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Old 07-23-2012, 07:05 AM
 
Location: Hong Kong
4 posts, read 3,617 times
Reputation: 10

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Hi we are are being relocated to California after 10 years of living in Asia. The last time we were in the US we were based in the Mid-west, so we really need advice on the best places to settle down, doesn't look like we'll be moved again.

My husband works for an Irvine company but we don't need to be close to Irvine - however we do have to be close to an airport as he has to travel internationally for his job. We have three kids verging on teens and want to put them in an excellent school district. Our ideal city would be small, with a warm climate and preferably near the sea or coastal, with a vibrant and family-friendly downtown (farmers market, library, cafes, etc), safe and family-friendly with a strong outdoor culture (trails, pools, cycling, parks etc).

We've been told to look at areas like Villa Park and Ladera Ranch but ithey seem expensive. We are thinking of renting to see if we like the area, and then buying once we decide for sure. Our rent budget would be $2500, and house buying budget would be 500K at a stretch. (we know CA is pricey). Any and all advice is welcomed!
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Old 07-23-2012, 08:08 AM
 
224 posts, read 469,302 times
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Irvine has excellent high schools. Tesoro (Ladera, Coto, RSM, Las Flores) is very good too as is Aliso Niguel (Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo). High schools in Newport Beach I hear are good. That all said, with a $500K house budget some of these areas might out of your budget. If you want to be near the sea be prepared to shell out more $$$. Ladera Ranch does have a nice downtown and it's a very family-friendly/oriented community. Over half of Ladera is sent to San Juan Hills High and while some disagree, many have less-than-positive things to say about this new high school. I think you'll find a strong outdoor culture in most areas of OC simply b/c of what is found in OC, the weather, etc. I know my response is rather unorganized, but I tried to touch briefly on the topics you were asking about. I do think you might have a hard time finding a location that fits ALL of your criteria mainly b/c of the housing budget you have. Otherwise, with some more money, you could find several communities that fit all of your criteria. Hope I helped a little. Good luck and welcome back!
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Old 07-25-2012, 08:45 AM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan
30,253 posts, read 74,362,745 times
Reputation: 38252
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bogrzshade View Post
Hi we are are being relocated to California after 10 years of living in Asia. The last time we were in the US we were based in the Mid-west, so we really need advice on the best places to settle down, doesn't look like we'll be moved again.

My husband works for an Irvine company but we don't need to be close to Irvine - however we do have to be close to an airport as he has to travel internationally for his job. We have three kids verging on teens and want to put them in an excellent school district. Our ideal city would be small, with a warm climate and preferably near the sea or coastal, with a vibrant and family-friendly downtown (farmers market, library, cafes, etc), safe and family-friendly with a strong outdoor culture (trails, pools, cycling, parks etc).

We've been told to look at areas like Villa Park and Ladera Ranch but ithey seem expensive. We are thinking of renting to see if we like the area, and then buying once we decide for sure. Our rent budget would be $2500, and house buying budget would be 500K at a stretch. (we know CA is pricey). Any and all advice is welcomed!
You will not find the combination you are looking for. Orange County is mostly a giant suburb. The few places with any kind of downtown generally do nto have good schools. The only farmers markets I am aware of are In Orange Santa Ana and Fullerton. Fullerton and Santa Ana both have ne of OC's top high schools, but the other schools are not execellent and the Top high schools are charter schools and hard to get into. (OSHA in Santa Ana is an arts school with excellent academics/college prep. Troy (sort of in Fullerton) is a selective schools for super achievers in academics.

Everywhere in Orange County has a warm to hot climate. Everywhere is kind of near the sea or coastal. Almost everywhere in OC (expcpt way south)bis pretty close to John Wayne airport and no place is close to LAX. You cannot afford a coastal view or walking distance place with decent schools. You could be within a bike ride. Some parts of Huntington Beach may appeal to you.

You will need to prioritize what you want. vibrant downtown, non-cookie cutter type neighbrhood, schools good, decent, excellent, exemplary (and you need to decide what makes them so to you), do you like comformity where everyone has the ame type of house, same kind size and length of lawn, matching garbage cans? Do you like/mind more caotic places? Ask yourself truthfully whether you have prejudices that woudl make you unhappy in a mostly hispanic area, or a 50% hispanic area. Do you mind a culture of materialism, me first keep up withthe joneses and hyper competivitness? Do you need a yard? If so, is a coulpe of hundred square feet sufficient? Do you mind or want to be near a freeway?

