If you’re the creative type, or you just have a taste for fiery food and people, travel straight to the heart of Santa Ana. Next to the city’s courthouse and town hall you’ll find a proud Spanish-speaking community and burgeoning art scene. Santa Ana’s version of Greenwich is called Artist Village and it’s full of galleries, concerts, art walks, and festivals. Lofts and smaller apartments here are affordable for the starving artist, but you won’t be hungry (or bored) long with food and fun just around the block.
North of downtown, you can stop and sniff up the beauty in Midtown’s Floral and West Floral Parks. Beautiful homes built in the fifties and sixties still bloom in vintage, classic style. Midtown is pricier and lacks the ever-present entertainment of the downtown district, but it’s beautiful and well suited for living a quiet lifestyle (although West Floral Park is known to get a little rowdy around the 4th of July).
The kids won’t get too bored, though: there’s family fun right around the corner. Only a few blocks away are the Bowers Museum (which features classes, exhibitions, and lectures on art from all over the world), Main Place Mall, Santa Ana Zoo, and the Discovery Science Center. Midtown is a bit pricier than Downtown, but if you’re looking to rear some kiddos, this is a better choice for you.
South Coast Metro:
Right up against the Costa Mesa border is the South Coast Metro district of the city. This is the poshest, fanciest, and newest part of Santa Ana.
South Coast Metro is the home to most of Orange County’s Fortune 500 and Forbes 1000 businesses. For the business elite, high quality, luxury apartments, condos, and tract homes have been erected just minutes from Santa Ana’s John Wayne airport.
This section of the city also has the South Coast Plaza, a massive mall full of designer boutiques. In fact, it’s fair to say this neighborhood was built around the plaza and Orange County’s upscale corporate offices.
But, like downtown, “SCM” has its own space for the creatively inclined – specifically the Segerstrom Center for the Arts and the South Coast Repertory theatre. The area is perhaps one of the most contemporary and artfully designed sections of Santa Ana, due mostly to the expansion and renovation of the Repertory building by renowned architect, Cesar Pelli. The city is currently planning to move the main Orange County Museum of Art from Newport Beach to this area of the city.
What does this all mean? SCM is very upscale. If you’re a patron of the arts this may be the place for you, but if you’re an artist yourself (and you have the bank account to prove it) we suggest you look elsewhere.
One thing you should know about Southern California is that traffic is always a problem. Make sure you find a home close to work to avoid often-congested freeways and road-rage induced panic attacks.
Even then, Santa Ana is surely better than most other Southern California cities (we’re looking at you LA) when it comes to the public transportation. Santa Ana has Metrolink commuter railways that connect the city to the rest of Orange Country. If you want to venture further than the county lines, take Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner, which connects Santa Ana to San Diego, Los Angeles, and Paso Robles.
If your destination requires air travel, the nearby John Wayne Airport (SNA) has got your back. No need to worry about your domestic travel needs here, but if you’re looking to go international, Los Angeles’ LAX is your closest option. No matter where the wind decides to take you – you’ll get there easy enough in Santa Ana; just make sure you plan accordingly.
Orange County is more than the location of a surprisingly good, but horribly addictive primetime soap from the early 2000s. It has amazing proximity to a great variety of attractions: hiking in the Santa Ana Mountains, lounging on the beach, or screaming like a baby on Disneyland’s Space Mountain and Knott’s Berry Farms Coasters just a few miles up the highway. Whatever California dream you may have, Santa Ana is sure to accommodate.
Santa Ana has a home for everyone but, like most So Cal locations, it can be a pricey place to live. Make sure you can afford to live here before breaking the bank and making the move (The average monthly rent for Santa Ana ranges from $900 to $2000 and up).
Though the city is diverse, the neighborhoods sometimes aren’t. Like living anywhere, make sure you find a neighborhood where you feel comfortable before you settle down and plant the roots. The closer you get towards downtown, the more heavily Spanish-speaking the populace becomes. Similarly, if you’re not raking in that much dough, you should steer clear of the South Coast Metro area. No matter what, we’re confident that you’ll find something to fit the bill.
Now go forth, you person, you. Listen to those winds and find your home. Drive in the sun - look out for number one - California, here you come.