I certainly understand your concern for not wanting to waste time in your search. I just did a quick search on MLS for homes currently listed for sale in Indio and came up with 802 current active listings.
One problem with trying to advise you on the "best neighborhoods" to concentrate your search in, is that each of the communities have different aspects that may be either a plus or a minus depending on you and your specific needs and desires. I have had many buyers start out wanting to look in one particular community only to end up buying in a different comunity. In fact, one of the first things I like to do when working with a buyer that may be unfamiliar with the various communities is to simply drive them around teh various communities and mention some of the pros and cons before we even begin looking at specific homes for sale. I would also mention that La Quinta is just next door and therefore in the same general vacinity as Indio, so this may affect your decision as well.
Bottom line, my advice would be to come here with expectations of spending at least a good part of the first day having an agent drive you around to gain some familiarity with the different communities and what they have to offer with respect to your particular needs. You can still stop at a few homes in each community however the serious home searching should begin afer you narrow down what areas and communities you like best.
Before you come however, it helps greatly to let your agent know your general search criteria in terms of price range, sq. ft., number of beds / baths, furnished or unfurnished, etc., so he or she can do a preliminary search and have some listings selected ahead of time in each of the areas. This can be narrowed down and revised as you go (and often is) but at least provides a good starting point in looking for some attractive deals. Best wishes in your home search and of please contact me if I can be of assistance in any way.
Larry Hansen, Broker-Associate, e-PRO
Ph: (760) 668-2486