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Last Update: Apr 10th, 2023
Nevada Plate

Las Vegas New Resident Guide

I recently moved to Las Vegas, and I've been surprised by the lack of information on the basic things you need to know. I also found a lot of wrong info; wrong info on the web. Go Figure.

Things you'll learn here:

Shopping For Food

Before you get your Nevada driver's license, you'll need to buy food. I'm from Florida, where I shopped at Publix, Fresh Market, Winn Dixie, Aldi, Walmart and Trader Joe's. In Las Vegas, only Walmart and Trader Joe's are here. I miss Aldi a lot. To find the stuff you like, you'll probably have to shop in multiple supermarkets. Also, there's no Hellman's Mayonnaise here; it's called Best's. Same stuff; different name.

Supermarket Chains:

Walmart

Walmart supermarkets here are about the same as they were in Florida; you won't be buying Rapini or Gia Russa Tomato sauce; the selection is surprisingly similar to every other Walmart I've ever been to. Familiarity is a good thing. One problem with Walmart is that you can't count on them having what you want; sometimes they're completely out of standard items like sausage or meatballs or lettuce. Or the brand of coffee I drink. Recently they messed up what was a very good sefl-checkout system; splitting the area into 3 sections with 3 separate lines.There are no signs telling people that 1 section is "Card Only", so they've just created a bunch of chaos where there was none before.

Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's is also the model of familiarity. The store's layout is the same no matter where you go, and they carry the same items as I used to buy in Florida. The locations are older, mostly embedded in strip malls, and they're a bit smaller.

Sprouts

Sprouts is an odd store that i don't really care for, but there's 1 a block away and I find myself in there buying one thing or another often. One thing they have is ripe tomatoes; I used to buy tomatoes at Fresh Market in Florida and they were always not quite ripe; so I'd have to plan ahead to have ripe tomatoes. Sprouts has same day tomatoes. The also have a lot of different types of sausage; polish sausage, andouille, breakfast sausages.

They don't carry any normal brands and everything is pretty expensive. The stores also vary in quality; the store on Stephanie in Henderson is a large, well stocked store and the one on E Tropicana is one of the worst Sprouts I've ever been to.

Smiths

Smith's is a subsidiary of Kroger's; if you're familiar with Kroger's you'll find their store brands available at Smith's. Smith's sells Rapini by the pound, which is unusual. They have a weak wine selection in most stores; but they do have 4 pack pricing (mix and match 4 bottles for a 20% discount).

Something I can't stand about Smith's is that they advertise stuff they don't have. Their App will invite you to put something, then you go to the store and they don't even have a spot for it; like they never had it.

Albertson's
Vons

Albertsons and Vonn's are essentially the same store; most of them are old and their regular prices stink, but they often have some good sales.

Albertsons flyer

Albertson's carries a specific wine that I've been buying in Florida but the regular prices are very high ($17.99). They have a deal where you have to buy 6 to get the discount; the 6 pack price is $11.99, so it's a no-brainer. The problem is they rarely have 6 bottles, so I have to buy something else to get the price.

Becoming a Resident

There are benefits to having a Nevada driver's license, so if you're a multi-state resident you may want to consider getting a Nevada license. Some of the benefits locals with a Nevada license get:

- 3 hour free parking instead of 1 at MGM and Caesar's properties
- Waived Resort fees at Station Hotels and Casinos
- Staycation packages
- $1 single ride Monorail tickets ($5 regular price)

The free parking is nice because an hour isn't enough time even for lunch on the strip.

Getting a Drivers License

If you already have a real ID drivers license (gold star in the upper right hand corner), getting a drivers license is pretty easy. The hard part is getting an appointment; appointments are booked for 6 weeks in most cases.

LV Sahara DMV

Getting a DMV Appointment

They tell you that you have 30 days after you become a resident to get a Drivers License and to register your car. But it might take you longer than that to get an appointment.

DMV Appointment Website

Nevada DMV Appointment

This was on May 3 and the entire month of May is grayed out. You can try other locations, but they're all pretty much the same. The next appointment available at Henderson was on June 6. So to meet the 30 day cut off you'd have to make an appointment as soon as you move in.

The DMV web site is a bit out of date and says they have no walk-ins, but they do have a walk in line. But the line is long and it will add more than an hour to your wait time. And the line is outside, so it may not be much fun in the summer. Also, they cut off the walk-in line at random times in the afternoon depending how backed up they are, so come early if you're going to walk in.

