California Dreaming & Leaving: One man's story about moving from California to Las Vegas

las vegas strip

Don Logay tells his story about moving from California to Las Vegas

Being born and raised in Chicago, brutal winters – with snow and ice, months of gray days and sub-zero temperatures – was a readily accepted and unquestioned fact of life.

However, as my career in business communications began to take shape in my mid-twenties, I began traveling far and wide to sunny resorts and exotic locations worldwide.

I formed a production company that specialized in creating comedy skits and special musical numbers for big Fortune 500 companies that were incorporated into their three- and four-day corporate meetings – usually held during the winter months –  at popular major convention cities throughout the U.S., Hawaii, the Caribbean and at famed European sites such as Zurich, Paris and London.

As a result, winters in my home base of Chicago became a constant shocking transition between warm weather, sandy beaches and palm trees one day to the aforementioned brutal snow and ice, months of gray days and sub-zero temperatures the next. This was repeated month-after-month, time and again, over the long and dreary Chicago winters.

California Dreaming

After a decade or two of this annual “there’s better weather out there” indoctrination, I came to the realization that the difficult Midwest climate I was enduring was a habit versus an option and I began making serious overtures toward relocating to the sunny state of California.

On one early September day, in advance of another impending Chicago winter, I flew to San Francisco to begin looking for a new warm-weather place to live. I rented a car and drove along the coast, through Santa Barbara and Los Angeles all the way down to San Diego. At that point, weighing the cities and sites I had seen, I settled on Southern California and doubled back to my favorite location which was Laguna Beach. I found a house for rent at the south end of town, actually in Laguna Niguel right next to the Ritz-Carlton, wrote a check for two months rent and said,” I’ll be back in two weeks.”

Upon arrival, and after unpacking, I was totally swept away by the Southern California lifestyle. Sun-filled days, long walks on the beach with waves crashing in and bonfires on the sand at night – just like one would imagine. It was truly paradise found.

Surf and Sand as Advertised

My new SoCal life also included lots of new super friendly and welcoming surfer friends along with great neighbors. It was like being on vacation 24/7/365.

Laguna Beach, just a few miles down PCH, was a never ending place for the best that California had to offer – from restaurants and art galleries to boutique shops and bars with live music – spread from one end of town to the other.

Lazy days segued from sun and fun to spectacular sunsets to quiet walks on the beach at night, with the moon reflecting on the waters and ending with a quiet glass of wine at home sitting by a warming fire.

The tri-cities of Laguna Beach, Laguna Niguel and Dana Point were truly everything I had imagined and had hoped for. But as they say: “Nothing too good or too bad lasts too long.”

A Slow Transition Begins

As the years went by, both myself and friends and neighbors had a subtle awareness that things were changing – slowly but surely.

At first, it seemed like the whole world had discovered our little slice of paradise. Beaches were getting more crowded, traffic on Pacific Coast Highway was often snarled and at a standstill and the stores and restaurants were now suddenly “big-city” busy.

The coastal charm of surf city Southern California was slowly diminishing and, in its place, a new fast pace began to emerge with escalating prices, more traffic and the once-friendly smiles of long-time locals turning to frowns.

In 2012, a surprise increase in the state’s personal income tax was another negative hit that affected everyone – from the super-rich to their gardeners and pool man – that soon had prices going up everywhere for everything imaginable.

Thus, after a quarter century of idyllic living, I was experiencing an uncomfortable shift from the once incredible to something untenable – and it became apparent that the California dream was rapidly fading. It was again “habit versus an option” and I realized my days were pretty much numbered here in the Golden state. Once more, it was time to seek new horizons – but where?

Weighing the Options

While possibly living offshore, say in Hawaii or the Caribbean was an enticing option, it was also impractical business-wise.

As for that last part, six or seven times a year I made the four-hour drive from Laguna Beach into Las Vegas to attend various trade shows and conventions, such as Consumer Electronics, National Association of Home Builders and others in search of, or on behalf of, clients.

lake las vegas

Las Vegas was always an exciting place, with the best of everything (five-star restaurants, world class entertainment, etc.) and gambling thrown in as well. But hey, who ever thinks of living there? Las Vegas was just a place to visit – a place for fun, right? However, that all began to change on one trip, when I looked up some friends I knew from Chicago that had purchased a condo on the outskirts of Las Vegas.

Their second getaway home was in a posh resort called Lake Las Vegas, just a 20-minute drive from the glittering Las Vegas Strip.

Lake Las Vegas is a luxury enclave of Tuscan-styled communities nestled around a 320-acre man-made lake with a coastal Italian-themed Village and cobblestone streets winding through shops and restaurants, by an authentic replica of the famed Ponte Vecchio bridge in Florence, Italy. Three Jack Nicklaus designed golf courses also drew tourists from all over the world to this unlikely desert oasis vacation destination.

Moving from California to Las Vegas – Really?

To make a long story short, my friends quickly sold me on the idea on moving from California to Las Vegas. While it is said that “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” in reality, it is more like “What is ‘happening’ in Las Vegas has people deciding to ‘stay’ in Las Vegas.”

Myself included.

The migration from California to Las Vegas was steadily increasing, and while California was pushing people out, Las Vegas continued to draw them in with new hotels, new professional sports teams, a new stadium and a bigger convention center… just to name a few… and with that came more jobs, more businesses and a booming economy. Plus, California buyers got a lot more home buying ‘bang-for-the-buck’ on the price per square foot in the Las Vegas market.

And that is why, after a short stay with my friends out in Lake Las Vegas, I began searching for a home to buy. While Las Vegas is also surrounded with a number of prestige communities – from Summerlin and Red Rock Country Club to MacDonald Highlands and Lake Las Vegas – all of which offer lifestyles that are both upscale and exclusive, my preference was to live within the city and just off the Strip.

I found the perfect completely remodeled and upgraded single-level ranch home, on a large corner lot, that I purchased for just one quarter of the price for which I sold my home in California. Located in a quiet residential neighborhood – with a typical suburban-style mailbox on a post out front – it was still only a few blocks off the Strip and only a mile or two away from the world-famous Las Vegas Convention Center.

When I told my longtime California friends, neighbors and business associates I was moving to Las Vegas, reactions ranged from “What?” and “Huh?” to “Really?!”

Las Vegas – What’s Not to Love?

Yes, moving to Las Vegas was the best thing I ever did. Even better than my original move to California.

On one hand, I have a peaceful lifestyle that rivals any suburban setting. On the other, I have the world’s greatest vacation destination right in my own backyard, with luxury resorts and casinos – featuring top restaurants and star-studded entertainment – and the number one rated convention location for the biggest trade shows in the world, which is great for my business too.

Las Vegas also has a world-class international airport that provides easy access to or from virtually anywhere…which brings up another point. Ever since I moved here, seems almost everyone I’ve ever known, whether family or friends, has either visited Las Vegas or will be visiting at some point soon – and that includes even the most unlikely individuals, such as my tree-trimmer guy from California and my favorite butcher and his wife from back in Chicago. Everybody loves Las Vegas.

Beyond all that, my new city also offers a very attractive low cost of living and there is no state income tax.

It has now been a decade since I left California, and as my friends once said to me, I now say to you, “So, what are you waiting for?”

Las Vegas – what’s not to love?

Don Logay is an award-winning journalist with 17-years experience that includes being Editor-in-Chief of three national magazines and winning numerous BPA (Business Press Association) awards for Excellence in Journalism. He began his career as Writer, Director and Producer of business theater and entertainment services for Fortune 500 companies worldwide.

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