I grew up in Las Vegas. I moved to Reno over 20 years ago and truly wish I would have stayed in LV. This city has a dark cloud over it. It's getting bigger due to the influx of transplants from California and the illegal alien population is booming, too.
Firstly, if you don't make money, don't move here. It's expensive and you'll end up in an area that you can financially afford but will hate! Rent is high and the housing market is blowing up again. $300k for an 1800sqft house with a tiny backyard and the world's smallest drive-way? There are very few "good" areas left anymore. At one time Sparks used to be very family oriented. It still is if you're an illegal alien or a crack head. Sparks is looking like Sun Valley without the trailers.
Oh yeah, Google "Sun Valley Reno" and you'll find out it's the largest trailer park in the country and has the highest rate of criminals living there.
Crime in Reno/Sparks is out of control, especially in the past 2 years. Watch KOLO 8 and the vast majority are the above mentioned illegals or disgusting drug-addicts (for the most part). Anyone who tells you different must work or know someone on the city counsel. We have a high DUI rate here, too.
The downtown area is filthy and god forbid you have to drive down that way! I like to refer to downtown as the area that could have been, but never will be. It's a joke. Overpriced everything! If you like hanging out with scum, enjoy it.
During certain times of the month on certain streets you will see motorcycle cops pulling people over left and right. I got my first "speeding" ticket ever a few years ago... doing 5mph over. $115 fine. Any other time of month, 5MPH over is keeping up with the flow of traffic. On the cop days... it's a fine.
Speaking of traffic, Reno has the worst freeway system (not too mention the most obtuse drivers on the planet, but we will get to that). You have either 580 North/South or I-80 East/West. Guess what? It's backed up all the time. Why? Because when it was designed it wasn't meant to carry the traffic it does today. There's always some street under construction, which adds to the congestion, so you are screwed anyway you slice it. If you are fortunate to get off at a certain time of day before traffic starts to get heavy, good on ya! After 3:30pm, you are in for it. If you are off at 5:00pm, you might as well hang out somewhere until after 6:00pm or take all the side streets like some of us do.
Drivers here are STUPID!! This is my biggest annoyance in Reno... STUPID DRIVERS! Every day, without failure, there's always some idiot hogging up the "fast lane" or as it's called, the "passing lane". Doing 55MPH, nobody in front of them for a mile but a long line of irritated drivers behind them because they don't have the common courtesy (or brain capacity) to get over into the slower lane. And truckers around here are even worse! They'll cut you off because they think they own the road, hog the passing lane or jump right in front of you. I've had more issues with truckers here than anywhere I've ever driven (Las Vegas, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, etc.)
In all honesty, Reno is really small and it doesn't take long to get to where you need to go. But the driver mentality is just ridiculous. I ask myself every single day, "How can these people be so f'n dense??" If they drove like this in Vegas, they'd get run off the road!
Gas is expensive, groceries keep going up and car insurance rates are awful. AND HOW MANY WALMARTS DOES THIS CITY NEED!?!?! We have 2 Target stores and a million Walmarts!
As far as shopping, Legends at the Marina is pretty good as is the Summit Mall. Avoid Meadowood Mall - it's a pit. There are 2 Costco's in Reno and one at the back end of Carson City.
The best part is the skiing if we get snow. Tahoe is gorgeous beyond words and it really is the most redeeming quality around here. When we show clients around, we don't take them downtown Reno... we take them to Tahoe and Virginia City.
I know this review sounds bad. I am not a mean person and at one time I used to like Reno (like... in the 90's). Now it's just getting to be the dirtiest little city in the world and that's too bad.
I sold my house, made a really nice profit due to the overinflated market, and am out of here. Don't say I didn't warn you!
I have lost count of the number of times that I have been to Reno, but one trip was my engagement. Put as directly as possible, I LOVE Reno, and I don't gamble. Reno has an excellent selection of restaurants. It also has great museums (really!). The hotels in Reno, while not as lavish as the Wynn Las Vegas, have genuinely nice people and truly good service. And the gaming is just plain fun.
What really sets Reno apart, though, is the setting. The Truckee River runs right through downtown and is home to excellent kayaking. A short drive can bring you to Virginia City, where Mark Twain once wrote, and the Comstock Lode generated countless riches. Or, one could visit the pristine deep blue waters of Lake Tahoe. Those with an interest in government are just barely half an hour away from the silver-domed Nevada state capitol in Carson City. Or, one could just stay in Reno and enjoy the mountain and city lights view from one's hotel room. Reno, NV is a great place, and very worth visiting.