Our Newport Beach Apartment


Living Room TV and bookshelf

Hello everyone! Today I’m going to tell you about our Newport Beach apartment. I love being nosy at other bloggers homes and have had a few requests for a house tour. But, before I tell you about renting in California, let me tell you what I’ve been up to the last few days.

We have had a fun few days watching the Newport Beach Boat Parade. The parade runs for five nights and, each night, the same boats parade around the harbour with lights and decorations. Some of the boat owners really go all out. It’s all really pretty, Christmassy and fun!

Our apartment is in a fantastic location for watching the parade. We live right across the road from the harbour. Our house is positioned on a corner across from a wide entrance to the harbour, so our view is not blocked by other houses. We had the perfect view of the parade from our balcony. Watching it while drinking mulled wine was great fun! We watched four nights out of five. We only missed it on one evening as we went to Knott’s Berry Farm, a local theme park, for the day!

Traditional Chinese Umbrella

Anyway- today’s post is all about our Newport Beach apartment and renting in California. Justin and I *think* this is the tenth apartment we have lived in over the last nine years of being together! And that’s not counting the one we both lived in, but not at the same time,  in Cheonan, South Korea (the bosses moved him out so I could move in when I arrived to work there haha!).  The longest we lived in one apartment was two and a half years in our beloved Fulham, SW London, meaning sometimes we’ve moved more than once in a year! That’s insane! You might remember I wrote about two of the three apartments we lived in in Beijing. If you want to have a look you can see our lovely Sanlitun apartment here and moving into the tiny, old Hutong house here.

This will certainly not be the last place we ever live either. This apartment is in a fantastic location, opposite the harbour and just one minute walk to the beach. But it’s a little too small for us to live in forever- especially as we are currently both working at home. Using the dining table as a two person desk is not the best thing. I like it a bit better now that I have added a poinsettia plant and candles and we bought some cheap (and ugly) plastic drawers to keep all our office bits in (and off the table!).

Newport Beach Apartment Living Room

Renting in California vs Renting in the UK

There are definitely some differences to renting in Southern California compared to the UK. For instance- in the UK, especially in London, nearly every Estate Agent also deals in renting apartments. You can just walk into any of them (there are multiple on every  High Street) tell them what you are looking for and how much you want to pay. They will then call you up and offer to show you around a whole bunch of apartments (flats as we say in the UK, which already sounds weird now!) which may or may not actually meet the requirements you gave them. This continues until you find a place you actually want to move into, they then rip you off with some mysterious “fees” and you’re done! Things are a bit different here.

We were originally looking at moving to LA. It was an exhausting experience as you can’t just contact one agent and have them do all the work. It involved combing various listing websites and calling up each individual landlord, or their agent, to arrange individual appointments. Luckily I quite enjoy creating schedules as we had to slot them all into the same day so we didn’t have to drive up to LA multiple times. It was really time consuming and stressful when they would frequently change the times of the appointments.

Fortunately in Newport Beach, presumably because there are also so many vacation rentals here, agents/realtors often do have properties to rent as well. Luckily for us we know someone who works at one and they helped us out. That was really the main reason we ended up staying in Newport (where Justin’s family live) instead of moving up to LA or down to SD. It was easier!

Newport Beach Apartment Kitchen


Another thing that’s different about renting in California compared to the UK, is that most rented apartments don’t come furnished! In other places we’ve lived we’ve always had a furnished/partly furnished place. There are pros and cons for both but it’s actually quite nice buying your own furniture and knowing you get to keep it if you move. Well, apart from the fact that it costs quite a bit of money when you’re starting from scratch and, on our budget, it meant cobbling together cheaper bits mostly from Ikea (we did get a nice book shelf from Crate and Barrel however!). Most of it is not exactly my dream furniture, but it is more than good enough for now.

Guide book collection, lomography camera


Another thing that amuses me is that a lot of rented homes here don’t have any kind of washing machine/laundry in the apartment. Everywhere I’ve lived before (yes, even in the hutong house in Beijing) has always had one somewhere in the apartment. (EDIT: Just remembered we didn’t have a washing machine in Venezuela. ) Because washing machines are so much bigger here, a lot of rented places either have a communal laundry or no laundry at all! We have none at all.

It always makes me laugh when I watch House Hunters International and Americans house hunting in the UK/Europe freak out about having a “small” washing machine in the kitchen and no dryer. As a Brit in the US, I freak out about the opposite! I would love to have a “tiny” washing machine in my kitchen and I really prefer not to put my clothes in dryers (though I admit a dryer is nice for sheets and towels!).

On the upside they are going to install a communal one in one of the garages of our building (which only has four apartments in so sharing won’t be too bad) and, in the mean time, Justin does all the laundry at his dad’s house. One less job for lazy bones me 🙂

Newport Beach Bedroom


Our shipping finally arrived after months at sea and, when we unpacked it all, I realised what a good job Justin and I have done at collecting ornaments and pictures from our travels. Unfortunately we don’t really have anything from our time working/travelling in South America (other than the alpaca toy we put on the Christmas tree) but we have so many things from South Korea, China, Japan, Myanmar, Indonesia, the UK and Thailand. We actually have too many decorative things for this small apartment and have several prints and other memorabilia packed away to get out if/when we move to a larger apartment!

