Palm Springs is a resort-style community that you can find in the desert of Southern California. It’s about 107 miles east of Los Angeles, and then 120 miles northeast of San Diego. It provides a small-town feeling because about 50,000 people live in the area. It is a place where golfing, swimming, tennis, biking, hiking, and other outdoor activities are popular because the weather is warm, and the sun loves to shine.
The city is a popular retirement destination because of the warm weather. It also provides a second home for many households because the population triples during the winter months.
Palm Springs became a fashionable resort in the early 1900s when health tourists arrived to take advantage of the dry heat. Many visitors came to the area in its early days, including John Muir and George Wharton James. By 1927, the first tower-style hotels were accepting guests who wanted to explore the area.
If you’re thinking about making the move to southern California, then these are the pros and cons of living in Palm Springs to review.
List of the Pros of Living in Palm Springs, CA
1. It is less expensive to live in Palm Springs that other areas of California.
Living anywhere in California is going to be more expensive than it would be in most other parts of the country. If you want true affordability, you need to go to a small town in the Midwest. Palm Springs will give you a cost of living that’s about 10% less than what the median cost is throughout the state. It would be even better if you weren’t living in the desert since your air conditioning bills are going to get high, especially during the summer.
2. Palm Springs is a diverse city.
The city has a reputation for being friendly toward the LGBTQIA+ community, but Palm Springs doesn’t discriminate. You will find people from many different ethnic and spiritual backgrounds living here. One might even say that it is a place where even liberals and conservatives tolerate each other because everyone is happy with the resort-style atmosphere that’s available to enjoy. If you feel like you don’t fit in where you currently live, then settling down here could be one of the best decisions you make.
The 2010 U.S. Census found that Palm Springs has one of the highest concentrations of same-gender couples in the United States. Over 10% of the households belong to a partnership of this type, which is well above the national average of 1%. That makes it the fifth-highest per capita rate in the country. In 2018, the city ushered in the first LGBTQIA+ all city government.
3. Outdoor activities are the preference in Palm Springs.
You won’t find a lot of people going outside during the hottest days of the year, but mild days outside of the hot season make it the perfect place for outdoor activities. You will find golf, tennis, fitness studios, and walking are popular activities throughout the day. Most of the neighborhoods here are lovely to explore, and most people come out during the evening after the sun sets to enjoy each other’s company.
4. Palm Springs provides a casual atmosphere that many people enjoy.
The low humidity levels make the hot temperatures tolerable for most people. The dryness can get to be uncomfortable if you’re not taking care of yourself, so make sure to pack lotion and sunblock for the times when you venture out. Because the weather stays so consistently warm, there isn’t much formality in the way that people dress. You’ll find that even formal industries, such as banking, tend to allow more of a casual vibe.
5. There are plenty of attractions to enjoy when living in Palm Springs.
If you are looking for things to do when you live in Palm Springs, then it will take a long time to run out of options. You can visit the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens to see native species, the Cabazon Dinosaurs Museum, or the Air Museum that’s filled with combat aircraft from the second world war. You’ll have access to golf and casinos, a 5.5-mile trail in the Chino Canyon, or you can conquer the rock climb at Tahquitz Peak.
When the day gets super warm, then climbing to the top of the San Jacinto Mountains can help you to cool off. They rise over 10,000 feet above the valley floor.
6. Healthcare options in Palm Springs are some of the best in the state.
The Palm Springs region has some of the best medical facilities available for adults who prefer an active lifestyle. Many of the hospitals in the Coachella Valley receive top marks for the care that they provide, with Desert Regional ranked as the best of its type by U.S. News and World Report. The Eisenhower Medical Center also receives national rankings for its approach to geriatric treatment.
You also have JFK Memorial Hospital, the San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital, and the Hi-Desert Medical Center providing care for you and your family.
7. You can tour the Movie Colony neighborhoods whenever you want.
Hollywood took notice of Palm Springs in the 1930s. Many celebrities during that era made their way to the area to get outside of the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. Their investment in the community would eventually cause the city to develop a program that identifies distinctive neighborhoods. Out of the 45 areas currently listed, seven of them have cultural and historical significance.
The Movie Colony neighborhoods are in that conversation. You can find them just east of Palm Canyon Drive, then extending east from Ruth Hardy Park. The estates out there belonged to names like Frank Sinatra, Carmen Miranda, Bob Hope, and Bing Crosby.
8. Housing costs are surprisingly low in Palm Springs.
Even though Palm Springs is more of a resort community, you’ll discover that there are several affordable housing options available in the city. Retirees enjoy this benefit even more because there are specific 55+ neighborhoods available to consider. Housing starts in the low $200s in the valley, and you can get closer to the city for around $300,000 if you prefer. Most of the neighborhoods here have gated access points, resort-style amenities nearby, and lots of social events that bring everyone together.
You also have a few tax benefits that can help with your housing situation when living in Palm Springs. There’s a reduction in the taxable value of the home, property tax relief considerations, and Social Security benefits aren’t subject to California’s income taxes.
