‘I can’t believe you’re moving to Reno’. That’sÂ my best friend, Steve, on hearing the news. He was in Pittsburgh and I was wrapping up my last few days in Wilmington, a city of about 100,000 in southeastern North Carolina, just a 15-minute bike ride from the ocean. “I mean Reno.Â Reno, Nevada?”
I’d chosen Reno as my next home for a handful of reasons. The treasured Sierra Nevada mountains and Lake Tahoe within a short drive. The presence of big-name employers, like Intuit, Microsoft and the University of Nevada Reno assured me that I could make a living in the city and meet like-minded young professionals. And the local attractions seemed endless â€“ The Reno Aces, a great music scene, dozens of world-class ski resorts, college football, $5 blackjack, and a rodeo for crying out loud. An actual rodeo. 300 annual days of sunshine and fresh air, free of insects finalized my commitment to become the city’s newest resident.
But Reno also has a stigma â€“ particularly among those who’ve spent no time in Northern Nevada. When they think Reno, they tend to think dusty streets, cigarette smoke and questionable street-corner professionals. Â They aren’t thinking urban revitalization or families or unbounded natural beauty.
“Why not just live in Vegas?” some friends asked. “All I know about Reno is what I’ve seen on Reno 911,” joked others. My mother was a little more earnest.Â “You’re just going to walk away from your house and your job to go live in the middle of the desert?”
Her words stuck and forced me to look inward and evaluate my decision.
Here I was. Almost 30. I’d just finished grad school and was trying to find ways to fill my newly-found free time.Â I asked, What am I passionate about? The great outdoors. Exploring. Adventure. Variety.Â And I asked, What am I not passionate about? The Deep South: summers as sticky as spilled maple syrup, a landscape as flat and devoid of excitement as a daytime soap opera to a teenage boy.
“Mom, Reno’s going to perfect. I promise.”
For every reason I had to stay in North Carolina â€“ a house, a job, a strong professional network â€“ I had two to move out West. And I couldn’t be happier with my decision. With a little luck and persistence, I got over the hurdles. A property manager in Wilmington found tenants for my house. A Reno-based recruiting agency helped me obtain full time work as a senior financial analyst at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center, earning what I earned back East. At my first Reno-Tahoe Young Professionals Network event, I met dozens of enthusiastic, intelligent professionals who were eager to hear my story, to tell their own, and to be my friend. The final hurdle was leapt when I found a local landlord unafraid of three dogs. Somehow it all worked out.
TheseÂ days my eastern friends compliment my photos: Lake Tahoe, the hot air balloon that landed in my yard and views from Squaw Valley. They tell me that I’ve never looked happier. Eight months after my big move there’s little I enjoy more than explaining to old and new friends alike why The Biggest Little City is the perfect place for any ambitious, fun-loving, adventurous and outdoorsy young professional to establish roots and begin an exciting new phase of life.
Originally from upstate NY, Scott Bliss earned his bachelor’s degree in Business IT from Virginia Tech and his MBA from UNC Wilmington. His weekdays are spent crunching numbers and writing computer code and his weekends are spent climbing local high peaks, cycling, and exploring Northern Nevada.