Near Las Vegas

The category: Suburbanites in search of affordable housing turning once-isolated small towns into bedroom communities.

The stats: 20 miles southeast of Las Vegas; population just under 15,000.

The residents: Paul and Lois Klouse (45 and 43) and their children, Evan, 10; Aubrey, 8; and Braden, 6. Paul is a supervisor for the Clark County Health District in Las Vegas. Lois is a part-time swim instructor and personal trainer.

How they got here: Natives of Tacoma, Washington, Paul and Lois were drawn to Nevada by jobs, first settling in the northern part of the state. When they decided to check out southern Nevada, they looked at Las Vegas – and passed. Then they drove over Railroad Pass to Boulder City. “We saw the older part of town, the lawns, the big grassy park,” Lois says, “and we thought, We could live here.”

Why they’re never leaving: Boulder City’s family-friendly atmosphere, with plenty of parks, a striking new library, easy access to Lake Mead National Recreation Area, world-class mountain biking in Bootleg Canyon – and it’s the only municipality in Nevada where gaming isn’t allowed. It has made Nevada converts even out of native Northwesterners. Says Lois, “We don’t miss the gray and the rain.” 

The story behind the burb: Boulder City came to life in 1931 as a planned “model city” for workers building nearby Hoover Dam. Early homes ranged from approximately 900-square-foot workers’ cottages to more spacious supervisors’ residences. There’s newer housing stock too, but not tons of it. At 200 square miles, Boulder City is geographically the largest city in Nevada, but much of that land remains undeveloped thanks to the town’s slow-growth initiatives. These policies, and Boulder City’s desirability, mean that homes tend to cost 15 to 30 percent more than in nearby Henderson. But most residents feel the difference is worth it.

Want in? You can get a 1,000-square-foot condo for less than $200K. Single-family homes range from $300K to $700K depending on size and age, with a four-bedroom, two-bath ’70s home going for around $400K.

Other exurbs we love
Canby, OR, has preserved its farmy feel despite a steady flow of families bailing on Portland for a quieter life.

Erie, CO, is attracting hordes of mountain-loving young professionals unruffled by a 25-minute commute to Denver.

Lehi City, UT, is drawing folks with its technological growth and inexpensive new homes.

Queen Creek, AZ, has a master plan calling for 20 percent open space and miles of multiuse trails.

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