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Buying a horse property in Nevada

(sorry, accidentally posted in Off Course first!)
I am casually (but with increasing fervor) thinking about moving from suburban California to rural Nevada, and in so doing purchasing a small horse property. As a life long equestrian, this has been a fantasy forever, but after becoming permanently WFH during COVID, realizing how much money I would save on taxes+horse costs leaving California (the $2.5k/month I would save in taxes alone would almost cover the mortgage if I buy something for around $500k), and with an ever-increasing thirst for open space and mountains, this does actually seem like a real possibility. I bought my young mare 2 years ago after a lifetime of leasing, and I am getting more and more into the horsekeeping side of ownership. The idea of seeing her in my backyard is VERY appealing, and at the same time I realize it is unlikely I will ever be able to afford a horse property in the Bay Area where I currently live.

My current situation: suburban (but falling down) rental house, 1 horse boarded ~30 minutes away from me in a stall w/ a run. Theoretically I don’t need to see her every single day (barn feeds+cleans+mostly handles blankets), but as so many of us do, I find myself filling water buckets/cleaning stalls/feeding extra, so it’s rare that I actually miss a day. H/j trainer on site who I LOVE LOVE LOVE and who has been a game changer for us. I am a pretty active boarder and do most of my own care - scheduling/holding for vet+farrier, feeding grain+hay (barn provides only alfalfa cubes), wound care, water buckets, etc, and I really enjoy all of it. I work from home (tech) with fairly flexible hours, a lot of freedom, and about as much job security as I could have in my industry.

What I would like:

  • Budget: around $500k, which would allow me to board my horse at a nice training barn indefinitely and still save $~3k a month from what I’m spending living in Cali. I’ve seen places I like for the low 400s, which would be even better. I could afford more than this, but I’m much more comfortable staying well within the range that feels affordable, and then plan to pay off the mortgage ASAP
  • Location: I’m looking in Northern Nevada. I keep hearing that it’s becoming a secret h/j hot spot, and I have a few friends & acquaintances (horsey and otherwise) who have moved there. I LOVE the desert, and I love the Sierras, and this seems like the best of both worlds. I’d don’t want to be in a horse desert - within an hour of an equine vet+human hospital, have a good trainer accessible, have knowledgable horse people accessible, are all important to me. The Gardnerville/Wellington area seems closest to what I want, but I’m also seeing horse properties North of Reno and East (I know much less about these areas).
  • Horse stuff: 5+ acres, room for 3 horses (I have read on here how you really need 3 to avoid the herd bound issues). I would want to board at a nice barn for at least the first year to build my local network and get my mare further in her training. The pricing even at the highest end barn I can find in Reno/Gardnerville seems so much cheaper than the Bay Area - full training board appears to be around $1500, which is what I’m paying now for board+ training 2 days/wk at a nice but not fancy barn. Since I’m planning on boarding for awhile, I’m fine slowly improving existing basic horse facilities or even building something from scratch. I would like a proper but not fancy barn w/ runs+room for the horses to run around and play, and an area to ride - am I correct in thinking that because the soil is so sandy, I might not need to put in a super expensive arena to ride in? I’m also assuming there is no way to have any type of pasture, which tbh would be best for my air fern anyway.
  • House: I like weird, quirky, falling down houses (bring on the 70s wood paneling please!), so I am totally happy to buy a wreck of a house and get more land. I do a lot of the maintenance in the house I live in now, so I am more prepared than if I had been renting an apartment.

I do have a SO, but he lives in SF and wouldn’t move with me, though he would visit me and maybe move his horse up with me as well. We’re both pretty independent and do our own thing anyway, and he supports me following my dream if this is it. He’s also run a bb before and invested in rental properties, so he could help me with all of the property/horses at home stuff that I’ve never done before.

I’m in no hurry to do this - I want my horse with my current trainer for at least another year, so the timeline for moving her home would really be 2+ years away (one more year here plus at least another in our new home, putting her at age 7). My plan is to spend more time in the three areas outside Reno that I’m lookin (Gardnerville/Wellington to the South, Dayton to the East, and whatever you call the area up North by Pyramid Lake) and check out some of the local barns/trainers/feed stores, and keep thinking about this while hoping the prices don’t go up faster than I can save more money.

My questions are: Does anyone on COTH have horses in this area? Any great trainers? Cool areas I’m missing? Things I should avoid? Does this sound like a terrible idea? Am I missing something huge? And really: should I just go for it?


