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Old 05-30-2012, 04:52 AM
 
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We are relocating from the Chicago to Orange County this summer and while we are looking forward to the good weather, are concerned with just about everything else (schools, safety, values, sense of community,...) given our lack of familiarity with the area.


Based on a quick search of school ratings, we have narrowed our choices to Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Corona Del Mar and Irvine. We would prefer to stay under $2.5M and would appreciate your input on these suburbs as well as any others in the vicinity, with good schools, safe neighborhoods and the feeling of a family oriented community.


Thanks,
Sims
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Old 05-30-2012, 07:31 AM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan
26,403 posts, read 62,617,980 times
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(schools, safety, values, sense of community,...)


Schools: There are good schools available. Although California has one of the worst scholl systems in the US overall, Orange County has some of the best schools in California. There are plenty of good options, you just have to find them.

Values: Generally poor IMO however there are lots of people with good values who do not get caught up in the prevailing atmosphere/lifestyle. You just have to find them. They will nto be grouped in any particular place, but scattered and in hiding. You tend to find more people with good values (by my standards) in the less trendy/less wealthy areas. No rose colored glasses for you here. Values tend to be bad, you will have to combat those bad values influence on your kids. You can do it, just a bit more work than some other places.

Safety: Safety is relative. Crime rates are low compared to US rates generally. Traffic safety is not as low. Safety from shark attacks is much worse than it is in Chicago (but still a pretty minimal risk). You trade the danger of freezing to death for earthquake danger, maybe mudslides.

Sense of community is also relative. It heavily depends on where you are and what you expect. Since most of Orange County is one vast sea of subdivisions and strip malls, there is not a lot of sense of community. In many places it is nearly impossible to tell where one town starts and the next one ends. There are some older neighborhoods and towns with a strong sense of community. The newer ones less so. There are no needs, few needy people, few problems, not much to work together to accomplish. Everything is regulated to be nice. However of course there are exceptions. Certain subdivisions have developed a decent sense of community. Mostly it will be focused on kid activities and barbques.

". . . . " Plusses: No mosquitoes, almost no rain, no snow, no icy roads, few cloudy days (but frequent haze in the summer), humming birds, parrots, palm trees, short drive to lots of neat things (mountains, national parks, etc.).

. . . minuses: crowds, traffic waiting in line, dryness, no real green, no water in the rivers and streams (just sand and gravel most of the year), no forests, very few trees, santa ana winds.

I would not call it better or worse than Chicago area, just different. At first it may seem like it is hugely better. Over time, it will balance out a bit. Many (most, I think) mid-westerners eventually return to the midwest but for a few years or even a decade or two, it will probably seem perfect.
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Old 05-30-2012, 08:29 AM
 
Location: Everywhere and Nowhere
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Parrots?
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Old 05-30-2012, 08:51 AM
 
Location: Placentia, Orange County, CA
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I used to see parrots in central OC back in the 90's; haven't seen them since, though.
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Old 05-30-2012, 10:00 AM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan
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Small flocks of parrrots fly through from time to time and noisily occupy all the trees in an area. They are noisey and messy but really neat to see. I think most of them are Mexican Red Lored Parrots, but there are occaisionally others mixed in (perhaps the others are escaped pets). Some years there are a lot of them often, some years, none, some years just a few.

That and the abundance of hummingbirds are one of my favorite Orange County features.
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Old 05-30-2012, 10:09 AM
 
Location: Everywhere and Nowhere
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coldjensens View Post
Small flocks of parrrots fly through from time to time and noisily occupy all the trees in an area. They are noisey and messy but really neat to see. I think most of them are Mexican Red Lored Parrots, but there are occaisionally others mixed in (perhaps the others are escaped pets). Some years there are a lot of them often, some years, none, some years just a few.

That and the abundance of hummingbirds are one of my favorite Orange County features.
In my 22 years there I never saw one in the wild. Perhaps it's a more recent phenomenon as I've been gone since 1990.
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Old 05-30-2012, 10:50 AM
 
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Regarding the parrots: There are a couple of flocks in Eastside Costa Mesa, downtown Santa Ana, and I think Orange. I've personally heard and seen them, so I know they are out there.

Regarding the OP's question:

Reading your criteria (schools, safety, values, sense of community), one neighborhood came screaming into my mind: Harbor View Homes in Newport Beach (also called "The Port Streets," because all of the streets are named after famous ports).

It is known as the best family neighborhood in Newport Beach, has a tremendous sense of community, has lots of parks, pretty houses, is walkable, and has one of the best elementary schools in the area located in it's center (Anderson Elementary), connected by a ribbon of greenbelts and walking paths to the rest of the community.

It's slighly inland from Corona Del Mar, next to Fashion Island, and is bordered by McAurther Blvd, San Miguel Dr., Bonita Canyon Dr. and San Jouquin Hills Dr. Because it is slighly inland, you get more square foot for you money, and will actually have a yard, unlike Balboa Island or Corona Del Mar.

Anderson Elementary is consistently ranked at the top, or near the top, of schools in Newport-Mesa Unified School District (Roy O. Andersen Elementary School - Newport Beach, California - CA - School overview), and Corona Del Mar High School was recently ranked as the second best high school in Orange County by U.S News and World Report (Report: Newport-Mesa Unified schools rank nationally - Daily Pilot) and as the top high school in Orange County for college preperation by the Washington Post (CdM ranks high in Washington Post survey - Daily Pilot).

Here is an example of what you can get in your price range:

http://www.redfin.com/CA/Newport-Bea...0/home/4716470

http://www.redfin.com/CA/Newport-Bea...0/home/4717497

Last edited by bowneline; 05-30-2012 at 12:08 PM..
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Old 05-30-2012, 12:47 PM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan
26,403 posts, read 62,617,980 times
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Wow. that is really amazing. You know it is that way, but when you look at a house on .25 acres with no ocean view for $2.5 million you cannot help but say "WTF?"

It is odd that both houses say they have view of park or mountains or whatever, but no view picture. With no ocean view, no beach or water access, what are you paying the premium for? The address?

The other thing that is funny is they lowered the price on one of them by $150,000. If someone is looking at a $2.5 million house, I cannot see how $150,000 is going to make any difference to them at all. "Oh! At $2.5 million, I just conld not afford it, but at only $2.35 million - no problem, sign me up" UNless they are goiing to go with a meaningful rreduction in price, aren;t they just throwing money away?
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Old 05-30-2012, 01:59 PM
 
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As you noted, in Harbor View Homes, people are not paying for view, or to be steps from the sand, but to live in maybe the premier family neighborhood in Orange County. Apparantly, for some, that is worth as much as an ocean view, or being steps from the sand, as evidenced by the prices in that community.

They buy knowning that everyone in that neighborhood is on the same page, and is focused on one thing: creating a great family enviornment.

Walk around that place on a nice Saturday afternoon, and the streets and parks are filled with kids and families. Because of the greenbelt that runs the length of the community, kids can safetly walk or ride their bikes everywhere, including to and from school.
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Old 05-30-2012, 07:08 PM
 
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Bowneline, thanks for your input. We'll focus on the Port Streets area when we do our relocation tour in a couple of weeks. Any thoughts about Newport Coast and Irvine? I've heard from some that these neighborhoods are "cookie cutter" and "plasticky" while others seem to like these suburbs. We'll gladly trade views and home size for a great school district and a solid family neighborhood. After all, the beaches are not too far from any of these suburbs.
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