Palm Springs Area

The Palm Springs area (also known as the Coachella Valley) has transformed from a classy vacation and retirement spot for film stars and presidents into one of the hottest markets in Southern California. Yes, the area is literally hot (up to 110 degrees in the summer), but that hasn’t stopped the year-round population from doubling in the past ten years, and tripling in the past 20.

The influx of new area residents has profoundly changed the demographics of the area. In 1980, the median age of area residents was 63 years. In 2000, the median age was 33. The Coachella Valley is no longer a sleepy retirement area that shuts down for the summer, but a thriving diverse economy with many investment opportunities.

In the last several years this area has had the highest appreciation rates in California. New construction is everywhere, including homes, commercial centers, production facilities, and even a brand new college campus, Cal State San Bernardino.

Affordability is one of the main reasons driving development in the area. The cost of living is still nearly half that of the coastal areas of San Diego, Orange, and Los Angeles counties, yet residents can still be at the beach or the slopes within an hour or two.

While the year-round population has caused some of the most dramatic changes, the area continues to be a tourist magnet. In addition to the 200+ golf courses, and numerous casinos, the area is home to the Coachella Fest, a 3-day music and arts festival, a famous film festival, and has many wildlife and tourist attractions. The Palm Springs International airport was also recently renovated to accommodate larger aircraft needed to ferry increasing tourist demand.

I first became interested in the Palm Springs area in the mid 80s, when I would vacation there with my children. The area is now so completely different that even the term “Palm Springs Area” is a misnomer. There are now nine incorporated cities in the Coachella Valley, each with their own distinctive flair and investment opportunities.

Palm Springs

Once known as the “Playground of the Stars” Palm Springs is a small city with worldwide name recognition. The name “Palm Springs” is commonly used to reference the entire valley of 9 separate cities.

Palm Desert

A vibrant city with a regional mall and the world famous “El Paseo” a shopping area similar to Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. Palm Desert has the highest sales tax revenue in the area, many parks and strong city government.

Indian Wells – aka: The Beverly Hills of the Desert”

Estimated at 4700 residents, Indian Wells has the smallest population in the Palm Springs Area. However, it also has the highest proportion of millionaires of any city in the United States.

La Quinta

La Quinta has encountered rapid growth development in commercial, residential sectors. Practically everything is new or within the last ten years.

Desert Hot Springs

The least expensive city in the desert, Desert Hot Springs is currently enjoying a residential building boom, with approvals for over 2500 homes either being built or to be built in the future. Very windy, but also 10 degrees cooler than the other cities.

Cathedral City

Cathedral City has a strong downtown redevelopment area with many shops, restaurants, the Pickford Theatre and new hotels being built.


Ranked as one of the ten fastest growing cities in California.

Rancho Mirage

Former home of the late President Gerald Ford, Rancho Mirage has also had a significant amount of new development in the past few years. In particular, “The River” is a popular, upscale outdoor shopping center surrounded by landscaped water. Rancho Mirage is also known worldwide for the Betty Ford Treatment Center, and locally for the Agua Caliente casino, currently expanding to include a 12 story hotel and a convention center.


Coachella is in the process of evolving from an agricultural community to new businesses, new home construction. Is at the most eastern end of the valley, and is one of the least known of the desert cities.