Moving to Orange County

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Moving to Newport Beach/Orange County Area- where?

May 2010

My husband and I have lived in the Bay Area (Lamorinda) for 8 years now and have settled in well and started a family. Our children are 5 and 7 years old. My husband's well-paying job has allowed me to be a SAHM, and our lifesfyle is very comfortable here. The rest of our family lives on the east coast and overseas. However, my husband has been restless over the last couple of years due to lack of recognition in his job and no promotion but great income. Now an opportunity has come up for him in a different company, forcing us to move south, where the pay is a little (but not a lot) better, and growth potential for him is greater. Our move is most likely going to happen. But I am not at all wanting to leave the bay area for the OC. I am completely unfamiliar with southern California, know no one there (or from there for that matter). What is life like in the newport beach/Irvine/Costa Mesa area? Any neighborhoods like what we are used to here? We are looking for a liberal, open- minded community, no soul-sucking McMansions please!

Don't want to be a real housewife of Orange County

Ahh, the OC. I grew up there but haven't been back for some time -- I do have, however, a lot of friends who have stayed and can't think of living anywhere else.

Although you didn't say where your husband would be working (this is huge, as freeways can be a nightmare), or what your housing budget is (I know, personal info) you might want to consider areas just north and south of what you had mentioned.

Huntington Beach might be a good option. The downtown/main street area is nice and also more funky/interesting. There are also a lot of tract homes throughout the city with more moderate pricing and which are a bit older (therefore more character in the neighborhoods). There is also Sunset Beach and Seal Beach a bit more to the north and then Laguna, San Clemente, Dana Point to the south. The idea is to get as close to the coast as you can (afford to) and into the beach communities.

I think there are still some fairly mid-priced homes in Huntington and there should be in Seal. Lots of little mid-century homes with some character in Seal Beach. Not sure about the rest. In HB (I grew up here) there are the neighborhoods with a 'name' such as Huntington Harbour or Sea Cliff - expensive and everyone thinks a lot of themselves because they live there. The upside to these hoods is that the schools are good and there are, at least for the Harbour, a lot of community organizations to join.

Laguna has always had a thriving gay community and a great summer art festival called the sawdust festival (not sure whether that still goes on). Decidedly not cheap, but could be a great place to live. San Clemente is just gorgeous.

I was never a fan of the Anaheim/Orange/Tustin or Irvine/Mission Viejo scenes, but you might be -- check them out. Bigger homes for the $ and some great school districts. Lots of master planned communities, though, which I never liked. Again, totally personal preference.

Hope that helps. HB transplant

My parents lived and worked in Orange County for many years, so I'm reasonably familiar with it though I never lived there myself. I think you'll find that while it is more politically conservative than Lamorinda, the move shouldn't be TOO much of a shock. It's very suburban and I don't know of any part of OC that is much like Berkeley, but a lot of it feels pretty similar to Walnut Creek or Orinda. It's a challenge to find neighborhoods that are pedestrian-friendly (some of the beach towns are a good bet), but everywhere my parents lived they easily got to know, and had great relationships with, their neighbors. There are a lot of young families there and a ton of great parks, childrens' museums and so on. The weather is good and the traffic is reasonable. I'd guess that an 'open-minded, liberal community' will take some effort to find, but it's not that hard to avoid McMansions. Good luck! Holly

I grew up in the OC, it's not as horrible as TV makes it out to be, but it might be an adjustment from NorCal. Head to the beach my friend! Huntington Beach is a relaxing coastside community. Newport has some great spots, but might lack the 'open mindedness' you are looking for. Laguna Beach is another nice spot, with pretty beaches some good restaurants/etc, and a laid back vibe. Lots of artists there. Good luck to you! suzanne

Dear Future RHOC-

I'm sure you will get a lot of more balanced responses than mine, but your post struck a cord in me and I have to give you my honest opinion. I grew up in LA and I have always been a far left liberal. I live in Berkeley now and find that the culture is very left wing. I don't know what Lamorinda is like, but my guess is that it is more a mix of liberal and conservative and moderates than Berkeley is. I have also had the experience of being uprooted with my children for my husband's job. It is difficult in so many ways, especially if you have emotional ties to the old hood. I would recommend you take this very seriously and listen to your gut. Hoping that you will eventually grow to like the new place if your gut isn't in it will probably land you in couples therapy, and make you miserable.

My experience of Oange County is that the word 'liberal' and 'OC' in the same sentence makes it an oxymoron. It isn't just the McMansions. It is the overall conservative conformist attitude. Malls, plastic surgery, lots of emphasis on what you own instead of who you are. I really don't think there is a safe haven where you will find liberal attitude ANYWHERE in Orange County. You will find that in West Los Angeles, an hour north. I don't mean to scare you, only to hear an opinion of someone who has spent 10 years there and 25 years here with family still in LA and lots of visits down to see them. Think long and hard whether this is worth doing. Real Housewife of Berkeley

I grew up in Orange County, in the huntington beach/fountain valley area. Don't expect really any of the neighborhoods to be like those in the bay area.... that being said, some places are better than others. Long Beach, closer to the water, has some nice, more liberal areas, especially near 2nd street. Much south of there, you have some older suburbs in fountain valley/huntington beach, but things are really spread out and full of chain restaurants and republicans. south of that there is the newport/balboa areas, which have a mix of super rich people and some liberal pockets. south of that are a lot of newer developments, condos and mcmansions. Good luck! hates OC

It is so lonely here in central conservative OC. Do you want to live in a wonderful place? If so, head to Laguna Beach where liberals are not hiding or Huntington Beach which is affordable by Bay Area standards or Long Beach which has hip quirky pockets. Or do you want your husband around and happy? If latter, do not live more than 5 or 10 miles away from his job or you will pay dearly. Newport Beach is one of the highest 'income per acre communities' in the nation but some great neighborhoods. I am sure you can find some like minds eventually but do you want your kids growing up around so much money? good luck

Moving to Long Beach

April 2009

We are moving our family (2 girls, 1 and 5) to Long Beach this summer and would love any recommendations for that area, including resources/play groups for lesbian families, adoptive families, multiracial families, children of color (just a few to choose from!). Other info, such as things to do with the kids & places to eat would be great too. Also, do you know if there's anything like BPN down there? We won't know anyone there so any help will be appreciated. Thanks! wombat

my family just visited a friend of mine who moved to Long Beach a couple of years ago, and I was really impressed about some of the cute neighborhoods there are there. My friends live on Bennett st, X st 3d and that whole nieghborhood had really cute houses, some cottages, some bungalows, some spanish style, tree lined streets, etc.. and walking distance to the beach, Naples harbor area, etc.. My friends have a 3 yo daughter and send her to a nearby Montessori, but I'll fwd your questions on to them and see if they have any other ideas to pass on to you. Luisa