Relocating to Orange County --Need Neighborhood Advice

Updated on September 17, 2008
R.R. asks from Houston, TX
20 answers

Hi Moms-

My husband and I will be relocating in Jan. from Houston, Tx to the Irvine area. My husband's job will be close to the UCI campus and I would like suggestions on neighborhood/communities nearby. I have a 3mo old and we won't have any family or friends in the area so I like an area that has parks and shopping closeby.

Also, I'd really appreciate any pedi recommendations!

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C.A.

answers from Los Angeles on

I live in OC, but in Fullerton, you do not want to commute to Irvine from here, Well, I wouldn't. But, Irvine is known for it's schools and parks. As an OC transplant myself consider more than just rating of the schools. Irvine schools do have problems w/ crowding, because of how highly rated they are. There are other great districts.

And UCI probably has great pediatricians on staff. My son's eye Dr is at UCI-Jennifer Simpson, and his skin dr is too-Brandi Metz. I don't know what part of Houston you are from, but, I know you may have some sticker shock. Houston has nice new homes that are quite a bit less. With larger yards. Good luck

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D.H.

answers from Los Angeles on

One very important thing to look into the school in the neighborhood. We bought a house in a nice neighborhood and love it (before kids) and then when it came time to look at the schools we were stuck. There is a great website www.greatschools.net. You can find out all sorts of info about the schools.

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J.G.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi Rhonda,

We also moved from a different area to Orange County about 18 months ago and it was a little hard at first. We got involved with a really nice church and made some friends. We live in Aliso Viejo it’s a sleepy town, it’s mostly family homes and condos.

The schools are really good there are plenty of shopping and a tons of parks. It’s about 5 miles to the beach and about 15-20 minutes south of the UCI campus. If you are looking to buy because of the economy house prices are fairly good.

A good pediatrician in Aliso Viejo is Dr. Shannon of http://www.seaviewpeds.com/ he is an older doctor he doesn’t believe in over medicated young babies.

There are about 4 or 5 moms groups and most of the church also have Mom meetings as well. It’s a great place if you are able to be a stay at home mom to build relationships and have support.

2 moms found this helpful
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J.P.

answers from Los Angeles on

I can help if you'd like. I'm a mom and a real estate agent in Orange county. I can look up what's available close to UCI if I know what you need. Bedrooms, bathrooms, garage, condo or single family residence, pool ok, association, two story or not, min. sq ft, things like that. I can email listings to you and you can view the pictures online. It might help you to see what's available to you and the price ranges.
J. Pillon

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N.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

Rhonda
You have recieved a lot of good advice but I thought I would give you my info also. I work in real estate and live in Anaheim Hills. There are several things you need to think about before buying a home. The first is price, the second is what do you want. Irvine is a great area with great schools and lots of parks, but it is very popular so tends to be a little overpriced. Irvine also has many areas with association and or mello roos(added taxes). These can hinder you from buying a home. Tustin is a nice area but the schools are not as good unless you go to North Tustin then the schools are better. If you are looking for a house with a large lot then most of Irvine will not work for you. Orange and Tustin have larger lots. Orange is a good city but for the schools you need to stay in the Villa Park School District. I used to live there and loved it. If you go further South down the 5 Fwy then Lake Forest is a good area, Mission Viejo is also good. But both of these places will mean a drive for your husband. Most of the other areas in South County are newer but that usually means HOA and Mello roos and smaller lots.
I hope this gives you some ideas of what to look for but if you have any other questions please feel free to call or email me at ###-###-#### or [email protected]____.com. I work for Century 21 Superstars in Anaheim Hills.
Good luck and welcome to Orange County!!!
N. Martin

S.J.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi Rhonda,

I moved here in 1989 from Illinois as a teen and lived in Irvine until about 1992. As it goes for Irvine, yes it's nice, convenient to freeways - but all together it's looking overdeveloped. I lived in the Woodbridge and Northwood areas. I echo how many have said that Irvine does have a good reputation for their schools which therefore causes the housing prices to reamin high. You'll soon find the real estate very pricey and find that you may get less of a house in Irvine than in surrounding areas.

