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What It’s Like Living in Palm Desert, CA

Classic cars getting ready to cruise on El Paseo in Palm Desert, CA

When people think about places to move to in Southern California, Los Angeles or San Diego are usually top of mind. The appeal and interest in these cities is understandable, but if you limit yourself to just these two cities, you may miss out on some amazing places to live.

One of the best examples of cities that may wind up flying under your radar is Palm Desert. If you are looking for a beautiful and growing city with great weather, a diverse population, and all the modern amenities, living in Palm Desert may be the right move for you.

Where is Palm Desert, CA?

Palm Desert is located in the Coachella Valley, right in the heart of Riverside Count. It is one of California’s fastest growing cities with a population of 51,707, according to the 2022 U.S. Census.

In terms of distance from Southern California’s more popular cities, Palm Desert is about 120 miles away from Los Angeles and San Diego. However, the city is conveniently located right next to I-10 and a short drive away from I-15, making LA and San Diego quite accessible. Palm Desert is also only a few minutes away from other large cities like Palm Springs and Riverside.

Highlights of living in Palm Desert, CA

Multi Ethnic Guys And Girls Taking Selfie Outdoors With Backlight Happy Life Style

Living in Palm Desert offers residents a dense suburban feel, with most residents owning their homes. Here's what Palm Desert has to offer:

  1. Palm Desert attracts a diverse array of people

    • Professionals. Thanks to a combination of its proximity to large cities, as well as the presence of many resorts in the area, the city is well loved by professionals. Palm Desert residents work at the local Marriott Hotel, as well as nearby corporate offices of Wells Fargo, Apple, Target, and Walmart, among others.

    • Families. The city operates a number of beautiful public parks and playgrounds where families can spend time. Palm Desert also has high-ranking schools like James Monroe Elementary School and Palm Desert High School.

    • Artists. In 2016, the city of Palm Desert won the Award for Excellence in Economic Development Through the Arts via the Helen Putnam Award for Excellence. Since then, the city has made it a point to develop its artistic and cultural scene. Artists will love the Palm Springs Art Museum at Palm Desert, the McCallum Theatre, and the Musée d'Art Moderne of California.

    • Retirees. The city offers the warm climate that many retirees find desirable. The wide range of recreational activities is another reason retirees like it here. And it’s reassuring that hospitals and urgent care facilities are close by.

  2. Palm Desert has a well-developed retail scene

    Palm Desert has many family-friendly and upscale shopping centers that cater to its residents. The El Paseo district, affectionately known as the “Rodeo Drive of the Desert” among locals, is the main shopping district in the city.

    • The Gardens on El Paseo is a 200,000-square-foot shopping paradise for luxury designer brands like Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Tiffany & Co. The premier outdoor shopping center boasts a dazzling landscape that complements the vibe of the upscale retail stores

    • The Shops on El Paseo is an outdoor shopping mall that features a sophisticated selection of designer brands like Ralph Lauren, Oliver Peoples, Soma, and Nūspört. Located on the west end of El Paseo, the shopping mall is also home to several dining options.

    • The Shops at Palm Desert is the city’s largest indoor mall and is just a few blocks away from the El Paseo district. It houses some of America's most popular national retailers, including Macy’s, JCPenney, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and more. The mall also has an independent movie theater, Tristone’s Palm Desert 10 Cinemas.

  3. Cooked Spaghetti Pasta on a Spoon and Fork

  4. Palm Desert boasts amazing, world-class restaurants

    Food lovers living in Palm Desert will be more than satisfied with the offerings in the city. Whether you are planning to take a culinary tour around the world or meeting up with new friends for brunch, there is no shortage of great places that receive glowing reviews. Some of the more popular restaurants among residents are:

    • Ristorante Mamma Gina was originally a landmark restaurant in Florence, Italy. In the 1980s, however, the family moved to the United States, bringing their authentic Florentine cuisine to Palm Desert and delighting the taste buds of Palm Desert residents ever since.

