1. Oddly enough, the weather. It tends to be predictable, and I like that. When it snows, it tends to all dump at night and then melt off of the roads by a reasonable hour. In the summer it's usually only in the triple digits for maybe a week in August and the rest of the summer isn't unreasonable. Also, no humidity is nice in the summer when you don't feel like being perpetually gross and sweaty. This is, however, the only place where I have ever lived where I had to buy a humidifier.
2. Restaurants. A reasonable diversity of cheap-but-clean interesting restaurants of a variety of types (I am trying to avoid the word "ethnic" because it is so overused). Vietnamese, Chinese, Indian, Japanese (ok maybe they're not as cheap), Thai and Mexican. A smattering of mid-to super fancy nice options that are still nowhere as expensive as they would be in California. Just lots of good options for the stuff I don't cook at home.
3. Location. Not too far from the Bay area, but not too close. A totally reasonable drive to SF or Sacramento. And a totally easy-to-navigate, tiny airport that is smack in the middle of town if you really need to get out of here. Also, Tahoe.
4. Scenery. I likes me some mountains. And they don't f around with the sunsets out here, either.
5. Sociability. This is a small town and I have a couple of favorite places and a couple of favorite people. These frequently overlap - as in, if I go to one of my favorite places, I frequently run in to one of my favorite people. It's not so bad.
6. I can hear the train. Not like it's close by and annoying, but it's just near enough to hear off in the distance late at night when I'm in bed. And you know, everybody loves the sound of a train in the distance.
7. The downtown library. I wish I had a picture of this. There is no parking because it's in the middle of downtown, but you walk in at what is basically the third floor and have to go across this bridge covered in plants and the whole thing is a big open atrium with four floors of books that run around the edges and a big fountain in the middle at the bottom. It is seriously the my favorite library. Also, all the plants + fountain = pleasantly high levels of humidity and lovely peaceful background noise.
8. My house/neighborhood. It's a nice late-60's single-story, possibly what you would call a ranch, in a nice mellow neighborhood not too far from downtown with lots of trees. There are lots of neighborhoods like this, too. Older neighborhoods with neat older homes with some kooky personality and nice big trees. Trees are key.
9. The Truckee. We are technically high desert here, but the Truckee River runs right through downtown so we are at the edge of a little riparian area (walking distance from our house). It runs parallel to First Street so they basically built an island in the middle of it with an amphitheater and a kayak park. They get great free music in the little amphitheater and fill the park with people, then they get talented kayakers and have kayak competitions in the kayak park. All summer there are people with inner tubes floating down the river and playing in the water right downtown. This was a good move on the City of Reno's part. It makes it sociable and family-friendly and just a nice place to go to see music.
That is downtown Reno. Right by the movie theater.
10. The effort. The City of Reno is really trying to make this town family-friendly and outdoorsy and whatever, and they seem to be doing well. They have outdoor events all the time when the weather is nice and tons of free music. They are starting to have some minor-league (or something like that) sports leagues in town too so we got to go to what I guess was a semi-pro basketball game for free because somebody knew somebody and we got floor seats. Like, "Stupid ref get outta the way I can't see around you" type floor seats. It's a small enough town where that still happens but a big enough place they are trying to get lots of cool events like that. I don't really know if that made sense, but I am a fan.