Lake Forest California City Guide
Researching Lake Forest city? Here is a complete guide with the most up to date information about city of Lake Forest!
Lake Forest City Limits
City Overview: Lake Forest is located in Saddleback Valley in Orange County’s southern area. “Remember the past, challenge the future,” is the city’s motto, and Lake Forest’s community living by this motto is a key factor of the city’s continuous growth.
As is expected with Orange County trends, the median household income in Lake Forest is considerably higher than national averages, and properties are likewise expensive compared with averages across the country. In recent years, Lake Forest’s northeastern borders expanded to include Foothill Ranch and Portola Hills.
Lake Forest’s community is close-knit, and the city’s location and venues give Lake Forest all the convenience that comes with city living. As a master-planned city, neighborhoods are well-organized, safe, and scenic. Private schools and public campuses in and around Lake Forest are highly rated, seeing as Saddleback Valley Unified School District services the city.
Families make up a good number of households in the city, and Lake Forest is also popular among young professionals.
Top City Highlights
- Close-knit community
- Scenic location
- High household incomes
- Healthy real estate market
- Low crime rates
- Excellent public schools
- Convenient location
Location: Located in the scenic Saddleback Valley found in Orange County’s southern corner, Lake Forest consists of 17.9 square miles of hilly land, forested areas, and manmade lakes.
Irvine, California borders the city to the west and northwest, and Laguna Hills is situated southwest of the city. Mission Viejo is southeast of Lake Forest, and Trabuco Canyon can be found to the east. Additionally, the expansive Limestone Canyon Regional Park is situated north of Lake Forest.
On a larger scale, Lake Forest is roughly 15 miles southeast of Santa Ana, and the city is also about 12 miles northeast of Laguna Beach.
Commutes: It’s estimated that for residents 25 years and over in Lake Forest, the mean commute time to work and back is 25.6 minutes.
Foothill Transportation Corridor is found in Lake Forest’s northern areas, and Interstate 5 defines the city’s southwestern border. Interstate 405 is also a short distance from the city, and California State Route 73 is another convenient roadway that runs south of Lake Forest.
It takes less than 25 minutes to reach the famous Laguna Beach from Lake Forest, and Santa Ana is around 20 minutes away by car. John Wayne Airport is conveniently 15 minutes away from Lake Forest as well.
Culture: Lake Forest’s population is about 82,000.
54% of residents are White, and 25% are Hispanic. 15% are of Asian descent, and 2% of residents are African American. Meanwhile, 4% of the population is biracial or multiracial.
31% of residents have some college education or an associate’s degree, and 30% of the population has earned a bachelor’s degree. Another 16% of residents have a master’s degree or have earned a higher degree.
The poverty rate tracks around 7.3%, and the unemployment rate in Lake Forest is estimated to be 3.5%. The median household income is $96K, and the median individual income is $41K.
5 Lake Forest residents comprise the city council. Each member serves for a 4-year term of office and works part-time, and regular city council meetings open to the public are on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month.
Among other responsibilities, the city council oversees policy decisions and municipality issues in addition to serving on the Housing Authority Board.
Address: 25550 Commercentre Drive, Suite 100 Lake Forest, CA 92630
Lake Forest’s legislative branch of government is the city council, which is responsible for electing a mayor and a mayor pro tem each year.
Serving for a 1 year term of office, the mayor of Lake Forest acts as the chair of the city council and serves as the ceremonial and official head of the city.
Address: 25550 Commercentre Drive, Suite 100 Lake Forest, CA 92630
Chamber of Commerce
The Lake Forest Chamber of Commerce has a long history of working to improve the city’s economy and help the Lake Forest community expand and evolve.
The chamber provides resources and information to the local business community, develops growth opportunities, supports big and small local businesses, creates beneficial programs, and hosts proactive networking events for its many members.
Address: 26239 Enterprise Court Lake Forest, CA 92630
Overview: A number of public and private schools are within Lake Forest’s borders, and neighboring residential areas also have multiple highly rated and excellent educational campuses that are within short driving distances of the city.
Saddleback Valley Unified School District services the bulk of cities in Saddleback Valley, which is great news for students in Lake Forest. SVUSD is rated by Niche.com to be the #9 top school district in the county, and over 27,000 students benefit from attending the district’s many high quality campuses.
