Fun Things to Do in the OC This Holiday Season

Orange County is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike who are interested in a variety of activities during the holiday season. The area is filled with fun and exciting things to do for people of all ages.

The Science of Gingerbread | Santa Ana | Nov. 23 – Jan. 6

One of the more popular events that runs through the holiday season until early January is the Science of Gingerbread at the Orange County Discovery Cube. It includes hands-on activities and cookie decorating for both children and adults. There are also a number of beautiful and impressive gingerbread houses on display.

A Christmas Carol | Costa Mesa | Nov. 24 – Dec. 24

Orange County is also home to a presentation of A Christmas Carol at the South Coast Repertory. This play is a Christmas classic that should be a big hit for the whole family. If you’re looking for another play, check out the Camino Real Playhouse on the weekends through the holiday season to see A Charlie Brown Christmas. The popular TV special comes to the stage on a double bill.

A Charlie Brown Christmas | San Juan Capistrano | Nov. 23 – Dec. 22

Charles Schulz’s beloved holiday television special comes to the stage on a double bill with “Archie Andrews Radio Preview before the show. Let your kids join Charlie Brown, Lucy, Snoopy, Linus  and the rest of the Peanuts gang as they save a tree and uncover the true meaning of Christmas.

Click here to learn how to sell your home this holiday season!

Snow Days with the Critters | Santa Ana | Dec. 15 – Dec. 16

This celebration features stations focusing on winter and snow. Your kids will enjoy watching animals receive icy treats, listening to festive tunes, looking at the winter decor, creating cool crafts and playing educational games and hearing delightful winter stories.

Winter Fest OC | Costa Mesa | Dec. 20 – Jan. 6

Families can also choose to go to the Winter Fest OC to take part in ice skating, tubing, playing in the snow, and cap off the night with a spectacular firework show. You can take your family to see Christmas lights and the tree lighting ceremony that takes place each night.

44th Annual Boat Parade of Lights | Dana Point | Dec. 7 – Dec. 15

Boat owners come out on the water to compete for a number of prizes and try to upstage each other with creative and entertaining Christmas decorations. The boats out on the water make for a spectacular photo opportunity and the entire evening is sure to be remembered.

Sherman Library and Gardens | Newport Beach | Dec. 14 – Dec. 22

Families looking for something more relaxing can head to the Sherman Library and Gardens for the Christmas light walk. Enjoy the colorful displays in the area, alongside some festive and creative Christmas decorations. The stroll is a peaceful way to take in some beautiful lights and makes for a good ending to a busy day.

Keep these in mind this holiday season if you are looking for some of the most popular and fun Christmas events in the Orange County area. With everything that is going on, there is something for anyone and everyone to enjoy.

Are you looking to buy or sell a home in the Orange County area this holiday season? Click here to contact Stacy and Nicole today!

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5 Things to Know Before Investing in Real Estate

Real estate has become a popular investment vehicle because it usually does well, no matter how bad the economy is. At the very least, it often does better than stocks in the time of an economic downturn.

Investing is a popular way for entrepreneurs to start saving and building security for their future, since housing is always in demand. Real estate can also be a good way to offset the effects of inflation and taxes.

Real estate also usually keeps appreciating upward even if there are occasional economic slowdowns. Many think it’s the best way to create wealth since people who have become successful in the industry do not necessarily have to be exceedingly rich.

Here are a few things to know about investing in real estate before you get started.

1. Set financial goals and plans

Try and figure out what you want from your real estate investments and how that comes in line with any financial goals. Smart real estate investors make savvy purchases that get them closer to their monetary goals with every purchase. You can also spend time with a financial adviser if you need some guidance.

2. Spend time learning the basics of the industry and how to invest

Don’t spend all your time reading and actually ignore taking action. To prevent against this, write out certain questions you want to be answered and take deliberate approaches to books you read so you can keep moving forward while still getting educated.

3. Look at a lot of properties before actually investing in one

A lot of real estate investors will buy the first property that they come across and not take any time to really survey the market to find good deals. You need to view investing through the lens of economic motivations since you are not going to be personally living in an investment property yourself. Start with a wide scope and narrow down.

4. At the same time, don’t hesitate to make a deal if one comes across

Too many people try and find the perfect property before making their first investment purchase. You will never buy anything if you hold dear to this strategy. The perfect deal is not going to come across, so make a purchase if you see a good property deal to get buying experience under your belt.

Click here to learn 6 ways to sell your home fast during the holidays!

5. Run the numbers on the property before making the purchase

It would best to first see if you can get a better deal somewhere else, and be especially wary if your numbers are not adding up with what a seller might be telling you. A lot of sellers might try to overestimate a property’s value or embellish in other ways. Looking over tax returns and bills will give you a good idea about the month-to-month costs of a property.

Overall, keep in mind that real estate investing is about supporting your other ventures. Some choose to make real estate investing a full-time deal, but those who are not careful can see their financial prospects suffer if a few deals start to go bad. If you’re looking to invest, be sure to have a healthy perspective on transactions so you make smart decisions that will set you up well for the future.

Do you have a question about investing in real estate and finding the best investment property? Click here to contact Stacy and Nicole today!


Photo Credit: Shutterstock/Ahmet Misirligul

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3 Ways to Build Home Equity Faster

Buying a home is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. A good home is an investment and a great place to raise a family. It’s also a relaxing and safe place to spend time in at the end of the day. As a result, it’s vitally important to do everything you can to increase the value of your property.

The best way to utilize your time in your home is to increase home equity. Home equity is essentially the current value of your house with any amount owed on it subtracted. Obviously, you want this to be as big as possible.

There’s a number of ways and strategies to build home equity faster. These usually revolve around increasing the value of a house and paying off a mortgage quicker.

One of the easiest ways to build home equity faster is to just pay off your mortgage sooner. Each month you’re paying the mortgage, you’re just paying more interest to the lender. Getting off mortgage payments means money is now going towards your net worth.

Some ways to pay off a mortgage faster include rounding up. Pay a little extra each month so this money will go straight to principal and boost your equity. Send any gifts and work bonuses into your mortgage and budget for extra payments to pay things off quicker. Otherwise, opt for a shorter mortgage length to pay things off quicker and boost home equity.

Another way to build home equity is to just buy a cheaper house. It’s going to take longer to build equity on a pricey home. Cheaper houses will come with smaller mortgages that can be paid off quicker, and you might even be able to place a bigger down payment on a cheaper house as well. When buying a home, consider these factors during the buying process to help you build equity faster.

Click here to learn how long you should wait to buy a second home!

A third way to build home equity faster to simply make a larger down payment. Putting down more money will help you immensely down the road and get you more home equity. Most people put down about 20% of a home’s value, but you can look at your finances and see if it’s possible to do more. Remember, every dollar counts when it comes to building equity.

Keep these three strategies in mind if you’re trying to build equity in your house. It might seem hard to put down more money now, but it will pay off in a big way down the road, especially when it comes to your financial health. Home equity can also be built through a variety of improvement projects that are targeted towards improving value, while also keeping everything in good condition.

Even if you feel like it might be too late to start building equity, rest assured that it’s not. In fact, starting later is always better than not starting at all. Sit down to figure out what’s financially feasible and keep the above three tips in mind while doing so.

Do you have a question about building home equity? Click here to contact Stacy and Nicole today!


Photo Credit: Shuttershock/Kotchapan Phuhuailam

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How Long Should You Wait to Buy Another Home?

Homes are always a good thing to have, no matter if you have a family of your own or are single. But it can be very tempting to go out and purchase another one for a number of reasons.

Maybe you are looking to move to a new area, or would just like some more space for a growing family. Overall, there is no set timeline about how long you should stay in one spot before moving to another. It will all depend on your individual circumstances.

Still, it is important to mull over a number of aspects before making the switch to a new home.

What Should I Be Thinking About Before Moving?

The biggest aspect on your mind should be finances. It is important to consider how much you could sell your current house for, and how much money you could set aside to purchase another one, or at least be able to pay a mortgage.

It can be tempting to ‘live above your means’ and buy a home that stretches your finances, but bigger houses will come with additional expenses relating to heating, cooling, and general upkeep than smaller ones will.

Some people will have the financial resources to quickly buy another house, while others will be on a much longer timeline if they are trying to work out finances.

The amount of time before buying another home will also be heavily influenced by the market in your area. If you are looking to buy in a seller’s market, you might want to wait a little bit until things change so you could get a better deal. You will have to think about how important these types of factors are and if they are going to influence when you will buy another home.

Click here to learn tips for preparing your home before moving in!

This is where a good real estate agent comes in, since they will have access to a wealth of experience and market data to give counsel about the optimal times to sell and buy.

Another important aspect when trying to decide when to buy another house is based upon the actual moving process. It can be very expensive to move a family far away, especially since you will have to find new jobs and schools for the kids. There is no set timeline on these types of decisions, as they all hinge on the individual circumstances related to you (or your family).

What Are Some Things to Watch Out For?

Even if you are looking to sell quickly and move somewhere else, there are a number of situations where you should probably wait to sell. For example, if you just moved to your current house, having to move again will probably stretch your budget. It would then be best to wait a little bit to save up some money for a move.

Additionally, do not be prompted to sell due to unfamiliarity with the area, especially if you just moved in. These types of feelings are usually temporary, and will go away once you get used to the surrounding area.

A situation where you are taking a loss or ‘breaking even’ on the sale of your current home is another factor that should encourage you to buy at a later date. These types of scenarios often make it harder to get financing on your next home, which can drastically affect your next buying experience.

Are you thinking of buying or selling a home in the Orange County area? Click here to contact the Stacy and Nicole team today!


Photo Credit: Shutterstock/Shutter_M

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Best Elementary Schools in Orange County

When it comes to education, every parent wants the best learning institution for their children. Picking an elementary school can be very challenging, especially to parents who are taking their child to school for the first time. The best elementary schools in Orange County help students grow by taking the obstacles and turning them into opportunities. Students are also given opportunities to flex and innovate their creativity.

Orange County’s top elementary schools view obstacles as opportunities, as reasons to innovate and flex their creativity. This was after a detailed assessment of 371 elementary schools. The schools were graded and assessed on many determinants important in the education sector: diversity, academics and fitness. Six elementary schools got gold medals, six got silver and 10 elementary schools received bronze in the yearly report.

This year the Irvine’s Stonegate Elementary School took 1st place. An impressive improvement from being 14th place last year. This comes one year after the school received a federal recognition and got the Blue Ribbon Award. According to the staff, the school is always exploring new teaching methods, which include adapting to new technologies and holding yoga sessions. The campus leaders were also to the challenge this year, more readily, something that is widespread among the top 10 elementary schools.

The best Orange County elementary schools embrace the idea that top schools should not be afraid of innovation when it comes to improving their teaching methods. The schools also carry most of their projects by encouraging parents’ involvements.

In the hall of fame, the following elementary schools made their first entry:
Stonegate Elementary took 1st place. The school embraces and implements the latest tech and old school discipline. IPads and yoga coexisting in the school system in harmony are used to inspire students and enhance their focus.

Rossmoor Elementary was placed 6th. The school cultivates the parent-teacher partnerships in a very unique way. Efforts are leveraged so that students can be provided with weekly inspirational gatherings while teachers have more time to enhance a deeper collaboration with their students.

Below are the returning winners in the hall of fame:
Ethan B. Allen Elementary School was placed 2nd. The school was 1st place in 2012. The system used by the school encourages students to show their reasoning behind the presented work assigned. Additional science and cultural education are also provided. Parents are allowed to navigate in the school education system.

Jack L. Weaver Elementary School took 3rd place. The school had been an empty campus that was slated for sale. It was purchased by Weaver and reopened into a magnet style elementary school. Since then its performance has rocketed the education charts. The school is a six time winner on the list.

Stone Creek Elementary School came in at 4th place. The school leaders played an important role in the excellent performance of the school by reexamining the academic performance of the English learners. This was done through a targeting education program to be more effective, hence an improved performance.

Do you have a question about home buying? Click here to contact Stacy and Nicole today!


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6 Repair Requests Home Buyers Should Never Make in Orange County

Purchasing a home is not as easy as it may seem, especially when emotions and money get involved. The situation can get dicey. This is why during the house inspection or even its walk through, it is important to request repairs in each place of the house that may have issues.

