Negatives of Moving to Riverside
Sprawl – The American West is well known for its urban sprawls – miles and miles of concrete, strips malls and cul-de-sacs – and the Inland Empire exemplifies it at its most aggressive. The area has grown so fast that it lacks discernable downtowns and requires driving for almost everything.
Smog – LA gets smog, and much of that smog finds its way into the Inland Empire. But that’s not to sell the Inland Empire short – it creates its own smog, too, a lot of it, making it one of the worst places in the US for air pollution.
Traffic – It’s estimated that a staggering 1/3 of all Inland Empire residents commute to different cities, mostly LA, for work. This means debilitating, forehead-on-steering-wheel traffic for most residents. Some experience daily commutes of four hours. It’s believed by many to be the worst commute in the nation.
Unemployment – The Inland Empire suffers from the worst employment after Detroit. In 2010, 15% of the population was unemployed. Then figure that at least 33% of the population that happens to be employed deals with a brutal commute, and it makes the Inland Empire seem like one of the unhappiest places on earth.
I moved to Riverside a year ago.. since then I've had my car broken into, I've had crackheads threaten to kill me for simply ignoring their questions, I've been hit by a car while walking, I've had my car illegally towed, I've dealt with pests in the apartment I was living in, I hear police sirens practically every night, etc etc. At least my apartment hasn't been broken into like another one of my friend's..
Before moving to Riverside, I thought, how bad can it be? I usually stick myself and thought I could get away without any problems and try and save some money. It was not worth it.
I much preferred living close to campus and being able to walk/bike to class.
Riverside is close by some of the low-income housing units, which may explain the area :(
Oddly the advice I have to give about living in Riverside doesn't have to do with Riverside specifically. It more has to do with the surrounding areas. As a city there's really nothing special about Riverside, it's just an inland area with no major recreation or attractions. But in every single direction you go from Riverside with just a short drive(never go during rush hours(7am-9am and 4pm-7pm ish)) you can see amazing things all around. Not only the landscapes and stunning natural sights like the oceans, the mountains, the plains of the dessert, but facinating musems parks and other instances of man made attractions. Seek them out and enjoy.
Riverside has a population of about 300,000 so expect traffic jams along the freeways. (It is still Souther California.) You will be driving a lot since there really isn’t a central hub of shops and recreation.
Riverside does have a community feel to it as there are plenty of parks around the area, which is great for the kids. It does get pretty hot in the Summer so if you can, get a home with a pool. Speaking of parks, that is your key to meeting new families.
It’s a pretty diverse area so expect to see different cultures and different faces (that’s why I said depends where are you coming from.)
I’ve lived here my whole life (except for my college time in Santa Barbara, but this is home with my family and wife’s family still in the area. Compared to other locations it can get expensive but it’s a nicer area that some surrounding areas. Traffic Traffic Traffic.
I'm from Orange County and moved to Riverside for college and have been here since for a few reasons. The cost of living is definitely cheaper than the coastal cities, but it still isn't that cheap. If you are to buy a house, in my opinions now would be a good time as Riverside is on the come up.
What's good about it in my opinion:
It's beautiful at night. Driving around anywhere is so calming. Take a stroll down Victoria with your windows down and some music on.
It's on the come up, so more things are starting to happen. I'm a huge concert goer and the Riverside Municipal Auditorium (RMA) is starting to book a lot more artists. Also there are some casinos not too far that have some great concerts.
There's quite a bit of access to hiking areas and it's closer to things like Palm Springs, Joshua Tree, Mount San Jacinto and the backside of Silverado.
There's a few breweries like Wicks and Packing house (I haven't ventured enough into the brewery scene here to mention more but there are more). Also Hanger 24 in Redlands isn't too far.
Downtown Riverside has somewhat of a night life. There's a few cool bars and some more R&B clubs. Downtown Redlands has more of a scene.
There isn't quite as much food places as OC or LA, BUT there are places. Greek Street, Salted Pig, Heroes (also one in Fullerton), Enzos, Taiyos Sushi & Poki.
The Mission Inn in downtown Riverside has the Festival of Lights which is pretty cool to check out. Also some fancy restaurants in there.
What's bad about Riverside:
It gets hotter than Orange County or LA in the summer time.
Traffic to and from OC or LA is terrible as there is pretty much only the 91 freeway (which sucks ass) or the 60.
There are some pretty bad areas. Around UCR there's quite a bit of crime but nothing has ever happened to me.
909 bros exist but not as much as some of the neighboring cities.
Not as many jobs here as compared to other places around (at least in tech/engineering). However you say you might have a gig already so that's good.
Note: These are all my speculation. Edit: Reddit formatting n00b
Cost of living isn't ridiculous.
It's easy enough to get into LA or SD when needed or wanted, but I rarely feel the need. (maybe every other month or so, for concerts or a restaurant combined with some specific shopping).
A lot of national parks/national forests/etc. nearby. Tons of options for hiking or biking or offroading or the like. Obviously only matters if you like the outdoors, but I love getting away for the day or a weekend.
