If you’ve always dreamed of living near the sun, sand, and beach with endless things to do and year-round fun, then look no further than sunny Florida. This beautiful state is home to exotic beaches, wonderful weather, and the kids’ favorite, Disneyland. A mix of diverse cultures peacefully living together and several other reasons make it the perfect place to call home.
The scenic West Palm Beach area is one of over 200 cities in the metropolitan state. It is a fusion of naturally rich greenery surrounded by skyscrapers, busy streets, and a ton of recreational facilities. But since no place is perfect, West Palm Beach also has its set of merits and demerits. Here is our list of 15 pros and cons of living in West Palm Beach.
Let’s start with some advantages of living in West Palm Beach.
#1 Pleasant Weather
Summers in West Palm Beach attract tourists, especially from the North, but residents enjoy a warm climate even in winters (around 74° F). The reason is the nearby Gulf Stream, which is a warm underwater river making its way from the Gulf of Mexico. The locals indulge in all sorts of outdoor activities and sports. Plenty of rainfall adds to the tropical beauty and is favorable for gardening.
It’s also the perfect winter getaway for tourists coming from the northern side. Vibrant sunny days and sandy beaches make it a memorable stay for visitors.
#2 Low to No Taxes
Florida is among the seven states that do not charge its residents’ income tax. This is one of the main reasons why residents spend all their life and even retire within the state. Some businesses are obliged to pay 5.5% in corporate taxes, but this is not a requirement for small entities or nonprofit organizations.
Residents are subject to pay 7% tax on retail purchases, of which 1% goes into the local government fund. Essential items such as packaged food are exempt from tax.
Homeowners are required to pay property tax which is 1.13% on average and approximately $3200 yearly. This may seem like a high number, but since there is no income tax, the overall tax payment is pretty low.
#3 Strong Economy and Job Market
Florida boasts a booming economy, and West Palm Beach is a thriving community. In 2018, the reported unemployment rate of the city was 3.4% which is lower than the national average.
There are numerous jobs available in various service industries such as food, hospitality, and retail. Educated professionals choose to go with education, healthcare, and technical fields.
Apart from locally available jobs, residents also earn through their personally owned small businesses. The area attracts up to six million tourists each year, which keeps such businesses running successfully. Housekeeping, landscaping, and similar services thrive easily as these accommodate the wealthy locals.
#4 Quality Education
The West Palm Beach schooling system is a part of the Palm Beach County School District, the 11th largest district in the country. The school district operates over 180 schools under its belt. The residents benefit from stellar education programs, enrichment activities, language programs, and more.
Apart from excellent public and private schools, West Palm Beach is also home to Palm Beach Atlantic University and Palm Beach State College (offering over 100 programs). Those willing to commute enroll in the prestigious University of Florida and the University of Miami as they are based only four hours drive from West Palm Beach.
#5 Active Lifestyle
The string of ongoing cultural and recreational events keeps residents and tourists on their toes all year long. Besides these activities, the West Palm Beach area boasts lush hiking, biking, and walking trails. It also has several swimming spots, diving, kayaking, boating sites, and various other water sports.
It is a haven for campers, scuba divers, and sports enthusiasts. Palm Beach is titled Florida’s golf capital, so it comes as no surprise that Golf is a favorite sport among the locality. The county holds numerous events to celebrate the sport and for golfers to showcase their talent.
#6 Stable Real Estate
With the continuous flow of tourists throughout the year, property value in West Palm Beach differs according to specific areas. But it is still less compared to other tourism capitals of Florida. The number of people who own a home and rent is almost the same. Homeowners mostly fill up the residential areas, whereas condos and luxury apartments close to the city center are usually on rent.
Two-bedroom apartment rent is roughly $1500. This gives multiple property owners a chance to make extra income as there is always a demand for living space. Although rents are higher compared to the national average, there are available homes for rent under $1000 in more affordable neighborhoods like Northwood Pines and the areas surrounding South Tamarind.
#7 The Best in Entertainment
Diverse festivities held at West Palm Beach strike the right chords, where locals, as well as tourists, thoroughly enjoy the events. The year starts with a 17-day funfair (a favorite among locals) held in January. The South Florida Fairgrounds becomes a live arena of games, rides, delicious food stalls, and music. For foodies, culinary events are the best way to taste some of the best cuisines from around the world.
Sunfest is Florida’s largest waterfront music festival specifically held for music buffs. This five-day-long event features renowned artists playing the best of their tunes while the audience enjoys the sound, along with an ambiance of the intercoastal waterways.
For boat lovers, the Palm Beach International Boat Show is the place to be. Various types of boats, from fishing to personal watercraft, yachts, and superyachts worth over $1.2 billion go on display for public viewing. The show also includes exotic cars display, a new technology overview, live music, boating lessons, and more.
#8 Pleasing Neighbourhoods
Although West Palm Beach is a Miami suburb, small neighborhoods surround the city, where the locals often hangout. One of the most popular is Flamingo Parks, based on a prime location. It is based nearby expansive shopping and numerous restaurants and is a short drive away from downtown West Palm Beach and the waterfront.
