Which city is better for a luxurious lifestyle: each, the O.C. (Orange County, California) or Miami (Florida)?
Both areas have a lot to offer, but all will depend on a person’s specific preferences. My family has owned a beach house in Laguna Beach since 1965, so I feel qualified to comment on the city’s best and worst features. I am less familiar with the Miami area, but I have traveled there extensively and have always enjoyed my visits there.
Entry level prices for Laguna start at around $1.2 million for a one bedroom condominium upwards to the multiple millions.
Two to four million will get you an acceptable cottage reasonably close to the beach.
Laguna has been nicknamed “America’s Rivera” due to its physical resemblance to towns in the south of France.
The beaches are a series of small, sandy coves with often breathtaking settings. The water for swimming is cold by Florida standards. At best, the ocean warms to seventy five degrees Fahrenheit, but frequently will be in the sixties, even in summer.
The city initially was an artists’ colony, due to its picturesque setting.
Until recently, there was still an air of a bohemian atmosphere to the town. Unfortunately, that atmosphere had been eradicated by the horde of trust fund types, whose self entitlement threatens to destroy Laguna’s unique character.
The good news is that environmental protections are strong and the city is surrounded by green belts. Other than one hotel about eight stories tall, there are no high rises, Florida style, blocking the ocean and impeding beach access.
The restaurants are largely mediocre, overpriced and catering to gullible tourists.
The town gets jammed on summer weekends, but for most part, seems less crowded than many East Coast resorts.
The schools are good and there is enough good community spirit left to make Laguna a great place to live. One can certainly achieve the luxurious lifestyle here. On the other hand, it still is a laid back California beach town, with stunning natural beauty.
A word to the wise for those thinking of buying a fixer upper and building the mansion of their dreams. Design review takes a minimum of two to three years in Laguna and the city planning commission is intensely political. Overall, I’m grateful for the city’s vigilance, but it can be frustrating.
There are other beach towns nearby that can come close to achieving the Laguna charm at a far lower price.
The beaches are just as beautiful, the town almost as atmospheric and the costs are somewhat less. It’s not cheap, but it’s all a matter of comparison. San Clemente is ten miles farther south from Laguna and it is a bit more isolated. San Clemente has more of the vestiges of an old Southern California beach town.
However, both towns are nowhere near as pretentious as Newport Beach, which has sold its soul to Trump worshiping tax cheats. Newport is the perfect place for a neutron bomb, where the town’s beauty is preserved and its obnoxious inhabitants are eradicated.
How does this compare to Florida? In a nutshell, if you want warm ocean water, condominium living, better restaurants and better boating opportunities, go to Florida. Florida lacks the physical variety of Southern California and for me, the high rises ruin much of the state for me. Still, Florida for me is a great place and I could picture myself living there. I prefer California.