Traffic is much better than most major cities, but not as good as small towns. Avoid rush hour into or out of LA.
Good healthcare options available
I much prefer flying in and out of ONT than LAX, even though I do make 3-4 trips a year from LAX when ONT scheduling sucks.
I have no idea why people go on about 'unsafe' areas. There are certainly areas that are more or less affluent, but I've not driven through anything that worried me. Some areas I'd rather not live, or wander around after dark alone maybe, but I don't know any city in this country this size that doesn't have those.
Nice makerspace available *Good restaurants locally-nothing michelin starred or the like, but good eats in a variety of cuisines.
If you have specific questions feel free to ask. I've been here 3+ years now, this is my 6th city in SoCal, so I feel somewhat competent to answer these sorts of questions.
Redlands & other smaller cities outside of Riverside might have even cheaper cost of living. There are 2 LA fitness gyms in Riverside. Lots of groups that hike local trails. Also a few MMA gyms too. I think the dating scene might be less active then San Diego. Downtown has a 5-7 decent bars now and lots of Restaurants, but nothing like San Diego. You might have to supplement you nightlife with visits to the OC and LA.
Upsides of living in riverside:
You're an hour way from the beach or the mountains
Has everything you'd pretty much need
There are cheaper places a little outside of riverside
The scene downtown is weeeeeeeak. Just a bunch of rambunctious kids.
Its fucking hot during the summer
The 91 is a nightmare
Source: Lived in Riverside for the last 8 years
Riverside is divided in to several sections, the areas I like the most are Canyon Crest, Orangecrest, and Arlington Heights. Orangecrest is primarly new but Canyone Crest and Arlington Heights might be what you are looking for, they're older and very beautiful (might be pricer too). So, I would agree with EscapeCalifornia and wait a little before buying... As for the areas you were looking at, Central/91 is nice (kinda looks like Fullerton) however the other one, near downtown / mission inn, is horrible, you do not need to be in that area... Hopefully this helps
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Evaluate what your needs are when moving to Riverside – how many things will you be taking, will you be shipping your vehicle or you would prefer to use the city transportation, and think of the institutions that you will need to contact in relation to your move (post office, banks, your kid’s school, utility companies, landlord, etc). Your work regarding your relocation to Riverside, CA, is a lot and cannot be included all in one article like this one. That is why we have plenty of guides, lists with tips, help and advice that you can use for your move – follow the links below or explore our Resources section.
Weather (kind of) – It stays warm in the Inland Empire, even in the throws of winter. It’s also a fairly sunny area (though smog can dampen the rays). Summers can get very hot, but it’s a dry heat.
Home prices – Most people live in the Inland Empire, because home prices are far cheaper than in neighboring LA (and most anywhere else for that matter). Riverside and San Bernadino have endless neighborhoods of affordable housing.
Agriculture – Riverside was born on the back of the Navel Orange. The original tree, which every navel orange you have ever eaten descended from, still lives in Riverside. Other agriculture also thrives in the arid, fertile region, though agriculture in no longer as vital an industry as it once was.
Los Angeles – There’s not much to write home about in the Inland Empire, but LA is just a 20-minute drive away for some residents, and LA has plenty to do, see and eat.
UC Riverside – Riverside is home to the large UC-Riverside campus, which educates nearly 21,000 students each year and helps put the city on the map, so to speak.
Music – Venues in the Inland Empire have nursed a number of before-they-were-big-time music acts, including Frank Zappa, No Doubt, Blink 182 and Rage Against the Machine. Though some of those venues have since closed, new ones have taken their place. Residents might be able to catch the new hotness at the likes of the Buffalo Inn, the Vault, and Commonground Soundstage
I am currently living off Riverside right now at Townlake Student Apartments. I lived on-campus in a dorm my freshman year and decided to save money and move off-campus to Riverside for my 2nd year. The apartments themselves aren't bad! I've never had any safety issues before, the rent is super cheap, the units come furnished, and you have your own private bedroom! My main complaint about the apartments themselves is that our appliances seem to break a lot and the people that work in the office seem disorganized sometimes. The main reason that I regret moving here is that during my second year I started becoming way more involved on campus by joining a spirit group, the women's chorus, and getting an on campus job, which all required me to be on campus a lot. It was hard for me to be on campus so much because I didn't have a car and had to rely on the shuttle bus. While they can be convenient when you don't have a car, as of now they only run till 11pm on weekdays, don't run on Saturdays, and then don't start running till about 3pm on Sundays. If the shuttles aren't running, then you have to take like two city buses to get to campus which takes roughly an hour. This was frustrating for me because I couldn't stay late on campus to study or go out and do fun things, and on weekends I was pretty much stuck here unless someone picked me up or I took the hour long bus ride. However I am moving to West Campus for this next year and super excited! :)
TL;DR: Riverside is a great option to save money, but if you don't have a car and are going to be very involved on campus it's going to be harder. Do what is best for you :) feel free to PM me for any questions you might have and best of luck!