West Palm Beach relocation help!
March 4, 2013 10:08 AM   Subscribe

Where is a good place to live in or around West Palm Beach, FL? (My definition of "good" seems to be the opposite of the way our realtor is guiding us.)

I'd like to live somewhere walkable, with interesting culture and young (or at least middle-aged - we're early 40's) people. Realtor tells us we don't want to live in "that" part of town but should instead be looking at houses in golf course subdivisions. I don't golf, I don't want to join a country club, and I don't want to live surrounded by retirees. Housing budget is roughly $500k but could stretch a bit. Anyone familiar with the area who could clue me in?
posted by Daily Alice to Home & Garden (12 answers total)
Where will be your usual dailyish location? Jobs in WPB, Boca, Jupiter, FTL?

In theory, City Place has condos.

What do you want besides people? The culture I can think of in WPB specifically is the Kravis Center; there's an IMAX theatre and such. Clubs and restaurants.

Do you want a condo, house, intracostal boat access?
posted by tilde at 10:29 AM on March 4, 2013

Is Delray Beach too far away. IIRC, they have a cute mainstreet.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:39 AM on March 4, 2013

City Place is my first thought as well, but I wouldn't venture that there are loads of young-ish people there.

There is also Downtown at the Gardens and the surrounding neighborhoods in Palm Beach Gardens--the price point might be a little lower, and there's actually more to do there than there is in City Place these days. Again, I wouldn't even venture a guess about the average age of residents.
posted by yellowcandy at 10:39 AM on March 4, 2013

Job is in West Palm Beach at the corner of Okeechobee Blvd. and Florida Turnpike. We need a house, not a condo (with two drummers in the house, sharing walls is right out.) Don't need boat access.
posted by Daily Alice at 10:42 AM on March 4, 2013

Walkable is going to be hard to do anywhere in South Florida. There are some condos-attached-to-outdoor malls, like the aforementioned Cityplace and Downtown at the Gardens, but they're basically not any better than just living in a house and driving, because you will have to drive anyway.

There is "culture" around but it's mostly not all in one place. North Palm Beach is pretty but also a little Stepford, Jupiter not as pretty but also a little bit quirkier (it has a kind of a "beach bum" vibe (?) although there are rich country clubs too). There's a development called Abacoa in Jupiter that's not bad to live in; it's cookie-cutter houses but they're pretty nice and there's places to go in the area. It's near Florida Atlantic University, so it might be a little younger although definitely not a college town.
posted by vogon_poet at 10:49 AM on March 4, 2013

Okay, so that's kinda west, and yeah, it's all golf and Century Village out there (though I'm not sure if that's the one that wants to turn their golf course (under protest) into a shopping center.

Most of the "trendyish" areas will be nearer to the ocean; Going west on Okechobee daily will be ... long.

I'd say honestly look for something in Jupiter, near the turn pike, then you can just pick it up to get to Okeechobee.

In theory, Delray of the cute downtown, is building a shopping center mixed use center off of Atlantic, west of the turnpike, with bowling and movies and groceries an things ...

Boynton tried that with the Rock Creek development area as well. I haven't been there in a few years (though I used to go out there for the Supah Target and urgent care center in my network) - the houses are getting smaller and everything is in a "development". You'd be lucky to get 1/12 of an acre and two armspans betwixt houses.

I did used to know some folks that were in communities west of 441, but you'll need to be comfortable driving in the dark at night amongst big trucks. Again, though, if not golfish, at least suburban and more friendly to noisy neighbors.

I've heard of The Acreage but no referent other than it was underwater for a week after the big storm last year - at least the schools were closed and streets impassible for two weeks. Where ever you do end up, make sure that it hasn't been empty a while and there are clear drainage districts paid for and maintained by a responsible entity.
posted by tilde at 10:54 AM on March 4, 2013

Your best answer answers are right on. Since you have two drummers and your job is basically on the turnpike I would suggest looking in a little neighborhood called the Palm Beach Ranchettes. No gate, no HOA, 1 acre lots, city water (septic though), mostly paved and 1/2 mile from the Turnpike & Lake Worth Rd (which makes for an easy commute). It's zoned AG so there are some folks with horses or donkeys but most folks there are small biz owners. If you'd like more info, you can MeMail me.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 1:11 PM on March 4, 2013

Do you have kids? PBC can be very hit-or-miss for school districts.

