Located in northern Los Angeles County, Palmdale is a growing, young city with fantastic views and affordable land prices. The San Gabriel Mountains are the only thing standing between Palmdale and the City of Los Angeles, which is just a short two-hour drive away.
A Brief History of Palmdale
Originally, Palmdale was known as “Palmenthal.” European settlers arrived in the area and created a village in 1886. Settlers were primarily Lutheran travelers from the Midwest and were mostly of Swiss and German descent. As the story goes, the travelers were told that the sight of palm trees would let them know they were close to the ocean. Unfortunately, none of the travelers had ever actually seen a palm tree, so they mistook the areas Joshua trees for palms, and named the settlement after them. In German, palmenthal means “palms valley.” The village would be officially established in 1888 when the first post office was built.
Many farming families migrated to Palmenthal, but being unfamiliar with farming in desert areas, many of these families did not know how to handle drought years and abandoned their settlements. By 1899, there was only one family left in the original village. The remaining settlers as well as post office moved to the Southern Pacific railroad tracks. The new community was renamed Palmdale, and the settlement was located where the Civic Center currently stands today.
Palmdale wouldn’t officially become a city until 1962, and in 2009, voters approved a measure that would make Palmdale a charter city.
Geography and Population
Palmdale’s twin city is Lancaster, its northern neighbor. The city is also close to the San Andreas Fault, which makes it prone to severe earthquakes. The San Gabriel mountain range, which separates the city from Los Angeles, also forms the southern edge of the Antelope Valley area of the Mojave Desert.
Palmdale is the Antelope Valley’s second largest city, and the fifth most populous city in the Mojave Desert, just after Las Vegas, Lancaster, Henderson and North Las Vegas. Between 2000 and 2010, Palmdale has seen a significant increase in its population. According to the 2010 census, Palmdale’s population was 152,750, up from 116,670 in 2000. In 1990, only 77,405 people lived in the city. Palmdale is the 33rd most populous city in the state.
The city’s population density was 1438.1 people per square mile in 2010. According to the census, 99.9% of the population, or 152,551 people, lived in households, while only 41 people, or 0% of the population, were institutionalized.
According to the 2010 census, Palmdale had 42,952 households, and 54.4% of those homes (23,345) had children under the age of 18. Married couples were living in approximately 56.3 of those homes. About 18.2% of homes were single mothers, while 7.7% were single fathers. The remaining population consists of unmarried couples, same-sex couples, individuals and seniors over the age of 65.
Between 2009 and 2013, Palmdale’s median household income was $53,922, with just 21.2% of the population living below the poverty line.
Because Palmdale is situated in the high desert, its summers are very dry and hot. Winters are windy and cool, and snowfall isn’t uncommon. Altogether, the city sees over 300 days of sunshine each year. Palmdale experiences gusty Southwest winds every afternoon and evening all throughout the year. These gusty winds are so reliable that wind turbines were built here to generate electricity.
The winter and spring months are the wettest, all summer and fall tend to be very dry. The city does see its fair share of summer storms, in which the temperatures remain high, but heavy rain and thunderstorms pass through. Temperatures can easily reach 100° in the summer, and in the winter, temperatures rarely dip below 59°.
Palmdale’s most important industry is the aerospace industry. In recent years, manufacturing companies have also relocated to the city because of its affordable land prices, favorable tax breaks and close proximity to the Palmdale airport.
The Palmdale Federal Foreign Trade Zone and Antelope Valley Enterprise Zone provide both federal and state tax breaks and local grant incentives to businesses that relocate to Palmdale. These zones attract jobs to the area, so Palmdale does not have to rely on the Los Angeles basin area for employment. With favorable land prices and tax incentives, Palmdale is a popular hotspot for commercial enterprises.
The Local Real Estate Market
Home prices in Palmdale are on the rise. Between July and October 2015, the median sales price for homes in the city was $240,000. This is a 3.4% ($8,000) increase compared to the previous quarter and a 9.1% increase compared to the previous year. The average price per square foot in the city was approximately $132, which is an increase of 7.2% compared to last year.
Over the last five years, sale prices have appreciated 57.4%. For the week ending on October 28, the average listing price for homes in Palmdale was $276,330.
Palmdale Land Market
Land prices are still cheap in Palmdale. Right now, you can purchase almost 10 acres of land for under $100,000 in the middle of a residential area. Further out in the country, you can purchase over 5 acres for $68,800 with spectacular views of the nearby mountains.
Over the last decade, Palmdale’s population has increased significantly, which makes this an excellent area to invest. Palmdale is also in close proximity to Los Angeles. It’s favorable land and home prices make it a hotspot for those living in the city. The housing market in this area is recovering because people from Los Angeles are relocating to the area. Why? Because they can actually afford the homes in this area.
The drawback to investing in Palmdale is that the city is virtually in the middle of nowhere. However, as the city continues to attract the attention of people from Los Angeles, this soon may change. The mayor is still hoping for a high-speed railway connection that would make it easier to commute to LA. With so much available land, Palmdale is an investor’s paradise. There are opportunities for both residential and commercial development to support the growing population and attract visitors.
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