A balanced review?... fancy that!
I have a love-hate relationship with my city. Actually, it's not that intense, it's more like a like-dislike relationship, which may just net you a pretty balanced review. I work as marriage therapist here in Las Vegas. My mother moved me to and my sister to Las Vegas when I was nearly 16, after having been raised in New Jersey with a pit stop in California. My aunt encouraged us to move here. She was one of Las Vegas's first showgirls, way back when.
I've lived here ever since. I'm 52 now, and my husband and I are looking to move out of Las Vegas soon... partly because I've just been here a really long time and feel ready for a change, and partly because of the things I dislike about living here. I've lived a very happy life here though, and raised two fine children here, and you can too! I'll share my list of likes and dislikes with you, but do keep in mind that these are just my personal views, not gospel.
Also keep in mind that since my children are now in their 30's, my list will naturally not be kid-focused, so it may not be super helpful to parents. I also completely ignore the "strip," like many locals. The whole casino/gaming scene is not part of my life at ALL. Either is the show business scene. We are not into local politics, either. We just live, work, and play here. So I guess you could say we are "in" LV but not really "of" LV. I think that's true for many who live here. It's not a city with a whole lot of community pride or unified spirit... perhaps partly because it's a (relatively) newly settled city, so it's not yet steeped in generations of family tradition. When I first moved here 37 years ago, it was rare to hear that a resident was actually born here. These days it's not rare, yet still raises a brow.
I'm an educated middle class woman who has always lived in the more pleasant/safe areas of the city. In all my many years here, I've had only ONE crime committed against me; my wallet was stolen in a grocery store once, when my back was turned. However, if you are seriously economically challenged at present and therefore forced to live in an unpleasant/unsafe area of the city (such as some areas of North Las Vegas), know that my review will not take into account the many unsavory things you may face when moving here, such roach infested apartments and drive-by shootings. Know that Las Vegas is a big sprawling city (that actually feels more like a big sprawling town). So some of the neighborhoods are super upscale, some are mainstream-nice, some are ghetto. Your experience of Las Vegas will to a large extent depend on where in Las Vegas you hang your hat. I guess that's true for most places.
WHAT I LIKE:
Low cost of living, you can buy a nice home here without being rich
The mild winters
AWESOME shopping and dining
Traffic not bad, road conditions good
Whole Foods grocery stores!
No earthquakes, hurricanes, or twisters
All kinds of diversity here
People mind their own damn business
Locals are welcoming to newcomers
Plenty of tolerant/progressive thinkers
Relatively few religious zealots
Good hiking at Red Rock and Valley of Fire
Proximity to Mt. Charleston (ah, fresh air)
Doable drive to Zion/Bryce Canyon Utah
Whatever your hobby, there's people doing it in Vegas!
Many places stay open late, or even all night
Good hospitals/health care (I don't know why people complain about that)
Art, Dance, Music, Vegas has it all (except a film festival)
It's a very doable drive to the California coast!
University of Nevada Las Vegas... great school, well designed campus
WHAT I DON'T LIKE:
VERY poor air quality (one of the worst cities in the country)
As the global water crisis gets worse, desert dwelling seems unwise
INSUFFERABLY hot summers
I find it a visually ugly city, with no aesthetic cohesion at all
Lots of cigarette smokers rudely stinking up outdoor walkways
Big under-served homeless population, thus pan-handlers on many corners
Motorist-centric city, not favorable for "walk about" exploration
Shopping plazas on nearly every corner... enough is enough!
Advertising EVERYWHERE, it has completely colonized the landscape
Graffiti (except within gated or master planned communities)
Hardly a comprehensive review of a city as big and famous as Las Vegas, but I just wanted to make a list of the pros and cons that first popped into my mind, in case it helps someone's decision making process.
If you do wind up moving to Las Vegas, enjoy it! There is no perfect place to live, after all... a city (much like life itself) is mostly what you make of it.