Why I Moved to Las Vegas (Hint: Downtown Project)

I’ve always been attracted to Vegas, for reasons unbeknownst to most people. It seems that most associate Vegas with “Sin City,” partying, hookers or even pathological gambling, but that’s hardly the case. You see, if you weren’t on the strip – you wouldn’t even know you were in Vegas.

Jay Soriano & Brenda Yahm @ Lake Las Vegas

My Fiancé and I at Lake Las Vegas – 20 miles east of the strip

Why Vegas? Why NOT?

It’s not for everyone, but for some it’s everything. First, let me deal with common objections:

  • It’s too hot – That’s a personal preference. I’d rather be too hot, than too cold. And while it’s true that Vegas can see highs of 110 in the summer, there is a simple solution.. AC.  Also, 90° actually feels like 90° as Vegas tops the list of major cities with the lowest humidity. If you can’t handle the heat, get out of the kitchen move to the Pacific Northwest! That’s where I’m from, where it rains about 160 days out of the year. And the days it isn’t raining? Overcast and cold. Think it’s tolerable? Not for me.
  • The Strip gets old – Yes it does. I’ve only had to visit a handful of times to tell you that. But again, if you weren’t on the strip – you wouldn’t even know you were in Vegas. PS. My girlfriend still loves the strip.
  • You’ll lose all your money! – I’m not much of the gambler. I seldom bet against the house, only wagering my skill against the skill of another player (ie. poker). So while easy access to casinos isn’t favorable for most, it’s +EV for me.

Vegas Pros:

The Real Reason

A few months before I moved to Vegas, I tweeted:


If you’re reading this blog, chances are you’ve heard of the Downtown Project. As soon as I read that article, I instantly knew I wanted to live in Vegas and be a part of the Vegas Tech community. A couple months later and here I am. Driven by purpose. Inspired by passion. Collaborating with a community with the same goals.

The Downtown Project

I read the articles and heard the stories about the Downtown Project. But when I actually moved down here, I felt a little duped. Aesthetically, there’s still much left to be desired. But I shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover. The Downtown Project is in motion, there are plenty of events, its aspirations of being the shipping container capitol of the world is underway, First Friday is spurring a thriving arts & music culture, and co-working hangouts like usr/lib and upcoming Work In Progress are bringing together a passionate community.

My biggest issue is that housing options are limited. The best option is centrally located high-rise, “The Ogden,” but with rent starting at $1,500+ for a 1br, that’s a little high considering condos can be found for under 75k. The Downtown Project has dedicated $200m for residential development and real estate, an entrepreneurial-priced (aka budget) building with 100′s of entrepreneurs would be an attractive asset.

From what I’ve heard, there’s still a lot of skepticism in regards to the Downtown Project. However, I remain an eternal optimist. Granted, I moved from Portland, OR, a city that hosted one of the biggest downtown revitalizations. The Pearl District of downtown was an industrial area, now it’s known for its art galleries, upscale businesses, and high-rise buildings. And most recently, Mark Zuckerberg bought himself a condo in the Pearl (and a dog fwiw). I see that same potential for Downtown Las Vegas. And while I believe the Downtown Project is taking a lot of cues from the Pearl District, it isn’t trying to be the next Portland, but the one and only Las Vegas.

  • http://www.startuphive.co Stephen G. Barr

    Great article Jay! Reading this has sealed the deal for me and I’m headed up to Vegas this weekend. I’ve been involved in the startup community in Phoenix which is booming and I’ve spent the past 18 months in the “Silicon Beach” community in and around LA but simply can’t deal with the LA traffic gridlock any longer…so see ya round starting in the new year!

  • http://twitter.com/designibly Natosha Benning

    Enjoyed reading your reasons for moving to Vegas, Jay! I honestly didn’t have a choice but to move here: newly married, my husband accepted an associate professor position at UNLV. As a lifetime resident of Tennessee (most recently of Nashville), I was devastated at first by the cross-country move … but the more I learn about Vegas, the Downtown Project, Vegas Tech, local designers and freelancers, the more in love I fall with this strange little Valley. There is so much potential here!

    • jaysoriano

      My fiancé moved here because I did as well, and moving from Washington state to Vegas is night and day.. but she’s coming around to it as well. :-)

  • Karina

    After my Vegas trip in June, I fell in love with the city and plan to move there alone. I work in the beauty/spa industry and hope there is a BIG demand for beauty services so I can find a job. I’m ecstatic to hear about the Downtown Project- I also think it’s funny you mentioned Portland, that is the 2nd city I’m thinking about moving to. Vegas vs. Portland…I keep thinking about Vegas! Right now it will take weeks to months to transfer my esthetics license. Until then, I will be patient and keep researching. :-)

    • jaysoriano

      Interesting choices.. it’s a complete night and day difference! Feel free to get in touch when moving day comes, and I’ll help you out with picking the right neighborhood either in Vegas or Portland.