Vive la France! yes!! Vivre en France? well.... maybe California instead
January 13, 2014 11:05 AM   Subscribe

Looking for advice on cost of living in France (South of Paris, Nice or Toulouse area). Partner and I would be making €120 to €140,000 combined household, before taxes. Another option is California where we could make way more money (at least $200-$220k combined, and less taxes). What is the cost of living in California (Irvine or San Diego) as a comparison? Is it expensive to have kids in the US?

My partner and I are considering a move to France. We work in high tech, and recruiters have quoted us salaries of €65,00-€75,000. He is a Canadian/European citizen. I am in the process of acquiring EU citizenship myself through the consulate. So visas won't be an issue. I'm also fluent in French. His French is pretty good. We've traveled there extensively, we know the culture etc etc. So we know we'll like it, we just want to know how much we'll bleed money in order to be there.

Location: Nice, Toulouse; also some options south of Paris (Corbeil)
Household income: €120k to €140k approx. before taxes
Household: two adults, two cats; will have kids in next couple of years
Lifestyle: when we buy stuff, we like nice quality things; but really we just like to cook & live simple. But we don't want to live in a cramped house or apartment. We like space.
Goals: saving for retirement, kids in the next few years, having a relaxed life (work to live)

France Questions
- what are rents like in these areas? housing prices? is finding a place for 1,000sq ft out of the question? we're open to being outside of any downtown core in order to get a livable size. this is what I've found so far, and it's in the €380-€485,000 range.
- mortgage rules in France? how much deposit, insurance etc? This is what I've found; it looks like 20% down payment with a risk of having to look outside of France for a mortgage broker since we are not French citizens.
- cost of living? are household goods expensive?
- taxes? Will 50% of our salary go to the government? this is what I've found so far on tax rates. It looks like €140k quickly becomes €90k for the two of us.
- what are the tax breaks? if I contribute to RRSP / 401k do I get a break?
- kids... if we have kids in a couple of years, what is the support? In Canada for example there is 1 year maternity leave that is supplemented by govt and unemployment insurance. All I see so far is a whack of tax breaks for having kids in France, but I don't know what the employment rules are.
- is health coverage comparable to Canadian system?
- cats... how to travel across Atlantic with cats? I live in a huge house now, would they be happy in a small 1000sq ft apartment?

Another option for us is California (Irvine or San Diego area). Our estimated salaries there would be at least $100k-$120k USD each (so $200-$220k household). I don't know the US tax system, but I gather our take home would be much higher than France (or Canada for that matter).

California Questions
- I hear the cost of having children (healthcare, lost wages) is astronomical in the US. This report makes it seem like the medical cost of having kids is $32,000 (but only $2,200 out of pocket, which seems low... maybe that's the cost of the birth itself but not pre-natal care). Is that true? How much have you all paid?
- I would likely quit my job for 1 year in order to stay home with the baby and then go back to work (i.e. emulate the Canadian system), so wages lost there.
- how much is healthcare costs? I am Canadian so I know nothing about American healthcare. Do I just buy healthcare insurance and pay a monthly fee? And then fight with the insurance company each time I want reimbursement?
- Cost of living (housing) in Irvine or San Diego. Will we live in a teeny tiny house 100 miles away from work?
- Is the commute as horrible as everyone says it is?
- will it be fun? any ex-pat Canadians who went south please chime in here

And finally overall... what would make the most financial sense, and the most overall "quality of life" sense. We're in our mid 30s so growing our retirement is important.

Experiences & anecdotes welcome... Thanks me-fites!!
posted by St. Peepsburg to Work & Money (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Hello, I live in California but have never been to France. I do not live in San diego, but in Northern California near Silicon Valley. The cost of living in the two areas is actually fairly comparable, though. Both are expensive.

BUT: $200,000 a year is a lot of money. You'll be fine. That salary puts you in roughly the top 5% of US households. You could live comfortably anywhere in the US that you like with that income.

Kids are not really necessarily as expensive as everyone says, ironically this is more true when you earn more money. Here are some observations based on my own experience having a child:

Prenatal care/birth/medical expenses: This would be expensive in the US if you had to pay for it yourself. You won't have to pay for it yourself. If you're making $200k/year, you'll have good instance with any job that pays that much. Even if you're self-employed, you can buy insurance for affordable rates now through the ACA. I did not even notice the cost of having a child because I have a good job with good health coverage and they paid for all of it.

