Lakeside Sunday

Rancho Santa Margarita Lake

After a long work week and flipping through movies after another, Netflix finally got the best of me. I knew I had stayed home far too long as I was starting to feel a bit crazy. I had to get out of the house so, I drove to Rancho Santa Margarita Lake for a dose of sunshine and nature.

Rancho Santa Margarita Lake is probably one of the best lakes around in Orange County. It has an easy 1.1 mile loop trail with outdoor fitness stations, free parking, benches, a recreation center with a pool and is within walking distance to restaurants (yes, they have Starbucks too!). My favorite part of the lake is the backdrop view of the Santiago Peak or Saddleback Mountain while strolling through the paved pathways.

After my 2nd loop of the lake I sat down in one of the benches and watched the birds and turtles swim in the water. It was a much needed break from the daily routine.

Christmas Lightings in Orange County.

From Christmas decorations to lighting displays, it feels to me like the holiday spirit is in full effect around here. Last night, I decided to see a few Christmas lightings near my neighborhood. It was something that I’ve never done before and I thought the one in Dana Point was done quite nicely.

If you’re interested in viewing a few neighborhoods that have lighting decorations up you can see a list on this map. Pls. keep in mind that I haven’t seen every single one on this map to vouch for how they look and all. Although, I can confirm for the Dana Point Harbor location. Happy Lighting Hunting!

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Orange County Moving Guide.

Castaway Park

If you’re reading this then I can assume you’re thinking about moving to Orange County for whatever reason it may be. In any case, Orange County a.k.a “OC”, is a great place to be. We have direct access to the beach, the mountains and everything else in between. I’ve lived here pretty much my whole life and every time I move away I always seem to come back. It could be the fact that my family lives here and that the weather is great most of the time but, one thing I’m sure is that O.C. is home.

My goal for this post is to provide help in some way for anyone moving to O.C.

Accommodation

Accommodation is likely the biggest expense you’ll have when living in Orange County specifically in areas like Irvine, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Corona Del Mar, Mission Viejo, Lake Forest, and/or Dana Point. Renting and/or buying a home here is one of the most expensive in the nation. I’ve lived here most of my life and the standard rent costs around $1200 not including utilities. There are a few places like studio apartments that costs the same or less but, generally they are smaller in square footage and/or do not have a proper kitchen.

For “budget” accommodations, you’ll likely find it more in areas like Anaheim, Tustin, Santa Ana, Fountain Valley, Costa Mesa (certain areas), Huntington Beach (certain areas). Although, it seems that rental costs keeps going up every year in California.

For me, the key to a good accommodation for working professionals is location where there’s direct access to freeways, a proper set up (a full kitchen, bathroom, bedroom & parking). Keep in mind that the closer you are to the beach the more expensive your accommodation will be.

Obviously, all of this will depend on each individual’s situation.

Read important articles here, here, about the cost of living and 15 most expensive cities in USA. Find apartments to rent on zillow and use the filter base on budget.

Door Knob

Job Market

I’d say the job market here is pretty competitive relating to the digital world. The industries in real estate, health care and tech are huge. Big companies such as Amazon and Google have offices here, therefore, there’s an immense amount of work but, they’re highly coveted too.

Places to find jobs are:

  • Indeed
  • LinkedIn
  • ZipRecruiter
  • Craigslist
  • Recruiting Agencies: 24-Seven, Robert Half, Aquent, Onward Search

Transportation

Your own car is your best friend. Our roads are very wide and since we don’t have a proper metro or train system, a car is vital as means of transportation.

The train system that we do have has a limited route. Personally, I’ve never taken the train in Orange County (it’s in the works) but, I do know that it goes all the way to downtown L.A. and San Diego. Here’s a map of the railway system.

Other means of transportation is Uber & Lyft. It is quite popular here and reliable. I’ve never had a problem finding an Uber ride at 2am or 4am. I’ve used either one when I have to go to the airport or on weekends when I have a party to go to where drinking is involved.

Things to See or Do

There’s endless of things to see or do here in Orange County. We cater to pretty much every activity one desires from the beach to the mountains, shopping, game rooms, or parks. We have access to most things. Here are a few lists of activities:

Hikes, Parks & Trails

Beaches

  • Huntington Beach
  • Downtown Laguna Beach
  • Dana Point
  • Newport Beach main beach
  • Corona Del Mar
  • San Clemente

Read more here and about the neighborhoods in detail (or here).