Frankly from what you indicate, I would guess that Irvine or one of its clone cities would offer the most of what you are looking for. Aliso Viejo is nice. Mission Viejo, Laguna Nigel, They are all essentially identical, so you can jsut find the most appealing specific location. Excellent schools by the most typical measure are all over South Orange County. (it depends on what is excellent for your particular kids - and excellent school for your kids may be a terrible school for mine). Are your kids conformists? Do they tend to fit in well ang go with the flow? Do they dress in the right brands and carry the newest Iphone? In what sports or arts do they excell? Better off in a small or large school? Will they likely be taking AP classes? Will they do better bieng the top student in a so so school or being a mid level student in a more competitive school? Lots nad lots of things camn make a difference in choosing a school. THe same is true of choosing a neighborhood. You are going to have to think through all of the thigns you want, and then priiritize them and decide which ones you are willing to sacrifice for the others.
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Old 07-25-2012, 10:54 AM
 
5,381 posts, read 8,010,247 times
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The South County area looks like one giant suburb, and people rarely stay within the confines of their particular community. For example, I live in Aliso Viejo, work in San Diego County and, for various needs when not in San Diego, typically spend time in Laguna Niguel, Dana Point, Mission Viejo and Laguna Beach. Rarely, do I find a need to go to Irvine unless it’s for some sort of routine medical appointment; and that’s it.

All of South County is family-friendly with hiking and biking trails. Most have good schools. All are within an easy drive to John Wayne Airport. So, rent for a while and find the city that best suits you.

Although there are many similarities between South County cities, there are also differences and it’s these things; sometimes subtle, that influence where people ultimately buy a home.

Some cities, usually the older ones, have more varied and interesting looking homes than others. Several are more compact with newer homes and are densely populated.

Some cities seem “settled,” as if all that needs to be done has been done; and still others feel relatively more dynamic, but this is Orange County we are talking about (nowhere is there a hotbed of excitement ) and everything is relative.

Aliso Viejo is new, more given to experimentation (for example, "complete streets" are coming), very densely populated and tiny (about 7 sq miles) with several corporations anchored here. Its small size means that amenities and attractions like the Soka Performing Arts Center, the Ice Palace, the Azarian National Gymnastics Center, Renaissance ClubSport (Volleyball, basketball, squash, swimming, weights, spa, classes, etc.), the Aliso Viejo Aquatic Center, the Aliso Viejo Golf Course, 23 parks, Aliso and Woods Canyon, etc. are all a very short walk or drive away from home.

There are movies and bands in the park; and early in the morning, people start placing their blankets and lawn chairs on the grass in Grand Park at Town Center to save a spot for the evening’s performance. Town Center is the city’s “downtown” area. The PetsSmart PetsHotel is one of its best features and my dogs spend a lot of time attending day camp there.

Aliso Viejo Town Center - YouTube

Aliso does not have a farmer’s market, but there is one held every Sunday morning at the corner of Pacific Park Drive & La Paz Road in nearby Laguna Niguel. BTW, the AV city council has approved the development of Savannah’s Organic Ranch. Not the same, but a dog park has also been approved and the city is drawing up plans to be submitted for approval by the coastal commission.

The downside to Aliso is that most homes are the ultimate in look-alike, but that’s life and it ain’t gonna change. People cope by ripping out and customizing the interior. BTW, I moved here from Manhattan, so that even though that city’s architecture is far more interesting (I lived in a "prewar," constructed before WWII, building), I’m accustomed to the concept of dramatically redesigning the inside of one’s abode when you have no control over the exterior.

Last edited by pacific2; 07-25-2012 at 12:21 PM..
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Old 07-25-2012, 11:24 AM
 
Location: Declezville, CA
16,801 posts, read 37,693,721 times
Reputation: 17541
Pacific2, could you make your font smaller?
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Old 07-25-2012, 11:26 AM
 
5,381 posts, read 8,010,247 times
Reputation: 4537
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fontucky View Post
Pacific2, could you make your font smaller?
I'll try, but I should've passed-out reading glasses to everyone.

Last edited by pacific2; 07-25-2012 at 12:01 PM..
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Old 07-26-2012, 09:09 PM
 
Location: 89074
500 posts, read 705,145 times
Reputation: 851
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bogrzshade View Post
Hi we are are being relocated to California after 10 years of living in Asia. The last time we were in the US we were based in the Mid-west, so we really need advice on the best places to settle down, doesn't look like we'll be moved again.

My husband works for an Irvine company but we don't need to be close to Irvine - however we do have to be close to an airport as he has to travel internationally for his job. We have three kids verging on teens and want to put them in an excellent school district. Our ideal city would be small, with a warm climate and preferably near the sea or coastal, with a vibrant and family-friendly downtown (farmers market, library, cafes, etc), safe and family-friendly with a strong outdoor culture (trails, pools, cycling, parks etc).

We've been told to look at areas like Villa Park and Ladera Ranch but ithey seem expensive. We are thinking of renting to see if we like the area, and then buying once we decide for sure. Our rent budget would be $2500, and house buying budget would be 500K at a stretch. (we know CA is pricey). Any and all advice is welcomed!
It really sounds like Irvine fits your needs (excellent schools, close to the airport, etc). Ladera is further south and probably not a great commute to the city or the airport. Perhaps you can negotiate a higher housing allowance? California is not as expensive as HK but I can't see finding something to fit a family of 5 on about HK$19,000 a month unless you compromise some of the above.
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