Most California residents have probably never heard of the Chino Valley. It’s their loss.
Located in the southwest section of San Bernardino County with a total population of around 150,000, the Chino Valley is an ideal area in which to settle because of wonderful weather, gorgeous scenery, terrific schools and a safe, relaxed lifestyle combining city amenities with the feel of a smaller town. Many residents view the area as an idyllic haven from the hectic pace of the big cities which dominate Southern California.
Yet there is easy freeway access, with Anaheim/Disneyland just 24 miles away and downtown Los Angeles only 35 miles from the Chino Valley. For quick weekend getaways, Palm Springs is within a 90 minute drive, Las Vegas is less than four hours away, and there is a wealth of state and national parks, camping areas and resorts within easy reach. For longer trips, it takes only a few minutes from anywhere in the Chino Valley to reach the LA/Ontario International Airport, a major air traffic gateway for Southern California.
The Chino Valley is composed of two cities, Chino and Chino Hills. They’re similar in many ways, but each has its own unique personality. We’ll provide a look at their distinguishing features, before we detail some of the attractions, shopping, restaurants and other important aspects of living in the Valley.
Chino has an interesting history, ranging from the Aboriginal Tongva tribe which first inhabited the region, through Spanish and Mexican ownership of the area, Native American raids, a key battle in the Mexican-American war, and the discovery of coal during the days of the California gold rush. In the late 1800s, the Chino area became an agricultural haven because of its location at the foot of a lush plain with fertile and plentiful topsoil; corn and sugar beets were two well-known Chino crops, along with fruits and tomatoes. Later, the area also became a major California dairy farming center. You may not have heard of Chino before, but you’ve certainly seen it; it was the scenic backdrop for numerous “western” movies and television shows, with the 1960s program “Twelve O’Clock High” perhaps the best-known.
Today, many of these agricultural features of Chino remain, coexisting with residential neighborhoods, commercial and industrial areas and a pastoral background, to create the overall feel of a homey, middle- and upper-class suburb.
Facts and Figures
The population of Chino is approximately 80,000, living in a total area of approximately 30 square miles; it’s a young, family community, with 80% of all households consisting of families. The median age of residents is around 33. The median household income is just over $70,000.
The climate in Chino is classified as “warm-summer Mediterranean,” with the average temperatures running between a high of 78 and a low of 52. The average January temperature range is 68 (high) to 43 (low), and in July the range is 90 (high) to 62 (low). In short, it’s usually pleasant in the winter, and comfortably warm-to-hot in the summer.
The Chino Valley is known for its low crime rate, and Chino is no exception; the combined violent and property crime rates are below the state and national averages for suburban areas. 80% of adults are high school graduates; 22% are college graduates. Census figures show that the city is primarily composed of white and Hispanic residents.
Home values in Chino are rising, but prices are affordable. According to Zillow, the median value of a Chino home is $277,300, which is an increase of 6.4% over last year; Zillow expects an increase of another 4.7% next year. That compares to a statewide median home value of $440,000, with historical/predicted appreciation figures slightly less across the entire state. Since 1990, the value of a home in the city has increased about 135%. Chino’s affordability is also shown by foreclosure rates with are lower than state and national averages, although delinquency rates are relatively high. Median rental prices in the city are $970 per month.
During the 18th and 19th century, Chino Hills was primarily a swampy area used for cattle grazing (and in the latter part of that time, as home to several tuberculosis hospitals). It first attracted visitors during prohibition because it provided isolation for bootleggers, but tourists started arriving when a mineral spring facility and a country club were built in the area. Some artist colonies made Chino Hills their home in the 1960s and 1970s, and the land was used extensively for dairy and horse farms, but real development began in the early ‘90s when the city was legally incorporated.
In the 21st century, Chino Hills is no longer “isolated,” but its exclusive nature and innate beauty remain as it has become a white collar, professional community with a number of golf course developments and master-planned subdivisions with wonderful views and ambience. In 2004, Money magazine ranked the city as one of “America’s Hottest Towns,” and in 2012 the magazine ranked Chino Hills 34th on their list of “Best Places To Live.”
