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Rents may be on the rise statewide, but when it comes to finding a bargain among California cities, Orange County is among the most reasonable, according to research from JLL.

Patricia Raicht, JLL Senior Vice President/National Director of Research

The firm's senior vice president and national director of research, Patricia Raicht, said Orange County costs are lower in terms of office space, but also employee salaries and cost of living are comparatively lower in the OC, making it a very competitive option for companies that want to locate on the West Coast.

JLL CA chart

The average monthly overall office rents in Orange County are $2.68/SF compared to $3.19 in L.A. and $6.14 in San Francisco. 

Despite the difference in prices, companies are attracted to different cities for various reasons.

San Francisco "offers a very deep and talented labor pool as well as a pipeline of potential talent from world-class higher ed institutions," Raicht said.

Businesses are attracted to San Diego because of its highly skilled talent pool with specific concentrations in aerospace/defense and life science, she said. 

Meanwhile, L.A. has access to a large tech talent pool that focuses on content generation.

"It is a global gateway market with an established collection of media and entertainment companies that is one of the largest population centers on the West Coast," she said.

In comparison, Orange County businesses have access to a talent pool with a diversifying technology industry base at a significantly lower cost.

John Drachman and his wife in Hong Kong

The Orange County office market is strong, according to Stillwater Investment Group president John Drachman.

Some of the things Orange County has going for it this year are "positive net absorption across all office properties, rising lease rates and continued growth in sales prices of office buildings," he said.

Wherever the market, Raicht said the issues each confronts are the same: access to qualified candidates, especially as unemployment drops and competition intensifies; the cost of living; and housing affordability.