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Old 02-16-2012, 07:15 AM
 
Location: Coastal Northeast
16,645 posts, read 23,043,507 times
Reputation: 5803

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Just returned from touring Orange County and now coming to C-D to request information on the best family friendly towns. Currently it looks like we will be working in the Irvine area.

We're coming from southern Connecticut so we're familiar with high prices, traffic congestion and materialism.

Right now we haven't negotiated a salary so can't give specifics on price range, but currently looking for a 4br home. Eyeing Mission Viejo and Lake Forest. A few questions:
  • How are schools in these areas? Can you recommend other areas?
  • How much is car registration? I'm reading it could be in the thousands.
  • Is earthquake insurance required and if not, is it recommended? It looks pricey.
  • How is the drive from Mission to Irvine during rush hour?
I've been told by people to stay away from Orange County due to morality issues, but that can be said for any affluent area; so please don't come into the thread and try to steer us away from moving here.

Thanks for any help, all.
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Old 02-16-2012, 08:07 AM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan
26,395 posts, read 62,606,020 times
Reputation: 30129
  • How are schools in these areas? Can you recommend other areas?
The schools in South Orange County are generally very good. Almost all of the South OC areas are pretty much the same. Thus, if you like Mission Veijo and Lake Forest, you will also like Aliso Viejo, Irvine, Inland Newport Beach, Laguna Nigel, etcetera. Most of Tustin is pretty much the same as well. The only places Irvine South that are much different are San Juan Capistrano, San Celemente, Laguna Beach and Dana Point. Cota De Caza is a little bit different in that it is somewhat remote. Silverado Canyon and Modjeska Canyon are different as well (not sure if they are south of Rivine or not). Otherwise, the areas are pretty much interchangable. Great schools, low crime, clean, conforming, simlar strip malls andshopping malls. As you drive around, you will not know which city you are in, they are all basically the same. If you like the lifestyle, I woudl recommend each and every south county City to you.

Irvine has the "best" rated schools, but the difference between Irvine and say, Mission Viejo is meaningless. The differences between South County schools are not likely to have any impact on your kids whatsoever. Many Irvine schools are hyper competitive. Some people woudl prefer not to have their kids in that atmosphere.

How much is car registration? I'm reading it could be in the thousands.

The big hit on car registration is if you bring a newish car from out of state. Years ago people went to Oregon (no sales tax) to buy cars and register them in CA. In order to keep people from bypassing CA sales tax they made a registration fee on new cars from out of state simliar to the sales tax that you would pay. I would not bring a newere car to CA. Either get an older car, keep you car registered out of state for as long as you can, or just buy a new car when you move.


Is earthquake insurance required and if not, is it recommended? It looks pricey.

I am not aware of any lender requrieing earthquake insurance. It is very very expensive and has huge deductibles. Many people figure that if there is a big earthquake, FEMA will just pay for the damage (this is nto entirely true). If you cna afford it, it is a good idea. If your house is destroyed in a quake, you could be financially ruined. We never had it on any house that we owned. When we rented, we did have earthquake coverage on our renters insurance. Where I live now when in OC I have no coverage. I always figured that the deductible would bankrupt me anyway, so the insurance really did me no good. Bankrupt or really really bankrupt is not really different. In 20 years we never had earthquake damage severe enough that we ould have made an insurance claim. However anything can happen.

How is the drive from Mission to Irvine during rush hour?

It is not pleasant. Fortunately, it is not a very long drive. Personally I am too impatient to sit in traffic for half an hour without moving so I normally just work late or leave early and avoid traffic no matter where I am. There is no way that I would drive from Irvine to Mission Viejo during rush hour. I just cannot stand sitting in traffic. There may be a way for you to skip the freeway and take surface streets. This might be faster or it might be worse. Depends on where you are starting and where you are going.
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Old 02-16-2012, 08:29 AM
 
Location: Las Flores, Orange County, CA
26,346 posts, read 82,771,668 times
Reputation: 17497
Quote:
Originally Posted by kidyankee764 View Post
Just returned from touring Orange County and now coming to C-D to request information on the best family friendly towns. Currently it looks like we will be working in the Irvine area.

We're coming from southern Connecticut so we're familiar with high prices, traffic congestion and materialism.

Right now we haven't negotiated a salary so can't give specifics on price range, but currently looking for a 4br home. Eyeing Mission Viejo and Lake Forest. A few questions:
  • How are schools in these areas? Can you recommend other areas?
  • How much is car registration? I'm reading it could be in the thousands.
  • Is earthquake insurance required and if not, is it recommended? It looks pricey.
  • How is the drive from Mission to Irvine during rush hour?
I've been told by people to stay away from Orange County due to morality issues, but that can be said for any affluent area; so please don't come into the thread and try to steer us away from moving here.

