October 28, 2020
Picture this: Listening to the waves roar and crash against the rocks as you sip on kombucha and bite into a delicious burrito; after spending the day hitting the waves and taking the family to lush state parks, you finish off the evening with a scenic drive down the Pacific Coast Highway. Oh, life in the O.C. is simply spectacular. Does anyplace else in the Golden State speak to your soul?
Orange County is truly a paradisical land. While many O.C. locales are among the most expensive cities in California, there are several lovely places in the region where you can live your dream lifestyle without breaking the bank.
The cheapest places to live in orange county
Yes, believe it or not, there are affordable places to live in the O.C. The combination of urban and suburban makes the area the perfect place to call home, so take a drive through the tree-lined streets and discover the most affordable cities in Orange County.
Nestled in northwestern Orange County, close to Anaheim and only a few miles from Santa Ana, the “Center of the Southland” is one of the most affordable places to live in Orange County. Buena Park offers plenty of things to do, too. Moving here means living near the world-renowned Knott’s Berry Farm theme park as well as Ralph B. Clark Regional Park, where you can view fossils, run wild around the sports fields, and go fishing on the lake. When you’re in need of a brisk fall walk, the nearby Brea Creek is the solution to all of your problems. Grab your furry best friends for a trek on the Olinda Oil Museum Trail—prepare yourself for gorgeous views as you walk the 1.9-mile loop.
Buena Park is also home to a unique attraction that transports you back to the medieval era; head to the Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament to experience jousting, horsemanship, and a four-course meal without any utensils (just like the olden days) in a castle-like space. Titanic: The Experience is another spot where you can reminisce and learn more about the Titanic’s heart-crushing disaster.
Save a dime in Anaheim, which is next on our list of the cheapest cities in Orange County. Home to the "Happiest Place on Earth," the city is widely known as a family holiday hot spot; from the famed Disneyland Park and Angel Stadium to the historic Anaheim Packing District and Anaheim GardenWalk, there's so much to see and love about Anaheim.
After spending a day with Mickey, hike amongst coastal trees and California buckwheat at the Oak Canyon Nature Center. Trek the 1.4-mile Oak Canyon Bluebird and Wren Trail to admire beautiful wildflowers and other natural wonders. If you're in dire need of a shopping spree, the Anaheim GardenWalk is a wonderful place to spend the day. Anaheim boasts many elegant eateries, too, as well as one of the best gourmet food halls in California.
One of the best places to live, work, and play in the O.C., the city of Santa Ana is an ever-growing hub incorporating an interesting combination of modern and historic real estate properties. The family-friendly city boasts several notable neighborhoods such as Floral Park, Washington Square, and Historic French Park—all of which provide spacious lots and tree-lined streets that highlight the area's period homes.
The Discovery Science Center and Discovery Cube is to Santa Ana what Disneyland is to Anaheim. The distinctly awesome Discovery Science Center is arguably the coolest place in the city; boasting more than 100 interactive exhibits, it's the ultimate family-friendly zone, so take the kids here on weekends. Kids also love the zoo, and the Santa Ana Zoo is sure to keep any youngsters entertained. Dedicated to recreation, education, and conservation, the zoo is home to numerous animals and the Zoofari Express train, which gives kids the opportunity to ride around the zoo.
Adults can have fun in Santa Ana, too. Spend the day at the Bowers Museum; recognized as one of the best museums in Orange County, it is the perfect place to soak in arts and culture. Stroll through the Ancient Arts of China, Gemstone Carvings, and Early Californians exhibits, then round out the day by catching a show at The Observatory.
Bordered by Santa Ana and Anaheim, the family-friendly city of Garden Grove boasts many outdoor activities, and you're bound to appreciate all the parks, aquatic centers, theatrical performances, and festivals that take place here. Garden Grove is also known for its cultural diversity and rich culture, so you'll have no shortage of ethnic restaurants and markets to explore.
History lovers will enjoy Historic Main Street, where an abundance of period buildings have stood high and mighty since 1874. For historic memorabilia, head to the antique shops, such as Miller's Antiques, located between Garden Grove Boulevard and Acacia Parkway. When you're in need of water fun and nature runs, the Atlantis Play Center is a beloved green spot in the city, especially for those with little ones. The park offers plenty of grassy hills along with play areas for kids and, the highlight of it all, the dragon slide. As your kids climb the many concrete animals, you can soak in all the goodness of the SoCal sun.
For another day of fun with the fam, head to Village Green Park, one of the oldest parks in the city. The grassy picnic areas beg for a basket full of fruits and healthy goodies, so make sure to pack your picnic.
Are you a student looking for affordable places to live? Check out California’s best inexpensive college towns.
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