I lived in Foothill Ranch, when my first two sons were babies. It is a great community and has quick access to Irvine via a toll road. We owned our first condo there. While I liked it because it had every possible food and retail establishment there, the one thing it lacked was a sense of community and it only has one grocery store to choose from. I'd say your husband would commuute about 20-30 minutes from Foothill Ranch to Irivne. We talk in "minutes" around here instead of miles. It could take less time, but that would be my best guess with typical morning traffic.

Remember just because your husband works near UCI doesn't mean you have to live near his work. You should consider what you want in a home/yard, evaluate the school districts in a neighboring communities. I homeschool my kids so I can't give you a personal experience regarding the schools, sorry.

We then moved to Rancho Santa Margarita http://www.cityofrsm.org/ - which is really considered to be an affordable family city - has a high national safe community ranking. My family is single income because I've stayed home since 1999 and this is where we bought our first single family home. We are about 5-10 degree warmer than Irvine because we are at the foothill of Saddleback Mountain. The feel of the community is great - they have summer concerts, community 5k's, moms clubs and many opportunities for youth organized sports. While your kids are still young, this community can offer you more yard space than most and has "newer" communities and tons of parks. They have the "beach club" that is a water/lagoon area with sand and grass.

We currently live in Trabuco Canyon http://www.progressivecm.com/trabucohighlands/ , specifically in the Robinson Ranch community, our main cross streets border Rancho Santa Margarita. We too have little to no mello roos and our HOA is only $65/mo I think. We moved here into a larger home to accomodate our fourth child and we LOVE it here. It's beautiful here. We are at the base of Saddleback Mountain and the neighborhood is well planed with good size lots. We have an ample front and back yard with plenty of space for our kids. There are many kids in this community and the local public school is within walking distance from my home. Because these home were mostly built in the late 80's, early 90's the yards are bigger. THe larger front yards give a sense of a neigborhood with sidewalks and it has less of a "cookie cutter" feel to it. Lots of pretty landscape here and lots of well grown trees to make it feel even prettier. My husband works in Newport Beach in the Fashion Island area, which borders Irvine. He drives past Irvine to get to work. On a typical day his communute is 45 minutes one way.

Keep in mind that sense you have a 3 month old that you could move into one area and still move when your child gets closer to school age. Not that moving isn't a lot of work, or anything!

Lastly, one valuable group I was a part of when my babies were babies ... was MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers), it's a support group for moms and each group usually meets in a church and sets their mornings up differently. When I went my kids went into the MOPPETTES childcare for 2 1/2 hours while I had mommy time with breakfast, speakers, and crafts.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any other questions. S.

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A.G.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi,

Congratulations on your up and coming move. There are lots of newer housing tracks throughout Irvine. It's a great community with good schools. There are also other choices than just Irvine, that would still be close for your husbands job. We have also done a lot of relocations and we have an excellent Real Estate Broker. She's the best and she specializes in relocations. Very trust worthy, honest and extremely dependent. She'll find you exactly what you need. If you're interested here's her info...
Rose Veldhuizen @ Prudential # ###-###-####

Welcome to the OC!!!
You're going to love it here!!!
Good Luck,
from a 40yo SAHM who loves Orange County

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W.S.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi R.,

You can't go wrong in the south oc area, everything is close to parks and shopping and Irvine is very clean! My Pediatrician is in Irvine and I have been going to him for 10 years next month, he is WONDERFUL!! It is Bristol Park Medical Group and his name is Dr. Bradford Curtis, I am sure you can look him up on the web. The phone number is ###-###-#### I know that you will not be disappointed!

Good luck on your move!
W.

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J.T.

answers from Los Angeles on

HI R.,

We relocated here from Northern California and just happened to rent in our neighborhood here in Irvine - we loved it so much that we bought a house here and have lived here 14 years and LOVE it! We live in the Parkside neighborhood of University Park. It is great for kids and moms! We are
walking/riding distance to the stores, parks, pools, etc. A lot of people live up in Turtle Rock and it is nice, but not nearly as convenient or affordable (no Mello taxes here). I have 4 kids and feel our schools are AWESOME! All of my kids have done well and my 2 highschoolers have stayed out of trouble so far. Pedicures at Nailtique are the BEST - haha! Dr. Everts/ Dr. Lee are wonderful pediatricians and Hoag Hospital is the place to have any future babies! Good luck!

