Laguna Beach vs Newport Beach – Full Guide for Visiting & Living in 2023

If you want to visit or move to Orange County soon and are deciding between Laguna Beach vs Newport Beach, this guide will give you all the details about them.

These two small beach cities in Southern California are just 11 miles from each other and offer a pretty similar lifestyle.

But, they both feature different attractions and amenities for visitors and their residents.

This guide will offer you a detailed description of the main differences and similarities between Newport Beach vs Laguna Beach, so that you can have a better idea about these two Californian coastal jewels whether you’re going to visit as a tourist or you’re going to relocate in Orange County.

We have divided this guide into seven main categories:

  1. Overview
  2. Climate
  3. Cost of Living
  4. Job Market
  5. Things to Do for Travelers
  6. Things to Do for Residents
  7. Culture

We wrote about the main aspects of the two cities for each category, being as unbiased as possible, in order for you to decide whether you prefer Newport Beach or Laguna Beach.

Let’s dive into this guide as the surfers in Laguna Beach or Newport Beach do, so that you can decide where you want to travel or move next.

1. Laguna Beach vs Newport Beach –  Overview

Newport Beach and Laguna Beach are among the wealthiest cities of Orange County and this is clearly recognized by the numerous fancy spots and upscale places that are scattered across these two cities.

Moving within these two places is extremely easy, both by car or by bicycle.

However, the first main difference between Newport Beach vs Laguna Beach can be found in their location compared to the rest of the state.

Newport Beach, California

While Newport Beach is more central, Laguna Beach lies in a more southern position and is a little less connected, making it a bit isolated, especially from central Los Angeles, which we ranked as one of the best places in California.

Also, the difference in terms of population is pretty large.

Laguna Beach, California

Newport Beach has approximately 85,000 residents, while Laguna Beach is smaller with roughly 22,000 residents.

For this reason, the first may look far more crowded than the latter during the low season, but both of them share similar problems regarding traffic, parking spots, and tourist crowds.

Ultimately, Laguna Beach is generally described as more relaxed and laid back than Newport Beach, while the crime rates for both cities show they are pretty safe and livable.

Newport Beach reported crime rates that are 3% lower than the national average and Laguna Beach’s crime rates are 7% lower than the rest of the US.

2. Laguna Beach vs Newport Beach –  Climate

The weather in Newport Beach and Laguna Beach is pretty similar since they are so close to each other.

With an average temperature of 78°F in August, Laguna Beach is slightly cooler during summer than Newport Beach, which has an average temperature in August of 79°F.

Both cities offer splendid weather during the summer with bearable temperatures and humidity rates that are rarely very high.

Also, the winter in these two cities is pretty cool, with an average temperature that rarely goes below 49°F during December, which is the coldest month of the year for both cities.

Furthermore, the sun shines bright over these two cities for most of the year and precipitation is extremely rare during summer. It also never snows in Orange County.

If you’re reading this guide as a soon-to-be tourist in California, we think that the best time of the year to visit Laguna Beach or Newport Beach is between early June to mid October.

3. Laguna Beach vs Newport Beach –  Cost of Living

Laguna Beach

Both Newport Beach and Laguna Beach are extremely wealthy and relatively expensive places to live in.

The prices of most goods and services in both places are slightly higher than the national and state averages. But, what makes the cost of living of these two cities so high is the price of housing.

Both in Newport Beach and Laguna Beach, the average price for a house is approximately $2,600,000.

Meanwhile, renting costs two times more than the California state average and three times more than in the rest of the United States.

One positive aspect in the cost of living is that the average price for utilities and public transportation are actually lower compared to the California average.

Thus, if you’re going to visit Orange County and you are wondering about how to budget, don’t worry too much since consumer prices are pretty much the same as in the rest of California.

However, if you’re going to relocate soon and you are thinking about the differences in cost of living between Newport Beach vs Laguna Beach, take into account the portion of your budget that you will need for your accommodation in both cities.

4. Laguna Beach vs Newport Beach –  Job Market

Although the cost to buy or rent a house in Newport Beach or Laguna Beach is far more expensive than in the rest of the country, their employment markets are pretty strong and the data shows that average salaries are quite high in both cities.

