The High Desert is special. It’s dramatic, vast, and can provide a unique quality of life that’s nearly impossible to find elsewhere in the country, and even elsewhere in California. 

The people who move to the High Desert want to be here. And if you’re considering a move, we can’t wait to welcome you to the area. 

Here’s why we think you should move here, and what you can expect when you do.

High Desert Geography

What, exactly, does the High Desert include? 

As you may already know, there are no real boundaries that mark where the High Desert begins and where it ends. We’re typically talking about the western Mojave Desert in southern California. This area of the state gets much hotter in the summer and it also experiences colder temperatures in the winter. 

Areas in southern California such as Palm Springs are in the Low Desert. The High Desert is closer to the San Bernardino and San Gabriel mountains. This shift in elevation makes it different, and includes cities such as Victorville, Apple Valley, Hesperia, Palmdale, and Barstow.   

Move to the High Desert for the Weather

Winter can be brutal across the country. Snow, ice, bitter cold temperatures, and dangerous driving are disruptive to anyone struggling with those elements. 

In the High Desert, you can expect more balance. While the winter temperatures are colder than you may expect in a region that calls itself a desert, there’s not likely to be any snow shoveling or chains on the tires. Outdoor activities are available to residents all year long. You can golf, hike, bike, and eat outdoors in the winter with ease and comfort. If it snows, it snows lightly.

Warmer winters are a huge plus if you’re considering a new life in the High Desert. With this altitude and climate comes a different, cleaner type of air as well. Metropolitan cities are struggling with air quality and chronic conditions such as asthma are growing in populations where smog is a problem. 

In our region, people breathe easier. 

The altitude is different, however, and you’ll have to give yourself time to adjust to it. The air is a bit thinner, and you may find yourself winded when you first arrive, even unexpectedly. Give yourself time. Everyone acclimates. Soon, you’ll be breathing like a local.

Forget Feeling Crowded

If you’re moving to the High Desert from a city like Los Angeles or Phoenix or San Francisco, you’re likely hoping to escape traffic and overcrowding. 

You will. 

The High Desert, even in its most populated communities, is surrounded by miles of wide-open spaces. The desert terrain has a surprising variety of wild landscapes. You’ll have mountains in the distance that glow pink at night. You’ll find vistas and plateaus that are surprising and breathtaking. 

Fewer people makes it easier to enjoy the landscape and all of the recreational opportunities that come with it. Parking will rarely be an issue. Traffic will not leave you feeling stressed. You won’t feel like you’re living on top of your neighbors, and you’ll find there is always plenty of space – in front of you and around you. It can take some getting used to, but once you do – you cannot imagine living in an overcrowded city ever again. 

While you can drive for dozens of miles without running into even a hint of traffic, you’re still close to everything you need. Popular southern California destinations are all within a couple of hours’ drive. Easily get to San Diego, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas from the High Desert. You can spend a day in the mountains or at the beach and still be home before dark. 

And get ready for public transportation! Plans are in place for a high-speed electric train that we expect will connect the cities like Victorville to Las Vegas and Los Angeles. The project is expected to break ground this year (2023), and begin moving passengers in 2026. Once it’s finished, riders will be able to reach the Los Angeles area in just over half an hour. Las Vegas will be 90 minutes away. 

High Desert Economy and Population

High Desert cities like Victorville, Hesperia, and Apple Valley have also experienced a growth in population over the last decade. 

The economy thrives on manufacturing, warehousing, logistics, construction, retail, healthcare, and trade. Major employers in the area include: 

  • Mojave Air and Spaceport
  • Walmart Distribution Center
  • Southern California Logistics Airport

Larger companies like Keurig, Dr. Pepper, Nutro Products, Boeing, and General Electric are also keeping operations in the High Desert, and Victorville is also home to several military installations that provide high-paying jobs to the local citizens. While the unemployment rate is higher than the national average, job growth over the next 10 years is projected to be more than 30 percent, and higher than the national average. 

Cost of Living 

The cost of living in the High Desert is comparatively low, especially when looking at other areas in southern California. You’ll pay less for housing, food, groceries, and fuel here than you would in the larger cities across the west coast. 

Studies have shown that Victorville is at a cost of living score that reaches 108/100. That leaves this city at only 8 percent higher than the national average. For a California community, that’s a pretty major achievement. Compare the cost of living here to what you’ll pay just to get by in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Las Vegas, you’ll feel like you’re getting a deal. 

What to Do in the High Desert?

People move here for work or to save money. Some people move here to retire. Once you’ve relocated to the High Desert, what will you do for fun? 

The answer is this: almost anything you want. 

Entertainment and recreation opportunities abound. Here are some of the favorite things for locals to do with their downtime: 

  • Get Outdoors 

The High Desert provides visitors and residents with a number of lakes and parks. These areas are designed to invite picnics, walks, and bike rides. The Mojave Riverwalk is a bike path and pedestrian trail that stretches for 3.9 miles, from Fish Hatchery Road at the Victor Valley Community College campus and ends at the Mojave Narrows Regional Park. There’s plenty of hiking, biking, and horseback riding to be enjoyed. Golf courses abound. Tennis courts are available. Check out the Yucca Loma Bridge and follow the Pacific Crest Trail. Look for equestrian trails and additional hiking and wildlife viewing in the Lucerne Valley. Snow lovers can go skiing and snowboarding in Big Bear. There’s additional outdoor recreation in Wrightwood and Snow Valley. Check out Big Pines if you’re into adventure sports like zip lining. 

  • Entertain Yourself 

You’ll find fine dining in the High Desert, and casual local restaurants, too. There’s also live music and arts. Victorville’s Concerts in the Park are popular events throughout June and July at Hook Park. There are eclectic shops and boutiques, movie theaters, and The Performing Arts Center at Victor Valley College. Visit the Apple Valley Legacy Museum and the California Route 66 Museum. The Harrison Exhibit Center offers programs and installations. 

High Desert Real Estate 

Constructing BuildingsWhere will you live? Where will you set up a business that you may be thinking about starting in the High Desert? 

Luckily, you have a lot of options. Construction has been keeping up with demand over the last 10 years, and the real estate market in cities like Victorville, Hesperia, and Apple Valley are strong and accessible to both buyers and renters. If you’re thinking of investing in the High Desert, you’ll be pleased with the recurring rental income you can receive as well as the long term returns. 

The High Desert has a lot to offer new residents in terms of housing and commercial spaces. As an entire region, it’s large and easy to enter. The specific communities within the High Desert are also unique and diverse. 

You’ll want to choose a place that meets your budgetary needs and lifestyle preferences. In Hesperia, for example, you’ll find a population of just over 100,000 people. That’s pretty big for this area, especially when you consider a smaller nearby town like Adelanto, where there’s a population of 38,000. Decide if you like to be around people or if you prefer something quieter and more remote. 

In the area’s larger cities, like Victorville, there are more people and thus a higher demand for housing. The current population in Victorville stands at around 136,000 residents. That can make the housing market more competitive. A rise in population was met with an addition of more affordable housing, especially single-family homes, apartments and mobile homes.

If you’re moving to the area and you want to find affordable housing, local programs are available. Look into Victorville’s Mortgage Assistance Program, which provides down payment and closing cost assistance for qualifying buyers, as well as the Residential Rehabilitation Program, which is designed to add curb appeal and renovations to existing homes.

We know the market well, and we specialize in commercial real estate and property management. If you have questions about what you’ll find here, please contact us at Preston-Lee Management Company. We’ve been providing property management services in the High Desert for more than 30 years.