By Patrick Galvan, Storage.com

Though it may not be as famous as its neighbor Los Angeles, there’s plenty about Irvine that makes it a great place to live. With a rich economy, minimal crime rates, and friendly neighborhoods, Irvine fulfills its mission “to create and maintain a community where people can live, work, and play in an environment that is safe, vibrant, and aesthetically pleasing.” In short, Irvine is one of the most livable cities in the country. If you’re thinking about moving to Irvine, Calif., here are 12 things to know!

1. ONE OF THE BEST AND SAFEST CITIES.

Apartment Buildings in Irvine, CA
Photo by Chris Hunkeler

Irvine regularly makes the lists of best U.S. cities. In 2011, Bloomberg Businessweek chose Irvine as one of the country’s 50 best cities, describing the suburb as one that “sets the standard on many levels” and “a great place to settle down.” Business Insider consistently ranks Irvine as “the safest city in America,” a statement backed up by the city’s police department! And in 2014, 24/7 Wall Street determined that Irvine was the best-run city in the nation because of its low crime and unemployment rates.

2. GRADUATIONS GALORE.

University of California Irvine
Photo by Mathieu Marquer

Of Irvine’s nearly 230,000 residents, 97% have obtained a high school education, and more than two-thirds have earned a college degree. As far as colleges and universities are concerned, University of California Irvine is the place to be. Part of the University of California system, the school enrolls around 30,000 students and is ranked among the 100 best universities younger than 50. Of course, there are other solid options for education with Concordia University, Irvine Valley College, and California Southern University as well. No matter which school you choose, you can be sure that you’ll get a great education.

3. JOBS IN EDUCATION, TECHNOLOGY, AND HEALTH CARE.

Blizzard Entertainment Studio in Irvine, CA
Photo by Gordon Tarpley

Not only are there opportunities for higher education in Irvine, but education is also the city’s number one means of employment. The top two employers—University of California Irvine and Irvine Unified School District—employ a combined total of almost 20,000 people in the area! Technology companies like “World of Warcraft” developer Blizzard Entertainment also rank among the city’s top employers, as do health care companies like Allergan, B. Braun Medical Inc., and Edwards Lifesciences.

4. MAGNIFICENT COUNTRYSIDE.

Irvine Ranch Natural Landscape
Photo by Rachel Titiriga

To the south of Irvine lies a vast terrain complete with oak and sycamore trees, as well as beautiful rock formations. If you want to experience this natural beauty, head to Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks, where you can hike, observe wildlife, ride horses, and even take a tour using a smartphone or tablet.

5. OBSERVE THE CITY FROM A BIRD’S EYE VIEW.

Orange County Balloon Ride
Photo by AngryJulieMonday

In Irvine, you don’t need a helicopter to see the city from a bird’s eye view. Swing by Orange County Great Park between Thursdays and Sundays, and you’ll have the opportunity to ride in the park’s enormous hot air balloon, which carries groups of 25 to 30 people 400 feet into the air with unbeatable 40-mile-wide views!

6. PRETEND CITY CHILDREN’S MUSEUM.

Pretend City Children's Museum in Irvine
Photo by kristin_a

Need something to keep the kids busy? Take them to Pretend City Children’s Museum, where they can engage in fun-filled activities that will also teach them about real life scenarios, such as farming, cleaning up pollution, and construction. It’s great because kids can have a blast while simultaneously learning about the world in which they live. Who says playtime can’t be educational?

7. GRAB YOUR CLUBS.

Oak Creek Golf in Irvine
Photo by Dan Perry

The climate of Southern California means Irvine is ideal for golfing. The most popular course is Oak Creek, which was designed by Tom Fazio, cited as the “Best Modern Day Golf Course Architect” by Golf Digest. Other reputable courses include Strawberry Farms Golf Course and Rancho San Joaquin Golf Course.

8. SHOP TILL YOU DROP.

Irvine Shopping Center
Photo by AngryJulieMonday

Located between Irvine and Tustin is the The Market Place, an outdoor shopping center that has it all. From shopping outlets like Old Navy, PetSmart, and Toys “R” Us to restaurants like In-N-Out Burger, Bonefish Grill, and WaSa Sushi, you can spend an entire day shopping and dining without leaving the center. Another shopping center worth visiting is Irvine Spectrum Center. Besides hitting the center’s H&M, Nordstrom, and Target, you have to ride the Italian-made “Giant Wheel” while you’re there.

9. LEARN ABOUT ANOTHER CULTURE.

Gyro
Photo by jeffreyw

Want to broaden your horizons? Irvine has festivals throughout the year that can help you learn more about other cultures. Hear Irish music at the Irish Fair & Music Festival. Satisfy your taste buds with Greek dishes at the A Taste of Greece. Or head to the city’s annual Global Village Festival to get an up-close-and-personal look at multiple cultures in the form of food, exhibits, and souvenirs. Also, be sure to check out the Irvine International Film Festival. Who knows? You might be lucky enough to meet the next Federico Fellini!

10. FUN FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY.

K1 Speed Irvine
Photo by woolennium

Looking for an adventure for the whole family? Check out the go-kart arena of K1 Speed Irvine. Race against your friends and family on a professionally-designed indoor race track. For a broader variety of rides and games, look no further than Boomers, a local park complete with miniature golf, bumper boats, batting cages, laser tag arenas, rock-climbing walls, and various other attractions!

11. VERIZON WIRELESS AMPHITHEATRE.

Irvine Amphitheatre
Photo by Anne Varak

Irvine is home to the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, the largest of its kind in Orange County. With a seating capacity of 16,085, the amphitheatre provides its audience with views of the stage and California landscape. In addition, it serves as host for festivals like Projekt Revolution, Uproar Festival, and Lollapalooza.

12. GOT HUNGER?

Pho Bac - Irvine, CA
Photo by denAsuncloner

When it comes to a great meal, it’s hard to beat the restaurants in Irvine. Grab a cappuccino and freshly-made tiramisu at 85°C Bakery Cafe. Or try spit-roasted meats on a sword at Brazilian restaurant Agora Churrascaria. Of course, you can’t miss out on the now famous “Karma Burger” at Mick’s Karma Bar. Whether you’re looking for Asian cuisine, Italian dishes, or seafood, Irvine has exactly what you need.

What would you add to our list about living in Irvine?

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If you’re moving to Irvine and need storage space to help with the transition, view Storage.com’s directory of storage units in Irvine, California.

All images have either been provided by a listed organization or are licensed under the Creative Commons.