Thanks for any help, all.
Useful Househunting tools

Check out redfin and sigalert and school performance maps from the link above.
Yes, get earthquake insurance. Also get an earthquake gas shutoff valve installed.
Redfin will outline HOA fees. You should also be aware of Mello Roos and Mello Roos maturation dates.
Traffic is bad at the bad times but if you leave early and/or can use carpool lanes you might be able to avoid it. (It's only a few miles anyway.)
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Old 02-16-2012, 09:24 AM
 
Location: Coastal Northeast
16,645 posts, read 23,043,507 times
Reputation: 5803
Quote:
Originally Posted by Coldjensens View Post
The schools in South Orange County are generally very good. Almost all of the South OC areas are pretty much the same. Thus, if you like Mission Veijo and Lake Forest, you will also like Aliso Viejo, Irvine, Inland Newport Beach, Laguna Nigel, etcetera. Most of Tustin is pretty much the same as well. The only places Irvine South that are much different are San Juan Capistrano, San Celemente, Laguna Beach and Dana Point. Cota De Caza is a little bit different in that it is somewhat remote. Silverado Canyon and Modjeska Canyon are different as well (not sure if they are south of Rivine or not). Otherwise, the areas are pretty much interchangable. Great schools, low crime, clean, conforming, simlar strip malls andshopping malls. As you drive around, you will not know which city you are in, they are all basically the same. If you like the lifestyle, I woudl recommend each and every south county City to you.

Irvine has the "best" rated schools, but the difference between Irvine and say, Mission Viejo is meaningless. The differences between South County schools are not likely to have any impact on your kids whatsoever. Many Irvine schools are hyper competitive. Some people woudl prefer not to have their kids in that atmosphere.
Got it - thanks. So I'll add Aliso Viejo, Newport and Laguna Nigel to the list of places to check out. We don't want to be in a pressure cooker district, but do require a solid, well-rounded education. We stayed away from those districts in Connecticut and we'll do so in California as well.

How is the commute from the South County towns to Irvine?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Coldjensens View Post
The big hit on car registration is if you bring a newish car from out of state. Years ago people went to Oregon (no sales tax) to buy cars and register them in CA. In order to keep people from bypassing CA sales tax they made a registration fee on new cars from out of state simliar to the sales tax that you would pay. I would not bring a newere car to CA. Either get an older car, keep you car registered out of state for as long as you can, or just buy a new car when you move.
Got it. I just purchased a brand new car in November so perhaps I'll wait a bit to register it. Was planning on shipping it out if we make the move ($1300 sound reasonable to anyone else who did this?). We would sell our current SUV and buy a new one out there.

We currently pay car property taxes in CT. On my new car it will be approximately $865/ year. Anything like this in CA?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Coldjensens View Post
I am not aware of any lender requrieing earthquake insurance. It is very very expensive and has huge deductibles. Many people figure that if there is a big earthquake, FEMA will just pay for the damage (this is nto entirely true). If you cna afford it, it is a good idea. If your house is destroyed in a quake, you could be financially ruined. We never had it on any house that we owned. When we rented, we did have earthquake coverage on our renters insurance. Where I live now when in OC I have no coverage. I always figured that the deductible would bankrupt me anyway, so the insurance really did me no good. Bankrupt or really really bankrupt is not really different. In 20 years we never had earthquake damage severe enough that we ould have made an insurance claim. However anything can happen.
Eek. That's a huge chance. Is it true deductibles can be as high as 10 or 15%? If so, that's insane!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Coldjensens View Post
It is not pleasant. Fortunately, it is not a very long drive. Personally I am too impatient to sit in traffic for half an hour without moving so I normally just work late or leave early and avoid traffic no matter where I am. There is no way that I would drive from Irvine to Mission Viejo during rush hour. I just cannot stand sitting in traffic. There may be a way for you to skip the freeway and take surface streets. This might be faster or it might be worse. Depends on where you are starting and where you are going.
Thanks. So which area would make the most sense, with both good schools and a good commute?

Thanks again for the responses. It's a huge help.
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Old 02-16-2012, 12:17 PM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan
26,395 posts, read 62,606,020 times
Reputation: 30129
If there is a property tax, it is included in your registration. The registration fees are substantaill, but not overwhelming and you can write off part of the fee.