Clothing/toys/bedding/things that kids use: These are cheap when you have a high income. Yeah, kids wear out clothes fast. Big deal. Kids clothes are cheap. You can buy an almost infinite number of $8 t-shirts on a $200k salary and you won't even notice paying for them.

Childcare: This is expensive. If you have two working parents, you re going to have to put your kid in some sort of childcare until they're old enough to go to school. This can easily be $1500/month in a high-income area. It costs more for younger children because they demand more content attention. When your kid turns five, they can go to public schools, which are free, or private schools, which are expensive. You make good money and will live in a nice neighborhood with good public schools though, so you can just send your kids there.

Education: Like I said, public schools are free, private schools are expensive, university is expensive, but people making a lot less than you do still manage to pay for it.

Housing: If you want to look up current housing prices anywhere in the US, go to willow and you can search through real estate listings anywhere in the country to see current prices. San Diego is expensive but you'll be fine on $200k/year.

Commute: depends entirely on where you live/work. This is completely unpredictable unless you can share the address of your office and the address of your home. Maybe you can walk to work. Maybe you have to sit in freeway traffic for an hour. Either is possible, but it depends on very individual circumstances.

Fun: I love California. My hobbies include surfing, bicycling and racing sailboats. California has a little bit of almost anything you could want to do or try, from skiing to sunny beaches and everything in between.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 11:22 AM on January 13, 2014

Best answer: So on California... it's hard to quantify as my kids weren't born here and by the time I got here they were an ongoing part of my budget. But I think you will find that San Diego or the outskirts of LA are fine on anything from $150K up honestly.

Insurance varies widely. People with very good coverage through work might only pay $1500 annually for extremely good coverage. Going through CoveredCalifornia (the CA ACA site) could be $500+ monthly, but it could be less if you go for more basic coverage. The cost of having a baby is something like $20K in terms of the basic hospital bill from what I have heard from co-workers, but some of those people only end up paying $10 out-of-pocket because it's all covered by insurance. You might hit your annual spending cap having a baby, so perhaps project based on that - annual caps might be anywhere from $1000 to infinity. The US health insurance situation is impossible to summarize as it depends almost completely on what coverage you're offered through your employer.

My kids are in middle & high school now and the costs of the child by itself are low. Childcare for small children is really expensive. Either one parent doesn't work or you get a nanny which is in the range of $20K+ annually. There is no easy solution here and it's really regardless of location - the same is true in France or Canada. Until they're school-aged someone needs to care for the child all day long. Whether you forgo income or pay for a nanny is a personal choice and neither one is really right or wrong. There are pros and cons to each.

Cost of living in San Diego is OK, but then I'm comparing it to the brutally expensive South SF Bay. You can check house costs on sites like Redfin to estimate housing costs. Generally living expenses like food, etc are really cheap in the US. Whether you live 100 miles from work is up to you and depends on where you work. But in generally I don't think San Diego is an especially expensive city but again, I already live in one of the most expensive regions, so anywhere else seems cheap by comparison. There are cost of living calculators on sites like

San Diego's median house price is about $430K which is high relative to the entire US, but not far off metro Toronto and a steal compared to the average price of about $800K for metro Vancouver.

The commute is what you make of it. Without more specific details there's simply no way to know.

I am a Canadian who relocated to the Bay Area several years ago and it's fine. Is it fun? Sure. Is it the same as Canada? No. Is it the same as France? No. It has it's own pros and cons. FWIW, I meet a lot of people from France in the Bay Area who moved here for work. Most of them seem happy.
posted by GuyZero at 11:28 AM on January 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Oh, also, as for saving for retirement - do you know where you will retire? Trans-national retirement savings is a huge hairy mess and will require some planning. It's not impossible, but it's easy to do the wrong thing where you end up paying a lot of tax on what could have been tax-free retirement savings. it may seem odd to decide on where you'll live at 65+ when you're 30, but moving retirement savings across border is fraught with complexities. I suggest seeing a tax specialist if you plan to save for retirement in the US or France but retire elsewhere.
posted by GuyZero at 11:31 AM on January 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't know the US tax system, but I gather our take home would be much higher than France (or Canada for that matter).

