City Guide Rancho Santa Margarita CA

 Rancho Santa Margarita California City Guide

Researching Rancho Santa Margarita city? Here is a complete guide with the most up to date information about city of Rancho Santa Margarita!

Rancho Santa Margarita City Limits


Known as a smaller suburban city located about equidistant between Los Angeles and San Diego, Rancho Santa Margarita is also situated right next to the expansive Cleveland National Forest and Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park, which means incredible views and scenic areas can be found throughout the city.

Beyond the great outdoors, this city of about 50,000 residents also has incredibly rated public schools and excellent private schools, which is one of the many factors that makes Rancho Santa Margarita popular among families. The city’s population is incredibly ethnically diverse and also varies in terms of ages, seeing as young professionals also are in good numbers here.

There are many coffee shops, city parks, local stores, and more small-town businesses that make Rancho Santa Margarita have a close-knit and homey feel. Additionally, property values aren’t even close to the highest in the state, which means the cost of living is considerably lower in this city than other parts of California.

Top City Highlights

  • Incredible outdoor locations
  • Impressive public schools
  • Many private schools
  • Family-friendly
  • Ethnically diverse population
  • Low cost of living
  • Convenient location
  • Low crime rates

Location: This master-planned city that consists of 13 square miles is located in California’s southwestern corner. Rancho Santa Margarita takes up the majority of Plano Trabuco, a high plateau in Orange County.

Mission Viejo and Lake Forest are both neighbors of the city found to the west. Additionally, Coto de Caza and Las Flores are both located a short distance south of Rancho Santa Margarita. Trabuco Canyon is situated north of the city, and the Cleveland National Forest borders Rancho Santa Margarita to the east.

The city is located about 23 miles southeast of Santa Ana, 80 miles north of San Diego, and 60 miles southeast of Los Angeles.

Commutes: Residents 25 years and over in Rancho Santa Margarita have a mean travel time of 28.5 minutes, which comes in just below the state’s averages.

The main roadway that cuts through the city’s center is the Foothill Transportation Corridor. Antonio Parkway and Santa Margarita Parkway are important roadways as well that lead outside of the city. Interstate 5 is located a convenient distance west of Rancho Santa Margarita.

It takes about an hour and 40 minutes to reach Los Angeles by car from the city, and Santa Ana is about a 30 minute drive away. Laguna Beach is likewise less than half an hour away by car.

Culture: Of the city’s population of 50,000, 51% of residents are female, and 49% of residents are male.

As for ethnic background, 63% of residents are White, 20% are Hispanic, 10% are Asian, and 2% are African American. Additionally, 4% of residents are biracial or multiracial.

32% of residents have some college education or an associate’s degree, and 34% of the population has a bachelor’s degree. About 16% of residents have a master’s degree or above.

There is a 2.6% unemployment rate in Rancho Santa Margarita, and the city’s poverty rate tracks around 4.3%. The median household income is $106K, and the median individual income is $50K.

Local Government

City Council

The city council of Rancho Santa Margarita is elected on an at-large basis by the city’s voters. The terms of elected council members are set to begin on a staggered-year basis.

The city council convenes at 7PM on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of every month, and regular meetings are open to the public.

Address: 22112 El Paseo, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688
Phone: (949)-635-1800

Mayor’s Office

The mayor of Rancho Santa Margarita is elected among sitting council members to serve for a 1 year term of office.

The mayor attends city council meetings and acts as the chair of the council. As the ceremonial and official head of the city, the mayor oversees municipality affairs and seeks to improve the city’s quality of life.

Address: 22112 El Paseo, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688
Phone: (949)-635-1800

Chamber of Commerce

The Rancho Santa Margarita Chamber of Commerce is focused on promoting and supporting the city’s business community.

The chamber provides members with opportunities to enhance their own businesses through networking events, community outreach, and governmental representation. The chamber also acts as a directory for local businesses and serves as an information database to assist the local community.

Address: 22232 El Paseo, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688
Phone: (949)-667-3776


Overview: Rancho Santa Margarita is known for having impressive public schools, in addition to top-quality private campuses. Because the city is included in 2 separate and distinguished school districts, students have many educational options.

Capistrano Unified School District is ranked as Orange County’s 7th best school district by based on the district’s impressive overall quality and important factors like teacher qualifications, academic performance, student diversity, and college preparatory programs. With this information in mind, it makes sense that the CUSD schools in and around Rancho Santa Margarita have sizable and diverse student bodies, in addition to challenging curriculum.

