Riverside County vs. Orange County
This article will go into great detail about the differences between Riverside County and Orange County. If you ever wanted to write a loaded post, this would be it. Many people in Southern California have strong feelings about both counties. This article will be honest and draw on years of experience living in both Riverside and Orange counties. By the end of this article and video, you will have a pretty good idea of the pros and cons of living in either county and which one will fit your needs and wants the best.
Riverside County and Orange County Statistics
Orange County has a population of around 3.2 million, while Riverside County has a population of around 2.5 million. When it comes to population growth, Riverside County is one of the fastest-growing counties in all of California. with a 10.4% increase in population over the last decade. Over the same time period, Orange County’s population increased by 6.4%. In our opinion, the reason Riverside County is growing at such a rapid pace is the cost of living, especially when you compare it to counties that border the beach.
When it comes to violent crimes, Orange County has 230 violent crimes for every 100,000 people, while Riverside County has 295 violent crimes for every 100,000 people. In our opinion, this data can be somewhat misleading. Both Orange County and Riverside County have areas or cities that are very safe and others that we suggest you simply don’t consider when moving. The beach towns of Southern California and especially Orange County will not have the high violent crime rates that inland cities like Santa Ana, Anaheim, Buena Park, or Garden Grove have.
Riverside County is similar in that there are nice places to live as well as places to avoid. The southern part of Riverside County, which includes Murrieta, Temecula, and Menifee, is very safe and has great schools, especially in Murrieta and Temecula. There are also many cities in Riverside County where parts of each city are safe and have good schools where others don’t. A great example of this would be Riverside, where there are certain zip codes like 9508 or 92506 that have good schools and are relatively safe compared to areas like the east side of Riverside.
One of the main reasons for the mass migration of people to Riverside County is home prices. You can get so much more home and land and have a better quality of life in many areas of Riverside County for a fraction of the price. There are some areas of Orange County that are simply not safe or have horrible school systems but still have home prices 20 to 30% above some great areas of Riverside County.
We are selling many homes to people moving from Orange County, San Diego, or Los Angeles. People want out of the rat race, less traffic, and more homes for the same or less cost.
As of July 2021, the average home price for a home in Orange County is $850,000, while Riverside County’s average home price is $530,000. This data is coming directly from the local MLS. These home prices fluctuate greatly, especially in Orange County, depending on where you want to live. Anything along the beach, in Irvine, or in south Orange County is going to be on the higher end when it comes to house prices. In our opinion, the southern part of Orange County is a much nicer area to live in, but you will pay for it in terms of home prices and the cost of living.
This is one area where Orange County, especially the beach area, wins hands down. When it comes to quality and variety, you won’t get much better. If you are a foodie, this could be a deciding factor for you. As much as we love living in Temecula, the restaurants simply don’t compare. San Clemente, Laguna Beach, and Newport Beach are all places with wonderful restaurants, but you will pay a price for eating anywhere in the cities.
Full disclosure, we did move to Temecula at the beginning of the pandemic, which could have something to do with quality and service. It seems everything, from airports to services to restaurants, has gone downhill over the past couple of years.
Both Orange County and Riverside County have plenty to do. For this article, we are just going to pull from our personal experiences and give you some of the things that we enjoy in both Orange County and Riverside County.
Orange County Activities
Of course, surfing and going to the beach are going to be two of the biggest reasons people think they would enjoy Orange County over Riverside County. In our experience, being by the beach is everyone’s dream. We lived with an ocean view and a 2-minute walk but found we would visit the beach less and less each year. Life and bills get in the way; yes, those are real. We do not surf, and the idea of sitting on the beach and tanning lost its luster after a while.
We will caution you: if you do not live within walking distance of the beach, it can become almost a chore to get there at times, especially in the summer months. Finding and then paying for parking and dragging all of your beach stuff through the crowds does get old after a while.
A few of the things that we loved about Orange County and miss a great deal are being able to walk to some great restaurants and driving up and down PCH while stopping for a drink or something to eat on Sundays at the many beach bars. (Although we lived in northern Orange County in Huntington Beach, we preferred living in the southern part.)
