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What’s Living in Irvine Like? | 🤷 Is Moving to Irvine CA a Good Idea?

Thinking about moving to Irvine, CA? This Orange County gem has so much to offer! Irvine has been named the second-best city to raise a family (after Overland Park, Kansas) thanks to its high marks on health, socioeconomics, and education. For 24 years, Irvine has also been ranked as the best city in Orange County to live in. What makes Irvine such a great place to live? Irvine is known for its very low crime rate, an excellent school system, and a bounty of recreational amenities like parks, sports fields, lakes, and an exciting nightlife.

Known as the Center of Orange County, Irvine is located in the heart of the OC next to Lake Forest, Laguna Hills, Santa Ana, Costa Mesa, and Newport Beach. Irvine is known for its diverse culture and creativity with entertainment venues, theaters, museums, and more to explore. Irvine is a safe place to live close to amenities and world-class attractions.

Irvine was one of the first master-planned cities in America and it was developed by the Irvine Company beginning in the 1960s. Irvine was incorporated in 1971 and grew from a sleepy 10,000 to almost 290,000 just 50 years later. The city was named for James Irvine who, along with partners, bought the land from the owner of Rancho San Joaquin in 1864. After acquiring the land interests from his partners in 1878, James Irvine had 110,000 acres of land from the Santa Ana River to the Pacific Ocean which his son, James Irvine II, inherited and incorporated into the Irvine Company.

Early Irvine development in the 1970s.

In 1959, the Irvine Company sold 1,000 acres of land to the University of California to build a new campus and drew up plans for a community of 50,000 to surround the university. By 1970, the first phases – including University Park, Turtle Rock, and Westpark – were complete.

Irvine Demographics & Population

The population of Irvine, CA is 290,000 and it’s one of the three major cities in Orange County along with Anaheim and Santa Ana. The population of Orange County is 3.17 million and it’s part of the large Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim metropolitan area. Greater Los Angeles or the Southland has a population of 18.7 million people.

In 2016, Irvine became the first continental American city (after Honolulu) to reach an Asian American plurality with more Asians in the city than non-Hispanic Whites, the second-largest racial and ethnic group. The new census estimates showed more than 45% of people in Irvine were Asian, up from 8% in 1980, 18% in 1990, and 30% in 2000. Chinese residents account for the largest Asian population in Irvine and account for 17% of the city’s population. Much of this influx is attributed to mainland China athletes, entrepreneurs, and investment bankers choosing to invest in real estate in Southern California.

The estimates found the share of White residents dropped from 56% to 44%. The Hispanic population was estimated at 7%. At the 2010 census, Black and African American residents accounted for just under 2% of the population of Irvine.

The average age of Irvine is 34 years old with 92 adult males for every 100 females.

There have been many famous people living in Irvine including actor Will Ferrell and Zack de la Rocha of Rage Against the Machine.

Irvine Climate – What Is the Weather Like in Irvine?

The climate in Irvine is dry-summer subtropical or Mediterranean. While living in Irvine, you’ll experience short, warm, and dry summers with long, cool winters that tend to be cloudy. It’s rarely above 90°F or below 40°F. On average, Irvine gets 280 sunny days per year!

During the late spring and early summer, you’ll experience June Gloom, a phenomenon that brings overcast mornings and occasional drizzle. By late summer, the weather will be warm and usually dry, but sometimes humidity and light rain comes from hurricanes in the Pacific. Winters are typically mild, but they can be dry and hot when Santa Ana winds blow over Orange County. Irvine gets most precipitation in the winter.

Irvine gets 13” of rain per year on average, far below the U.S. average of 38”. The average summer temperature ranges from 60°F to 88°F. The average temperature in winter in Irvine is 45°F to 67°F.

The best time to visit Irvine is June and July or October when Irvine weather is typically ideal. However, you’ll enjoy great weather most of the time between March and November to avoid the chilly, wet winter months.

How to Get Around Irvine, CA

It’s easy to get around Irvine and even live an almost car-free life. Irvine ranked among the top 20 cities to live in without a car thanks to its bicycle-friendly attitude with well-connected and maintained bicycle lanes.

