Thinking of moving to Santa Ana? One of the most populated cities in Orange County—and often referred to as Downtown Orange County—Santa Ana is a lively place to experience coastal weather, cultural amenities, and delicious local fare. Here are 13 things to know about living in Santa Ana!
Settle Down in The Golden City
If you’re searching for a luxury SoCal city to relax in near the coast, consider Santa Ana! Though the cost of living in Santa Ana can be difficult to navigate, with prices 38% higher than the national average, they still fall 3% lower than the California average. In comparison, the cost of living in nearby big cities—like Los Angeles and San Diego—are significantly higher. Plus, Santa Ana provides many programs to help lessen the pressure of the high cost of living! Several resources for affordable housing in Santa Ana are available and can help low-income residents live comfortably, like the California Mortgage Relief Program, Renter Protections, and affordable housing opportunities. To top it off, the median household income in Santa Ana is 31% higher than the national average, which helps offset those higher living costs.
Find Work with Top Employers
There’s no shortage of exciting, diverse jobs in Santa Ana perfect for pursuing your dream career. The city has over 13,000 in-city businesses in key industries like retail trade, service, and manufacturing. Promote advanced security, technological, and professional services as a Risk Consultant, Service Technician, or Branch Manager at Santa Ana’s largest employer, Allied Universal. Provide title insurance and settlement, property, and mortgage services at a Fortune 500 company like First American Financial. Tackle the latest innovations in aerospace manufacturing by working in Santa Ana as a Process Engineer, Assembler, or Materials Estimator at Ascent Aerospace. Develop intuitive software, learn qualifications for grading collectibles, or spread the word about hot items for passionate collectors at Collectors Universe. Get employed at major automotive companies like Yokohama or BTC Power. Or work at the Hall of Administration for the City of Santa Ana to help serve other Orange County citizens.
Graduate from Santa Ana-Area Colleges
Many top-quality universities in and around Santa Ana are perfect for young adults looking to earn a degree. Choose from approximately 253 degrees and certificates in Human Sciences, Liberal Arts and Humanities, Public Health, and more at one of the top public colleges in Santa Ana, Santa Ana College. Pursue distance education in online classes geared towards Business Administration, Management, Marketing, and Criminal Justice at California Coast University. Attend an Orange County trade school that offers flexible Allied Health and technical programs for aspiring electricians, welders, and nurses at Summit College – Santa Ana Campus. Take a short drive to Orange to study Film and Media, Psychology, and Creative Writing at Chapman University, one of the best film schools in the U.S. Or prepare for careers in the medical or judicial fields by developing skills at a California technical school just minutes from Downtown Santa Ana at South Coast College.
Travel the City with Ease
Going from place to place is virtually hassle-free in Santa Ana. Downtown Santa Ana is considered a walker’s paradise—with the Santa Ana Regional Transportation Center just a mile away—and the city is constructing new lanes that make it easier for motorists to get around. Visit historic sites in Orange County or stop by SoCal cities like Riverside and San Bernardino by riding Metrolink—or take the California Zephyr, Pacific Surfliner, and Sunset Limited trains through California and beyond on Amtrak. Ride into Orange County cities on fixed routes, community routes, and BRAVO routes on an OC Bus through the Orange County Transportation Authority. Or book a regional or international flight for vacations and business trips at the John Wayne Airport.
Take In the SoCal Sun
Like other coastal California cities, Santa Ana’s weather is influenced by the nearby Pacific Ocean and comes with wet, humid conditions. The temperature in Santa Ana ranges between annual highs of 85 degrees and annual lows of 46 degrees for a climate that’s generally warm and tropical. The city receives an average of just over 13 inches of rainfall and virtually zero snow. Despite generally comfortable conditions, those living in Santa Ana should still be weary of common natural disasters and take necessary precautions in case of earthquakes, severe winds, or wildfires. Additionally, it’s recommended to keep track of Santa Ana’s Air Quality Index to prevent unnecessary harm from air pollution—particularly for younger children.