I think that’s actually 5 or more :rofl:

Herd bound issues can also really depend on the horse. I have mostly boarded at larger facilities. Years ago I did keep one horse briefly at a smaller private facility where there were 5 or 6 horses and she became very herd bound. It went away as soon as we moved back to a bigger facility.

Recently I moved my current horse to a smaller private facility, there are 6 horses including my mare. So far no herd bound issues with mine, but definitely with the others depending on who is out or coming and going.

Even being very hands on at a large facility will be very different from bringing your horses home. I would suggest boarding at a small private facility to get a closer sense of what it might be like.

My dream is also to eventually buy a property to bring my horse home, but it definitely has pros and cons.

Following with interest.
My only family is a brother in Henderson.
When I first visited him there (10+yrs), he arranged a visit to a Dressage rider’s place, don’t recall her name or the town, but maybe 30-40min from Henderson. At that time she had her Gold, so some cred.
Only turnoff was no turnout except her sand arena.
I’d be moving 3 - horse, pony & mini - my Ideal place would be ~3ac (I’m now on 5), with a Tiny Home/ADU & shedrow-type barn.
Am I dreaming to imagine finding something in the $300K range? Acreage w/o buildings would be fine.
I’m on a well & septic now, but City water, sewer & utilities would be great included.
My farm here is due for a cha-ching$, as there’s a 300-unit “Paired Villa” development going in less than a mile from me.

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Paired Villa, is that back-to-back townhouses? Attached at the back so you have only a front yard, with other units connected at the sides and rear.

Where I first learned of this building style, they were “Villa Townhomes.” Nice name, conjuring up a rural house on a hillside in Greece or France, not a new way to market apartments.

Your Ideal Place sounds pretty doable in many areas of the country, especially as your two buildings don’t even have to be site built, they can be trucked in.

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Point well taken about boarding at a smaller facility first - I hadn’t even considered that, and it could be a great in between step, thank you for the suggestion!


I haven’t looked near Las Vegas at all, as I’m much more a fan of the landscape further north. 3 acres for $300k would I think be doable a little bit further out from Reno. There’s a place I’ve been eyeing around there that’s 10 acres, six stall barn, and a weird garage+studio above for $399k, and they keep dropping the price.

I definitely want turnout, which I would assume would be ample on 3-5 acres (assuming turnout doesn’t have to mean grass)


you need to find out just where your company is going to Base you I suspect even if you are out of state that you may still be considered by the State of California to be subject to the state income tax

Here “Paired” can refer to the townhouses you describe, but also to single-family houses that share a single wall, each with it’s own garage, small front yard, & small backyard.
I’m thinking the new place might be a mixture.
Whatever the 2-lane road now serving as the only egress is not going to work.
Population density is also going up, way up :roll_eyes:
:crossed_fingers:So far, my farmette & that of neighbors for around a mile either direction s/b safe.
Most of us are on small acreage.
Around 10yrs ago County Zoning passed a law that nothing under 10ac could be subdivided.
But the idea of $$$$ might change that :persevere:
And there’s a biggish (10+ac or more) field that shares my East lotline :frowning:
Progress can be a PITA :smirk:

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I lived in Northern Reno for ~5 years.
The Red Rock/Antelope Valley suburbs to be exact.

The Reno area has a HJ series put on by area barns called “Sierra Nevada Hunter Jumper Association” and the shows they put on are great. There are some great trainers in the Washoe Valley area, which is where a majority of the shows are held, and some incredibly nice facilities. There are some good veterinarians in the area as well. Julie Winkle, Lynn Mullins, Wendy Brownlee, and many more are all within 10 minutes of each other in the Washoe area. There are some great trainers all around that I didn’t even mention.

If you’re looking to be within an hour from most of the HJ stuff & the vets, I’d concentrate my search on the Washoe Valley or even Gardnerville. You could also look Virginia Foothills, but the land will likely be the issue there. If you are wanting the land but don’t mind the longer drive to town, horse shows, etc - the Antelope Valley/Red Rock area may be for you. There is a boarding barn that used to fox hunt and host horse shows with SNHJA out in Red Rock - but it recently was the topic of a drawn out lawsuit, the clients sort of imploded, and now I’m not sure what it’s doing. I’ll keep the personal opinions to myself there. If fox hunting is for you - there is an active hunt still going out of the Red Rock area called the Sierra Nevada Hounds.

