History: The first to call the Costa Mesa region home were American Indians who lived near and on the Santa Ana River’s banks. In the beginning years of the 17th century, Capistrano cattle roamed the Costa Mesa area, and between 1817-1823, adobe structures were built to give shelter to majordomos and their men, which are structures still standing today. When the 1880s rolled around, Jose Antonio Yorba’s heirs began selling segments of their large ranchero area. Towns began springing up: Fairview and Harper, to name two. Harper, situated along the Santa Ana and Newport Railroad, officially changed its name in 1920 to Costa Mesa. In Spanish, this new name means coastal tableland. The 20th century saw the growth of buildings and oil drilling industries, and after the struggle of the great depression and a massive 1933 earthquake, Costa Mesa is now a major industrial and commercial contributor to Orange County.
Top City Highlights
Major Commercial/Industrial Center
High Quality Schools
Art and Entertainment Haven
Diverse, Welcoming Community
Great Shopping and Retail
Wonderful Parks and Recreation
Location: Costa Mesa is home to the coastal tableland located just north of Newport Beach’s coastal branch. Newport Beach also stretches inland and defines Costa Mesa’s eastern border, where the Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve is also found. To the west, the wonderful residential area of Huntington Beach is right across from the Santa Ana River. To the northeast, the famous city of Irvine, CA, makes up Orange County’s center. Costa Mesa itself is situated in the middle of Orange County’s Pacific Coast, only a few miles away from famous surf and beaches.
Commutes: Newport Boulevard cuts through Costa Mesa’s center from the southwest to the northeast, where the roadway also connects to Corona Del Mar Freeway and the San Diego Freeway. These frequented roadways allow for fast travel to work, nearby cities, and multiple beaches. The Pacific Coastal Highway is just south of Costa Mesa’s border, which gives ready access to California’s coastline and other bordering states. The John Wayne Airport is only a hair outside of the northeastern border, and as one of the friendliest airports in the country, John Wayne Airport means national and international travel by air is convenient and nearby for Costa Mesa residents.
Culture: In 1999 Costa Mesa gave itself the title of “The City of the Arts”. Since then, the Pacific Symphony and the South Coast Repertory Theater have called Costa Mesa Home. The Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall and the Samueli Theater also opened in 2005. Residents of Costa Mesa continue to express their support and admiration for the arts and also frequent fine restaurant establishments, retail centers, and the thriving action sports industry. With a predominant population of 44.4% Hispanic, 42.2% white, 7.6% Asian, 1.6% black, and the remainder 4.3% hailing from various other ethnicities, Costa Mesa’s people are just as diverse as the city’s cultural interests.
Seven members including the mayor comprise the Costa Mesa City Council. Meetings are held at 6PM on the first and third Tuesday of every month, and Study sessions take place at 5PM on the second Tuesday of a given month.
Address: 77 Fair Dr, Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Phone: (714) 754-5107
The mayor is elected by a popular vote for a two-year term. Costa Mesa’s voters have only used this approach since 2018 elections. The mayor is a member of multiple committees relating to education, city planning, and human relations. The mayor also volunteers with Costa Mesa charities and nonprofit organizations.
Address: 77 Fair Dr, Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Chamber of Commerce
The Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce has served the city’s business community for over 50 years. The mission is to support the vitality of Costa Mesa’s marketplace and increase the quality of Costa Mesa’s community life. With resources, networking, and marketing tools, this Chamber of Commerce goes beyond profit alone.
Address: 1700 Adams Ave #101, Costa Mesa, CA 92626.
Overview: Costa Mesa contains a number of educational campuses for students K-12 and beyond. The Orange Coast College, Vanguard University, Whittier Law School, and National University are upper-education campuses. Costa Mesa’s public high schools, middle schools, elementary campuses, preschool facilities, and private campuses all work towards providing the best quality education to Costa Mesa’s youngest residents possible. Besides private educational campuses and institutions beyond the high school level, The Newport Mesa Unified School District encapsulates the entirety of Costa Mesa’s schools. Private campuses generally consist of religious-based curriculum, though nonreligious campuses can also be found in Costa Mesa. The large majority of public and private campuses feature low student/teacher ratios of less than 25:1, with private schools typically cutting that ratio in half. The goals of Costa Mesa’s educational institutions revolve around the mission to see students graduate with necessary skills, knowledge, and attitudes to build their lives with successful career and both civic and personal goals.
