18 Reasons to Move to West Palm Beach
Does the thought of living in Florida conjure up images of sweltering humidity, hurricanes, and sharing your backyard with alligators that escaped from the local swamp? It shouldn’t! Florida boasts some of the most up-and-coming metropolitan cities and counties in the nation.
Capitalizing on the year-round sunshine (even if the summers are the stuff of legend), an increasing number of newly-settled entrepreneurs and longtime residents are building attractive paradises in our southernmost state. Whether you’re looking for a new vacation spot, or even considering living there full-time, here are eighteen reasons West Palm Beach ought to be at the top of your list.
1 .There’s a friendly job market
It might be hard to underestimate the importance of both money and a good job. One can’t get the former without the latter, and with a poor or mediocre version of the latter, the former doesn’t mean as much (and will probably be much less).
But West Palm Beach has made headlines for its growing job market, particularly its accessibility to people who want to start businesses. Part of this might have to do with it being a major tourist destination—about six million people visit the area each year, which does wonders for the economy. And a booming economy means there are wide open doors for people who want to start a business, as well as find a new start somewhere else.
2. They don’t have a state income tax (really!)
Only six other states in the nation—Alaska, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming—can boast of this privilege.
The benefits are obvious: While you still have to pay federal income taxes, the rest of your paycheck is really yours to keep. And those of us in the other forty-three states who shell out a good percentage of our money for state taxes can be envious of what you’d be able to do with the extra dough.
3. There are excellent schools
West Palm Beach is a city within Palm Beach County; that county has the eleventh-largest school system in the country, with 185 schools to its name. West Palm Beach alone has twenty elementary schools, seven middle schools, and nearly thirty public and private high schools. And locals will tell you that some very excellent high schools in particular are located right in WPB.
4. It’s a big little city
About 100,000 people live in WPB. This places it roughly between Hartford, Connecticut (124,775) and Santa Barbara, California (88,410).
This means it’s small enough to not feel overly congested or like you’ve just drowned in a wash of people. But, it’s also big enough to have an active culture and nightlife, loads of restaurants and interesting attractions, and an active historical preservation commitment.
You’ll learn about all of these things in the points below. The size is also ideal for its many diverse restaurants, which you can scope out here thanks to Modern Living.
5. They’re serious about public events
Something of a joint initiative between local government and civilians, the culture of public (and often free) public events is a big one in West Palm Beach. One of the most popular is Clematis by Night, which the city’s official website calls “a Thursday night tradition.”
Begun in 1995, the event features a concert series of local artists, numerous offerings from local eateries, and a happy hour along the waterfront. But don’t think the concerts and alcohol mean this isn’t for k
ids; the place is very kid-friendly, with one highlight being a huge fountain that the munchkins run through while their parents enjoy the music.
Other unique attractions put on by the city include the 4th on Flager (a huge Fourth of July bash held annually), and Holiday in Paradise, a new addition during the Christmas season which features a massive Christmas tree made entirely out of sand, a dance troupe, “snowman” building, and more.
6. It’s close to major cities
It would not be wrong to think of West Palm Beach as a bridge to other, bigger environs. And the cool thing is it’s not a very long bridge at all. Fort Lauderdale is only an hour away; Miami is an hour and a half, and Key Largo is two. Orlando is the biggest excursion, at a whopping two-and-a-half-hour distance.
7. It has an accessible airport
While international flights might be better sought at the airport in Miami, for most people the Palm Beach International Airport will be the perfect fit. Like its mother town, it’s small without being minuscule, and offers a passenger-friendly layout to reliable airlines. (Those business people migrating to WPB will need a good airport!)
8. It benefits from gulfstream weather
Everyone knows the summers in Florida may be better spent elsewhere. But the rest of the year? That’s when the southern locale really shines (no pun intended). West Palm Beach in particular benefits from a large gulfstream, which is a warm underwater river that in this case makes its way from the Gulf of Mexico. This introduction of warmer water affects the local climate nicely, giving balmy winters and cool evenings after the afternoon rains.
9. It has too many beaches to count
This is Florida, right? It and California are loaded with beaches. And West Palm Beach’s close proximity to the waterfront means it has a near-endless collection of beaches. Specifically, WPB is allotted about 47 miles of the Atlantic coastline, which has numerous beaches available for public use. Yelp even has a list of the ten best beaches in the city.
