The quality and safety of local schools is one of the most critical considerations in the homebuying process. It’s importance for families with children is self-explanatory, but it’s also an important consideration even if you don’t have children: the better the schools, the higher the market value of the home.

Good school districts don’t suddenly become bad ones when there’s a recession. Even during big real estate slumps, houses in good school districts tend to hold their value better than homes in mediocre ones.

Here’s why:

Research findings are consistent over time: Homes in better school districts command higher prices than homes in weaker school districts.

This study from Collateral Analytics focused in part on Mission Viejo, an Orange County neighborhood just inland of Laguna Niguel, specifically because the neighborhood is split between two very different school districts. Their findings: Homes in neighborhoods served by the best, most desirable schools kept their pricing advantage in all markets compared to homes served by weaker schools.

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Orange County’s Best School Districts

If you’re buying a home in Orange County, it makes sense to know which districts have the best reputation – and focus your home searching accordingly.

Here are the best school districts in Orange County, according to

  1. Irvine Unified School District
  2. Los Alamitos Unified School District
  3. Laguna Beach Unified School District
  4. Huntington Beach Unified School District
  5. Capistrano Unified School District
  6. Placentia – Yorba Linda Unified School District
  7. Fullerton Joint Union High School District
  8. Tustin Unified School District
  9. Newport Mesa Unified School District (serving Newport Beach and Costa Mesa)
  10. Saddleback Valley Unified School District

First, keep things in perspective. There are 977 school districts in California, according to Niche’s rankings. Nearly all the districts in Orange County were in the top 50, except for Saddleback Valley USD, which ranks #52 in the state.

Even the Orange County school districts that didn’t make Niche’s ranking of the Top Ten districts in Orange County are still sporting solid “B-“ grades, and ranking well above the median for the state of California as a whole. ranks schools according to a number of factors, including academics, teachers, culture and diversity, parent/student surveys on overall experience, health & safety, resources & facilities, clubs and activities, and sports. You can read more details on their ranking methodology here.

You can find a color-coded map that plots schools according to quality rankings here.

Looking for a home anywhere in Southern California? Call us today at (949) 494-4861. Or better yet, start the pre-approval process by filling out an application.

Orange County is a competitive market. Being pre-approved for a home loan can save you time and eliminate much of the stress from your homebuying experience – and improve the chance of your bid being the one the seller picks!

Contact us today, and let’s work together to get you into the Orange County home of your dreams and you kids into some of the best schools in the state!