If you are living in Palm Desert, earning an annual salary of $80,000, and contemplating a move to San Diego, you’ll have to earn $98,838 there to maintain the lifestyle you enjoy in the desert. You’d have to make even more in San Jose ($119,064), Irvine ($129,811), San Francisco ($146,475), Santa Monica ($177,872), and Palo Alto ($250,808).
The fact is, Greater Palm Springs offers as much value as it does sunshine. “We have big-city amenities without the hassles of big-city living,” says David Robinson, geographic information systems coordinator at the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership. “And we have a welcome variety of living cost standards in the nine cities that make up Greater Palm Springs.”
Palm Desert — which boasts the world-class McCallum Theatre, El Paseo shopping district, as well as expanding college campuses — is one of the more expensive cities in the desert. To maintain the lifestyle that you enjoy as a Palm Desert resident earning $80,000, you’d need to earn about $58,000 in Coachella and Desert Hot Springs, $66,898 in Cathedral City, $69,011 in Indio, $74,324 in Palm Springs, $86,340 in La Quinta, $96,725 in Rancho Mirage, and $122,445 in Indian Wells. Outside of California, the numbers remain favorable: The comparable figure to $80,000 in Seattle is $93,162, although Portland, Ore., is closer, at $75,894.
“Overall, our cities compare quite favorably to other California cities,” Robinson says. “And our regional average compares well to popular cities like Austin, Texas, and Denver, Colorado.”
Robinson compiled this comparative data through Sperling’s Best Places, whose algorithm factors in costs for food, housing, utilities, transportation, and healthcare. But he says qualitative factors give Greater Palm Springs an edge over other cities in California and beyond. Its natural beauty, world-class arts and culture, and ease of living have been converting visitors to residents since the Southern Pacific Railroad laid down tracks here in the late 1800s.