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TheMole

Irvine, CA

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I am currently a graduate student at Irvine. Yes, the place lacks the lovely urban centers that we might like to see, and have known from our past (my education was completed in London), and yet, this seems to me to hardly be a cause for calling the University itself "soul sucking," as if that term means anything anyway. Yes, there are strip malls. One of my favorites has a Soon Dobu restaurant (and the nice women running the place don't put fish in my soup - which is nice,) a vegan restaurant that makes damn fine sandwiches, and a north Indian restaurant. Certainly, there are also lots of nasty little big box stores whose parking lots are monitored by underpaid and inattentive security guards. But really, the portrait of Orange County is much more complex than that.

I also would like to address two streams of thinking that run through the responses you have gotten so far: 1) that driving is evil, precludes you from going anywhere, and will eventually defeat your will to do anything and 2) that it is impossible to find affordable, accessible housing in or near Irvine that still allows you to have a social life, and that this social life is entirely dependent upon where you live.

First, Southern California is a dispersed place, true, and this is to my mind one of its greatest assets. While there are certainly centralized areas of culture that graduate students are likely to flock (concerts on the East Side, galleries in Culver City and Chinatown, etc., --more below), we shouldn't assume that all graduate students or university faculty are interested in and likely to spend their time in the same place. Some of my peers commute to San Diego because they have families there; some from Pasadena choose to commute because they work at the Norton Simon; others live in Long Beach - including myself - and still others live in Irvine. Nobody's soul appears to have evaporated, regardless of where they live. I choose to live in Long Beach because it is halfway between the University and LA, where I spend every weekend, with only the rare exception, and near the beach and bars. It takes me 20 mintues carpooling and 30 minutes alone to get to school (door to door) and 30 minutes carpool/45 minutes alone to get to the furthest reaches of LA. True, traffic can be killer and I sometimes sit for a long while. But that is usually because I am going somewhere I want to be, and we sometimes just have to wait for what we want ...Moreover, delay occurs on public transit everywhere, anyway.

Second, I find my rent to be reasonable, as it relates to my geographic area and my cultural map of the city. Traveling around the city really isn't that bad, and I find that life in the region is generally good. And certainly, depending on your interests and class schedule, the size of the region does afford a good diversity of activities, impeccable weather and natural beauty, and some great adviser at UCI.

Hope this helps

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I'm interested in hearing from anyone who has lived in LA while doing graduate work at UCI. Quite a few of the professors with whom I met lived in Echo Park. I liked UCI a lot and would love to go there, but feel that it would be quite important to live in LA: I have a diverse social network there, and it is very important to me that my social and intellectual life do not become 'captured' by the academy and that I can do academic work while situated in a context that I find stimulating in a variety of ways.

Has anyone done this? Know people that have done it? Would one year of coursework and then 4 years of studying be doable (as opposed to being there for two years of coursework)

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Can anyone here give me information about living off campus? I'm considering UC Irvine, but I have a dog so I won't be able to live on campus (damned no dog on campus rules!). I like my dog a lot, so getting rid of him is not an option.

The only thing I can find from internet searches is that it is ridiculously expensive, and that every apartment is part of a huge complex, all of which look exactly the same. Is there anything with a little character in Irvine? Has anyone had success living off campus?

I live in graduate housing at UC Irvine. It is possible to be granted an exception if the dog is prescribed by a doctor for anxiety conditions (hint).

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I'm in my third year of grad school at UCI, and I've been living in Los Angeles for the past year (instead of on campus in grad housing, which was killing my soul). MUCH happier, even given the commute.

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I've lived in orange County a great part of my life and have lived other places both in California and out and can offer a comparision for those wanting to know about the area.

First off, I hate Irvine. It is devoid of all culture and character. It's the safest city in America, but at the cost of losing anything that would make the city interesting. The one lone spot is the artsy theatre across the street from UCI that we go see indie movies at occasionally. Plus, Irvine is so expensive, you won't be able to find anything resonable in Irvine. But I have heard from people I know going to school that the married housing is nice. UCI's campus is actually pretty nice.

But don't let Irvine tarnish your thoughts about Orange County as a whole. It's a great place to live with plenty of things to do, both culturally and actively. The beach is 10 minutes away. There are plenty of record shops and movie theatres. But with all that, a car is a must. There's no way around it; if you want to do stuff, you need a car.

I recommend Costa Mesa.(My hometown.) It's close to Irvine, without that icky Irvine feel to it. It's home to South Coast Rep (the best theatre west of Broadway), OC Performing Arts Center, and a burgeoning art community. Plus, it's way cheaper than the surrounding cities. (Newport, Huntington, Irvine.)

Hope this helps.

