The COVID-19 pandemic brought America to its knees, closing businesses and schools, eliminating travel, and disrupting lives. People everywhere were urged to stay home. Riverside County and Palm Springs in particular enacted strict regulations: requiring masks in public, shutting down bars, closing restaurants except for outdoor dining and take out, and restricting most tourist attractions. Palm Springs busiest tourist season was wiped out. No Coachella Festival, no Stagecoach, no tennis tournament. No Tram!
Is it OK to look on a bright side? Palm Springs’ residents have certain advantages that are the envy of city dwellers in these tough times. So much so that some part-time residents who maintain vacation or weekend homes in the desert abandoned their cities for Palm Springs, because of the relative ease with which Palm Springs is adapting and riding out the crisis.
Canadian snowbirds had to fly home as soon as the contagion began to spread (which was lucky for them, as it turns out), shrinking the area’s usual springtime population. Not that you could actually go anywhere, except to the grocery store, but suddenly there was almost no traffic! A dearth of British Columbia and Alberta license plates. And this at a time when Palm Springs residents usually complain how many more minutes it takes to drive downtown, and how they have to actually look for a place to park.
Staying at Home … in Your Own Resort
People who have invested in Palm Springs real estate for a vacation home or for a full-time residence, find that they have acquired a resort-like lifestyle. Home buyers get so much more for their money in Palm Springs. Most single-family homes have good-sized, private yards with pools. Some with spas, covered patios and outdoor kitchens and dining areas.
If you prefer something smaller or with less maintenance, almost every condo community has multiple pools and spas for residents. Some sport numerous tennis courts, clubhouses, and access to golf. (Naturally, these more public activities were unavailable at first, but once the city got a handle on the virus, even golf courses reopened, with social distancing and mask wearing restrictions in place).
If you have to stay home, what could be better than a place with a sunny garden, palms and citrus trees, a sparkling pool, and being able to spend warm desert evenings having a cocktail and dinner on your patio. With its big, blue skies and sweeping mountain views, it’s almost impossible to feel cooped up in Palm Springs.
Palm Springs is a Small Town
With all the big-city attractions of fine dining, hip bars, first-class accommodations, and great entertainment, it’s difficult to remember that Palm Springs is really a small town. And with many of those attractions shuttered for the duration of the pandemic, tourists stayed away and had to deal with typical city annoyances exacerbated by the crisis. Palm Springs residents can find consolation in living in a close-knit community with small-town advantages and a city’s sophistication.
Social distancing is simply easier here. You can go for walks, hikes, bike rides without encountering crowds of any kind. Even popular hiking trails are open again, as long as hikers maintain required distance from each other and wear masks. The lack of tourists has made such outdoor activities possible and safe for residents.
In Palm Springs, essential services were somewhat frantic at first, but calmed down almost immediately. Lines disappeared at grocery stores within a few days, and there has been no problem with supplies. Store employees have been committed to protecting customers and themselves. A sense of community pervades. Absent are the scenes posted on social media of people freaking out over wearing a mask.
Palm Springs has a robust sense of community, which works for the well-being of all its people. Neighborhoods are strong, and people know each other, help each other. This is something you find out in a crisis like this and, on top of the beautiful climate, the natural beauty and the relaxed vibe, is another thing that makes living in Palm Springs so special.