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M.N.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi R.,

Welcome to Irvine! Please check out the city's website (www.ci.irvine.ca.us) for fun activities that occur on a weekly basis. The most recent one is the Irvine Global Village Festival on October 4th. You can also sign up for email notifications from the city on various family-friendly events. Feel free to contact me directly at [email protected]____.com. I work at UCI and have lived in Irvine since 1990. My husband and I have two children under the age of 3.

Take care and good luck!
M.

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J.S.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi R.!
When looking for a home in the OC, please be sure to consider the mello roos and HOAs. Some people (like myself) didn't factor this in enough because the mello roos and HOA can be high enough to make a home that is afforable, out of your price range. Mello roos can be as high as an extra percent.
One great thing about the OC is that you are never far from shopping or parks! Just remember, the closer you are to the water, the more expensive and the newer the home, there's a good chance for mello roos and/or HOA.

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D.K.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi R.,

I myself live in Irvine, specifically Westpark. It is a great community with great parks, schools and shopping centers. There are certain areas of Westpark that does not have any mello-ros. Here's a link with pictures for you to look at http://www.irvinehousingblog.com/blog/comments/irvines-we...
My husband works close to UCI also. It's about a 15 minutes drive. Irvine is such a great location because it's central to everything. It's close to the beach and John Wayne Airport. If you like shopping, South Coast Plaza, The Spectrum, and Fashion Island are close by. As for parks, the OC Great Park is only 8.5 miles away but it's still under construction. The Great Park Plan focuses on the 1,347 public acres of the property and includes a 2.5-mile (4.0 km) canyon, a 26 acre lake, botanical gardens, a cultural terrace, lawns, performing arts venues, a sports park, veteran's memorial, golf courses, and a wildlife corridor connecting the Cleveland National Forest to the Laguna Coast Wilderness. At 1,347 acres (5.45 km2), the Great Park will be larger than New York's Central Park, San Francisco's Golden Gate Park and San Diego's Balboa Park.

As someone mentioned earlier, Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach is a great place to have a baby. I had a really positive experience when I had my son last year at this hospital. I highly recommend Dr. Iravani of Coastal Kids for a pediatrician. Here's her contact info ###-###-#### 1401 Avocado Suite 709 Newport Beach Ca 92660. Welcome to the OC and good luck!

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E.S.

answers from Los Angeles on

We live in a community called Tustin Field. (Jamboree and Edinger). Many families with young kids. There are several parks in the area - one of our favorites is Bill Barber Park - about 5 blocks away.

Where we live - you can do shopping at the District - 3 blocks away or Tustin Market Place - less than a mile away.

I belong to Bristol Park Medical - and I love our pedi - Dr. Marnie Baker - her office can be reached at ###-###-#### (you can interview her and see what you think) She's located off of Barranca and East Yale Loop.

I'll be on maternity leave when you move here...feel free to contact me (I'll have 2 sons - by the time you move here they will be 26 months and 2 months olds).

Good luck!
E.

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J.S.

answers from Los Angeles on

My sister lives in Trabuco Canyon down the toll road from Irvine. She loves it and lots of things for kids to do. My aunt and Uncle also live in Foothill Ranch and they are happy there. Most of the areas around Irvine and south county are very pricey though. I grew up in Yorba Linda which is a little farther but a wonderful city for kids. Anaheim Hills has lots of family places too. pricey areas but maybe a bit less than south county. With the housing market what it is, you hopefully can get a good deal.

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J.B.

answers from Los Angeles on

I would seriously recommend the Woodbridge Community in Irvine. There are over 20 parks and 20 pools, plus 2 lakes and tons of community events. There are 3 Costcos and 3 Targets all within a 5 mile radius and a fabulous pediatrician (Bradford Curtis - already recommended) located right here. We've never felt so connected to a neighborhood and the people/etc. You'll love it out here.

