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cahaba

Reno, NV

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Can anyone tell me anything about Reno? The ecocriticism program that I really want to go to is there, but it is just too far for me to visit and see if I'd like the town. (I'd also be bringing along my 6 year old and 4 year old, so kid related info would be great too.)

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Hi! I'm originally from Reno and am actually there now visiting family before going away to school again.

The natural environment around Reno is amazing. As I'm sure you know, the town is nestled in a valley among the Sierra Nevada mountains. It's the desert, so there isn't what you'd call lush greenery. The mountains to the east are totally bare except for sagebrush; the ones to the west are forested with pines. Because of the different air masses meeting overhead, we get incredible cloud formations and gorgeous sunsets. If you enjoy the outdoors, and especially if you like winter sports, this is a fantastic place to be. Lake Tahoe and the various ski resorts are a quick (one hour, give or take, depending on your exact destination) drive away via I-80 (if you are going to drive there in the winter, chains are a must). Now, I am the least athletic, least outdoorsy person you will ever find and I think Reno's a bit boring. But the hundreds of thousands of people who disagree with me can't be wrong. Oh, the weather here is very decent. It's extremely dry (although we do get some snow in the winter, it is nothing to be alarmed about -- it's true that the city doesn't plow and salt the way they do in areas that are more accustomed to snow, but the stuff usually melts off so quickly that the inconvenience only lasts for a day or so). In the summer it rarely gets above 85F, and in the winter 20F is about as cold as it gets. Because it is the desert, nights are significantly cooler than days at all times of year. Plan to carry a sweater with you even in the summer.

The town of Reno is quite small. Actually, the metro area is comprised of Reno and its sister city Sparks. Fortunately for some, but unfortunately for students, the real estate market is just now cooling down, and housing costs are relatively high, especially in desirable parts of town. There are several decent neighborhoods, with the safest, cleanest, and most expensive located in the south part of town and the Caughlin Ranch area. Children are assigned to public schools by means of a simple zoning system, so you will want to look into the individual schools when choosing a place to live. I had an awful experience socially in public elementary and middle schools here, although educationally it wasn't too bad. My younger sisters are in the public school system now and actually like their schools quite a lot. I'll be happy to tell you whatever I can if you want to talk further about this. There are also a few decent private schools around and at least one charter school. And I am told we are getting a Davidson Institute campus, so if you have super-gifted children there will be a nice resource around.

As for culture and such:

The local papers, public libraries, and shopping are fairly awful. You will probably find yourself using the UNR library almost exclusively, taking out a subscription to a major newspaper, and shopping online. Reno tries very hard to shed its casino/bar/brothel/meth image, and succeeds to some extent. However, the reality is that the economy here is based in part upon gaming, and it is more of a presence than in areas of (for example) Connecticut or California that happen to have casinos. There are definitely parts of town that reflect this, and there is a sizable population of drifters, drunks, and degenerates, particularly downtown. There is a very sharp divide between these aspects/areas of Reno and the also-sizable yuppie element (concentrated in the south part of town and distinguished by its penchant for Humvees and other luxury vehicles, custom homes, and blandness -- but not, unfortunately, by its intellectual or cultural interests).

However, the city is trying to encourage the local arts scene, which is receiving a bit more attention these days than it used to. Downtown is showing signs of gentrification, particularly around the river, where some galleries, cafes, and boutiques have sprung up. The downtown area is also home to a jazz club, a hall where the orchestra performs, the Nevada Museum of Art (smallish, but its architecture was featured in one of last year's issues of the New Yorker, and they do get some neat exhibits), an outdoor ice skating rink (in winter), various festivities during the Artown festival, a Century cinema that runs one independent film at all times, and the Bruka Theatre company. UNR also sponsors various sorts of things like screenings of foreign films and jazz and classical music performances. There is also a group of Japanese student playwrights who present their work fairly often (I'm not sure if any of it is in English, though!).

UNR itself is located just north of downtown. There are some cute and relatively affordable apartments and small houses nearby. The campus is pretty and serene (though not especially safe at night) and has a few gardens, including a nice rose garden, and a little pond. I've only used the library for philosophy stuff, but it is quite decent for that at least. The campus culture is laid-back and friendly. My interactions with faculty and students there has been overwhelmingly positive. I was never a student there, but my sister did both her undergrad and graduate work there and just loves the place. She speaks especially well of the English department and at least one faculty member who does ecocriticism.

The yuppie influx has made Reno slightly more kid-friendly. There aren't nearly enough hands-on museums and such for kids, but there are several really nice parks (including Rancho San Rafael, which houses a small safari museum and various bits of land in their natural state), lots of music teachers, a couple of dance schools, all sorts of sports leagues, and a rash of those shops where you can choose a ceramic item, paint it, and have the thing fired in a kiln. The community college and (I think, but I'm not sure) the art museum also have special classes for kids. Oh, and there is one caveat to what I said about the public libraries earlier: Sierra View branch actually has quite a nice children's section. My little sister has been getting ten books or so from there every week for years and never seems to get bored.

