Lake Forest Newcomers Guide

Wildflowers Lake ForestHunting for new homes in Orange County? Looking for just the right combination of location, features and amenities, plus that special quality that immediately says “perfect” to you? For many, finding a dream home means first finding a dream community. It’s a place that’s convenient to those things that matter to you, whether it’s great schools, activities that appeal to your interests and lifestyle, quick access to essential services, natural beauty, a safe environment or an easy commute to work. If that sounds like your wish list, then you owe it to yourself to take a look at Lake Forest, a welcoming community with some of the nicest Orange County real estate out there. Our newcomers guide is a good place to start learning more about all Lake Forest, CA has to offer.

A Bit of Background

Whiting Ranch Lake ForestBefore it became an incorporated city in 1991, Lake Forest was known as El Toro, part of a large Mexican land grant made in the 1860s. Back then and for many years after, it was ranch and farm land, although in the first decade of the 1900s, landowner Dwight Whiting planted 400 acres of eucalyptus as part of a lumber operation. Lake Forest took its name from Whiting’s eucalyptus groves and two man-made lakes constructed for by developers. Years of careful city planning have resulted in a revitalized commercial center, historic preservation and civic amenities.1

Relocating to Lake Forest

Lake Forest is a larger medium-sized city with a population nearing 80,000. Located in the heart of Saddleback Valley, on the northern edge of South Orange County, it is surrounded by some of the area’s most desirable communities and many of its most beautiful natural attractions as well. You’ll find Irvine to the west, Laguna Hills to the southwest, Mission Viejo to the southeast, Trabuco Canyon to the east and Limestone Canyon Regional Park to the north. Proximity to Interstate 5 and the Foothills Transportation Corridor Toll Road provides easy access to all surrounding cities, job centers and attractions. rates Lake Forest as “Exceptionally Livable” with a score of 86, citing low crime rates, lots of local amenities, sunny weather and a stable housing market among the city’s many attributes.2 reports that over 88% of the resident workforce is employed in white collar occupations, well above the national average. It’s a well-educated and affluent population, too. More than 43% of adults have at least bachelor’s degrees, and the average annual household income for a family of four is $160,568.3

Lake Forest Real Estate

Modjeska Historic House and Gardens Lake ForestIn terms of southern California and Orange County real estate, Lake Forest represents an excellent value. points out that prices here are reasonable compared to those in surrounding communities. If you’re interested in new construction, award-winning southern California homebuilder Taylor Morrison has new homes for sale in Lake Forest at Camden Square. Located in The Village of Foothill Ranch just 2.5 miles east of I-5, Camden Square offers five three- and four-bedroom floor plans ranging from 1,778 to 2,285 square feet. These well-appointed homes include a number of quality standard features. A recreation center includes a pool and outdoor gathering areas. Join the VIP interest list to receive email updates about floor plans, pricing, and other special events, or call the Taylor Morrison Internet Home Consultant at 949-341-1206 for information about these and other Taylor Morrison homes for sale in Southern California.

Lake Forest Economy

In addition to putting residents close to many of Orange County’s major employment centers, Lake Forest is committed to developing its own economy. It’s a business-friendly city with much to attract entrepreneurs, start-ups, and established companies. There are no business license requirements, and the city offers a variety of resources to encourage business development. Programs include Chamber of Commerce Partnership, business seminars and training events, Professional Business Consultations and Business Visitations, as well as a Business Watch crime prevention program and online communications programs to keep the business community well-informed. Learn more at

Lake Forest Schools

UC Irvine Science Library Lake ForestGood schools matter to a community and its residences. Even those that don’t have school-age children benefit from enhanced property values. Lake Forest is part of the acclaimed Saddleback Valley Unified School District, which serves about 30,000 students on 34 campuses including 26 elementary schools, four middle schools and four high schools. Under the leadership of Clint Harwick, Ed.D, Saddleback Valley Unified a positive local and national reputation and a high degree of parent involvement.

For higher education, local institutions include UC Irvine, University of Phoenix Southern California Campus, Saddleback College, Orange Coast College and Irvine Valley College.

Lake Forest Living

Irvine Spectrum Lake ForestIn addition to all the services and attractions available in communities nearby, Lake Forest itself offers an impressive array of local amenities. Below are just a few of the highlights available.

  • Area shopping centers include Lake Forest Village Shopping Center, Laguna Hills Mall, Foothill Ranch Town Centre, The Arbor on El Toro, and Irvine Spectrum.
  • There are countless dining options in and around Lake Forest. Most shopping centers include local and chain eateries. A good way to sample the offerings is the city-sponsored Shop & Dine Lake Forest Week, an annual September event, which includes Taste of Lake Forest.
  • Cultural attractions include Heritage Hill Historical Park, a collection of four historic structures, and the Modjeska Historic House and Gardens.
  • You don’t have to go far to find spectacular natural scenery. Choices include Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park, a 1,500-acre woodland with biking and hiking trails, Aliso Creek Trail, a 15-mile path from Lake Forest to Laguna Niguel, and Serrano Creek Community Park for picnics, hiking and biking.
  • Kids will enjoy the state-of-the-art Etnies Skate Park for skateboarders, roller bladers and BMX riders.
  • City events include the annual Rancho Days Fiesta, Bunny Blast and the Fourth of July Parade.
  • There are more than 54 hospitals and medical facilities in or near Lake Forest including Saddleback Memorial Medical Center and Mission Hospital.

Photo credit:
Modjeska Historic House and Gardens: OCParks_CA | flickr cc
UC Irvine Science Library: Varin | flickr cc
Irvine Spectrum: demxx | flickr cc
Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park: OCParks_CA | flickr cc
Wildflowers: Joseph Hsu | flickr cc