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moving to lake forest ca
Chip Martin
Chip Martin

Moving to Lake Forest? 🌳 | COMPLETE Guide to Living in Lake Forest CA

Are you thinking about relocating to Lake Forest, CA? The city gets its name from two man-made lakes as well as a nearby forest of mostly Eucalyptus trees, which is also man-made. Lake Forest hosts an annual summer concert at Pittsford Park. The farmer’s market is a great place to buy local produce from farmers and vendors. Lake Forest Sports Park and Recreation Center is an 86.2-acre sports park offering a wide range of educational and recreational opportunities. Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park spans 2,500 acres with over 17 miles of trails for mountain bikers, hikers, horseback riders, and other outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy. Lake Forest is also the home of Etnies Skatepark, the largest public skatepark in the state, covering over 62,000 square feet.

Here’s what you have to look forward to after moving to Lake Forest, California!

Where is Lake Forest California?

Lake Forest is a city in Orange County, about 50 miles southeast of Los Angeles, and is part of the Los Angeles Metro Area. Interstate I-5 conveniently runs along the southwest border of the city, and the northeast end sits in the Foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains. Lake Forest is bordered by Mission Viejo to the south, Rancho Santa Margarita to the east, and Laguna Woods to the southwest.

Lake Forest Population & Demographics

The population of Lake Forest is 85,858 according to the 2020 Census, which is an 11% increase from 2010. Lake Forest is part of the Los Angeles Metro area.

The racial and ethnic makeup of Lake Forest is:

  • White - 58.8%
  • Black or African American - 2.4%
  • American Indian and Alaska Native - 1.4%
  • Asian - 19.0%
  • Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander - 0.1%
  • Two or More Races - 10.6%

Additional Lake Forest demographics:

  • Population density: 5,100 people/sq mi
  • Median age: 39.2
  • Sex ratio: 50.8% females, 49.2% males over 18
  • Median household income: $117,374
  • Educational attainment: 93.0% high school grad or higher, 48.7% bachelor’s degree or higher (adults 25 and older)
  • Foreign-born population: 25.7%

Lake Forest is a safe place to live, with a crime rate 53% lower than the national average. The violent crime rate is 72% lower. There are 1,093 crimes per 100,000 people and 110 violent crimes. After moving to Lake Forest, you will be served by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, which has nearly 4,000 sworn and civilian employees.

Lake Forest Cost of Living – Is Lake Forest, CA Expensive?

Lake Forest is expensive. The cost of living is 16% higher than the state average. By comparison, the cost of living in Los Angeles is 8% above the state average. Groceries cost 12% more than the national average, while healthcare costs are only 2% higher. Goods and services run 10% higher and transportation 32% higher. Utilities, however, are 11% lower than the national average.

The biggest cost of living in Lake Forest is housing. Homes costs are 165% higher than the U.S. average. Currently, the market in Lake Forest is very competitive. The average sale price of a home in Lake Forest is $985,335, a 10.4% decrease from last year. Homes usually sell in about 31 days, up from 23 the previous year. If you’re moving to Lake Forest, it may be time to look for a home for sale in Lake Forest, CA to get an idea of what it will cost you.

If you are planning to rent while living in Lake Forest, the average rent is $2,762, and the average apartment size is 893 square feet for Lake Forest CA apartments.

Best Neighborhoods in Lake Forest

Lake Forest is one of the safest cities in California, so you’ll find many safe neighborhoods here. Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly community, one with lots of amenities, or a quiet neighborhood, you can find it in Lake Forest. Some of the best neighborhoods in Lake Forest are:

Foothill Ranch | Master-Planned Community

The neighborhood of Foothill Ranch was established in 2000 as a master-planned community set at the base of the beautiful Saddleback Mountains. Homes are grouped together on stunning tiered hillsides with great views and lots of amenities, including a community pool and spa, and a fully equipped clubhouse, The median sale price for a home in this most sought-after neighborhood is $1,210,000. 

Serrano Park | Quiet, Established Multi-Generational Neighborhood

Serrano Park is a well-established, well-maintained neighborhood with large homes that were built from about 1976 to 1985. The community features walking paths, big lot sizes, and lots of trees. The neighborhood backs up to Orange County Great Park, a family-friendly outdoor space that hosts many activities throughout the year. This multi-generational community is a great place to raise kids and is perfect for seniors as well. The median sale price for a home in Serrano Park is $1,162,500 and the neighborhood features a community clubhouse, 2 community pools, 4 tennis courts, 2 playgrounds for kids, and a sand volleyball court. Serrano Park is close to the Irvine Spectrum Center, a hub for shopping, dining, and entertainment.

Portola Hills | Family-Friendly Lake Forest Neighborhood

Portola Hills features midsize homes up to those over 4,000 square feet. Prices in the community average about $880,500, which is a good buy in Lake Forest! You can find single-family homes, condominiums, townhouses, and semi-detached homes in the community. The neighborhood is located between the Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park and the Cleveland National Forest, giving residents many opportunities for outdoor activities.

Lake Forest Weather & Climate

Lake Forest CA weather features warm, arid, and clear summers. The winters are long, cool, and partly cloudy. August is the hottest month in the city, where temperatures average a high of 82°F and a low of 63°F. The coldest month of the year in Lake Forest is December, with an average low of 48°F and a high of 66°F. Lake Forest gets about 14 inches of rain per year, well under the US average of 38 inches. You won’t have to worry about snow while living in Lake Forest!

