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Belgian couple moving to O.C. - where to live? (Los Angeles)


We are a young couple moving to Orange county end of November. We would like to rent an appartment (we're planning on staying 3 years in the area). What are the good places to live in the county being young, dynamic, ... ? My office will be in Costa Mesa and we do not want to live too far away from it.
I've seen many communitiy appartments, is this a good idea? We rather pay a bit more and have a pool, fitness, garage, services than end up in a crappy appartment where we dont feel at home just to save 300$. What is the advice?

Also I would like to know what the cost of living is downthere. I know it is very different to everyone, but what is a minimum budget you should need a month if you go do your groceries at K-mart, sometimes go out and have a drink, visit a bit the surroundings,... We are not big spenders. Any advice here?

Hopefully my questions aren't too blurry.

Thank you for your help!