      Taking Ristorante Mamma Gina’s origins into account, guests are highly recommended to try the authentic spaghetti alla carbonara, gnocchi al gorgonzola, and costola di maiale valdostana (pork chop stuffed with fontina cheese and prosciutto). Guests with strict dietary restrictions need not worry as the restaurant menu features a number of gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options.

    • Cuistot is a beloved French restaurant notable for its romantic ambiance, extensive wine selection, and remarkable food. The restaurant is spearheaded by Chef-Owner Bernard Dervieux and has been an institution in the Palm Desert scene since 1987. Cuistot is also known for being the first restaurant in the Coachella Valley to receive the “Best of Award of Excellence” from Wine Spectator.

      Guests looking for authentic French flavors will want to give the classic Lyon style seafood quenelles, roasted rack of lamb, and the  classic cassoulet toulousain a try.  Do not forget to ask your server to recommend a bottle from their curated wine list to pair with your dinner.

    • Backstreet Bistro’s tagline, “Where Friends Meet Friends,” perfectly captures the casual nature of the restaurant. The restaurant itself offers stunning views of the San Jacinto Mountains from their heated outdoor patios. Pet owners will also be delighted to know that the restaurant is pet friendly.

      Backstreet Bistro offers two different menus for lunch and dinner. The lunch menu features rustic Italian dishes with a modern Californian flair and several of the chef’s own family recipes. On the other hand, the dinner menu is seasonal, giving guests a reason to keep coming back at different times of the year.

    • Pacifica Seafood Restaurant offers a gorgeous view of the San Jacinto Mountains along with the El Paseo shopping district. Locals love the restaurant for its fun yet upscale ambiance, and its great happy hour deals, including half-off on bottled wines on Tuesdays.

      As a seafood restaurant, Pacifica’s must-try dishes include Pacifica's ceviche, oysters on the half shell, pan-seared Chilean sea bass, and seared ahi. Guests who prefer something “meatier” will be happy to know that the restaurant also serves steak.

    • Wilma And Frieda’s Cafe is a beautiful restaurant named after the owners’ grandmothers. Its appealing farmhouse cafe aesthetic is truly Instagrammable and lends itself perfectly as a backdrop for the restaurant’s inventive brunch offerings.

      In honor of the women it was named after, the restaurant serves classic comfort food with a “grown-up” Californian flavor profile. Recommended dishes include soy-rizo scramble, short rib eggs benedict, and a scramble you can customize from  21 different ingredients.

  5. View Inside a Hot air balloon from Below

  6. Palm Desert’s outdoor activities are varied as they are awesome

    Palm Desert’s great weather means there is always time for residents to enjoy the great outdoors. Here are a few of the favorite things to do in Palm Desert:

    • Golf

      When living in Palm Desert, golf is the first and most prominent recreational activity around. There are numerous championship golf courses throughout the area, with some neighborhoods catering specifically to golfers.

      Indian Wells Golf Resort features two 18-hole courses, one of which ranked 23rd in Golf Magazine’s Top 30 Best Municipal Golf Courses in the U.S. Other noteworthy golf courses in the city include Palm Desert Greens Country Club, Ironwood Country Club, Chaparral Country Club, and Bighorn Golf Club.

    • Mountain biking and hiking

      Thanks to the proximity of Palm Desert to the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains, the city provides convenient access to trails for those who want to hike or ride their mountain bikes. Some trails also accommodate horseback riding.

      Hopalong Cassidy Trail is one of Palm Desert’s more popular city-maintained trails. It was named after the character played by actor and Palm Desert resident, William Boyd. Other popular sites include Randall Henderson Trail and Art Smith Trail.

    • Adventure tours

      Palm Desert’s location and topography allows residents and tourists to discover the city in unique ways. Adventure tours are a great way to explore the hidden side of Palm Desert.

      A Hot Air Balloon Tour gives you a bird’s eye view of Palm Desert and the rest of the Coachella Valley. If soaring several hundred feet in the sky is not your cup of tea, tour operators offer Jeep/Hummer and ATV tours, which explore the more rugged and rocky trails in Palm Desert.

