Nestled in the heart of Orange County, Costa Mesa is an eclectic, lively, and thriving suburban city. It’s home of world-renowned Segerstrom Center for the Arts, South Coast Plaza (one of the largest shopping centers in the US), and much more. The Southern California city, west of Huntington Beach, east of Irvine, south of Santa Ana, north of Newport Beach, also opens up a wealth of outdoor recreation, beach attractions, topnotch cuisine, nightlife, and coastal adventures to visitors & residents all year long.

Known for its arts, fashion, and theatre (and proximity to the ocean), Costa Mesa is a city brimming with vibrancy and possibilities. Yes, this isn’t a cheap place to live. But you get what you pay for and then some (and it’s less expensive than surrounding areas like Newport Beach). Whatever your reasons for moving here – excellent access to the coast, close to LA, highly diverse people & culture, endless opportunities, fun under the sun – Costa Mesa is waiting with open arms!

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Living in Costa Mesa, CA: What to Know Before Moving to Costa Mesa

Costa Mesa, about 40 miles southeast of LA, is the 56th most populous city in California, with 113,200 residents. Home to fantastic neighborhoods (like Mesa del Mar, Eastside, and Mesa Verde), surprising affordability, gorgeous year-round weather, excellent schools, impressive scenery, stellar nightlife, only one mile from the Pacific, and much more, the Orange County city offers exceptionally high livability.

Pros and Cons of Living in Costa Mesa

Pros: 

  • Fantastic weather: With a semi-arid climate tempered by the coolness of the Pacific Ocean, the city experiences that year-round, mellow, sunny SoCal climate everyone loves.
  • Central location: If you live in Costa Mesa, some of the best opportunities, beach towns, and cities around (including Long Beach, Santa Ana, and Los Angeles) will surround you.
  • Entertainment: Known as an acclaimed arts & theater community, the city has a fantastic nightlife, top-notch cuisine, and a host of attractions & destinations (more on that in ‘What to Do’).
  • Coastline & beaches: The city is only a short trip from an endless list of coastal activities and world-renowned beach communities like Newport Beach and Huntington Beach.
  • Terrific amenities: From highly rated schools to South Coast Plaza to the Pacific Amphitheatre, there’s an impressive list of amenities (plus, high diversity in all categories).
  • SoCal lifestyle: Moving for the sun? The breeze of the Pacific? Endless surf and sandy beaches? Economic and recreational opportunities? All of the above? Welcome to Costa Mesa!

Cons:

  • The high cost of living: Okay, so we mentioned “surprising affordability” in the intro. Relative to the nation, it’s expensive here. However, Costa Mesa is one of the most affordable SoCal cities.
  • Expensive housing market: Again, depending on how you look at it, the city is costly compared to the US average, but housing prices are reasonable compared to other CA areas.
  • Overcrowding: Everyone wants to live it up under the sun and by the beach, and with Costa Mesa’s popularity with tourists and newcomers alike comes rising congestion.
  • Higher property crime: Even though violent crime is lower than the national and CA average, property crime is nearly 52 (compared to the California state average of 37.1).

Tax Rates

  • Property tax: According to the Overview of Property Taxes by SmartAsset, the average county tax rate is 0.684%. Average property tax is $5,472 (assessed home value of $800,000).
  • Sales tax: The state of California has a base sales tax rate of 7.25%. When added with county taxes, the 2020 minimum combined sales tax rate for Costa Mesa is currently 7.5%.
  • State income tax: The state currently has ten separate tax brackets. Rates vary from 1% to 13.3%. A taxpayer’s rate depends on income and filing status (single or married).

Housing Market

According to Zillow, the median home value in Costa Mesa is $825,873. This value is higher than Orange County’s median home value of $740,484. No wonder nearly 61% of residents rent their homes. As for rentals, the median rent price is $1,850 per month for a 1BR apartment (or $22,200 annually) and $2,378 for a 2BR apartment (or $28,536 annually).

Here are the cheapest neighborhoods to live in Costa Mesa, CA:

  1. Vanguard U of Southern California / Fairview Rd
  2. Harbor Blvd / W Bay St
  3. Placenta Ave / W 18th St
  4. Placenta Ave / W 19th St
  5. Joann St / Maple St

Cost of Living

According to the Cost of Living in Costa Mesa by BestPlaces, the SoCal city has a cost of living index of 175.8. This index is significantly higher than the United States average of 100.

Here are some examples of individual costs (relative to the average of 100): Groceries (105.1), Health (95.9), Housing (341.8), Utilities (90.4), and Transportation (106.6). The median household income in Costa Mesa is $75,109 per year. This income level is higher than the US average of approximately $62,000.

