Irvine borders Tustin to the north, Santa Ana to the northwest, Lake Forest to the east, Laguna Hills and Laguna Woods to the southeast, Costa Mesa to the west, and Newport Beach to the southwest. Irvine also shares a small border with Orange to the north on open lands by the SR 261.
All streets have landscaping allowances. Rights-of-way for powerlines also serve as bicycle corridors, parks, and greenbelts to tie together ecological preserves. The city irrigates the greenery with reclaimed water. The homeowners' associations which govern some village neighborhoods exercise varying degrees of control on the appearances of homes. In more restrictive areas, houses' roofing, paint colors, and landscaping are regulated. Older parts of the Village of Northwood that were developed beginning in the early 1970s independently of the Irvine Company, have the distinction of being a larger village that is not under the purview of a homeowners' association. As a result, homeowners in the older Northwood areas do not pay a monthly village association fee; its neighborhoods are generally not as uniform in appearance as those in other villages, such as Westpark and Woodbridge. However, the more tightly regulated villages generally offer more amenities, such as members-only swimming pools, tennis courts, and parks.
In addition to association dues, homeowners in villages developed in the 1980s and later may be levied a Mello-Roos special tax, which came about in the post-Proposition 13 era. For homeowners in these areas, the association dues coupled with the Mello-Roos special tax may add significantly to the cost of living in the city.