Unified on July 1, 1966, Newport Mesa Unified School District has over 21,000 students enrolled in their campuses. With 31 schools and an average of 25 students per classroom, NMUSD seeks to demonstrate consistent improvement in student achievement, graduation rates, dropout rates, responsiveness, family involvement, increased diversity, and affordable education. The district covers 58.83 square miles across Newport Beach, Corona del Mar, and of course, Costa Mesa. Newport Mesa Unified School District employs around 1,700 highly qualified and certified teachers who help build and maintain a welcoming and inspiring educational environment across all campuses.
Costa Mesa prides itself in elementary schools that specialize in supportive and engaging curriculum. Maude B. Davis Elementary School is highly reviewed and ranked as one of the best schools in Costa Mesa. Killybrooke Elementary School comes in second. With an average of 26 students per teacher, Costa Mesa’s elementary students receive individualized attention.
Middle Schools of Costa Mesa service grades 7-8 and typically have a low student/teacher ratio. Charles W. Twinkle Middle School is a part of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District with a student body of 651. Campuses equip students with necessary tools to succeed in high school and beyond.
High schools can be found throughout Costa Mesa’s neighborhoods and rank highly for academic success. Early College High School and Costa Mesa High School are the three top-reviewed schools in the city, but all campuses strive for student success.
Costa Mesa offers a range of private campuses for grades K-12. Christian campuses include Port Mesa Christian School, St. John the Baptist Elementary School, and Mariners Christian School. Christ Lutheran School and Grace Education are also religious campuses. Nonreligious campuses have low student/teacher ratios ranging around 8:1.
Overview: With around 41% of residents living in properties they own and 59% choosing to rent their living space, Costa Mesa’s housing options offer more affordable living arrangements compared to a few of the surrounding cities, while Costa Mesa remains a convenient location for easy travel. These benefits and many more make the housing options of Costa Mesa attractive to current and prospective residents. Single family homes are the most popular form of housing in Costa Mesa throughout the multiple neighborhoods, but condominiums and apartments are also popular residential properties that are known for being affordable and modern. Newly constructed properties are some of the more expensive options in Costa Mesa, with properties priced well above the median property value of $800,000. To reflect the rent vs. own population, the majorities of properties are for rent, and properties to own are of high market value.
Single Family Homes
Single family homes in Costa Mesa typically feature lawn spaces, backyard areas, and driveways that fit one to two vehicles with ample curb parking space. Some homes are equipped with 1 car garages, and typical residences have around 3 beds and 3 baths. However, larger homes can feature 5 beds and 4 baths with large garage spaces.
Newly constructed residential properties in Costa Mesa range at an upwards of $830K to over $1 million. These modern homes have completed construction in the last ten years and feature luxurious interiors and features, in addition to massive curb appeal and prime locations.
Costa Mesa condominiums are a cost-effective and space-efficient living arrangement that generally trends towards $1,800-$2,000 a month in rent. With 1-3 bedroom layouts and 1-2 bath layouts typically, these condominiums can be found largely throughout central Costa Mesa and near the southern border.
Costa Mesa apartments are commonly pet friendly, offer laundry facilities, feature pool access, and have garage spaces for tenants. The most popular apartment type is a studio layout, but other layouts are also available. 1-2 bedrooms are usual, and apartments generally feature modern architecture and high-tech appliances.
If you’re interested in buying a home in this area, check out currently available Costa Mesa homes for sale.
