If you wish to find the best neighborhoods to live in San Diego, you are at the right place. San Diego is one of those vibrant cities where you can create a neighborhood for yourself. But know that picking a place to live is not just about commute time or proximity to the beachfront, it is about your personality and identity. The good news here is that there are many great neighborhoods to choose from.
Perhaps you are seeking sun and surf. Maybe you are hoping for a reprieve from rain in San Diego’s balmy climate. Or maybe you have just landed a dream job in San Diego’s famous biotech industry. No matter what the reason is, you have made a great decision to move to San Diego. Now, is the time to decide which neighborhood you want to settle in.
If you want to take your business to the next level and probably relocate your technology-based business or work in finance, you should think about moving downtown. San Diego’s Downtown is a beautiful city with great views. Moreover, it is close to the beach and has an impeccable food and nightlife scene. Beyond Downtown, several other neighborhoods are quieter and more relaxed with a lower cost of living.
Whether you are looking to be in the city of San Diego or one of the many towns on the opposite end, there are plenty of San Diego neighborhoods to choose from. It depends on what you have in mind when you are thinking of moving to San Diego. But there is most definitely a place for you. Take a look at our guide for the best San Diego neighborhoods to live in to help make your decision easy.
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San Diego is one of the outstanding cities in the US having Downtown at the heart of its existence. Whether you are a California native or a prospective traveler/tourist looking for a new city, moving to Downtown San Diego is thrilling and full of excitement. This neighborhood has different communities and other parameters that make it unique such as a sound transportation system, vibrant job opportunities, and a cool entertainment gateway.
Unlike most major cities, San Diego’s Downtown is not too populated. The population is less than 50,000 residents. Downtown seems to be cheaper than most urban towns because of its small population and high inventory. However, its population figure keeps on going higher in recent years. Despite this somewhat demerit, Downtown is not a bad spot, either. Balboa Park provides a lot of trails and the popular zoo inside, including great bars and nightlife. San Diego’s Downtown area is a special and delightful neighborhood to live in.
There are many major neighborhoods Downtown, each with a special personality worth checking out:
The Gaslamp Quarter is synonymous with San Diego’s historical development, which means it is one of the old neighborhoods in San Diego. The town is an exciting and popular place to live with plenty of hotels and tourists. The convenience of the Gaslamp Quarter cannot be beaten and if you are a history buff, there is nowhere else
The city’s best nightlife scene has helped to draw quite a huge number of tourists to the town. Still, if you can handle the tourists, then you cannot beat the culture and history of life in the Gaslamp Quarter. It is a truly special San Diego neighborhood.
Famous for its entertaining and dining options, the Gaslamp Quarter provides residents with galleries, shops, nightclubs, and more than 200 restaurants. It is a perfect option for young professionals and also one of the best neighborhoods in San Diego because it provides wonderful apartments and condos for rent or purchase at a cheaper rate.
Little Italy is strategically located in the northwest section of Downtown San Diego. If the name is not already making a buzz in your ears, then here is the true meaning of the town: Little Italy has the best food scene in the county. It boasts of a popular farmer’s market for foodies and a good-looking waterfront park for outdoor events to give residents enough enjoyment.
It has transformed over the years to become one of the most happening neighborhoods around San Diego. The town is famous for its ice cream shops, coffee shops, and restaurants. As a well-known tourist destination, it is always busy both during the day and at night.
On the east side of the Gaslamp Quarter lies a wild cultural hub – the East Village. This part of the city has few tourist businesses and activities, though it is still crowded with Padres fans heading to Petco Park on game days. This downtown neighborhood is more than just baseball activities, it is an educational hub. It is also home to the city’s sprawling community college and new public library.
East Village is also a sports hub with many sports-based bars, making it a perfect option for sports fans and enthusiasts.
This is a cool neighborhood that is surrounded by entertainment and dining options all around. It shares a common boundary with Gaslamp Quarter and the Columbia District, thereby providing quick access to all of their amenities within a walking distance. It is home to two major grocery stores and many other parks in the town. Marina offers modern facilities and luxuries of life without endangering your peace of mind as is obtainable in other noisy environments.
Downtown San Diego is relatively easy to get around without bordering yourself on getting into and alighting from a car. To avoid the trouble of parking and traffic issues, you can easily walk or take the San Diego Trolley to any destination of your choice. However, if you want to move out of downtown without a car, your best bet should be San Diego’s bus or rideshare services such as Uber or Lyft.