There are a fair number of good ethnic restaurants (Thai, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Mexican, Greek, Salvadoran), although you may have to drive kind of far to get to them. As far as I know we have no great bagel deli, no Ethiopian food, and good pizza is hard to come by (unless you like the healthy California kind). There are some healthy-foods restaurants like Pneumatic Diner and Deux Gros Nez, a couple of nice wine shops (Wine and Cheese Board, Ben's Liquors, and I'm told there is a new one in the brand-new Sierra Summit mall that has some more unusual offerings), and a great taco shop that's open 24 hours. I can think of two natural foods stores, Trader Joe's and Wild Oats. There are a couple of decent independent record stores and a Tower. Groceries aren't super-cheap, but they aren't horribly expensive. There aren't any good video rental places around, but there are several Blockbusters.

Also, and this is probably obvious, although Reno is small it is not a small college town. In fact, if you didn't know UNR was here you'd never guess it. Most students have jobs off campus, so I suppose they blend seamlessly into the environment, and unless you are right by the campus you will not notice a student class loafing about.

You will probably want to have a car. We have a bus system, but it doesn't serve all parts of town and it can take forever to get around using it. Some people do bike, but I wouldn't recommend taking your kids round in one of those trailers that attaches to a bicycle because there aren't bike lanes everywhere and many drivers may not be familiar enough with such contraptions to keep an eye out for them.

Well, I hope some of this helps. Please post again or message me if you want more specific information or if I've left something out. Congratulations and good luck!

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Hello, I just got accepted to UNR and seeing as the info here is almost 3 years old, I thought I'd check if anyone had an update on Reno.

Thanks!

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Hello, I just got accepted to UNR and seeing as the info here is almost 3 years old, I thought I'd check if anyone had an update on Reno.

Thanks!

Reno is still beautiful. The hiking/fishing/camping is awesome.

The campus is beautiful. The parking is expensive (the passes are ridiculous) but broken into zones and times of day, so if you have a lot of night classes you can pay less.

Cost of living is reasonable, though not incredible.

I'm from Vegas, but my best friend is at school in Reno and she'll be attending grad school there in the fall.

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I'm considering UNR but I know very little about Reno. I have very little interest in gambling but a huge interest in being outdoors, so I think all the outdoor activities would be great. How would it be without a car? Is there any particular area close to campus to avoid?

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I lived near Reno for two years. For outdoor activities, you will need to go to Lake Tahoe or Truckee. There is not a lot to do outdoors in Reno itself. The climate is too hot to promote a lot of outdoor activities. I don't gamble myself, but you will want to consider going to the casinos for cheap eats. Most casinos have lunch special buffets that can be as low as $7 per person. You will notice that there are a lot of cattle in Nevada, so beef is cheap and plentiful. There is high demand for prime rib in the casinos and the rest of the cow trickles down to the locals as cheap beef. I would highly recommend the Atlantis as the best buffet in Reno.

I've never been on the UNR campus, so I can't say much about that. Most areas of Reno are pretty safe. You will need some kind of motorized transport to get around (you can easily get away with a motor bike); but, it's not a city designed for commuters.

PM me if you want more info.

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Does anyone happen to know any specific areas of Reno that are ideal to live in? Are the areas immediately around UNR nice? Also, is Reno a bike-friendly city? Any info you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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Bump. Anyone's thoughts/tips/knowledge about Reno?

Born and raised in Reno, attending UG at UNR..ask any questions you have or PM me

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I live in Reno now, and attend UNR. I actually love it! The campus is beautiful, which is not something I expected, coming from California. There are actually lots of things to do in Reno, especially as the weather gets warmer, as we have tons of street fairs and longer events. The famous Hot August Nights brings all sorts of cool classic cars to town, and Artown is a month-long celebration of art and music, with tons of free or cheap concerts, art shows, workshops, etc. Wingfield Park downtown is often the site of these free concerts - bring a lawn chair and watch the shows, or play in the river. The Reno River Festival is great if you love rafting/kayaking. In Sparks' Victorian Square there is the Ribs Cookoff every year and big farmer's markets on Thursdays. We also have some good cultural events, such as the Greek Festival and the Italian Festival. And of course when it is cold there is skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing, as well as an outdoor ice-skating rink downtown.

 

As for areas to live, the area west of Campus is all right, but don't even think about going east. There are some new, fancy apartment complexes to the northeast of campus along McCarran, which are still in not-great neighborhoods but on the edge. I know some grad students who live there. If you have kids, I would highly recommend looking at the Northwest - McCarran drops you right off north of campus, and the areas along Kings Row and Mae Anne have good mid-range pricing but are much safer. The approximately 10-15 minute commute is totally worth it for the better schools and safer area. Another idea is the Old Southwest, which is full of adorable 50s-60s ranch-style homes, although there are less apartment options in that area and more houses for rent. 