Keep a close eye on the safety concerns of the house or the areas that can cost you money to maintain or fix when you finally own the home. It is more strategic to choose the repairs you need in the house when you are bidding for a property in the competitive market that has many offers. In the long run, if someone requests for a lot of repairs, it can potentially increase the likelihood of the home selling, especially if the home has less high-maintenance offers.

When you have expectations while requesting for additional house repairs, present the repair requests in an ideal manner and be ready to negotiate the prioritized requests to keep the buyer on a right side. This guide will provide you with some of the requests you should not make at any point.

1. What you know you’ll renovate anyway

Property repair always lengthens the buying process, and the seller is looking forward to a quick and easy sale. Negotiate some of the house renovations that you can do by yourself and ask the seller to give you credit for the damages and repairs.

2. Purely cosmetic issues

From adding a fresh coat of paint on the fence to repairing a cracked tile, it is very tempting to ask the seller to make cosmetic repairs. But wait, you should only do this at your own risk. Real estate experts’ advise that the buyer should overlook the cosmetic repairs of the house and even weigh the amount the seller will require for the replacement.
Choosing to repair the home by yourself after buying will also give you the platform to do it in accordance with your preference and the pick of your desired contractor.

3. The $10 repair list

Giving the seller a big list of minor repairs in the house may lead the seller and agent to give in to a better offer that might be needed down the road with the less demanding timeframe and lesser repair requests.

4. Minor electrical issues

Coming across a dysfunctional electric switch during your home inspection may lead you to keep that in the fix list request. But if these are just minor issues that cannot lead to bigger problems, you can skip that and repair that on your own after you close the deal with the seller.

5. Water damage

Water damage is a severe issue to deal with during a home purchasing process especially if there are signs like water spots on the ceiling. Instead of letting the seller repair it and having to pay extra for the repair, you can choose to rely on the expertise of a home inspector.

Do you have a question about repair requests? Click here to contact Stacy and Nicole today!



Courtesy of Cuselleration

Photo Credit: Shutterstock/ronstik

Pros and Cons of Open Floor Plan Homes in Orange County

Many home developers have embraced the open floor plan design when building homes. The design has gained popularity among homeowners and reports from the NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) say that close to 84% of single family homes being built have utilized this design.

Check out the pros and cons of an open floor plan home to determine whether or not it’s the best design you would like for your current or future home.

Pros of Open Floor Plans

Below are the reasons why open floor plans have become very popular.

Maximizes square footage.

It makes the house feel and look bigger since the square footage of the house is not cut into smaller cramped quarters.  Hence, there is no unused space in the house.

Improved natural light. 

More lights flows into the house when there are no walls. Light coming into the house through the windows illuminates throughout the entire house. This eliminates any dark interiors present in the room and there will be no need for artificial lights during the day.

Enhances Social Cohesiveness.

With an open floor plan, there is more social interaction in the house. One can easily interact with someone who is in another part of the house. This is a very efficient way of entertaining guests.

Plenty of Flexibility.

 Depending on the home owner’s needs, open floor plans give the flexibility to be extra creative in decorating the home and coming up with different furniture arrangements. Space can be redefined into different styles without undergoing major interior architectural changes.

Cons of open floor plans.

It’s good to look at the other side of the coin when it comes to open floor plans. Below are the challenges of dealing with an open floor design in your home.

Dealing with the heat and the smell when cooking.

You will need to have a heavy duty ventilation system or else your guests will be dealing with a lot of heat, smoke and smell while you are cooking.

Less formal living. 

If you are that type of chef who likes cooking with no interruption or your hosting style is a little more formal if you usually hire professional cooking services for parties, you might have to forgo an open floor plan. Open floor plan comes with unrestricted social interaction.

Minimal or no privacy.

 Just like teenagers, some of us will want to have private moments. This cannot be achieved with an open floor plan. This makes it hard if you have a family with kids who are teenagers. You can’t read a book privately without interruption unless you are living alone.

It’s noisier. 

You can’t escape dealing with noise being made by kids, the TV, the dishwasher, or music. Since there are no walls to absorb the sounds, you better be ready to buy some ear plugs.

Inability to hide the mess.

 In case a guest drops by, there is no way you can hide a messy living room. Unlike the traditional design where there are walls and doors, the open floor plan will allow the visitors to view everything – even your clutter.

Do you have a question about open floor plans? Click here to contact Stacy and Nicole today!


Courtesy of Cuselleration

Photo Credit: Shutterstock/Breadmaker

5 Steps to Break Free of Mortgage Trouble for Good in Northern Orange County

The short sale process could seem intimidating, but getting a handle on the steps can make it a lot less scary. A short sale is where homeowners sell their home for less than they owe on their mortgage. This is often the last resort for people who cannot pay their mortgage and are facing foreclosure.

How does a short sale work? Read the steps involved below

1. First consider a loan modification

Before you assume that you need to have a short sale, speak to your lender or housing counselor about your current situation. You might be able to get a loan modification and avoid having to sell your property.
The federal Home Affordable Modification Program is a project run by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and might be a good option. If you are eligible for HAMP, your mortgage company will most likely put you on a trial plan for three months. This will give you time to show that you can make timely payments at a new monthly payment level. If you make it through the three-month trial, you might have a new mortgage payment and avoid moving ahead with a short sale.

If you can’t make it through the trial, the next step would be to move forward with a short sale.

2. Speak to your lender about a short sale

Since a short sale means you are trying to sell your home for less than you owe on your mortgage, your mortgage lender will need to sign off on it. But initially, the lender is going to need proof that the short sale is necessary.
The sellers need to submit a short sale packet. This includes hardship papers that show the bank the seller is currently undergoing financial hardship.
That paperwork might include account information and bank statements, copies of bills, pay stubs, asset disclosures and more.

3. Call a real estate agent

You will need a real estate agent to sell your home. Since short sales are complicated, you will want an agent with experience in the short sale process to handle the deal.

The agent will then assess your financial situation as well as the property’s estimated value to estimate a listing price. Click here to get in touch with Stacy and Nicole to schedule an in-home consultation!

4. Listing your home

This is one step in the short sale process that is like any other home sale. The property in question is listed by your real estate agent, who will search for a buyer and get your home under contract.

When you get an offer from a buyer, it must be submitted to your lender for review. Further negotiations might be required between the buyer’s agent, your agent and the lender until a settlement is reached.

If your lender has approved your short sale under the United States Treasury’s Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives program, it will be done in about four months. If you did not qualify for HAFA, the process could take longer.

5. Closing the deal

If your mortgage lender approves your buyer, you will move out and the buyer will move in. The money used to purchase the home will go to your lender and your mortgage debt will be forgiven.You will also walk away with three thousand dollars in moving expenses if you qualified for HAFA. If you did not qualify, you simply walk away without the mortgage debt on your shoulders.
Do you need a real estate professional to sell your home? Contact us here!


Courtesy of Cuselleration

Photo Credit: Shutterstock/ESB Professiona

5 Instagram-Worthy Food Halls in Orange County

Your friend wants carne asada tacos, but you want a steaming bowl of pho. What do you do? Go to a food hall, of course! Food halls are modern food courts offering a wide variety of food vendors and they are the hot, new trend in Orange County! Take a look at the following guide for five of the best food halls in Orange County. Your stomach and Instagram followers will thank us later!

TRADE

2222 Michelson Dr.

Irvine, CA 92612

One of the newest food halls in Orange County, TRADE has taken over Irvine by storm. Located near John Wayne Airport, TRADE is Irvine’s first food hall and home to tasty vendors like Dos Chinos, Slapfish, Afters Ice Cream, Two Birds, Butterleaf, and GD Bro Burger. TRADE has eight restaurants and one bar serving simple, classic cocktails, boutique wines, and 10 taps of craft beer. The open-air concept gives the food hall a fresh vibe, while the delicious food keeps visitors coming back for more.

Must try:

  • Avocado Bombs at Butterleaf: diced avocados rolled in crushed corn chips, deep fried and topped with kimchi tiger sauce
  • Maple Bacon Jam Burger at Pig Pen Delicacy: a beef patty topped with swiss cheese, maple bacon jam, chive aioli, crispy onion strings, and a pan fried egg
  • Calamari Bowl at Portside: fresh calamari topped with a bright array of peppers and onions

Anaheim Packing House

440 S. Anaheim Blvd

Anaheim, CA 92805

Built in 1919 along the Southern Pacific rail line in downtown Anaheim, the Anaheim Packing House is a historic landmark where local farmers would pack their freshly picked citrus to be sold around the country. The restored Packing House is now home to modern cuisine, live entertainment, and so much more. This two-story food hall features a huge central atrium with communal dining surrounded by a variety of vendors as well as outdoor picnic gardens and a huge porch overlooking Farmers’ Park. The Anaheim Packing House contains 25 delicious vendors and a secret bar that you’ve got to check out.

Must try:

  • Orange Mocha Chip Ice Cream at Hans Homemade Ice Cream: This unique blend of ice cream is one of their signature creations and just one of their 50 distinct flavors.
  • Short Rib Poutine at The Kroft: french fries and braised short rib topped with short rib gravy, mushrooms, pickled red onions, cheese curds, and parsley
  • Jardiniere Savory Crepe at Pandor Bakery: a crepe stuffed with roasted eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, goat cheese, pesto, portobello mushrooms, tomatoes, and onions

4th Street Market

201 E 4th St.

Santa Ana, CA 92701

With 15 different vendors like Falasophy, Chunk N Chip, and Jinny’s Pizzeria, 4th Street Market is the ideal place for foodies. Located in downtown Santa Ana, 4th Street Market offers innovative food, open kitchens, and a fun community space. 4th Street Market also offers movie and trivia nights and tennis table tournaments. So grab your friends and enjoy a fun night with mouthwatering food.

Must try:

  • Stoner Papas at Dos Chinos: shoestring french fries piled with carne asada, bolsa roast pork belly, chorizo fried rice, a sunny side up fried egg, salsa verde, onions, and cilantro
  • Alchemistic Blend at Portola Coffee Lab: a blend of the Nicaraguan and Helsar de Zacero blends roasted a smidge darker with distinct notes of baker’s chocolate, dried fruit, toasted almonds and spice.
  • Hawaiian Punch Pop at Front Porch Pops: a seasonal blend of mango, strawberry, and orange on a stick

The Camp

2937 Bristol St.

Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Located across the street from The Lab in Costa Mesa, The Camp is the ideal spot for health and wellness with a hipster vibe. With unique spots like Milk and Honey, Umami Burger, and Black Market Bakery, The Camp provides visitors with a culinary experience. The Camp also offers more than just yummy food as locals enjoy purposeful shopping at various stores and monthly “Last Tuesday’s” Sobeca ARTwalk, film screenings, and special events.

Must try:

  • Wine Flight at Wine Lab: three organic red or white wine samples picked specifically for you and poured into picturesque test tubes. Hint: Go during happy hour for $2 off select wine and beer.
  • Bacon PB and J Tacos at Taco Asylum: roasted peanut butter, carrot-ginger jam, fresh greens, sweet and spicy bacon, and pickled fresno chili served on a 5” flour tortilla made from scratch
  • Sesame Kale Macro Bowl at Native Foods Café: seared tempeh atop creamy tahini sauce, tangy sauerkraut, steamed kale and organic brown rice served with toasted sesame seeds, green onions and crunchy cucumber salad

Lot 579

21010 Pacific Coast Hwy

Huntington Beach, CA 92648

Located in Huntington Beach’s fun, new entertainment complex, Pacific City, Lot 579 is named after the three lifeguard towers on the beach directly across the street from the complex. With a variety of vendors, Lot 579 serves everything from Australian meat pies to fresh seafood and more. Pick up a delightful snack after a day at the beach or grab lunch to go as you shop at the nearby stores. Lot 579 has it all!

Must try:

  • Spaghetti Grilled Cheese Sandwich at Burnt Crumbs: pressed spaghetti, fresh mozzarella, and meat sauce in between slices of sourdough bread with a marinara dipping sauce
  • Grilled Seafood Sandwich at Bear Flag Fish Co.: your choice of fish served with lettuce, tomato, onion & Tommy sauce on a C’est Si Bon baguette
  • California at The Dudes’ Brewing Company: This local IPA is just one of 24 different brews on tap at their new tasting room.

With all the delicious food halls in Orange County, what’s not to love? Orange County is the ideal place to live! Contact Stacy and Nicole to make Orange County your home today!


