Neighborhoods can seem to take off at random, but a careful observer sees the signs before the general population does. Orange County has somewhat unique characteristics in that you might consider it the suburbs of L.A. or San Diego, but still has plenty of personality, charm and events to stand entirely on its own. It's no wonder the home prices have consistently risen over the past few years. It's worth keeping in mind that it will be difficult to find a safe neighborhood here that could be considered inexpensive, although price will always be relative. There are very few secrets in an area that has gained so much recent attention.
1. Santa Ana
Specifically, downtown or near the artists village, you can find a buzz of activity and infectious passion happening all over. The areas around the coast have always gotten a lot of attention, but Santa Ana is the underdog that's seen major improvement over the past year. With a current average home price of $569,900, it was once considered more of a rough area with a long road ahead of it. Its turn around has been dramatic and fast. Even eight years ago, you may have heard advice telling you to stay away entirely. However, young people have put a lot of energy into turning this section of the city around, and the ripple effect has been seen across the city. Its additions of hip restaurants and pubs and, especially, their contributions to the community with their artistic endeavors will continue to make this area popular for both students and young professionals for years to come.
2. Seal Beach
This community here may be older now, but its coastal location and existing infrastructure could mean big things ahead for this city. Currently, it's rather sleepy but with the expansion of Orange County real estate, it may not stay that way for long. It has a beautiful, clean section of the Pacific Ocean all to itself, which will continue to attract people of all ages and talents. With restaurants and shops that cover a wide range of tastes and interests, it could easily become a tourist destination or a smart place to invest in real estate for the future. Property near the ocean obviously doesn't come cheap, and nearby towns are going into the millions. Seal Beach is currently at $249,900 for their median list price, so this community has every opportunity to be transformed as quickly as Santa Ana was.
California State Fullerton students give the town some life, and they definitely infuse enthusiasm into the local hangouts. College towns carry a risk that they'll go the party school route that no neighbor wants, but this is a suburb that manages to take the good and leave the bad. Students here are generally friendly and well mannered, and there are a variety of families here who just want their children to have access to good schools. You can find relatively affordable housing in a city that places an emphasis on education in the arts and has a lot of cultural influences to offer. While the average price of a home is $763,900, savvy investors can still find condos here in the $100,000-range which will likely be for the variety of renting students.
The small city of Stanton is often overlooked, but the homes are significantly lower than their surrounding cities. While there may not be too much happening in Stanton itself, you can head to nearby Anaheim for an Angels game or take the kids to Disneyland for the day. The location itself makes it valuable, and extremely likely to attract the right kind of people to the area. The home prices in Stanton are currently at $400,000, and will not stay this way for long. The homes here have already seen significant gains over the past year. This is definitely an area to get in on before everything is taken.
5. Aliso Viejo
With newer homes for sale featuring interesting architecture and plenty of space, there's a lot of potential for Aliso Viejo to be the new up-and-comer, especially when you consider nearby Mission Viejo has homes going for close to $1 million. Aliso Viejo's median price for homes is currently about half that at $558,000, which spells growth for this neighborhood. To be classified as an up-and comer, you need to have the right people drawn to your area so their collective efforts start turning into real gain across the market. Aliso Viejo has the right formula, right now, with cheaper homes in a great location to make it happen.
Woods, Alan. "Best Areas to Live in Orange County: 5 Up-And-Coming Neighborhoods To Buy Into While Prices Are Still Low." Movoto. 25 July 2017.