This is not a like for like comparison. In the US, you will have to pay for healthcare; I realise the system is changing but you need to understand employer insurance. The average cost for insurance in CA is $15,898 per year, with employers covering $11,705 and you covering something like $400 per month. You will also need to pay for disability insurance, especially if you only have one parent working. You will also need to consider the costs of private vs public education and choose your location with extreme care if a good public school district is important to you. House prices in these districts

France has a socialised base healthcare system paid for by the higher taxes, statutory maternity and paternity leave, statutory maternity pay, and a child benefit payment system. Private schooling is vastly less expensive if you don't like your free schooling options.

I have no idea which would be better for your family but I am confident it isn't as simple as [ income - taxes - housing = clear winner ]
posted by DarlingBri at 11:37 AM on January 13, 2014 [6 favorites]

Best answer: For San Diego, here are three of the top private schools in the area, if you wanted to price that out: Parker, Bishop's, Country Day.
posted by Aizkolari at 11:47 AM on January 13, 2014

Best answer: I'm a UK citizen who lives in California with 2 kids, and my parents live in one of the areas of France you mentioned - near Toulouse. Cost of living is definitely cheaper in that part of France, at least for housing and food IME. However, the big difference for me personally, is that I would not ever want to send my kids through the French public school system. This is an entirely personal thing - I prefer a more progressive school system, and France's is very old-fashioned. So that makes it a total dealbreaker for me personally. My partner and I briefly considered the idea last year because it is so beautiful there, and a slower pace of life.
posted by Joh at 11:49 AM on January 13, 2014

Lazy Googling: cost of living in France, providing a range of costs for goods and services (and you can select individual cities for more details); cost of living in San Diego (same site, noting the different costs for living with and outside of the "city center" of San Diego, however that is gauged). Here is another, shorter cost of living list, though against a national average of 100 points for each category, instead of placing a dollar (or euro) amount on each category.

As noted above, the cost of giving birth is not too high if you have insurance (it wasn't for us when we had our little one, back in the summer of 2011). If you're in a big city with a high income, you're more likely to opt for a private school, though I'm sure there are good public schools, too. As others have said, your combined income in the US is damned good. Even with one of you being out-of-work for a year, you're still bringing in significantly more than the median household income.

California is large and varied, so if San Diego isn't your cuppa, it sounds like you are both highly qualified in your field(s), so you could live in a quieter community not too far from the hubs of activity, especially if telecommuting is allowed/supported.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:54 AM on January 13, 2014

The difference in income is not that huge. 140K in Euro = 190K in $.

Here is a bit from the L.A times about health care costs in the US. The number they give for average total costs is approximately $16,351 for a family health plan via an employer. The average household income is lower than your estimated future income.

In France there is an universal health coverage that funds from income taxes. People tend to have private, supplemental insurance as well.

As far as the French school system, yes it is centralized and therefore maybe less progressive. You could look for an American or British school, maybe? Not sure if you want to think that far ahead, and not sure what will be in 20 years, but as of now, secondary education in France is way cheaper than in the US.

And lastly, who says this move has to be permanent?
posted by travelwithcats at 12:01 PM on January 13, 2014

Friends who have spent sabbaticals at the Nice Observatory (one couple is two Americans; the other is Czech/Brazilian) report that France is child un-friendly. They were surprised, since Nice markets itself as being family-friendly.
posted by lukemeister at 12:19 PM on January 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

There are some other differences to think about that are more about quality of life and lifestyle and only secondarily equate to money. For reference, I am an American who has lived in Europe since 1997. Even in the cheapest grocery store, absolutely none of our food is genetically modified, our eggs are not stripped and our milk isn't stuffed with milk production hormones. The beef you buy, in a grocery store or a butcher, will be grass fed. No bacon you buy will ever, ever have been raised on a conveyor belt.

None of that is some weird special thing you have to go to Whole Foods and pay a premium for; that's the agricultural standard here, and it is very, VERY different from the US median. Sure, you can eat like this in the US and many people do, but it comes at a cost premium. I actually don't care that much about this stuff, but do I appreciate not having to.

