1. The surprising amount of community.
In Vegas, the normal 6-degrees-of-separation rule is actually closer to 3 — which means that you’ll invariably wind up running into that cute girl working at Rubio’s at your best friend’s weed dealer’s house party (and you’ll finally get her name, but also learn she’s dating the DJ — who was on your little brother’s high school soccer team). And it’s hard not to feel like “everyone knows each other in Vegas” when the area-to-population ratio there is nearly identical to that of the “big city with a small town feel” of Portland.
2. Being able to rely on the weather.
Even if it’s extreme, Vegas has some of the most basic weather in the country. In the summer, it’s going to be hot. In the winter, it’s going to be cold. At night, it’s going to be cool. And if it’s going to rain, you’ll smell it in the air for hours beforehand. We rely on this consistency, so much so that the weather is barely a consideration when planning our days. None of this “maybe it’ll rain for 20 minutes, but then maybe it’ll be hot, but then what if it gets cold?” nonsense you might encounter in, say, San Francisco.
3.Being able to shake off the work-week and drink with friends until the sun comes up.
“What do you mean, ‘last call’?” That concept is completely foreign to Las Vegans.
4. The bizarre juxtaposition of old-west and modern luxury.
Vegas is a cultural paradox, where you’re bound to see next year’s Teslas lined up the driveway toward a mini-mansion that’s landscaped with gravel, half-buried wooden wagon-wheels, and cacti. Where that same dude you bumped into in XS the night before wearing a custom-tailored Prada suit drives his Ford pickup in boots and a 10-gallon to the Wrangler Finals at the Thomas and Mack the very next day. And you won’t realize just how weird this identity crisis is, nor just how much you miss it, until you leave.
5. The consistency of the night sky (namely, no stars but a big ass pillar of light in the same place every day).
We’ve all met someone who can tell you their North/South orientation based on what side of the horizon a landmark or mountain is on, but imagine the utter convenience of being able to do that after sunset… thanks to the 42.3 billion candela beam firing upward from the Luxor every night. Sure, it comes at the cost of never being able to see any stars… but frankly, stars aren’t going to get you home when you’re lost in Anthem and a little bit tipsy.
6. Or, just a city that acts like a big nightlight.
Only after you’ve left Las Vegas will you realize you’re actually afraid of the dark — because at night the valley glows like someone has set the entire city on fire, or like the sun never really finished setting. Because in Vegas, things might get a little seedy at times, but they’ll never get truly dark.
7. The ability to find literally whatever you want, whenever you want.
Need to find an alligator pool, a water balloon slingshot, a handle of Jose, and ‘fresh’ Chinese food at 3:30 AM? I can show you where to get all of that… in the same 1 block shopping center. And that, my friends, is a beautiful thing.
8. “The way things were…”
Vegas is one of the few places in the country that is in the midst of such aggressive development that it will look almost completely indistinguishable every time you visit (be it 6 months or 3 years after you’ve left). Desert lots have become mini-malls, defunct coffee shops transformed into cell-phone stores. Even local teens can openly use “back in my day” to describe things that have already drastically changed. Back in my day, we used to play in the miles of drainage tunnels below the city, before the homeless turned them into living spaces. Back in my day, TI was still called Treasure Island, and its family-friendly nightly show was about dueling pirates and not about sexy, under-clothed sirens. Back in my day, we’d go back-to-school shopping at *one* outlet mall in the whole city, which at the time was called “Belz Factory Outlets” (but you probably know it today as Las Vegas Premium Outlets, South). But fear not, because at least (in my experience) while the look of the city changes constantly, the people and the vibe, thankfully, stay the same. So, at the very least, you’ll always have a group of friends out there to show you the new barcade of the month, and to mourn the loss of your favorite burrito-joint with (RIP Guadalajara at Sunset Station).