9. Several cultural events are held throughout the year in Palm Springs.
It always seems like there is something to do when you start living in Palm Springs. Modernism Week is an 11-day event held each February that takes a look at architecture and the history of the city. There’s a parade of lights, a sponsored Veteran’s Day parade, and the Caballeros have performed concerts since 1999 throughout the concert season. The Palm Springs International Film Festival and “Short Fest,” which features short films, are red-carpet affairs that can be a lot of fun.
There are many public art projects and installations for you to enjoy during a walking tour of the city. Several parks have items on display as well.
List of the Cons of Living in Palm Springs, CA
1. You will need to purchase a vehicle to get around the city.
Palm Springs does not have any trains or light rail to help you get around the city. Your options for public transportation are the bus, a taxi, or an Uber if you can find one available. It isn’t the kind of place where you can walk across town since sprawl across the Coachella Valley is common. Not only do you need to have a vehicle to drive, but you’ll also want a place to store it so that the interior doesn’t become an oven. During the summer months, one drop of water can be enough to shatter one of your windows.
2. There isn’t much economic diversity in Palm Springs.
The primary driver of the economy in Palm Springs is tourism. The resort-style atmosphere allows for plenty of employment opportunities in the area of hospitality. There aren’t many positions available in manufacturing or technology, although some of that is due to the size of the community. Unless you’re an entrepreneur or have employment lined up already, you might find it to be a bit challenging to settle down here as a young professional with a family.
3. You must be ready for temperature extremes when living in Palm Springs.
The average high and low temperatures are very reasonable in Palm Springs until you reach the month of June. Then the average high will not drop below 100°F until October. There are extreme heat events that can happen in this desert city during these months that you must prepare yourself to face when living here. The record high temperature is 123°F, set in July and August. The record high for June is 122°F, while it is 121°F in September.
There might be 45 different neighborhoods from which to choose when you start looking at homes in Palm Springs, but none of them can help you to escape the heat in August.
4. The cost of living is a lot higher in Palm Springs than the national average.
Outside of the housing costs that are remarkably affordable, you’ll find that the cost of services in almost every other area is a lot higher. According to the cost of living index, Palm Springs ranks at 131.3 on a scale of 100. Although that is better than some of the other cities in California, it’s much higher than the national average. The median home price in Palm Springs proper is over $415,000, and transportation costs push it upwards as well.
The one highlight in the cost of living index is healthcare expenses. Palm Springs ranks at 87.8, while the average in California is 92.4.
5. Rental costs are fairly high in Palm Springs.
If you decide that owning a house isn’t the best option for you, then renting an apartment or condo becomes a top priority. You’ll pay more each month than the national average, although the costs are significantly lower than the statewide average. If you want to rent a studio in Palm Springs, then the average cost is $867 compared to $1,156 for the state or $821 for the rest of the country.
When you go up to three bedrooms, a place in Palm Springs will cost you $1,797 per month, whereas the statewide average is $2,375. If you don’t mind the dry heat and you want to be in California, this community is one of the cheaper places for you to live.
6. Flooding can happen in the winter when drought isn’t present.
Every season has some extremes that you’ll need to manage when you start living in Palm Springs. If you are outside of a drought pattern, then the months of December and January can be surprisingly wet. It’s not unusual to see up to a foot of water running through the streets during some storms because there are so few places for it to drain. Then there’s the weather to consider since a low of 45°F can feel like subzero temperatures when you’ve acclimated to the heat.
Spring will always bring the wind, and it can get up to hurricane speeds at times. That means the dust blows everywhere, triggering allergies that can have you feeling miserable until the heat of summer sets in.
7. Your outdoor furniture won’t last as long outside.
Many families enjoy the outdoors when living in Palm Springs. The cooler evenings are a welcome sight after a long day in the heat. Unless you have a protected area for your furniture, you’ll discover that the longevity of your investments is cut in half. The intensity of the sun can turn something rated to last for 20 years into a product that barely reaches a decade. You’re going to be replacing ground lights, flower boxes, and patio cushions more than you can ever remember.
8. The water quality in Palm Springs is rather poor.
The water in Palm Springs is surprisingly corrosive. This disadvantage is due to the high mineral content it contains since you’re pulling from reservoirs deep under the ground or piping it in from the mountains. One of the best investments you can make for your new home is a water softener. The water is safe to drink, but you’ll need to be proactive about the maintenance of your plumbing systems. The fluid can be very hard on your pipes, appliances, and anything else that receives constant exposure.
Many people first visit Palm Springs because they are taking a vacation or weekend trip there. It is far enough away from Los Angeles that you can get away from the traffic, but you will still be close enough to take a trip to the city if you want. You can also visit San Diego and Phoenix without much difficulty with its centralized location.
It can be wonderful to have views of the mountains all of the time. You also need to remember that you’re living in a low desert climate, so the weather is going to be hot. The winters in Palm Springs are wonderful, but many people hate the summer and the 110° temperatures that often occur.
When looking at the pros and cons of living in Palm Springs, CA, it is essential to review your preferences and needs. You’ll be dealing with California’s tax situation, but there are also numerous opportunities to find employment or settle into a good life. Review each point in this guide, apply them to your circumstances, and you’ll have the answer you want.
Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.