California Charm. Yes, southern California is very charming. Riverside looks like a perfectly safe and fair-weathered place to live. However, this city is great at making its more dangerous areas look like just another charming little neighborhood. So, make sure to walk your potential neighborhood at night to see what the area is really like. For the most part, high crime rates are located in the Downtown and Eastside neighborhoods.
Smog. Thanks to the drastic industrialization of LA, Riverside gets breezes heavily weighted down with city smog, especially in the summer. A visit to the area in wintertime may be beautiful, and quite refreshing compared to harsh east coast/midwest winters (you’ve heard the stories), but a visit during the heat and smog of summertime is necessary to make sure you can actually survive here.
Transportation. Although the smog has been a major problem, efforts to clean up the air in Southern California have prompted a very convenient transportation system. Living in Riverside, you can skip the traffic and save on gas money by taking a free ride on the Metrolink, which runs throughout the LA, Orange County, and San Diego area. The city itself has a sufficient bus system, and the streets are great for bikers and walkers alike.
Ants. If there is one major infestation that all apartments experience around here, it is ants. They make their way through the walls, up multiple stories, and into your kitchen. Newer apartments that are completely sealed off have less trouble, yet they do still find ways in. So, don’t back out of your lease just because of an ant problem. They are an issue at every apartment. Just work with the management, or work within your budget, and get a good pesticide spray in a few times a year.
Things To Do. No, you don’t have to go all the way to Los Angeles or Orange County to have a good time. Riverside has plenty of hidden gems for locals to enjoy. There are hiking trails everywhere, a few lakes, tons of shopping centers, live music, theater, horse races, golf courses, hipster bars, hookah lounges, fairs and festivals, and even an old school drive-in movie theater… not to mention, the snow-capped mountains right outside the city. Its location right in between the beach and the mountains is ideal in spring and fall, when you can go snow skiing and water skiing all in the same day. Now, tell us that isn’t the coolest thing you’ve heard all day.
Neighborhoods of Riverside
Airport. Lots of character, best hole-in-the-wall restaurants for taco and Thai food lovers, and a little bit of airplane noise, but you probably guessed that from the neighborhood’s name. $$$
Arlington Heights. Gorgeous country drives, lush orange groves, and lots of natural vegetation around Mocking Bird Lake. $$$
Arlington South. Great spot for the scenery of Arlington Heights, but with the convenience of nearby shopping complexes and neighborhood parks. $$$ - $$$$
Box Springs. Near Lake Perris Fairgrounds, two enormous parks, mall, movie theater, sushi, pizza and a grocery store. If convenience is a hot-button word for you, this place has got it in spades. $$ - $$$$
Canyon Crest. Perfect neighborhood for a bicycle-traveling student, with the University of California and downtown within a few miles, and plenty of parks, eats, and shops in between. $$$
Casa Blanca. A little shady, and a little noisy, but this neighborhood has some of the best little Mexican spots, including a meat market, bakery, grocery store, and a few restaurants. Plus, it’s less than five miles from downtown. No Humphrey Bogarts, though. Trust us, we’re bummed too. $
Downtown. A neighborhood of live theater, jazz, festivals, a few laid back dive bars, and lots of beautiful, open green space right on the river. $
Eastside. Just east of downtown, but has too much crime to walk there. So… don’t walk there. $
** Grand.** Right on the river, with lots of tree cover for walking to downtown, the community college, or the golf course. Keep an eye out for duplexes and fourplexes. $$
La Sierra. This ‘hood is mere seconds away from the mall and freeway, has lots of open space along Norco Ridge, and, as an added plus, it’s got tons of great little shops on Van Buren. $$$ - $$$$
Magnolia Center. The place for shopaholics, local musicians, families, college kids, martini-drinkers and Irish lager lovers… basically fun for the whole family, including that crazy aunt that composes Middle Eastern meditation music for her baby yoga class. There is a huge shopping center, local music showcases, Irish pub, hip gay bar, hookah lounge, coffee shops, and beautiful green spaces under bright blue California skies. What more could you ask for! $$$ - $$$$$
Mission Grove. A hidden treasure next to the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park, this woodsy area is home to luxury apartments, safe, walkable streets, and high-class neighborhood bars and restaurants. $$$$ - $$$$$
Northside. Close to everything: downtown, the river, Fairmount Park, the golf course, and a few little mom and pop shops. $$$
Presidential Park. This is a safe, affordable suburban area, with great little neighborhood parks and a drive-in movie theater to add some nostalgic Southern California charm. $$$
Ramona. Convenient, affordable, and pretty safe, except for the occasional doper, garbage digger or wandering bum. Just meander away from them as you walk down the street. $ - $$$
Sycamore Canyon Springs. Here, you can hit the highway to LA as quickly as you can skip over to the two biggest parks in Riverside: Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park and Box Springs Mountain Park. Be sure to take a hike after a good rain… that’s when the flora is most colorful. $$$$ - $$$$$
University. Walk to the University of California-Riverside, the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Park, and through streets filled with tons of studious college kids. And, no, you are not crazy if you hear the sound of church bells playing the theme to Ghostbusters… that is just the sound of a Carillonneur jamming out on the enormous Bell Tower that you see lit up in the sky. The sound travels throughout the city and bounces off of the nearby mountains. $ - $$$$$
Victoria. Victorian houses, upscale shopping, and a sea of blonde people. $$$$$
Southern California Living
Now armed with the apartment hunting tips and the neighborhood breakdown, you are ready to take on the town! Keep your mind open, your schedule loose, and enjoy that Southern California living!