Last Updated on June 16, 2023

The High Desert is a region of the western United States that encompasses parts of California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, and Oregon. It is characterized by its high altitude, low humidity, and extreme temperatures.

San Bernardino County, located in Southern California, is home to several cities within the High Desert region.

This region, known for its high altitude, low humidity, and extreme temperatures, offers a distinct lifestyle that attracts a diverse range of individuals.

Cities within San Bernardino County’s High Desert region include Victorville, Lancaster, and Palmdale. Each city has its own characteristics and attractions, making it an appealing place to live for different reasons.

Victorville, California
Victorville is one of the most popular urban areas in the High Desert of California.

What is it like to live in the high desert?

Living in a high desert urban area offers several benefits.

Firstly, the cost of living is typically lower compared to other parts of the country. This translates to lower housing costs, taxes, and energy expenses, allowing for a more affordable lifestyle.

Secondly, high desert urban areas are known for their relaxed and laid-back atmosphere, offering a slower pace of life that can be appealing for those seeking a break from the fast-paced city environment.

Additionally, being surrounded by breathtaking natural landscapes, such as mountains, forests, and deserts, provides easy access to outdoor activities and a close connection to nature.

However, there are also challenges to consider when living in a high desert urban area.

The hot summers, with temperatures often exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit, can be intense and require adapting to the heat.

Similarly, cold winters with temperatures dropping below freezing can present challenges for those unaccustomed to colder climates.

Another aspect to consider is the potential lack of cultural amenities typically found in larger cities.

High desert urban areas may have fewer options for cultural activities and events, which could impact those seeking a diverse cultural scene.

Overall, high desert urban areas offer a unique lifestyle that is appealing to many people. If you are looking for a lower cost of living, a slower pace of life, and close proximity to nature, then a high desert urban area may be a good fit for you.

Best High Desert Towns to Live in


Victorville is located in the High Desert region of Southern California, about an hour north of Los Angeles. The city has a population of over 100,000 people and is known for its affordable housing, mild weather, and proximity to outdoor recreation.

Victorville is home to a number of shopping malls, restaurants, and entertainment venues. The city is also home to the Southern California Logistics Airport, which is one of the largest cargo airports in the world.

Victorville is often perceived as the most affordable and laid-back city in the region, providing a relaxed and budget-friendly lifestyle.


Lancaster is located just north of Victorville and has a population of over 150,000 people. The city is home to Edwards Air Force Base, one of the most important test and training bases in the world.

Lancaster is also home to a number of shopping malls, restaurants, and entertainment venues. The city is known for its desert landscape and is a popular destination for hiking, biking, and camping.

Lancaster presents a harmonious blend of urban amenities and natural beauty, offering a balanced and enjoyable quality of life.


Palmdale is located just south of Lancaster and has a population of over 100,000 people. The city is home to the Palmdale Regional Airport, which is a major commercial airport.

Palmdale is also home to a number of shopping malls, restaurants, and entertainment venues. The city is known for its desert landscape and is a popular destination for hiking, biking, and camping.

Palmdale is renowned for its developed and cosmopolitan atmosphere, offering a vibrant and diverse quality of life.

Apple Valley

Nestled as a suburb of Victorville, Apple Valley offers a more rural charm. It is particularly known for its safe neighborhoods, excellent schools, and a strong sense of community.

Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to enjoy with over 100 miles of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding.

The town also features golf courses, a beautiful lake, and numerous parks and recreation areas.

Apple Valley is an ideal place to raise a family or retire, providing a serene and family-friendly environment.


Positioned between Victorville and Palmdale, Hesperia is a growing city with a diverse economy and a population of over 95,000 people.

The city offers a range of shopping centers, restaurants, and entertainment venues, making it a convenient place to live and work. Hesperia boasts excellent schools, attracting families seeking a high-quality education for their children.

The city’s location offers easy access to the nearby San Bernardino National Forest, providing residents with opportunities for outdoor adventures such as hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing.

Hesperia’s blend of economic opportunities, natural beauty, and community spirit makes it a desirable place to call home.

High Desert Lifestyle & Culture

The high desert and low desert are two distinct regions in the American West, each with its own unique lifestyles and cultures.

The high desert, situated at higher altitudes, offers cooler temperatures and more rainfall. Here, residents enjoy a relaxed pace of life, spending their time outdoors engaging in activities like hiking, biking, camping, and fishing.

A strong sense of community prevails, with close-knit neighborhoods and a vibrant cultural scene that embraces artists and musicians.

In contrast, the low desert, found at lower altitudes, experiences warmer temperatures and less rainfall. Life in the low desert is often more fast-paced, combining outdoor pursuits with the convenience and amenities of city living.

Shopping malls, restaurants, and various entertainment options cater to the residents’ preferences.

The low desert also attracts retirees who appreciate the warm weather and laid-back lifestyle it offers.

Culturally, the high desert draws influence from the Native American cultures that have inhabited the region for centuries. Museums, festivals, and events provide opportunities for residents to learn about Native American heritage.

The Spanish and Mexican cultures, which once held sway over the high desert, also leave their mark through missions, historical sites, and a rich historical narrative.

The low desert, on the other hand, is greatly influenced by the Mexican culture bordering the region. Mexican restaurants, shops, and cultural events contribute to the local flavor.

Additionally, the American Southwest culture permeates the low desert, showcased through Western-themed festivals and events that allow residents to delve into the region’s history.

Ultimately, choosing the right desert for you depends on your lifestyle and preferences.

If you seek a relaxed pace of life and a strong sense of community, the high desert may be an ideal fit.

On the other hand, if you desire a more fast-paced lifestyle with a range of conveniences, the low desert could be more suitable.

Consider your priorities and aspirations to find the desert that aligns with your desired way of living.

Read also: Best US towns to live in the desert

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