The many Lagunas of Orange County

If you're new to the Orange County area, you're likely a little confused as to why there are so many places with Laguna in their names. While browsing the MLS listings in Orange County, perhaps you were wondering if a house in Laguna Beach was in the same area as Laguna Woods. Not to worry - the Laguna name game around here isn't as confusing as it might seem. Each city has its own distinguishing factors and offers a different reason why it might be your perfect next home.

Laguna Hills

If you could draw a line connecting all of the Laguna cities, it would make a sloppy letter C. Starting at the top of this C is Laguna Hills. The name comes from its close proximity to Laguna Canyon, a large canyon that cuts in from the San Joaquin Hills. The city is surrounded by an abundance of natural wilderness, including the Irvine Ranch Land Reserve, prized for its unusual geology and beauty. It's one of the oldest cities in the area, originally built on land grants following Mexico's Independence from Spain in 1821. It was officially incorporated as the City of Laguna Hills in 1991.

Population (2010): 30,344
Total land area (square miles): 2010
Median house value (2006-2010): $627,600

Laguna Woods

Next down the line is Laguna Woods, where the motto is, "respect for the past, looking to the future." This quote is an adequate reflection of this quiet city. It is one of the newest cities in Orange County, incorporated in 1999 as the 32nd city in the O.C. The average age of Laguna Woods residents is 78, and the senior citizen gated community of Laguna Woods Village makes up 90 percent of the area's three square miles.

Population (2010): 16,192
Total land area (square miles): 3.12
Median house value (2006-2010): $236,700

Laguna Beach

Situated along the pristine Pacific Coast is the resort city of Laguna Beach. Home to some of the most stunning beaches and houses in California, Laguna Beach is a highly sought-after place to live. It features seven miles of sand and a wide assortment of restaurants, unique boutiques and venues often used for weddings and other special occasions. This seaside destination is also well known for its artistic community - over 100 galleries and artists' studios are in town.

Population (2010): 22,738
Total land area (square miles): 8.85
Median house value (2006-2010): $1,000,001

Laguna Niguel

Bringing up the bottom point of the C is the largest of the four cities, Laguna Niguel, an elegant master planned community. Here residents enjoy the moderate Southern California weather at the many parks including 23 neighborhood parks.

Population (2010): 62,979
Total land area (square miles): 14.83
Median house value (2006-2010): $748,300