The Southend is another well-known neighborhood surrounding West Palm Beach. It boasts beautiful architecture and has a calm and peaceful environment. This makes it an ideal place for families with kids, retired senior citizens, and even individuals who enjoy a quiet and tranquil atmosphere.
For the extroverts and people who enjoy an urban lifestyle, there’s CityPlace. This exciting neighborhood is a shopping hub that includes malls, retail outlets, and designer boutiques. There’s also a long stream of high-end restaurants, fancy bars, and more. The residential buildings are hardly a few meters distance, which makes it the perfect abode for young couples and professionals.
#9 Family-Friendly Activities
Florida is known for its never-ending list of fun things to do for the entire family. Residents of West Palm Beach don’t have to move around much as leisure activities are abundant for everyone.
Kids love the Palm Beach Zoo, home to over 190 animal species. For science buffs, the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium is the best way to explore numerous space and technology exhibits. The center also has an aquarium and a planetarium. Nature lovers can stride through the Mounts Botanical Garden of Palm Beach County, the park with over 2000 plant breeds, a butterfly house, and a fun children’s maze.
For aspiring artists and art lovers, the Norton Museum of Art has a varied collection of American, Chinese, and contemporary artwork whereas the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts is the perfect place to witness intriguing plays, concerts, ballets, and concerts.
#10 Live the Beach Life
For people living in West Palm Beach, hanging out at the beach becomes a part of everyday life. This is more of liberty that people residing in other cities may envy. The white sandy beaches of the West Palm Beach area are immaculate and stretch across 47 miles of sand and crystal clear waters connecting to the Atlantic coastline.
It’s hard to find a perfect place, so here are some cons to look out for.
#11 Natural Disasters
Occasional hurricanes and tropical storms hit West Palm Beach. About once in a decade, category three storms with a wind speed of up to 111 miles per hour, pay the city a visit. Although a decade may sound like a long time, the storms cause irreplaceable damage to the area. Additionally, less harsh storms occur throughout the year.
Residents also come across the scarier sinkholes which form due to the shifting of underground water that softens the earth, creating cavities in the ground. These sinkholes can be quite large and ruin roads, damage buildings, and swallow cars.
Related: Cheap Places to Live in Florida
#12 Traffic and Transportation
One thing residents of West Palm Beach are very vocal about is the city’s traffic problem. Interstate 95 is the main highway running through town which connects north to south routes. It can be a real challenge to navigate through I-95 during peak hours.
It may come as a shock to those hearing it for the first time, but the residents of West Palm Beach pay hefty transportation costs. Although it is convenient for people to walk around the city center, some places require a car to reach. Buying a car is not the problem but paying for parking is the main issue.
Like it happens in most major cities, residents have to pay premium rates for parking in West Palm Beach. Working professionals and frequent shoppers need to keep aside at least 0.3% more than the national average cost. Although public transportation is available, still more than 75% of residents use their private cars to commute to work.
#13 Crime Ratio
Florida, apart from all things wonderful, is also known for its high crime rate. Unfortunately, in some areas of West Palm Beach, people are twice as likely to be a victim of crime compared to other parts of the state. The safest places to live are based close to the waterfront area and further to the west within the latest suburban development projects.
On average, the number of serious crimes affects almost 8.28 residents in 1000 in a year. Also, theft and mischief occur to 48.27 people in 1000 throughout the year.
#14 Expensive Insurance
Unfortunately, high insurance costs are a big letdown in West Palm Beach. Because Florida is prone to natural disasters like hurricanes and tropical storms, the home and automotive insurance prices are very high. It is next to impossible for residents to live in the city without coverage for storms, and hurricane damage. The state has six months of hurricane season, and locals have to prepare well to deal with it.
#15 Cost of Living
The cost of living in West Palm Beach is a surprising 17% higher compared to other states within the US. Housing and transportation take the major cut from household expenses. For residents, a car is a necessity to travel around the city, and they have to pay overpriced parking charges.
The average income per household is $45000, which is less compared to the country-wide income. A family of four needs to make at least $85000 a year to tackle the cost of living. Individuals can work it out with $38000 a year, but there remain close to no savings after bill payments.
The weather in Florida remains warm throughout the year, which is why some residents use air conditioning to cool their homes. The use of this extra energy adds to hefty utility bills and increased expenses.
It won’t be wrong to call West Palm Beach, Florida’s best-kept secret. With a population of a little over 100,000 people, it’s a little big city catering from basic needs to luxurious wants, just like an urban community. It even has its own international airport. Some people stay here and retire for the ideal weather, suburban lifestyle, and tax-free policies, whereas some move in for the same reasons.
There are some downsides of living in West Palm Beach, crime and natural disasters being the two major causes of concern but needless to say, no place is perfect. The fact that the city is developing into a bigger community with a firm economy is enough proof of why people choose to live in this fascinating society.