll also find plenty of quiet spots to escape the hustle and bustle. If you're moving to Nevada for the first time or just changing zip codes, the CreditDonkey experts agree that settling down in any of these 10 cities means hitting the jackpot.

10 Best Cities to Live in Nevada

Study Methodology

Our study is based on the following five factors:

  1. Crime Rate
  2. Commute Time
  3. Income
  4. Education
  5. Restaurants Per Capita

Crime rates are always an important consideration when you're planning a move. Take a look at how each city in our study measures up based on the odds of being the victim of a violent crime.

Whether you're relocating to a larger city like Henderson or one of Nevada's tinier towns, clocking the commute time before you pack your bags is a smart move. If you're worried about how long the drive to work could take, we've crunched the numbers to calculate the average commute for you.

Tip: Is gas costing you a fortune? Use a credit card with gas rewards to save money.

At the end of a long work week, it's nice to be able to cash in on a big payday. We looked at median household incomes to determine which cities offer the highest salaries. Since education is often tied to income, we also considered the percentage of residents who hold a bachelor's degree or higher.

Tourists don't just come to Nevada to gamble; they also come for the food. Las Vegas boasts roughly 3,000 restaurants, but even the state's smallest cities have something for every taste. We calculated the number of restaurants per capita to help you narrow down your choices.

10. North Las Vegas

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 130.9
  • Commute Time: 27.6 minutes
  • Income: $54,466
  • Residents With a Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 15.2%
  • Restaurants: 1 per 1195 inhabitants

Though it's considered part of the Las Vegas metro area and shares a similar name, North Las Vegas is an energetic, thriving city in its own right. Job opportunities abound, with the federal government one of the area's top employers. Nellis Air Force Base is located here, as is a field office of the U.S. Department of Energy. Families find North Las Vegas especially attractive thanks to its lower cost of living and moderately priced homes.

Did You Know: The nearby Las Vegas Motor Speedway hosts a number of NASCAR events each year.

9. West Wendover

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 226.5
  • Commute Time: 7.7 minutes
  • Income: $38,533
  • Residents With a Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 7.9%
  • Restaurants: 1 per 2254 inhabitants

West Wendover sits right next to the Nevada-Utah border, just over 100 miles east of Elko. Despite having fewer than 5,000 residents, West Wendover still sees plenty of action thanks to the five casino hotels located in town. If you're not the gambling sort, you can always play a round at the Toana Vista Golf Course or head across the border to check out the Bonneville Salt Flats. Aside from its small-town charm, one of the things residents love most about living here is the brief commute, which takes less than eight minutes on average.

Did You Know: One of the city's most notable landmarks is "Wendover Will," a 63-foot tall neon cowboy which currently sits on Wendover Boulevard.

8. Reno

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 193.4
  • Commute Time: 19.4 minutes
  • Income: $47,814
  • Residents With a Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 28.2%
  • Restaurants: 1 per 384 inhabitants

On the opposite side of the state, close to the California border, is the Biggest Little City in the World. Originally established as a boom town for gold-seekers headed west, Reno has grown into a sprawling oasis amidst the desert landscape of the Sierra Nevada valley. The downtown area is known for its nightlife scene but by day, residents enjoy a variety of outdoor activities including hiking, biking and rafting down the Truckee River.

Did You Know: Up until the 1970s, Reno was considered the unofficial divorce capital of the world, thanks to lenient laws that made it possible to get unhitched in a mere six weeks.

7. Mesquite

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 919.1
  • Commute Time: 13.3 minutes
  • Income: $43,384
  • Residents With a Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 16.5%
  • Restaurants: 1 per 730 inhabitants

Once a tiny pioneer town, Mesquite is one of the state's fastest-growing tourism and retirement destinations. This city of just over 16,000 residents sits roughly 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas and is the last stop before crossing over into Arizona. Mesquite's close proximity to several national parks and Lake Mead is one of its most outstanding features. The low incidence of violent crime and short average commute are just icing on the cake.

Did You Know: Mesquite's Lost City Museum is a showcase for one of the Southwest's largest collections of Pueblo Indian artifacts.

6. Elko

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 159.2
  • Commute Time: 26.2 minutes
  • Income: $71,297
  • Residents With a Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 19.8%
  • Restaurants: 1 per 346 inhabitants

Located in the high desert of northeast Nevada, Elko is notable for being the most affluent community in our study, with residents earning a median income of more than $71,000. Elko's economy is as diverse as its people, driven by tourism, mining and education. To the east, the Ruby Mountains provide the ideal setting for snowmobiling in winter and hiking the rest of the year. The Star Hotel is one of Elko's top-rated restaurants, specializing in authentic Old World European cuisine.

