Moving to Orange County
Orange County, California has more than 3.1 million residents as of the 2013 census, and is the third-most populous county in California. It is also the smallest county in Southern California, which means that big population is packed into a pretty small area—but don’t let that stop you from moving to Orange County, there is always room for more!
Orange County has a lot to offer, from beautiful beaches to fantastic family fun like Knott’s Berry Farm and Disneyland.
Here are some things you should know for a smooth move to Orange County:
- Timing Your Move: Moving to Orange County doesn’t have the same seasonal rate variables that other, less temperate, cities offer. There is no adverse time to relocate, as far as weather is concerned, and moving rates tend to stay consistent throughout the year.
- Getting Around Town: Public transportation in Orange County and throughout its many communities is provided by commuter train (Amtrak and Metrolink), bus service (Orange County Transit Authority) and ferry service.
- Traffic: Orange County traffic can be very, very bad. Highways 5 and 405 merge together just south of Irvine, and it may very well be the ugliest section of gridlock in California, which is saying something. Traffic to sporting and cultural events, beautiful beaches, and the very popular amusement parks, not to mention several other tourist destinations, only add to the frustration.
- Avoiding Game-Day Moves: Orange County is home to a number of professional, semi-pro, and college sport teams. Game days can severely alter traffic around the respective sport venue in use. The Los Angeles Angels (MLB), Ducks (NHL) and Bolts (Professional Arena Soccer League) all play in Anaheim. Huntington Beach is home to the US Open of Surfing, AVP Pro Beach Volleyball and the Van’s World Championship of Skateboarding. The headquarters for the USA Water Polo team is also in Huntington Beach.
- Street Cleaning: Make sure your new neighborhood will allow you to have a storage container or moving truck parked on the street in front of your new home or apartment for an extended window of time. Additionally, try not to move to your new home on a street cleaning day or time. Most streets in Orange County have specific street-cleaning days with schedules posted.
- Moving Houseplants: Before packing up and shipping your favorite houseplants, you will want to check with the department of California Department of Food and Agriculture to see if your plants are allowed in California.
- Changing Your Address: To make your move to Orange County easier, change your address online. It’s easy to do, cost efficient, and will ensure that your mail arrives at your new home by the time you move in.
Orange County consists primarily of small cities with suburban neighborhoods, except for some fairly urban areas in the city centers of Anaheim, Santa Ana, Orange, Huntington Beach and Fullerton. The county seat of Santa Ana serves as the governmental center, Irvine is the financial and business section, and Anaheim is the main tourist destination.
Each of these Orange County cities have populations that exceed 200,000. In total, there are thirty-four incorporated cities located within Orange County and a number of unincorporated communities.
Orange County is 948 square miles (159 of which are water). It is bordered by the Pacific Ocean on the southwest, San Diego County on the southeast, Los Angeles County on the north, and San Bernardino and Riverside Counties on the northeast.
Within Orange County are the Cleveland National Forest and Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge, both protected areas.
When moving to Orange County, you will be able to utilize an award-winning public bus system as well as commuter rail to other parts of the greater Los Angeles area (which includes rail access to Major League Baseball’s Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Disneyland Resort).
Orange County prides itself on offering some of the best cycling routes and trails, not to mention weather, in the entire country.
While Orange County is not especially walkable as a whole, its individual areas are much more pedestrian-friendly.
The following links will provide more information on public transportation by mode.
Orange County is a big place. A 950-square-mile area with more than three million residents packed inside of it, it’s the third-largest county in all of California next to LA and San Diego counties.
If you’re moving to Orange County, you’ll need to learn your way around. One of the best ways to familiarize yourself will be to get a hold of some of the most informative newspapers in the area.
Here’s an overview of some of the most widely read publications.
The Orange County Register
Bearing the distinction of having a uniquely Libertarian-leaning editorial page, The Orange County Register is the most widely read daily publication in all of Orange County. Founded in 1905, The Orange County Register has a daily circulation of over 250,000.
That number rises to over 300,000 on Sundays, making the newspaper one of the most widely read and circulated in the state. Standard daily coverage includes local and world news, business, community events, sports, and arts and entertainment listings and reviews.
