south asian women perform dance in Irvine, California
Courtesy of Irvine

No. 18

Irvine, California

Love the beach and can't get enough of the sun? It might be in your best interest to head to Irvine, California, located in Orange County and only 20 minutes from the coastline.

The Next Best

People eating at long table outdoors in Iowa City, Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa
birdseye view of crowded outdoor concert in Columbia, Maryland
Columbia, Maryland
Family playing in a pool in Spring Valley, Nevada
Spring Valley, Nevada
Group of people outside taco truck in Goodyear, Arizona
Goodyear, Arizona
Outdoor restaurant seating in the evening in Lodo Denver
LoDo in Denver, Colorado
Swimming pool in O'Fallon, Missouri
O'Fallon, Missouri

Irvine has a whopping 278 sunny days a year on average and is close to Huntington, Newport and Laguna Beach. But perfect weather isn't the only reason Irvine was named one of Money's Best Places to Live; the area also has a low unemployment rate at 2.9% — and a growing economy.

This is definitely considered a college town: University of California, Irvine is the city’s top employer, with 16,000 employees, and the university itself was ranked as the No. 1 college in the country on Money’s 2019 Best Colleges in America list. The area is known for great schools overall with a district high school graduation rate of nearly 95%.

Irvine has some of the amenities of a big city without the price tag. Go hiking at Bommer Canyon, take advantage of free admission at the UCI Institute and Museum for California Art, or settle in at Tim Ho Wan, the Michelin-starred dim sum restaurant that just expanded into Irvine this year. — Olivia Raimonde

Irvine, California population, median household income and home price, projected job growth, average commute, clear days per year

Sign Up for Our Newsletters

Sign up to receive the latest updates and smartest advice from the editors of Money