Interact with Santa Ana Nature
Santa Ana offers a refreshing mix of beachfront recreation, as well as lush flora and fauna. Witness stunning views or connect with California fauna, including insects, amphibians, birds, and more on the trail of the largest river entirely within Southern California, the Santa Ana River. Stroll through a nearly 70-acre Santa Ana park with picnic areas, exercise trails, and a soccer complex at Centennial Park. Practice putting at one of Santa Ana’s golf courses—such as the 18-hole public course, driving range, and putting ranges at Willowick Golf Course. Explore a dazzling sculptural oasis in South Coast Plaza with exhibits comprised of natural elements like Forest Walk, Desert Land, Water Source, and more at Noguchi Garden. Celebrate fall by exploring a corn maze, meeting barnyard chickens and bunnies, or walking through beautiful fields of Sunflowers just ten minutes from Santa Ana at Tanaka Farms – Hana Field. Or take advantage of Santa Ana’s proximity to swimming, surfing, sunbathing, and more at some of the top California beaches—like Newport Beach and Huntington Beach.
Enjoy a Family Outing in SoCal
Kids and adults alike can enjoy fun, educational, and family-friendly activities in Santa Ana! Get up close with aquatic wildlife at the Sea Lab, demonstrate speed and acceleration at The Raceway, or learn about rainforest flora and fauna at Rainforest Adventure at the Discovery Cube. Check out multi-species exhibits of anteaters and guanacos or hitch rides on the Zoofari Express or Fifty Monkeys Ferris Wheel at Santa Ana Zoo—which welcomes about 270,000 visitors annually. Take the kids to see awesome art galleries and rotating exhibitions like Beyond the Great Wave and The Power of Photography, or attend free family festivals and shows like Bowers’ Books for Kids storytime at the Bowers Museum. Shop away at any of the 200+ stores—including local boutiques, restaurants, or bookstores—or get involved with seasonal kid-friendly events at MainPlace Mall. Grab some popcorn and check out the latest releases of kids’ films and family flicks at the Picture Show Theater. Or overcome challenging obstacles like Monkey Swings, Spider Walls, and Tilting Logs at the NBC show-based adventure park, the American Ninja Warrior Adventure Park.
Appreciate Santa Ana’s Impressive Art & Culture Scene
Santa Ana is home to a diverse scene of talented artists and over 900 cultural organizations specializing in ballet, folk music, symphony orchestra, theatre, and more. Explore contemporary art in socially-relevant rotating exhibits and installations by international artists at the Grand Central Art Center. Learn the ropes at a free, interdisciplinary Santa Ana art studio and gallery hosted by local BIPOC artists at Crear Studio. Discover hundreds of public murals throughout the city—including vibrant Santa Ana street art like Art Alley, Quetzalcoatl, or Suenos Revolucionarios. Get tickets to the next star-studded live performance, local show, or community event at the historic Yost Theater. Experience eclectic pop rock, indie rock, jazz, and more—or take a seat for intimate Santa Ana concerts in The Constellation Room at The Observatory. Or see seasonal Broadway shows like Erabus and the Fall of Sparrows by young performers through Santa Ana College’s own Phillips Hall Theatre.
Learn Santa Ana’s Rich History
Originally discovered in 1769 and dubbed Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana, this Orange County city is rich in history and has many culturally significant places, museums, and collections. Look through historical archives and galleries at the Romanesque Revival-style courthouse in the heart of Santa Ana’s Historic Downtown District, the Old Orange County Courthouse. Tour rustic 1800s architecture, floral gardens, and citrus groves at restored homes like the John A. Maag Farmhouse and Kellogg House at the Heritage Museum. Walk through an ornate Queen Anne Victorian villa and get acquainted with the city’s medical history with authentic turn-of-the-century equipment located in the Dr. Howe-Waffle House & Medical Museum. Take a short trip to Orange County’s Little Saigon for original artifacts and replica dioramas of armor vehicles and naval vessels at the Museum of the Republic of Vietnam. Get up close with real-world aircraft like Boeing B-17s, Cessna O-1Es, and Douglas A-26s, or military vehicles like the 1942 Ford GPW Military Jeep at the Lyon Air Museum. Or comb through a collection of over 100 classic vehicles, including Ferraris and Lamborghinis, or the original 1989 Batmobile at the Marconi Automotive Museum.
