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    Mission Viejo

    Mission Viejo




    Home Stats
    3No. of beds
    3No. of baths
    2,040 sq. ft.Square feet

    Home Prices

    Per Square Feet
    $256.41/sq. ft.Lowest
    $566.54/sq. ft.Average
    $942.82/sq. ft.Highest


    At first glance, Mission Viejo's star might not shine as bright as Laguna Beach and Newport Beach. The latter two have the benefit of being located along the Pacific coast, while Mission Viejo is ensconced further inland in Orange County's Saddleback Valley. But Mission Viejo is a star nonetheless— sun-drenched, mostly residential, and surrounded by magnificent vistas, with Old Saddleback looming in the background. If you choose to follow the city's motto, "make living your mission," you'll find the experience to be easy and pleasant in Mission Viejo.

    Welcome to Mission Viejo

    Mission Viejo is a small city of roughly 93,600 residents, decently sized with a total area of just over 18 square miles. Despite its inland location, about 2% of Mission Viejo is water— the majority of this is Lake Mission Viejo, a man-made recreational reservoir where residents enjoy a number of lake activities. Another body of water, Upper Oso Reservoir, is located in the Pinecrest neighborhood.

    Surrounding Mission Viejo are the communities of Lake Forest, Laguna Hills, Ladera Ranch, Las Flores, Rancho Santa Margarita, and Trabuco Canyon. Although parts of Mission Viejo were leveled out to give rise to its neighborhoods, some parts of the city remain hilly.

    Once upon a mission

    Mission Viejo traces its roots back to the 19th century, when the sprawling Rancho Mission Viejo was granted to Don John Forster, a Mexican ranchero of English descent. It was after this land grant that the city was named. After all, Mission Viejo occupies 11,000 acres of the property, which is still very much active today. In fact, Mission Viejo isn't the only master-planned community located within Rancho Mission Viejo. Ladera Ranch, Las Flores, and Rancho Santa Margarita are part of it as well.

    The 11,000 acres of land that became Mission Viejo eventually passed onto the hands of the O'Neill family. In 1963, they sold the property to partners Donald Bren, James Toepfer, and Philip J. Reilly, all of whom later founded the Mission Viejo Company. They quickly got to work and drafted community plans that, by 1956, Mission Viejo's first residents moved into the city. Not even a decade after the sale, Mission Viejo's population boomed to 13,000 residents.

    Mission Viejo became an especially sought-after place to live in the 1970s and 1980s. It was so popular that tracts were sold out even before construction began. By 1986, the city had a population of 60,000 residents. Two years later, Mission Viejo was finally incorporated into a city.

    Mission Viejo in the 21st century

    Today, Mission Viejo is best known for being one of the largest master-planned communities in the country. It's so well-planned, the city is said to have at least two parks for every square mile. While we've yet to investigate the veracity of this claim, Mission Viejo has over 40 parks and public open spaces spread across the community. With these parks and the city's tree-lined streets, it's no surprise that Mission Viejo was named Tree City USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation for over 10 years.

    Living in Mission Viejo


    One of Mission Viejo’s primary assets, especially for long-term real estate investors, are its top-rated public schools.

    Mission Viejo has the privilege of being served by two well-performing Orange County school districts. The first one is Capistrano Unified School District (CUSD), which mainly serves students in the eastern and southern sections of the city. The other one is Saddleback Valley Unified School District (SVUSD), which serves Mission Viejo’s western half.

    Some of the top public schools in Mission Viejo include the following:


    Mission Viejo is also home to Saddleback College, a public community college set on a 200-acre campus in the southern section of the city. The college has its fair share of athletes that went on to play for professional basketball, baseball, and football teams. They include Anthony Carter, former Denver Nuggets point guard and now assistant coach to Miami Heat, and Tim Willach, who went on to play 17 seasons in Major League Baseball.

    Recreational activities

    Tucked between the mountains and the sea, you can fill your days in Mission Viejo with a wide assortment of activities that range from relaxing to adrenaline pumping. 

