"Palm Springs - I Love You, you mean so much to me, that warm sunshine above you, just sets my spirit free" -- Danney Ball, Palm Springs I Love You
Palm Springs is a reference to both the native California fan palm and an older Spanish name for the region ("The Palm of Gods Hand") is the kind of city that can exist only in California: a mess of neon lights and kitschy hotels sitting next to stunning modernist architecture and gorgeous desert landscapes. Originally a Native American settlement a gazillion years ago, the growth of Palm Springs coincided with the growth of Hollywood in the 1900s, when movie stars sought to escape L.A.'s noise for this idyllic desert location. As a city, Palm Springs was imagined in the afterglow of The Big Orange to the west, which is why the area is unapologetically kitschy and unashamedly extravagant. Where else in the world are you going to find a 20-foot statue of Marilyn Monroe in her famous white dress?
Moving to Palm Springs
Moving to Palm Springs is easy: just pack your bags, get on the I-10 from Los Angeles and drive east toward Palm Springs. Of course, this being Los Angeles, you will have a hard time finding an empty stretch of highway leading out of the city. Depending on the traffic, the 107-mile ride should take you nearly 3 hours. The good part is that once you leave Tinseltown behind, youll be greeted with the breathtaking sight of Mount San Jacinto and the neon glow of Palm Springs beyond.
How much will you have to pay?
For a city that has more tourists than Times Square and a higher chance of running into Frankie Muniz or Tom Skerritt than any other town in the country (barring L.A., of course), rental prices in Palm Springs are rather affordable, especially if you are comfortable moving into a smallish, sun-soaked condo. Rental prices vary by neighborhood, though the closer you get to the mountains at the city’s western edge, the higher rent you’ll have to pay. There is an exception, however: rental prices near the golf-courses along the city’s eastern edge can be extremely high as well. No matter what you end up paying in Palm Springs, just keep in mind that you could be living on the same street that Judy Garland, Cary Grant and Ava Gardner once called home.
When should you start looking?
Like everything else on the West Coast, house hunting in Palm Springs is a pretty relaxed affair (which, to New Yorkers, is about as extraordinary as a talking pet giraffe). Youll need the regular stuff, of course income proof, identity proof, a half-decent credit history but you’ll find Palm Springs landlords a decidedly laidback breed. That is to say, it’s going to be more Silent Bob than Jay. In terms of moving season, it’s best to avoid spring when the town has more students than the OSU campus. Droves of Canadian tourists flock to the city during the summer, so its best to avoid this season as well, unless you like to hear Bryan Adams and a lot of apologies (sorry). Winter, on the other hand, is relatively quiet; the tourists crawl back into the woodwork, the students head back to UCLA/USC and the movie stars get busy vacationing in the Caymans (the A-list, at least!) making it the best time to get a pad in Palm Springs.
Palm Springs Neighborhoods
Palm Springs can be neatly broken down into three chunks: one for the celebrities, one for the retirees, and one for everyone else. Like wildebeests on the Savannah, celebrities tend to group together in the same neighborhoods, usually the Indian Canyons, the Mesa, or the Movie Colony. Wealthy retirees, on the other hand, pick neighborhoods like the Ruth Hardy Park. The rest can pick places like Los Compadres.
Indian Canyons:Located along the Indian Canyons Golf Resort in the shadow of the Mount San Jacinto, this is among the city’s most expensive neighborhoods. Part of the reason is the huge lots with modernist homes that Frank Lloyd Wright would dream of. The fact that movie stars choose their retreats in Indian Canyons to work on their tans is another reason why youll need to be a millionaire a few times over to get a place here.
Movie Colony:Movie Colony has a simple motto: by celebrities, for celebrities. Past residents include Cary Grant, Gloria Swanson, and David O. Selznick. Youd love to get a place here, if only to point out Cary Grant’s house to your children and have them ask, "Cary Grant who?"
The Mesa:The Mesa is similar to Indian Canyon, but instead of the uniform, modernist architecture style of the latter, The Mesa boasts homes that look like an architectural hall of fame. There are the colonial villas built in the 1920s that evoke old world Colombian charm, the ranch-style houses from 1950s that look like they were flown in from Montana, and then there are the sleek, stone and glass modernist homes. That means you’ll have a ton of choices, provided you have the dough.
Tahquitz River Estates: Fantastic mountain views and homes dating back to the 1930s greet you in Tahquitz River Estates. It’s also the city’s largest neighborhood association covering more than 600 homes. Popularity doesn’t exactly mean low prices. However; expect to pay through your nose, teeth, and ears for a pad down here.
Deepwell:Jerry Lewis once called Deepwell home (disclaimer: if you dont know who Jerry Lewis is, you just might be too young to buy a home anyway!), which is perhaps why it ranks among the city’s most sought after addresses. Well, that and the spectacular mountain views. $$$$
Warm Sands:Homes in the Warm Sands area were built in the 1920s, mostly from adobe. For years, this was the favored haunt of screenwriters, editors and other movie professionals a few notches below the stars.
Los Compadres:Los Compadres doesn’t have the glamor of The Mesa or the prestige of an Indian Canyons address. What it does have is a large population of people who frequent the area’s many, many art stores, delis, cafes and world markets. It’s a bit like Williamsburg in New York, the coolest place in a city full of cool places. $
Ruth Hardy Park: Named after the city’s founder, Ruth Hardy, this neighborhood has long been the ultimate address in Palm Springs. Frank Sinatra once lived here, which immediately tells you everything about the neighborhood.
Living in Palm Springs
- The golf capital of the world:There are hold your breath 2250 holes spread across 125 golf courses throughout the city. You can’t move two blocks without chancing upon a golf course or three.
- Youll need a car:Palm Springs public transportation system is about as good as the Oregon Trail. You will need a car to get around the city. A better option would be to get a bike the year-round wonderful weather and lack of heavy traffic is perfect for long bike rides.
- Hollywood culture is everywhere:From the hotels built by movie stars (Hotel Del Tahquitz) to huge statues of Marilyn Monroe to the Venice Beach-like bohemian air, this is the place to be if you like your cities with an extra dose of Hollywood.
- Arts festivals abound:There are more than a dozen major such festivals spread throughout the year, from the Palm Springs International Film festival and circuit White Party, to the Palm Springs Festival of Lights Parade and Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival.