When it comes to choosing the best places and neighborhoods in Orange County, California, there are plenty of options. With so many wonderful cities and towns to choose from, where should you set up your new home? To help you make this decision, we’ve collected data on the 15 best places to live in Orange County based on the quality of life.
Maybe you’re moving for a new job, maybe your kids have outgrown their school district and it’s time to go somewhere else – or maybe you want to move back home and feel like there is no better place than Orange County!
For anyone looking for a great place to live in Orange County, we’ve compiled this list of the best places and neighborhoods based on the quality of life and a host of other factors.
Best Places to live in Orange county
The first thing you think about when you think about Orange County is the beach, but there’s a lot more to this county than that. Here are the best places for families in Orange County, California.
1 – Irvine, CA
Irvine is a planned city located in northern Orange County, California. The city borders Newport Beach and Tustin to the south and Santa Ana to the north; it is known for its pleasant environment and excellent schools.
The city has become one of the most desired locations in America for relocating businesses and people who want to enjoy their retirement years (of all ages). They have amazing school districts and, according to Money Magazine, Irvine has the best school districts in the nation.
This city is consistently ranked number 1 for quality of life in America by various rating agencies.
The crime rate is mid-range, but the citizens of Irvine are very safe. Irvine is also an extremely safe place to raise kids. When it comes to education, the school districts are rated some of the best in America.
It’s not hard to find neighborhoods that are walk-able or bikable, and there are plenty of parks for residents enjoying their new environment. There are plenty of stores and restaurants, but you probably won’t be overrun by chain stores.
2 – Huntington Beach, CA
Huntington Beach is in the heart of Orange County and has a bohemian vibe. The city has a reputation for its surfing and a laid-back beach lifestyle. Huntington Beach offers many local events and festivals year-round.
The city is also known for its surf culture. You can easily grab a bite to eat [food] and shop the local shops along Main Street. Surfing is a very important part of Huntington Beach and something residents can do all year round – and you can bet you’ll be able to find some good waves.
The schools in Huntington Beach earned top ratings from Great Schools and it has one of the safest cities in Orange County.
It is also business-friendly and the city has a number of large corporations based in Huntington Beach. The economy of Huntington Beach is quite strong, and the residents are employed by many Fortune 500 companies. If you’re looking for a place to raise your family , you can’t do better than Huntington Beach.
3 – Dana Point, CA
Dana Point is an interesting mix of the artsy and beachy culture in one location with great schools to boot! Dana Point has great schools, arts scene, wonderful beaches, plenty to do outdoors — all with a small-town charm you don’t expect in Orange County.
Located in the south of Orange County, Dana Point is a very desirable place to live. The city has one of the best school districts in the county and is a great place to raise a family . Dana Point is also very reasonably priced, which makes it ideal for young families.
In addition, Dana Point has a reputation for being friendly and welcoming. There are plenty of parks and beaches along with excellent restaurants, shops, and entertainment options.
Economy wise, Dana Point is a little more diverse than other Orange County cities. The city has a number of great companies – from defense to technology – and a growing economy. You’ll also find a lot of companies based out of the city for employers who want to be near the beach. There are plenty of open jobs in Dana Point, and there is a large number of young workers looking for jobs within the city.
4 – Laguna Beach, CA
Laguna Beach is a coastal city located in southern Orange County. The city boasts a gorgeous beach and a laid-back lifestyle that keeps residents coming back for more. There are plenty of parks and activities to do here year-round.
Laguna offers students the opportunity to attend the best school district in Orange County, which was rated as one of the top districts in the country by Niche.
Laguna also offers businesses appealing environments with tons of natural beauty. The is a great place to visit year-round with a beach front, a fabulous downtown with lots of restaurants and shops, and a tranquil harbor.
The economy is a little more diversified than other Orange County cities. You will find strong corporate jobs with several Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Laguna Beach.
5 – Irvine Company Town
The Irvine Company Town is an independent incorporated city which shares its borders with the City of Irvine. Irvine Company Town is considered a vibrant community. It was originally founded as a planned community by the Irvine Company in June 1971.
The Irvine Company Town has been known as The Ranch, and the name borders on Garden Grove, Rossmoor, and Olivehill. It is located in Orange County, California, USA.
Irvine Company Town has more than 1,000 homes, parks, and recreational areas. The community is 13.5 miles from the beach.
Places of worship in Irvine Company Town are Our Lady of Angels Catholic Church, Irvine United Methodist Church, First Presbyterian Church of Irvine which are all part of the state’s historical landmark. The town also has a private school named Holy Trinity School .
