Life in Palm Springs as a full time resident
January 14, 2020 9:12 AM   Subscribe

Can anyone living in Palm Springs tell me what to expect? I've got a list of all the pros but I'm concerned about the cons.

I need to move back to LA for work but I don't necessarily need to or want to, be in the city. With LA's high real estate prices, I've found the ideal solution would be moving 2 hours out in the desert where I can afford a beautiful mid-century modern home with a swimming pool. I also like the idea of being somewhat isolated but still have many of the amenities of modern life.

But what am I missing? Is the commute to LA a lot more difficult than I imagine? I wouldn't have to do it daily, just several times a week. Is Palm Springs crawling with alt-right Trump supporters? Do party-goers make it unbearable when Coachella rolls around? Do coyotes come out at night and stalk our pets? I plan on getting a dog. Is homeownership in a resort town generally not a smart investment?

I'm a single, middle-aged, straight, cisgender, lefty, person-of-color who needs a quiet writing space for their work if that helps. Thanks.
posted by cazoo to Home & Garden (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Is the commute to LA a lot more difficult than I imagine? I wouldn't have to do it daily, just several times a week

Palm Springs is pretty far from LA, not a place I'd want to commute from several times a week. A 100+ mile commute each direction with possible terrible traffic turns most people who would even consider such a thing off. I don't think there is much more to it than that.
posted by The_Vegetables at 9:22 AM on January 14, 2020 [16 favorites]

The main thing I would advise anyone thinking of moving to Palm Springs is: try a summer first, before committing. Summer is when the town is most quiet, and the heat is a true turn-off for many (even though I love it). And having a dog there during the summer is not the easiest thing, depending on you and the dog and the living arrangement.
posted by sheldman at 9:25 AM on January 14, 2020 [8 favorites]

Where in LA will you be working? Regular hours? I also think the commute sounds insane. Two hours to get there in the morning on a good day, four hours on a bad day...I used to know people who commuted to downtown from places fairly far east (Pomona, etc), but even that was bad, and it only worked because they were working unusual hours. Personally, I wouldn't want to do the drive that often even with no traffic.
posted by pinochiette at 9:47 AM on January 14, 2020 [3 favorites]

You need to focus on that commute. Where in LA are you going? And at what time? If you're commuting to, say, downtown LA, at anything remotely resembling normal commute times, you'd absolutely have to budget 3-4 hours each way. You're traversing some of the most heavily trafficked freeways in the entire country.

(My bona fides: I did a "go Monday, return Friday" commute between the far west side of LA and Big Bear for two years. It only worked for me because my Monday morning commute was at 6am. The Friday afternoon commute home was hell, but it was a single drive per week so I could manage it.)
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:48 AM on January 14, 2020 [3 favorites]

Is the commute to LA a lot more difficult than I imagine? I wouldn't have to do it daily, just several times a week

What are you imagining? Depending on where you will need to be in LA, you’re looking at about a 2hr drive under the best circumstances and a 3-4 hour drive in bad traffic (e.g. leaving LA on a Friday afternoon).

I also agree with the above that you need to know what you’re getting into weather-wise. Here are the average highs by month - the average high is over 100F four months a year. If you haven’t spent time in that kind of climate, it can be hard to envision what it feels like - you can’t safely be outside in the sun for very long in the middle of the day at those temperatures. That said, some people do love that kind of climate!
posted by insectosaurus at 9:52 AM on January 14, 2020

Palm Springs is awesome, full of the best kind of weirdos mixed in with what seems to be mostly old/elderly folks. Its a gambling town, be prepared for that. Gaming interests run the place- mostly benevolently (unless you get in their way). But commuting to LA from there multiple times a week is insane. I've done that drive just a few times and it's always been a total traffic nightmare. Once a week, maybe. More than that is crazy talk.
posted by Patapsco Mike at 9:57 AM on January 14, 2020 [2 favorites]

That is not a commute I would be willing to make several times a week. Twice a month, maybe, if the job paid well. Unless your job is actually in San Bernardino, the drive from central-ish LA to PS will be 2 hours on a great day or before/after true rush hour (note: rush starts around noon on Fridays), 3-4 in true rush, fire season, when it rains, vacation shoulders, etc. (As a comparison, last year Uber offered helicopter transport from Van Nuys to Coachella for the festival at around $500 for 3-4 passengers and that struck me as a decent deal, plus you get a helicopter ride.)

We live in the San Fernando Valley, where we can get almost anywhere (note: anywhere north of the airport if it's fairly close to the 405, if we're talking about the Westside) in 45-75 minutes in rush hour. Our housing prices are, at a glance, comparable to what you're looking at out there, and we have hot days in September but not proper desert heat and not every day. The houses are not generally quite as distinctive as Palm Springs, but we have trees and likely better solar incentives (just guessing, but it's not a PS aesthetic).

