Living in Orange County, CA


So, after living for 11-odd years living and working in LA, I've landed a job in Orange County. The commute, needless to say is not good, and certainly not sustainable.

Any suggestions on interesting, cool neighborhoods in Orange County for someone with a young family (tall order, I know). We've been in Silverlake for most of our duration here, so its been extremely hard to find anything remotely comparable in the OC.

Help please!

May 7, 13 1:36 am

Behind the orange curtain, there won't be anything comparable to Silverlake.  It's either cookie cutter new or established post WW2 neighborhoods of ranch homes, and apartments that look like them.  Parts of Fullerton or Costa Mesa are ok, I guess.  Santa Ana is the diciest.  However, if you like houses with those shiny white rock roofs, you're in luck.

May 7, 13 1:41 am

Yes, there is probably nothing comparable to Silverlake down there. Guess the choice is between going crazy living behind the curtain, and going crazy driving there every single day...

May 7, 13 2:13 am

there is nothing comparable to silverlake in orange county. i work in costa mesa and i currently live in's torture.

i used to live and work in downtown long beach. you might enjoy the belmont heights area between downtown lb and belmont shores. you would still have a commute, but it's not a hard commute as long as your office isn't in south oc.

May 7, 13 8:56 am

If he works at the top end of "the O.C." , actually all the way down to Irvine, parts of LB such as Belmont Heights et. al. could be a good alternative.  LB is the last city in LA County before crossing "the orange curtain," and has enough quirkiness, not to mention great weather.  He would have to leave slightly earlier to fare better in freeway traffic.  If the job is more toward Anaheim, it's doable, too.  He would cross in an eastward manner using the 91 or the "Garbage Grove" Freeway.

May 7, 13 1:44 pm

Keep in mind that neighborhoods and places change over time.  Silver Lake has only been a hipster haven for a decade or so.  It's gone through multiple demographic and cultural shifts over the last four decades, and will continue to.

This doesn't help a search for an equivalent RIGHT THIS MINUTE in OC.  But if you want to plant roots, Santa Ana seems a good choice.  Though "dicey" in some places, it now looks closest to how Silver Lake did 30 years ago.  It will change, though of course it's impossible to predict just how.

May 7, 13 3:57 pm

Thanks guys! As luck would have it, I work in South Orange County, so guess LBC/Belmont Shores would be a long commute.

Another area with some interesting (read more liberal) populace looked like Old Town Orange, near the orange circle. Will explore Santa Ana too...

May 8, 13 1:28 am

laguna beach is the liberal spot in oc. i lived there close to 20 years before moving to lb. old towne orange near the circle would be worth a look as well as santa ana near the arts district.

May 8, 13 9:22 am
Good luck. Moved to South Orange County last May from Boston and I just gave my notice at my job to move back to Boston next week. My wife had a good opportunity so that's why we moved. We just could never get used to being here. If I had the chance again and could afford it I would have lived in either Dana Point (lantern village) or Laguna Beach. You just have the get over the abundance of douchebags and bros and enjoy being so close to the ocean. At least in Laguna Beach you can walk around a little bit. Orange County is culturalless, so be prepared for a shock. I can't imagine the Santa Ana schools being a good place to send your kids compared to other towns.
May 8, 13 9:25 am


I agree.  Laguna Beach is just plain affluent and all its inland towns with Laguna as the first word (Laguna Niguel, Laguna Hills, etc.) are manicured and cookie-cutter, but aesthetically pleasing and safe.  True, Orange County is replete with douche bags.  And the TV shows based there aren't that far from reality.  It's amazing that a place that is so materially comfortable is also so devoid of culture.  The whole equation is kind of fucked up, wherever you go, really: if you get rich, you get (mostly) shallow ... if you get hippy-dippy and struggling, you get (their brand of) "culture."  It's crazy.

May 8, 13 1:28 pm

We were toying with the idea of living in Laguna Beach (even though we cant afford it), but it is a bit too affluent and filled with old money douchebags that literally would look at us funny, and we would stand out (not in a good way) there anyways.

Who knows what the answer is, but its not going to be easy either ways...

May 11, 13 1:33 pm

Rancho Santa Magarita is a possible choice, and the school there is good also. The homes there are newer.

Jan 13, 14 11:19 am

I second Laguna Beach or Dana Point...I did the commute from Echo Park to Jamboree Road in Irvine for a summer, worst 3 months of my life.  No Joke.  

Jan 13, 14 12:30 pm

I commuted from Venice to Irvine for 6 months in 1995, and that was awful. The first 30 miles was a smooth sai and takes only 30 minutesl. The traffic was worst after Seal Beach, when the freeways merge into 405, that last 10 miles takes 1/2 hour to 1 hour depending on the actual traffic.

That was why I moved down to OC.

Gang Chen, Author, AIA, LEED AP BD+C

Jan 13, 14 12:43 pm

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