There are 26 elementary campuses in the district, and Lake Forest itself includes 7 elementary schools. The city has 1 middle school, and the district has a total of 4 intermediate campuses. While there is only 1 high school in Lake Forest, there are other 9-12 campuses in the surrounding areas and 4 such schools in SVUSD.
Also, there are well-rated private schools in Lake Forest and other campuses in nearby cities.
There are multiple elementary campuses in Lake Forest, and the majority service grades K-6. According to Niche.com, local elementary schools have excellent student academic, health, and safety records, and teachers are generally impressively educated.
Foothill Ranch Elementary, Portola Hills Elementary, and La Madera Elementary are only a few of the many excellent elementary campuses in the city.
Although Serrano Intermediate School is the city’s only middle school campus, more middle schools are in neighboring areas. All intermediate campuses in SVUSD have overall excellent track records and are highly rated by students, teachers, and parents.
Other campuses include Rancho Santa Margarita Intermediate School, La Paz Intermediate School, and Los Alisos Intermediate School.
High schools in Saddleback Valley Unified School District have an average graduation rate of 93%. The average SAT score across 9-12 campuses is 1230, and 28 is the average ACT score.
El Toro High School is located in Lake Forest, and other high schools in the area include Silverado High School, Laguna Hills High School, and Mission Viejo High School.
There are around 8 private campuses in Lake Forest, the majority being religious institutions like Abiding Savior Lutheran School or Grace Christian Schools, and other campuses like Montessori on the Lake and The Goddard School of Lake Forest are early childhood education centers.
There are also many reputable private schools in nearby Irvine.
Overview: Out of around 28,000 housing options in the city, 69% of properties are owner-occupied, and 31% of residences are rented. The vacancy rate tracks around 3.5%.
54.3% of properties are single family type residences, and 20.5% of properties are apartment complexes. 15.6% of residences in Lake Forest are condominiums and attached properties, and around 10% of the remaining options are small apartment buildings.
An estimated 85.1% of properties were constructed between 1970-1999, and another 9.1% of properties are older, having been built between 1940-1969. Less than 1% of housing options were built in or before 1939, and around 5.4% of residences were constructed after the turn of the 21st century.
12.5% of properties only have 1 bedroom, and 25.6% have 2 bedroom layouts. 30.1% of residences have 3 bedrooms, and 26% of options have 4 bedrooms. 5.8% of properties are even larger and have 5 or more bedrooms.
Single Family Homes
On average, 1 bedroom family homes go for just under $300K in Lake Forest. 2 bedroom detached houses average at $404K, and 3 bedroom family homes have an average price point of $691K. Meanwhile, even more spacious 4 bedroom detached family houses have an average price of $783K.
Family homes can be considerably more expensive in Lake Forest’s northern areas.
Newly built homes in Lake Forest are typically found in northern neighborhoods and generally are large, luxurious housing options.
Specifically, a recently built 3 bedroom home can be expected to start at $899K. Likewise, larger newly constructed 4-5 bedroom homes can be expected to range at an upwards of $1 million.
1 bedroom condos are pretty rare in the city and generally are priced around $340K. 2 bedroom condos can be found for around $450K, and more high-end options can also be located in Lake Forest.
3 bedroom condos are more prevalent and commonly are priced around $550K and up. 4 bedroom condos can be expected to run for around $750K.
A studio apartment in Lake Forest has an average rent of $1,635, and 1 bedroom apartments average at $1,968 per month.
2 bedroom apartments in the city have an average monthly rent of $2,544, and 3 bedroom options average at just under $3,000 per month.
Additionally, rent in the city has a pretty steady year-over-year increase.
Homes for Sale
If you’re interested in buying a home in this area, we invite you to search homes for sale on our website. You are also welcome to check out the following resources listed below. If you would rather speak directly to a professional and licensed Realtor, feel free to contact Morales Team.
List of Lake Forest Real Estate Listings by Property Types
List of Lake Forest Real Estate Listings by Popular Searches
If you’re interested in selling your own property, contact Morales Team, your go-to local real estate company, by clicking the link below:
Overview: The estimated median property value in Lake Forest sits at $716K, which isn’t too impressive in California, but is still among the highest median property values in the country.