There are also multiple forms of public transportation in Irvine including buses operated by the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) and iShuttle. Irvine is connected to San Diego, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles by a commuter rail system operated by Metrolink and Amtrak at the Irvine and Tustin stations. Both stations are also hubs for local, rail-feeder, and local bus service.

Getting around Irvine by car? Several highways pass through the city including I-405 which connects to coastal cities like Long Beach, Santa Monica, and Huntington Beach as well as Los Angeles and Northern California; I-5 which runs through San Diego, Santa Ana, Los Angeles, and Sacramento; and California State Routes 73, 133, 241, and 261.

 

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Irvine is served by the John Wayne Airport, Orange County (SNA) in Santa Ana just 4 miles outside Irvine adjacent to the Irvine Business Complex. There are several other airports nearby that may offer more affordable flights and/or better connections:

  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
  • LA/Ontario International Airport (ONT)
  • Long Beach Airport (LGB)

Irvine Real Estate – Home Prices & Rent in Irvine, CA

Which is better: renting vs buying a home after moving to Irvine, CA? Irvine has a 46% homeownership rate, far below the national average of 64%. This is largely due to the high home prices in Irvine.

The median home price in Irvine is $922,000 with a median 48 days on market and four offers. 24% of homes sell above list price with Irvine real estate in high demand. You can see Irvine, CA homes for sale here to get an idea of what your dollar buys you in the city.

About 32% of housing units in Irvine are high rise apartments or large condos. Single-family detached homes and row houses are common in many areas, but the cost is prohibitive to many people living in Irvine. Depending on the neighborhood, Irvine condos are an affordable option for buyers with one-bedroom condos as low as $300,000 in some neighborhoods and two-bedroom condos priced as low as the $500s and $600s.

The average rent in Irvine is $2,435 or $1,974 per month for a one-bedroom apartment according to RentJungle. You can enjoy a great quality of life while renting in Irvine with luxury apartments boasting great amenities that are walking distance from the business district. A great example is Skyloft Apartments with studio apartments starting at $2,250. The building features a rooftop lagoon with a lounge and LUXE Bar plus designer retreats for residents.

 

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The Irvine rental market is best compared to Newport Beach and other towns on the shore. You’ll find rent in Irvine is several hundred dollars per month cheaper but places you closer to major employers in the area.

Irvine Neighborhood Guide – Best Places to Live in Irvine

One of the great things about moving to Irvine, CA is Irvine doesn’t really have any bad neighborhoods! As you narrow down your options, you’ll probably want to pay the most attention to home prices, distance from amenities like parks, the commute to work or college, and schools. Here are some of the best neighborhoods in Irvine you can consider.

Northwood – Only Irvine Neighborhood without a Homeowner’s Association

Hoping to avoid a homeowner’s association? You may be interested in Northwood in north Irvine, the only community in the city developed outside of the Irvine Company. Just don’t confuse it with the adjacent Northwood Pointe which was developed by the Irvine Company.

Northwood is known for its eucalyptus-lined streets, Santa Ana Mountain views, and large share of single-family homes on larger lots.

Woodbridge – Best Neighborhood in Irvine for Amenities

Want to enjoy Irvine living at its best? Woodbridge is one of the most desirable Irvine neighborhoods with lake and beach club access, pools, and more. Woodbridge has two residential areas with a lake at the center of each plus a large retail and commercial development.

Walled off from the surrounding city by a 20-foot hedge and managed by the Woodbridge Village Association, residents enjoy lakefront living, two beach lagoons, 22 pools (including adult-only pools), a fitness center, a splash pad, game fields, and multiple parks. There are even two swim clubs!

The median home price in Woodbridge is $806,000 – lower than average for Irvine with more affordable housing options.

Oak Creek – Most Affordable Neighborhood in Irvine

Irvine real estate is expensive, but Oak Creek is one of the more affordable places to live in Irvine with a median home price of $605,000. This secluded village is close to beaches, entertainment, parks, and outdoor recreation, including the Oak Creek Golf Club. It’s a popular choice for people who work at Hoag Hospital or the Kaiser Permanente Irvine Medical Center.