Facts and Figures
Approximately 75,000 people live in Chino Hills in an area of 45 square miles. The population is a bit older than in neighboring Chino, with a median age of 37 (compared to 33 in Chino); nearly 85% of households consist of families. The city’s median income is the second-highest in the Inland Empire at around $100,000, and census figures recently showed that Chino Hills had the 6th highest median income in the nation.
The climate in Chino Hills, as you’d expect, is the same as in next-door Chino: winter temperatures average in the 40s and 50s at night and the 60s during the day, summers see nighttime temperatures in the 60s and 70s, topping off in the 80s or low 90s during the day.
Chino Hills is a very safe place to live, when compared to other cities in California or America. In 2012, the FBI’s listings showed the city as the nation’s 17th safest city. Overall, violent and property crime rates are among the lowest in San Bernardino and Riverside counties, with property crimes nearly half of the national average. 92% of Chino Hills adult residents have high school diplomas and 43% have at least a bachelor’s degree. The highest percentage of residents are white, Asian or Hispanic.
Chino Hills is the most affluent city in the Valley and housing prices reflect that fact, although they remain substantially lower than in comparable cities closer to the ocean. In Chino Hills the median home value is $591,800, up 4.3% over the past year according to Zillow, and expected to rise another 5% in the coming year, around the state average. Home values in Chino Hills have appreciated about 167% in the last 25 years, ranking among the highest-growing home values in California. Foreclosure rates are extremely low in the city, and while delinquencies are more common, they’re still below state averages. The median rent in Chino Hills is $2,200 per month. Perhaps the most sought-after home developments in the city are the Vellano Country Club (with a Greg Norman Signature Golf Course), Los Serranos Ranch (the area’s original golf club development), and Summit Ranch (complete with horse trails and stables).
More on Living in Chino and Chino Hills
The Chino Valley Unified School District serves residents of Chino and Chino Hills, as well as Ontario. There is an overall school population of approximately 32,000 students, with 20 elementary schools, six middle schools and four high schools, as well as adult and continuation schools.
The public high schools located in the city of Chino are Chino High School and Don Antonio Lugo High School; three of the middle schools and eight of the elementary schools are within the Chino city limits. Several, including the Edwin Rhodes Elementary School and the Cal Aero Preserve Academy (middle school), have received top ratings of “9” or “10” from Great Schools. A Chino charter school, the Oxford Preparatory Academy – Chino Valley School, has also received a top Great Schools rating. There are several private schools in the city as well, including a Montessori Academy. There is a satellite center of the community Chaffey College, located in Chino.
In Chino Hills, Ruben S. Ayala High School and Chino Hills High School are the two public high schools; there are two middle schools and ten elementary schools in the city. All of them have been designated as California Distinguished Schools except for one elementary school and Chino Hills High, and most are rated between “8” and “10 by Great Schools. Country Springs Elementary is a National Blue Ribbon School. There are three private schools in Chino Hills, one of them a Montessori Academy. There is a satellite campus of Biola University in the city, and the closest four-year college is Cal Poly in Pomona.
Chino and Chino Hills are primarily served by the Omnitrans bus system which services all of the San Bernardino Valley, and connects the area to nearby destinations like Ontario and more distant cities like Rancho Cucamonga and San Bernardino. Omnitrans also offers a circulator service known as OmniGo, providing shuttles which run between major Chino and Chino Hills destinations (such as shopping centers, schools and senior centers) at intervals between 30 minutes and an hour. MetroLink rail service is available from the nearby downtown Pomona station to destinations such as Los Angeles and Orange County; connections to train service throughout California are made easily from there. Automobile is by far the easiest way to travel in the local area.
The major “attractions” in Chino Valley, quite frankly, are the easygoing lifestyle and the gorgeous scenery throughout the area. For that reason, many of the best things to do in the Chino area have to do with the great outdoors: bike riding, trail running, camping and hiking, or simply packing a picnic lunch and going out to watch the sheep graze. Some of the top destinations are Chino Hills State Park, with 65 miles of hiking trails and plenty of space for tent and RV camping, and Prado Equestrian Center, for amazing trail riding and spectacular views.
