Once you have answered the questions above, I can begin to make home recommendations for you. If you are unfamiliar with Orange County, please feel free to contact me. I'll do my best to help you decide on potential locations in OC that will fit your needs. I also have some starting points (further below), to help you choose an area. After you have chosen an area (or a few of them) I'll start by sending you listings of homes. If you are not moving for a while, no problem - I'll start sending you listings right away so that you can start browsing the homes that fit your criteria. If you plan a trip out to OC before your move, I'll be happy to take you to a few of the homes so that you can walk them. We can do some of the paperwork, especially for a lease, well in advance. As you get close to your move, try to plan a trip to OC so that we can do some final home shopping and lock down a house for you.
Leasing a home in Orange County
If you prefer to lease a home in OC, I'll be happy to help! There are many home choices and a wide range of rental prices available. You can shop homes for lease at any time, but try to narrow down your home choice and apply for a lease about 30 to 45 days prior to move in. To apply, you will need to complete a simple, 2 page application form, plus provide a credit report. The landlord's agent may ask for additional financial information such as proof of employment or a bank statement, to ensure that you are qualified for the lease. Not to worry - I'll walk you through the entire process.
To shop for homes, you may use my general lease search link below (left). This page includes home searches by price range, city, and several specialty searches. It also includes information on viewing potential homes and rental costs in OC cities. If you have a pet, use my pet-friendly web page below to look for homes that will accept or consider your pet. I can also set up a custom e-mail search for you. The advantage of this is that homes that fit your criteria are e-mailed to you when they come on the market. This helps narrow down your search and saves you time.
If buying is the best option for you, you are in good hands! First and most important - Write down all of your home requirements, including price range, number of bedrooms, minimum square feet, and any other features you will need in your new home. Then focus on location. You may wish to live within easy commuting distance to your new job, or your choice may be dictated by wishing to live within an excellent school district. Many people want to move to a community with newer homes, one that has good recreational facilities for kids, great "night life", or a city with a short drive to the beach.
Once you have an idea of which cities you are interested in, you can shop for homes using any of my city pages (links to the left). The beach communities are included under my Beach Areas link. There are also many specialty pages where you can shop for single level homes, homes in gated communities, 55+ senior communities, golf course locations, houses with pools, or vintage and mid-century homes. If I don't have a page for the city you are interested in, I'll be happy to send you listings by e-mail for any of those areas. I have several other pages that may be helpful. 7 buyer mistakes lists some of the common errors buyers make while shopping for their home. If you need to sell your home first, you may find my buying a home with a contingency page to be helpful. Are you a first-time home buyer? My step-by-step homebuyer resources pages will be very useful.
Do you need to get pre-approved? Contact me and I'll provide you with several lender referrals. It's a great idea to start this process well before you arrive so that you will be ready to go when you find your home.
This is a difficult question to answer, as It all depends on what you are looking for. If you search the Internet you will find dozens of "opinion" web sites, where contributors discuss (or vehemently advocate) the best place to live in OC. Again, these are all personal opinions and if you read carefully, you'll learn that they all have their own reasons for their choices. Read these pages with a "grain of salt" - the best place to live in OC is the one that suits you the best. Here are a few starting points:
Safest cities - There are many sources on the internet where you can find information on crime statistics, etc. One source noted 8 Orange County cities as among the safest 20 cities in California, and they are: Irvine (rated #1), Laguna Niguel, Mission Viejo, Yorba Linda, Orange, and San Clemente. The source noted that Aliso Viejo and Rancho Santa Margarita are also among California's safest. You are always advised to do your own research when it comes to this subject.
Best schools - My web page for OC schools contains many links where you can look up school ratings. The city of Irvine is consistently ranked as having top rated schools, but there are many other cities with great schools and top rankings. The schools ranked by API scores can be found here.
Most affordable cities - Some of the more affordable areas to lease or buy in Orange County include, Anaheim, Westminister, Santa Ana, Placentia, Fullerton and Rancho Santa Margarita. Least affordable are the beach and coastal areas like Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, Corona del Mar, and Dana Point. You can see all of the home affordability statistics for both sales and leasing on my home price statistics page,
Master planned communities - These are newer communities that were completely planned from inception. The parks, schools, and shopping centers were carefully integrated into the greater residential community. Many people love planned communities because they consider them to be newer, cleaner, safer, and well organized, while others feel they may be too "cookie-cutter". Notable planned OC communities include Irvine, Ladera Ranch, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Laguna Niguel, Rancho Santa Margarita, Anaheim Hills, Tustin Ranch, Talega in San Clemente, Coto de Caza, the Lake Forest communities of Foothill Ranch, Portola Hills, and Baker Ranch, plus Rancho Mission Viejo (currently in development).