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A.D.

answers from Los Angeles on

Wow, that's a big change for you, Houston, TX house value is like 1/5 of what house in Irvine cost. Irvine has great school district, and it listed as 4th best city to live on Money magazine. However, housing and living cost are way high in Irvine. If you looking for good school district and neighborhood, you can also check out surround cities too, like Aliso Viejo, Lake Forest, Laguna Niguel/laguna Beach, Tustin Ranch, Fountain Valley and Huntington Beach. I live in Fountain Valley and work in Irvine, it's only 20' driving to work, and i'm close to everything. Also, Fountain Valley is listed as # 91 on top 100 best cities to live in. Well, it's not 4th place like Irvine, but Fountain Valley also has great school district (just not in neighborhood too close to Santa Ana or Garden Grove since the highschool would go to those district instead of Hunginton Union High district) Anyway, the house value in Fountain Valley is a little bit lower than Irvine, but you're close to the coast (about 5 miles or 15' driving), so you practically don't need runnign a/c at home. We just close our windows and shade to keep the heat out during the day, by 4-5pm in the afternoon, we open all windows and we get the cool breeze coming from the coast to cool down our house, that's saving of about 150/month on power. The Mile square park is great for picnic, party or just jogging and playground all over the area of the park. Oh, and there's a public golf course in the park too.

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S.T.

answers from Los Angeles on

I moved to University Park ("Village 1") as one of the first 250 families to move here in 1966. It's only about 2 miles from the UCI campus and in the "old days," we often walked there. My first husband was one of the first professors at UCI and at the time we had 6 children with a 7th on the way. Irvine and University Park has changed a lot since those days, but University Park is still a wonderful community. Although parents seem to (in my opinion) overprotect their children way too much here -- it's often chosen the safest city in America -- one of the great things about our part of University Park is that you can walk everywhere. On our cul de sac, and many others, a quite young child could walk to the nearest play park without crossing a single street due to the layout of the streets and the beautiful green belts with walking paths. Our section is made up of town homes that are very spacious. In the center of the "U" shaped street that connects all the cul de sacs is a section with larger homes that are not connected to each other. However, our townhomes are exceptionally private. Within walking distance we have a wonderful market. It used to be an Alpha Beta and then a Ralphs, but is now Wholesome Choice. It is very popular with everyone, although it is owned by Persians and has many Persian ethnic foods. Wonderful produce, meat, fish, deli, and fresh baked bread that people wait inline for. Our barber shop is celebrated. And you can walk to several small restaurants, have coffee out on a patio, walk to an all-night drug store (quite safe if you needed to do that). The elementary school is within walking distance, as is the middle school and the public library. There is an Adventure Playground and a large park where there are soccer teams playing, plus play areas, handball courts etc. Oh, I forgot that our own Association area has four swimming pools (two family, two adult) and tennis courts as well. Our babies and toddlers were able to play happily in our small fenced back patio area, but the older children loved the greenbelts where they could bike, skate board, ride scooters on the paths as well as use the swimming pools, tennis courts and play parks.

There are other great villages in Irvine as well, but since ours was the first built, we have a larger area of greenbelt per household than the others. It was built as a showcase for the Irvine Company's idea of building contained villages and was featured in Life Magazine years ago. To visit it, you drive on Culver from the 405 Freeway toward the University, turn left at Michelson Drive, and from there you can explore the area. The oldest section would be reached by driving down Michelson to the crossroads with Seton on the left (turn left for our area and all its culdesacs) or right onto Sandburg for the second oldest area, where you can visit the library and the large park. The "single family" section is on each side of Michelson ranging from Culver Drive to the Seton/Sandburg crossroads.

By the way, one of my daughters has returned to live with us so we now have our grandson living here as well. He doesn't want to move back to Los Angeles!

Sorry, I keep adding to this long post as I read other responses. Our association dues are very low compared to many (I think about $100 a month now after 42 years!) no Mello Roos, and a well maintained association.

Hope this has been helpful.

S. Toji
Pioneer Irvine Resident

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K.L.

answers from Los Angeles on

I live in South Orange County, Mission Viejo. Some of the older areas like where I live do not have the higher taxes and mello roos. There are plenty of parks and shopping nearby. I am only 5 min, from the Mission Viejo Mall, aka Shops at Mission Viejo. I am right off the freeway so it makes for an easier commute,vs inland community like Ladera Ranch, Rancho Santa Margurita, Coto de Caza and Foothill Ranch. These communities are newer but also get hotter weather. Aliso Viejo, Laguna Niguel, and parts of Mission Viejo get some ocean breezes so they are not too hot. A few years ago Aliso Viejo put awnings over all their parks' play equipment which is really nice in the summer.