There are some other closer-in areas that would be similarly better compromises, depending on where your office would be. If you're really lucky with office placement, light rail might really open op a lot of options for you.

The big cultural gristly point about desirable locations like Palm Springs is the airbnbfication of pretty much all nice-but-still-affordable neighborhoods. Not having permanent neighbors sucks, even the nicest of short-term renters aren't the same as year-round residents. I would be very reluctant to buy in a place like that at this point.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:03 AM on January 14, 2020 [6 favorites]

To me, the commute is a deal-killer. But an option might be drive to Pomona (an hour+), park, and take the train to LA.

Good library system in Palm Springs, Palm Desert too. I've visited and it's not a place I'd choose to live, but I could see why someone would.
posted by blnkfrnk at 10:42 AM on January 14, 2020

I would only do this if I rented a room or very small apartment close to work that I could stay in for the days that I have to be at work. I'd also try to clump the days together so that 3 days a week at the office are MTW and Th-Su would be back at home in PS. That commute is a horror and will be very traffic heavy and doing it every other day would be too much of a hit in terms of quality of life. If your workplace is at all flexible about lowering your face time days so that you can telecommute for most of work, that would be ideal.
posted by quince at 11:25 AM on January 14, 2020

It's a fun town, not particularly conservative and lots of arts and cultural events. Nice mix of people from all over. Cool stuff to do nearby. Its also hot as fuck in the summer, only slightly less so on average than Death Valley. I've been there when it was 120 or more multiple times and that is very hot indeed. It really limits your outdoor activities

AC will cost you hundreds of dollars per month for more than half the year. A lot of houses around PS are on well and septic and those mid century homes are now 60+ years old with all the attendant maintenance that means. You might not actually save as much money as you think.

I do not think that's a reasonable commute. Its only 2 hours is all the stars align, usually its much longer.

Coachella is pretty far from Palm Springs proper, I wouldn't worry about that too much except for the traffic on 80. Spring Break is much worse in terms of PS downtown.
posted by fshgrl at 11:39 AM on January 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

I commuted from just outside of Palm Springs to LA for 2 months. It was miserable. Palm Springs is fantastic but truly that commute was non negotiably a big fat NO when it came to staying there. Unless you're only required to be in LA once a month, maybe look in to Redlands. It's closer, a college town, and pretty cute.
posted by Kitchen Witch at 11:56 AM on January 14, 2020

Thinking about commuting from LA to PS honestly, literally is about to give me a panic attack. And I enjoy driving. If it's twice a month? Okay. More than that? no. You will want to die.
If you're worried about coyotes, LA as a whole is out, btw. They're everywhere. I live in the burbs (though close to the mountains) and they're like...just out walking down the neighborhood streets. Bring your dog in at night, no matter where you move.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 1:26 PM on January 14, 2020 [2 favorites]

Can you live in Vegas and fly to la? R/t flights are cheap af and it takes an hour. The weather here is miserable in summer, like MISERABLE. But I own a big house with a big yard and a pool and there’s no where else I could afford that on a nurse salary. I like Palm Springs but that drive...
posted by yodelingisfun at 1:51 PM on January 14, 2020

I think you've all answered the question and it's obvious now that I've underestimated the commute. Thanks, everyone. I will look elsewhere.
posted by cazoo at 1:57 PM on January 14, 2020 [2 favorites]

Consider Riverside! Affordable for Southern California, lots of positive growth going on right now, brand new city council with lots of young progressives, very nice new library going up downtown. I’ve been here for five years and really like it. Feel free to send me a message if you’d like to chat.
posted by flipmodemedian at 6:28 PM on January 14, 2020 [2 favorites]

I'm in LA a few times a month, not a few times a week, but I'm a year round resident, to focus on my art. I get you.

There's a new transit option, the flixbus that miraculously only takes two hours in each direction (it's an express bus) and lets you ride in luxury coach. I don't think my car tires will ever know LA ever again. It only costs $5-10. It leaves every hour. You can end up at USC or downtown. It's really nice! Wifi, other professionals. I think I could do a commute in it. PS is really great for affordability and getting away from the traffic.
posted by sweltering at 8:10 PM on January 14, 2020

Given the size of LA, you didn't say where your actual job will be. If it happens to be a place close to the Metrolink, I might look into one of these adjacent suburbs as a commuting option.


There's some fun options in there - Ventura, Claremont, Lancaster - all of which offer a little more bang for your buck while also giving you the chance for some more relative isolation. But it would depend on WHERE in LA you'd be and what your commuting needs really are, time wise. Some of the trains only run certain times so you'd need to make sure they worked with your schedule. But it's worth looking into.
posted by rileyray3000 at 11:32 PM on January 14, 2020

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