LV DMV Walk In Line

I was able to get an appointment for both my Drivers License and Car Registration in 1 day. People cancel their appointments. The baby is sick, or something comes up at work, or for one reason or another they can't make the appointment. As soon as someone cancels , it becomes available on the web site. So be ready with your documents, start early in the morning and keep trying. Other people are doing the same thing, so you have to be quick. More than once an availability would show up and by the time I clicked on it, the appointment was taken.

When you have an appointment there's a separate short line inside, so don't wait on the Walk In line. I made that mistake as there are no signs telling you that there are separate lines for appointments and walk-ins (and there is no-one from the DMV outside to ask).

They tell you that you need to bring all kinds of stuff with you, but your license and proof of residency is all you really need. I have a house so I brought my homeowner's insurance bill, a utility bill and my car insurance that I'd already changed (more on this below).

Note that there is no benefit to coming before your appointment time; in fact, if you come late you'll actually have to wait less. When I went for my license, I was waiting on the walk-in line for 20 minutes until I realized there was another line; I checked in 20 minutes late and they called my number right away. Literally in 2 minutes. When I went for my registration, my appointment was at 4:45 and I had to get a VIN check (they close at 5pm), so I checked in 15 minutes early. They have an app where you can see your position in the line:

DMV Wait Line App

I noticed that my position was increasing until my appointment time; people who were checking in with a 4:30 appointment were being put in front of me. So coming late is beneficial.

LV Sahara DMV Inside

I had to wait 1/2 hour; it was well after 5pm when they called my number. They lock the door at about 4:30 and won't let anyone in without an appointment, so if you have a late appointment they won't let you out to get something you forgot in your car. So if you have a very late appointment make sure you have everything when you come in.

They don't have a machine to create licenses at the DMV, so you're going to have to wait for your new license in the mail. They void your existing driver's license (they literally punch a VOID through it) and give you a piece of paper that is your temporary driver's license.

Nevada Temp License

Note that the document specifically says that it's not valid for Identification; so if you don't have a passport you could go 2 weeks without a valid ID. I doubt you could get on a plane while you're waiting for your new license without a passport. I'm old enough so I don't get ID'd at bars; but if you're 28 you might not be able to get into a club. They do give you your old voided license back; but.I could see some jughead bouncer not accepting it. I got my license in 9 days in the mail.

Registering your Car in Nevada

If you move permanently to Nevada, you really need to tell your Auto insurance carrier that you've moved. If you have an accident and they find out you moved to another state and didn't tell them, they may be able to deny your claim. In order to register your car, you will need Nevada auto insurance. So as soon as you move you should notify your insurance company and get new insurance cards. My insurance was $600/year less in Nevada than Florida, so there's that too.

If you have a nice car you'll need that insurance reduction, because registering a car in Nevada is expensive. If you have a 2021 car that has a MSRP of $60000 it will cost more than $1000 to register your car. My 2015 BMW cost over $400. If you have an old jalopy it's pretty cheap.

You'll need to get a smog test before going to the DMV. You'll see these little SMOG stations in shopping centers throughout the city. There's a maximum that they can charge; about $50. But they all charge different prices and they all look about the same. Online you'll find these coupons; which are only good at one specific "brand" of station.

Smog Busters Coupon

The coupons seem to be perpetual; there's no expiration date. The place I went to only charges $19 for "light duty", which is a car or light truck. So the coupon is worthless.

Smog Station Las Vegas

It takes about 10 minute and you get a certificate that you have to bring with you to get your registration. The first time I went there was only 1 person in front of me, but for my renewal there were 5 cars and it took about 20 minutes all tollt.

If you're bringing a car from another state you'll also have to get a VIN inspection. All of the major DMV offices have a station where they do this for free (there's a web site that says Sahara doesn't have one, but they do). You just drive up and get in line.

There's a more in-depth article on Smog Test preparation here

LV DMV VIN Inspection Entrance

They just scan the info on your door and check the VIN on your dashboard.

LV DMV VIN Station

They're basically just making sure everything matches up and that the car isn't stolen or been reported as destroyed. They also give you a document certifying that you've passed the VIN test.

Once you have your smog test and VIN test documents you can go in and get your registration. You can get your VIN test in advance, or you can go the day of your appointment; it doesnt take very long.

They tell you to bring all sorts of stuff like your old plates but you really don't need much more than ID and your current registration. They do not cancel your registration; you'll have to return your plates yourself if the state you're coming from requires it.

Don't Let your Car Insurance Lapse

Something to know about your car registration; you must maintain insurance at all times or you will be fined. Even 1 day. They know if you don't have insurance and the fines are automatic. So don't let your insurance lapse.

