Not for the faint of home - 8/16/2006
The cost of living in Orange County is really terrible, and it's getting worse as the populations in every city is growing. There are very few vacant lots left to develop (and many of those that currently are have future plans already made), so the demand is spurning an incredible increase in price.
I bought a three-bedroom 1950s "fixer upper" in Fullerton (1,258 sq ft) with my now ex-husband for $480,000. Our mortgage was $2,780 a month. When he and I seperated about two years later, I went on a quest to find another place. One-bedroom apartments in most of North Orange County (Anaheim, Fullerton, Santa Ana) are between $1,000-$1,300, an "affordable" alternative to beach and South OC cities that can range from $1,500-$1,900.
I ended up finding a two-bedroom detached duplex unit for $1,300 a month in the Colony area of Anaheim. This area is known today for Craftsman-style architecture of neighborhood homes. There are several beautiful parks, City Hall, the Anaheim library and shopping within a two-mile radius. However, ten years ago the area was ridden with crime - the effects of which are still present depending on what side of Anaheim Blvd. or Lincoln (two major streets) you live on. These areas are poorly maintained, offer less housing choices- mostly small apartments, and are marked with a very high saturation of Mexican immigrants (common throughout most of O.C., but Anaheim and Santa Ana are especially known for this).
It's this contrast that's common throughout most of Orange County. You're either in the ghetto or in a nice area. It's hard to find a middle ground. The so-called middle class neighborhood (such as the one where the Fullerton home was purchased) is not practically obtainable by most classified as middle class. As a college-educated working professional making decent money, it's hard for me to make ends meet on what I earn.
Many jobs that are available are offered at wages comparable to the rest of the country; the illusion that Orange County has more jobs and pays more is a lie. Sure, there are people who can make good money (and most of them work in Orange County real estate), but by and large, one cannot afford a good quality of life without making some serious sacrifices.
Traffic really as BAD as everyone says. My last job was in Irvine- an 18 mile commute from Anaheim, but required up to two HOURS in transit during rush hour. I'm now exactly 6 miles from work, 15-20 minutes via city streets, and it still wears on m[read more...]