Living In Lake Tahoe: Is It Worth It?
Updated: Jun 5
If you're wondering what it's like to live in Lake Tahoe (and if living here is the right fit for you), then this blog post might help!
In this post, I'm listing some of the pros and cons of living in Lake Tahoe. Back in 2020, I published a blog called Living in Lake Tahoe: Pros and Cons. But after living in Lake Tahoe for a bit longer (and gaining more experience on what it's like living here), I wanted to write an updated version.
Here's a quick background on me: I moved to Lake Tahoe in 2019 from Los Angeles to pursue outdoor photography. I am originally from New York, and as of writing this post, I have been living in Lake Tahoe for two and a half years. If you'd like to know more about my story, click here.
And with that, let's get into it! Here are some of the pros and cons of living in Lake Tahoe.
WATCH THE VIDEO VERSION HERE:
Living in Lake Tahoe comes with a lot of perks! Here are some of the best things about living here.
1. JAW-DROPPING SCENERY
While I haven't been everywhere, I am willing to bet that Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful places on earth. In addition to the crystal clear and brilliantly blue lake, there are snow-capped mountains, towering alpine forests, waterfalls, and numerous smaller glacier lakes that surround the area. To be able to wake up every day and have such spectacular scenery at your fingertips is incredibly special, and it's the number one reason why I moved here.
2. OUTDOOR RECREATION
If you're an outdoor enthusiast, then you'll feel right at home in Lake Tahoe. When people think of things to do in Lake Tahoe, skiing and snowboarding might be the first things that come to mind. But there is soooo much more to do. Take it from me, I live here, and I don't ski or snowboard!
Lake Tahoe has tons of gorgeous hiking trails, both easy and challenging, as well as kayaking, paddleboarding, rock-climbing, biking, snowshoeing- I could go on and on. In terms of year-round outdoor recreation, Lake Tahoe truly has something for everyone.
One thing that I noticed about Lake Tahoe, especially after traveling to other, more vast mountain towns, is that most of the attractions are within easy reach. The beaches, hiking trails, ski resorts, etc., are all very accessible. Meaning, you don't have to drive very far to get to them.
An extension to this point is that some of the most beautiful views in Lake Tahoe are reachable via a very short hike or even just a drive! Personally, I think it's kind of nice not having to hike 10 miles to reach a stunning vista or alpine lake (unless you want to of course!)
4. SPECTACULAR BEACHES
If you are a beach person, then Lake Tahoe won't disappoint. Lake Tahoes 72-mile shoreline is home to some pretty fabulous beach spots. A phrase that I like to use when describing the beaches in Lake Tahoe is "Alpine Caribbean." The water resembles that turquoise color you see in the Caribbean, but instead of palm trees, it's pine trees and mountains surrounding the beaches.
Many of the beaches in Lake Tahoe have small sections of sand and large granite boulders, which, by the way, are surprisingly comfortable! Most of them are big and flat and make for a perfect spot to lay out your towel and soak up the sun.
5. MILD WEATHER & CHANGING SEASONS
Lake Tahoe receives about 300 days of sunshine a year, and its climate can best be described as mild. Even in the winter, even when it's snowing, it never really gets that cold. Well, at least not to someone who experienced a few bone-chilling, east coast winters. There is very little humidity year-round, which is great if you're not a fan of muggy weather. However, the lack of humidity does have its downsides. More on that later in the post.
Another great thing about living in Tahoe is that it has all four seasons. You'll get to enjoy spectacular fall foliage in autumn, winter-wonderland conditions in the winter, flowing waterfalls in the spring, and perfect beach weather in the summer.
6. GREAT TRAVEL BASE
If you are interested in exploring the west side of the country via road trip, Lake Tahoe is a relatively central location to base yourself out of.
Remote locations in Northern California like Burney Falls, Mt. Shasta, and Avenue of Giants (just to name a few Norcal gems) are much easier to get to than if you lived in, let's say, Los Angeles. I would say that Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming, Nevada, and California are all very doable road trip adventures from Lake Tahoe.
