Cities near LA named best places to live

As you browse through MLS listings in Los Angeles, you might be thinking that you're limited to live within the downtown area or in an area like West Hollywood or El Segunda if you work in LA. Quite the contrary though, many people who love to work and play in Los Angeles live in some communities that are a little further away and simply enjoy the commute into the city.

There's a lot to be said about living in one of the quieter areas outside of Los Angeles. For instance, the city of Irvine is a very popular place for people who live in the city to purchase homes. This is a highly sought-after area located within Orange County, approximately 40 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles. Perhaps its sense of community among urban buildings are some of the reasons why Irvine was chosen as the sixth best place to live in the country by CNNMoney for 2012.

The publication states that Irvine ranks so high on this year's list because it has it all - sun, sand and surf. The area includes 20,000 acres of parks and preserves, 44 bike trails and the beach only 10 miles away, according to the source. Furthermore, this Southern California city is popular due to its tight-knit neighborhoods, a school district that has been nationally recognized for excellent test scores and wealth of employment opportunities.

Although it is a fairly big city with a population of 213,600, Irvine has a small town feel thanks to the 40 "villages" that make up the community. The camaraderie among residents makes you feel at home right away in Irvine. According to the US Census Bureau, the median value of owner-occupied homes in Irvine from 2006 to 2010 was $677,100 - making it slightly more affordable than some other Orange County areas.

Another area that places near the top of CNNMoney's list is Chino Hills. It ranks as the 34th best place to live in the country for its ethnically diverse community and a higher median income than Beverly Hills, reports the source. It's a popular place to live for those who work in LA as 40 percent of residents commute at least 45 minutes each way during the week.

Either one of these communities could be the perfect place to find your next home that is just outside the hustle and bustle of the big city, but close enough so you can work and play in Los Angeles.