    • Hiking: There are over 20 miles of trails you can explore in Mission Viejo, with the most popular being the 5.5-mile Oso Creek Trail in the center of the city. The difficulty of the trail varies in different parts, but residents love it nonetheless. And since Oso Creek is a watershed, expect to run into a few of Mission Viejo’s local wildlife.
      Aliso Creek Trail in the northwestern edge of Mission Viejo runs for 18.5 miles and is open for hiking, cycling, and horseback riding. Travel south to South Laguna or head north to Rancho Santa Margarita. Despite its length, Aliso Creek Trail also has a lot of rest stops as well as kiosks offering refreshments.
      East of Mission Viejo, the Arroyo Trabuco Trail stretches approximately 15 miles. And since it runs from Trabuco Canyon to the Pacific Ocean, it’s also sometimes referred to as the mountains-to-sea trail. The trailhead at the end of Avery Parkway in Mission Viejo is relatively easy but becomes progressively more challenging, making it the preferred entry point for beginners and casual hikers. If you want to jump right into the action, however, starting your hike at the Beebe Park Trailhead at 24190 Olympiad Road is highly recommended.

    • Lake Mission Viejo: Located nearly in the city center, Lake Mission Viejo is a recreational hotspot. You can run or cycle along the 3.1-mile Lake Mission Viejo loop if you want to enjoy a different type of scenery while you work out a sweat. You may also rent a boat (or launch your own), although rentals are only open to LMVA members.
      For fishing enthusiasts, the lake is stocked with a variety of fish from time to time. If you want to go swimming, you can do so at the lake’s north and east beaches. North Beach is open for swimming all year round, while swimming at East Beach is only allowed in the summer. Movie nights, concerts, and other family-friendly activities such as treasure hunts complete Lake Mission Viejo recreational offerings.

    • Golf: Mission Viejo is home to a few golf courses where you can practice your swing, join a golf club, and even join a tournament. Chief among these is Oso Creek Golf Course. It’s home to an 18-hole, par-61 golf course designed by Ted Robinson, one of the eminent golf course architects of his time. Course features include two creeks and a rolling landscape with a 102 slope rating. For food and refreshments, there are three restaurants located on site: Birdie Bar, Garden + Grille, and Terrace on the Green.
      In south Mission Viejo, you’ll find Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club. It’s a public-access golf facility with an 18-hole championship course designed by Tom Lehman and Casey O’Callaghan. Don’t let its park-like setting make you feel comfortable. The course has enough obstacles, such as lateral hazards and on-course lakes, to keep you sufficiently challenged throughout your game.
      Tijeras Creek Golf Club in neighboring Rancho Santa Margarita is just outside the city’s eastern limits and deserves a mention. With its distinctive “tale of two nines” layout, their golf course is recognized as one of the best in Orange County.

    Shopping and dining

    Mission Viejo may be mostly residential, but it’s not without a great selection of retail and dining options. There’s no need to venture far when the following establishments are right in the city:

    • The Shops at Mission Viejo: It’s not only Mission Viejo residents who flock to The Shops at Mission Viejo for retail therapy. People from all over south Orange County do as well. After all, this Spanish Mission-style retail complex has over 150 shops and restaurants, from locally owned businesses to national chains and retailers. These include Apple, Fabletics, J. Crew, Lululemon, Madewell, and Nordstrom.

    • Kaleidoscope Center: Located just across The Shops at Mission Viejo is Kaleidoscope. Developed in the 1990s, it’s one of the pioneering shopping centers in the city. Some of the must-sees here include Union Market, where proudly local businesses have set up shop to sell their wares. You’ll find everything here, from trinkets to craft beer.

    • Piccolino Ristorante: Regional Italian food is the speciality at Piccolino, an elegant restaurant located along Los Alisos Boulevard in north Mission Viejo. It’s widely recognized as one of the best Italian restaurants in the region ever since it opened in 2007. Join them for lunch, dinner, or weekend brunch. Some highly recommended dishes include souffle di melanzane, panzanella di pomodoro cipolla, and their agnolotti d’aragosta.

    • Dublin 4 Gastropub: Located along Oso Parkway, Dublin 4 Gastropub is a locally owned restaurant that proudly serves Irish-inspired, farm-to-table cuisine but prepared with classical French techniques. Executive Chef David Shofner leads the kitchen, which produces crowd favorites such as cottage pie, bangers and mash, and pan-roasted salmon drizzled with celery root puree. While there, check out their Irish coffee and extensive whiskey selection.

    Notable attractions

    Boosting the quality of life in Mission Viejo are its numerous attractions. These spots range from art spaces to sprawling state parks and wilderness areas.

    • Parks and green spaces: Whether you want to play sports, go forest bathing, or arrange a playdate for your dog, you’ll find a park in Mission Viejo that suits your needs. If you want to go on a long walk, the Jeronimo Greenbelt near Oso Creek Golf Course has a walking trail that weaves throughout the 18-acre park. Another notable spot is the Florence Joyner Olympiad Park near Lake Mission Viejo. It covers almost 20 acres and features several amenities, including sports fields, picnic tables, and playgrounds. For Mission Viejo’s four-legged residents, there’s La Paws Dog Park. It has dedicated play areas so large and small dogs can run around safely.

