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The Ultimate City Guide to Living in West Palm Beach, FL

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Set on a sugary strip of sand near the Atlantic Ocean, West Palm Beach is a tony town that attracts beach lovers of all ages. Located north of Boca Raton and Delray Beach and across the Intracoastal Waterway from Palm Beach, West Palm Beach is situated within close proximity to some of the glitziest areas in South Florida. Whether you’re thinking about living in West Palm Beach or just popping in for a weekend getaway, consider this your bird’s-eye view of the city.

In This Article:
  1. Living in West Palm Beach: An Overview
  2. What’s the Cost of Living in West Palm Beach?
  3. The Best Neighborhoods in West Palm Beach
  4. What Are the Best High Schools in West Palm Beach?
  5. The Job Market in West Palm Beach, FL
  6. The Best Things to Do in West Palm Beach, FL
  7. Transportation in West Palm Beach
  8. Planning Your Move to West Palm Beach

1. Living in West Palm Beach: An Overview

Distinguished as the Miami metropolitan area’s oldest municipality, West Palm Beach became a city way back in 1894. Today, the beachfront enclave is home to around 110,000 people — so it strikes just the right balance between big-city attractions and small-town charm. Nicknamed the Orchid City, West Palm Beach has a younger population than many other cities in Florida, with the median age of residents being 39.5 years. 

Residents can frequent the city’s plethora of wildlife sanctuaries, zoos, aquariums and conservation societies. And if you love parks, you’re in luck: West Palm Beach has 56 parks. It’s also a great destination for nightlife, ranking 12th out of 50 in Apartment Guide’s Best Cities for Nightlife in America.

Population of West Palm Beach

  • Population: 109,767 (2019)
  • Diversity: 37.3% white (non-Hispanic), 33.7% Black or African American, 21% white (Hispanic), 2.7% Hispanic or Latino, 2.03% Asian (non-Hispanic)

In addition to being a truly diverse city in terms of its population, West Palm Beach is also recognized as one of the best cities in America for LGBTQ+ individuals. West Palm Beach ranked third on The Advocate’s 2015 list of the Queerest Cities in America.

Weather in West Palm Beach

  • Highest temperature: 89°F (August)
  • Lowest temperature: 60°F (January)
  • Warmest months: early June to late September
  • Coolest months: early December to early March

Florida is synonymous with sunshine (there’s a reason it’s called the Sunshine State, after all). But summers can sometimes feel a little too sunny – locals say the summer season is often hot and oppressive, though it can also be wet and cloudy. Winters are a little easier to bear, with weather that is typically characterized as windy and partly cloudy. Throughout the year, temperatures generally range from 59°F to 89°F. For warm-weather activities like boating, swimming and paddleboarding, the best time of year to visit West Palm Beach is from late October to early May.

2. What’s the Cost of Living in West Palm Beach?

If you’re thinking about making the move to West Palm Beach, here’s some good news from a financial perspective: It has one of the most affordable downtowns in the country, according to research compiled in 2019. Though the cost of living is still high, salary levels are commensurately high in the area. 

How Expensive Is Renting in West Palm Beach?

The average cost of rent for a one-bedroom apartment in West Palm Beach is just under $2,000, with the average size of an apartment clocking in at 951 square feet according to RENTCafe. Renter-occupied households make up 46% of the inventory, while owner-occupied households make up 53% of the inventory. Some of the most popular neighborhoods to rent a property in are Villages of Palm Beach Lakes, Roosevelt Estates, Garden Hills, Old Northwood and Cannongate-Dillman Heights.

 

luxury home with balcony and palm trees in one of the best neighborhoods in west palm beach

 

3. The Best Neighborhoods in West Palm Beach

There are 34 neighborhoods in West Palm Beach, each with its own unique draw. Here are five of the best places to live in West Palm Beach — and how to figure out which one is right for you.

Flamingo Park

Located in downtown West Palm Beach, Flamingo Park is a historic neighborhood with high walkability rankings. Just minutes from Rosemary Square and a stone’s throw away from the waterfront, this popular community boasts some of the higher-priced homes in the city but provides ample amenities to make up for it.

  • Population: 3,589
  • Average household income: $73,947
  • Cost of living: $685,000 for average median home price; $2,473 average rent for one-bedroom apartment
  • Places to check out: McCarthy’s Wildlife Sanctuary, Flamingo Park Food Market, the Grato and Jereve at Emko

Roosevelt Estates

Listed as one of the best neighborhoods for young professionals in West Palm Beach, Roosevelt Estates is pulsing with energy and opportunity.