10. It’s the golf capital of the world
The headquarters of the PGA makes its home here, and as such there are numerous tournaments and events held year-round. More important to people who want to actually get a few rounds in, the city has the most courses in any county in Florida! Think of being able to get all 18 holes in without having to wait in line—and since Tiger Woods lives here, you just might get a selfie op.
11. It has rich historical character
An obvious example of this is the famed Historical Society, which is located inside a courthouse built in the 1900s. After a 1969 revision added extra square footage but masked the attractive exterior, further renovation not only restored the original edifice but established a county-wide historical society, along with a museum and gift shop, inside. The commitment to historical preservation doesn’t end there; the city has no fewer than fifteen historic districts, all of them full of tradition, insight, fascination, and richness.
12. It’s very close to two Top 50 universities
Besides its closeness to several major cities, West Palm Beach is also not far from two Top 50 universities—The University of Florida in Gainesville, and The University of Miami in Coral Gables. The city also has several community colleges and two universities of its own, Florida Atlantic (public) and Palm Beach Atlantic (private).
13. It’s got an amazing boat show
The 32nd annual Palm Beach International Boat Show is this month, and it’s one of the top five boat shows in the nation. While these events tend to cater to the obscenely wealthy, regular folks often frequent them to get a look up close of the latest offerings in high-class seafaring vessels and the culture that goes with them. Tickets are only $22 and kids under fifteen get free admission the last two days!
14. You can visit the Kravis Center
Think of this four-venue local attraction as a Broadway of the South, where plays and concerts delight tourists and natives alike. It’s the official home of the Miami City Ballet and the Palm Beach Opera as well. The center has been around since the early 1990s and exists thanks to a confluence of public and private money, lots of fundraising, and dedicated work by lots of folks.
15. It’s famous for CityPlace
One might consider this outdoor complex the heart of not only WPB nightlife, but a hot spot for lovely townhomes and other residences as well. This is an irresistible magnet for people wanting to celebrate the weekend, and with numerous restaurants, clubs, and a vast array of shops, there’s something for everyone (including an annual Christmas celebration with fake snow). Modern Living has an insider’s guide to other nightlife centers here.
16. You can enjoy a night of art
If you don’t want to go to Clematis by Night (or left early), the Norton Museum of Art puts on its own Thursday evening attraction: Art After Dark. Combining the museum’s extensive art collection with things like lectures, dancing, wine tasting, lectures, and (of course!) lots of food from the museum’s cafe, Art After Dark is a popular staple of the date crowd as well as the foodie, artsy, and just plain curious communities. Admission is inexpensive for adults, and students and children have either reduced or free admission.
For other family-friendly events in Palm Beach, Modern Living has assembled a massive 35-entry list here.
17. And they’re also famous for SunFest
As if all this wasn’t enough, West Palm Beach is famous for SunFest—so much so that when many people (tourists and locals alike) think of WPB, they think of SunFest. Think of it as a huge, weeklong music festival featuring both local and national artists across three stages (fifty artists have agreed to appear at this year’s festival, which begins May 3).
The event is family friendly (in fact, children under five get free admission), and it could be argued that the most famed attraction isn’t the music, but one of the largest fireworks shows on the East Coast, which closes out the week each year.
Other festival attractions include the Eatery (a dining area created in partnership with the Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival), three floating bars (which are exactly what they sound like), and the Chillzone (a quiet area for relaxation featuring a lounge, wine tasting, and various games).
18. They have great ecotourism
Thirty-five separate nature areas dot West Palm Beach, stretching over 30,000 acres of land dedicated to promoting the flourishing and preservation of unique and beautiful flora and fauna.
Many of these areas are perfect for hiking and biking, and encourage people to get out in the sunshine and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. And while we’re on the subject, one of their parks, the Riverbend, has won awards and is a great place to ride horses, go paddling, or go for a hike or bike ride.
It might be fair to call West Palm Beach Florida’s best kept secret. A friendly economy, appealing weather, and lots of options for both the recreational and the educational set West Palm Beach forth as an up-and-coming jewel of the south.