Here’s a breakdown of the average expenses in Orange County for a family of four:

  1. Housing = $1,876
  2. Food = $845
  3. Childcare = $1,331
  4. Transportation = $1,277
  5. Health Care = $890
  6. Other necessities = $1,098
  7. Taxes = $1,282
  8. Total = $8,598 per month or $103,174 per year

Weather & Natural Disasters

Who doesn’t love that quintessential SoCal climate? Offering year-round temperate weather and nearly 275 days of sunshine, it’s easy to see why people fall in love with Costa Mesa, CA.

The City of Costa Mesa experiences the two warmest temperatures in August and September, with August seeing an average high of 80°F and a low of 65°F. Conversely, the two coldest months are December and February, with an average high of 66°F and low of 46°F in December.

Depending on your preferences, the one drawback is that Costa Mesa doesn’t see any significant seasonal variations. The city receives zero snow and only about 12 inches of rainfall per year. If you’re coming from a frigid region, this might be precisely the reason you want to move here!

As for natural disasters, earthquakes and fires top the list of threats & risks. To be prepared, check out the City of Costa Mesa’s Disaster Preparedness resource.

Economy & Job Market

According to economic data by BestPlaces, the City of Costa Mesa currently has an unemployment rating of only 2.6% (compared to the nationwide average of 3.9%). The local job market has increased by 0.6% year-over-year, with future job growth projected at 32.4%.

Significant industries include sales and related; management; business and financial operations; office and administrative support; education instruction and library; arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media; food preparation and serving; building and grounds cleaning/maintenance. Primary industries include hospitality, luxury retail, education, and restaurants.

Here are the Top 10 major employers in Costa Mesa (Orange County):

  1. Walt Disney Company
  2. Costa Mesa Public Works Department
  3. Costa Mesa Schools
  4. University of California – Irvine
  5. County of Costa Mesa
  6. D & G Dolce & Gabbana
  7. St. Joseph Health
  8. Kaiser Permanente
  9. Target Corp.
  10. Walmart Inc.

Looking for work in Costa Mesa, CA? Here are some handy online resources: CareerBuilder, CollegeRecruiter, Indeed, LinkedIn, and Employment Information – City of Costa Mesa.

Traffic and Transportation

Looking for public transportation? There are a few options in and around the City of Costa Mesa. These include OCTA and Metrolink (Tustin). There’s also John Wayne Airport (Santa Ana), Long Beach Airport, and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Ridesharing is also a super popular option, and you’ll find all the major services here like Lyft and Uber.

As with most parts of Southern California, Costa Mesa is a car-dependent community. If you plan on driving here, you should familiarize yourself with top routes. Interstate 405 (or more commonly referred to as the 405) cuts east-west through the northern region of the city. It connects with the 5, which provides access to Los Angeles in the north and San Diego in the south. State Route 55 (north-south) and State Route 73 (east-west) also cut through Costa Mesa and provide more localized travel.

According to Living in Costa Mesa by Walk Score, the city scores the following: 64 (Walk Score), 39 (Transit Score), and 66 (Bike Score). Walkability and bikeability are pretty decent in the area, but public transportation has room for improvement.

Back to traffic. It’s not quite as bad as the City of Los Angeles, but it’s far from great in and around Costa Mesa. According to Patch, Los Angeles-Orange County congestion ranks as the worst in America. Commuters lose 119 hours, 35 gallons of fuel, and $2,400 every year to bottlenecks and delays.

What to Do

Only a mile away from the Pacific coastline and sandy beaches, Costa Mesa offers breathtaking scenery and many fun attractions. From hiking, surfing, and sunbathing to luxury shopping, fine cuisine, and outstanding arts & theatre, the city offers abundant activities sure to make anybody happy!

  • Let’s begin with parks. Talbert Regional Park, less than four miles from Huntington Beach, lies along the southwestern border of the city. Home to diverse habitats, the popular park is divided into six distinct sections. TeWinkle Park, named after businessman Charles TeWinkle, offers 49 acres perfect for tennis, basketball, BBQ fun, and more. It also features an amphitheater greenbelt, and lake area.
  • Are you looking for the top destinations? The city draws many visitors annually to the Orange County Fair. Are you looking for retail therapy? Look no further than South Coast Plaza, one of the largest shopping centers in the country with more than 280 boutiques and restaurants. And if you’re a lover of performing arts, you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to visit the world-famous Segerstrom Center for the Arts.
  • Like sports? Though the City of Costa Mesa doesn’t have any pro teams, Orange County is home to two major league sports teams: the Anaheim Ducks (NHL) and Los Angeles Angels (MLB). If you’re looking for other types of sports, Los Angeles is a short trip away, offering a wide range of professional organizations that include the Lakers (NBA), Rams (NFL), and LA Galaxy (MLS).
  • As for other popular tourist destinations and local activities, there’s always something exciting and fun to do here! Isamu Noguchi’s California Scenario is an award-winning sculpture garden. South Coast Repertory Theater (SCR) is considered the leading producer of new plays. Last but not least, Fairview Park is a 210-acre open space perfect for hiking, horseback riding, walking, and biking.

