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Old 05-10-2014, 06:40 PM   #41
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Have a couple of friends who have purchased closer to the beach. Figure 600 to 800 K for a 1500 to 2000 square foot town home/condo depending on view and renovation needs.
I just meant within driving distance to the beach and we are downsizing to <1.5K sq ft. We've been getting rid of junk and watching Small House, Big Style on Hulu Plus to prepare. We're interested in having more free time and less stuff and house to take care of.

You have to keep in mind the median home price the Bay Area for a home or condo is $579K, and that includes areas with high crime rates and not so great schools, and usually nowhere near the beach for that price -

Bay Area home prices zoom in March; highest since Dec. 2007 - Kathleen Pender – Net Worth Plus

The median home price in San Francisco is now $937K. I know the prices you posted for a condo might seem crazy to a lot of people and they probably are compared to most of the country, but it still seems less crazy than here.
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Old 05-10-2014, 07:59 PM   #42
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The endless sprawl that is the OC going down the 5 has got to be one of the ugliest places on earth (excluding the beach towns, that is).
Well, I can think of some really ugly places to live in this country that would make just about any part of Orange County look pretty darn good. I've lived in Orange County for over 20 years. I do live at the beach now, but previously lived inland in Rancho Santa Margarita, and I thought it was quite beautiful there.

As with any community, you have to take the good with the bad. The weather here is highly desirable - probably the best weather in the country. As a result, home prices are high and neighborhoods are very dense and crowded. That's the price you pay for living somewhere that is in high demand.

But now that I don't go to work every day, I find it to be quite different living here than when I had to commute to work. I can easily walk to lots of shops and restaurants, and I'm within five miles of Trader Joe's, Costco and Whole Foods. Within 10 miles I have world class shopping at South Coast Plaza or Fashion Island. So traffic really is a non-issue if you don't have to drive during the commuting hours.

There are some neighborhoods that are a bit old and tired looking - Garden Grove, Santa Ana, Anaheim, etc. However, the two retirement communities in this thread - Laguna Woods, and Leisure World Seal Beach, are two of the nicest places you could live in this area.

As for home values, I suspect that the prices of homes inside these communities are not all that different from surrounding communities. I would think the main reason to live in these places is for the social activities and commonality with others who are all 55+ and retired and likely looking to live around others in a similar situation. If that's not important to you, then I would look in some of the newer areas of Orange County - Aliso Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Foothill Ranch, Ladera Ranch. You won't find a bad neighborhood in any of these communities and the home prices are quite a bit less than the beach communities. All are going to be within about 30 minutes of the beaches.
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Old 05-10-2014, 08:18 PM   #43
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Well, I can think of some really ugly places to live in this country that would make just about any part of Orange County look pretty darn good. I've lived in Orange County for over 20 years. I do live at the beach now, but previously lived inland in Rancho Santa Margarita, and I thought it was quite beautiful there.

As with any community, you have to take the good with the bad. The weather here is highly desirable - probably the best weather in the country. As a result, home prices are high and neighborhoods are very dense and crowded. That's the price you pay for living somewhere that is in high demand.

But now that I don't go to work every day, I find it to be quite different living here than when I had to commute to work. I can easily walk to lots of shops and restaurants, and I'm within five miles of Trader Joe's, Costco and Whole Foods. Within 10 miles I have world class shopping at South Coast Plaza or Fashion Island. So traffic really is a non-issue if you don't have to drive during the commuting hours.

There are some neighborhoods that are a bit old and tired looking - Garden Grove, Santa Ana, Anaheim, etc. However, the two retirement communities in this thread - Laguna Woods, and Leisure World Seal Beach, are two of the nicest places you could live in this area.

