Except for the palm trees and beautiful weather, people walking around downtown West Palm Beach can think they are in lower Manhattan. With over 200 financial service firms in the Flagler Financial District and a typical 1,100-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment renting for $1,800, it is easy to see why West Palm Beach is becoming known as “The Wall Street of the South”
Florida has the fourth largest economy in the United States, is home to 20.6 million people and its main industries are tourism, agriculture, health care, high tech and financial services. Palm Beach County has long been the winter home to the Kennedys, Rockefellers and Vanderbilts, has world class shopping, numerous golf courses, a lively restaurant scene, nightlife and a wide variety of accommodations and activities.
An average of 2,000 new residents are relocating to Palm Beach County every month. To keep up with the demand, West Palm Beach has over $2 Billion in new development in the pipeline to build hotels, apartments and first class office space. The city also just finalized a package of generous incentives that offer property tax breaks for companies bringing in new, high-paying jobs. Since there is no state income tax, workers immediately get a decent-sized raise when they move here. Capital gains, estate and corporate taxes are also far lower than many other states.
Access to capital is also drawing a younger, more entrepreneurial crowd. A number of hedge funds have moved operations to West Palm Beach, which in turn has increased the number of investors and opportunities to meet new clients. Activity for fund-raising by new businesses has even prompted the development of a 348 micro-unit apartment building to accommodate millennials desire to live downtown.
With an international airport is only 10 to 15 minutes from downtown, travel is also staggeringly easy to West Palm Beach. High speed express train connects the city’s downtown to Fort Lauderdale and Miami and will reach Orlando in 2018. The trip from West Palm to Miami, Florida’s other major financial center, takes just an hour.
In a recent study, the overall financial growth of West Palm Beach’s metro area ranked above those of New York City and Boston, as well as the nation’s dominant hedge fund district, Greenwich, Connecticut. Over the next decade, the number of jobs in the city is expected to skyrocket as much as 40 percent, led by finance and high tech. The study also noted that wage growth in Palm Beach County since the Great Recession has topped that of New York’s metropolitan area.
It is not hard to see why so many financial firms are doing business in Florida’s Palm Beach County. If you plan on relocating, retiring or just visiting Palm Beach County, you will find many different housing options that are surprisingly affordable, without all of the traffic of Miami.