Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Why Reno continues to attract from the bay area

Though home prices in the Reno/Sparks area continue to rise (average of $530,000), it pales in comparison to the San Francisco Bay area.  Add in our incredible quality of life and lower cost of living and one can easily see why moving to the Reno/Sparks area makes so much sense.

This article published in The Guardian, articulates the growing chasm between the haves and have nots.  As most of the employment is tech sector, workers can ply their trade from most anywhere.  Many are finding out that where they are currently is not ideal for starting to build a nest egg, never mind raising a family.  Millennials, Gen Xers and baby boomers who routinely come to the Sierras to play are starting to take notice in larger numbers.  Would you rather spend hours on the Dumbarton Bridge or 45 minutes driving through the Sierra Foothills on the way to Lake Tahoe?

Reno and Sparks continue their respective re-inventions as gaming continues to consolidate, especially in downtown.  A number of casinos have/are transitioning to non-gaming, with flags like Marriott in downtown at soon to be 2 locations, the Courtyard across from Greater Nevada Field (the Aces Triple A Baseball park) and the former Siena which will become a flagship Renaissance by Marriott.  I would also look at Harrah's being repurposed, maybe something in conjunction with UNR.  As more people move to the downtown/Midtown sections of Reno, retail is making it's comeback.  West Elm, a William Sonoma branded home decor retailer, just opened in the remodeled former downtown Post Office building.  Outdoor outfitter Patagonia has announced it's moving it's outlet store downtown, as well.  Foodies have more reasons to celebrate with new restaurants opening almost weekly it seems.

Housing and schools play a key role in the relocation decision, both are being rapidly addressed.  On the rental side, both market rate and affordable housing units continue to come out of the ground to handle the influx new Nevadans.  On the for sale side, there is certainly a lack of available homes for sale, especially resale.  New homes are coming on line quickly, many at a bargain compared to the Bay Area.

Though the area has Tier 1 University of Nevada/Reno (UNR) that boasts one of the top business and engineering colleges, our K-12's are in need of improvement.  There are a number of neighborhoods that have excellent schools (Northwest Reno and South/Southwest Reno), but that leaves a large portion of the community lacking.  There are measures being taken for a sustainable solution, including an upcoming ballot measure promoted by SOSWashoe to address this key issue.  This will be a deciding factor for many looking to the area with families, key to educating a growing workforce requirement.

Companies, large and small, are moving their headquarters, manufacturing and distribution facilities here (from the well known Tesla Gigafactory to Mary's Gone Crackers).  Due to business-friendly tax and licensing practices, Nevada continues to lead in garnering it's share of relocation.  Northern Nevada is certainly on the radar of national site selectors.  Affordable housing and available workforce are 2 keys to the area's success.

It all comes down to work/life balance.  As the economy improves, people become more mobile.  As the dynamics of our workforce changes, mobility also increases.   Just as with the Bay Area,  Reno's changing workforce will tell us what's important to them.  We, as a community, just need to listen!

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