  • Population: 3,130
  • Average household income: $49,192
  • Cost of living: $194,300 for average median home price; $1,041 for one-bedroom apartment
  • Places to check out: Clean Eatz, Crab Tales, E.R. Bradley’s Saloon, Harold’s Coffee Shop

The Southend

Known for its eclectic architectural homes built in the 1940s and 1950s as well as its proximity to the water, the Southend is ranked as one of the best places to raise a family in the city. The prices of homes in this neighborhood range widely, depending on how close you are to the waterfront, but settling down in this area of West Palm Beach pretty much guarantees you convenient access to great public schools and nearby amenities.

  • Population: 6,095
  • Average household income: $77,584
  • Cost of living: $462,601 for average median home price; $1,297 for one-bedroom apartment
  • Places to check out: The area is mainly residential, but it borders the Intracoastal Waterway and is just five minutes from plenty of shopping and dining options in Downtown Palm Beach.

El Cid

Located just east of Flamingo Park, El Cid is an urban oasis with plenty of coffee shops, restaurants and bars — which makes it a great option for young professionals and families with young kids alike. Residents have no shortage of activities since they’re right off the waterfront and near the bustle of downtown.

  • Population: 5,550
  • Average household income: $58,009
  • Cost of living: $459,943 for average median home price; $1,252 for one-bedroom apartment
  • Places to check out: Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens, Henry Morrison Flager Museum, Mounts Botanical Garden, John D. MacArthur Beach State Park 

Grandview Heights 

This historic district is beloved for its 1900s Craftsman bungalows and Mediterranean revival homes, as well as its arts and culture scene. Though it’s experienced a rise in home value over the past decade, you can still snag a reasonable deal for nearby access to Rosemary Square, downtown restaurants and entertainment, and the highway.

  • Population: 1,053
  • Average household income: $104,113
  • Cost of living: $448,641 for average median home price; $1,473 for one-bedroom apartment
  • Places to check out: Palm Beach County Convention Center, Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, Howard Park, Grandview Public Market

4. What Are the Best High Schools in West Palm Beach?

West Palm Beach is part of the School District of Palm Beach County, which has several schools that are ranked among the best in the nation. Here are five high schools — two magnet public schools and three private schools — that are regionally and nationally acclaimed.

Alexander W. Dreyfoos Jr. School of the Arts 

  • Type = Public magnet school
  • Average graduation rate = 99 percent
  • Average SAT = 1260
  • Average ACT = 29
  • Student-to-Teacher Ratio =19:1

Suncoast Community High School 

  • Type = Public magnet school
  • Average graduation rate = 99 percent
  • Average SAT = 1310
  • Average ACT = 29
  • Student-to-Teacher Ratio = 18:1

The Benjamin School

  • Type = Private school
  • Average graduation rate = Not listed online
  • Average SAT = 1270
  • Average ACT = 30
  • Student-to-Teacher Ratio = 8:1

Oxford Academy

  • Type = Private
  • Average graduation rate = 100 percent
  • Average SAT = 1220
  • Average ACT = 28
  • Student-to-Teacher Ratio = 9:1

The King’s Academy

  • Type = Private school
  • Average graduation rate = 100 percent
  • Average SAT = 1230
  • Average ACT = 27
  • Student-to-Teacher Ratio = N/A

5. The Job Market in West Palm Beach, FL

Major employers in West Palm Beach include the Florida Crystals Company, U.S. Sugar, Cheney Brothers and Pratt & Whitney, a Raytheon Technologies Company. The most common industries (with median salaries) are:

  • Communications & Information Technology: $51,947
  • Aerospace & Engineering: $75,759
  • Agriculture & Food Processing: $43,136
  • Business & Financial Services: $68,072
  • Medical & Pharmaceutical: $43,131

Here are some sites where you can find open positions in West Palm Beach:

  • Find West Palm Beach jobs on Indeed
  • Find West Palm Beach jobs through Glassdoor
  • Find West Palm Beach jobs through LinkedIn

 

group of people biking along waterfront in west palm beach

 

6. The Best Things to Do in West Palm Beach, FL

Here are some of the top attractions you’ll want to add to your bucket list when you're in West Palm Beach.