The school district of Irvine Company Town is described as a five-star public school. The elementary schools range from pre-kindergarten up to grade six. There are then fourteen different high schools that include three traditional high schools, six academies, and two credit recovery programs.
The California state court recognizes The Private School as a part of the California Education Association’s charter school movement. The Ranch’s private schools are accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
It is somewhere you can live and work in a self-contained community where you can enjoy the amenities of a large city while also having some of the advantages of a small town.
6 – Santa Ana, CA
Santa Ana is Orange County’s largest city and it sits right in the middle of Orange County. This city has undergone a major revitalization bringing in a lot of new business investment and development over the past few years.
As with other cities in Orange County, Santa Ana offers a diverse community and is full of big businesses and many high-tech companies. The economy of Santa Ana is very strong and under-40 educated workers can find plenty of jobs to choose from.
The unemployment rate in the city is below the national rate, which makes Santa Ana a great place to raise a family or start your career. The cost of living in Santa Ana is not too high making it affordable for young families. Santa Ana is also a great place to visit in the off season when the weather isn’t too hot.
The city of Santa Ana has many beautiful parks with many open spaces to enjoy the outdoors year-round. Attention to detail is what makes Santa Ana special. The city offers attractive homesites, superior schools, and wellness options that are second to none.
The economy of Santa Ana is stable with a large number of local businesses.
The climate in Santa Ana features mild weather that makes it a very livable place to live.
It is one of the warmest cities in Orange County and also has great seasonal rainfall. The area also has great air quality thanks to Southern California’s clean air rules and regulations.
7 – South Coast Metro Area, CA
The South Coast Metro Area is not only one of the best cities for retirees, it’s also one of the best places to live in California. This area is made up of many different cities and towns including Long Beach, Costa Mesa, Anaheim, Huntington Beach and several others.
The areas that these different cities and towns share are Anaheim, La Habra, Buena Park, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Stanton and Santa Ana.
outh Coast Metro Area has seen an increase in population throughout the last few years. This area is known for its great schools and many universities including UCLA, UC Irvine and Cal State Fullerton.
There is also a strong economy in South Coast Metro Area with plenty of great job opportunities. The unemployment rate in the area is very low making this place attractive for new families to relocate into.
8 – San Clemente, CA
San Clemente is a coastal city located in southern Orange County. This city boasts a gorgeous beach and a laid-back lifestyle that keeps residents coming back for more. There are plenty of parks and activities to do here year-round.
San Clemente offers students the opportunity to attend the best school district in Orange County, which was rated as one of the top districts in the country by Niche.
The climate in San Clemente is a lot different from most other cities in Orange County. The weather is a lot warmer and drier making it a great place to live year-round. There are daily sunny spells that give this city its nickname, “Surf City USA”. The beaches also tend to host several surf competitions throughout the year.
9 – Turtle Rock
Turtle Rock is a city located in southwestern Orange County, California. In the past few years, many businesses have moved to Turtle Rock. This city has become very popular in the past few years due to its great job opportunities and housing affordability.
Turtle Rock in Orange County is considered to be one of the greatest places in the United States in terms of employment growth over the next five years. The area’s economy has developed faster than many other cities in California, reaching $250 billion by year-end 2017.
The housing market in Turtle Rock has seen a 15 percent increase in median value and a 2.9 percent decrease in time on the market. This is one of the best places to live in Orange County and it’s convenient to many different attractions and places of interest including Disneyland, the Anaheim Packing District, and Angel Stadium.
The school district in Turtle Rock has seen an increase in enrollment over the past few years. This city is part of the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) and Orange County Public Schools (OCCS).
The climate in Turtle Rock is very similar to many other cities in Orange County. The weather is very warm and dry making it a great place to live year-round.
10 – West Park II
West Park II is a city located in northwestern Orange County, California. The area has seen a major population boom over the past few years making it one of the best cities to live in Orange County for new residents.
The city has great job opportunities for young professional hires. West Park II is also becoming known as “Silicon Beach” because many companies are moving here to be part of the vibrant economy.
West Park II has great weather year-round making it a perfect place to enjoy outdoor activities with friends and family. This area is also known for its great schools that serve students from kindergarten through high school.
The homes in West Park II are very affordable. Median home values are an average of $446,000. The housing market is growing very fast with an increase of nearly 20 percent in 2015 and 2016 alone.
The climate in West Park II is very similar to many other cities in Orange County. The weather is sunny and dry all year round making it one of the best places to live in Orange County. This area also has its own award-winning schools with increased enrollment since the past few years.