Communities with "character" - I would define these as communities or areas that are the opposite of "planned" communities. That being, older cities that developed more randomly, have more custom homes than tract-style homes, perhaps vintage homes or "old town" areas, or cities that have some other form of uniqueness, charm, or interest that separates them from the rather homogeneous planned communities. OC areas with "character" include Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, Orange Park Acres, San Clemente (beach side), North Tustin (Lemon heights, Cowan heights), Dana Point, the canyon communities (Modjeska, Silverado, Trabuco), areas of San Juan Capistrano, and "old towns" in Orange, Fullerton, and Tustin.
Cities with cooler temperatures - Coastal areas and beach communities in OC have overall cooler temperatures than the more inland cities. These areas include San Clemente, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, San Juan Capistrano, Laguna Beach, Newport Coast, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley, and Costa Mesa. Many people use the I-5 freeway as a rough reference point for "cooler" or "warmer", with west of the freeway being cooler and east, warmer.
Warmer, sunnier cities - These are the more inland areas like Lake Forest, Mission Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita, Irvine, Fullerton, Orange, Yorba Linda, Anaheim, Villa Park, Tustin, Brea, and Laguna Hills. These areas have far less of the overcast, or "marine layer" that is typical in coastal cities.
Gated communities - If you prefer the security of a gated complex, there are many to choose from in OC and they are available for most budgets. Some communities have a guarded gate while others are accessed using a remote device or transponder. You can view all of the homes for sale or lease in gated communities on my web page here. If you are over 55 years old and wish to live in a gated, 55+ community, visit my web page here.
Homes with "space" - Many people who re-locate to Orange County are looking for a home with some space around them. Perhaps you currently live on an acre or more, or you just want some room between you and your neighbors. First off, stay away from newer, master planned communities like Ladera Ranch, Rancho Santa Margarita, Laguna Niguel, and many areas in South OC. Newer cities were built at a time when land in OC became increasingly expensive, so housing in these areas is very compact. Older areas tend to have more generous lot sizes. You will find many homes with larger lots here.
Homes with a view - For many people, a view of a panoramic horizon filled with city lights is a must-have Hilly communities along the coast like San Clemente, Laguna Niguel, and Laguna Beach have many homes with ocean views. Inland areas like Anaheim Hills, Fullerton, Shady Canyon in Irvine, North Tustin, and Robinson Ranch include homes with higher elevations for amazing city lights views .I have view homes on most of my city pages (links to the left) If your desire is a home with a view, contact me and I will send you listings with ocean or panoramic views.
Homes with an ocean view - One of the most sought after features in an Orange County residence is a home with an ocean view. This can range from a view of the coast line, to views of Catalina Island, one of the harbors, or even white-water views. There are many properties along the coast that can give you that ultimate view, usually at a higher price of course. If this is your dream, check out my page with ocean view homes for sale and lease, here.
Cities where you can keep or board a horse - OC has many equestrian areas and if you are interested in purchasing a property, I can help. There are very few horse properties for lease and most horse properties for sale tend to start at around $700,000, so many people choose to live instead near boarding facilities. You can find properties for sale or lease on my web page here. Popular areas include San Juan Capistrano, Orange Park Acres, Coto de Caza, Laguna Hills, Trabuco Canyon, Anaheim, Newport Beach, and Yorba Linda.
Cities with "nightlife" - If you prefer to live in a area that comes alive after hours, stay away from the sleepy, bedroom communities in OC like Laguna Niguel, Mission Viejo, Ladera Ranch, Aliso Viejo, etc. Look instead at cities with vibrant down towns, lots of tourist attractions, or huge entertainment complexes. Examples would be Fullerton, Brea, Irvine (by Irvine spectrum center), Laguna Beach, San Clemente, Newport Beach, Anaheim, and Orange. Fullerton and Brea have revitalized down towns with bars, restaurants, and entertainment. Fullerton and Orange also cater somewhat to college kids. Anaheim has increasing nightlife around Disneyland. Irvine Spectrum in the city of Irvine is a huge entertainment and shopping complex. The beach areas all have strips with restaurants, bars, art galleries, and shopping.