Overall - you can get good hay & feed quality. The dirt is mostly sandy soil (not sure that’s true in Dayton/G-ville). The natural vegetation is a lot of sage brush and no grass - overwhelming brown but beautiful in its own way. Coming from California - it will likely feel like a breath of fresh air when it comes to finances, whereas I went back a couple years ago (now live in TX), and Ifelt like it was outrageously expensive. :rofl:

There is actually a lot to do in NV. There is a lot of public land to ride on, you’re a ~3-4 hour haul away to many Northern Nevada shows (A/AA included). Tahoe is close. Pyramid is close. They’ve been working hard to revitalize downtown and mid-town. I was super surprised by the growth and cleaning up they’ve done there. Dayton/G-ville are more agriculture based still, so if you want even quieter I’d absolutely look there. But if you want to be closer to the city - sticking to the outskirts of Reno is your best bet.

A couple not so great things that happened to me in Reno involved interactions with wild horses… so… do keep that in mind, depending on how far out you go. A fence would probably be your best bet and would have remedied our problems, we just rented at first so we didn’t get to do that.

Not sure if that is at all helpful, but I’m happy to answer more questions!


Ugh… I’ve been hearing about an “exodus tax” but I hadn’t thought about this. Do you know how exactly the state could claim this? What does my company need to do in order for me to be based in Nevada?

Even if the zoning to prohibit subdivision on less than 10 acres stays, there’s something called Special Exception to Zoning where someone applies to do something forbidden by zoning. I don’t know if everywhere has this; everywhere I know of does, and it’s been ridiculously easy to get approval through it.

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talk with your HR department to find out just Where they will consider your place of employment

if a nonresident receives W-2 wages for work performed out of state, even if it’s from a California employer, the income is not subject to California income taxes. In contrast, if a nonresident receives W-2 wages for work physically performed in California


also might be referred to as a Variance (I was in a P&Z board for nine years) and yes these do come up every now and then

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This is incredibly helpful, thank you so much for your thoughtful reply!

You’ve given me some great places to add to my list that I will definitely look into. I haven’t spent much time in the area other than Gardnerville, which I really liked - I really love the desert mountain landscape. What do you know about Wellington? It’s even further out than Gardnerville, but it looks like a quiet but up-and-coming place. I’m fine being far from the city, shows, etc, as long as I’m close to vets/horse people and in a beautiful setting.

Would you also mind elaborating a bit on the dangers of wild horses? Obviously not an issue in the Bay Area lol, so not something I’ve encountered before! I would definitely be securely fencing whatever I buy, to keep my animals in and others out.

One last more question, if you’d humor me - how did you find the culture compared to California, given that you have lived in both places? Obviously I’m anticipating right-leaning politics, which I’ve found myself more aligned with over the past years than the leftists of SF anyway, but I am curious what you noticed.


Yes, Special Exceptions can be called variances. I’m speaking as former planning staff.

When I worked at a military post in Georgia, but lived in Alabama, my payroll was paid from the Georgia address, and I paid Georgia income tax. So, I paid Georgia taxes as a non-resident, and then filed my Alabama taxes, and only paid additional tax on income paid to me from Alabama sources.

When we were furloughed for a certain number of days, everyone could have claimed unemployment from Georgia, because that’s where we were paid from and where the payroll taxes were collected.

When I worked in New Mexico, the employees that lived in Texas (no personal income tax) but worked in NM had to pay NM income taxes.

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I didn’t spend much time in Wellington/Smith Valley. We drove through Smith Valley quite a bit. A friend had an alfalfa farm out there when we were in high school, but that’s about it. It’s quite. Very ag forward still.

So I posted recently in a different thread in more depth about this recently, but within the first year we lost a ton of alfalfa and about six panels to a herd that came through our place pretty often. A horse of mine also got into it over the fence with a herd stallion once and caused him pretty severe neurological damage. He came out of it for the most part but was never really the same. Again - that could have been prevented had we had better fencing options at the place we leased. I’ve also had territorial stallions approach me riding out on BLM land. A lot of time they mind their business and/or run off - but sometimes they don’t. You also have to be careful driving at night if you’re in an area with wild horses - plenty of horses have been hit and killed, unfortunately.

Culture is mixed. If you’re closer to the city - you will have a mix bag of people and politics. In some of the smaller city suburbs, meth still runs rampant, and with that also comes crime. If you get around Sun Valley and near the Reno Livestock Event Center - you get more riff raf. Yet, 3 miles down the road, there are multi-million dollar houses and developments. So the best I can describe it is mixed. Mid-town is artsy and definitely more left leaning. However, outside of the “city” of Reno - it’s very agriculture and I’d say predominantly right leaning.

All super helpful, really appreciate this! Will definitely make a mental note of the wild horses… not something that had ever crossed my mind.

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