What is Henderson NV like?
June 27, 2017 2:00 PM   Subscribe

I am considering relocating to Henderson Nevada. I would appreciate any information you can share given my circumstances below the fold...

I am considering Henderson because
1. I'm sick of Seattle suburbs (eastside) - I need sun, lower cost of living and to reset my career.
2. I have applied to UNLV for a grad program that I am excited for.
I've done some research and it seems Henderson meets my needs: A decent suburb, good elementary schools, decent real estate with manageable prices, and the job prospects after I complete are high.
Tell me what I am missing. What else should I be researching? What am I not considering?
I am SICK SICK SICK of seattle although I will miss all the greenery (moving to the desert...). What's the special education like in that school district? My daughter is on the spectrum (high functioning and has an IEP). Will the kids be happy? What are the demographics like? We're black but used to living in a white/indian/Asian community with very little African American presence.

*Assume my spouse can telecommute from Seattle for a while until he decides to find something local (software engineer) so we can manage on one income for a while.
posted by ramix to Travel & Transportation around Henderson, NV (12 answers total)
It's hotter than hell. It looks like the high this week in Seattle will be 80F. That's the low this week in Henderson. Highs are around 105F. Part of what you save in rent/mortgage will go to your electricity bill.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 2:30 PM on June 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

Everything is super cheap (for me, coming from California). Houses are cheap, utilities are cheap, going to the mall is like a sale day every day. However, as far as I know, Washington is ranked in the top ten for education, while Nevada is in the bottom five. It will be a culture shock.
posted by betweenthebars at 2:58 PM on June 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

Henderson and the whole Las Vegas urban area is totally car-dependent. Even if the weather allowed you to walk or bike (which it does not most of the year), the streets are huge, 4-8 lane monsters with long blocks, high speeds, and terrible pedestrian crossings. In many cases it's not even reasonable to walk to more than one business in a commercial complex. You absolutely need to plan on at least one car per driver. You're going to spend 15-45 minutes in the car to get basically anywhere.

There's no growth boundary or incentive to redevelop, so the urban sprawl keeps pushing outwards. If you live near a commercial area that empties out for any reason, chances are good it will stay abandoned. Las Vegas doesn't really have residential and commercial uses mixed together-- you're going to see a lot of residential cul-de-sacs and big-box-style commercial surrounded by parking lots.

If you want to take your kids to play somewhere, at least half the year you'll have to take them to privately-owned, air conditioned, indoor play areas, where you pay for entry and may not be allowed to bring in outside food-- it's too hot to play outdoors at parks. I was in Henderson with my partner and his kids (who live there with their mom) about three weeks ago, and one of the slides was too hot for the kids to use at about 9am. You've got to cover car seats and seat belts when you leave the car, otherwise you will burn yourself/your kids. Not, like, "ouch, that's hot!" burn, but "whoops the kid has a first-degree burn from the car seat buckle" burn.

Partner says "school options depend entirely on which neighborhood you live in".
posted by Kpele at 2:59 PM on June 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

I lived in Las Vegas and Henderson for 20 years until 2013.

It is hot, hot, terrible no good hot. Seriously, you think you're ready for it, but almost no one is. There are hotter places to live in the US, like Phoenix and Yuma. Those places are terrible too. Even people who tend to like warmer environments have trouble in Vegas. I was there two weekends ago and it was 113f. That's damned hot. Hot enough that it's almost impossible to do anything outside during the summer. Hot enough that things you leave in your car, including the car's interior, will be ruined by the intense heat and UV. Hot enough that from June to September, you're very likely to not leave your home, and when you do, you have to be cautious about where you stand and what you touch. Exterior door knobs and handles on homes, cars, and businesses are burn hazards, pets left outside will die, lawn furniture will melt and/or fall apart, shiny surfaces can start fires, dark surfaces will get even hotter. There is so much pavement and concrete that heat reflection can easily increase the felt temperature by 10f-20f.

It's so hot and dry, that a quick dip in the pool can lead to thermal shock in some adults and children, because the water will evaporate off your skin so fast.

That being said, real estate is for the most part reasonably priced, especially in comparison to coastal cities like Seattle. The caveat being that you will pay a lot more in utilities like water and electric. Depending on your home, the electric bill can easily exceed $300/month in the summer. If you have any landscaping, or a pool, monthly water bills can exceed $100.

Henderson is a fairly nice town. There are lots of parks, a goodly number of government facilities like rec centers and libraries, although hours keep getting restricted as voters keep denying necessary tax improvements. There are a multitude of businesses, from small family operated businesses, to Big Box megaplexes with thousands of parking spaces. There is an IKEA now.

You will need a car to get anywhere. There is a bus system, but the lines are not very densely planned, and waits can be long. Many of those waits require you to stand in the full gaze of the deathly hot sun. For a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the insane heat, traffic can be a miserable nightmare. Roads are choked with cars, most roads are 4-6 lanes, stop light waits can sometimes be meaningfully measured in fractions of an hour. Even when your car's AC is pumping full blast it can take half an hour to cool off the interior, so all your traffic hate is happening in sauna conditions. Everyone speeds, everyone rushes the intersections, everyone wants to get home and take off their sweaty clothes as quickly as possible.

Henderson, and Las Vegas, are surprisingly diverse, especially in comparison to the PNW. Like Washington and Oregon, however, Vegas is a blue city in a red state. It can get a little dicey sometimes, and there are for sure a lot of loud racists.