And obviously, for cultural access, Europe probably wins in terms of what it can offer. Aside from being able to raise bilingual children with EU passports and dual citizenship, you have cheap one to two hour access to 32 different countries and their languages, foods, museums, music, etc. It's pretty great!
posted by DarlingBri at 12:24 PM on January 13, 2014 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I wouldn't be as concerned with money - that's plenty of money for BOTH places - so much as culture and values. I'm raising young children in the U.S., and honestly, I'd REALLY prefer to raise them elsewhere in the world. You can always modify your budget, and you can generally work your way up the corporate food chain, but you CANNOT always change the ways in which the greater culture affects your children.

Think hard about the things you value, the things you'd like your kids to value, the grown-ups you'd like them to become. You can't control this 100%, of course, but conveying certain beliefs is easier in some cultures than in others. And it's kinda heartbreaking to realize midway through your childrearing years that you're waging a Sisyphean battle: that everything YOU'RE trying to tell the kids is being directly contradicted by everything the world AROUND THEM is telling them.
posted by julthumbscrew at 12:39 PM on January 13, 2014 [5 favorites]

Best answer: The private supplemental health insurance that travelwithcats mentions are called mutuelles, and usually your employer provides one. That would be another 20 to 30 euros out of your monthly net (not gross, net), and at least in tech, mutuelles are really good, like great. My company's covers a free pair of prescription eyeglasses every 2 years, they reimburse opthalmologists, and they also cover a yearly dental checkup and cleaning.

I live in Nice and work in Sophia Antipolis, so can definitely speak to that experience. The only downside is that you will probably have a hard time finding a home as opposed to an apartment here. For very good reason: there's no more land left. Nice is actually the cheapest city to live in, with Grasse a very close second. The reason Grasse is cheaper, however, is that it's hard to get anywhere from there, compared to other places. There are only two practicable roads to Sophia Antipolis (I imagine this is where you'd be working if you're in tech), and people who work in Sophia long ago discovered Grasse. In other words, you can count on the 15km drive taking anywhere from 40-60 minutes between 7am and 9am. There is no train from Grasse to Sophia, and there is only one bus every hour.

On the other hand, Nice is extremely well-serviced in public transportation. You would not need a car if you lived in Nice, which is a huge savings. For instance, my yearly transportation budget for anywhere between Cannes and the Italian border is 180 euros/year. It would be 365/year, but my employer reimburses half, as do most employers. Buses take you anywhere and everywhere, Nice has a tram line and will be getting our second, there's an international airport, trains that take you as far as Moscow... it's a pretty sweet deal. Trains aren't included in that 365/year pass, but subscriptions are cheap as well. I was working in Cagnes-sur-Mer last year, and the monthly unlimited pass cost me a grand total of 25 euros, before being fully reimbursed by my employer. (It was fully reimbursed because it was a project at a client's site, as opposed to our offices, for which transportation is "only" reimbursed at 50%.)

Nice has come a long way in the last three years due to our new-ish mayor, who has made huge efforts towards returning the city to its inhabitants, children included. It's no longer the same city as even five years ago. We have brand-new parks, new libraries, new sports complexes, schools are being renovated, it's been nice to see. I have several colleagues with children and they're all happy. There are also excellent private bilingual schools, since it is a hotspot for English speakers.

Yes, a lot of salary goes to the government, but in France this does mean socialized healthcare, as others have mentioned. I have a chronic condition that I've never had to worry about here, have been to the hospital several times now, always covered at about 98-99%. For instance, a trip to a private ER cost me 18.50 out of pocket, the rest was reimbursed. The peace of mind this gives is priceless. I can go cycling and not have to worry about an accident costing me my life's savings.

If you would be working in Sophia Antipolis, it's also good to know that in France, tech companies are not like in the States. The 35-hour workweek is the 35-hour workweek, period. If your company is, say, on a 37-hour workweek (mine is), you will get extra vacation days called RTT. By the way... now I'm surprised you didn't mention vacation as a consideration! In France we get 21 days minimum paid vacation a year, and often employers tack on extra days. With my company, I'm now at 39 paid vacation days per year, which is wild. You also get practically-unlimited (you can go as long as 2 years) sick leave, so long as you go to a doctor and they agree that you need it. They then write up an arrêt maladie that you send to your local healthcare management office, and a copy to your employer. Voilà, taken care of! You do NOT get unlimited sick days in the States. Plus, in France, many employers offer paid sick leave for your children, meaning if your child gets sick, you can call in, take the day off to care for your kid, and still be paid.

