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Moving To West Palm Beach Florida? (The Truth About Living Here)

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Moving to the bustling, sunny city of West Palm Beach, Florida is a dream for many people. After all, it’s a large city with an active nightlife, plenty of restaurants, and a surprisingly low living cost. Above all, West Palm Beach offers proximity to Florida’s extensive Atlantic coastline, so you’re never far from the wind and waves.

If this short description of West Palm Beach has captivated you already, we wouldn’t be surprised – the area offers all of the best parts of living in a populous city, but little of the cost. You even get the bonus of Florida’s gorgeous weather.

West Palm Beach, Florida, USA downtown over the intracoastal waterway.

Those are just the appealing parts of moving to West Palm Beach, Florida, though. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know – the good and the bad – about living in West Palm Beach, Florida in this guide. That way, you can make a completely informed decision before moving to the city.

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What Are The Neighborhoods In West Palm Beach?

 

West Palm Beach is a vast city, so as you might expect, there are many smaller neighborhoods for you to choose from when moving here. Some of them are glamorous and expensive, while others are cheap and rough around the edges. Still, others hit a sweet spot right in the middle. No matter what kind of neighborhood you prefer, there’s something for you in West Palm Beach.

There are too many neighborhoods in West Palm Beach for us to go into every one of them with depth, but we’ll give you a brief overview of each one below.

  • Central Park: a dense urban center and the third-best neighborhood to raise a family in West Palm Beach
  • Downtown: the central hub of the city and the place to be for nightlife and shopping
  • Echo Lake: a small residential neighborhood centered around an elementary school
  • El Cid: an extremely expensive, million-dollar community on the coast with lots of amenities
  • Flamingo Park: a walkable, pet-friendly, and family-friendly neighborhood in the heart of the city
  • Grandview Heights: a large residential area with a park; within walking distance to downtown
  • Lake Mangonia: a small, quiet neighborhood bordering Gaines Park
  • Mango Promenade: a small, expensive historic district within walking distance to downtown; the second-best place to live in West Palm Beach
  • North Shore: an inexpensive coastal neighborhood bordering Lake Mangonia
  • North Tamarind: an affordable community in the heart of the city, but not the safest area
  • Northboro Park: a small, tree-lined neighborhood bordering the city with many renters, close enough for access to shopping and nightlife
  • Northwood: an inexpensive neighborhood near the coast with high crime and high homelessness
  • Northwood Gardens: a tiny, in-demand area in an ideal location between the city and the coast
  • Northwood Harbor: a relatively safe and inexpensive neighborhood bordering the coast
  • Northwood Hills: a large community bordering Mangonia Lake with average home prices and moderate crime
  • Northwood Pines: a high-rental area bordering the city with many older, historic homes
  • Northwood Shores: a small, spacious neighborhood on the coast with very few renters
  • Old Northwood: a classy neighborhood between the city and the coast with very high homeownership.
  • Palm Beach Lakes: a high crime area in the heart of the city with cheap, spacious homes
  • Palm Club Village: a quiet, hidden “gem” neighborhood with large, inexpensive houses and moderate crime
  • Parker Ridge: an expansive, cheap community with beautiful homes and average crime
  • Pineapple Park: a tiny area in the heart of the city with lots of amenities and many renters
  • Pineapple Park – Ibis: a spacious community far from the city and bordering a nature preserve; peaceful “country club” lifestyle
  • Pinewood Park: an energetic neighborhood with lots of median-value homes; not ideal for families
  • Pleasant City: a highly urban area with a low cost of living, lots of shopping, and a thriving nightlife
  • Poinciana Park: a quiet, peaceful neighborhood south of the city with a surprisingly active nightlife
  • Progressive North West: a mixed bag with some poor, low-cost areas and some very expensive, million-dollar estates
  • Prospect-Southland Park: a small, quiet, affluent neighborhood with lots of high-value homes and excellent amenities
  • Providencia Park: a tiny urban community with lots of young professionals, some million-dollar homes, and lots of apartments for rent
  • River Walk: a semi-expensive area outside the city with beautiful landscaping and surprising amenities
  • Roosevelt Estates: a vast urban-suburban neighborhood outside of the city with many of its own amenities
  • South Flagler Drive: one of the wealthiest areas in West Palm Beach; lined with lots of beachfront estates
  • South Side: a large neighborhood bordering the coast with lots of amenities, a wide range of home costs, and low crime
  • Southwest: an up-and-coming area with lots of attractions and a range of home prices
  • Spencer Lakes: a tiny, high-crime community with a low cost of living
  • Sunshine Park: a very small community with high-value homes, easy access to both the city and the coast, and several amenities
  • Vedado: a small historic neighborhood with lots of affordable homes and moderate crime
  • Villages of Palm Beach Lakes: a large neighborhood west of the city with affordable homes and lots of green spaces; the best neighborhood to live in West Palm Beach
  • Water Catchment Area: an oddly-named, beautiful community bordering a nature preserve with variable home prices, but few amenities
  • Westfield: a tiny neighborhood in the heart of the city with excellent amenities, variable home prices, and moderate crime