School options are... limited. Nevada has some good options for special needs kids, but those options exist in a pretty poor system. The Clark County School district is right near the bottom in national rankings, and your public school options are limited almost entirely by your residence location. There are a number of private school options, many of them religious based.

I lived in Vegas for a long time, and I never liked it. I was very happy to leave and move to PDX. I spent most of the time I lived in Vegas wanting to leave.

Did I mention how unbearably hot it is? Defendants of Las Vegas will tell you that it's not always hot, and that's true. Sometimes there are torrential thunderstorms and flooding. Sometimes it's shockingly cold. Frequently the wind blows around hot sand and dust.
posted by Roninspoon at 3:26 PM on June 27, 2017 [4 favorites]

I was born in Bellevue, grew up in Seattle and have family in Nevada. If you are a typical Seattleite, you will quickly come to despise Nevada. I have no kids and no specific experience with Henderson, but Nevada, particularly southern Nevada, is completely different culturally from the Seattle area in almost every way. Others can go into more details about schools and services for kids on the spectrum, but honestly, if it were me, I would put up with the Eastside for now and find a sunny spot that isn't the Las Vegas metro area.
posted by pdb at 3:39 PM on June 27, 2017

Response by poster: Not to threadsit but just please assume that I can handle the heat (I'm originally from a country that pretty much is on the equator so I'm good on that front. If anything I'm dying from lack of sun in Seattle!)
posted by ramix at 4:02 PM on June 27, 2017

I've been in LV for about a year now, I don't hate it, but I don't like it. It's not a great place to live, but it may be adequate.

affordable housing
lots of job opportunities, not just casino-related
October and March are very nice
very diverse compared to most of the rest of the country
there are a lot of good playgrounds and some good parks (you'll probably have to drive though)
Good hiking within 30-60 minute drive
no state income taxes
a few parts of the city have pretty good bike lanes/paths
it gets light early because it's on the eastern edge of the time zone (this is not a pro for me)
pretty good restaurants
lots of cheapish direct flights around the country
good access to concerts, comedy shows, etc.
Henderson is nearish to lake mead

Lake Mead is not that nice
too damn cold, I expected a more pleasant winter, didn't get it.
it gets dark early (probably the most surprising thing I dislike about the area)
the city has a very transient feel, due to the highly transient population
sprawl, unwalkable, have to drive everywhere, lots of traffic
a lot of urban decay since development money generally goes to increased sprawl
it's really expensive to have a nice backyard, it's also pretty expensive to live in a neighborhood that isn't 100% concrete
it's a 3-4 hour drive to anywhere else
it's hard to find places where it's pleasant to be outside
worst public education system in the country
public services are adequate at best (probably has something to do with no state taxes!)
not enough pools considering how hot it is, in the summer there's not much to do outside except stay inside. In the winter, it's dark at 4:45, so stay inside some more.

Actually, I do hate it here, nevermind.
posted by skewed at 4:49 PM on June 27, 2017 [3 favorites]

Spent 15 years in Las Vegas, the last 9 in Henderson. My child made it through 1st grade, but it was clear that only his family and I were providing him education of any sort. The past 18 months in PDX have been a revelation for him educationally, and it is just tragic what his peers have not been able to receive from CCSD. He was at one of the very best elementary schools.

If I were once again single and childless, and in need of sun, I might consider Henderson/LV. As a parent, I would never again subject my child to the pathetic education and "culture" that the area provides. Dropping out of high school to become a valet or a stripper is not what I'm hoping for my child, nor the majority of his peers.
posted by riverlife at 7:29 PM on June 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

Sincere apologies for the negativity, as of course YMMV. I do think Henderson/LV presents a majorly different experience for adults and for children, and I hope for the best for you and your family whatever your choice.
posted by riverlife at 8:04 PM on June 27, 2017

About fifty miles east of Henderson via SR167, North Shore Rd. is the Moapa Valley hot as hades but much nicer small town with great Schools (plenty of Mormons and Native Americans ) Clark County fairgrounds located there . The desert is beautiful if you can stay in the shade .
posted by hortense at 8:33 PM on June 27, 2017

I lived in Las Vegas for 10 years and left in 2011. I'm back in the Midwest now, which is my home, and Las Vegas never felt like home. The school system there is atrocious. Heroin is a big problem. If you're progressive/Leftist, you may find the general vibe too libertarian for your taste. Everything is in a casino--movie theaters, art galleries, shops, restaurants. So plan on going to the Strip or Fremont St. for any entertainment. Your kid will be subject to seeing a lot of objectification of women as a matter of course.

I was in a grad program at UNLV, and didn't have kids. That made a big difference. It made all the unpleasantries above bearable. Through UNLV, I met some awesome people and made connections. I was able to get a job I loved. However, the crash of 2008 changed all that. Suddenly there was no work, and that coupled with a breakup led to me leaving.

I still have friends there, and I miss them. You could probably meet great people and enjoy UNLV. But I'm not sure the experience would be good for your child.
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 8:50 AM on June 28, 2017

Oh, I just want to add--Henderson is basically a bedroom community for Las Vegas, and although it is pleasantly suburban, you'll still be going to Vegas a lot. Henderson is also quite conservative.
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 8:52 AM on June 28, 2017

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