Summerlin. “Huh? Where”? My wife asked. Summerlin. It’s a suburb of Las Vegas. “Ohhhhhh, forget it. I’m not moving to Las Vegas. Nice try, though”. This was the short, but accurate CliffsNotes version of our conversation last fall.
Back up a couple of years: My wife and I had occasionally discussed moving out of Los Angeles. Look for a simpler, calmer lifestyle. Give our son an experience both of us grew up with in ‘suburbia’, her, outside of Boston, me, 65 miles from Pittsburgh. How hard could it be to find? We both loved California. I moved to LA in 1985, she moved here about 10 years later. The weather, the beaches, the mountains. California had everything two former east coasters wanted, and more. This made the traffic, smog and taxes tolerable. For a while.
Back to 2020/2021: As we progressed through the Covid pandemic, we realized how fortunate our family was. We maintained our health and our careers. Our son was in Zoom school for almost an entire year and he returned to a very different school experience in March and was thrilled to be back in close(r) proximity to his friends and teachers. My wife and I were working almost exclusively from home. The revised lifestyle we were experiencing brought about a new round of discussion about the possibility of relocating from LA.
We wanted to stay in warm weather. We wanted our son to be happy in school. We would prefer to move to a less expensive locality. We wanted to stay within striking distance of LA for business reasons and to see friends and family without the hassle of a long flight or drive. So, we narrowed the search to Scottsdale and (yes), Summerlin. (A detailed and intensive search by my wife had led to a “well, I’ll consider it” tone).
Texas and Florida were too far and ruled out for a variety of reasons. We spent a week in Scottsdale last November, during the election. Arizona passed a proposition adding 350 bps to their state income tax rates. Arizona was out. We wanted to move away from certain tax increases and that way of thinking.
So, we scheduled a trip to Summerlin over the Thanksgiving holiday. Nevada and Las Vegas had not shut down completely. We wanted to spend some time in the community and get a “feel” for it. We also had some other friends who either had already either moved to or were in the process of moving to Summerlin. Prior to this trip, one of my recently relocated friends challenged me to find a pothole in Summerlin and to leave my quarters at home, as there were no parking meters anywhere in town. We loaded up our car, took about 1,000 masks and 10 bottles of hand sanitizers and headed for Nevada.
What we found was remarkable. A beautiful bedroom community located 15 miles due west of the Las Vegas strip, snuggled up against the Red Rock Mountains. For you Trivial Pursuit gurus: Did you know there is a micro-climate 30 minutes west of the Red Rock Mountains which is all Ponderosa Pines and has 2 ski resorts? We didn’t have any idea.
Summerlin was originally owned by Howard Hughes. His mother’s maiden name was Summerlin. The community is about 60,000 strong. All types of housing communities, a beautiful town center with great restaurants, shops and activities. The Las Vegas Aviators (AAA minor league affiliate of the Oakland A’s) play their home games in a beautiful Wrigley-esque type field (although more modern) right in the middle of town. Oh, if you want to dine out at a fancy restaurant or see top entertainment, the strip is an easy 20 minute drive away. Summerlin is safe, clean, beautiful and the people we have met are very friendly.
My wife LOVED it. Our son went crazy over it. We toured 2 private schools, both on huge campuses and with great reputations. We started looking at houses.
The real estate market in southern Nevada has gone BERSERK! Average inventory has dropped YOY from about 7,500 homes available at any time to less than 2,500. It seemed, there were as many license plates from California in town as Nevada plates. Houses were selling, sight unseen. Apparently, we weren’t alone in our thinking. We returned home to LA with a lot to think about and some major decisions to make. We decided to go spend more time there in January. After another week, we were sold. We were going to relocate to Summerlin.
As with any potential major lifestyle change, there are many factors to consider. Work, school, friends, family, roots in a community that have grown and spread over 3 decades. But at the end of the day, we chose to relocate to give our son the “experience” mentioned above. This was first and foremost and represents about 80% of the rationale behind this decision. By the way, the personal financial benefits didn’t hinder our thinking. No state personal income tax, home prices at half to a third of LA, property taxes at approximately 2/3 of LA, lower sales tax, gas prices about 1/3 lower than we are used to paying, etc. And a one-hour flight to LA or a four-hour drive (if you time LA traffic correctly). As far as business, nothing will change for me. A strong WIFI and cell connection are all I need. This will be seamless.
We listed our home for sale in April. Accepted an offer 4 days later. We started to tell friends and family about our plans. Surprise, Surprise! Everyone loves the idea of visiting Las Vegas. By the way, if you plan on visiting us, there are great hotel options close to us or if you prefer, stay on the Strip! Yes, it’s hot in the summer. It’s a dry heat! Summerlin sits at a little higher altitude than the Strip and generally is about 5 – 8 degrees cooler. Come visit, you’ll love it.
We are moving on June 23. We have made many trips over the past month to our new home and are very excited to finally be settled there.
Oh, and by the way, I still haven’t seen a pothole or found a parking meter anywhere in town!!
Take care. Stay well.