Nestled inside of California’s Orange County sits a small city (only about 16 square miles) that borders the Pacific Ocean and plays home to Tilly's Model look and dress-alikes galore. Located thirty miles from Los Angeles and minutes from Huntington Beach, Costa Mesa is a laid back suburb with a history of agriculture, a well-known arts/theatre community and an enviable atmosphere.
During the heyday of all things Laguna and Newport Beach (Oh, how we miss The OC), Costa Mesa played the quiet neighbor. A role, in fact, that this city is used to playing. Ready to move? Good. Let's find you the perfect Costa Mesa apartment.
Costa Mesa is a family oriented area with a bit of beach town and college town mixed in. The cozy city features a nice blend of single family homes and apartment housing, as well as luxury living. Anywhere you live here, you will find sunshine, perfect California-esque views and friendly neighbors. The best part, perhaps, is that every neighborhood is within walking distance to a park, making living here perfect for those who love the great outdoors.
Mesa Verde: A family-friendly neighborhood, Mesa Verde is made up of single family homes (many built in the 1960s and ‘70s), apartments and condos. The area does have its own country club, as well as proximity to a golf course, Fairview Regional Park, and Estancia Park, which boasts the historical Estancia Adobe. The home sizes here tend to range between average (4 bedrooms) and sprawling (7 bedrooms) with large lots. The apartments also tend to be a bit more luxurious, offering fireplaces, clubhouses with resident perks, pools and coffee bars. This is great area for those relocating with families, students looking for great apartment living and young professionals who wish to live close to the beach. This area is also great for commuters, as it is near the 405 and the 73 freeways. $$-$$$$
Cliff Haven: A great area for those who love to bike, hike or run, Back Bay running track is virtually in your backyard in this 'hood. Cliff Haven is a safe and affordable area for college students, young professionals & families, seniors, really - you name it. Single family homes (some built before 1939, most built in 1970s and later) & condos in gated communities are the answer to living here, and while there are some multi-unit complexes, here many of the apartments to rent are guest houses, in law suites, etc. that are located on someone’s property. Here, you'll be right near the Costa Mesa Freeway (55) for an easy commute to the University, work or south to Newport Beach. $$$-$$$$
Santa Ana Heights: Recently annexed from Newport Beach, this part of town is located near the bluff in Costa Mesa, providing great views as well as accessibility to John Wayne airport, shopping and dining at the nearby Triangle Square. Though it has been annexed, part of Santa Ana Heights falls into the Newport Beach area, making living here convenient for weekend trips. There are many apartments to choose from in Santa Ana Heights, as well as an abundance of single family homes that are both established and newly constructed. Again, there is a mixture of single professionals, young families, college students and seniors living here. Some of the apartments here also offer garages to help eliminate street parking and crime. There are horse trails here and it's close to Back Bay for those who want to get in touch with nature. $$-$$$$
Costa Mesa (proper/downtown – 92626): The main zip code of Costa Mesa, there are about thirteen different neighborhoods that fall into the category of Costa Mesa proper from the Costa Mesa Freeway to Newport Blvd. Inside of these neighborhoods, future residents can find ranch style housing, as well as luxury apartment living and small cottages/condos. The majority of apartments located in the downtown area offer amazing perks for residents including rock climbing walls, wine chillers and concierge services. Many of the neighborhoods are close to the theatre, performing arts center and shopping, as well as nightlife. Downtown specifically is full of young, single professionals, as well as young couples and college students. It is definitely the hip place to be. $$-$$$
While the images of sunny days, nice cars and tan people ring true, life in Costa Mesa isn’t all shopping and drama. With weather that is near perfect throughout the year and views that can’t be beat (canyons, bluffs, beaches - oh, my!), life in Costa Mesa is a fine mix of college town, suburbia and trendy city. Small enough to appeal to families and laid-back enough to appeal to seniors and college kids in search of great waves and good classes, Costa Mesa is not just a city on the edge of a state, it’s a city on the edge of it all.
As a gateway to the more monied environs of Newport Beach and the Newport Coast, Costa Mesa has a unique niche in today's Orange County. It's the beach city that is still reasonably within range for lower- to middle-income residents. As such, it is home to some seriously authentic beach bums, artists, old hippies, and anyone else who loves the culture and life of the Southern California beach scene but doesn't have the financial wherewithal to push into the Newport/Huntington/San Clemente communities.
Costa Mesa is the city that most people will encounter when coming in to enjoy the Newport area. As such, the city does sport some top-notch options for your disposable income, including the nationally-famous South Coast Plaza, as well as the Orange County Performing Arts Center and South Coast Repertory. The main artery in the city, Newport Blvd., is lined wall-to-wall with the home stores for some of the biggest surf/sports companies in the world, many of which do their primary manufacturing in Costa Mesa. The city boasts a much more ethnically varied population than the coastal cities neighboring it, which has spawned a plethora of food and cultural options in the city. Costa Mesa's restaurants and bars are much more middle-brow and crowded than in Newport, but still skew overwhelmingly young and fast.
In short, Costa Mesa has offered a much truer view of what Orange County was and is for longtime residents: blue-collar, laid-back, comfortable in it's own skin. Tourists by the thousands stream through the city on the way to the beach, but as an authentic example of a beach "community", Costa Mesa has held on to it's traditions and lifestyles in a much better fashion than her rich sisters down the road.
Pros: •Very beach-oriented city. •Very affordable for coastal OC. •Much more down-to-earth, varied population than Newport or HB. •Some of the best weather in America.
Cons: •Still a bit rough-and-tumble, "locals only"-style attitude. •Traffic can get beastly, especially in summer and on weekends. •Brings in the young, fast, reckless and inebriated year-round. •Some poorer areas are far overdue for renovation/gentrification. •Easy Crime Target Areas...Please be careful
"Costa Mesa is a city similar to Brea in that it attracts many visitors daily with the South Coast Plaza being its top commercial attraction. This shopping mall offers most of the high end products you won't regularly find in other malls. Located off Bristol, the street itself is a shopping dream. With a wide selection of Asian restaurants and big chain stores, it's no surprise that this city attracts so much attention. However, outside of this area, there isn't really much to do. Bristol will offer most of the prominent business and restaurant activity. If you do happen to visit, try searching for the anti-mall plaza. This small business lot offers unique fashion and foods you might be unaware of. It's definitely a local hot spot, something you must check out." - _geunjin"
"We got a good deal on our first lease, but then they kept on aggressively increasing the lease amount each time we renewed. This time they want us to pay $600 more per month than our first years lease agreement. It's really hard to move in and out of the place because the small doorways and elevator (which is constantly in use). I hate moving, but I think I'm going to have to because of the rent price. Also in Apartment F there's a scary hallway that always smells. If they would simply prop the doors open to the stairwell and hallway, it would be way better. But they don't." - Chase McElroy
"Horrible place to live in. My car window has been smashed & stuff stolen from the car. It was parked in the lower level of the garage. I called them several times & the office is closed. The whole day has passed & no one called us back. Terrible unsafe apartment complex. I dread living here now....." - TINKAI SEN