Brea Newcomers Guide

Brea Mall BreaIf you’re looking for Orange County real estate but want small town ambience and values, put Brea on your short list. Located in north Orange County’s picturesque foothills, Brea is a vibrant, forward-focused city with easy access to major transportation corridors, employment centers, recreation, retail, restaurants and entertainment. Within its 12.5 square miles, you’ll find a close-knit community with an exceptional level of city services, award-wining schools and an unbeatable quality of life. This newcomer’s guide provides an overview of how much Brea has to offer.

Brea’s Oil-Rich History

Oil Camp 1923 BreaBrea, which means “tar” in Spanish, is a fitting name for an area where tar once seeped the ground. Indeed, the area’s earliest settlers once used chunks of the oil-soaked earth to heat their homes. In 1894, area landowner Abel Stearns sold 1,200 acres to the Union Oil Company of California and by 1898 the black gold rush was on in the newly discovered Brea-Olinda Oil Field. The town of Brea was formed in 1911, when the villages of Olinda and Randolph merged. The economy boomed and by 1917, Brea incorporated, becoming Orange County’s eighth official city, with 752 residents. Oil production declined, giving way to agricultural and eventually to industrial parks and neighborhoods. The opening of the Orange Freeway and Brea Mall in the 1970s brought more residential development and the growth of Downtown Brea. The city has two museums dedicated to its nearly 100-year history.

Relocating to Brea

Today Brea is a thriving city with a resident population of about 41,000 and a crime rate well below the California median. Sunset magazine called it one of five best suburbs in the Western U.S. in 2006. Its recently redeveloped downtown and the large Brea Mall attract shoppers from throughout the area. Brea is also famous for its commitment to public art. With over 140 pieces in its collection, Brea has served as model for other public art programs throughout the U.S. If you’re moving to Orange County for work, education or lifestyle reasons, Brea is an excellent choice. Coldwell Banker lists Brea among its “Best Places to Live in California,” noting the high percentage of homeowner-occupied housing,1 gives Brea five stars (its highest ranking) overall,2 and ranks Brea 81 for livability, citing its sunny climate, ample local amenities, stable housing market and high per capita income.3

Brea Real Estate

Carbon Canyon 1 BreaA snapshot of Brea real estate trends by between December 2013 and March 2014 shows a year-over-year increase of 11.2%. Trulia also puts the median home sales price at $612,500.4 If you’re interested in Brea homes for sale, you’ll find excellent opportunities available at Summerwind by Taylor Morrison. Located in the heart of the city, close to schools and shopping, Summerwind is a walkable neighborhood of just 57 homes that reflects the Brea’s easy-going suburban lifestyle. You’ll have your choice of five two-story floor plans ranging from 1,546 to 1,933 square feet, with three to four bedrooms, two-and-one half baths and two-car garages. Homes start from the low $500,000s, well below the median home price in Brea. They include many popular standard features such as open plan first floors, kitchen islands, pantries, large owners’ suites with big walk-in closets and spacious master baths with separate tub and shower. Several homes are ready for move-in now or in the near future. See available homes here. Models are available for viewing daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Summerwind Sales Center is located at 1027 Anchor Court. Get driving directions.

Brea Economy

Brea enjoys a 4.4% unemployment rate, significantly less than the average for the rest of the state, according to The website lists manufacturing, retail trade, professional/scientific/technical services, construction, public administration, wholesale trade and finance/insurance as the top Brea industries.5 Top employers in 2010 included Bank of America, Avery-Dennison, The Hartford, Albertsons and Beckman Coulter. Brea residents also have easy access to job centers in the rest of Orange County, Los Angeles via the 91, 60 and 10 freeways.

Brea Schools

Brea is part of the acclaimed Brea Olinda Unified School District, which serves approximately 6,000 students. There are six elementary, one junior high, one high school and one continuation high school within the district. Six Brea Olinda schools have been designated as California Distinguished Schools and two have been named Blue Ribbon Schools. Brea Olinda students consistently win academic honors and more than 90% of seniors are college-bound. There are also several fine private schools in and near Brea. Nearby institutions of higher learning include Cal State Universtiy-Fullerton, Fullerton College and Cal State Polytechnic University-Pomona.

Brea Living

Carbon Canyon 2 BreaFor such a small city, Brea offers residents an exceptional selection of cultural, historical and recreational opportunities, as well as immediate access to everyday services, first-class medical facilities, shopping and dining. It’s a “full-service” city, too, with, “a wide range of services including police and fire protection, water and sanitation, construction and maintenance of streets and infrastructure…as well as a proactive communication and community outreach program.”6 The city maintains 15 parks and recreation facilities including the Brea Community Center, home of the popular Plunge, voted Best Public Pool for its variety of family-oriented activities, and Brea Creek Municipal Golf Course, a 9-hole course with driving range. Other Brea highlights include:

  • The Olinda Oil Museum and Trail, a 12-acre historic park and site of the Field House museum.
  • The Brea Museum and Heritage Center, a celebration of Brea’s history.
  • Carbon Canyon, a 131-acre regional park.
  • Curtis Theater, a 199-seat theater.
  • The Brea Art Gallery, offering first-rate exhibitions year-round.
  • Brea Art in Public Places, a wide range of sculptures in a variety of media and style located throughout the city.
  • Wildcatters Park, a 14-acre city park that recently opened a new Dog Park with separate facilities for small and large dogs..

Brea is also an accessible city with many transportation options, which include four airports and 15 Amtrak stations within 30 minute of the city. Brea is on SR 90, which runs into the Orange Freeway, the major north-south artery in the county and SR91 and SR 60, the major east-west arteries.

Medical facilities in the area include St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton (two miles away) and AHMC Anaheim Regional Medical Center (seven miles away).

Make Yourself at Home in Brea

For more information about homes for sale in Brea and other Orange County real estate, or to schedule a personal viewing appointment at Summerwind, contact Taylor Morrison Southern California Internet Home Consultant Shari Fobel at 949-341-1206 or send an email request.

Photo credit:
Brea Mall: Jim Sneddon flickr cc
Brea Oil Camp circa 1923: Orange County Archives flickr cc
Carbon Canyon: OCParks_CA flickr cc
Carbon Canyon2: OCParks_CA flickr cc