Schools and Universities

Newport-Mesa Unified School District (NMUSD), which provides education to more than 21,200 students, is the primary district serving the Costa Mesa area. NMUSD, according to school district rankings by Niche, receives an A rating. Overall, public schools in the city are highly rated as well.

Top public schools are Orange County School of the Arts, Plaza Vista, Maude B. Davis Elementary School, Mariners Elementary School, and Early College High School. Top-rated private schools include The Waldorf School of Orange County, Mariners Christian School, St. John the Baptist Catholic School, St. Joachim Elementary School, and Saniku East West Language School.

As for higher education, Costa Mesa offers several options. Post-secondary schools include Vanguard University of Southern California (4-year Christian school), Orange Coast College (above-average 2-year community college), Pacific College (4-year for-profit college, specializes in nursing), and Paul Mitchell the School – Costa Mesa (small for-profit institution, specializes in cosmetology, barbering, and more).

Crime

According to Crime in Costa Mesa by BestPlaces, the city has a property crime rate of 51.9. This rate is higher than the US average of 35.4 and the California average of 37.1. The violent crime rate – this is comprised of murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault – is currently 22.4, which is less than the nationwide average of 22.7 and the state of California average of 25.2.

Utility Providers

Before moving to Costa Mesa, you’ll want to schedule new utilities. Here’s a list of providers:

  • Electric service: Southern California Edison is the primary electricity provider in Orange. To get power, visit the Turn Your Service On and Off page or call 800-655-4555.
  • Gas service: Southern California Gas Company provides natural gas service to the city. Check out their Schedule Service page or call 800-427-2200.
  • Water service: Mesa Consolidated Water District provides clean, safe, potable water. To start service, visit the Start or Stop Service page or call 949-631-1200.
  • Trash pick-up/recycling service: The Public Services Department oversees trash pick-up. For more info, check out the city’s Waste Collection and Recycling resource.
  • Internet/Cable service: Let’s not forget about cable TV and internet services. The significant providers include AT&T, DirecTV, Cox, Earthlink, Spectrum, and Verizon.
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Best Neighborhoods in Costa Mesa, CA

These communities are among the best places to live in Costa Mesa:

Central Costa Mesa

As one of the five main sections of Costa Mesa (including South Coast Metro, Eastside Costa Mesa, Southwest Costa Mesa, and Mesa Verde), Central Costa Mesa offers a wonderful urban-suburban mix right in the middle of the city. 68% of residents rent their homes.

Offering easy access to Downtown Costa Mesa – it’s about two miles northeast of the downtown area – the neighborhood borders Baker Street (north), State Route 55 (east), Wilson Blvd (south), and Harbor Blvd (west). The main points of attraction include the Orange County Fairgrounds, Costa Mesa High School, Orange Coast College, and an assortment of parks (including TeWinkle Park).

Home to the city’s most prominent businesses, Central Costa Mesa is a well-established community dating back to 1956 that offers an excellent selection of midsize condos, townhouses, and loft apartments.

  • Population – Under 23,900 residents
  • Home Price – Median home value over $764,000
  • Rent Prices – $1,720 for 1BR apartment and $2,920 for 3BR apartment
  • Schools – Costa Mesa High School, Estancia High School, Adams Elementary School, Charles W. TeWinkle Middle School, College Park Elementary School

College Park Collection

College Park Collection, about 2.5 miles north of Downtown Costa Mesa, is a group of neighborhoods. It consists of the following neighborhoods: College Park, College Park Cambridge, College Park Cinderella, College Park Harbor Estates, and College Park Sherwood Ranchos. About 74% of residents rent their places.

Situated in the Central Costa Mesa (CCM) section of the city, College Park Collection accounts for most of the residential area of CCM. Bordered Baker St (north), Fairview Rd (east), Victoria St (south), and Harbor Blvd (west), the collection of neighborhoods typically offers 3BR / 2BA homes ranging from 1,200- to 3,000-square-feet. Most houses were built between 1956 and 1979.