Yes the deductiblles are 10-15%. That is why we never bought the insurance. If I had to pay $75,000 of a loss I would be bakrupt. If I had to pay $750,000 of the loss I would be bankrupt. What is the difference? I do not know whether you can buy lower deductible earthquake insurance, since the high deductible insruance premium was outside of our budget, I never asked about a lower deductible. I do not remember the premium amount, I just rememebr that it made me literrally gasp.

I cannot help much with particular neighborhoods. I am not fond of the south county lifestyle (just a personal preference). I visit people and busiensses int he area with some frequesncy, but determining the best route between point a and point b or what the school district lines are, I cannto do. Within limits, it does not make a hug difference commute wise between many of the cities. You may want to avoid going way south, or out somewhere like Cota, but the cities clustered in around Irvine will be simlar in commute times. It also depends on where in Irvine you are going. Parts of Irvine touch Santa Ana, Parts touch mission Viejo (I think). Certain places are more accessible form one place or another. Although I know the genral area reasoanbly well, I do not like it and do not have much knowlege of one specific neighborhood or routes between two points.

Persoanlly, if I had to choose between them, i woudl probabl prefer Mission Viejo, because it does have some areas that are somewhat more established with a few real trees and somewhat less redundant housing. However I am not the best person to ask in that regard.
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Old 02-16-2012, 06:41 PM
 
64 posts, read 110,787 times
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We recently moved here from the NorthEast. I'm a big fan of the more southern towns (Mission V, Rancho SM, Las Flores, Ladera) it seems like you get a lot more for the money and the schools and people are still great. The commute to Irvine from any of those towns isn't a big deal if you are from southern CT. The traffic here isnt great, but it is nowhere near as bad as NYC metro traffic. If you have ever commuted to NYC from Southern CT, going from MV or RSM to Irvine will be a walk in the park.
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Old 02-17-2012, 05:38 AM
 
Location: Coastal Northeast
16,645 posts, read 23,043,507 times
Reputation: 5803
Quote:
Originally Posted by BorisBlack View Post
We recently moved here from the NorthEast. I'm a big fan of the more southern towns (Mission V, Rancho SM, Las Flores, Ladera) it seems like you get a lot more for the money and the schools and people are still great. The commute to Irvine from any of those towns isn't a big deal if you are from southern CT. The traffic here isnt great, but it is nowhere near as bad as NYC metro traffic. If you have ever commuted to NYC from Southern CT, going from MV or RSM to Irvine will be a walk in the park.
Great, thanks for replying.

Currently one of us is commuting from New Haven to Stamford, where 35 miles can take two hours plus, and more on a bad day. It's very stressful, especially because without traffic, it would be closer to 45 minutes.

Anyway - if you don't mind me asking - do you have earthquake insurance? This is the one thing that is making me so nervous, mainly due to the extremely high cost, and extremely high premiums. But then, if we don't have it, it's possible we can go bankrupt.

The move is becoming more and more of a reality.
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Old 02-17-2012, 08:10 AM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan
26,395 posts, read 62,606,020 times
Reputation: 30129
Quote:
Originally Posted by kidyankee764 View Post
Great, thanks for replying.

Currently one of us is commuting from New Haven to Stamford, where 35 miles can take two hours plus, and more on a bad day. It's very stressful, especially because without traffic, it would be closer to 45 minutes.

Anyway - if you don't mind me asking - do you have earthquake insurance? This is the one thing that is making me so nervous, mainly due to the extremely high cost, and extremely high premiums. But then, if we don't have it, it's possible we can go bankrupt.

The move is becoming more and more of a reality.
Before you get too worried about earthquake insurance, find out what FEMA will cover. Many people say they just rely on FEMA if there is a quake. However there are limits on what FEMA will do. Since we never had any significant damage from a quake, we never had any reason to find out.

I do rememebr my insurance agent telling me that less than 30% of her clients buy earthquake insurance.

I also know that the Northdridge Earthquake in 199? did not bankrupt thousands of people. That is the largest earthquake in a So cal population center in the past 20 years that I am aware of. the two people that I know who lived in Nortridge both had earthquake insruance and one of them ended up comng out several undred thousand dollars ahead of where he was without the quake.
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Old 02-17-2012, 12:56 PM
 
Location: Coastal Northeast
16,645 posts, read 23,043,507 times
Reputation: 5803
You guys are a tremendous help. I'll be posting back to this thread soon. Please continue to add if you have anymore suggestions.
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Old 02-18-2012, 05:28 AM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan
26,395 posts, read 62,606,020 times
Reputation: 30129
Orange County rule: The shorter your commute, the better your life.


Driving around here will leave you worn out and ticked off. Eventually, it will turn you into a git because you have been frustrated and ticked off for so long, you stop thinking about or caring about other people..
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