Sunday fundays at the beach are a lot of fun during football season. We also miss the variety of activities that the beach community offers consistently throughout the year. Concerts, volleyball tournaments, happy hours, and the swap meet are just a few things that we would consistently enjoy doing.
For me, the biggest disadvantage was not being able to golf. The cost can get out of hand very quickly. If you plan on golfing on a weekend at a decent course, expect to pay more than $100 per round. For me, that is just a bit heavy on the pocketbook, especially if you want to do it consistently. Luckily, San Clemente does have a public course that is reasonable, but overall, if you are a golfer and on a budget, Orange County is not going to be for you.
Finally, to enjoy the restaurants, especially those around the beach, is going to cost you. On a Sunday, expect to spend a couple of hundred dollars on food and drinks.
Overall, Riverside has a lot to offer in the way of activities as well. Motocross, sandrails, golfing, hiking, and some boating are all popular in the county, which is different from Orange County.Golfing has been a huge plus for me. I can now go out and play many different courses throughout the week for under $50, which allows me to play at least four to five times a month without feeling guilty. For the most part, each city, like Orange County, has something unique for people to do.If I were to write about every single city and what it offers, this blog post would be 150 pages long, which is just not feasible. I suggest you call us if you have specific questions about certain cities in either county.
We will stick to a couple of major cities in Riverside County and the different things they offer. Riverside, one of Riverside County’s most well-known cities, has a lot of rural property, which allows residents to have horses, dirt bikes, agriculture, etc. There’s also a lot of history in Riverside. Much of the downtown area is over a hundred years old, and you have places like the Mission Inn with good food and a lot going on, especially on weekends. There are also a lot of family-friendly neighborhoods with extracurricular activities for kids. Specifically, Orangecrest is an area where we used to live in Riverside. The ZIP code is 92508 and has a huge park, good schools, and a lot of sports available for kids.
Temecula is where we currently live, and this area fits our lifestyle in almost every way. When it comes to activities, you have the wineries and Old Town, which has lots of restaurants and bars. Over 10 golf courses within a 25-minute drive; farmer’s markets Many of the individual communities have pools, volleyball courts, hot tubs, basketball courts, and much more. Temecula also has the De Luz area, which has a great deal of agriculture, as well as Los Ranchitos and Meadowview, which allow for horses. Temecula is one of those cities that has something for everybody. Adding in the fact that it’s very safe with great schools, you’ve got a nice community or city to live in.
Orange County vs. Riverside County
People talk about the beach having great weather, but we like the weather in Riverside County for the simple reason of having the sun more days of the year. Oftentimes, at the beach or in Orange County, you’ll have gloomy mornings with the sun peeking out in the afternoon. Depending on the time of year, you could go days without seeing the sun at the beach. Living inland gives you sunshine from morning till dusk unless it is raining. When it comes to the actual temperature, it can get very hot in the summer inland, up to 110 degrees in some areas. Everybody should understand that it’s not 110 degrees all day long. The mornings are nice for walking, even during midsummer. It starts to get hot around 12 and will stay hot until around 6 p.m., or just before sunset. One of the things we love about Temecula or Inland Southern California is the fact that the summer weather allows you to sit outside with shorts on after dark and feel very comfortable. It’s almost like Hawaii weather.
Quality of life in Riverside County vs. Orange County
Everybody wants a good quality of life, and both Orange County and Riverside County can give it to them. The biggest driving factors for a good quality of life in Orange County would be money and housing. As of this article, expect to pay well over $1,200,000 for anything that remotely resembles a nice community in Orange County. In many areas, 1 million won’t even get you a one-bedroom apartment, so you need to do a lot of research and make sure you choose wisely if Orange County is your desired location. If you can comfortably make your house payment and have money left over for extracurricular activities, Orange County can be a wonderful place to live, depending on the city.
When it comes to Riverside County, I would personally stick to the southern area, which includes Murrieta or Temecula. Both of these cities are growing rapidly because of their safety, great schools, and, you guessed it, great quality of life. The issue with Murietta or Temecula in Riverside County is the proximity to much of the job market. Both Murrieta and Temecula are commuter towns, and many people have to drive to larger cities like San Diego for employment. If you do happen to land a good job in Temecula or Murrieta, these are two amazing places to live in Riverside County.
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