And yes, omigod the food here. Delicious. We have lovely markets in Nice. I can't carry home more than 15 euros' worth of market vegetables and fruit, that's how cheap it is. Most are organic and local, local as in they drive in their produce from the hillsides a couple kilometers away.

I know I sound like I love Nice, but it also has its drawbacks. I don't talk about them often because they tend to get blown out of proportion by people who love to snark on France, but they do exist. For one, the hardest thing I have to deal with in this area is the casual xenophobia. The southeast is the traditional home of the Front National, they always do well in elections here, and you can really, really tell in everyday life. I've gotten sick enough of it that I'm seriously considering moving elsewhere for almost no other reason than that. If you work in an international office, it will probably be muted. I don't work in an international office. I'm the only native English speaker, and how to put it... there's a reason I'm the only one, and it has to do with me still being an easygoing Pac Northwesterner at heart, otherwise they would have zero native English speakers. Thankfully it's a big company and we have offices elsewhere, so I'm trying elsewhere. The point of my tangent being: if you too have a rough time dealing with casual xenophobia such as "foreigners steal our jobs" at lunch in front of you and everyone else says "ugh, I know, they need to go away", try for Paris or Toulouse instead. Toulouse still has an FN contingent, but it's not quite as entrenched as here. Paris is very diverse.

The other downside of the French Riviera is the cachet it still holds. A lot of people come here for appearances, not so much fulfillment. It can be difficult to find people to relate to if you enjoy the outdoors or, heck, even animals. On the other hand, if you care about appearances, you've got an instant social in. This is another reason I'm looking to leave, because I swear, if I have to spend yet another lunch listening to people – men and women, it's nearly everyone here – talk about salads and carbs and panic about fat... (French women are thin because they There is no mystery diet. They Yes, I am generalizing, there are exceptions! But very few on the Riviera. I've lived here for 14 years.)

My cats are very happy in my 480sq.ft (45sq.m) apartment, but I do have a 200sq.ft (180sq.m) patio. Cats adapt! They don't necessarily like changing homes, but if you're consistent about where they can and can't go, they get used to it and create new habits.

Household goods are at comparable prices to the States, for comparable quality. Sales tax is included in prices, and stores/manufacturers usually try to work it so that the final price, tax included, is roughly the same price as it would be in the States before sales tax.

To qualify for parental leaves in France, you just have to be a permanent employee who's no longer in the probation period given to new hires. Usually that probation period lasts 3-6 months, it can't last longer than 7. Once that's done, you're gold!
posted by fraula at 12:50 PM on January 13, 2014 [9 favorites]

Irvine is in Orange County, which tends to be more conservative (Republican) than say, Los Angeles. San Diego is also on the conservative side.
posted by mogget at 12:56 PM on January 13, 2014

A couple things to keep in mind. These are generalities, so they're obviously not true in every case.

Your American employer will probably give you 3 weeks or so of vacation per year, and if you work in tech, you won't be allowed to use your days during certain times of the year. You may not get separate sick leave at all. If you work for a company that "doesn't keep track" of vacation days, you'll be expected to not use them at all.

Also, if you work in tech in the US, you will work 50-70 hour weeks. Tack your commute on top of that.

I'm guessing (but don't know) that the work hours and vacation times are much more generous in France.
posted by cnc at 1:03 PM on January 13, 2014

I've lived in California in Silicon Valley, San Francisco and Southern California. I've been to Southern France. I'd pick France in a heartbeat.

The healthcare support for mothers (families) in France is MUCH better than in the US. Although your out of pocket for insurance and co-pays will be nominal. (About that $2,200 you quoted.) Most employers pay a significant portion of your healthcare expenses, you typically pay about $200 a month. (Rough estimate there.)

So you don't buy a house? Why do you need to own a house? Renting is pretty nice and what's great is that as your family changes, you can move to properties that suit you.

Buying a house in California is no picnic. I've said this once already today but between Earthquake, Mudslide, and Flooding, insurance is extremely expensive. Most homeowners don't HAVE earthquake insurance. The public schools used to be good, now they're not. And the housing market itself is pretty volitile.