42.4% of Lake Forest real estate varies between $607K-$910K, and 18.6% range from $910K-$1.2 million. Another 2.8% of properties are priced above $1.2 million. 11.7% of real estate varies between $485K-$607K, and 10.6% of properties are worth between $365K-$485K. 5.5% of real estate ranges between $243K-$364K, and another 8.4% of real estate is valued under $243K.
In the 10 year span between December 2009 and December 2019, real estate in the city appreciated a total of 59.17%, which can be broken down into an average rate of 4.76%. This number places Lake Forest’s real estate appreciation in the top 10% nationally, which signals that investing in Lake Forest property typically pays off.
Things to Do
Overview: Lake Forest has much more to offer than just lakes and trees. The local community also has a wide selection of tasty restaurants, great shopping options, and more.
Lake Forest Sports Park and Recreation Center has 86.2 acres, is one of the largest sports parks in the county, and features many educational and recreational community programs. The city also has 2 county parks, including Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park.
As for shopping, Interstate 5’s close proximity means many retail centers and incredible boutiques are only a hop, skip, or a jump away. Artistic types and those looking for creative outlets similarly have many options in Lake Forest and neighboring cities, and interesting historic locations and museums like Heritage Hill Historical Park and Museum are also in the area.
Popular cities in Orange County are only a couple minutes away for residents. Laguna Beach itself is only a short driving distance from Lake Forest, which means famous beaches are within easy reach.
Retail & Entertainment
Parks & Recreation
Lake Forest has 30 listed public parks, and the Whiting Ranch Regional Wilderness Park is a beautiful local expanse. The city’s 2 man-made lakes are popular outdoor spots to visit as well.
Equestrian trails, biking trails, and hiking trails can all be found throughout the city, in addition to boating areas, swimming holes, golf courses, and numerous sports fields.
Foothill Ranch Marketplace and Foothill Ranch Towne Center are in the city’s northern area, and Lake Forest’s southern corner next to Interstate 5 has many retail options like Lake Forest Village Shopping Center and Plaza El Toro.
Local boutiques include Girl Talk Clothing, Uptown Cheapskate, Children’s Orchard Lake Forest, and Second Impressions.
Art & Culture
There are multiple highly rated art galleries in the city such as Village Gallery, and the area has many local museums like Pretend City Children’s Museum, California Fire Museum, and Laguna Woods History Center.
Additionally, Modjeska Playhouse is a highly rated local performing arts theater, and Creative Kids Playhouse is a children’s theater and performance space.
Lake Forest is home to a number of impressive bars and popular nighttime hotspots.
The Rush Bar and Grill attracts sports fans, and Bigshots Billiards Bar & Grill is a frequented pool hall. Heroes & Legends Bar & Grill is another local favorite, and Sammy’s Original is an old-school watering hole.
Other local favorites include Pub Thirty Two and High Park Tap House.
Of Lake Forest’s many outstanding eateries, several stand above the rest.
Brü Grill & Market is an upscale American venue, and Avila’s El Ranchito serves up homestyle Mexican food. Peppinos Italian Family Restaurant is a homey Italian spot, and Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que is another local favorite.
Several other noteworthy venues are Veggos Green Cuisine, Snooty Fox, Barbonzai, and Elephant Cafe.
Overview: The city’s neighborhoods are widely diverse in terms of cost of living and real estate appreciation rates. Expensive neighborhoods can be found alongside relatively affordable parts of the city, which is important to keep in mind when comparing Lake Forest neighborhoods.
Overall, northern neighborhoods tend to be more expensive areas to call home. Neighborhoods close to Foothill Ranch have a median real estate price of $967K, which is more costly than 82.3% of California areas and 96.3% of areas nationally.
Other northern neighborhoods have an estimated median real estate price of $771K, which is more expensive than 68.4% of California neighborhoods and more costly than 92.3% of residential areas in the nation.
Meanwhile, southern neighborhoods have a lower cost of living. The southernmost point of the city has a median real estate price of just $360K, which is less expensive than 70.9% of neighborhoods across the state and about 50% of U.S. neighborhoods.