Casa Romantica

Museums

See more here.

Other Activities:

Grocery Stores

  • Trader Joes
  • Whole Foods
  • Ralphs
  • Vons
  • Albertsons
  • Aldi
  • Sprouts
  • Costco
  • Gelsons
  • Target
  • Walmart
  • Rite Aid
  • 99 Cents
  • Dollar Tree

Malls

Direct message me if you have any specific questions.

The New Normal.

Pasadena

Like any other citizen, I’ve spent most of my time these days indoors and headed outdoors only for a breath of fresh air, a brief walk or in search for household essentials. Yesterday, I literally did not move off the couch unless I was hungry, reaching for the remote, use the bathroom, sleep and then do it over again until bedtime. Today was different. I finally caught the “cabin fever”. Aching to move, I decided to drive out to Pasadena to get myself an authentic Venezuelan food.

I left early in the morning to get a head start to my day only to find myself without traffic and arriving to my destination in less than an hour. I was stunned. This was the first time I’ve ever seen the freeway traffic free, ever!

I arrived in downtown Pasadena partly hungry and uneasy. I strolled my way through several closed stores where I saw through the windows with their lights off, chairs piled on top of the tables, clothing racks untouched, books neatly placed on the shelves and the rooms dark. A few restaurants on the streets was open with “take out only” signs posted on their doors including the restaurant I ordered my lunch at. I could not ignore the eerie feeling I felt as I walked towards the restaurant.

On the upside, once I arrived to the restaurant I was greeted cheerfully by 2 employees behind the counter. I appreciated their positivity in return during this difficult times. I paid my lunch and took my meal home back to netflix for the rest of the day.

The Best of 2019

This year travel wise was focused on visiting small towns in U.S.A. that I’ve never been to. It was an eye opener to see how many beautiful towns there are that I’ve yet to see in my own country. I learned that having a car will take you far. Renting a car when I visited Maryland was the best thing my mom and I could’ve done. We stayed for about 4 days and saw a new town or two every single day with a total of 6 different places not including the ones we went back to. It was my favorite trip of this year because it was something new that I’ve never done before and it was a leisure and family trip combined.

Read my East Coast trips here: Alexandria, Annapolis, Brookside Gardens, Frederick, Georgetown, and Gaithersburg.

The most unique trip I’ve done was definitely Walla Walla. It was a place that I wouldn’t normally visit (especially in the winter) but, an invitation from a friend convinced me otherwise.

My friend’s place was in the middle of the forest. I would look out the window and see snow covered trees lined from one to another. The total quietness scared me at first being a ‘city girl’ and all but, it warmed up on me after getting a good night’s rest.

Read my Walla Walla posts here and here.

The craziest adventure this year for me would have to be having a company private dinner event on top of the USS Midway Museum. It’s cray!

The coolest first time travel experience for me was flying business class. I admit I’m a rookie at this but, felt like a princess so who cares ๐Ÿ˜‰

The cutest thing I’ve done on a trip was feeding these ostriches. They act aggressive though, they are adorable to look at. Wouldn’t you say?

The most random adventure I did this year was rooftop hopping in L.A. My friends and I probably went to 3 different rooftop bars in a span of two hours. Don’t ask why.

And that wraps up for the Best of 2019 for me. I hope yours was as exciting (if not more so) as mine.

2017 in Review (Video)

Where did time go? I remembered coming home for the first time after living abroad for over a year. I was feeling torn leaving Europe but, at the same time happy to be back home in America. I think the biggest adjustment this year (and it still is) was acclimating back to my American lifestyle. I had to get used to the same work routine, traffic, the types of food and cutting back drastically on traveling (sigh). On the latter, I’ve been able to spend more time with my family, re-connect with old friends and meet new friends. I know I don’t travel often these days but, I still make it a priority and had a chance to go to new places such as Scottsdale and the Big Island. I learned I have a good aim, I persevered through a wildfire and stood up for myself to situations that were simply not a good fit for me. As stressful as it was at times, I think 2017 unfolded to the best way it could be and I am ok with that. To my family, to my old and new friends, thanks for making this year a wonderful experience.
Continue reading “2017 in Review (Video)”