Southern California is one of the most desirable places to live in the United States. But which SoCal neighborhoods make up the cream of the crop? This article lists the 10 best neighborhoods to live in Southern California in 2021.
From bustling cities to beach towns, Southern California has some of the best neighborhoods in the United States. These neighborhoods are home to celebrities and CEOs, as well as people simply looking for the best place to raise a family or the best place to retire. But if you’re thinking about moving to SoCal, or relocating within the area, which of these great suburbs should you be targeting?
Below is a list of the 10 best neighborhoods to live in Southern California right now (if you’re just interested in Orange County, check out our list of top 10 suburbs including Mission Viejo and Lake Forest). It was compiled by considering amenities and activities, natural beauty and green space, public safety, schools, and job opportunities, in order to narrow down Southern California’s many contenders into only the cream of the crop. If you want to know the median home value for homes in any of these neighborhoods, check out our latest Market Reports.
So, let’s get started!
The Best Neighborhoods to Live in Southern California
Turtle Rock, Irvine
Turtle Rock was ranked as the best neighborhood to live in Irvine in 2021. In turn, Irvine has plenty of accolades, named the safest city in California and the best place to start a business in the state, as well as ranking in the top 10 nationally among healthiest cities (#2), cities with the best public school system (#5), and best cities to raise a family (#10).
In other words, Turtle Rock might just be the best of the best.
The good news for those looking to move to the neighborhood is that homes for sale in Turtle Rock range from condos to luxury estates, providing many opportunities for families and professionals to get in on the highly-rated surroundings.
And in case you’re wondering, yes, there is an actual rock shaped like a turtle.
Crystal Cove, Newport Beach
Located in the exclusive oceanside community of Newport Beach, Crystal Cove might just be not only one of the best neighborhoods in Southern California but one of the best for lovers of outdoor activities.
It is bordered by Crystal Cove State Park, one of the largest remaining examples of open space and natural seashore in the county, providing expansive trails with unobstructed ocean views where residents of Crystal Cove hike, ride horses, bicycle, and camp. In the other direction, a unique underwater reef lays just off the shore, providing ample opportunities for snorkeling, scuba diving, and tidepool viewing.
If Newport Beach is a community of luxury, then Crystal Cove is where luxury meets outdoor adventure. If you can afford the higher cost of living, this community is well worth the price tag.
City Center and Ocean Park, Santa Monica
On Niche’s 2021 list of the best places to live in America, two Santa Monica neighborhoods finished in the top three – City Center (2nd) and Ocean Park (3rd). Located just 20 minutes from downtown Los Angeles, these beach towns have it all.
Both neighborhoods are among the most chic and attractive anywhere. Both are known for their artsy aesthetic, filled with independent coffee shops, boutique stores, and art galleries, including those housed at historic Bergamot Station. Both are within walking distance from Santa Monica Beach and the eminently popular Santa Monica Pier.
So, if you’re thinking about moving to Santa Monica, which neighborhood should you choose? You may want to flip a coin. Good news, you can’t lose!
Anaheim Hills, Anaheim
Located at the far eastern end of Anaheim, the first thing you will notice about Anaheim Hills is the size of the homes – four or five bedrooms or more on big lots, often with three or four-car garages. Indeed, Anaheim Hills has more large homes than 97% of the neighborhoods in America.
The second thing you will notice is how much more peaceful the neighborhood feels compared to others in Anaheim. It’s not a mirage. Anaheim Hills is actually part of the Scenic Corridor Overlay Zone, which protects the area’s gorgeous natural environment, making it an oasis within the hustle and bustle of a modern city.
Add to this the neighborhood’s low crime rates, well below both city and national averages, and it is not hard to see why Anaheim Hills was ranked as the best neighborhood to live in Anaheim in 2021, as well as the best neighborhood to raise a family. And it’s proximity to Disneyland doesn’t hurt.
Three Arch Bay, Laguna Beach
All you really need to know about Three Arch Bay is that when people move to the 29-acre gated community in South Laguna Beach, they tend to stay there. Homes rarely go on the market, and when they do, they are quickly snapped up by those looking to get their own slice of the neighborhood’s spectacular views, sandy beaches, and sense of community.
Homes in Three Arch Bay include everything from quaint oceanfront beach houses, to luxury estates with panoramic views of the ocean. In fact, the neighborhood even contains some of the original Laguna Beach homes from as far back as the 1920s.
In Three Arch Bay, people may check out anytime they like. But they almost never leave.
Monarch Beach, Dana Point
Monarch Beach sits on the shores of a world-famous beach, alongside one of the only oceanfront golf courses in Southern California, and is home to multiple five-star hotels and resorts, including the Ritz Carlton and St. Regis, as well as the Waldorf Astoria Monarch Beach Resort.
Despite its prestigious credentials, Monarch Beach is not pretentious. It is the crown jewel of Dana Point, which itself has been described as “as laid back as it gets.” But while Monarch Beach was actually named in part for having been the breeding grounds for Monarch butterflies, there can be little doubt that this Orange County neighborhood is kingly.
Point Dume, Malibu
Mention Malibu and the first thing that comes to mind for most will be the glitz and glamor of one of the country’s most exclusive communities. While this conception may be true, it does not begin to scratch the surface of Point Dume, perhaps the most desirable place to live in Malibu.
The Point Dume neighborhood is off the beaten path, a wild and unspoiled coastal peninsula with some of the most spectacular views anywhere. It is heaven for outdoor enthusiasts, whether hiking along the bluffs, climbing up the rocky cliffs, or surfing some of the best waves around. And the homes? They are large, often palatial, set along streets ensconced in thick foliage and bordered by meandering creeks, gazing out at both ocean and mountain views.
Did you know: In the popular Iron Man movies, Tony Stark’s incredible CGI house is located in, you guessed it, Point Dume!
The Hill, Seal Beach
So named for its location on a gradually sloping hill in the town of Seal Beach, The Hill is a cozy neighborhood set apart from the traffic of the city’s more central locations. It is this quiet, relaxed nature that makes The Hill one of the best places in Southern California to raise a family.
Homes for sale in The Hill are larger than those elsewhere in Seal Beach, on larger lots with both front and backyards. Streets are wide and relatively free of cars, while ‘children at play’ signs are not uncommon. Additionally, the area is home to numerous public schools ranked near the top of the state.
It is idyllic living in a small town within a small town, with easy access to major freeways and resources boarding on Long Beach.
Southwest San Clemente, San Clemente
Within SoCal’s “Spanish Village by the Sea,” AKA San Clemente, the southwest section of the city has quickly become one of the most popular neighborhoods not only in the city but in all of Southern California.
The neighborhood, like the city as a whole, is marked by the red-tile roofs and white walls of its stunning Spanish-style architecture, which, along with its incredible ocean views, gives ‘Southwest’ a Mediterranean feel.
As one of the first master-planned communities built from totally open land in the country, perhaps it is time that ‘Southwest’ is getting its due.
La Jolla, San Diego
Is La Jolla San Diego’s most prestigious neighborhood, or its greatest beach town? The answer is probably both. La Jolla combines world-renowned beaches and stunning ocean views with ritzy boutiques, fine dining, and award-winning schools, creating a totally unique combination of luxury and Southern California vibes.
You don’t have to explore the area’s natural coves and hillsides sprinkled with luxury homes for long to understand why La Jolla is one of the most sought-after places to live in all of the United States.
Did you know: Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer developed one of the leading vaccines to fight COVID-19 at its 25-acre campus in La Jolla.