Did You Know: Each year, Elko hosts the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, a weeklong celebration of cowboy culture and western history.

5. Sparks

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 394.8
  • Commute Time: 21.8 minutes
  • Income: $53,508
  • Residents With a Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 20.9%
  • Restaurants: 1 per 490 inhabitants

Just three miles east of Reno, Sparks is known as a premier event destination as evidenced by its slogan, "It's Happening Here." Each year, the city hosts the classic car show "Hot August Nights," as well as the Nugget Casino's Best of the West Rib Cook-off. While Sparks features a number of grownup attractions, you'll find plenty of family-friendly fun at places like Wild Island Adventure Park. If you're in the mood for a slice, head to the Blind Onion to try one of their award-winning specialty pizzas.

Did You Know: Sparks originally served as a switching yard for the Southern Pacific Railway Company.

4. Fallon

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 375.3
  • Commute Time: 16.2 minutes
  • Income: $49,909
  • Residents With a Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 17.3%
  • Restaurants: 1 per 235 inhabitants

If you prefer a slower pace and plenty of wide open spaces, Fallon may be just what you're looking for. Located approximately 60 miles from both Reno and Carson City, Fallon is considered a prime spot for birding, hiking and off-road driving. The city's most prominent employer is the Naval Air Station, which specializes in tactical air warfare training. While the city sits on Highway 50, dubbed the "Loneliest Road in America," Fallon's welcoming residents will have you feeling right at home.

Did You Know: Several of the flight sequences from the 1986 film Top Gun were filmed at the Fallon Naval Air Station.

3. Henderson

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 592.1
  • Commute Time: 23 minutes
  • Income: $66,141
  • Residents With a Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 30.8%
  • Restaurants: 1 per 602 inhabitants

Nevada's second-largest city, Henderson consistently ranks as one of the safest places to live, with a violent crime rate of 1 in nearly 600. In addition to its overall safety, residents also appreciate the higher median incomes and close proximity to the Las Vegas area. From golf to spas to museums, there's no limit of things to do and with nearly 450 restaurants, you're sure to find something that will hit the spot.

Did You Know: Henderson is less than 20 miles from the Hoover Dam, which straddles the Nevada-Arizona border.

2. Winnemucca

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 758.7
  • Commute Time: 22.2 minutes
  • Income: $67,630
  • Residents With a Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 19.1%
  • Restaurants: 1 per 267 inhabitants

Winnemucca may be small but as the city's slogan proclaims, "There's More Than Meets the Eye." Residents enjoy some of the highest wages in the state as well as one of the lowest violent crime rates. There's always something going on, whether it's the Run-A-Mucca motorcycle rally or the Silver State International Rodeo. Mining remains the city's top industry, although the tourism trade is growing steadily. Basque culture remains prominent and you'll find several restaurants that specialize in authentic Basque dishes.

Did You Know: The Winnemucca Indian Colony is home to both the Western Shoshone and Northern Paiute tribes Indians.

1. Boulder City

  • Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime: 1 in 1280.3
  • Commute Time: 21.8 minutes
  • Income: $59,842
  • Residents With a Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 22.2%
  • Restaurants: 1 per 379 inhabitants

A strong sense of safety, higher wages and a relatively short average commute are just a few of the things that put Boulder City at the top of our list. Located approximately 20 miles southwest of Las Vegas, Boulder City scores high marks from tourists and residents alike. Whether you're interested in touring Lake Mead or exploring the trails at Bootleg Canyon, there's always an adventure waiting to happen. Boulder City's restaurant scene doesn't disappoint and locals know The Dillinger is a great place to grab a burger with a gourmet twist.

Did You Know: Boulder City is unique for being the only major Nevada city that doesn't allow gambling.


To be sure, Las Vegas is Nevada's prime destination for 24/7 fun and entertainment, as any of its nearly 600,000 residents will tell you. While the communities we've profiled don't approach Las Vegas in size, you'll find that when it comes to overall livability, any of them is a great place to try your luck.

Data Sources:

  • U.S. Census Bureau, Population Estimates
  • FBI, Uniform Crime Reports
  • U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey
  • U.S. Census Bureau, Economic Census

Rebecca Lake is a journalist at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and financial education website. Write to Rebecca Lake at rebecca@creditdonkey.com. Our data-driven analysis has been recognized by major news outlets across the country and has helped consumers make savvy financial and lifestyle decisions. (read more)

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