Are you looking for a family-friendly and dog-friendly area to live, home to parks like Wilson Street Park and close to downtown? Check out of the College Park Collection neighborhoods!

  • Population – Under 13,000 residents
  • Home Price – Median home value over $875,000
  • Rent Prices – $1,550 for studio and $2,150 for 2BR place
  • Schools – Costa Mesa High School, Charles W. TeWinkle Middle School, College Park Elementary

Eastside Costa Mesa

As one of the five main sections of the city, many consider Eastside Costa Mesa the best neighborhood in Costa Mesa, CA. Bordered by Bristol Street (north), Irvine Street (east), East 16th Street (south), and Costa Mesa Freeway (west), 58% of this community’s residents rent their homes.

Home to many young professionals, Eastside Costa Mesa, offers easy access to everything (freeway, restaurants, shopping, bars, bars, less than two miles from Downtown Costa Mesa) within a five-mile radius. The northern tip of the neighborhood is also home to Santa Ana Country Club, and Newport Beach Golf Course touches the northeastern border.

Offering prime location and gorgeous homes (and some of the most expensive places in the area), Eastside Costa Mesa has an impressive list of amenities.

  • Population – Under 24,900 residents
  • Home Price – Median home value over $1.13 million
  • Rent Prices – $1,800 for studio and $2,400 for 2BR apartment
  • Schools – Heinz Kaiser Elementary School, Horace Ensign Intermediate School, Mariners Elementary School, Newport Harbor High School, Newport Heights Elementary School

Mesa del Mar

Mesa del Mar, approximately 3.5 miles northeast of downtown, is situated in the northeastern corner of Central Costa Mesa. This subset neighborhood borders Baker St (north), State Route 73 (northeast), Costa Mesa Freeway (southeast), Arlington Dr (south), and Fairview Rd (west). 75% of residents own their homes in this neighborhood.

As one of the biggest single-family housing developments in the area, Mesa del Mar (Spanish for “table of the sea”) boasts nearly 700 homes. These places typically have 3–5 bedrooms and 2–4 bathrooms, ranging in size from 1,250 to almost 3,900-square-feet. As for things to do, there’s TeWinkle Park and Jack R. Hammett Sports Complex for an assortment of cultural, social, recreational activities.

Those looking for a high-value, reasonably priced single-family home will be delighted with what Mesa del Mar has to offer!

  • Population – Under 3,000 residents
  • Home Price – Median home value over $799,000
  • Rent Prices – $1,720 for 1BR apartment and $2,150 for 2BR place
  • Schools – Maude B. Davis Elementary School, Sonora Elementary, Costa Mesa High School

Mesa Verde

Another main section of the city, Mesa Verde, is nestled in the northwestern portion of the city. It’s three miles northwest of downtown and bordered by Talbert Ave (north), Harbor Blvd (east), Joann St (south), and Santa Ana River (west). 54% of residents rent their homes in this neighborhood.

Spanish for “green table,” Mesa Verde is filled with young families and excellent schools. The 405 runs through the northern tip of the community, offering convenient access for commuting and day trips to surrounding cities. The neighborhood is also home to Mesa Verde Country Club, Fairview Park, Costa Mesa Country Club, and Fairview Development Center.

Are you raising kids or plan on doing so soon? Mesa Verde should be at the top of your list.

  • Population – Under 15,000 residents
  • Home Price – Median home value over $949,500
  • Rent Prices – $1,500 for studio and $2,500 for 2BR apartment
  • Schools – California Elementary School, Estancia High School, Adams Elementary School, Charles W. TeWinkle Middle School

South Coast Metro

South Coast Metro, one of the five distinct sections of Costa Mesa, is found in the northern part of the city. It’s six miles north of downtown and bordered by Sunflower Ave (north), Costa Mesa Freeway (east), Baker St (south), and Harbor Blvd (west). About 71% of residents rent their places in the area.

Surrounding the South Coast Plaza Mall (home to 250 boutiques, 30 restaurants, and the world-famous Segerstrom Center for the Arts), South Coast Metro is a well-established community dating back to 1958. It’s home to Killybrooke Elementary School and Paularino Elementary School, as well as several parks like Wakeham Park and Shiffer Park.

Great for raising a family and retail therapy sessions, South Coast Metro offers high diversity, family-friendly living, and easy access to the 405 and SR 73 in the northern region of Costa Mesa, CA.