    • Coachella Valley Music Festival

      Naturally, one can’t bring up Coachella Valley without talking about the Coachella Valley Music Festival. Although the festival is in the neighboring city of Indio, CA, residents of Palm Desert are only a 20-minute drive away from the legendary concert grounds.

The top neighborhoods in Palm Desert, CA

Modern Kitchen with a beautiful golf course view

In Chaparral Country Club: A kitchen with a stunning golf course view

As a whole, Palm Desert is an amazing place to live, but a few neighborhoods stand out. These are among the most desired by buyers of homes for sale in Palm Desert.

Bighorn Golf Club

  • Located in the southwest corner of Palm Desert, the Bighorn neighborhood features a bevy of luxury homes. The neighborhood offers exceptional privacy, yet is only a five minute drive away from Palm Desert’s shopping centers. As its name suggests, Big Horn hosts two championship 18-hole golf courses.

Cahuilla Hills

  • Cahuilla Hills is as private as Bighorn Golf Club, but comes with a lower price tag. Because it’s a non-golfing community, the lot sizes are bigger with a wider selection of homes. Equally noteworthy is the presence of equestrian properties. For homebuyers who prefer country living while staying close to the city, Cahuilla Hills is for you.


  • Lantana is a great neighborhood for families because it has schools in all levels. The neighborhood is set on four cul-de-sacs with newer single- family homes sitting on expansive lots. Lantana is only a few minutes away from Palm Desert’s dining, retail, and recreational hubs.

Hidden Palms

  • Hidden Palms is just a short walk from the El Paseo shopping district. While the neighborhood is mostly made up of condos, there are occasional townhouses and single-family homes offering remarkable views of the Santa Rosa Mountains.

Chaparral Country Club

  • Often regarded as “The Best Kept Secret in the Valley” by local residents, Chaparral Country Club boasts an executive golf course as well as tennis courts and 21 different swimming pools!

A quick look at the real estate market in Palm Desert, CA

Miniature Yellow Houses, Coins, Clock, and Arrow Up Symbol

For the most part, single-family homes dominate the housing market in Palm Desert. However, the architectural styles are diverse. Examples of Desert Modernism, Mid-Century Modern, Ranch, and Spanish Style can be found throughout the city. All offer prospective buyers a range of options regardless of their location preferences and price considerations.

In terms of pricing, many of the newer homes in the city reflect the prevailing trend in California. Most cost north of $2 million, with prices breaching $4 million in Palm Desert’s more upscale neighborhoods. There are, however, homes that don’t command such steep asking prices.

Market trends

As of July 2022:

  • The median listing price for homes in Palm Desert was $627,000. The median sold price was higher at $640,000. Prices have been going up year over year due to the increasing popularity of the city. The 2022 median price constitutes a 23.2% increase over 2021.

  • The median days on the market in Palm Desert was 65 days. This marks an increase over April 2022, when homes stayed on the market for around 35 days. For reference, the median days on market in 2021 was 38 days.

  • The percentage of homes sold above listing price to date is 44.7% or close to half of all homes sold. This may look an alarming statistic to some, but this number actually represents a 7.5 point drop year on year.

Are you ready to move to Palm Desert, CA?

Evidently, living in Palm Desert is a prospect worth considering regardless of which stage people are in their lives. The range of homes for sale in the city remains attractive, with properties selling below $500,000. Buyers looking to move to Southern California should definitely have Palm Desert at the top of their list.

When you are ready to take a look at homes for sale in Palm Desert, make sure you work with experienced and reliable local real estate agents like Brandi Pratt and the rest of The Pratt Group. The entire team specializes in real estate throughout Palm Desert, La Quinta, and the entire Coachella Valley. As such, buyers can expect impeccable support and guidance throughout the buying process.

If you have yet to speak to a real estate agent about buying a home in Palm Desert, make sure you get in touch with The Pratt Group. Call them at 760.9600.381 to schedule an initial consultation or contact them here.

Brandi Pratt - realtor in La Quinta, CA
Brandi Pratt
Southern California Native
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