Of course, that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. There are two great air museums at the Chico airport, the Yanks Air Museum (with pristine models from the earliest days to the jet era) and Planes of Fame (featuring rare, vintage war planes); their annual air shows are also can’t-miss events. On the subject of museums, the Chino Youth Museum is always a hit with youngsters, who love their interactive play displays. One of the state’s largest water parks, Raging Waters, is a short drive away in San Dimas. And a different sort of destination is the Big League Dreams Chino Hills Sports Park, where old and young can enjoy batting cages and sand volleyball, among other activities.
There are also the types of fun activities you would expect in any community, including an 18-screen movie theater in Chino Hills (and another eight screen theater in Chino) and the Skate Express roller rink. For the grownups, public golf is available at Los Serranos and Green River Golf Course, and for evening fun, there are a number of nightspots in the Chino Valley and surrounding area, from upscale clubs to sports bars.
There are several outstanding shopping destinations in Chino and Chino Hills – particularly in the latter, because of its upscale neighborhoods.
The Shoppes at Chino Hills is the premier mall in the area, with stores such as Victoria’s Secret, Banana Republic, H&M, Jos. A. Bank, along with restaurants like P.F. Chang’s, and of course, Pinkberry. The Commons at Chino Hills is another popular mall, anchored by Lowes and Toys ‘R Us. The Chino Spectrum Marketplace and Towne Center features a number of popular outlets such as Old Navy, TJ Maxx, Nordstrom Rack, Target, Michael’s and Sam’s Club, plus mid-range chain restaurants, Korean barbeque and sushi places.
And throughout the area, there are plenty of supermarket choices from Albertson’s and Stater Bros. to Trader Joe’s and Sprouts, as well as every other type of shopping outlet you’d expect to find in your city. There’s also a very popular weekly farmer’s market featuring the very ripest local produce.
With residents of both Chino and Chino Hills having plenty of disposable income, there’s an enormous choice when it comes to dining out. Some of the local favorites in Chino Hills include Kiku Sushi and Ojiya Sushi, Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-b-que and Wood Ranch BBQ and Grill, Pacific Fish Grill, Roscoe’s Famous Deli, and for Lebanese food, Mes Amis.
In Chino, locals enjoy the Super Chili Burger, Avocado House, Flo’s with its famous biscuits and gravy next to the airport, Cannataro’s Family Italian Restaurant, Tony’s Spunky Steer and Papachino’s Grill and Greens. Of course, almost all of the California and national chains are represented in the area as well, from McDonalds and In-N-Out Burger to Red Robin and Applebee’s.
Ten Top Chino Hills Neighborhoods and Communities
Everyone who lives in Chino Hills would probably give you a different list of ten local neighborhoods and communities to check out – because there are so many great ones to choose from. Here’s our list, to get you started.
- Oak Tree Downs: a completely rural feel to upscale custom homes built right in the city, near the prestigious Western Hills Country Club.
- Vellano Country Club: complete luxury, with a Greg Norman Signature Golf Course, the Vellano Country Club and community parks among Mediterranean homes with incredible canyon views.
- Grande Pointe: older homes (circa 1997) in a gated community, within walking distance from Canyon Hills Junior High School.
- Village Oaks: the top-rated condominium and apartment home complexes in Chino Hills, with panoramic views in a park-like environment, equipped with the latest amenities.
- Fairfield Ranch: located in the northeast section of Chino Hills, this neighborhood includes multifamily residential units and a park with basketball, barbeque and picnic facilities.
- Ridgegate Community: another desirable gated community with beautiful, custom built homes in a southern section of Chino Hills near Butterfield Ranch.
- Carriage Hills: large homes on spacious lots, with breathtaking canyon, valley, golf course and hill views, minutes away from both wildlife and shopping.
- Pine Valley Estates: luxurious, modern homes overlooking the Western Hills golf course with a large amount of planned, open space near schools and stores.
- Crown Ridge Estate: semi-custom homes in a prestigious gated community with very large lots, located near Chino Hills High School and shopping.
- Rolling Ridge Estates: a single-family home, condo and luxury apartment neighborhood located in a large master-planned community among rolling hills.
We hope this guide to living in Chino and Chino Hills has given you the information you need, or has at least whetted your appetite a bit, to look further into our spectacular area of the Inland Empire. We invite you to contact us at anytime for more detailed information on the Chino Valley, its exciting story, its neighborhoods – or, if you’re ready, to start your search for the house you’d love to call home.