As for home values, I suspect that the prices of homes inside these communities are not all that different from surrounding communities. I would think the main reason to live in these places is for the social activities and commonality with others who are all 55+ and retired and likely looking to live around others in a similar situation. If that's not important to you, then I would look in some of the newer areas of Orange County - Aliso Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Foothill Ranch, Ladera Ranch. You won't find a bad neighborhood in any of these communities and the home prices are quite a bit less than the beach communities. All are going to be within about 30 minutes of the beaches.
There are your boots on the ground, Daylatedollarshort! Ready is spot on.
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Old 05-10-2014, 09:03 PM   #44
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If that's not important to you, then I would look in some of the newer areas of Orange County - Aliso Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Foothill Ranch, Ladera Ranch. You won't find a bad neighborhood in any of these communities and the home prices are quite a bit less than the beach communities. All are going to be within about 30 minutes of the beaches.
I'm on it, Ready. Thanks for the list. We are really into hiking so we'd rather live near a canyon with trees or some other kind of hiking spot but still be within 10 miles of so of the beach.
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Old 05-10-2014, 09:25 PM   #45
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I'm on it, Ready. Thanks for the list. We are really into hiking so we'd rather live near a canyon with trees or some other kind of hiking spot but still be within 10 miles of so of the beach.
I'm not going to suggest that OC rivals Marin County for hiking and beauty, or even the Santa Monica Rec Area in L.A., but you may be surprised by how much wilderness exists here, much of which overlooks the coast. Hiking clubs abound, as do running, biking, and kayaking groups, the result of having weather that allows one to play outside all year long.
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Old 05-10-2014, 10:38 PM   #46
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Have to agree that OC has some really nice hiking areas, not to mention some excellent albeit crowded surf breaks, areas to paddle board etc.. Beach and recreation are quick drives if you are avoiding commute hours. Agree with all of the communities recommended by Ready.

Climate is highly dependent on how far you are from the coast. Within half a mile or so of the pacific many summer days stay overcast with top temps of the low 70s. Just 5 miles inland the high temps are often 20 degrees higher or more and bright sunshine. So you can choose your microclimate to an extent.
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Old 05-11-2014, 11:30 PM   #47
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Someone who lives in Laguna Woods emailed me that for the co-ops property taxes are in the HOA fees, so those seem like quite a deal for the area, 55+ housing or not.

It is good to know about the hiking. That is one thing we weren't too sure about. I appreciate all the help here from the OC locals.

I'll keep you posted on our house hunt. Thanks again.
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Old 05-12-2014, 09:10 AM   #48
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My understanding is that the co-ops are acquired via stock certificate, where the condos are acquired via grant deed. Since the co-ops have shared ownership, I would assume they have found a way to keep the property taxes from being reassessed due to the change in ownership of an individual member of the co-op.

For the condos, each time an owner sells their unit, the State reassesses property taxes based on the purchase price. The tax is slightly above 1% in most areas of Orange County.

Beyond that, I'm not an expert on the differences between a co-op and a condo. I would imagine there are a number of financial considerations to be evaluated before making a decision which one is better for you.
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Old 05-12-2014, 09:31 AM   #49
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One other consideration. Laguna woods has many units for rent. Renting for 6 months would give ample opportunity to access the community and compare it to surrounding choices.
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Old 05-13-2014, 09:16 AM   #50
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Yes, renting at first sounds like a great idea to see if we fit in. We still have kids to get launched and not looking like they will need to boomerang before we could buy.
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Old 06-05-2014, 12:45 PM   #51
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My house is in escrow. Being as I live very close to laguna woods I looked at a few rentals with a realtor. Prices are a little lower than in the surrounding communities. Very nice community but not for me and DW for at least another decade.

Point of clarification on property taxes for property owners in laguna woods. Everyone pays property tax. In the co-ops this is added to your monthly HOA in equal monthly installments automatically fooling some into thinking they are not paying proper tax. Knew their had to be a catch.LOL
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Old 06-05-2014, 01:10 PM   #52
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My house is in escrow. Being as I live very close to laguna woods I looked at a few rentals with a realtor. Prices are a little lower than in the surrounding communities. Very nice community but not for me and DW for at least another decade.

Point of clarification on property taxes for property owners in laguna woods. Everyone pays property tax. In the co-ops this is added to your monthly HOA in equal monthly installments automatically fooling some into thinking they are not paying proper tax. Knew their had to be a catch.LOL
Congrats on the house being in escrow.