Laguna Altura – Luxury New Home Development in Irvine

Have your heart set on a new home? Laguna Altura is one of Irvine’s newest and most prestigious neighborhoods. The community features 156 two-story single-family homes in a gated community just off I-405. Enjoy canyon views with home prices ranging from $1 to $2 million.

Irvine Cost of Living – Is Irvine, CA Expensive?

How much does it cost to live in Irvine? About 50% more than average for the United States. The Irvine cost of living index is 147.8. While healthcare is fairly affordable and utilities in Irvine are cheaper than average for the U.S., groceries are about 16% above the national average.

Housing is the number one factor contributing to the high cost of living in Irvine, California thanks to a housing index of 242.1. The average Irvine home price of $922,000 is more than 3x the national average! It doesn’t buy you as much as you may hope for, either.

There’s another hidden cost of living to consider ahead of moving to Irvine. The city is a master-planned community. This means HOAs (and monthly HOA fees) are a defining characteristic of living in Irvine, CA. In most neighborhoods, you will be part of an HOA and pay monthly HOA dues.

These monthly fees pay for amenities like pools, beaches, and clubhouses like you see above. HOA fees vary by neighborhood and range from $200 to $500 in most areas – but can be up to $1,000 per month! You can click here for a map of Irvine HOAs.

Irvine Typical Living Expenses

  • Mid-range, 3-course meal for two: $75
  • 1 gallon regular milk: $3.67
  • Loaf of bread: $3.46
  • 1-pound chicken breast: $4.67
  • 1-pound ribeye steak: $10.88
  • Large pizza: $10.99
  • Movie ticket: $14.27
  • Monthly fitness club membership: $33.75
  • The average monthly utility bill is $155.16

Irvine, CA Taxes

  • The California income tax rate ranges from 1% to 12.3%. This is the highest income tax in the U.S.
  • The combined Irvine sales tax rate is 7.75%.
  • The Irvine property tax rate is 1.061%. Proposition 13 means California has one of the country’s lowest property tax rates.

Note that many areas of Irvine are subject to a Mello-Roos tax, or a special assessment or tax to finance public improvements in the area. They are added to your annual property tax bill and range from $30 to more than $300 per month. A Mello-Roos assessment may last only 10 years but some last decades.

Want to avoid Mello-Roos taxes in Irvine? Some communities do not have them like most of Woodbridge, Northwood, Turtle Rock, and University Park. Look for communities built before 1988: almost all areas built afterward have had Mello-Roos assessments.

Irvine Economy

Irvine has one of the strongest and fastest growing economies in Orange County. The Irvine Spectrum Center, a top shopping and entertainment destination in eastern Irvine, along with the Irvine Business Complex to the west, are the city’s two commercial districts with major employers. The Irvine Business District alone employs 110,000 people in 4,500 companies!

The Irvine economy isn’t just robust; it’s also diverse. Irvine is a popular filming location and its shopping and entertainment draw in visitors. Financial services, technology, and healthcare, and manufacturing help form the backbone of the region’s economy.

Jobs in Irvine – Best Places to Work in Irvine & Average Salary

Orange County boasts one of the nation’s fastest growing job markets, in part thanks to Irvine’s rapid growth and large number of entrepreneurs. The average salary in Irvine, CA is $81,000 with an average hourly rate of $21.75 according to Payscale. The median household income is $101,667, far above the U.S. median of $68,703.

Here is the average salary in common occupations:

  • Software engineer: $88k
  • Senior software engineer: $124k
  • Mechanical engineer: $75k
  • Registered nurse: $42/hour
  • Paralegal: $22/hour

Top employers in Irvine by number of employees include:

  • University of California, Irvine
  • Irvine Unified School District
  • Edwards Lifesciences, a medical technology developer
  • Blizzard Entertainment, a video game developer
  • Broadcom, a semiconductor company in the communications industry
  • Glidewell Laboratories, a manufacturer of dental products
  • Parker Hannifin, a manufacturer of motion and control technology
  • Nationstar, a mortgage loan servicer

Based on employee feedback on Glassdoor, the best places to work in Irvine include UC Irvine, UCLA, University of Southern California, Walt Disney Company, SpaceX, and Kaiser Permanente.

