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Old 06-26-2008, 08:40 PM
331 posts, read 1,540,325 times
Reputation: 178


With prices going down a bit, I decided to attempt a move to SoCal from northwest suburban Chicago. I have up to about $235K to spend on a 1bedroom(or maybe 2bedroom if at all possible).

Crime and employment-wise I was hoping to find the environment similar to the area where I'm at in Chicago. So after researching statistics and reading these forums it appears that south part of Orange county would be the best fit for me. Laguna Niguel and Mission Viejo seem particuarly appealing.

Now, I realize that a year ago my budget would make a laughing stock out of myself in these parts. But looks like now I can buy a 2bed/1bath condo, that is not a foreclosure, in one of the complexes in Laguna near the Metrolink station or off Pacific Park Road and La Paz Road off the 73 tollway or off Crown Valley Parkway and Niguel Road by Niguel CC or east off Golden Lantern by Marina Hills Drive.

The same seems to be true about Mission Viejo, where I can buy a similar condo in one of the complexes situated within a rectangle created by El Toro Road, Trabuco Road, Alicia Parlway, Jeronimo Road.

I'm a bit familiar with the condo complexes along the train tracks by San Juan Capistrano's Metrolink station, so I'm wondering if I'll see a similar environment in the areas of Laguna Niguel and Mission Viejo that I just listed.

I understand that these two towns are very safe. But since those neighborhoods have the most affordable housing in town, they could possibly be the centers of crime or unruly and devient behavior such as loud music, loitering, theft, vandalism, gang activity, etc.
Basically, what I'm concerned about is that although there's very little crime in the city as whole, most of it takes place in the neighborhoods where I plan to live. At least, that how it is in similar towns in suburban Chicago.

I suspect that this newly-discovered ability to afford at least something in OC has set me in somewhat of an elated mood as I'm California pipe-dreaming with that "would be warm and safe if I was in L.A." verse playing inside my head.
I would greatly appreciate if someone could, please, set me straight on what I'm about to get myself into. Does the "be careful of cheap housing in California, be VERY careful of cheap housing in Orange county" adage apply in this case?

Last edited by outsider1; 06-26-2008 at 09:30 PM..
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Old 06-26-2008, 09:25 PM
Location: Mission Viejo, CA
2,498 posts, read 11,400,547 times
Reputation: 1619
I looked up what is on the market to see the types of condos you are looking at. In Mission Viejo I noticed like 80% of the condos for sale in that price range were in one complex, the Aliso Villas. I would not recommend the Aliso Villas, especially now. These are the bottom of the market properties in Mission Viejo and I bet most will be in the very low 200's and 100's by the end of the year. You will most likely loose equity if you buy there. Also, the complex is very very old. It is known as the most run down complex of Mission Viejo. It isn't dangerous or violent, just very old. Glen Yermo Elementary serves the community and is the lowest performing school in MV so that pulls its prices down also. There is a major parking problem in that complex also with many cars spilling over onto Los Alisos Blvd. Basically, I wouldn't recommend buying in the Aliso Villas. It is a rundown complex that I don't think you will enjoy living in. If you are used to very old (by CA standards), you might tolerate Aliso Villas, but I would have to recommend a visit. Also, its price is likely going to fall even more. Mission Viejo is a great community and very safe, even in the Aliso Villas, but if I had to pick the worst part of the city, the Aliso Villas are it.

I don't mean to sound negative, I'm usually very very positive on Mission Viejo and love this community. I am honest though and don't want to sugar coat even the city's worse areas as the CA dream.

