With bustling businesses and quaint historic neighborhoods, West Palm Beach offers a diverse lifestyle complete with sunshine and palm trees. It is one of the oldest municipalities in South Florida with historical ties to the American Indians.
If you're looking into relocating to the Orchid City, use the tips and information given in this guide to help you make a smooth transition to West Palm Beach, whether you're already a Floridian or moving from another state.
West Palm Beach Climate
The sunny shores of West Palm Beach are characterized by a tropical rainforest climate. The summer in the city is typically very wet, around May through October, and has average highs between 86 and 90 degrees. The afternoons are greeted with thundershowers that are usually short lived, but rain falls over 130 days out of the year.
Winters in the city are much drier, with highs ranging from 75 to 82 degrees, and temperatures dropping overnight occasionally to about 50 degrees. There have been some records of below-freezing temperatures, which resulted in a few hard freezes, but this is atypical of the region.
Hurricanes and tropical storms are also a threat to the area, though many have been indirect hits.
West Palm Beach Neighborhoods
A blend of exciting city life and history, West Palm Beach has an eclectic set of neighborhoods suitable for a variety of tastes. There's the historic Central Park area that is comprised of several different residential subdivisions, divided by sidewalks and curbed roads - perfect for taking a mid-afternoon stroll. El Cid, another historic neighborhood, is known for its Mediterranean influence on the architecture, while Flamingo Park was originally a pineapple plantation that is now home to many Spanish-style homes with beautiful waterfronts.
Downtown West Palm Beach is where all the commercial action happens. The Clematis District and CityPlace offer a waterfront, cultural venues and a healthy nightlife. There are plenty of annual events to enjoy that draw in thousands of people from all over Florida and beyond. As a new resident, you can also enjoy a ride down Flagler Drive, which runs along the Intracoastal and has a view of the city's signature waterfront, aligned with tropical palm trees.
Registering Your Car
If you're becoming a permanent Floridian, you have 10 days to register your car in Florida from the date you begin working in the state, or register a child in a Florida school. You must have proof of ownership of your vehicle, verification of your VIN (Vehicle Identification Number), and proof of Florida insurance requirements.
You have 30 days to transfer your existing out-of-state driver's license to a Florida driver's license. To do so, you will need your primary identification, proof of Social Security Number and two documents verifying your Florida address. The Florida DMV issues over 400,000 new resident licenses per year, and advises you to know your requirements and have your documents ready prior to going to the office.
West Palm Beach Schools
The School District of Palm Beach County operates the school system in West Palm Beach for grades K-12. It is the 11th largest school district in the country by enrollment as of 2010. In addition to numerous public schools in the area, the city also has magnet schools and specialized schools like Dreyfoos School of the Arts high school and Bak Middle School of the Arts.
The city is also home to some notable post-secondary education institutes, like Keiser University, Northwood University and Palm Beach Atlantic University.
West Palm Beach Employment
Popular companies that drive West Palm Beach's economy include Florida Crystals, Sikorsky Aircraft, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, Florida Public Utilities, ION Media Networks, Ocwen and the Palm Beach Post. There are nearly 50,000 companies in Palm Beach County that supply products and services to the area and beyond. The health care services sector and the private education sector account for over 18,000 jobs in the area.
As of December 2012, the unemployment rate in the city was approximately 7.8 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average annual salary in the area is approximately $45,000.
Living Costs in the City
While the cost of food and miscellaneous expenses like entertainment are about 5 percent higher than the national average, the overall cost of living is lower than the national average. Apartment rental averages approximately $800 per month for a one-bedroom, but can reach up to $1,500. Electric bills for small apartments depend on how big the unit is, how many windows it has, what floor it is on, and how many ceiling fans (if any) it has. Electric bills tend to run between $50 and $150 per month depending on the time of year.
The average single-family home value in the area is approximately $125,000, but can go all the way up to $2 million or more based on size and location. Waterfront homes are pricier, for example. Your average single-family home will have a varying electric bill as well, anywhere from $125 to $350 a month.
West Palm Beach Moving Resources
Moving and storage companies are ready and willing to help you with your move to West Palm Beach, whether you're moving from out of state or from another county in Florida. Make sure you get estimates from multiple moving services before you commit to hiring any (at least three estimates). Check back to our guides for tips on how to choose your moving service wisely with important questions to ask, differentiating between types of estimates, and mistakes to avoid. Visit the following pages at Movers.com to get quotes for the following services:
West Palm Beach Transportation
If you're in need of public transportation, there isn't a lot to choose from in the city. West Palm Beach has a Tri-Rail system with a station on Tamarind Avenue, and provides northbound commuter rides to Mangonia Park, and southbound rides to Miami. You'll find Amtrak and CSX Transportation services in the area as well, in addition to the Greyhound bus system that has intercity service throughout Palm Beach County.
For those commuting using a personal vehicle, which is a majority of the residents in the city, US 1 and Interstate 95 are two major highways that run throughout the area. Drivers can also utilize Florida's Turnpike to avoid traffic, but will pay a high amount in road tolls.
Culture & Contemporary Life
Formerly a college spring break town, West Palm Beach now boasts the synergy of a multi-cultural backdrop within its downtown area. If you've had enough of the Palm Beach Mall, CityPlace complete with an IMAX Theater, and Clematis Street, you can enjoy the Norton Museum of Art, the largest in Florida. The Raymond F. Kravis Center for Performing Arts is also stationed in the city, as well as the Carefree Theatre and Meyer Amphitheater. The city is home to SunFest, an annual music and art festival, and the Palm Beach International Film Festival.
As far as sports go, West Palm Beach doesn't have any professional teams, but cheers on the Miami Marlins for MLB spring training and the NFL's Miami Dolphins. For professional golf lovers, you'll enjoy the PGA Tour Honda Classic that is hosted in the city.
West Palm Beach Relocation Tips
- For the new Florida resident, hurricane preparedness should be a priority. Stock up on plenty of bottled water, canned goods, flashlights, batteries, blankets and waterproof items.
- Make sure you gain Florida residency as soon as possible - plenty of schools give out scholarships for Florida residents. You'll also be eligible for a variety of different discounts for entertainment (like Disney World tickets, for example).
- Almost anywhere in Florida, traffic is heavy depending on the time of day, and there's often construction on the roads. Leave a little extra time for your daily commute, and update any GPS maps frequently to accommodate the changes due to construction.