Rent and Downtown Housing

Hand Lettering by Derek K. Miller
I need to move. I am on my last thread with the neighbor and her drinking then raging against her roommate, the general quality of the people in this condo complex goning downhill, and the cats are way too nervous. Yesterday as I was going through the automatic gates, I had a pedestrian yelling at me for not moving up close enough as the gates were closing. Mind you, I was fishing for my gate remote, because I’d prefer to not pay for a paint job on my car. Really, lady? There’s a keyed gate there for pedestrians to get through. And I don’t think that the homeowners association can turn attitudes around with all of their beautification projects.

So I’ve been looking into moving downtown. There are hopes of ‘affordable housing’ in the area, but I don’t see it yet. Mind you, this is as a renter since I’m not even considering buying until a few of my school loans are paid off and I’m settled for a while. Let’s run the numbers:

  • Median salary in Las Vegas is approximately $55,000 a year.
  • After taxes, the average Las Vegan’s bi-weekly take home pay $1,672 (rounded).
  • Also figure a person places approximately $100 into a retirement account and $100 for medical insurance is withdrawn out of his paycheck , leaving $1472. I’m sure there are also other paycheck deductions depending on chosen options, but these two are fairly standard across most people. Figures are also estimated, and I’m sure I’m lowballing the medical insurance for most people.
  • That’s $2,944 take home per month. Assuming this person wants to stay within the recommended guidelines of no more than a third of take-home pay should go towards housing — including utilities — that gives $971 for housing.
  • Utilities in a 900 square foot place will run somewhere around $150 (gas, electric, water, basic cable/internet), leaving $821 for rent.
  • One heart-of-downtown condo starts at $1,100 to rent an one bedroom 815 square foot condo. And it only goes up from there.
  • Add on top of that the cost of moving in: $1,100 for the first month’s rent, $1,100 for refundable security deposit, plus $500 non-refundable pet deposit, and you’re talking $2,700 out of pocket before utilities transfer fees, rental truck, moving supplies, and movers (or pizza and beer for your friends).


It doesn’t make financial sense. You can live in other parts of Las Vegas for much less money. In fact, the median rent in Las Vegas is $989. What the median salary worker should be paying to rent versus what the median rental rate is in Las Vegas doesn’t even match up. No wonder the housing market is still in disarray.

Yipes. And Yikes.

So, looking at all of that, I have a pretty sweet deal. Which makes it hard to move. But at the same time, I love what downtown Vegas has to offer (my favorite coffee house, the arts district, entertainment, etc. within walking distance) and I need to get away from the psycho next door. The only thing is that an increase in rent by $300 a month is an awful lot when I can easily keep driving to work and downtown from here for $140 a month. Besides, the faster I can pay off the student loans, the happier I will be knowing that I’m that much closer to being debt free.

I also know I have expensive tastes, liking the mid-century modernist (in particular Googie style and Streamline Moderne) feel to a place. Loft living appeals to me. Clean lines appeal to me. Open spaces appeal to me. Natural light is a necessity. I’m not worried about the number of rooms; I’m more concerned with square footage of a place. My happy place for a home is between 900 to 1000 square feet: enough to move (and the cats to play), but not horrible to clean as one person household.

I’m still holding onto my hopes of truly affordable downtown housing, but not in any rush to move down there quite yet.

Photo: Hand Lettering by Derek K. Miller and used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic license.



Sara Written by:

I'm an Information Architect and Taxonomist in the greater Philadelphia, PA area. Mad about metadata. Incessant organizer. Knowledge monger. Information seeker. Wisdom chaser. Curiosity has yet to kill this cat!


  1. 2011/07/03

    I recently went through a similar soul-searching here in Vancouver, where pricing is even more whacky. Downtown studios (one room!) start at about $1200 and go up. I currently live in a spacious suite in a heritage building but it lacks a lot of modern amenities (ie. all of them) and is costly. I've elected to move into a smaller suite with more amenities and far less character, and I'm really hoping I don't regret it. It's a tough decision to make and I wish you luck in your search.

    Incidentally: Had a bit of a moment when I noticed the photo you used on your post–is actually by a friend who passed away pretty recently. Odd to see something he made out in the wild. I wonder when it will stop feeling strange again.


    • 2011/07/03

      Thanks, Lynne —

      Housing is just all together wacky right now all over the place. I hope your new place works out fine and gets you closer to what you're looking for in a home.

      And I'm sorry to hear about your friend's passing. From what I can tell, he was a very talented, passionate, and caring man. Many hugs to you and supportive thoughts to his family during this time of grief.

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