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I'm sure some people love Irvine, but I couldn't find my niche there. I found UCI to be too slow paced, suburban, sterile and segregated. I disliked Irvine enough to leave my fully funded grad program after a year. I got depressed thinking about living there for 4+ years.

The campus is very separated from the community. You'll definitely need a car if you want to stay sane in such a suburban environment as the campus shuts down after classes end and on the weekends. Groceries/shopping are at least a 20 min walk from grad housing and are inconvenient to get to without a car. Embrace the automobile as public transit is dysfunctional. Zipcars are in high demand and require booking/planning a few days ahead of time.

If you're not from the West coast, be prepared for some culture shock. Southern Californians are super casual and indirect. The majority of the undergraduate student body is east Asian and they definitely shape the culture of UCI. Having lived in much more diverse places, I found it odd how students stuck so closely to their own race when making friends and dating. I suppose it's merely the result of circumstance. There isn't much interaction with the white, preppy, republican suburban population nor with the working class Hispanics in Santa Ana.

With it's nice weather, beaches and surfing, Orange County is more of a place to spend a vacation. Then again, maybe school should feel like a long, slow paced vacation.

Edited by danubecities

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Wow, I can't imagine leaving because of not liking Irvine. I hear the same complaints from my classmates (and they all move up to Long Beach and stay in the program), but I have to say, I don't mind the environment at all. I've lived in three major metropolitan cities before this and the casual atmosphere is a welcome change. Granted, I live 20 minutes from campus (but still in South OC), and may have a different perspective since I have a family, but I'm loving my time in Orange County.

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The majority of the undergraduate student body is east Asian and they definitely shape the culture of UCI. Having lived in much more diverse places, I found it odd how students stuck so closely to their own race when making friends and dating. I suppose it's merely the result of circumstance. There isn't much interaction with the white, preppy, republican suburban population nor with the working class Hispanics in Santa Ana.

UCI is incredibly diverse. Around half of the undergraduate population is Asian, including many Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Indian . . . I mean, 60% of the world population is Asian. So maybe you have a skewed perception of what is diverse. Three-fourths of the undergrad population at UCI speak a language other than English at home, which speaks to its cultural and economic diversity.

What graduate housing are you talking about? If you're at Verano Place or Palo Verde, Albertson's is right across the street and Trader Joe's is a block over. I haven't had a car for a year and I have no shortages of events, readings, screenings and parties to go to.

Anyway, I'm mostly reacting to the denigration of Irvine as a sterile and soulless place. You admit that it has its own culture; you're saying you don't appreciate it. How is it fair to demean Irvine's culture in a way that would be impossible if one were talking about New Orleans, per se?

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Can anyone provide any specific monthly rents they are paying whether for on-campus housing or off-campus housing (i.e. Costa Mesa, Long Beach, etc). I am trying to get a sense for the equivalence of prices between off-campus and on-campus housing, as I have heard that on-campus housing prices are pretty variable (i..e you could get placed at one apartment where it would cost $750 a month or at another apartment on campus that charges $1200 a month). Which apartment complexes (not just which cities) do you feel are the best to live in for a 'cheap-enough' price and what are these prices? I must admit, after having attended visitation day this weekend and realizing I love the area/the faculty/the students/the research being done, my main reservation at this point about attending UCI right now is largely cost of living, especially as it pertains to housing, so any insight which can help ameliorate my concerns would be useful. Thanks!

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I grew up in Orange County, if anyone has questions PM me. Garden Grove, Costa Mesa and Westminster have the cheapest rent in North County. If you want to be by the beach, Huntington Beach is generally cheaper than everywhere else, with the best rent found near Huntington Harbor or a little more inland towards Garden Grove. Expect to pay $900 minimum for a one bedroom, if you don't mind roommates you can share a two bedroom for $650-$1000 depending on how nice it is. Renting a room can range from $500-$1000. Irvine is kind of expensive, Costa Mesa is probably the best bet for somewhere close.

Edit: If you prefer South County, San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano will have the lowest rent near the ocean, you may be able to find cheaper/ nicer places for the $$$ inland a bit, but they tend to be newer luxury type apartments.

Edited by xdarthveganx

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I used to rent a beautiful studio near the ocean in Long Beach that went for $1050 (great area), and I also found a really crappy studio in Long beacg for $850. The nice looking 1 bedrooms went for $1200 (min) and up!

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Check out the websites for Verano Place and Palo Verde. The rents are good (they're subsidized). Factor in the lack of commute and those two complexes are cheaper than anything else you'll find.