-A few of the other complexes in that area are nice but I didn't see very many listings in the boundaries you mentioned, other than the many Aliso Villa listings. If you have a question on a certain listing, please PM me or post the listing and I will tell you if it is a nice complex.
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Old 06-26-2008, 09:38 PM
Location: Mission Viejo, CA
2,498 posts, read 11,400,547 times
Reputation: 1619
I just noticed you were interested in the area at La Paz and Pacific Park. That was the area my husband and I first moved back to when we returned to California back in the 80's after living in Florida, Texas, and Arizona. Back then there was nothing around! We actually kept our townhouse and rented it up until three years ago when we sold it. I would recommend this area. I know the units bound by the tollroad, Alicia, La Paz, and Pacific Park (it is actually Aliso Viejo, on the border to Laguna Niguel). This is a nice and clean community with goods residents. It is just a quiet and calm neighborhood and there aren't major parking problems, but the toll road can be loud for adjacent units. It is walking distance to shops and stuff too. So you can add this area to your list, it is nice, safe, and clean.
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Old 06-26-2008, 10:18 PM
Location: Declezville, CA
16,806 posts, read 39,764,481 times
Reputation: 17679
The condo complexes north of the San Juan depot are not recommended, unless you don't mind living in a Tijuana with no on street parking.
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Old 06-26-2008, 11:00 PM
331 posts, read 1,540,325 times
Reputation: 178
Thank you kindly for the detailed comments, very valuable info for me!

Yes, the majority of those Mission Viejo condos were in Aliso Villas. This was kind of a back up plan for me, if all else fails in Laguna Niguel. Laguna is where I really hope to end up due to the ocean being only a bicycle ride or (from some places) a really long hike(but it would likely be a pleasant one, considering the weather) away.

I was glad to read your opinion about the complex at La Paz and Pacific Park! I had high hopes for that place since the buildings and units appeared much nicer than anywhere else within my scope of interest. And as you mentioned it's a walkable area which is a big plus for me. It is also within a reasonable distance from Metrolink station, which is convenient since I'm not sure if I can find employment in Laguna and may end up commuting to Irvine or even further north, and I'm not a road warrior by any means. The train can also take me fishing to the pier in San Clemente!

You're right, the possible noise from the toll road became a big concern of mine too, when I studied the map. Those listings are just some 200~300 yards away. Will it be too close for comfort?? Well, like you've said I have to go and see(in this case, hear) for myself.

I really hope something works for me in Laguna. By now I pretty much ruled out San Juan Capistrano. And it's slim pickens(2 listings each) for my price range in Irvine and in the west of the 5 freeway part of San Clemente. Absolutely nothing in Costa Mesa. Well, there are some listings in Tustin, but judging by the pictures they all might have similarities with Aliso Villas, so I don't have high expectations there.

Thanks again for all the help!
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Old 06-26-2008, 11:15 PM
Location: Mission Viejo, CA
2,498 posts, read 11,400,547 times
Reputation: 1619
The tollroad noise will be something you have to decide. We were long gone, had kids, and living in Mission Viejo by the time the toll road was built behind our townhome in 1996. Our tennants when we rented the townhouse out said they could hear the noise outside, but with the windows shut and they were inside they could not hear it.

Here are a few of the stores in the shopping centers within walking distance of the complexes.
Vons Grocery
Sports Authority
Henry's Organic Market
Blockbuster Video
Old Navy
-Those are some of the big stores off the top of my head
Then there are banks, services like haircuts and laundry, lots of places to eat from ice cream to take out to sit down, and even doctors. You are literally living next to most of what you would ever need.
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Old 06-27-2008, 09:57 AM
376 posts, read 1,501,128 times
Reputation: 164
I agree with Missionhome who always provides informative information. But one thing to consider is your negotiability as there are several 2 bedroom priced higher that could possibly be negotiated down and in great areas. Of course if depends on the situation. I would also suggest looking at Rancho Santa Margarita, Lake Forest and Aliso Viejo all nice areas with several condo complexes.

As you are away from the market, I would recommend getting a local pre-approval with a lender and realtor who understands what programs are available to first time home buyers, so you have a complete look at what you can afford, including taxes, insurance, mello roos, associations etc. Then the Realtor can send you properties that fit your specific criteria and has a good understanding of what you are looking for.
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Old 06-27-2008, 01:17 PM
Location: South Bay
7,226 posts, read 22,100,014 times
Reputation: 3626
Rancho Santa Margarita would not be a good option for someone who doesn't consider themself a road warrior.
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