This one does depend on the neighborhood, as some areas of Lake Tahoe are sleepier than others. I live in South Lake Tahoe, which has plenty to do in terms of nightlife and entertainment. But in general, breweries and taphouses are a big thing in Tahoe, as is live music. Tahoe's restaurants range from divey to upscale and serve up everything from pizza to prime rib.
Lake Tahoe is also known for its casinos, and Stateline in South Lake Tahoe has the most casinos in one place. The casinos in Tahoe pale in comparison to the casinos in Vegas. But they are fun to pop into every once in a while.
Now that you've heard the good, here are a few of the negative aspects that come with living in Lake Tahoe.
1. LACK OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING
The lack of affordable housing isn't a new problem in Lake Tahoe, but the pandemic has definitely made the issue worse. Many people who live and work in Lake Tahoe can't afford the ever-increasing rent prices. And as far as buying a house, from what I hear, it's a ridiculously overpriced market.
When I first moved to Lake Tahoe, I found a studio apartment in South Lake Tahoe for a little under 1k a month, including utilities. Those housing deals are still out there, but they are harder to come by. And when they do come up, they get snatched up pretty quickly.
I've used both Zillow and Craigslist to search for an apartment in Lake Tahoe, and I've had decent luck with both.
2. LACK OF JOBS
The jobs that are easiest to get in Lake Tahoe are jobs in the service and hospitality industries. It's pretty easy to pick up a gig as a bartender or server, or perhaps as a ski instructor at one of the resorts. But, it can be pretty tough finding a job outside of those fields. If you can work remotely as a freelancer, you may be able to get around the job issue.
When I first moved to Lake Tahoe, I picked a job as a bartender. I had bartended in NYC and Los Angeles for years, so it was pretty easy for me to land a bartending job. And then eventually, I began freelancing as a photographer.
3. DRY CLIMATE
There is a downside to living in a place that is low in humidity and high in elevation. It can be very rough on your skin, eyes, and sinuses. I still wake up with the occasional bloody nose, and my eyes are almost always bloodshot from the dry air. I rarely leave home without moisturizer or vaseline, especially if I'm going hiking.
I don't consider the dry air a deal-breaker; it's more of an annoyance. If I had to pick, I would choose a dry climate over a humid one any day.
So here's a major con that I didn't mention in my last post, and that's because I hadn't experienced it yet. This summer (2021) was a bad year for wildfires in Northern California. And one of the worst ones happened right here in Lake Tahoe. South Lake Tahoe and the surrounding areas were evacuated due to the Caldor Fire making its way into the Tahoe basin.
Being evacuated was surreal, and people were genuinely afraid they were going to lose their homes. But even before the evacuations, the smoke air was suffocating, and the air quality was off the charts hazardous.
As I'm writing this, Lake Tahoe is back to its beautiful state, and the Caldor Fire feels like (a not so) distant memory. But here's the thing, are these wildfires going to be a regular occurrence? It's certainly something to consider when moving to Lake Tahoe or anywhere in Northern California.
5. LOTS OF TOURISTS
To say that Lake Tahoe gets a lot of tourists is an understatement. Lake Tahoe is a beautiful place, and as a result, people want to come to visit. Hey, we are all tourists somewhere right? But when you live in a tourist destination, it can get a smidge annoying. Summer weekends can be a nightmare, and parking often fills up by 9 am at popular beaches and hiking trails. But I guess that's the price you pay for living in a gorgeous location. You do learn ways to circumvent the crowds. For example, arriving extra early or avoiding the weekends all together (which is what I usually do).
As always, if you are visiting Tahoe, please help keep it beautiful by practicing the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace.
So, is it worth it to move to Lake Tahoe? If you're asking me, I would say the pros of living in Lake Tahoe outweigh the cons (but those wildfires 😓😓.) If you have some pros and cons that you would like to share, leave a comment!