Outdoor Activities:

  • Delray Beach
  • Rosemary Square
  • Antique Row
  • Lake Trail

Parks and Attractions:

  • Kravis Center
  • Norton Museum of Art
  • Gavlak Gallery
  • Manatee Lagoon

Places to Eat:

  • Ta-boo Restaurant
  • Copper Blues Rock Pub & Kitchen
  • Subculture Coffee
  • Hullabaloo

Outdoor Activities

  • Delray Beach (Cost Varies). Known as Florida’s Village of the Sea, Delray Beach is lined with galleries, boutiques, cafes and restaurants. This welcoming neighborhood was named the Most Fun Small Town in America by Rand McNally and USA Today.
  • Rosemary Square (Cost Varies). Distinguished as West Palm Beach’s newest neighborhood, Rosemary Square is a see-and-be-seen destination with plenty of shopping, dining and entertainment options. From buzzy new restaurants to boutiques filled with top beauty and clothing brands, there’s something for everyone to love in this trendy area. Plus, Rosemary Square hosts regular events (think Friday night movies, flower shop pop-ups and interactive family storytimes).
  • Antique Row (Cost Varies). If you love antiques, you’ve come to the right place. This fittingly named district is home to over 40 antique shops stocked with items that date back to the 17th century. From fine and decorative arts to vintage furnishings, Antique Row has been hailed the “antique design center” of Florida by Architectural Digest and The New York Times.
  • Lake Trail (FREE). Joggers and bikers, rejoice: the Lake Trail in Palm Beach is sure to be one of your favorite new destinations. Located along a paved path that unfurls near Lake Worth and the boat docks, The Lake Trail is a 5.5-mile waterfront stretch that ends at a pier. It’s been called the Trail of Conspicuous Consumption since it also offers prime vantage points of state-of-the-art mansions.

Parks and Attractions

  • Kravis Center. Opened in 1992, Kravis Center presents a diverse schedule of 800+ national and international artists, concerts, plays, ballets and operas each year. In addition, Kravis Center also aims to provide a comprehensive arts education program — to date, the center has provided arts access to over 3 million children. 
  • Norton Museum of Art. Established in 1941 by Ralph Hubbard Norton and his wife Elizabeth Calhoun Norton as the first art museum in South Florida, Norton Museum of Art now hosts a permanent collection of more than 8,200 works. Spanning European, American, Chinese, Contemporary and Photography exhibits, the museum includes notable works such as Stuart Davis’s “New York Mural” and Jackson Pollock’s “Night Mist.”
  • Gavlak Gallery. With locations in both Los Angeles and West Palm Beach, Sarah Gavlak’s contemporary gallery is known for its focus on highlighting women and LGBTQ+ artists. Featuring an ever-changing roster of events and artists, Gavlak Gallery is a must-visit destination for anyone who is enamored with contemporary art.
  • Manatee Lagoon. If you’ve ever been curious about manatees, you’ve come to the right place. Located on Lake Worth Lagoon, Manatee Lagoon is dedicated to educating the public about manatees and preserving and protecting Florida’s wildlife for future generations. The 16,000-square-foot center is packed with hands-on educational exhibits (and it can even be rented out for parties and school functions). 

Places to Eat

  • Ta-boo Restaurant. As a local institution for more than seven decades, Ta-boo once entertained the likes of Frank Sinatra, John F. Kennedy and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. A German submarine commander once reportedly came ashore to grab drinks there during World War II, and some even claim the Bloody Mary was invented there. Regardless of how much is fact or fiction, this much is certain: the happy hours, brunch specials and daily lunch and dinner menus continue to draw a crowd, year after year. 
  • Copper Blues Rock Pub & Kitchen. Looking for dinner and a lively show? Head to Copper Blues Rock Pub & Kitchen, where the onsite stage bar offers patrons the chance to sing along to top-40 and classic rock from resident bands. Menu options include bar food (including tacos, nachos, salads and pizzas) as well as a variety of drinks (including the fittingly named “rocktails”).
  • Subculture Coffee. Java lovers can find their fix at Subculture Coffee, a trend coffee shop with outposts in West Palm Beach and Delray Beach. Though it receives high praise from patrons online for its iced lattes, double espressos and matcha, the coffee shop also serves up some of the best breakfast sandwiches and pastries around. 
  • Hullabaloo. New York City meets Little Italy in this minimalist restaurant with 1940-style booths and white marble tables. The menu revolves around entrees prepared in the wood-burning oven (think pizzas and roasted vegetables). After enjoying the entrees, order some cocktails or wine and listen to the sounds of ’30s and ’40s jazz filling the air.

7. Transportation in West Palm Beach

Whether you’re living in West Palm Beach or are just visiting, the best and most convenient way to get around is by car. Like many other cities in Florida, West Palm Beach has a public transportation system, but the routes are limited. While you can ride on one of the city’s Palm Tran buses or the West Palm Beach trolley lines, these options mainly just take you to the touristy parts of town.

8. Planning Your Move to West Palm Beach

Thinking of moving to West Palm Beach? Check out our guides to learn everything you need to know about packing, staging your home, and moving:

Be sure to download our checklists, too:

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