Finding the Best Places to Retire Since 2006!
Carson City, Nevada
Beneath a Baby Blue Sky and Next to Stunning Lake Tahoe, Carson City Boasts Frontier Character, Outstanding Outdoor Recreation, Gambling Entertainment and a Nonchalant Pace
Just 30 miles south of Reno and adjacent to Lake Tahoe in western Nevada, casual Carson City (population 55,000) started out as a cattle ranch along the Carson River. In 1859, silver was discovered at the Comstock Lode, underneath what is present-day, nearby Virginia City, and miners from around the country streamed into the area.
Not long after, Carson City was named the territorial capital and then the state capital. The arrival of the railroad and then a U.S. Mint helped secure its economic footing.
Today, Carson City plays up its frontier character, but this city is the real deal, a casual Western metropolis with an independent streak and a nonchalant pace. Although it cannot hold a candle to Las Vegas or Reno when it comes to gambling, the city's nine casinos nevertheless bring in visitors from around the region.
The cost of living is 9% above the national average, and the median home price is $387,000. The crime rate meets the national average, and 40% of residents are age 45 or better. Twenty-four percent of locals have at least a four year college degree. The city is racially diverse but has lost about 2% of its population during the last decade. Political views are split down the middle.
At 4,730 feet above sea level in the small Eagle Valley at the foot of the Sierra Nevada's Carson Mountain Range, Carson City is somewhat remote. Lake Tahoe sits on the city's rugged western edge, and a scenic landscape of Bureau of Land Management pasturelands and mountains stretches south to pretty Topaz Lake. Camping, backpacking, hiking, fishing and other outdoor adventures are always close at hand. The sky is almost always baby blue and looms large.
Government buildings, bars, restaurants, casinos and some elegantly restored 19th-century structures from the silver era dot the downtown. Streets are wide, designed to give wagons room to maneuver in the early days. The town adopted a master core plan in 1991, but as with many Western towns, Carson City grew up without a lot of planning.
Highway 395 is the city's busy main boulevard, and it is full of commercial ventures (strip malls, motels, gas stations, etc.). Major retailers include Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Costco, JCPenney and Target. Bargain hunters enjoy a good selection of antique stores.
While Lake Tahoe and its adjacent casinos, ski resorts, hotels and other tourist venues are the main draw in this area, Carson City does boast a few attractions of its own. The Nevada State Museum and Mint and the Nevada State Railroad Museum are points of pride. The Carson City Symphony and the Western Nevada Musical Theater Company have full schedules. Mark Twain's brother, Orion Clemens, lived in Carson City, and his home is but one of many on the "Kit Carson Trail," a walking tour of the city's historic residences.
Nine golf courses, some with dramatic mountain backdrops, keep golfers happy. There are parks, walking trails and bicycling paths. Carson City is also home to all sorts of wildlife, including deer, rabbits, squirrels, owls and even some wild horses.
Western Nevada College (4,500 students) has a community education department and offers classes in cooking, bird watching, floral design and more. The Carson City Library has homebound delivery, downloadable books and Internet access.
The Carson City Senior Center is for people age 60+ and is in a low-slung, modern building. It offers a variety of services, including computer classes, games, tax assistance, exercise classes, tours, art classes, blood pressure clinics, legal assistance and more. Congregate noon meals are served weekdays. The "Senior Sentinel" is a monthly publication that keeps the mature demographic up to date on local events.
JAC (Jump Around Carson) provides public bus transportation. The regular fare is $1, but people age 60+ ride for 50 cents. JAC Assist offers a para-transit, door to door service. Thanks to its high altitude location, Carson City is one of the few state capitals that is not served by a commercial airport. Reno's international airport is 23 miles away and has van shuttles to Carson City.
Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center is accredited by the Joint Commission. Medicare patients are accepted.
This region has a semi-arid climate. Summer temperatures reach into the 80s and 90s. Winter temperatures are typically in the 20s and 30s but can dip lower. The area, on average, receives 10 inches of rain and 21 inches of snow per year.
Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes | Is Nevada Tax-Friendly at Retirement? Yes
Carson City is sometimes considered a little dull when compared to Vegas and Reno, and its slight population decline is a drawback, but a dry, sunny climate, a pretty locale, proximity to dazzling Lake Tahoe and outstanding outdoor recreation make it worth a look at retirement time.
The Sagebrush State entered the Union during the Civil War on October 31, 1864. It was the first state to ratify the 15th Amendment and give African American men the right to vote. Gambling may be Nevada's claim to fame. The state has approximately one slot machine for every 10 residents. Las Vegas has more hotel rooms than any other city on earth.
Although Nevada is the home of Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, and Lake Tahoe, water is a scarce commodity. The landscape can be characterized by alkalai sinks and sage brush. Nevada's named mountain ranges include the Battle, Monitor, Sierra Nevada, and Snake chains. Winters in Northwest Nevada can be cold. Summers in the south can be inhospitable.
Nevada is the largest gold producing state in the nation. Copper, silver, and mercury add to the state's wealth. Tourism, however, drives the state. Gambling taxes are its chief source of revenue.
Population - 2,940,058
Persons 65 years old and over - 15%
High school graduates, persons age 25+ - 85%
Bachelor's degree or higher, persons age 25+ - 23%
Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin - 28%
White persons, not Hispanic - 55%
Median household income - $51,824
Median home value - $173,700
Social Security taxed? No
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
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