I guess what confused me was the HOA fees seemed to be around ~$600 a month for both co-ops and condos, with some of the realtor sites saying the property taxes were included in $600 for the co-ops.

Thanks for the update. We plan to rent in that area, too, and then will look around at Laguna Woods and surrounding areas before we buy. It took us forever to even decide on whether or not to move and if we moved even what county to live in. I am sure finding the right house will take just as long if not longer. Maybe by the time we decide we will fit right in age wise at Laguna Woods.
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Old 06-05-2014, 09:42 PM   #53
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So, where are you buying then, longranger? Did I miss that info in the thread somewhere?
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Old 06-06-2014, 10:33 AM   #54
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We will rent locally for at least the next year for several reasons. Mainly we are not sure what we want next?? condo, small single story detached etc.. COL is high in Cali in general so we are not ruling out moving to a lower cost area when I pull the fire trigger. IMHO prices in many of the most desirable areas of Cali are in a low interest induced bubble. Would hate to buy before that bubble pops. Should have some of this sorted out after a year of renting. Oh one final thing, renting will force us to get rid of most of our meaningless junk as a step forward to a worry free retirement.
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Old 06-06-2014, 11:04 AM   #55
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That sounds like a good plan to rent, clear out junk and also see how the housing market goes. I agree that cheap interest rates might have started another bubble in California real estate.

Do you think you'll choose a cheaper area of California or are you looking at moving out of state completely?

We really envy S. California weather, but we've decided it's best for us to visit many times per year rather than make a permanent move there.
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Old 06-06-2014, 11:22 AM   #56
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Until I FIRE or know exactly what we want renting sounds most appealing. I love California. Will consider other locations in California, it's neighbor states and possibly a property in central America. Ideally in the long term would like to have 2 properties, both small, one in southern California and one That will probably change as we do more research. As I said last post we really are not sure what we want. We love California but are open to many options.
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Old 06-06-2014, 12:21 PM   #57
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Central America sounds interesting. It would definitely be appealing to able to live at or near the beach with really warm weather year around all at a reasonable cost. Personally, I'd miss being around family and would probably worry a bit about health care in case something popped up. I'm often too paranoid though.
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Old 06-06-2014, 12:38 PM   #58
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Healthcare is pretty good and affordable in most areas of Costa Rica and Panama. If you live more than an hour or two from a major medical center in the US you are just as vulnerable to an acute health problem as in a small village in a third world country. Agree about the problem with separation from family and friends. Hence the need for a home near loved ones. If I got a central American property it would need to be managed and rentable when not in use by us or our family.
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Old 06-06-2014, 12:40 PM   #59
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Until I FIRE or know exactly what we want renting sounds most appealing. I love California. Will consider other locations in California, it's neighbor states and possibly a property in central America. Ideally in the long term would like to have 2 properties, both small, one in southern California and one That will probably change as we do more research. As I said last post we really are not sure what we want. We love California but are open to many options.
We love California, too. We are using the pleasant weather chart as a part of our criteria -

kelly norton: The Pleasant Places to Live

We move at a glacial pace but are getting bids on fixing up the house to sell and getting rid of junk.
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Old 06-06-2014, 01:13 PM   #60
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Healthcare is pretty good and affordable in most areas of Costa Rica and Panama. If you live more than an hour or two from a major medical center in the US you are just as vulnerable to an acute health problem as in a small village in a third world country. Agree about the problem with separation from family and friends. Hence the need for a home near loved ones. If I got a central American property it would need to be managed and rentable when not in use by us or our family.
Although not needed right now, we're currently 30-minutes from major hospitals and university research hospitals. I'd also be a little worried about the language barrier we'd have in Central America. I can understand a little Spanish, but definitely can't speak it too well.

Maybe in early retirement, assuming good health, it would be doable for us. The weather, beach and ocean are such a huge draw. A nice place in Manhattan Beach on the strand would be preferable, but that would never be remotely affordable for us.
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