Meanwhile, Saddleback Valley Unified School District has a smaller number of enrolled students and a lower average student-teacher ratio. This district’s students also out-perform CUSD averages when it comes to math and reading state test scores, and this district’s schools are likewise highly rated and recommended.

Additionally, there are multiple private schools in the city and surrounding areas with stellar reputations.

School Districts

Saddleback Valley Unified School District has 37 campuses. 26 of the district’s campuses are elementary schools, while 4 campuses are intermediate schools. Additionally, 4 campuses are high schools. This highly rated school district services around 28,000 students throughout grades K-12. Additionally, this district is rated to be one of the best school districts in the state.

Capistrano Unified School District consists of 33 elementary schools, 2 K-8 campuses, 10 middle schools, and 6 high schools. This district is among one of the largest in the state and includes over 53,000 students. To give an idea of classroom size, the district’s average student-teacher ratio is 27 to 1.

List by areas:

Central – Capistrano Unified School District

Northwest – Capistrano Unified School District

Northeast – Saddleback Valley Unified School District

Southwest – Capistrano Unified School District

Southeast – Capistrano Unified School District

Elementary Schools

Local CUSD elementary schools include Las Flores Elementary and Tigers Creek Elementary, which are both California Distinguished Schools and California Business for Education Excellence “Scholar” Schools.

Other top-rated SVUSD schools include excellent campuses like De Portola Elementary, Trabuco Elementary, and Melinda Heights Elementary.

Local elementaries earn high marks from and rank well on a state-wide level.

Middle Schools

Rancho Santa Margarita Intermediate School and Serrano Intermediate School are great examples of excellent middle school campuses in Saddleback Valley Unified School District.

Class sizes can be expected to be larger in equally distinguished middle schools in Capistrano Unified School District, such as Don Juan Avila Middle, Ladera Ranch Middle, and Oxford Preparatory Academy.

High Schools

There are multiple high schools in Saddleback Valley Unified School District that are impressive, including Mission Viejo High School and Trabuco Hills High School. The average graduation rate is about 93%.

Likewise, Capistrano Unified School District has 11 high schools, and all are widely reviewed and have high standards. The average graduation rate in these schools is 97%.

Private Schools

There are 9 listed private schools in Rancho Santa Margarita, and of these campuses Santa Margarita Catholic High School in particular stands out based on overall quality and praise-worthy reviews.

With that said, other campuses like St. John’s Episcopal School and Mission Hills Christian School also have upstanding reputations for providing quality education.


Of around 18,000 housing options in the city, 70.9% of properties are owner-occupied, while 29.1% of residences are rented. The vacancy rate in Rancho Santa Margarita is about 2.7%.

52% of properties in the city are single family detached houses, and 22.1% of residences are apartment complexes. 18.8% of options are condominiums and attached properties, which leaves smaller apartment buildings accounting for around 7.1% of housing options.

89.1% of properties in the city were built between 1970-1999, and 2.4% of residences were constructed between 1940-1969. Just 0.5% of housing options were built in or before 1939. 8% of properties were constructed in 2000 or later years.

28.9% of properties in the city have 3 bedrooms, and 26.2% of properties have 2 bedroom layouts. 23.2% of options have 4 bedrooms, and 8.1% of properties have 5 or more bedrooms. 13.5% of residences only have 1 bedroom.

Housing Options

Single Family Homes

Although 1 bedroom detached homes are rare, such a property can be expected to be priced around $330K. 2 bedroom family houses jump to an average price point of $471K.

3 bedroom single family homes are much more commonplace in the city and average at $678K. Meanwhile, 4 bedroom family homes can be expected to cost around $800K.

New Construction

Newly constructed homes in Rancho Santa Margarita are typically single family properties with 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. These residences generally are priced around $680K, though more affordable newly constructed properties can also be found for closer to $630K.

With that said, even grander properties can also be found in the city for around $820K and up.


A 1 bedroom condo can be hard to come by in Rancho Santa Margarita, but typically can be found for around the $300K mark. Similarly, 2 bedroom condos may be priced around $420K.

Larger 3 bedroom condominiums in the city typically run for around $575K and stretch upwards, and the same can be said for 4 bedroom condos.


A studio apartment in Rancho Santa Margarita averages at $1,631 per month, and 1 bedroom apartments have an average monthly rent of $1,935.

The price of 2 bedroom apartments in the city jumps to an average of $2,254 per month, and 3 bedroom apartment layouts in the city average at $2,810 per month.