11 – Westminster
Westminster is a city located in northwestern Orange County, California. Much like nearby Costa Mesa, Westminster has seen a major increase in new residents. This city is home to some of the best schools in Orange County including two IB schools.
Westminster also has a great economy that offers plenty of opportunity for young professionals looking to move here.
The unemployment rate is very low making this area attractive for job-seeking families looking to relocate into the area.
The crime rate is also very low here thanks to well-trained law enforcement officials and local leadership. The weather in this city is pretty consistent year-round with daily sunny spells throughout most of the year.
This is one of the best places to live in Orange County for many reasons including its great schools, low crime rate, job opportunities, and low unemployment rate.
12 – Bommer Canyon
Bommer Canyon is a city located in southern Orange County, California. Since the early 2000s, this area has seen many new residents move here. Bommer Canyon’s economy is steadily expanding, making it one of the best places to live in Orange County.
This area offers plenty of job opportunities for recent college graduates and families with young children.
The homes that are being built recently are being very affordable to the average family looking to buy a new home in Southern California. Median home prices are more than $300,000 which makes this area one of the best places to live in Orange County for families seeking to relocate into the area. Schools are another great reason to move here.
The schools in Bommer Canyon are some of the best in California. The school district is part of the Fullerton Joint Union High School District (FJUHSD), which includes eight elementary schools, four middle schools, one charter school, and three high schools.
The houses in this city are very affordable and family-friendly making it one of the best places to live for new families relocating into the area.
13 – Sky Valley
Sky Valley is a city located in southern Orange County, California. Sky Valley is one of the best cities to live in Orange County for newly relocated families and young professionals because it has an affordable housing market and great economy.
The area’s homes are considered to be among some of the best values in the entire county. Sky Valley has its own award-winning school district that serves students from elementary level through high school.
The current crime rate in Sky Valley is very low and this city is considered to be one of the safest places to live in Orange County. The weather here is like many other cities throughout Southern California with sun and clouds daily making it a perfect place to live year-round.
Economy wise, Sky Valley provides plenty of job opportunities for new companies that are moving into the area. The city has seen a major increase in the amount of jobs since the past few years.
The school district is also very well known throughout Southern California because it has two IB schools, several academic award-winning programs, and great teachers who provide students with advanced education.
14 – Wood Bridge
Woodbridge is a city located in southern Orange County, California. Woodbridge has been home to many families relocating from places like Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco for many years.
This city is part of the Fullerton Joint Union High School District. School districts in Orange County are known for their very advanced academic programs allowing students to get a head start on college life.
Woodbridge is one of the best places to live in Orange County because it offers very affordable housing and a low crime rate. Over the past few years there have been major decreases in home values making it a great place for new homeowners looking to save a lot of money when buying their own homes.
The weather in this area is very consistent throughout most of the year; however; there are still some rainy days usually during the winter months. Overall, Woodbridge is one of the best places to live in Orange County due to its affordable housing, low crime rate, and great school system.
The economic benefit of living here has grown quickly since the past few years. Many small companies are moving to this area to expand their operations, which is one of the best reasons for families looking to move here.
Woodbridge’s school district offers many advanced programs including IB programs. The academic excellence in Woodbridge plays a very important role in helping students get into colleges throughout California.
The IB program prepares students for college life because they are provided with 3 years of their high school classes through 6th grade, 6th grade through 9th grade, and 9th through 12th grades that are all taught by teachers who have an advanced education in their subject matter.
15 – Bryson Ranch
Bryson Ranch is a city located in southern Orange County, California. This city has been home to many families relocating from other parts of California for many years. The housing market has also seen major increases over the past few years making it one of the best places to live in Orange County for families that are moving into the area for high school or college.
Bryson Ranch is located in the Fullerton Joint Union High School District (FJUHSD), which has seen some of the greatest development in recent years.
The schools in this area are considered to be some of the best schools in California because they offer advanced academic programs for students to get a head start on college life. Bryson Ranch’s school district is also one of many throughout Orange County that has an IB program.
Entertainment wise, Bryson Ranch is surrounded by some of the best shopping in Orange County. A few of the most popular places to shop include the Irvine Spectrum, South Coast Plaza, and The Outlets at Orange.
As you can see, Southern California is an area with many cities located throughout the SoCal region. This area has seen major increases in housing prices and new construction over the past several years making it one of the best places to live in Orange County for families that are looking to relocate into the area.
If you are looking to move to Southern California, make sure you are looking at Orange County because it is one of the best places to live in SoCal for young families.