Neighborhood Watch: Palmdale

Many people would love to move to Los Angeles to enjoy the gorgeous beaches, perfect weather and posh shopping and dining, but sky-high real estate prices can mean that living in Southern California is not an affordable option for many families.

However, a SoCal life is still possible even for families, couples and singles in a modest tax bracket. The trick to finding real estate in Los Angeles is simple - the further away from the city center you travel, the more affordable homes become. Maybe that's why Palmdale - a city located almost an hour north of downtown Los Angeles, is quickly becoming one of the most popular in the country.

Rapid growth
Despite an average commute time of around 41 minutes, according to Forbes, Palmdale is enjoying a surge in popularity. With a population of 153,000, this little oasis is located smack-dab in the middle of the desert with neither a U.S. Highway nor an Interstate to connect it to downtown Los Angeles. Still, that hasn't stopped Angelinos from wanting to make Palmdale their home.

FilmLA reports that Palmdale has consistently been ranked as one of the 25 fastest growing cities in America for the last 25 years, and has added more than 20,000 new jobs and a combined total of more than 9 million square feet of retail, commercial and office space since 1990.

Outdoor activity
Because it is separated from downtown Los Angeles by the San Gabriel mountain range, Palmdale often feels like a city all its own. Indeed, it has a much more rural feel than much of Los Angeles' surrounding cities, with plenty of hiking and biking trails as well as space for equestrian activities and a quiet afternoon in the park.

The San Gabriel mountains provide areas for camping, hiking, biking and running. And in the winter, Palmdale residents can enjoy a pastime many Los Angeles residents miss out on - skiing.

Affordable home prices
According to The Los Angeles Times, about 70 percent of Palmdale residents own their own homes - a figure that's even more impressive when you consider that the median age in Palmdale is just 28.

The median sales price of a home in Palmdale hovers just around $150,000, with a few luxury properties costing considerably more.