Irvine Healthcare & Top Hospitals

Irvine is home to UC Irvine Medical Center, the only hospital in Orange County consistently ranked among the best hospitals in America. As one of America’s Best Hospitals for the 18th year in a row, UC Irvine Medical Center is nationally ranked in four adult specialties. It ranks #6 in Greater Los Angeles and #11 in California.

The UCI Health faculty includes 90 Best Doctors in America. The teaching hospital’s Department of Gynecology earns extra attention for its specialties in care for high-risk pregnancies and gynecologic cancer.

 

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Best Restaurants in Irvine, California

From upscale cocktail lounges, Japanese restaurants, and ramen bars to American comfort food, steakhouses, and hearty Mexican restaurants, Irvine is a great place to live for foodies. Here are just a few of the top places to eat in Irvine.

HiroNori Craft Ramen

This hopping ramen joint is always packed! Enjoy classic Japanese noodle soups ranked #1 in Orange County!

HiroNori Craft Ramen, 2222 Michelson Dr #234, Irvine, CA 92612 (949) 536-5800

Habana Restaurant

Located in the Irvine Spectrum Center, this is the newest Habana Restaurant location and it’s a hit among locals and visitors alike. Enjoy live entertainment on the weekends, stop by the outdoor patio for a cocktail, savor desserts like fresh passion fruit pastries, and enjoy some of the best Cuban food in the OC. Be sure to stop by for the brunch buffet with pancakes and crab claws!

Habana Restaurant, 708 Spectrum Center Dr, Irvine, CA 92618 (949) 419-0100

North Italia

Located in Park Place, North Italia is the place to go when you’re in the mood for Italian food in Irvine. Enjoy pizza and pasta made from scratch or stop by for weekend brunch or happy hour.

North Italia, 2957 Michelson Dr, Irvine, CA 92612 (949) 629-7060

Top Things to Do in Irvine

Ready to see what fun awaits you while living in Irvine? As the entertainment and culture hub of Orange County, there are tons of Irvine attractions to explore. This family-friendly city also boasts tons of parks, golf courses, lakes, and hiking trails to enjoy the famous Orange County climate and stunning mountain views.

Irvine Attractions

The Giant Wheel at Irvine Spectrum Center features open-air gondolas that seat up to six.
  • Pao Fa Temple is one of America’s largest Buddhist monasteries and temples.
  • The Giant Wheel at the Irvine Spectrum Center is a 108-foot ferris wheel with 52,000 LED lights. Enjoy panoramic views of Irvine!
  • Tanaka Farms is an Irvine icon. Pick your own fruit, stop by the drive-through produce stand and visit for seasonal events like the Festival of Lights and the Tanaka Pumpkin Farm.
  • San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary is a hidden oasis with 300 acres of constructed wetland. It’s popular with bird watchers with populations of herons, egrets, ducks, hawks, roadrunners, swallows, and more.
  • University of California Irvine Arboretum is a 12-acre botanical garden and a research facility where you can see flora unique to the California coast.
  • Boomers! Irvine is an amusement park chain with mini golf, arcade games, bumper cars, and go-karts. It’s one of the most fun things to do in Irvine with kids or even on date night!
  • Strawberry Farms Golf Club is one of the best public golf courses in Irvine! Set amid wetlands and canyons, enjoy beautiful views on this 18-hole course.

Irvine Parks

  • William R Mason Regional Park with more than 300 acres for golfing, volleyball, picnics, and hiking. It’s one of Irvine’s largest parks.
  • Orange County Great Park known for its massive tethered helium balloon that gives visitors views from 400 feet in the air. The park boasts 1,300 acres of open space and amenities!
  • Bill Barber Memorial Park with an amphitheater and game fields. There’s also a kids playground in this 42-acre park plus the Deanna Manning Stadium.
  • University Community Park with sand volleyball courts, indoor facilities, and Adventure Playground, an outdoor playground with an art wall and giant Lego blocks.