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How Is The Job Market In West Palm Beach?

 

West Palm Beach is currently a thriving, growing city, and the unemployment rate here is on the decline (it’s already lower than the national average, too). As long as you’re willing to work in the service industry, you won’t have any trouble finding work here. However, if you get a little more creative, there are other, less apparent opportunities as well.

Speaking of which, one of the coolest things about West Palm Beach is your opportunity to build a thriving small business. Because of the active tourism scene, anyone looking to build a retail-based business can find a lot of success. Housecleaning, landscaping, and other services that cater to wealthier residents can thrive here easily, too.

Industries

As you might expect, many job opportunities in the city have to do with tourism, such as food service, retail, and hospitality. Medical, landscaping, and technology jobs abound in and around the city, too, and there are small but dedicated economies devoted to both aviation and sugarcane.

Top Companies to Work For

As a relatively large city, you’re likely to find just about any large corporation with a shop or two in West Palm Beach. However, some succeed in the heavily tourism-influenced environment more than others. Some of the top employers you’ll see when living in West Palm Beach, Florida include:

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How Is The West Palm Beach Real Estate Market?

 

The real estate market in West Palm Beach is about what you would expect in a heavy tourism area. While there are some permanent residents, there are also many people who rent condos or homes here. Some tourists visit for part of the year, while many others are successful professionals who prefer to rent a luxury apartment in a thriving city.

Trees in a famous street of West Palm Beach

However, West Palm Beach sets itself apart from other cities in Florida (and other tourism-heavy cities in general) because of its vast mix of high and low housing values. You can own a home in the city of West Palm Beach (and we mean the land the house is on, too!) for less than $100,000 in some areas, but that’s about as low as you can go without renting at least the land.

On the other hand, West Palm Beach’s most prominent estates can sell for upwards of $10,000,000! A varied real estate market like this is not only good for diversity, but it keeps the real estate market active and open to people who want to move here from all across the nation (just like you).

However, the real estate market in West Palm Beach is getting more and more competitive. According to Redfin, the number of available homes has gone down by more than 4% since last year, and the asking price of homes has gone up by more than 3%.

Right now, the median list price in West Palm Beach is about $250,000, which is about in-line with nationwide median home prices. The actual selling price of homes in West Palm Beach is slightly lower. More than 96% of homes that are listed end up being sold.

However, the housing market isn’t so intense that buying a home here is impossible. Houses stay on the market for about 65 days in West Palm Beach, though in-demand homes can sell in as little as 35.

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How Much Does It Cost To Live In West Palm Beach?

 

The cost of living in West Palm Beach, Florida, when you consider all factors at play, is similar to most large cities in Florida – it’s only about 10% higher than the national average. In comparison, West Palm Beach’s sister city, Miami, is about 12% higher than the national average. We’ll dive into how the cost of living in West Palm Beach compares to other areas of the USA below.