In fact, in Newport Beach the average income is more than double the national average. The same applies to Laguna Beach as well. 

Furthermore, both cities experience low levels of unemployment. In Newport Beach, the unemployment rate is only 3.4%, while in Laguna Beach, this rate is 4.3%.

If we take a look at the job market, there are usually many openings to work both in Newport Beach and Laguna Beach for professionals of different sectors.

According to the data, the industries that employ most workers in Newport Beach and Laguna Beach are management, sales, business & administrative, and entertainment.

Thus, if we compare Newport Beach vs Laguna Beach according to their job markets, we can definitely see that the situation is pretty positive for both cities, especially since nearby LA offers so many opportunities as well.

If you are interested in learning about what is considered a good salary in California in 2023, check out our research article that breaks down what salary you need to live comfortably in different major cities across California.

5. Laguna Beach vs Newport Beach – Things to Do for Travelers

If you’re going to travel to Orange County soon and you want to know whether you should visit Newport Beach or Laguna Beach, then this category is exactly for you.

As a tourist in Newport Beach and Laguna Beach, you will have all the attractions at your disposal, such as seaside hotels, relaxing beaches, rental services for boats and equipment for water sports, and so on.

In Newport Beach, we recommend that you take a walk in the lovely Balboa Peninsula and then take a ferry to reach the enchanting Balboa Island.

While you’re there, we also suggest that you board a cruise for whale watching, which is an experience that you may remember for the rest of your life.

Crystal Cove State Park, Laguna Beach

In Laguna Beach, a visit to the renowned Crystal Cove Park and Heisler Park is a must. These parks give you the opportunity to take in breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and provide you access to the most famous beaches of the area, such as Victoria Beach with its pirate tower.

It is really difficult to choose between Laguna Beach or Newport Beach, so we would advise you to pay a visit to both cities, if you have the time.

That shouldn’t be too difficult since they are just 20 minutes apart by car.

6. Laguna Beach vs Newport Beach – Things to Do for Residents

A bike ride alongside the beach in Newport Beach

In general, there’s not so much difference between the life of a Newport Beach resident and one of a Laguna Beach resident.

As a possible future resident in Laguna Beach or Newport Beach, you will have to take into account that both of them are pretty small cities, but also touristic destinations.

It may feel like a small town during the low seasons, but be prepared for waves of unfamiliar faces during the summer.

Living in Newport Beach or Laguna Beach means having an enchanting beach paradise at your disposal for the entire year.

You can leave your home or office and go directly to a seaside restaurant while listening to the waves or even enjoy a picnic on the beach. 

Plus, the John Wayne Airport is extremely close to both Newport Beach and Laguna Beach, making it possible to easily catch domestic flights for day trips and weekend getaways.

Eventually, the main differences of living in Newport Beach vs Laguna Beach are mostly related to the location of each city.

We think that Newport Beach is better located than Laguna Beach since it is a bit closer to LA.

7. Laguna Beach vs Newport Beach – Culture

On a cultural level, both Newport Beach and Laguna Beach have different experiences to offer, with Laguna Beach being more famous for its arts scene

rather than Newport Beach, which is instead more focused on fine dining and high-end shopping.

However, these cities are both pretty strong representatives of the so-called surf culture, being among the preferred destinations for the lovers of this sport.

The main cultural attractions in Newport Beach are the Orange County Museum of Art, the Sherman Library and Gardens, the Newport Bay Conservancy and the Bryce Canyon National Park.

In Laguna Beach, the most important cultural event is by far the Pageant of the Masters, an astonishing festival where tableaux vivants help blur the lines between art and reality.

In addition, Laguna Beach hosts the famous Festival of Arts as well as Kelpfest, a music event to promote interest in oceans and awareness towards nature during Earth Day every 22nd of April.

Laguna Beach vs Newport Beach – Summary

This comparison of Laguna Beach vs Newport Beach revealed two similar cities, with basically the same climate and slight differences in their job market and cost of living. Ultimately, their culture and attractions are the aspects that eventually create the main differences.

We hope this guide is helpful for your final decision, whether you are going to travel to or relocate to Laguna Beach or Newport Beach.