Palm Springs, home no more

The first time I went to Palm Springs, I was 18. I’d never flown before (other than a reputed flight to Arkansas to visit a godmother I have zero contact with, when I was an infant) and the experience was eye opening. The desert amazed me and I, in a most unexpected way, immediately fell in love. The dry heat, cloudless blue sky and towering mountains completely captivated me – even at 110°.

For nearly 4 decades, I’ve revisited the desert, staying with my “Jewish mother,” R. Her home, with my own initials carved into the concrete slab near the pool equipment on the side of the house, was my home, too. I had my bathroom, where I remained vigilant about the proper position of the toilet seat (down except for when in use), an air mattress that reliably deflated and an earned familiarity with the neighborhood and nearby Ruth Hardy Park.

I loved Palm Springs.

Last year, however, R sold her home. A combination of factors made retaining the house an uncomfortable situation for her as she and the property both aged. Visiting her last month was an entirely different situation. Instead of Palm Springs, we were in nearby Rancho Mirage. Rather than staying in a neighborhood of individual homes, we were now in a gated community with very strict policies with regards to property appearances. On the bright side, though, there were very nice amenities and safe streets for biking, along with winding paths for getting completely lost because everything looks the same walking.

My friend, who naturally misses her home of decades, has been unimpressed with her current living situation. I, however, love where she is now located. No longer does she have to worry about the expense of unexpected household repairs or maintenance. At this point, she’s just a renter. Despite the distance from the shopping and dining options of Palm Canyon Drive, I found the mountains to be even more spectacular when viewed from Rancho Mirage. It seemed as if they were in every direction I looked, towering in their snow capped glory, and I was totally there for it. I couldn’t get enough of them.

Unlike my usual desert vacation of walking around the small city of Palm Springs, taking yoga classes and hikes, I found new places to explore. In nearby Palm Desert, I thoroughly enjoyed a 6+ mile hike, despite my not following the trail markers well enough to manage the loop known as the “Bump and Grind.” Hiking in the desert may be my favorite terrain, at least during the cooler months when the sun warms my face without frying me. I love the lack of tall vegetation or trees, which leaves the panoramic views visible, and don’t even really mind the fact that, like the lines for attractions at Disney, the trails wind in such a way that it is impossible to determine how much longer they might continue.

I don’t care – I want more.

One afternoon, my friend and I met in Palm Springs at the property where she had previously lived. The new owner and she were friendly and we were curious to see the changes he had made to his new home. While we stood at the now hot pink front door, the new owner remotely unlocked the house so we might enter. Once inside, we explored the once familiar, but now quite different interior. Walls had been added and removed and everything was freshly painted. The sitting room in the rear of the house, facing the pool and backyard, provided the most dramatic change with sliding doors replacing the windows and providing increased flow between outdoors and indoors. It looked great.

The house had been returned to the previous 3 bedroom layout and this “new” bedroom was sweet with twin beds and twin closets, one of which had a keypad lock. Hmmm. Going into the hallway and popping into the bathroom which I still consider “mine,” I noticed a small basket filled with travel sized toiletries on the sink vanity. That’s kind of curious, right?

Things really began adding up for me when I checked out the primary bedroom – there was no clothing whatsoever in the large open closet. Not a single thing. I returned to the kitchen, noting the wooden tray of individual sized bags of snacks… I reached for a plate on the open shelves and flipped it over – at this point not surprised to see that it read IKEA.

This property clearly was no longer a home. It was an Airbnb!

While I feel a sense of relief that R is now in a place where some of the weight of being a homeowner has been removed, I’m also a bit heartbroken. I understand that the new owner had the right to utilize the property in whatever way he chose, he was less than honest about his intentions. Had R known that he was essentially buying the house as a means of generating income through short term rentals, she might have gone with a different offer – and there were numerous ones from which to choose.

The small cul de sac where R resided for forty years now has two active Airbnbs, instead of two families or individuals making a house into a home, which makes me sad. Palm Springs is home no more.

3 thoughts on “Palm Springs, home no more

  1. I understand the sadness to see homes converted to AirBnB’s….it does change the neighborhoods…it’s kind of similar to where I live which is a townhouse community. Most are owned…but there are a few that are rental properties (where the owner is renting them out year to year)…I have one a few homes down from me where in the past, we have had nice families…with young children who would play in the driveway…ride their bikes around the cul-de-sac…and you would hear laughter and see smiles….the current renters…well they are totally different…loud, semi broken down vehicles or huge trucks – both are quite loud…and heard about some disorderly late night activities that fortunately I slept through…..

    At least the beauty of the desert and the mountains hasn’t changed….and for your friend….it’s a much better, safer place that she has moved too….with far less worries!

    1. What you’ve witnessed in your community is similar to what I saw in the property right across the street from me. The owner of the house bought it, apparently, as an income property. Since she doesn’t live on the block, she doesn’t give a damn about who she rents to – it’s all about the money. Hopefully your neighbors will either move out or develop some skills about living in a neighborhood. And – yes, the mountains remain and I so appreciate their beauty!

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