Celebrate at Spirited Festivals
There are several festivals in Santa Ana dedicated to celebrating the community’s cultural heritage and traditions. Visit street artisans like crocheters, photographers, and face painters, or listen to concerts from indie acts in Downtown Santa Ana during monthly first Saturdays at Santa Ana Artwalk. Experience Latino culture by shopping at artisan vendors, paying tribute to traditional altars and watching live entertainment at the Viva La Vida Dia de Los Muertos Festival. Sample some of the best beer in Orange County from partnered breweries like Third Window, Tripping Animals, and Bearded Tang while checking out Santa Ana Zoo exhibits at Brew at the Zoo. Grab bites of Mexican food in Santa Ana from over 15 showcased restaurants like Rivas Mexican Food, Amor Y Tequila, and Sabor Cito at Tamalfest. Enjoy a flavor fiesta from over 30 local restaurants and craft breweries while listening to live performances from acts like Flashpants at the Taste of Santa Ana Festival. Listen to spiritual folk ballads from headliners like Alias Smith and Malone, Papa J and Richard Band, or the Mighty Mojo Prophets at the Orange County Blues Festival. Or enjoy family-friendly fun throughout December like ice skating and holiday light shows, or participate in special events like the Tree Lighting Ceremony and Breakfast with Santa at Santa Ana Winter Village.
Show Off Santa Ana Pride
Downtown Santa Ana is a hub for inclusive LGBTQ safe places, events, and organizations in wider Orange County. Join advocacy programs or all-ages support groups, and find Transgender Health & Wellness Programs at the LGBTQ Center OC. Discover peer-to-peer support, education, and advocacy designed to help LGBTQ people unite with their families or attend weekly chapter meetings at PFLAG Orange County. Educate yourself on issues queer youth face and read enriching LGBTQ literature like Concerning My Daughter, Crosshairs, and Mistakes Were Made during Santa Ana Library’s Pride Month. Look out for Orange County’s yearly pride parade and festival with live performances, local boutiques and vendors, and fundraisers at Pride OC. Or see seasonal drag performances like the Hocus Pocus Drag Show Spelltacular and Barbie’s Winter Wonderland, or other Pride-based events at nearby Costa Mesa’s premier gay club and bar, STRUT.
Dig In to Foodie Favorites
If you’ve got a big appetite, there are plenty of great restaurants available in Santa Ana! Satisfy your morning cravings with breakfast packages featuring Granola Parfaits, Egg Frittatas, and Cream Cheese Bagels from Crave Restaurant. Sit down and enjoy lunch in Santa Ana with the Crispy Chicken Sandwich, Cajun Salmon Club, or Benchmark Burger from Benchmark. Have a taste of handheld modern American classics like the Royale with Cheese or Misbehavin’ Burger, or grab a large Ribeye Steak plate from Chapter One. Stop by a Mexican restaurant in Santa Ana for authentic specialties like Tortas, Campechana, or Entomatadas from Flor de Oaxaca. Crunch on delicious Santa Ana tacos like Jamaica Tacos, Shrimp Tacos, or Pork Belly Tacos from El Mercado Modern Cuisine. Or design a Japanese fusion meal with high-quality ingredients like Toriyama Wagyu, Shabu Shabu broth, and Ponzu sauce from Kaizen Shabu.
Party Through the Night
Even after the sun sets, the excitement doesn’t stop in Santa Ana! Dance the night away listening to live DJ sets while eating tacos and drinking tequila every Tuesday at The Copper Door. Head to Downtown Santa Ana to enjoy internationally-themed cocktails and happy hour drinks like Andalusia, Morocco, or Thailand from Vacation Bar. Dip in to a selection of craft beers like El Dojo Mexican Lager, Citizen Crisp Kolsch, or Particle Man IPA while lounging on the rooftop at Native Son. Listen to classic rock cover bands like Citizen O’Kane or the Trailer Park Flamingos while sipping craft cocktails at Fling Cocktail Lounge. Drink, socialize, or give karaoke a spin at Contemporary Santa Ana bar and nightclub, Proof. Or bring it back to the ’80s by gaming at a vintage arcade while enjoying specialty cocktails like Game Over Mule, Mana Potion, or Full Tilt Sour from Mission Control.
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