Things to Do in Lake Forest

Lake Forest features lots of activities and fun things to do. In addition, you’ll enjoy some convenient shopping at the Lake Forest Gateway Shopping Center and the Lake Forest Town Center shopping malls.

Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park

Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park consists of over 2,500 acres of woodland canyons, rolling grassland hills, and steep slopes of coastal sage scrub and chaparral. This is one of the best free things to do with kids in Lake Forest CA. With 23 trails totaling about 17 miles, hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians have plenty of places to explore.

26701 Portola Parkway, Foothill Ranch, CA 92610, 949-923-2245

Lake Forest Sports Park

The 86-acre Sports Park and Recreation Center in Lake Forest is one of the largest sports parks in Orange County, featuring 57 acres of sports fields and a multi-functional recreational center. With adult softball leagues, and youth sports programs and camps, there is something for everyone in the family to enjoy at Lake Forest Sports Park.

28000 Vista Terrace, Lake Forest, CA 92630, 949-273-6960

Frisby Cellars Winery

Frisby Cellars Winery is an award-winning winery that offers a range of wines, including Pinot Noir, Viognier, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon. They source the finest grapes from local vineyards to produce premium craft wines. Enjoy wine tasting in their tasting room on the weekends.

20331 Lake Forest Dr c, Lake Forest, CA 92630, 949-243-6691

Additional attractions in Lake Forest


Looking for more things to do in Lake Forest? Lake Forest Parks and Recreation manages 17 parks covering almost 200 acres, with 11 miles of bike trails and over 20 miles of nature and walking trails, playgrounds, pavilions, sports fields, and much more! Check out the Lake Forest City Events Calendar as well.

Lake Forest Restaurants

You’ll find a lot of amazing restaurants in Lake Forest! Here are the top-rated Lake Forest CA restaurants:

Avila’s El Ranchito

Avila’s features delicious recipes from Guanajuato, Mexico that had been passed down to Mama Avila for generations. Avila’s is known for its Grande Burritos and delicious Margaritas. But you can’t go wrong with their authentic tacos, tamales, enchilada, quesadillas, and more. Their weekly specials are always a hit!

24406 Muirlands Blvd, Lake Forest, CA 92630, 949-855-4989

Bru Grill & Market


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Bru Grille is a scratch kitchen that serves only the freshest produce, the finest cuts of meats, and market-fresh seafood. Their amazing craft bar features over 100 whiskeys, 100 wines, and many craft beers on tap. Center Cut Filet Mignon, Angus Ribeye Steaks, Lobster Mac & Cheese, and Sweet Thai Chili Chicken are just a few of the highlights on the menu.

23730 El Toro Rd, Lake Forest, CA 92630, (949) 305-5757

Inka Mama’s

At Inka Mama’s, you’ll find award-winning Peruvian cuisine, bold, vibrant flavors, and an authentic Peruvian atmosphere where every meal tastes like it was home cooked. Try the mouthwatering house specialties, including Pescado Frito, Ajiaco de Mariscos, and the Chicken Inka special.

26676 Portola Parkway #B, Lake Forest, CA 92610, 949-951-6262

Jobs in Lake Forest

The average salary in Lake Forest is $79,000, according to Payscale. The largest industries in Lake Forest are professional, scientific, technical services, and manufacturing.

The top employers in the city are:

Ready to explore career opportunities before moving to Lake Forest? Check out Lake Forest CA jobs and positions on Indeed.

Schools in Lake Forest, CA

Lake Forest schools include El Toro High, Trabuco Hills High, Serrano Intermediate, and 8 elementary schools. Lake Forest is served by the Saddleback Valley Unified School DistrictAbiding Savior Lutheran Church, Fulbright Montessori Academy, and Grace Christian are 3 of the top private schools in the city.

The closest college to Lake Forest is the University of California Irvine in Irvine, about 6 miles away. The top-rated school within 1 hour of Lake Forest is the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. The largest school within 1 hour is the University of Southern California, enrolling 49,318 students. Students can enjoy the El Toro Public Library for free while living in Lake Forest.

Lake Forest Statistics & Information

  • County: Orange County
  • Area: 16.79 square miles
  • Lake Forest CA zip code: 92609, 92610, 92630, 92679
  • Area code: 949
  • Elevation: 489 feet
  • Time zone: UTC-8 (Pacific)
  • Closest airport: Santa Ana (SNA) Airport, 10.2 miles away

Lake Forest, CA Map

Explore the area for more fun attractions and restaurants with this map of Lake Forest.

Does Lake Forest sounds like the dream location for your new home? Give our Lake Forest movers a call at 800-395-6683 for a free moving estimate.

Chip Martin
Chip Martin
BA in philosophy, Long Beach State 1974, various trades after college including cabinet maker and boat refinisher, then became a local moving driver in 1976, bought Daly Movers in 1979, managed company, and drove local and long distance until 1995 when I transitioned into sales/office full time. Almost fifty years later Daly Movers and I have sold, worked, and familiarized ourselves with virtually every type of household and O&I relocation.

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