    • Sky Zone Trampoline Park: You can jump however you want at Sky Zone. Go freestyle, arrange an ultimate dodgeball match with your friends (or other guests), see if you can score a slam dunk at the SkySlam area, or try out the obstacle course. Sky Zone also hosts multiple programs so you can jump higher and better.

    • O’Neill Regional Park: Just outside north Mission Viejo is the sprawling expanse that is O’Neill Regional Park in neighboring Trabuco Canyon. This major greenway covers about 4,500 acres of crucial habitat for a variety of local flora and fauna. There are over 70 miles of trails to explore. And as you make your way to your designated campsite (if you’re camping), you’ll get to walk among sycamore and coastal live oak trees. If you prefer, you can also go mountain biking or horseback riding. O’Neill Regional Park is open all year round.

    • Crystal Cove State Park: One of Southern California’s best seaside parks is about a 30-minute drive from Mission Viejo. Crystal Cove State Park offers a variety of activities, from tidepool explorations and historic walking tours to relaxing beach-hopping excursions. And if you want to make an outing of it, consider staying the night at a campsite.

    Homes for Sale
    in Mission Viejo

    Mission Viejo real estate comprises over 90,000 housing units, spanning single-family residences, townhomes, and apartments. The market has a median home value of over $990,000 and an average market rent of more than $4,600 per month. Most homes for sale in Mission Viejo are priced from the upper $600,000s to $1.3 million or more.

    While these numbers indicate that Mission Viejo real estate is on the higher end (the market is considered one of the most expensive not only in California but in the country as well), investing here comes with a plethora of short- and long-term perks. In home appreciation alone, Mission Viejo real estate has an average annual rate of 6.95%. That’s higher than most cities of similar size in the state.

    Architectural styles

    Mission Viejo real estate is primarily known for its Spanish mission-inspired homes. This stems from Donald Bren’s alleged love for Spanish-style architecture. That said, various other designs have cropped up among homes for sale in Mission Viejo.

    Added to the mix are quintessential California ramblers (also known as ranch homes), Mediterranean-inspired residences, as well as more contemporary homes. But with most homes for sale in Mission Viejo built between 1970 and 1999, the city’s architectural landscape tends to lean on the traditional side.

    Notable neighborhoods

    • Andalusia / Finisterra on the Lake: This area surrounds Lake Mission Viejo, making it one of the very few neighborhoods in the city where waterfront real estate is available. Homes for sale here are typically large three- to four-bedroom single-family homes built between 1940 and 1999.

    • Casta del Sol / Stone Ridge: Also located near Lake Mission Viejo, the Casta del Sol / Stone Ridge area offers smaller single-family residences as well as townhomes.

    • Canyon Estates: With a median home value of $1.2 million, this neighborhood ranks as one of Mission Viejo’s more coveted places to live. Homes for sale range from medium-sized single-family homes to stylish luxury estates, some of which were built in 2000 and onwards.

    Other sought-after neighborhoods to live in Mission Viejo include Pacific Hills/Mirasol, Galicia, and Madrid del Lago North.

    Frequently Asked Questions
    About Mission Viejo

    Is Mission Viejo expensive?

    In terms of real estate, Mission Viejo is considered to be one of the more expensive markets in California. But a home isn’t the only thing you’re getting if you decide to buy here. You’re also paying for access to great schools and community services. You may also get to benefit from steady home appreciation rates in the long run.

    Is Mission Viejo a good place to live?

    With its fantastic location, real estate, and lifestyle offerings, Mission Viejo is undeniably a great place to live. Testament to this is the high homeownership rates in the city— nearly 77% of homes in Mission Viejo are owner-owned and occupied.

    What is the average cost of living in Mission Viejo?

    Living in Mission Viejo costs roughly 40% more than the national average, with the main expenses being housing and energy. On the upside, food, healthcare, and transportation costs are relatively reasonable for Orange County and Southern California. Residents have a per capita income of over $54,000 while the median household income is more than $126,000.


    I’m Tony Florez, and Mission Viejo is one of my favorite cities in Orange County. It would be an absolute pleasure to serve as your guide while you explore your real estate opportunities in one of the largest master-planned communities in the country. Ready to dive in? Call 949.378.7276, send an email, or fill up this form and let’s chat.

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