It seems to me that your best option is to live on the NV side of Tahoe. About 1/3 of the lake is in NV. Honestly the NV side is probably the most attractive section of the lake, as far as neighborhoods and coastline. Real estate has dropped drastically up here over the last 4-5 years, so I think you'll be surprised to find what you can get for your money.
Personally I wouldn't live in Carson. It's only 30 minutes away from Tahoe, but it seems like a world away in just about every aspect. You'll see for yourself in January I guess. You may also want to check out Gardnerville/Minden. These are 2 little towns just south of Carson and are more family oriented and cleaner, with really easy access to Tahoe. But again, you might as well just live at the lake. There is something amazing about living up here that you just don't get living "off the hill". Sure, you'll get less for your money when it comes to the roof over your head, but you'll get soooo much more once you step out of your front door.
I'd like to live in Tahoe, it's first choice on the list. I might be able to make it happen
at least eventually. There are a few other things that make me apprehensive about tahoe.
•I'm not sure I want the total winter climate. I want a decent growing season for a veggie garden, and maybe a pet goat. Out side of snowboarding my other hobby is road biking. I like to do it year round if I can. Tho I guess I could switch to year round mountain bike.
•I would like the option to take classes at UNR, and carson city is in the middle.
•high speed data? How wide are the intertubez in Tahoe? I know in mammoth they are small itty bitty tubez. I need a fat pipeline if you know what I mean.
My plan is to live there for a year or so (where ever it may be) and if I want to stay sell my place in LA. I really want to leave CA and I'd prefer to move even further away but I can't as long as my parents are in So Cal.
I'm doing a road trip in january, I'm actually planning it now.
as far as minden etc...I hate children so Im not interested in a family community. That are might work but rent is high. I'd have to sell my place in la and buy something in nv. Not sold on that idea just yet. I not even close to underwater on my place in ca so I'd prefer to just rent it out.