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  Rancho Santa Margarita Real Estate Listings by Property Types

List of  Rancho Santa Margarita 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:

Real Estate

The estimated median property value in Rancho Santa Margarita is $746K, which isn’t among the most expensive of medians in California, but is one of the most expensive numbers on a national level.

At 40.6%, the majority of the city’s real estate is priced between $619K-$928K. Another 22.4% of properties range between $928K-$1.2 million. Around 4.5% of real estate is worth above $1.2 million. Additionally, 14.2% of properties in Rancho Santa Margarita vary between $495K-$619K, and 12.5% of properties range from $371K-$495K. About 6% of the city’s real estate is worth under $371K.

As expected of a city in Orange County, Rancho Santa Margarita real estate tends to appreciate at an impressive rate. Between specifically December 2009 and December 2019, real estate appreciated a total of 55.25%. This can be divided into an average annual appreciation rate of 4.50%, which is among the 10% highest rates nationally.

Things to Do

In Rancho Santa Margarita, sitting back and relaxing is always an option, and so is enjoying a night out on the town, taking in the beauty of nature, or exploring unique venues around the city.

Rancho Santa Margarita residents have easy access to renowned outdoor locations like Cleveland National Forest and Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park, not to mention O’Neill Regional Park and the city’s own Central Park, where summer concert series and annual festivals take place.

Shopaholics will likewise feel right at home in this city, seeing as there are multiple shopping malls and shops around Rancho Santa Margarita, not to mention many more options in neighboring areas.

When it comes to finding a new favorite eatery or grabbing a drink around Rancho Santa Margarita, local venues make it easy to have a fun time. Restaurants in the city are as highly rated as they are diverse, and the same goes for local bars, taverns, and lounges.

Retail & Entertainment

Parks & Recreation

There are multiple expansive parks in and around the city, so there are many locations for hiking and biking trails, picnicking and bird watching, play structures, sports fields, or even fishing and swimming.

Central Park hosts community events and concerts, while Melinda Park has 2 play areas. Florence Joyner Olympiad Park is another outdoor space with baseball, soccer, and football fields.


Santa Margarita Town Center is the city’s central shopping center, and Plaza Antonio is another great retail spot to check out. Other shopping destinations around town include Mercado Del Lago, Trabuco Marketplace, and Plaza Empresa.

Local boutiques are highly rated. Maks Boutique, Olivia’s Closet Boutique, Sunshine Girls Boutique, and Belle Boutique are only a few notable and popular options.

Art & Culture

There are several art galleries around town that are local gems, and nearby cities have a number of performing arts theaters, which means that live shows are only short drives away for residents.

Additionally, multiple museums and historic destinations can be found west of Rancho Santa Margarita, such as the California Fire Museum and Laguna Woods History Center.

Night Life

Tapas and Beer is a frequented local sports bar, and Daily’s Sports Grill has an easygoing atmosphere and patio seating areas. Additionally, The Blind Pig has lakeside views, and Laguna Beach Beer Company is a highly rated local brewpub.

Other fun and popular spots around Rancho Santa Margarita include UnCorked Wine Bar and The Parkway Sports Bar & Grill.


Carmelita’s Kitchen serves up festive Mexican classics, and Tutto Fresco specializes in elevated Italian food.

Yamame is a local sushi venue, and Natraj’s Indian Bistro has a varied Indian menu. Additionally, Spikes Fish House is a fresh, seafood-centric eatery.

Rose Canyon Cantina & Grill and Trabuco Oaks Steakhouse are two other frequently recommended and colorful eateries in the city.


As a master-planned city, Rancho Santa Margarita’s neighborhoods tend to be scenic, and generally, each neighborhood has impressively low crime rates and a welcoming atmosphere.

The more affordable neighborhoods in the city are centrally located, seeing as the median real estate price in this area of Rancho Santa Margarita is just $487K. This tracks as above only $39.5% of California real estate, though is still more costly than 81% of neighborhoods nationally.

Northwestern areas of the city have a considerably higher cost of living, seeing as the median real estate price in these neighborhoods is $828K. This tracks as more expensive than 74.1% of neighborhoods in the state and 94.2% of residential areas in the country.

Lastly, southern neighborhoods have a slightly higher attached price point, seeing as the median real estate price here is $856K. This number is above that of 73.3% of California areas and 93.6% of neighborhoods in the U.S.

List of Rancho Santa Margarita Neighborhoods

Local Pros

List of Rancho Santa Margarita Local Pros