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The Ultimate Guide to Moving to Orange County, CA


California is one of the more popular tourist and vacation destinations in the continental United States. With tourist attractions and scenic beaches, hiking, and deserts it isn’t hard to see why. Orange County has been called an ideal place for families, with highly rated schools and suburban living. It is also one of the most affluent counties in southern California, making the cost of living and housing a bit higher than other Californian counties.

In This Article:
  1. Cost of Living in Orange County
  2. Orange County Neighborhoods
  3. Orange County Job Market
  4. Things to Do in Orange County
  5. What to Know Before Moving to Orange County

1. Cost of Living in Orange County

Orange County, California is one of the more expensive places to live in the continental United States. The cost of living here is 52% higher than the national average, according to Payscale, with increased housing prices making up most of this difference. Other prices in Orange County that you can expect include:

  • Housing: $892,831
  • Rent: $2,797
  • Storage: $30 - $383
  • Utilities: $175.71
  • Doctor’s visit: $118.02
  • Dentist’s visit: $101.39
  • A gallon of milk: $2.19
  • A carton of eggs: $2.04



2. Orange County Neighborhoods

Orange County is the third biggest county in California, with a population of about 3.3 million people. Orange County is located on the southern beaches of California, and comprises mostly suburban living. Some of the most popular neighborhoods in Orange County include: 

  • Anaheim: Anaheim is one of the busier locales in OC, located just south of Los Angeles. It is home to not only Disneyland Resort, but also Angel Stadium, where the Los Angeles Angels baseball team plays. 
  • Garden Grove: Garden Grove offers suburban living, while still being in the greater Los Angeles area. Furthermore, Garden Grove has a professional academic environment, with several private schools to choose from. 
  • Huntington Beach: Huntington Beach is one of the most renowned beaches in this area, particularly with surfers. It offers the International Surfing Museum and the Huntington pier. Off the beach, you can find Huntington Central Park and Bolsa Chica Ecological reserves. 
  • Santa Ana: Santa Ana is full of kid-friendly activities, including the Santa Ana Zoo, and the Discovery Cube, which is a hands-on child museum. Santa Ana is also the governmental and financial hub of Orange County. 

Because of their proximity to the beach, major attractions, and their position within commuting distance to Los Angeles, Orange County as a whole can be pricey to live in, regardless of the neighborhood. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t affordable housing — just that where you live within OC may not have that much of an effect on housing prices. It may be valuable to find local storage for your belongings and furniture while you investigate area neighborhoods to find the ideal living situation. There are units with climate-control and other helpful features to keep your household items safe in many of the top neighborhoods across Orange County, including Huntington Beach and Garden Grove, as well as Rancho Mission Viejo, La Habra, and Santa Ana, ensuring you can keep your belongings safe wherever your Orange County home search takes you.

3. Orange County Job Market

As of November 2020, the unemployment rate in Orange County is 6.4%, which is comparable to the national average. The average worker in Orange County makes an annual salary of $89,759. This is higher than the national average but doesn’t meet the minimum annual salary to afford home prices. According to the California Labor Market, there are projected to be 212,600 new jobs created in Orange County by 2024. These were reported as the highest growing jobs in Orange County by the California Labor Market:

  • Solar Panel Installers;
  • Home Health Aides;
  • Transportation Assistants;
  • Water Vessel Pilots.

Additionally, these are some of the highest paying jobs currently in Orange County:

  • Psychiatrists;
  • Chief Executives;
  • Physicians;
  • OBGYNs;
  • Surgeons.

Because of the higher cost of living, going into a higher-paying field, rather than a faster-growing field may be the smart option for those wishing to move to O.C., despite the chance of fewer or more competitive job openings. 



4. Things to Do in Orange County

Orange County offers a mixture of indoor activities, including theaters and museums, as well as outdoor activities, including parks, piers, hiking, and surfing. As mentioned before, Orange County is a great place for families with kids, partially because there’s so much to do. Many Orange County tourist destinations, like Disneyland, offer California Resident discounts during the peak of tourist season, which is another incentive to get out and explore. 

Parks and Attractions

Orange County has a wide variety of attractions, not the least of which the famous Disneyland Park and Resort. Surfers and beachgoers can also find plenty to do here, which helps make Orange County a popular tourist destination. Here are some of the attractions in Orange County: 

Food and Dining

California is known for its Mexican cuisine, as well as its varied diet offerings, often ranking high on lists for the best cities for vegans and vegetarians. Many of these restaurants were featured on LA Eater’s top 19 hottest orange county restaurants

5. What to Know Before Moving to Orange County

People might move to southern California for the temperate weather and beach proximity, which can give it that vacation feel. Orange County specifically is a great place for families, with suburban neighborhoods, highly rated public schools, and many family-friendly parks. Before you move, here are some things to be aware of: 

  • Rent vs. Own: Because of high housing prices, it can be more common for newer residents in the OC to rent their first home instead of owning it. This will, of course, depend on your personal budget, but this can be a helpful mindset to have that can make moving to OC more attainable. 
  • Water Conservation: It’s not uncommon for Southern California to be stricken by droughts. This means that water conservation is encouraged by the city, and that you may pay more in your water bill each month. 
  • Earthquakes: Major fault zones run through Orange County, as well as the rest of California. This means that when you move, you should have an earthquake emergency kit, and think about reinforcing your furniture to avoid damage when an earthquake strikes. 
  • Tourist Season: Orange County is home to massive tourist attractions, such as Disneyland. This means that there is a bustling tourist season, that can affect things like crowds, traffic, travel expenses, and even gas prices. 
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