Orange County Business Journal
Second in size and circulation only to the Los Angeles Business Journal, the Orange County Business Journal is among the top business newspapers in the state of California. Published weekly and reaching a readership close to 25,000, the newspaper has been in steady publication since 1978 and covers a variety of business sectors including technology, aerospace, defense, real estate and finance.
Orange County Excelsior
With a circulation close to 60,000, the Orange County Excelsior is one of the most widely read Spanish-language publications in the entire OC. The newspaper is published once weekly and regularly covers local and world news, sports, community services and events, and arts and entertainment stories impacting Orange County’s Latino population.
Widely considered to be one of the most comprehensive free city guides for finding information on local entertainment and restaurant and bar reviews, the OC Weekly is published every Thursday and reaches a circulation close to 80,000. The newspaper has also earned a good reputation for its unbiased investigative journalism of local social and political issues, and is a primary source of alternative news for Orange County residents.
Local TV News Channels
For comprehensive local news coverage in and around Orange County, dial your TV into channels:
- KABC TV 7 (ABC affiliate)
- KCBS TV 2 (CBS affiliate)
- KNBC TV 4 (NBC affiliate)
- KTTV TV 11 (Fox affiliate)
- KLCS TV 58 (PBS affiliate)
- KMEX TV 34 (Spanish-language Univision television)
- KVEA TV 52 (Spanish-language Telemundo affiliate)
- KXLA TV 44 (Asian TV programming).
When moving to Orange County, the one thing you won’t have to worry about is the weather. The winter highs average 68 degrees Fahrenheit and the summer highs average out at 86 degrees. The lows for the winter average 45 degrees Fahrenheit and summer, 63 degrees. The secret is to dress in layers. This is especially important if you are visiting Disneyland or some other event that lasts for hours—you will want to prepare for the various weather changes throughout the day.
In the late spring/early summer, the coast may experience “marine layer” which is a cool cloud cover that burns off as the day progresses. It also thins significantly as you move inland. If it doesn’t burn off, then it is probably smog.
There are 28 school districts in Orange County that are overseen by the Orange County Department of Education (OCDE).
According to Sperling’s, Orange County public schools spend $4,874 per student, and there is an average 23.8 students per teacher in Orange County. The average expenditure on students in the US is $5,678.
Current school rankings (elementary, middle and high schools), campus and district zoning/location maps, information and reviews are available online for families moving to Orange County.
For the highest ranked Orange County Elementary Schools, look in the following school districts:
- Irvine Unified
- Garden Grove Unified
- Fountain Valley
- Los Alamitos Unified
- Newport-Mesa Unified
- Orange Unified
- Santa Ana Unified
- Grove Unified
- Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified
- Tustin Unified
- Brea-Olinda Unified
- Capistrano Unified
The highest ranked Orange County middle schools are located in the Tustin Unified, Irvine Unified, Capistrano Unified, and Fullerton school districts and include:
- Pioneer Middle
- Venado Middle
- South Lake Middle
- Rancho San Joaquin Middle
- Lakeside Middle
- Sierra Vista Middle
- Ladera Ranch Middle
- D. Russell Parks Junior High
The highest ranked Orange County high schools are:
- Oxford Academy
- Troy High
- Northwood High
Lists are according to the Orange County Register, Best of Orange County Schools 2011–Gold Medal Winners.
The State of California has an open enrollment policy for schools, and therefore parents moving to Orange County don’t necessarily have to live by the school that their child attends. According to the California Department of Education:
“The purpose of the Open Enrollment Act is to improve student achievement and enhance parental choice in education by providing additional options to pupils to enroll in public schools throughout the state without regard to the residence of their parents. The Open Enrollment Act provides students enrolled in one of the 1,000 Open Enrollment schools the option to enroll in a school within the same district or any other district provided the school to which they are applying has a higher Academic Performance Index (API) score than the pupil’s school of residence.”
Want to take care of important (mandatory) tasks before moving to Orange County? Many of the items required for a move to Orange County can be found online:
- Register to vote at the Orange County Registrar of Voters.
- Register your vehicle and obtain a new driver’s license at the State of California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
- For tax information visit the IRS.
- For information and forms on residential and commercial zoning and building permits, as well as other government assistance, visit the Orange County Government website.
- An annual pass to the Disneyland Resort may not be a government resource, but they have a town hall, and you can visit it at your leisure when you move to Orange County.