Where We Live

I walked in the door and sighed. Helaine asked what was wrong. I said we’d found the house. Three bedrooms, two and a half baths, on two floors with around 1,900 square feet of living space.


This week marks a year since our hectic first week in Irvine. This is a totally different world. Nothing’s the same, right down to the side of the street that borders the ocean!

As the wheels began to turn and moving became more-and-more certain, we made a few house hunting trips to Orange County. Our cousins are nearby. That was a huge draw. Stef is close, but not too close. No winter.

Helaine likes new. For us that’s the right call. There’s lots new here.

Irvine is a rapidly growing suburb in Southern Orange County. We are inland from Laguna Beach and Newport Beach. To our north and east are foothills, then the Santa Ana Mountains, mainly wilderness.

This is unlike our former New England home in nearly every way. We lived in a town that grew organically. Our property line was not a rectangle.

Here, everything is by design. Each house is different, but in the same sense identical twins have differences. Irvine is a medley of your favorites in the beige family.

Housing developments pack the homes in then leave lots of common space with parks, pools and trails. That’s part of the deal for being allowed to build here. We have a city block sized common area with pool, basketball and tennis courts and large dog friendly lawn. It’s a minute’s walk away. There are kid playgrounds within a few blocks in every direction.

We saw a model and bought a house to-be-built. I walked in the door and sighed. Helaine asked what was wrong. I said we’d found the house. We were looking for this layout. Three bedrooms, two and a half baths, on two floors with around 1,900 square feet of living space.

We knew most, not all of what we were getting. Houses are different when they’re alongside their neighbors. As it turns out we chose well and got lucky. We’re very happy the way things turned out.

Our goal was a great kitchen for Helaine and great office for me. She is amazing in the kitchen, especially baking, and deserves to have a suitable space. My office is more about what’s in it than what it is. It began life as a third bedroom. It’s currently messy, but otherwise perfect.

We are very surprised by our utility bills. Because we have neighbors north and south we get morning and afternoon sun, but are shaded during the day. Our electric bill averages in the low $50 range. There’s also $15 for gas and $30 for water. All seem constant year round.

We seldom use the air conditioner. Low humidity is a big deal. We sleep with windows open 350 nights a year–maybe more. I leave a laptop on the patio and sit out there every night.

This is a community with lots of immigrants, most from Asia. Not all speak English. I often say hello and am met with a pleasant, but perplexed, smile.

I have a Chinese family on one side and a California raised Korean family on the other. I know one family well, the other not at all.

The Chinese family is multi-generational, living together. Some housing developments sell models specifically designed for that.

At Halloween one neighborhood father explained his young daughter didn’t speak English. She’d only been here a week. Welcome to America. Let’s go door-to-door and beg for candy.

I love this neighborhood because of the vitality I see. Young families on the move. If the American dream has disappeared, word hasn’t gotten to the people living here.

We got very lucky.

4 thoughts on “Where We Live”

  1. Hi Geoff,
    I mentioned to you about a year ago we were doing the same journey from Avon CT. We have lived in CT 15 years and also live in the OC before that, but not originally from here. We just moved into our new home 3 weeks ago in Rancho Mission Viejo. We love our little slice of California. I miss the big storms, but 80 and sunny is nice.

  2. Had family in Oceanside years ago. Wouldn’t mind retirement to Mission Viajo!! Ct is over built over priced over taxed and crime is worse with every dawn. Good luck in the new house. 🙂

  3. Wow– hard to believe that a year has passed.
    The picture at the top—that’s not your street–or is it.?
    I don’t remember from those earlier pictures of your home being built–that there was a slope to the road. Those early pictures didn’t have the greenery. Are you folks having water restrictions yet?
    From the comments, it sounds like you could have a southern CT reunion out there!

  4. I liked Irvine a lot when I was there, the roads are wide and the area has many new areas.

    As far as the “no winter ” part I would be a bit more cautious : while Irvine is much warmer than vast areas of the USA in winter, and no snow, keep in mind this PAST winter was more than 5 F above normal. There were few lows this past January below 50 F in Irvine, but in a normal winter lows in the mid 40’s to even upper 30’s F is not uncommon.

    As I tell everyone, the only place to really escape winter for sure in the USA is south Florida, where lows below 50 F are rare.

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