Living Room TV and bookshelf


One of the best parts about our apartment is, of course, how close it is to the harbor and beach. I also love that we have a huge balcony which we currently have decorated with lights for Christmas.

Newport Beach Balboa
Just a minute walk behind our house is the beautiful beach!
Newport Beach Harbor
And opposite our house is the harbour.

Two of our other (many!) apartments around the world can be seen here: Sanlitun and Hutong

So, there we have it- our Newport Beach Apartment. If you celebrate Christmas then I wish you a very merry one. What will you be doing this week?

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18 thoughts on “Our Newport Beach Apartment

  1. Lovely place. Gives me the idea to write about our apartment as well in more detail. Thus far I only got one post about it from last year after we finished all renovation work but most of the decoration and furniture was still missing
    To have a beach nearby sounds really sweet 🙂
    Oh btw, in Germany and Finland apartments are also without furniture and in case there is already stuff it costs tons of money extra

  2. Another difference from the UK are those gorgeous blue skies and sunshine in December.
    Great location – you can now become ‘beach bums’ which is a tradition in SoCal.

    1. Haha that’s very true, Rick. Apparently the weather has been “mild” back in the UK but it has been raining non-stop. I definitely prefer the blue sky (and wind) we’ve had here. The other day we could see snow on the mountains while standing on the beach- so now I just need to do the whole surfing in the morning and snowboarding in the afternoon thing and I think I’ll be a local. 🙂

  3. I LOVE your blogs! You are such a gifted writer! Each time I feel as though I’m walking with you seeing it all through your eyes! I remember the Alpaca on the tree from years past and all the special places you live! Thank you for sharing this lovely area – it is so beautiful this time of year!

  4. For me renting a flat in Leeds (my third Leeds residence) was really easy – provided I could find a place where I didn’t have to sign a 10 or 12-month contract (I was still a student at the time I started the contract). That was actually the hard part. But I contacted some company, the agent showed me a place, I liked it and I signed the contract. I got ripped off by a fee at the end but I liked that flat.

    1. Estate agents in the UK are terrible for their mysterious “fees”- they are really bad at inserting fees for signing, fees for moving out etc without telling you! It used to be bad with getting deposits back too but it’s better now they have the deposit protection scheme. I’m glad you found a flat you liked and I know what you mean- it is quite tricky to find places that rent for less than 12 months. Well, maybe more places do it if you pay another “fee” haha!

  5. One day soon I need to have a good read through your archives – you’ve had such an interesting life!

    It’s funny reading about your experience with your rental – it reminds me of a lot of things I’d forgotten about (like many evenings at the laundromat!) In Aus, most flats are set up for washing machines, but you have to provide your own (even your own fridge!) And I have to admit I hate the UK washing machines, I can’t stand front loaders. It’s always the little things that surprise you when you live in a foreign country!! But anyway, your flat is gorgeous x

    1. Sorry Jennifer- your comment had been eaten by my spam filter. Not sure why but it has done that a lot lately! Hah- so funny about the washing machine. I’d love to have a little front loader 🙂 I wish I’d been writing this blog for longer- I first had one in 2006 when I moved to Korea. There would have been a lot of interesting trips and stories of life abroad if I’d carried on with that one though all my years of travelling – I regret not keeping it up. I’ll just have to make sure I never stop writing this one now haha!

  6. I just wrote a comment but it somehow disappeared (so sorry if this shows up twice – feel free to delete one?!) But I love this post – as an expat it’s always the little things (like washing machines) that throw me off! This post makes me smile because it brings back memories of late nights at the laundromats when I was younger. Thanks for sharing your adorable home! (PS: Also, I need to find some time to dig through your archives, because your life sounds so exciting!)

  7. I love apartment tours! It’s so cool to see where other people live. The view and super close beach scenario is amazing. And I hear you on the moving! I definitely haven’t moved ten times in the past nine years, but man, my boyfriend and I just moved out of our downtown Raleigh apartment yesterday and it was the WORST! But while I’m traveling, it just doesn’t make sense to pay too much in rent for now! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Haha yeah, it’s not a bad location 🙂 But isn’t moving the worst..ugh! What you and your boyfriend did makes complete sense though- it’s not worth it to rent a whole place when one/both of you is travelling for a while but it is just soooo painful having to pack and unpack everything!

  8. Thanks for the look into your place! Renting around the world is really interesting. In Japan, the weirdest thing for us is the fact that you have to bring your own lights! They are specific ones that you need to install yourself. I remember a couple of interesting nights getting around the apartment with flashlights the first time we moved! Haha

    Wishing you both a (belated) Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

    1. Oh that’s interesting about the lights- I never would have even thought that would be something you would have to do haha. I think I might have to collect up all these weird quirks of renting around the world and do a blog post on it at some point in the future! I’ll email you if I do! Happy New Year to you both too! 🙂

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