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Hey,

I went to Irvine for four years. Its really not all that bad. The campus is really lush, beautiful, and scenic. There are a myraid of local art gallaries in newport, laguna, and huntington beach areas. Nice beachs. It may be rich and superficial, but there are lots of geeky people there too. Its close to many places to go hiking and other such activities. If you have any specific questions, please ask.

Currently at Irvine right now, I feel like the rich and superficial has died down. Definitely outweighed by the beaches and close proximity to theme parks and great shopping areas. Really quiet and safe, probably the only place I wouldn't be afraid to walk on the street alone in the dead of night. And we just won the Men's Volleyball National Championship against USC, woot!

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Need info. on housing options between Verano / Palo Verde (on campus) on one hand and off-campus close-proximity to UCI (e.g. Harvard Court / Cornell Court / Stanford Court / Berkeley Court etc.) on the other. Would be great to get first-hand views on the following aspects (keeping in mind a family with kids; need a 2-bed).

 

- Which options are better for school-going kids (playground, company / other kids, activities / facilities etc.)  

- Do all of these fall within the same school zone 

- Difference in facilities such as laundry / pool / gym / parking

- Difference in rents for a 2-bed (I have seen the rents for the on-campus options)

- Are the off-campus options in close proximity to UCI primarily filled with UCI students 

- Any key positive or negatives for any of the options

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Need info. on housing options between Verano / Palo Verde (on campus) on one hand and off-campus close-proximity to UCI (e.g. Harvard Court / Cornell Court / Stanford Court / Berkeley Court etc.) on the other. Would be great to get first-hand views on the following aspects (keeping in mind a family with kids; need a 2-bed).

 

- Which options are better for school-going kids (playground, company / other kids, activities / facilities etc.)  

- Do all of these fall within the same school zone 

- Difference in facilities such as laundry / pool / gym / parking

- Difference in rents for a 2-bed (I have seen the rents for the on-campus options)

- Are the off-campus options in close proximity to UCI primarily filled with UCI students 

- Any key positive or negatives for any of the options

joining..

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I was wondering if people would comment with suggestions on where to live between Irvine and Los Angeles.  I am considering an offer from UCI, and would like to like close, but my husband's job prospects are mostly in the LA area (most likely in Venice Beach but some other places as well).  I know the commute between them is not great, but we were hoping to live somewhere that's bearable to get to both cities. 

 

Affordable is important, but more important to me is safety.  Although many people don't like the like of fun activities and shops in Irvine compared to LA, I would much rather live in Irvine (or similar) and drive to the fun stuff when I wanted to go out.

 

Any ideas?  I can see on a map all the cities that live between them (e.g. Santa Ana, Long Beach, Fullerton, Anaheim, etc.), but I have no idea what each city is like and what it would be like to commute to Irvine and LA.

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I was wondering if people would comment with suggestions on where to live between Irvine and Los Angeles.  I am considering an offer from UCI, and would like to like close, but my husband's job prospects are mostly in the LA area (most likely in Venice Beach but some other places as well).  I know the commute between them is not great, but we were hoping to live somewhere that's bearable to get to both cities. 

 

Affordable is important, but more important to me is safety.  Although many people don't like the like of fun activities and shops in Irvine compared to LA, I would much rather live in Irvine (or similar) and drive to the fun stuff when I wanted to go out.

 

Any ideas?  I can see on a map all the cities that live between them (e.g. Santa Ana, Long Beach, Fullerton, Anaheim, etc.), but I have no idea what each city is like and what it would be like to commute to Irvine and LA.

 

I went to UCI, and I've lived in Irvine, Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, and Long Beach. If you want to split the difference between LA and Irvine, I suggest Long Beach. There are some VERY nice areas, but also some VERY crappy/unsafe areas. You need to be careful. We rented a loft in downtown Long Beach and absolutely loved it. As for OC, I recommend Costa Mesa. It's more affordable than Irvine or further South OC, but you are still very close to campus and Costa Mesa is a perfectly safe area. It's not as "manicured" as Irvine, but tbh, Irvine drove me crazy with it's super focus on being a perfectly planned area. I much preferred Costa Mesa. Newport is pricey, and not really worth it IMO.

 

As for commutes: my husband and I commuted from Long Beach to Irvine every day, and it's a nightmare. Expect a 1-1.5 hour commute each way. Let me know if you have questions--I've lived all over SoCal! 

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Need info. on housing options between Verano / Palo Verde (on campus) on one hand and off-campus close-proximity to UCI (e.g. Harvard Court / Cornell Court / Stanford Court / Berkeley Court etc.) on the other. Would be great to get first-hand views on the following aspects (keeping in mind a family with kids; need a 2-bed).

 

- Which options are better for school-going kids (playground, company / other kids, activities / facilities etc.)  

