Temecula vs. Riverside: Pros and Cons
In this blog post, I’m going to compare one of the more well-known cities in the Inland Empire, Riverside, to my favorite city in Southern California, Temecula. I have personally lived in both of these cities and will go into detail about some of the pros and cons of both Temecula and Riverside. We will talk about population, traffic, amenities, schools, real estate, and the overall quality of life.
First, I wanted to talk about some statistics. As of 2019, the city of Riverside has a land area of around 80 square miles and a population of around 330,000 people. Temecula has an area of 30,000 square miles and a population of 100,000. Over the past 20 years, Temecula has grown by over 100%. When talking about population density, Temecula is going to be less dense in this area.
The area of Temecula that is more densely populated is east of the 15 freeway. West of the 15 freeway, you have De Luz, which is an agricultural area, and most properties are zoned for 5 acres or more. As you move east, you start to get into wine country, which of course has larger parcels of land and homes that are much more spread out.
When it comes to Riverside, the downtown area, or right off the 91 Freeway is the most densely populated area. In Riverside, if you’re looking for larger lots, places like Woodcrest or Alessandro Heights would be areas to look at. Yes, there are pockets of Riverside that do have more of a country feel, but overall, these two areas would be your best bet. Homes are also going to be a little more expensive in these areas.
The one thing that he finds very unique about Temecula is that the whole city is safe, and I would personally live in any area of Temecula. I cannot say the same for Riverside. Yes, there are communities like Orangecrest, Canyon Crest, and parts of Woodcrest in Riverside that I would live in, but there are also several communities I wouldn’t. If you are planning on moving to Riverside, you need to be very careful in regards to the area you decide to live in. Riverside is similar to many cities in southern California in that one area is nice, but 5 blocks over it gets sketchy.
One area of Riverside that people seem to be drawn to is the wooded streets. Many of these homes are over a hundred years old! One of the things you get with an older community in Southern California is the beautiful, lush landscape, mature trees, and homes that have a ton of character.
One of the things I like about the majority of Temecula communities is the sense of peace within the community and the abundance of amenities like pools, tennis courts, basketball courts, and beach volleyball courts in virtually 70% of them. Yes, many of the communities in Temecula do have HOA fees, but they are relatively inexpensive for what you get. On average, an HOA monthly payment in Temecula is going to be around $100 per month.
If you would like specific information on communities that I have personally produced videos and information on when it comes to Temecula, click on any of these links below.
When it comes to traffic, you really can’t get away from it anywhere in Southern California. People come here for the beautiful weather. Regardless of what you hear on the news, Southern California will always be a desirable place to live. Traffic in both Temecula and Riverside can be bad, but Riverside is the winner. The 91 Freeway has to be one of the worst freeways in all of America. If you are not from Southern California and are moving because of employment, I strongly suggest that you be very strategic in regard to where you work and where you live. A simple 10-mile difference could result in an extra hour in your car each day.
The worst area in regards to traffic in Temecula is the 15 Freeway going north, starting at around 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. Riverside has horrible traffic along the 91, where the 91 and 15 interchanges connect, and where the 215 and the 60 connect. When planning your move or purchase, not only do you have to navigate traffic but also find a community in these areas that is nice to live in. Yes, it’s great to live half an hour closer to work, but if the community is unsafe, is it worth it? If you want more information or my opinion on communities throughout Riverside, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
cost of housing
If you would like a monthly cost of living video that breaks down all of our bills in detail, click here. I am only going to compare the cost of housing in Temecula and Riverside in this blog post. There are so many variables, and the “home cost” question is loaded, but I would say the average price per square foot is going to be more in Riverside than in Temecula. In Riverside, you’re also going to have more communities that are much older. The average age of a Riverside home might be 1960, whereas Temecula is going to be in the 1990–2000 range. It just depends on what you’re looking for. If you like the old neighborhood, if you like the old look of craftsman style and less of the newer, larger tract homes, you will probably like Riverside a little more in terms of housing.
Our children grew up in Orangecrest in Riverside, which I think is a nice community and would still live in if we hadn’t discovered Temecula. Orangecrest has pretty good schools, parks, activities, and sports and is one of the safer communities in Riverside. Many of the kids walk to school, and Orangecrest has multiple elementary and middle schools for your convenience.
As I mentioned earlier in this blog post, Temecula has more communities with amenities for its residents, in my opinion. If you like swimming, playing sports, parks, and open spaces, Temecula is going to be a better fit for you.
Most Temecula communities have middle and elementary schools within walking distance or no more than a 2- to 3-minute drive, which makes it very convenient for anybody with school-age children. Overall, in my opinion, if you have active kids and are starting or growing a family, Temecula is going to be a better bet. This brings me to my next subject, schools and school ratings.
Riverside does have a few schools that are okay, but as I mentioned, there are many areas of Riverside that have pretty bad school choices. I started my career very early on as a teacher and quit within six months. Some of the school districts you need to do your research on I would never send my kids to some of the schools in Riverside. Make sure you read a lot of reviews, talk to parents, and check out the neighborhoods extensively before making a move.
When it comes to Temecula schools, are in the top percentile for both school ratings and test scores in all of California. Temecula schools have consistent ratings of 8 and above, which is one of the many reasons people choose to move to Temecula. Many of my community blog posts on the Exploring Temecula website talk about specific schools and ratings. You really can’t go wrong though; it doesn’t matter what community you move to in Temecula, there will be a highly-rated school right nearby.
In regards to lifestyle, Riverside and Temecula definitely have differences. In Temecula, we enjoy the wineries and going out to eat. We like using the community pool and going for walks around the lake in Harveston (see our blog here). We also love the convenience of Temecula. It doesn’t matter what community you live in; grocery stores, restaurants, outdoor activities, hiking, pools, and sports parks are just minutes away.
There are far fewer communities in Riverside that have amenities like pools, tennis courts, hot tubs, etc. During the summer months, if you do not have a pool of your own, it does get pretty hot, and it is definitely something we take advantage of on the hundred-degree days.
We lived in Riverside, in a community called Orangecrest, for many years. Although it’s a great community and very good for kids, there’s not a whole lot to do. If you feel like going out for a nice dinner, you have to go to the downtown area, which at night has become more unsafe over the years, in my opinion. A few of our favorite restaurants to go to in Riverside include Mario’s and the Mission Inn. It’s a great place to people-watch, but if you live in Orangecrest, it’ll take you 20 minutes to get there. That’s an expensive Uber if you plan on drinking that night.
If you are a golfer, both Riverside and Temecula offer a great variety of courses that won’t break the bank. Both cities have multiple courses that you can play during the week that will cost around $40. One of the courses that I played often was called General Old Golf Course; it was actually in Orangecrest and was a quick 5-minute drive. Fairways suspect, the greens are always great.
Thank you for reading our blog. If you have any interest in moving to Temecula or the surrounding area, please read the Google reviews here for Greenleaf Real Estate & Appraisal.
We are licensed as both real estate brokers and certified residential appraisers. We love what we do and will bring a great deal of passion, experience, and expertise to the table for you.