Flashing Yellow Arrows

Something they didn't have in NY or FL were the flashing yellow lights. In FL and NY there were flashing red lights which were the equivalent of a stop sign. I'm not sure what's different about these.

Flashing Yellow

I guess if there's no traffic you can just make a turn without stopping first. Anyway, they're pretty useful when there's no traffic.

About Uber and Taxis

My experience with Uber has been pretty consistent. I don't understand why some people will pay $45 for an Uber when a cab would only be $20, but that's just me. I live about 5 miles from the strip. On a weekend night I can almost always get an Uber for about $14. A no-brainer. Coming home is another matter. I'm not a 3am kind of person; trying to get back home between 11pm and 12am *usually* yields a $35 offer from Uber. Sometimes they'll offer me $45 and $35 with a half hour wait. A cab ride is $18 to $24 depending on where I am on the strip. Ridiculous right? And there's no waiting for a cab; At the MGM the cab line can be pretty long; at Encore maybe there's 2 people on the line. Kids seem to take Uber; no matter the cost. Older folks know about cabs and don't think they're terrible.

Note that cabs charge $3 extra if you use a CC, so I always accumulate $5 and $1 bills to make sure I have exact change. With Beers priced at $10.84, I get $9 change which sets me up.

Uber to the strip, Cab home. Write it down. It's not that hard.

Bad Stuff Not in the Brochures

Wind

The brochures don't mention the wind, which is really bad. It hardly ever rains, but it's often so windy you can't sit comfortably outside.

Curbs

The road system here, particularly in the city, is designed to damage your vehicle. The turn lanes are tight and all have curbs that are hard to see at night and can confuse you if you're not familiar with the area. At night you can easily think you see a left turn lane and it turns out to be a right turn lane with a curb just long enough to damage your drive train if you try to turn into it.

Cones

Cones 1

There are cones everywhere. Lanes closed for no reason, entire stretches of roads coned off with no evidence of work in sight. It seems like it would take them longer to set up the cones than pave the road. Who knows what they're doing, but it's everywhere.

Parking on the Strip

If I'm not drinking I'll drive to the strip; i go in at least once a week for lunch or to do a property walk through. When it's $7 for a coffee or $20 for a sandwich, saving on Parking matters. You don't want to add $12 to the trip. If you have a Nevada drivers license you'll never have to pay for parking to have lunch on the strip.

Note: 1-3 hours designates 1 hour for everyone and 3 hours with a Nevada Drivers License

Venetian - Always Free
Palazzo - Always Free
Wynn - Always Free
Treasure Island - Always Free
Resorts World - Always Free
Sahara - Always Free
Stratosphere - Always Free
Rio - Always Free
Bellagio, Aria, Cosmopolitan - 1-3 Hours Free, then $15 per 4 hours. $18 for 24 hours.
MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, Park MGM, NY-NY, Luxor, Mirage 1-3 Hours Free, then $12 per 4 hours. $15 for 24 hours.

Some Ceasars properties eliminate the 4 hour window on weekends and jack up the parking to $23 for 24 hours. So to park for 2 hours (Non Residents) or 4 hours (Residents) it will cost you $23 on Friday and Saturdays.

Ceasars, Flamingo, Ballys, Paris, Linq - M-Thu: 1-3 Hours free, $15 for 4th hour, $18 for 24 Hours. Fri-Sun: 1-3 Hours Free, then $23 for up to 24 Hours.
Planet Hollywood Mon-Thu 1-3 Hours free, $15 for 4th Hour, $18 for 24 Hours, Fri-Sun 1-3 Hours Free, 4th hour $20, $23 up to 24 Hours

All have unlimited free parking for "guests"; You can basically park at any of these places and hit the strip for an unlimited amount of time. The Venetian lot is the worst of the bunch. Opt for the Palazzo even if you're headed South.

All MGM and Ceasars properties (all of the other big name hotels except The Cosmopolitan) have 1 hour free parking for everyone, and 3 hours for Nevada residents with a Nevada drivers license. 3 Hours is enough time to Eat, shop and do a bit of gambling; but maybe not enough for a Friday night out. A 4th hour will cost you $15 at Bellagio and Aria and $12 at other MGM properties; Ceasar's will cost you $15 after the 1 or 3 hour grade period.

Pot Laws

When you walk the strip, you'll smell a lot of pot. Contrary to popular belief, it is not legal to smoke pot in public in Nevada. It's legalized only on private property. If you are over 21, you can carry up to 1 once of marijuana. Selling any amount of pot is illegal. Only dispensaries can legally sell pot. If you are under 21, you cannot possess any amount of marijuana unless you have a medical card.

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