Living in Lake Tahoe: Pros and Cons
Updated: Nov 13, 2021
Thinking of moving to Lake Tahoe and/or wondering what's is like to live there? Then read on...
Lake Tahoe, known for its spectacular scenery and year-round outdoor recreation, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in both California and Nevada. But have you ever wondered what it would be like to live there full time? In August of 2019, I decided to pull the trigger and move from Los Angeles to Lake Tahoe. As an outdoor photographer, I fell in love with Tahoe's jaw-dropping beauty and wanted to be able to photograph it every day. After living in Tahoe for roughly 9 months, I decided to put together a list of pros and cons based on what my personal experience has been like. I hope this list is helpful to anyone who is contemplating a move to Lake Tahoe and wants an inside perspective. Here are some of the pros and cons of living in Lake Tahoe. Let's start with the good...
The views expressed in this blog post are subjective
and based on my own personal experience.
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Living in Lake Tahoe comes with a lot of perks. Here are some of the biggest ones.
1. Spectacular Scenery
The scenery in Lake Tahoe is nothing short of magnificent. In fact, it’s the number one reason why I moved here. The phenomenal clarity and color of the lake is something you have to see to believe. Adding to the beauty are the snow-capped peaks and alpine forests that surround the sparkling lake. Being able to wake up every day and enjoy such stunning scenery is a huge perk of living in Lake Tahoe.
2. Photographers Dream
With its granite peaks, towering forests, and turquoise beaches, Lake Tahoe is an outdoor photographer's dream. In addition to the beautiful scenery, there's ample wildlife to photograph such as black bears, eagles, and coyotes to name a few. If action/adventure photography is your thing, there's plenty of opportunity for photographing skiers, rock climbers, wakeboarders, paddleboarders, etc. Lake Tahoe also has an ever-expanding local art scene. South Lake Tahoe hosts an art walk once a month, and the community as a whole is very supportive of its local photographers and artists. So if you're a photographer/creative type, you'll be in good company.
3. Outdoor Activities
If you are an outdoor enthusiast or the adventurous type, then you'll feel right at home in Lake Tahoe. It's an excellent place for hiking, biking, skiing, snow-shoeing, kayaking, paddle-boarding, wakeboarding...I could go on and on. You don't even need to own your own gear as there are plenty of companies around the lake that rent by the hour/day.
4. Beautiful Beaches
If you're a beach person, then Tahoe won't disappoint. Lake Tahoe’s 72-mile shoreline is home to some of the most picturesque beaches in the country. A phrase I like to use to describe Tahoe's beaches is "alpine caribbean." Instead of palm trees, it's pine trees and snow-capped mountains that surround the clear turquoise waters and stretches of soft sand.
5. Seasons / Weather
Lake Tahoe has beautiful, ever-changing weather. It is said to receive about 300 days of sunshine a year, and its climate can best be described as dry and temperate. Even in the summer, there’s very little humidity, a huge perk if you're not a fan of muggy weather. Another great thing about living in Tahoe is that it has all four seasons. You'll get to enjoy spectacular fall foliage in autumn, epic snow conditions in the winter, wildflowers and flowing waterfalls in the spring, and perfect beach weather in the summer.
Tahoesouth.com does a great job of describing Lake Tahoe's year-round weather conditions.
6. Food / Entertainment
I live in South Lake Tahoe so I can't speak for some of the other areas around the lake, but South Lake Tahoe has a lively bar and restaurant scene. Living near Stateline is particularly fun because you’ll have access to not only the bars and restaurants but also the 24-hour casinos on the Nevada side. Breweries and taphouses are a big thing in Tahoe, as is live music. You can find live music (playing mostly rock covers) almost every night of the week at many of the bars and restaurants. Tahoe's restaurants range from divey to upscale and serve up everything from BBQ, to pizza, to burgers, to poke, to prime rib, etc.
If you work in the hospitality or restaurant industry, then you are in luck, as these jobs are some of the easiest to get in Lake Tahoe. Bars, restaurants, hotels, and ski resorts are almost always hiring. Keep in mind that Lake Tahoe has busy seasons (summer and winter) and slow seasons (fall and spring). Be prepared to bank your money during the busy seasons, knowing that you might not be making that much during the slow seasons. As far as jobs that aren’t entry-level, I’ve heard from others that these are a little harder to get, as Tahoe is a small town. However, every community needs specialists such as doctors, dentists, lawyers, etc.
Also, if you can work remotely or have a freelance business (e.g. freelance photographer or videographer), then Tahoe might be a good fit.
Now that you've heard the good, here are a few things that might deter you from moving to Tahoe.
1. 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 from the dry air. Honestly, I don't think I have ever used as much moisturizer and chapstick as I have since I moved to Tahoe. I wouldn’t say this is necessarily a determent, but it can be annoying. On the plus side, because of the low humidity, you’ll never have a frizzy hair day, so there's that.
2. Get ready to shovel
Obviously Lake Tahoe gets a lot of snow. Unless you have covered parking, you will more than likely have to shovel your car out quite a few times during the winter season, which can be a pain. On the plus side, Lake Tahoe does an excellent job of plowing the roads. So much so, that I was able to get through an entire snowy winter without having to put chains or snow tires on my car.
Living in Lake Tahoe can feel socially isolating at times, especially if you move here by yourself. This is probably my number one issue living here (dry skin coming in a close second). The best way to meet people is probably through your job. And of course, you can go out to the bars and meet people that way. It's also worth noting that Tahoe is a transient community. People tend to live and work here for a season (e.g. ski season) and then leave. So even if you make a few friends, they might be leaving in a few months.
Lake Tahoe can feel physically isolating as well, as it's a small town in the middle of the Sierra Mountains. However, Reno airport is only an hour away and very accessible from both north and south Lake Tahoe. So there's always the option to hop a flight and visit friends and family when you need a little break from the isolation.
4. Tourists / Summer Crowds
Lake Tahoe definitely gets its fair share of tourists during the busy seasons of winter and summer, with summer being the busier of the two. Tahoe’s beautiful beaches become jammed packed with crowds, and parking is often full at popular spots around Tahoe by 10 a.m, especially on the weekends. It is possible to circumvent the crowds, even during the busy summer months, if you get up extra early or just avoid the weekends all together (which is what I usually do). I also avoid popular beach spots such as Sand Harbor like the plague during the summer months.
All in all, I would say that the pros of living in Lake Tahoe far outweigh the cons. Are you thinking of moving to Lake Tahoe and have some questions? Feel free to comment below!
P.S. Help keep Lake Tahoe beautiful by practicing the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace.
Watch the video version here!
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