 

As for Reno ethos, it really surprised me. There are a lot of Nor Cal transplants like me, and with that comes a bit of hippy ideals (a pp mentioned Pneumatic Diner, there is the River School with organic gardening classes and full moon circles, the Great Basin Food Coop has organic, locally grown produce, etc). There is also the other side of Reno ethos, as evidenced by the casinos and the yearly rodeo. One huge plus about Reno is the music scene - we are a stop for a lot of major bands, as is Tahoe, so you don't have to go far if you love shows. The High Sierra music festival is also close by in the summer. For real "culture," there is the art museum, which is small but nice, and they get some big artists visiting. The Pioneer Center or Nightingale Hall on campus are the places to go for operas, ballets, and philharmonic performances. If you like drinking, downtown bars organize fairly regular themed pub crawls (like the Zombie Crawl for Halloween), and there are wine walks as well. 

 

Campus itself is pretty active, with lots of clubs and free events. Every Thursday night there is a free movie, either in the student union or on the lawn in front of the student union in nicer weather. UNR attracts a lot of international students, so there are great cultural events on campus, such as Night of All Nations, which had food and entertainment from over 30 countries last year. Facilities on campus are really nice; a few years ago we got a ton of money pouring into campus (ah, those were the days), so there is a new student union, science building, and state-of-the-art library. The 'Knowledge Center,' as it is called, is my favorite place on campus. The 5th floor has sweeping views of the snow-capped mountains surrounding the city. We also have a new Molecular Medicine building at the north end of campus, with great facilities and equipment. I've heard there are all sorts of cool gadgets for the physics and engineering folks to play with, too, and the Journalism building was just renovated as well.

 

I've had a great experience at UNR and in Reno. It doesn't have a great reputation, but that almost makes it better, because the people aren't uppity. A lot of people here love to hike, bike, kayak, and enjoy the nature surrounding us. Yes, there are casinos, but that also means good restaurants, specials for locals, and some cheap activities (like the Grand Sierra Cinema, where all movie tickets are $3). Reno and UNR may not look shiny from the outside, but I think this is a great place to live. Feel free to PM me if you have specific questions!

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I will be moving to Reno in August with my boyfriend to attend UNR. We are looking for a 1 bedroom apartment in a quiet, safe area, however I do not know which neighborhoods are best. I do not mind having to commute to school (15 mins or so). Any suggestions/advice for someone moving to Reno and looking for housing?

Thank you!

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Hi kjweber,

Welcome to Reno! For a 1 bedroom apartment, I would check out the Old Northwest or Northwest neighborhoods. These are west of the University of Nevada and are excellent places to live. South Reno is really nice as well, but a bit further away. Avoid north and east of the University. I would also avoid downtown! I've been in Reno for less than a year, so I'm still figuring things out as well :)

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On 3/10/2016 at 10:13 PM, kjweber said:

I will be moving to Reno in August with my boyfriend to attend UNR. We are looking for a 1 bedroom apartment in a quiet, safe area, however I do not know which neighborhoods are best. I do not mind having to commute to school (15 mins or so). Any suggestions/advice for someone moving to Reno and looking for housing?

Thank you!

For quiet and safe, I would look in the Midtown/Old Southwest area (about 10 minutes from campus on the south side of downtown [UNR's campus is on the north side]). While it is definitely a little bit of a pricier neighborhood, there are still really amazing deals to be found. I just moved out of a really nice studio right in the heart of Midtown, and I only paid $460 with all of my utilities included. Shoot me a message if you have any other specific questions about the area!

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Fyi there is a lot of bicycle theft in Reno if you plan on biking to get around. I found this out the hard way when I stayed there one night en route to my new city. I had a nice bike and someone went through a lot of trouble to get it off my car. The police do make a good effort to find them in pawn shops (which is where they typically go), but I never saw my bike again.

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Are there any updates on the Reno area? I just got accepted to UNR and I'm worried about the cost of living, comparable to the Midwest. Any thoughts? Thanks!

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On 3/3/2018 at 4:27 PM, PsychedSloth said:

Are there any updates on the Reno area? I just got accepted to UNR and I'm worried about the cost of living, comparable to the Midwest. Any thoughts? Thanks!

Hi there!

I used to live in Reno and now live in the Midwest.

Housing prices in Reno are increasing because the city is booming. But utilities are (ar at least were) pretty cheap, there's a free shuttlebus that will go from the university to the downtown, and you get can groceries for hella cheap at WINCO. There's also a great food co-op downtown. Shit tons of art, music, great food. I absolutely loved Reno and found it very affordable. I'm happy to chat via PM if you have other questions. 

 

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7 hours ago, EspritHabile said:

Hi there!

I used to live in Reno and now live in the Midwest.

Housing prices in Reno are increasing because the city is booming. But utilities are (ar at least were) pretty cheap, there's a free shuttlebus that will go from the university to the downtown, and you get can groceries for hella cheap at WINCO. There's also a great food co-op downtown. Shit tons of art, music, great food. I absolutely loved Reno and found it very affordable. I'm happy to chat via PM if you have other questions. 

 

Thank you so much! I'll form a list of decent questions and then message you. 

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