Food and Groceries

The cost of buying food in West Palm Beach is actually less than the national average by about 10%. You may be able to attribute this to the abundance of natural resources in Florida. In particular, the fishing industry is enormous in Florida, and this contributes to the food available to residents. Agriculture is a healthy Florida staple, too.

picture of Family with shopping cart in west palm beach supermarket store

Utilities

Unfortunately, utilities and energy are where West Palm Beach residents may see their expenses go up a bit. Because Florida is hot for much of the year, people tend to draw more energy to cool their homes. However, because the cost of electricity in Florida is relatively low, West Palm Beach’s energy costs are still relatively in-line with national averages.

Surprisingly, despite being called “the Sunshine State,” Florida makes little use of solar panels. If the state of Florida decides to make solar power more accessible in the future, the cost of utilities may fall even further.

Transportation

Transportation costs may come as a shock to people moving to West Palm Beach, Florida. While you can easily travel around the center of the city on foot, a vehicle is still more or less required to get around. The real issue isn’t paying for a car, though – it’s paying for parking.

Like in many big cities, parking spaces come at a premium in West Palm Beach. If you plan to work in the city or frequent it for shopping, expect to set aside about 0.3% more than the national average.

There is some public transportation available in West Palm Beach, Florida, if you want to take a bus or hail a taxi. However, the city is too large to be truly walkable unless you live in the city center.

To put this in perspective, more than 75% of people in West Palm Beach commute to work with a car, and the average vehicle ownership per household is two cars.

Healthcare and Medical

Healthcare costs in West Palm Beach are surprisingly low – nearly 15% less than the national average – despite healthcare being a dominant industry in the city. Perhaps this can be attributed to the large number of young working professionals living in West Palm Beach, or maybe the large tourist population drives prices down. Regardless of the reason, anyone moving to West Palm Beach, Florida will appreciate the lower medical costs.

Taxes

Taxes in West Palm Beach are also lower than the national average. This is because Florida is an income-tax-free state (for individuals). Some businesses are still subject to a 5.5% corporate income tax, but smaller entities and individuals are usually unaffected. This is part of why so many people retire in Florida; you won’t need to pay income tax on your retirement funds as you withdraw them.

However, be prepared to pay a 7% sales tax (6% from the state, plus a 1% addition from your local county) on all purchases made in West Palm Beach, Florida. Your property taxes in West Palm Beach will also be very high, at about 1.3% on average. However, because there’s no income tax, your overall taxes will still be very low – Florida has one of the lowest tax burdens of any state.

Insurance

Unfortunately, insurance is where the cost of moving to West Palm Beach, Florida will really hit you. Because of the omnipresent threat of natural disasters like hurricanes and tropical storms, Florida’s home and auto insurance rates are very high. Living in Florida without hurricane or storm coverage is essentially out of the question. These storms happen in Florida virtually every year during its six-month hurricane season.

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Is West Palm Beach A Good Place To Retire?

 

We’ve already gone over a few reasons why West Palm Beach is an excellent place to retire in this guide, but there are plenty more. Aside from the benefit of being income-tax-free, many cities in Florida, West Palm Beach included, are incredibly friendly to retirees.

Firstly, we can’t overlook the nature and climate in Florida. West Palm Beach is home to warm temperatures virtually year-round, and the beautiful weather is a tempting draw for those who no longer have the energy to deal with snow. Additionally, golf courses and country clubs both abound in Florida, as well.

Golfing is one popular hobby for retirees, and for those who don’t mind spending a bit of time in the sun, going to the beach can be a terrific pastime, as well. For those who prefer shade and warmer water, though, covered pools and patios are widespread in Florida backyards.

Golf course lakes palm trees green grass aerial view

Some other activities that retirees might find enjoyable in West Palm Beach include:

Most big cities have access to at least one hospital, and West Palm Beach is no exception. Retirees in the area have access to several facilities to choose from. There’s a reason why we listed St. Mary’s Medical Center as one of the biggest and best corporations in West Palm Beach. We already mentioned that medical costs in West Palm Beach are relatively cheap, too – another nice bonus for retirees.

In West Palm Beach, the median age of residents is around 40 years old. This is slightly lower than the Florida average (about 42 years old) but higher than the national average (about 38 years old). This means that, while there are still plenty of young people around to keep the city of West Palm Beach active and thriving, there are enough older people to support a friendly and comfortable retirement community.

