Welcome to the OC, b*tch. Nestled between Los Angeles and San Diego is a land of idyllic coastal beach towns and suburban sprawl. The highways are plentiful, and the outdoor malls have floral arrangements so intricate you’d think someone was going to exchange vows in front of a Forever 21. Selling The OC — the new offshoot of Netflix's hit real estate reality show Selling Sunset — shows off Orange County at its most opulent.
The series, out Aug. 24, follows a new cast of real estate agents based out of The Oppenheim Group’s OC office. The first season has what you want in an Orange County real-estate reality show: beachside mansions, yacht outings, and lots and lots of drama. But Selling The OC is far from the first time a TV show has been set there. The 2003 teen soap opera The OC and the acclaimed Arrested Development are both set in Newport Beach. MTV’s Laguna Beach and The Real Housewives of Orange County famously illuminated the rich lifestyles of the OC in significant ways. With all its gated communities and golf courses, Orange County has been a pop culture obsession for decades for its aspirational take on American life.
“Orange County is a little bit of a bubble, and I mean that in the best of ways, though,” OC-native and Oppenheim Group agent Gio Helou tells Bustle. “It is very much a community where you are encouraged to be outdoors, in the sun, at the beach.” He also adds that the OC is often stigmatized as a “mono-community with one demographic.” But he thinks that’s changing, and he hopes the show reflects that.
Originally from Newport Beach, Gio is one of the most formidable agents at the O Group. He is not easily impressed by big houses and has a natural talent for selling properties and the Orange County lifestyle. “I like to think I rubbed off on a few of the OC realtors as far as busting ass and going after it,” says Gio. As an OC expert, Gio is here to help us get to know the area. Below, see Bustle’s comprehensive guide to the OC with everything you need to know about the neighborhoods and real estate featured in Selling the OC.
A Guide To The OC Neighborhoods:
Newport is the beating heart of Orange County. It has a cute pier, a vast stretch of beach lined with gorgeous homes, and little islands and harbors, which means that boating culture is huge. “Newport has definitely more of a show-off vibe. [It’s] designer everything all the way, from what you are wearing to what you are driving to what you are living in,” Gio says. This is Gio’s favorite neighborhood, though he admits he is a bit biased.“I grew up down on the peninsula,” he says. “I can’t imagine growing up anywhere else. I know I’m spoiled when I say that, but it is just true. Newport really is paradise on Earth.”
Newport Beach also boasts several subcommunities; of those enclaves, Balboa Island is one that Gio enjoys the most. “It is a new hobby for me to walk down there, get coffee,” he says. “It is charming, quaint, a little chaotic in the summer, but it has that Americana vibe.” You might catch Gio and the Selling The OC cast getting dinner after a hard day's work at his favorite spot, A Restaurant, an old-school steakhouse in the heart of Newport.
Corona Del Mar
Think of Corona Del Mar as Newport’s classy cousin. It is a little less crowded, and the streets are generally quieter. The beaches are more remote, and you’ll probably see wealthy older couples strolling around rather than a squad of rowdy, young people. Since there is a bit more space, the properties tend to be much more regal here. Corona Del Mar is also where The O Group’s office is located. Though if you are looking to go to a great bar, Gio loves Corona Del Mar’s The Quiet Woman. “It is a little bit of a cougar bar, but it is a blast,” he says. “My wife isn’t thrilled when I go in there for a drink on my own, but it is such a fun spot.”
Fun fact: If you are trying to have a messy night on the town with your bros, Huntington Beach is the place to be. Unlike the idyllic scenery of Newport or Laguna, this neighborhood is known for its bars, huge crowds, and wild energy.
If you drive south down the Pacific Coast Highway from LA, you’ll find your way to Laguna Beach. The beaches are overgrown and wild here, with lots of rocks, cliffsides, wildflowers, and tide pools. The properties in Laguna are more distinct and interesting, in large part because they have a thriving artist community. “Laguna has definitely more of a hippy vibe,” Gio says. He adds that Laguna is the type of place where you can walk around barefoot and not get any weird looks.
As we continue down PCH, we find ourselves in Dana Point. Home to many music festivals, this little community is filled with wealthy families. Compared to Newport, Dana Point has less of a “going out” culture and is more of a place to spend a Sunday with your grandkids, strolling around the marina and watching the boats pass.
San Clemente is filled with charm. It has a great farmers market and surfing. On the show, Gio refers to the coastal neighborhood as the “boonies” of Orange County. “I will stand by that,” he says. “I have a lot of friends in San Clemente who are going to hate me when they see that; the boonies are not necessarily a bad thing. It is much more affordable.” He adds, “It is kind of half San Diego, half Orange County, a little bit more of a chill vibe.”
Laguna Niguel & Mission Viejo
Once you've left the coastline, there is still lots to see in Orange County. The Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo area is suburban, but there are plenty of hikes and trails surrounding the canyons and rolling hills. There are equestrian communities, too, and many people choose this neighborhood to raise a family.
Irvine has consistently been voted the safest city in the United States, and for a good reason, absolutely nothing happens there. Irvine is occupied by new developments where all the houses look the same, with some shopping centers mixed in. “Irvine, I call it suburbia. Family-zone, if you want good old-fashioned suburbia,” Gio says. This is a hub for young families because of the excellent schools, quiet neighborhoods, and the neighborhood's extreme dedication to safety.
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