- Do all of these fall within the same school zone 

- Difference in facilities such as laundry / pool / gym / parking

- Difference in rents for a 2-bed (I have seen the rents for the on-campus options)

- Are the off-campus options in close proximity to UCI primarily filled with UCI students 

- Any key positive or negatives for any of the options

I believe those are all in the same school zone. You could go a little bit further out (still w/in three miles of campus) and live in the University Park area, which would get you more of a house or a townhouse for the same price. This would also get you away from undergrads and more in a family neighborhood.

 

None of the campus housing that allows family has in-unit laundry (stupid, I know!). However, on-campus rent is A LOT cheaper. For a two-bedroom off-campus, expect to pay $1700-2200. Also think about parking needs...an actual house will allow you a garage, etc. (something we needed).

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Potential UCI student here. Never lived on the west coast before. My big concern is the superficiality and enforced suburban qualities of Irvine. Are there things to do around the campus? Are people horrible and vapid? I'm not being harsh, I'm just worried.

Would living in Costa Mesa make a big difference in this regard? I'm also a bit worried about living far away from campus and my cohort in Irvine. I still want to make friends of course! Can anyone tell me of their experiences with this?

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I was wondering if people would comment with suggestions on where to live between Irvine and Los Angeles.  I am considering an offer from UCI, and would like to like close, but my husband's job prospects are mostly in the LA area (most likely in Venice Beach but some other places as well).  I know the commute between them is not great, but we were hoping to live somewhere that's bearable to get to both cities. 

 

Affordable is important, but more important to me is safety.  Although many people don't like the like of fun activities and shops in Irvine compared to LA, I would much rather live in Irvine (or similar) and drive to the fun stuff when I wanted to go out.

 

Any ideas?  I can see on a map all the cities that live between them (e.g. Santa Ana, Long Beach, Fullerton, Anaheim, etc.), but I have no idea what each city is like and what it would be like to commute to Irvine and LA.

 

I'm not sure if anyone's mentioned this, but there's an commuter train, MetroLink, that has a line which runs from downtown Los Angeles to Irvine, and the Irvine station is relatively close to UCI (you can get a free transfer to a bus, and many people bicycle). LA and Orange County aren't known for public transportation, but this train is comfortable and consistent, and I knew quite a few faculty members that live in LA and commute daily on it. I think it takes about an hour from downtown to Irvine, which is an amazing commute considering you can read/study/sleep. There's also a new Metro train from Downtown to Culver City (which is right next to Venice Beach).

 

Fullerton and Orange are both nice places to live, have interesting and somewhat historic downtown areas and apartments. Most areas of these two cities are pretty safe - and in Fullerton, the train station is right in the middle of the downtown area. I think Irvine is uber-safe, and has a lot of features built into it that ensure no one unfamiliar with the area can navigate it (all the streets are curved and loop around in strange ways) and homeless people or unsavory looking persons can be removed (the sidewalks are privately owned by the Irvine Company, so you can be cited with trespassing for walking on them). I'm not too familiar with Long Beach, but know people who live there and enjoy it - the benefit is that it's closer to the ocean.

 

It's true, it's easy to drive to things on the weekend, but there's also a plus to living in a cool area, particularly if one of you, or both, have a big commute during the week. If you want safety, there's a lot of suburbs around where you can sleep very well. :)

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Potential UCI student here. Never lived on the west coast before. My big concern is the superficiality and enforced suburban qualities of Irvine. Are there things to do around the campus? Are people horrible and vapid? I'm not being harsh, I'm just worried.

Would living in Costa Mesa make a big difference in this regard? I'm also a bit worried about living far away from campus and my cohort in Irvine. I still want to make friends of course! Can anyone tell me of their experiences with this?

 

I'm not a fan of Irvine as a city, but I don't think people there are too superficial. Don't believe what you may see on Real Housewives of Orange County. It's actually a diverse city, with a lot of immigrants who work at big tech and scientific companies. Of course, also the population of UCI is unique, like any University. There's a big critical theory program there, and some interesting hybrid programs (there's a Masters in between Fine Arts and Engineering, and a broad Media Studies program), and that attracts an interesting crowd.

 

Irvine is a commuter campus, so most people, I feel, don't live very close to campus. In this way there's less of a campus culture than other institutions. Living a city or two away isn't a problem - the roads are big and welcoming down there, commuting's not an issue. And there's more things to do in Costa Mesa, Santa Ana, Orange, or the beach communities. And, as I mention above, you can be in downtown LA in an hour by train.

 

Having a car is good, or having friends with a car. You'll find yourself creating your own culture, with your cohort and new friends, and I think UCI is much closer to a lot of things than a rural University like UC Davis.

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