Photo Credit: Shutterstock,Anna Azimi

5 Secrets About Living in Orange County You Have to Hear

From the magic of Disneyland to the chill vibes of Huntington Beach, Orange County is home to a lot of popular tourist destinations. But what people who are new to the area wouldn’t know is that Orange County is also full of a lot of other hidden gems. Check out these five secrets about living in Orange County that only locals would know!

1. It’s not always how it looks on tv

Orange County is known as the infamous backdrop to popular shows like Laguna Beach, The Hills, and The O.C. These shows often depict beautiful stars having the time of their lives as they cruise along the traffic-free coast in their Mercedes or frolic down the empty beaches in Newport. While these portrayals may have some truth behind them, others are pure exaggerations for the sake of entertainment. In reality, some of these shows weren’t even filmed in Orange County. So no, locals don’t actually call Orange County “The O.C.” and not everyone drives a Mercedes, but there are so many reasons why the reality of Orange County is even better than how it appears on television. Good food? Check. Awesome people? You bet. Fun adventures? Of course. Orange County really does have it all and television shows just don’t do this extraordinary place justice.

2. Traffic is no joke

…but there are ways to get around it! If you’ve ever been to Orange County, you’ve probably heard people referring to the 5, the 22, the 55, and the 405. These seemingly random numbers are actually names of freeways and talking about the best way to navigate the roads is like another language to Orange County residents. Orange County natives have mastered the art of the sometimes hectic freeways and you can too by following these tips. First, avoid rush hour. Although it varies depending on the freeway and your direction of travel, the weekday morning commute is generally from 7:30am to 9am, while the after-work commute typically lasts from 4pm to 6:30pm. Fridays, however, are a whole different story with the after-work commute starting as early as 1pm. If you’re traveling on the weekend, it’s best to start early or after dinner to avoid the potential traffic from people heading off to their next adventure. Another helpful tip is to download Google Maps or Waze. Unlike some other GPS systems, these apps offer alternative routes and route changes to help you get to your destination as quickly as possible. Since Orange County has so many exciting things to do and something for everyone in each city, the freeways can get a bit crazy, but the priceless memories you’ll make from your day trip to the beach or the many laughs you’ll have during your amusement park adventure will make the commute more than worth it!

3. The best day to go to the beach is Wednesday

…or any weekday really. It’s no secret that Orange County is home to some of the best beaches along the West Coast. There’s the infamous Newport Beach, tourist favorite Laguna Beach, and the holy grail of surfing, Huntington Beach, just to name a few! But with the wildly popular beaches comes the huge crowds and parking nightmare. So when’s the best time to go to your favorite beach without all the hassle? Well, from our experience living in Orange County, we found that the middle of the week is the best time to escape the crowds that tend to populate every Saturday and Sunday. If you are going on a weekend, however, try to beat the rush and head to the beach in the early morning. Nothing sounds better than a peaceful morning relaxing on the beach followed by a delicious brunch along the water. Another beach tip is to avoid the peak of summer if possible. Autumn is an ideal time to visit the beach and it’s Southern California so the weather is always perfect regardless of the time of year!

4. Orange County is home to a lot of foodies

From the octopus ceviche at Javier’s in Newport Beach to the soup dumplings at Din Tai Fung in Costa Mesa, Orange County hosts a wide variety of cuisine. Every city has their specialties, so almost every type of food is accessible as long as you know where to go. Want to find the best food without taking all the time and effort to do the research? Check out some of our past blogs to find the best dessert spots , top brunch destinations, and more!

5. Orange County really is the best place to live!

Orange County has more than just gorgeous beaches and yummy grub. The fantastic sights, relaxing vibes, and plethora of things to do are giving locals so much to love about their hometowns. Comprised of 34 cities with over three million residents, Orange County is much more diverse than television may lead people to believe. Looking for a quiet place where you can walk around the farmer’s’ market or browse antique stores? Old towne Orange is the perfect place for you. Maybe you want something with a bit more nightlife? Check out Fullerton and everything the city has to offer. In Orange County, there truly is something for everyone!

Interested in moving to Orange County? Let us know and we’d be more than happy to help!


Shutterstock: Photo Credit/Engel Ching