Irvine Arts & Entertainment

  • Irvine Barclay Theatre, a stunning performing arts theater next to the UC School of Arts complex, seats 750 with a program including theater arts, music, and dance.
  • The Observatory is a live music venue that features popular music acts in many genres and food.
  • FivePoint Amphitheatre is Irvine’s large outdoor music venue with Korean BBQ, hamburgers, and tacos.
  • Regal Edwards Irvine Spectrum Theater is the movie theater in Irvine with 3D films on giant screens at the Irvine Spectrum Center.

Irvine Museums

Irvine Shopping

  • Woodbury Town Center is an open-air shopping center in Woodbury with a supermarket, major retailers, and casual restaurants.
  • Irvine Spectrum Center is Irvine’s most famous attraction. This bustling outdoor shopping center features a large movie theater, Ferris wheel, carousel, and dozens of shops and restaurants.
  • Alton Marketplace is a busy outdoor strip mall with fast food restaurants and popular big box retailers.

Map of Things to Do in Irvine

Crime in Irvine – Is Irvine, CA Safe?

Irvine is a very safe city, not just by California standards but compared to the nation as a whole. Since 2005, Irvine has been rated as having one of the lowest violent crime rates among cities over 100,000 AND among cities over 250,000 people.

The Irvine crime rate is 1,370 crimes per 100,000 people according to FBI Crime Statistics. That’s 45% lower than the national average. Here’s how it breaks down.

The violent crime rate in Irvine is 64 violent crimes/100k people. That’s 83% below the national average of 379/100k people and even lower compared to the California average! The 188 reported violent crimes in 2019 included: 69 aggravated assaults, 66 robberies, 52 rapes, and 1 homicide.

The property crime rate is 1,306 property crimes/100k people. That’s 38% lower than the national average.

Why is Irvine, CA so safe? There are many reasons! Irvine is a highly educated and affluent community which helps bring down crime rates. The presence of universities helps improve safety as well as the lack of businesses and infrastructure that can attract crime like large shopping centers and liquor stores.

You’ll have no trouble finding safe neighborhoods in Irvine! You can also use this Irvine crime map from the Irvine Police Department to compare crime rates by neighborhood.

Irvine Sports

Ahead of moving to Irvine, you may be wondering about the types of sporting events you can attend and which teams you’ll be rooting for. Irvine does not have any professional league sports teams but it does have the Orange County Soccer Club, a professional soccer team that plays at the Championship Soccer Stadium.

Nearby Anaheim, just 16 miles north, is home to the Los Angeles Angels (MLB) and the Anaheim Ducks (NHL) to get your sports fix.

Schools in Irvine, CA

Education is important to Irvine residents. In 2000, Irvine was the 7th most educated city with at least 100,000 residents!

While living in Irvine, you’ll most likely be served by the Irvine Unified School District (IUSD) with five high schools that consistently rank among the Top 1,300 U.S. Public High Schools from Newsweek. University High School is the top-rated high school in Irvine and #20 among high schools in Greater Los Angeles. Some parts of Irvine in the west and north are served by the Tustin Unified School District.

You’ll enjoy plenty of opportunities to earn a degree too! Irvine is home to the University of California, Irvine, California Southern University, and a satellite campus for California State University, Fullerton.

Setting up Utilities & Getting a California Driver’s License

Now that you’re ready to see what life has to offer while living in Irvine, you can get a jumpstart on your relocation by figuring out some important first steps you should take. Here’s how to set up utilities in Irvine and get your driver’s license if you’re moving from out-of-state.

  • Irvine Ranch Water District (IRWD) provides water and sewer service. Start water service online here.
  • Southern California Edison (SCE) is the electricity utility provider in Irvine. Start service by clicking here.
  • Southern California Gas Company is the gas utility in Irvine. Start gas service by clicking here.
  • Waste Management of Orange County provides trash pickup service. Click here to set up trash pickup and get a discount on new service.

To get your California driver’s license, visit a DMV office in person. You can start the application for a CA driver’s license online here.

With so much to offer, it’s easy to see what’s prompting you to consider moving to Irvine, CA. Ready to get started with a free Irvine moving estimate? Call SafeWay Moving & Storage for a free quote so we can help you settle into the OC without the stress and worry.

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