Speaking of retirement communities, 55+ individuals who don’t want to go through the hassle of maintaining a home have lots of options for both independent and assisted living, too. Brookdale and Fountainview are two of the most significant communities, while La Posada is one of the most popular.

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What Are The People And Culture Like?

 

West Palm Beach, Florida is a historical town with a fascinating history, but it has an undeniably small-town feel compared to supercities like Miami. Because of this, West Palm Beach has its own unique presence that feels cozier and more personal than its sister city.

Much of West Palm Beach’s culture bleeds through in its thriving art scene. Several different festivals happen within the city throughout the year, such as SunFest and Clematis by Night. Because the city is so tourism-focused, there is no shortage of new and exciting things to do.

The diversity within West Palm Beach is excellent, especially if that’s something you’re seeking in a city. African-Americans, Hispanics, and Caucasian cultures all intermingle within the town. As long as you take the time to explore the city, expose yourself to different arts and cultural influences, and interact with the many different kinds of people, you’ll make friends from all walks of life.

That being said, the diversity in West Palm Beach can be a double-edged sword. For example, speaking Spanish is an everyday occurrence among people who live here, so if you don’t speak it, you may not be able to participate in some events or social interactions. On the bright side, if you pay attention, you’ll learn to speak (or at least understand) Spanish quickly, depending on where you live and spend your time.

Keep in mind that the schools in this region tend to be at or below the national average overall, and this includes some colleges and universities in the area.

One of the most vocal complaints you’ll hear from West Palm Beach residents is about the local drivers. Traffic in the city can be bad, and navigating the I-95 can be especially challenging, particularly during peak hours.

Interstate 95 sign south direction with arrow at Miami and West Palm Beach

Finally, if you’re set on moving to West Palm Beach, Florida from another state, you may find that the city natives seem distant and somewhat cold compared to what you’re used to. This is because many of them are used to dealing with tourists and snowbirds regularly. Once you settle in and start to learn the ins and outs of the city, you’ll find that the people will warm up to you, too.

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What Are The Popular Things To Do In West Palm Beach?

 

If you’re looking to move somewhere that has an abundance of things to do, then you’re headed in the right direction with West Palm Beach. The city and its surrounding areas have no shortage of attractions. You could do something new every day for a year and still not see everything Florida has to offer.

However, don’t forget to set your sights on the city itself, either. Just a few of the fun things you can experience today in West Palm Beach include:

  • Narrated land-and-sea tours
  • Bicycle tours
  • Yacht rides
  • Pub crawls
  • Parasailing

West Palm Beach has no shortage of tourist-drawing attractions, either. Make sure to check out the brand-new Rosemary Square, the Palm Beach Zoo, the Manatee Lagoon, and the Norton Museum of Art, among other things.

If you’re an animal fan, Florida is a great place to be! We already mentioned the Palm Beach Zoo and the Manatee Lagoon above, but West Palm Beach also hosts McCarthy’s Wildlife Sanctuary, the Lion Country Safari, Okeeheelee Park, and much more.

Of course, if you run out of things to do in the city (which you shouldn’t anytime soon), the city of Miami is close by. Miami is nearly five times the size of West Palm Beach by population alone, so if you happen to run into something West Palm Beach doesn’t have, Miami certainly will have it.

Of course, don’t forget about other nearby cities in Florida, either. Universal Orlando is less than three hours from the city if you’re willing to do a bit of driving, and Walt Disney World is nearby, too.

You might think that a city like West Palm Beach is low on natural attractions (besides the obvious ones out in the ocean, of course), but the town has surprising access to land-based recreational activities, too. The aforementioned Okeeheelee Park, for example, isn’t just a great place to see wildlife. It also houses thousands of acres of paths and trails for biking, hiking, and outdoor sports.

If you’re a festival fan, SunFest and Clematis by Night aren’t the only attractions West Palm Beach has on offer. Consider attending food-based celebrations like the Palm Beach Jerk and Caribbean Outdoor Festival. Seniors might enjoy seeing the West Palm Beach Antiques Festival, too.