I can also recommend Dr. Shannon from Seaview Peds. He is the original owner of the practice and has been around for a while now, since 1973. (He was my pedi as a child.) I agree with the PP that he does not over medicate. He also has allowed me to seperate and delay the vaccinations of my choice. He has several offices so I usually can get in to see him but it depends on how flexible I am to visit the other offices.

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J.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi R.-
We moved to Orange County a year ago from Northern Ca. My husband's job is in Santa Ana, (soon to be Irvine--they are moving), and we didn't know where to start looking! We looked ALL over--many of the communities that have been mentioned here: Lake Forest, Mission Viejo, Aliso Viejo, Anaheim Hills, Villa Park, Tustin, Irvine, and finally, Huntington Beach. I lived temporarily in Tustin and got to know that area & Irvine fairly well. I think what you really need to focus on is what kind of life you want. My take on it is that in Tustin/Irvine, the houses can be beautiful, but there really aren't much in the way of yards. A community we considered were the Columbus Square homes in Tustin. Here's the website: http://www.villagesofcolumbus.com/
All the homes are new (though now, there might already be some resales due to the economy), and the way the community is designed is really nice. The Square is in Tustin, but is districted for Irvine schools, which are better. The Grove is in Irvine, but has Tustin schools (still good, but not Irvine), so watch out for that distinction.

As for us, the cities themselves of Tustin and Irvine are both fairly newer, so have many strip type shopping centers, and parks, but no real "downtown" (although old Town Tustin is quaint, but not practical for shopping, more just a fun place to wander). We wanted somewhere with a bit more "character" and we love the beach, so we started looking in Huntington Beach, and were really surprised at what we found. There are many affordable homes here, with yards, no Mello Roos or HOA (do you know what that is? An extra tax on top of property tax or HOA dues), and the parks here are incredible, as well as the best Library & Children's Library west of the Mississippi. We're less than 10 min. to the ocean, and we've settled in a really lovely neighborhood with 3 parks in walking distance. Plus, the temperature here is more mild than inland. You actually notice a 10-15 degree difference. Although, coming from Texas, that might not matter! ;) Finally, even though we're at the coast, my husband's commute is only about 20-25 min., which isn't bad at all for what we're getting in return.

Good luck, I know moving is hectic--for our move we essentially moved twice, once into our apt. in Tustin, then again into our Huntington home--and I was 8 months pregnant! Oh--our pediatrician is in Tustin, Dr. Dawn Bruner ###-###-####. We've seen Dr. DangVu in the same practice also, and she's great too.

Once you get here--join your local MOMS Club, that will help you to meet other stay at home Moms and give you the lowdown on parks, have some playdates w/ other Moms & kids, etc. You can find your local chapter (Irvine has 3 or 4 chapters) at the following site: http://www.momsclub.org/

GOOD LUCK & welcome to the OC (sorry for the long rambling note--hope it helps!)

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M.F.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hello R.,

My best advice for you would be to contact the International MOMS Club at www.momsclub.org This organization (which I am apart of) is a non-profit group that stands for Moms Offering Moms Support. Each chapter meets during the daytime hours when us Moms need the support the most. We meet for park days, coffee breaks, take trips to local places like the Strawberry Farms, Pumpkin Patchs, etc. Most of the women in the club are stay at home moms, so do work outside the home.

I have been part of the Cypress chapter since Oct. of 05 when my son was 2 mns old. I held the President position for 2 yrs in my chapter and I am now an Area Coordinator for 6 So. Orange County chapters. Unfortunately, none of which are near the UCI area. But, the MOMS Club website will give you a phone number to call and speak to someone let them know your situation and they can help you get in contact with a chapter in the area of which you are liking into. That chapter will help you with finding the right local for you and you can start to build a friendship before you ever make it to CA.

Best of Luck,
M.

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