If I had your skills, and I was in your situation, I'd move to France and never look back.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:36 PM on January 13, 2014

I think this will really come down to lifestyle preferences. Reading expat blogs is a good way to get the feel for the different cultures (usually, US families moving to France). The books Bringing Up Bebe and French Kids Eat Everything are two entertaining memoirs that discuss the differences of child rearing between the two cultures (obviously it's just two accounts and not a thesis on the subject).

Paid time off is a huge factor, especially maternity leave. Also, as other have mentioned, healthcare. Not just the cost factor, but also uncertainty ("is this doctor in-network? are they billing for the right procedure? what if I lose my job? what is and isn't covered? do I need a referral?"); it's a huge hassle.

Other cultural factors are food (quality, availability, quantity), over-scheduling of kids, cost of higher education, attitudes toward sex and sex education, diversity, proximity of family (whether good or bad), etc.

Note: I'm a current NYC resident (spouse is EU citizen) planning to raise my children in France, so...I'm biased.
posted by melissasaurus at 1:43 PM on January 13, 2014

If you're interested in breastfeeding your babies, you might want to look into how that would go in France. I don't have any personal knowledge of this, but I've read that the French are very opposed to it. Very different than the US.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 2:11 PM on January 13, 2014

Best answer: California also has mandatory paid maternity leave. Up to twelve weeks at 55% of your income, some employers supplement up to 100%. A non-delivering parent (including adoptive parents) also gets six weeks. My understanding is that paternity leave in France is less than two weeks.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:41 PM on January 13, 2014

I'm Canadian but have been educated primarily in the US and have spent a semester attending university in the south of France (Aix/Marseille area). I want to add the caveat that while university in France is way cheaper than in the U.S., it is also VERY different. In comparison to my highly selective liberal arts institution in the US, my university experience in France was... not great in terms of intellectual rigor and student motivation. YMMV, of course, and university is a long way off--your child would also have Canadian citizenship at least, opening that up as a post-secondary option.

Not much else to add to what everyone else has said. Except that apparently Nice is much cheaper COL-wise than Aix--the marchés are great but I can't imagine spending only 15E on groceries per trip.
posted by serelliya at 3:12 PM on January 13, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, I appreciate the detail everyone is sharing :) I want to mark them all best answer since there are a lot of different views and issues I wasn't considering. Can you believe I totally forgot cost of childcare, whoops... ha ha...

tylerkaraszewski, fraula you've given crazy good feedback; fraula yes Sophia Antipolis is one of the areas we are considering.

If you're late to this thread feel free to keep commenting since my partner & I are still combing through all the input here and other sources of info as we make our decision. I do know of the "casual" racism in France through my long talks with French ex-pat friends (calling Stromae "super bien intégré", ugh. Yes it's Belgian but still), and my partner & I have discussed how much we will miss Toronto's multi-culti mix. I will have to investigate the school system in France, that is a good point, I know it is steeped in history but the French-educated adults I've met both in France and Canada have impressed me with their quality of thought and love for debate, not necessarily a bad thing. Also both my partner and I have strong European roots, and we've discussed wanting to bring kids up with that influence although as julthumbscrew pointed out this will be harder to do when fighting against a larger cultural tide.

I'm glad to hear that having kids in the US isn't ZOMG $30,000!!!! like the fear mongering articles I have read in Canada. To be honest not only did I forget to factor in child care but private school as well but again I am glad to hear that California is more progressive wrt maternity leave although to a Canadian, 12 weeks still is pretty short and I would want to take 1 year off (i.e. quit my job) to spend time with the baby and then go back to work. Overall it sounds like the healthcare spend is not excessive. It's not Breaking Bad Canada but it's ok.

tl;dr - we are still weighing all the pros and cons to make a decision that feels right holistically, thanks for input and feel free to add more.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 5:29 PM on January 14, 2014

I live in Orange County. I love it because there are endless things to do with kids, the geography within 50 miles is as diverse as you will find anywhere (standing on a sunny beach looking at snow capped mountains in the distance is a trip), there is all kinds of ethnic food available, it's becoming more diverse and less conservative, it's pretty safe (Irvine especially so), it's not as crowded and hectic as LA, it's warm (sometimes too hot - the further inland you live the hotter it is), and there are very few Mosquitos and other nuisance bugs. In a word, the quality of life is high. If you don't commute far. Feel free to MeMail me if you have any questions.
posted by Dansaman at 1:08 AM on January 15, 2014

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