Overview: Costa Mesa has more conveniently priced residential properties than the surrounding Newport Beach area. However, the city’s proximity to the same locations Newport Beach is known for makes Costa Mesa’s real estate market healthy for similar reasons. These reasons include Costa Mesa’s close proximity to the coast and the city’s easy commuting distances from prime Californian attractions. For the last four years, the median sales price of all residential properties has steadily grown from $600K in 2014 to the three year average of $810K. Two-bedroom properties show a clear upward trend in the last three years ranging between $477K and $580K. Meanwhile, four bedroom properties show a comparable increase from $580K to $870K in the past three years. Based on trends in number of sold properties over the past ten years, Costa Mesa experiences trackable high and low periods that stretch between two years. Costa Mesa is made up of a majority of properties rented out to tenants, with 41% of residents living in homes they own.
Things to Do
Overview: Costa Mesa is a city with diverse interests and attractions. This city is home to many action sports industries, including Hurley, Volcom, Rip Curl, RVCA, and Vans. Youth culture gets in on this through the retail centers including The Camp, The Lab, and the SoCo Collection. Speaking of retail, Costa Mesa has ranked as the 10th largest retail might amongst Californian Cities, and Costa Mesa’s retail centers rank in the top 20 of Orange County’s revenue-generating retail complexes. Metro Pointe, South Coast Plaza, and the Triangle are other premier shopping destinations. As the “City of the Arts,” the Costa Mesa Theater District houses the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, South Coast Repertory theater, the Arts Plaza, and the beautiful Noguchi Sculpture Gardens. Outdoor enthusiasts can choose between multiple parks to explore, trails to walk, and skate parks to visit. The Costa Mesa Country Club is also a great way to make any day special.
Retail & Entertainment
Parks & Recreation
The Costa Mesa Country Club has a lovely golf course, clubhouse, and restaurant. Bark Park welcomes four-legged friends, and Fairview Park is a large park that meets all needs. The Santa Ana River Trail is waiting to be walked, and the Costa Mesa Skatepark is a famous skater haven.
Costa Mesa has signature shopping destinations for all tastes. The Camp has a more earthy, outdoors feel, while the Lab focuses on modern style and surroundings. Metro Pointe has name brand stores, and SoCo is all about the cutting edge.
Art & Culture
Costa Mesa’s Theater District is packed with amazing theaters and even a sculpture garden. The Costa Mesa Playhouse, art galleries, and a music scene are also lively additions to this city’s culture. The City of Costa Mesa Cultural Arts Committee actively works to generate ongoing events in many venues.
Costa Mesa is scattered with lounges, bars, and nightclubs. TIME Nightclub is one of the best places to dance the night away, and Mansion Costa Mesa is a tasteful and lively scene. Ruin Bar has a funky decor and amazing drinks, and Casa is a high-class speakeasy venue. These are only some of Costa Mesa’s wide variety.
Seafood, sushi, pizza, Thai, Japanese, Mexican, Italian, and more make up the eatery scene of Costa Mesa. Santa Monica Seafood, Seasons 52, and Mastro’s Steakhouse are only a handful of the affordable and exciting options available. Whether you’re looking for a bistro, a grille, or top-quality fine dining, Costa Mesa has just the place for you.
Overview: As a primarily suburban area with an economy consisting of great retail, commerce, and manufacturing endeavors, Costa Mesa’s population of over 109,000 is split between Mesa Verde, College Park, Monticello Community, Halecrest, and Mesa Del Mar, with the Costa Mesa Sanitary District and Downtown areas mainly devoted to business ventures. On the western side of Costa Mesa, Mesa Verde comprises beautiful parks, walking trails, and scenic landscapes, in addition to a lovely golf course. To the northeast, College Park and Monticello Community are lively, youthful residential neighborhoods. Mesa Del Mar, which is at the corner of California State Route 73 and Costa Mesa Freeway, features residential homes. Westside Costa Mesa encompasses Canyon Park and other business areas, and EastSide Costa Mesa runs along the Costa Mesa Freeway to cover the Santa Ana Country Club area next to California State Route 73. Costa Mesa’s various neighborhoods all contribute to the city’s lasting appeal as a peaceful residential city with vibrant attractions.
If you want to learn more about this city’s neighborhoods, check out full list of Costa Mesa neighborhoods page.