Finding the Best Places to Retire Since 2006!
Home to a University of California Campus, Irvine is a Sunny, Pretty Place with a Rich Quality of Life
About 40 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles and planned by the Irvine Company in the 1960s, Irvine is home to the University of California at Irvine (37,000 students). It is a sunny, pretty place, known for its rich quality of life, and it often lands at the top of "best places to live" lists.
The city is divided into roughly 50 very attractive neighborhoods called "villages," each with its own character but similar home designs and amenities (swimming pools, etc.). Nearly all of the villages have an HOA and are tightly regulated. Home styles include Mediterranean, Spanish Colonial and Spanish Mission. Most of the villages have bicycle corridors as well as connecting greenbelts.
The Irvine Museum is dedicated to California impressionism, and the Irvine Barclay Theatre has programming ranging from contemporary dance to theater arts. Other venues such as the Irvine Valley College Performing Arts Center showcase the best in student and community talent. The Irvine Fine Arts Centers offers exhibits and classes. Each October, the Irvine Global Village Festival celebrates the city's diversity.
Residents enjoy a bounty of excellent restaurants and fun shopping venues, including the Irvine Spectrum Center (Nordstrom, Macy's and more) and the open-air District at Tustin Legacy (Whole Foods, Lowe's, etc.).
Irvine has 20,000 acres of parks and preserves, with the largest, the Orange County Great Park, under development. When finished, it will include a wildlife corridor, a botanical park, and a balloon launch. Bommer Canyon has a nature center and wilderness access. Newport Beach is only 10 miles to the west.
Population: 310,000 (city proper)
Age 45 or Better: 32%
Cost of Living: 159% above the national average
Median Home Price: $1,300,000
Climate: The city has a Mediterranean climate. Summer temperatures are in the 70s and 80s, and winter temperatures are in the 40s, 50s and 60s. On average, the area receives 13 inches of rain each year.
At Least One Hospital Accepts Medicare Patients? Yes
At Least One Hospital Accredited by Joint Commission? No, but Hoag Hospital is accredited by DNV Healthcare, a relatively new accrediting agency.
Public Transit: Yes
Crime Rate: Below the national average
Public Library: Yes
Political Leanings: Liberal
College Educated: 67%
Is California Considered Tax Friendly for Retirement? No
Cons: The earthquake risk is 336% higher than the national average. HOA fees are high, and residents in villages built in the 1980s and later may have to pay Mello-Roos taxes. Traffic congestion is a way of life.
Notes: UC Irvine is not known as a party school. It does, though, have an OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) for people age 50 or better. The city is racially diverse and has grown 30% during the last decade. Home prices have increased 7% since last year.
Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes
Thanks to the treaty that ended the Mexican-American War, the Golden State became a U.S. territory in 1847. Soon after, gold was found at Sutter's Mill. The land crowded with fortune seekers, and, shortly thereafter, California entered the Union as its 31st state in 1850.
California has 900 miles of coastline and claims the highest and lowest point in the continental U.S. Its terrain varies dramatically - from sandy beaches to rugged mountains, deserts to fertile farmland. Landmarks like Hollywood, Disneyland, and the Golden Gate Bridge play a large part in the nation's history and imagination.
Although Texas and New York have tried to close the gap, California's economy continues to be nation's largest. Agriculture, manufacturing, biotechnology, and tourism are some of its leading industries.
Cities of the Golden State have put some odd laws on the books. It's illegal to molest a monarch in Pacific Grove. Want to throw a frisbee on an L.A. County beach? Better ask a lifeguard first. What about bowling on the sidewalks of Chico? Strictly forbidden!
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