  • Population – Under 17,400 residents
  • Home Price – Median home value over $725,000
  • Rent Prices – $1,800 for studio and $2,400 for 2BR apartment
  • Schools – Maude B. Davis Elementary School, Killybrooke Elementary School, Paularino Elementary School, Segerstrom High School, Sonora Elementary School

Southwest Costa Mesa

The last of the five large sections of the city, Southwest Costa Mesa is bordered by Joann St (north), Harbor Blvd (east), W 16th St (south), and the Santa Ana River (west). It’s also home to the downtown area and just north of the Pacific Coast Highway. 68% of residents rent their homes here.

Home to many companies, Southwest Costa Mesa residents also enjoy access to several parks. These include Talbert Regional Park (ideal for checking out native plants and wildlife), Lions Park, and Canyon Park. You’ll also find several excellent elementary schools in the neighborhood.

Providing excellent schools, family-friendly community, proximity to the ocean, and reasonably priced housing options, Southwest Costa Mesa is a beautiful place to raise a family!

  • Population – Under 31,900 residents
  • Home Price – Median home value over $730,000
  • Rent Prices – $1,750 for 1BR apartment and $2,100 for 2BR place
  • Schools – Newport Elementary School, Horace Ensign Intermediate School, Newport Harbor High School, Estancia High School, Adams Elementary School

Quality Moving Services from Costa Mesa Movers

Relocation doesn’t have to be painful – or costly. Great Guys Long Distance Movers takes the guesswork out of the equation, connecting customers with top movers at the best price!

Interstate Moves

Moving to or from Costa Mesa? Great Guys is ready to assist! Whether relocating from the East Coast or a neighboring state, we make it super easy to book top moving services. Our network of interstate movers are all thoroughly vetted and fully certified to offer you a smooth moving experience.

Intrastate & Local Moves

Headed across the city? To another county? In any case, we can connect you with intrastate and local movers that fit your exact needs and budget. It’s never been easier to enjoy affordable services with a personalized touch. Relax and enjoy a drama-free relocation with our dependable partners.

Small Load Moves

Who says you don’t deserve the same convenience as larger households? Not us! From smaller apartments to college dorms to micro studios, our small-load movers excel at providing swift services at the best price. Enjoy the extra time and savings on doing something fun!

Furniture Shipments

Staring at a bunch of empty boxes and a house filled with stuff? Need a hand with a vintage curio cabinet or sofa? We work with the trusted furniture experts you need. Whether you require a cross-country, local, or in-home service, our partners have the right tools and know-how.

Piano Transport

It can be quite nerve-racking to choose a piano moving service. Who are you supposed to trust with your prized instrument? Whether you need to ship a vintage organ or concert piano, our highly skilled piano movers take every precaution to ensure safe, damage-free delivery.

Art & Antiques

Need to disassemble, transfer, and set up an art display? Have to carefully transport collectibles or family heirlooms? The art shippers we work with are highly specialized and ready to offer you an assortment of services, from climate-controlled storage to custom packaging and carpentry.

Storage-In-Transit

Trekking around the world? Renovating your home or office? Between places? There can be several reasons when storage can come in handy. We offer a storage-in-transit service that gives you peace of mind and the time you need to enjoy travel or conveniently set up your space.

Car Shipping

Whether you need to transport a vintage sportscar or family caravan, it pays to hire a reliable auto transport company. In a matter of a few minutes, we can provide you with a list of competitive bids from America’s best auto transport services. It’s never been easier to ship your vehicle!

Packing Services

Overwhelmed by everything you need to pack? You’re not alone. From special handling of fragile items to boxing every item in every room of your place, our skillful movers and packers are ready to expertly & efficiently help you with your packing needs. Sit back and relax while the pros cover it all.

Residential Moves

Just close on your dream home? This transition is a joyous time, but there’s also the moving logistics. Who are you supposed to trust with your entire household? Fortunately, our group of residential moving companies provides a drama-free and pleasant experience so that you can start on the right foot.

Commercial Moves

Moving into a new retail space, office, or spacious warehouse? This move calls for a celebration! But before we do that, let’s cover your relocation. Without the right assistance, your business can suffer from undue delays and downtime. Book our top-tier commercial movers for a seamless transition.

Same Day/Emergency/Short Notice

Feeling the pressure? Overwhelmed by the logistics? Don’t know who to contact? Great Guys is here to help. Whether you’re dealing with eviction, job relocation, or simple procrastination, we understand how stressed out you must be. Let us find you emergency movers in your area ASAP.

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Devin Barroga

Ever been bitten by the wanderlust bug? It's a powerful force, one which has captivated Devin for his entire life.... Read More