Nevada passes 3M population mark with push from Californians

LAS VEGAS, NV - 2009: An aerial view of downtown Las Vegas Strip looking north is seen in this 2009 Las Vegas, Nevada, late afternoon photo taken from the top of the Stratosphere Hotel and Casino. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — California is playing an unparalleled role in Nevada's growth, as state population estimates surpassed 3 million people and the U.S. Census Bureau ranked the Silver State as the nation’s fastest-growing in 2018.

More than 50,000 Californians moved to Nevada from July 2017 to July 2018, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported, or nearly 40% of the total number of people who moved from another U.S. state during that time.

Robert Lang, executive director of Brookings Mountain West at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said there are now more adults in Nevada who were born in California than native Nevadans.

Much of the Silver State’s allure lies in the fact that Nevada has no state income tax and a lower cost-of-living in major cities than California, Lang said.

“It’s a really nice magnet for California,” Lang said. “Master planned communities, similar climates, not that far away from relatives.”

Meanwhile, Nevada lost about 22,400 residents to its western neighbor — about 10,000 fewer than in 2009, and the lowest number in the past five years.

The Golden State offers more specialized, higher-paying jobs for skilled workers, University of Southern California demographer Dowell Myers told the Review-Journal earlier this year.

But median home prices in population hubs such as Los Angeles and San Francisco are far higher than in Las Vegas and Reno, Lang said.

In October, the median sale price of previously owned single-family homes in Las Vegas was $307,000 — less than half the $663,000 in Los Angeles and one-fifth the $1.54 million in San Francisco as of September, according to California Association of Realtors figures.

“It’s very hard to migrate from a lower cost region to a higher cost region,” Lang said. “You could sell a palace in Vegas and wind up in a shack in California.”

Overall, about 127,000 people moved to Nevada from other states and another 14,000 came from abroad, according to Census figures.

Texas and other Western states including Arizona, Utah and Washington were other major migration hubs.