Finally, if you’re a sports fan, don’t forget to visit the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

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Pros And Cons Of Living In West Palm Beach

 

There’s no such thing as a “perfect” place to live – at least, not yet – so it’s best to be aware of the pros and cons before moving to West Palm Beach, Florida. Overall, the city is a great place to live, though it falls prey to many of the traps of other large cities.

If you need a refresher on all of the “pros” of living in West Palm Beach, they are as follows:

  • Great for seniors
  • Home to people of all cultures and backgrounds
  • Lots of different home values and prices
  • A thriving nightlife within the city
  • Lots of shopping, restaurants, and other attractions
  • Lots of young working professionals
  • An excellent place to start building your own small business
  • No income tax
  • Beautiful weather year-round
  • Excellent recreational activities, such as fishing, surfing, and boating
  • Miles and miles of sandy beaches
  • Plenty of job opportunities
  • A thriving (but not overly competitive) housing market
  • Close to Miami, just in case West Palm Beach doesn’t have something you need

Don’t forget about the cons of living in West Palm Beach, though – it’s essential to take them into account as you decide whether this is the city for you. The full list includes things like:

  • Some areas of the city suffer from high crime and homelessness
  • High insurance costs
  • Hurricane season
  • High transportation costs
  • The most desirable areas of the city are costly to live in
  • Schools of all levels tend to be behind the curve
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Fun Facts About West Palm Beach

 

Do you still feel like you haven’t learned enough about West Palm Beach? If so, we’ve brought together a list of the most interesting facts about West Palm Beach that might just pique your interest.

  • While West Palm Beach feels like a vast city, it only has a population of around 100,000 people. Locals affectionately like to call it a “big city with little population.”
  • You can go “drift diving” instead of SCUBA diving in West Palm Beach. What is drift diving? Since the Gulf Stream passes so close to the coast of West Palm Beach, you can just let it carry you along as you dive instead of swimming!
  • Palm Beach International Airport doesn’t do any international flights. If you want to fly out of the country, you’ll have to drive down to a large neighboring city with an airport, such as Miami.
  • West Palm Beach likes to get fancy during nightcaps instead of getting sloppy! During happy hours at upscale bars, you can enjoy fancy cocktails and yummy appetizers until you’ve had your fill of celebrations for the night.
  • Part of the reason why West Palm Beach feels so big and so upscale is that there are many high-class amenities. These amenities cater to both the more affluent residents of Palm Beach and the residents of West Palm Beach.
  • Clematis Street’s Clematis by Night festival happens every week! If you are a young working professional, expect to be invited out to Clematis Street to socialize with your coworkers regularly. If you’re self-employed or looking for a job, consider attending the festival to network with other professionals!
  • West Palm Beach hosts the Palm Beach International Boat Show once every year. This show draws in some of the biggest and most fantastic boats from all around the world – not just Florida or the USA.
  • Because of West Palm Beach’s warm and tropical climate, there is an enormous abundance of plant and animal species all around the city. West Palm Beach is a haven for nature lovers.
  • The Palm Beach Zoo has more than 550 different animals across 190 different species, many of which are endangered. All in all, the zoo encompasses more than 23 acres of habitats.
  • Every year, West Palm Beach has a sister festival to SunFest called MoonFest right around Halloween. MoonFest is one of Florida’s largest Halloween parties!
  • Many West Palm Beach bars and restaurants offer free drinks during “happy hour.”
  • President JFK built a nuclear bunker on Peanut Island during his presidency. Now, the island (and bunker) is open to the public, and you can take tours through the facility.
  • SunFest, which has been going on since 1982, hosts almost 300,000 people each year.
  • The Rapids Water Park in West Palm Beach, South Florida’s largest water park, covers 30 acres, has 35 different water slides, and also has a wave pool.
  • Back in 1879, as the West Palm Beach area was being settled, farmers planted 15,000 pineapples on Palm Beach to turn part of it into a pineapple farm.

No matter what you decide to do after you move to West Palm Beach, Florida, you can rest assured that you won’t run out of local activities to keep you active and entertained.

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Further Reading: Looking For More Moving To Florida Resources? Check These Articles Out!

 

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