Delray Beach is okay but it's a bit too Real Housewives of Palm Beach County for me. That goes double for Boca. Palm Beach Gardens has that vibe, too, but somehow I don't mind it as much because they seem to congregate by PGA National and stay away from the other areas of town. As for elderly people, I think Boynton has more 55+ communities than other areas, but for the most part as long as you live far away from Century Village you are ok. It's Florida, so the old people are largely unavoidable.

I have a friend who lives in the Acreage and she absolutely hates it because she says it's filled with racist ultra-conservatives. I'm not entirely convinced it's that different from my own neighborhood (welcome to Florida!), but the Acreage is also the opposite of walkable since its basically the middle of nowhere.

What do you like to do? Abacoa is in southwestern Jupiter and is very walkable and especially cool if you like baseball, since you can walk to the stadium for spring training games / minor league in the summer. Most of the people I see out are college kids and young families.

Do you like old architecture? The area south of Okeechobee near downtown WPB has some fabulous old houses that would be in your price range. That area is also walk/bikable to the stuff downtown and in Cityplace. There is also a free trolley that runs between Cityplace and downtown WPB. The new downtown library is also pretty nice.

Do you like the beach? Juno Beach and Jupiter IMO have the nicest beaches in the area so I prefer living a short drive away. Free parking, bathrooms, showers, pavillions, lifeguards, etc. Downtown WPB sucks for this because the nearest beach is in Palm Beach, where there are expensive meters and no public facilities - basically discouraging the hoi polloi from crossing the bridge and disturbing Rush Limbaugh et al.

Also, consider ditching your realtor. I can't really recommend ours because I don't think she would be helpful to someone unfamiliar with the area, but at least she grasped that we didn't want to live in a golf course HOA.
posted by gatorae at 8:19 PM on March 4, 2013

We have a kid, but he is such a special snowflake that we've just assumed the public schools will be a no go. (Twice exceptional - autism spectrum and gifted.) The "Real Housewives" atmosphere is what I'm desperate to avoid. (I am a housewife/stay-at-home mom, but have no interest in keeping up with the Joneses and even less in becoming one of the ladies who lunch at the country club.) I'm looking in Jupiter now.
posted by Daily Alice at 9:31 PM on March 4, 2013

Ugh, kids changes everything. Stay out of the western communities or be sure about your private schools or be selective about public schools. We couldn't afford private schools (starting at 20k a year) and struggled with the district for services (mostly because I had no clue what I was doing). A friend moved her family to Tampa for a kick-ass public school there to help her autistic son. The deeper I get into the public school system in this state, the harder I look at quitting my job and homeschooling with Virtual School.

Also, just make sure the house didn't flood, has a newish (after 2005 or meets new standards) roof. If you don't like your realtor I can end you someone just getting started, me mail me. If the community is full of foreclosures ... look out. If it's a cooky-cutter neighborhood, look at houses that are occupied of the same floorplan, ask long time residents what the problems are (our design had a flawed window - every house in that'hood leaked at least once because of it).

How long do you plan to be in the area? Congrats on the new job, btw.

I would say that houses, depending on the neighborhood, near the zoo aren't bad - might like being near a walkable/busable Tri-Rail / Amtrak point.
posted by tilde at 5:10 AM on March 5, 2013

oooh, average commute times by zipcode!
posted by tilde at 10:54 AM on March 6, 2013

You know, thinking about it harder and longer; what about a rental to start? I know two moves equals one fire (as the boxes in my garage can attest to) but serioulsy ... it's tough to figure out what's going to really work and where. Especially because the traffic is so intensely different at different times of the year. Right now the snowbirds are finally starting to let up, but shortly school will be out and the patterns will be different yet again. Traffic, restaurants, shopping, et cetera.

Rent some place, nearish to either work, school, or at least major access points, and then take time to look around and find what works for you. When my parents retired, they looked for a couple of years (and lived with us and then in a rental as they narrowed it down) until they settled in their place a few counties north of Palm Beach.

Plus, it gives you time (if you can get a month to month place) to really look, and go visit "the one" on school days, at night, on weekends, get a full vibe of the place.

if I were showing my house today, I would not list until school was out, simply because the traffic and massive amounts illegal parking aggravates me so much. And the neighborhood looks tacky with all the hand-made "do not park" signs and string "fences" across driveways. (There is a fix coming, it's just not here yet.)
posted by tilde at 6:07 AM on March 8, 2013

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