Because West Palm has so much to offer to different types of people, the area attracts an assortment of different demographics. Caucasians, African-Americans, and Latinos each account for 25 percent or more of the population, while the city is also home to a growing number of upper East Coast retirees, recent college grads, and suburbanites looking to escape the more clustered quarters of Fort Lauderdale or Miami. West Palm is also a year-round vacation destination that offers tourist attractions like a wildlife sanctuary, zoo, botanical garden, and a variety of water parks, golf courses, trails, and scuba/snorkeling hotspots. Bottom line: If you dislike things like beaches, sunshine, (what’s wrong with you, anyway?!), and dudes wearing goofy bucket hats and loud Hawaiian shirts, steer clear of South Florida. Otherwise, come on down!
Have reasonable expectations.
West Palm has a lot to offer, but don’t fool yourself into thinking that life in Gator Country is free of aggravations. Traffic can be about as pleasant as a tequila hangover in some parts of the city during rush hour. Certain parts of WPB (particularly areas like Riviera Beach just north of downtown) are sketchy at best, so use common sense and spend plenty of time in a potential neighborhood before signing a lease there.
Pick your ‘hood carefully.
Different parts of the city draw distinct demographics and offer many different perks and quirks. Generally, the Palm Beach Gardens/Jupiter area is the most ideal stomping grounds for suburbanites and growing families who appreciate peace and quiet over hustle and bustle.
Although homeowners and freestanding houses dominate the Gardens, some apartments, condos, and townhouses (ranging in price from $700 or less to $2200 or more depending on size and amenities) are available as well. The ultra-chic downtown/CityPlace district, on the other hand, tends to attract a mixture of affluent urbanites and young professionals. Featuring numerous luxury lofts and spacious condos (usually for two grand or more), CityPlace also puts residents in the hub of WPB’s shopping, dining, and nightlife attractions (courtesy of the Clematis Street District). “The Village,” meanwhile, is an increasingly vogue choice for singles, recent grads, and party animals of all flavors. Less than a ten minute drive from CityPlace, “the Village” is lined with affordable crash pads and resort-style condos that appeal mostly to residents in their 20s and 30s. Plenty of other areas offer attractive perks as well, so be sure to comb the city thoroughly before choosing your ‘hood.
Bring your alligator-dodging shoes.
Keep in mind that alligators roam the streets freely in West Palm Beach, devouring even the most fleet-footed of residents at will most days. No, not really (or at all)! We just wanted to see if you were still with us … and now that we know you are, we can carry on …
Shop the market.
Whether you’re on the prowl for a basic studio unit with minimal bells and whistles or an upscale mega-loft with 1500-plus square feet and an urban garden on the rooftop, there’s a place somewhere in WPB with your name on it. West Palm, like much of Florida, is a renter’s market, and nearly 15 percent of residential buildings are currently unoccupied. In other words, you can afford to be choosy and scour the land for the best possible deals. Waiting lists on apartments are rare and move-in specials pop up constantly, so don’t settle on a place unless you’re sure it’s perfect for you.
Arm yourself with the basics when you’re ready to submit a leasing application. You’ll need proof of income, banking info, and a list of previous residences for starters. Many property managers charge prospective tenants a non-refundable background check fee (typically $50 or less), so if you have a history of getting evicted or you’re wanted by debt collectors in 13 states, you’ll need a generous, naïve co-signer to help you score an apartment. Obviously, when it’s time to make things official, read your lease carefully and don’t hesitate to ask questions, as apartment managers in WPB have different rules regarding things like pets, roommates, and hosting raves in your living room at 3 a.m.
Don’t go it alone.
Give your new place an in-depth inspection before settling in to make sure your appliances function, your water pressure and temperature is adequate, your plumbing works properly, and your walls, floors, and ceilings are blemish-free. If anything is questionable, take a picture of it and alert management immediately (before you’ve officially moved in). Also, bring a friend along to check it out, since an objective third party is likely to catch an imperfection that you were too busy gazing at your sweet new ocean view to notice.
Finally, we recommend you read plenty of reviews and, if possible, talk to current residents to learn more about an apartment complex before committing to it. Find out what they think of an apartment’s amenities and general upkeep and also inquire about those “X” factors that can drive renters crazy: Are the walls relatively sound-proof or do the upstairs neighbors usually sound like a herd of dinosaurs stampeding? Is management responsive to tenant requests and concerns? How much extra a month will amenities cost (especially air conditioning)? How often does that 18-foot alligator sunbathe by the tenant swimming pool?
And now it’s time to begin your apartment hunting escapes, so best of luck and welcome to West Palm Beach!
-By Kera Zacuto
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FROM RENT ADVISOR:
West Palm Beach, Florida holds some of the most intoxicating waterfront scenes ever visualized by man. Sought after by the colonized elite of the 1800s as a summer retreat, West Palm Beach was a national favorite since our country's humble beginning. Estimated to carry a populace of 104,000, West Palm Beach is equipped with an apartment home that will fit your personality right on!
During the 19th century, the coastlines of Florida were the summer destination for the nation's upper class. The American business tycoon, Henry Morrison Flagler, caught a vision to capitalize on the rich's summer fascination with the Florida coast. He developed resorts while developing a commercial town for the resort construction workers to receive goods and services. By November of 1893, Flagler purchased the area and designed the entire city. Flagler's meager frontier saloon and storefront streets have blossomed into a current day urbanized international resort delight featuring buckets of fun-filled attractions.
There are not many public beaches to choose from in the West Palm Beach area. However, the available beaches do offer chartered boat rides, Jet Ski rentals and scuba diving lessons. West Palm Beach apartment dwellers are privy to the Norton Museum of Art and the Kravis Center of Performing Arts. West Palm Beach apartment occupants can also take in a day at the wildlife park, Lion Country Safari or dabble in fresh water sports fishing at Lake Okeechobee.
Begin your West Palm Beach apartment search in the Bel Air Historic District or the Flamingo Park area. If no luck, venture out in the Central Park area or El Cid vicinity. If you are looking for a West Palm Beach apartment with charter, try the city's oldest neighborhood, the Grandview Heights community. Make sure to thoroughly comb through the Mango Promenade and Northboro Park sections. Regardless to where you decide to plant yourself, you will still be able to take in the refreshing salt-kissed air of the beach-lined area.
From high-energy festivals to year round tropical climate, West Palm Beach apartment dwellers will be able to regard a portion of paradise as home!