January 2nd, 2024 at 11:00 am

Updated Jan 11, 2024

San Clemente is a popular city located at the southernmost tip of Orange County, California. The town is a shining example of Orange County and the laid back vibes that Southern California has to offer, from its coastal roots to its kind residents.

With only a quick hour drive from Los Angeles and a 45-minute drive from San Diego County, it has become a fast-growing market for people of all ages looking for small-town beach charm in a full city. Learn more about living in San Clemente through our city guide below.

Real estate in San Clemente

With a population of over 65,000, most residents in San Clemente are primarily homeowners over apartment renters. There are many benefits of owning a home, with statistics show that 78 percent of households are owner-occupied, while just 22 percent are renter-occupied.

The median home value in San Clemente is about $1.08 million, comprising the average middle price tier of homes. Over the past year, the average home price has increased by 4.3% and is expected to increase by up to 7.3% by next year. The average monthly rent for apartments in San Clemente is about $2,217, which shows a growth of about 2 percent compared to the previous year. The average apartment size is approximately 895 square feet.

While predicting any trends in the real estate market naturally comes with difficulties in the United States, most experts foresee ongoing growth in San Clemente’s housing. Navigating housing comes with plenty of complexities, from finding your dream home to making a bid. If you’re considering buying a house in Southern California, we recommend working with a San Clemente REALTOR® at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties to help you find and close on your dream home. 

Schools in San Clemente

San Clemente is currently served by the Capistrano Unified School District. This is the second largest school district in Orange County and the eighth largest district in California.

The city has six elementary schools, most of which are designated as California Distinguished Schools and California Business for Education Excellence “Scholar” Schools.

San Clemente is also home to three middle schools:

San Clemente High School is the lone high school in the city. Along with a wide range of accolades and honors, the school offers many Advanced Placement courses and features an International Baccalaureate program. It has also been named one of the “Best High Schools” by U.S. News/World Report. The school is known for high academic accolades, award-winning music programs, and one of the most skilled athletic programs in the country.

Dining, entertainment, and city living

Downtown San Clemente offers a diverse mix of activities, attractions, and experiences for just about every walk of life. It is for this reason that it’s often considered one of the best places to live in Southern California.

San Clemente beaches

With the Pacific coast as your backyard, it’s no wonder that San Clemente is best known for its numerous beaches, including Calafia Beach, Cyprus Cove, Mariposa Beach, and Trestles. San Clemente State Beach is one of the most scenic spots in the city, offering space for camping, hiking, fishing, sunbathing, and water activities, all with a picturesque view of the ocean.

The beach life naturally equates to an active surf culture. Miles of coastline offers plenty of surf breaks for surfers of all experience levels. San Onofre features slower breaks that are perfect for beginners, along with a dog beach to entertain the canines. T Street is a favorite among the locals, complete with fire rings and picnic areas. Trestles is for the true surfing enthusiasts, featuring a huge range of breaks that frequently bring professional surfers and competitions.

For those who want to take a lively bike or walk along the coast, the beach trail offers plenty of smooth travel and amazing sights. The beach trail stretches along about 2.3 miles and provides access to some of the best beaches in the city. The trail is also dog friendly, ensuring that your favorite canine friends can join in while you walk, jog, or bike. The trail has several access points, but it is most easily accessed via parking lots at Calafia State Park, San Clemente Pier, and North.

San Clemente Pier

Aside from the beaches, the city’s biggest attraction is probably the San Clemente Pier. Originally built in 1928, the pier was rebuilt in 1985 and measures 1,296 feet long. The pier is a popular spot for surfing, fishing, and taking in sunsets, and it also hosts regular events, including ocean festivals, surfing competitions, outdoor concerts, and Fourth of July fireworks.

The area around the pier also features several bars, cafes, restaurants, and eateries. Bear Coast Coffee is a local specialty coffee roaster that makes everything, including all sauces and flavorings, in-house for a truly excellent cup of joe. The Pierside Restaurant and Bar offers an unbeatable selection of coastal cuisine and craft drinks in an upscale atmosphere. The Fisherman’s Restaurant and Bar is all about fresh seafood sourced from just a few meters away.

Whale watching tours

Established in 1971, Dana Wharf was the first whale watching company established in Orange County, and it continues to be one of the leading year-round whale watching facilities in Southern California. The tours offer a surprising up-close look at the local aquatic life in the area, treating tourists to views of blue whales, gray whales, humpback whales, orcas, dolphins, and sharks.

Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens

A true cultural gem of the city, Casa Romantica was once the home of San Clemente’s founder, Ole Hanson. Covering over 2.5 acres, the cultural center and gardens are registered as a historical landmark, with the main building celebrating over 90 years since its initial construction in 1927. Ole Hanson built the home in a Spanish Colonial Revival style and eventually modeled the rest of the city after the same design.

Casa Romantica hosts more than 100 multicultural events every year and numerous educational programs, from art exhibitions to dance performances. The venue welcomes about 40,000 visitors every year. Along with some amazing views of the San Clemente coastline, Casa Romantica is a major destination for enthusiasts of architecture and plant life, with a garden full of diversified coastal flora from all over the world.

Eating spots and nightlife

With a massive selection of incredible restaurants and bars, San Clemente easily offers some of the best dining and nightlife experiences in Orange County. Most of the city’s main dining venues are central to El Camino Real and Avenida Del Mar, but there are plenty of local favorites scattered throughout the city.

Nick’s San Clemente offers classic American comfort food, cocktails, bar snacks, and a surprising wine list, all in a modern setting with outdoor seating along Del Mar. South of Nick’s offers some twists on Mexican classics, an extensive list of sippable tequilas, and historic Spanish Colonial architecture.

Vine Restaurant and Bar offers a full wine country dining experience inspired by cuisine from Napa Valley and other nearby wine-producing regions. All the ingredients come fresh, farm to table, and the craft cocktails are accompanied by a wine list that would make even the most established wineries blush.

La Colombiana is the spot for authentic, homemade Colombian cuisine. Located near North Beach, La Colombiana offers daily specials, rotating taps, and a friendly atmosphere that helps you know that you’re right at home. The restaurant’s specialties include empanadas, bandeja Colombiana, arepas, and ceviche.

Offering food to the community since 1991, Antoine’s Café is the go-to spot for breakfast and lunch. Earning the vote as “The Best of San Clemente” for over eight years, Antoine’s serves some no-frills favorites, from pancakes to burgers, along with local spins on eggs benedict, French dips, and more made with love and care.

In terms of nightlife, much of the city’s late-night fun is centered around the downtown Triangle, a lineup of three bars that encapsulate a mix of your favorite dive bar, sports bar, and lounge. Goody’s Tavern is your classic neighborhood sports bar featuring live music, darts, pool, and a projector TV to catch the game. Ole’s Tavern is a sports bar that leans more dive bar with pool tables, foosball, lounge seats, and monitors for the big game. The Red Fox Lounge, established in 1955, leans full dive bar lounge with plenty of comfortable tabletop seating, arcade games, and an outdoor smoking patio.


San Clemente has become a hub for craft brewing, boasting a selection of four distinctive breweries that contribute to the city’s vibrant beer culture. 

Explore San Clemente

As you can see, San Clemente neighborhoods offer a wide range of attractions and amenities for locals and visitors alike. The Southern California city’s vibrant craft brewery scene, stunning beaches, laid-back living, and community-focused events make it an ideal place to call home. If you are considering living in San Clemente, don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our knowledgeable and dedicated Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties REALTORS®️. Let us be your partner in discovering the charm and beauty that San Clemente has to offer. Contact us today to get you started on the right path.

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