The Silver State

Nevada’s prices have investors betting the house

There’s a lot more to Nevada than Las Vegas slot machines and showgirls. It’s also a state of soaring mountains, sun-baked deserts and a rich cowboy culture that lives on in small towns like Virginia City (where Mark Twain began as a newsman). Nevada has always been a land of opportunity – the silver and gold mines around Virginia City helped finance the Union efforts during the Civil War. Snowbirds love it not only for its agreeable desert climate with mild winters (at least, in the southern portions) but even more so now because of its bargain-basement housing deals.
Places you’ll love
â–  Las Vegas
Las Vegas is a destination that needs no introduction; its neon marquees are familiar the world over. According to Bloomberg, housing prices have declined an astonishing 59 per cent from their 2006 highs, presenting real estate opportunities for snowbirds. Obviously, the city’s glitz and glam doesn’t suit everyone’s taste, but there are a number of quiet, off-the-Strip cul-de-sacs where snowbirds can relax around the pool, venturing into the heart of the beast when family and friends come to town. It’s worth noting that Vegas does not sprawl the way many American cities do. It takes no more than a few minutes by car to leave the asphalt behind and find yourself in a land of rolling sagebrush or awe-inspiring canyons.
Average prices House (single family): $125,700; condo: $63,000

â–  Laughlin
On the banks of the Colorado River, Laughlin has become a magnet for RV lovers. Swept by steady north and north westerly winds, it’s known for its high air quality. Active snowbirds enjoy golfing, water sports on the river or hiking in the nearby Black Mountains.
Average prices House (single family): $146,100; condo: $77,400

â–  Mesquite
Located on the Nevada-Arizona border an hour-and-a-half’s drive northeast of Vegas, Mesquite has for years been a popular gathering place for Canadian visitors. Welcomed for their contribution to the local economy, Canadians are coming for the low crime rate, attractive housing prices, desert climate and the fact that this small town is big enough to have all the requisite shopping, entertainment and health-care services snowbirds need and want.
Average prices House (single family): $163,700; condo: $89,500

Living History
Anyone travelling to Nevada, either for a Vegas binge or a season-long sojourn owes it to themselves to go armed with a copy of Nevada historian David Toll’s remarkable book The Complete Nevada Traveler. A former newspaperman, Toll brings an affection for both detail and his subject to bear on what he likes to call “the most interesting state in America.” Those who read his book tend to agree. In addition to its extraordinary geography, Nevada is a state rich in history and littered with ghost towns, many of which still retain the skein of things past – old buildings and dusty graveyards abound. Toll’s book spells out in detail how to get to them, why they’re there, and limns the colourful characters that lived in them. Order from

Snowbirds need to know
• Nevada snowbirds tend to migrate to the southern third of the state, much of which is in the Mojave Desert • Nevada, not Alaska or Colorado, is the most mountainous state in the union • Rental rates in Nevada are at an all-time low with condos in developments with pools going for as little as US$800 a month • The first slot machine was invented by Charles Fey in 1899. He called it the Liberty Bell • Nevada is second only to South Africa in gold production
• The world’s largest cowboy poetry
festival is held in Elko