Alternatively, if you are new to town and have your vehicle, you need to factor in the time for rush hour and prepare to pay for a meter if you cannot find a free parking space. Fortunately, San Diego has many freeways and several highways, making it easy to navigate around the city. The median commute time for work is around 24 minutes in San Diego. This is much better than the 32-minute commute in Los Angeles.
If you are moving to Downtown San Diego to get a job, you can take a deep breath and relax your nerves. There are many job options to choose from as the county has a thriving job market. Downtown is a popular town that has most of the tech and finance jobs in the area around. It also has plenty of restaurants, creative, service, and bank jobs.
Some of the largest industries in Downtown San Diego include technology, health care, manufacturing, research, defense, military, and international trade.
You cannot stay Downtown without having a feeling of fun, it would be boring on your side. No matter the length of time you spend in this town, there will always be fun things to do to drive away dull moments.
If you are hanging around downtown, you can enter the Petco Park Stadium and catch a Padres game. Still, if you are looking for history, fine arts, or live performances, downtown has your back covered! You can catch fun in some fantastic places such as Balboa Park, the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego Musical Theater, and more. Foodies will find plenty of dining opportunities, from food trucks to fine dining. You can elevate your drinking spree through a thriving craft beer and wine scene.
Why Downtown is one of the best neighborhoods to live in San Diego:
Downtown San Diego brings you the best of waterfront living while allowing you to reside at the heart of America’s Finest City. From the acclaimed Gaslamp District to trendy East Village to the foodie paradise of Little Italy, each of Downtown’s microneighborhoods possesses a unique charm. As a resident of Downtown, you’ll have a front-row seat to some of San Diego’s best festivals, parades, and parties happening all year long.
- Downtown has an affluent and well-educated population with big plans.
- The economic future of the town is so bright in the sense that Downtown San Diego published a 20-year comprehensive vision that is being vigorously pursued.
- It offers a 24/7 entertainment scene, from clubbing to high culture, and from symphony to opera.
- As one of the employment hubs, Downtown San Diego is close to many employment opportunities so those looking for an opportunity can stake their claim on this market.
- Urban living at its best from access to parks and recreational centers, to walkability and metropolitan transit system, and more.
Just northwest of downtown lies one San Diego neighborhood that you either love or hate: Bankers Hill. Its location is ideal: right near Balboa Park and just out of downtown. Its homes are beautiful, often from the 19th Century due to the neighborhood’s long history. The problem is its proximity to the airport. Bankers Hill is directly in the lowest part of the airport’s flight path, meaning residents regularly find a thin coating of jet fuel on anything left outside. For those with asthma or respiratory issues, it can cause regular flare-ups. But if you don’t mind a bit of dirt and a lot of noise, Bankers Hill’s location and historic homes can be well worth it.
Just southwest of Mission Valley is Mission Hills, another family-friendly neighborhood that’s a bit more upscale…in part because it’s literally up on hills. This walkable San Diego neighborhood is home to nice views, unique homes, and stunning architecture. If you have children, it’s a beautiful, safe place to raise them among other families, all while living just short walk downtown.
Bankers Hill showcases many Victorian and Craftsman homes, some of which have been converted from family homes into condominiums, Bed and Breakfast Inns, and offices. A majority of the homes in Bankers Hill were designed by the likes of Irving Gill and other notable architects that date back to the late 19th century. The area is mostly residential, with many single-family homes, multi-units, and some large condo developments.
Because of its proximity to Balboa Park, the large development projects on 6th ave overlooking the park are home to some of San Diego’s most luxurious condos that offer stunning panoramic views of downtown San Diego, San Diego Bay, Coronado, Harbor Island, and Mount Soledad.
Bankers Hill offers an excellent mix of real estate from older low-rise condo buildings as well as luxury high-rise condos (like Park Laurel). The neighborhood has the perfect blend of modern meets historical so it feels like a dynamic place with great energy. Bankers Hill has seen a lot of new construction projects in recent years. Buildings like Mi Arbolito, Vue on 5th, and Blank are among the newest in the area.
The median home value in Bankers Hill is $903,631 as per city-data.com and up 6.6% over previous years as per Zillow. Predictions are they will rise 5.5% within the next year.
Transportation in Bankers Hill is simple. It’s a popular location located close to downtown San Diego and Balboa Park and is a short distance away from the San Diego International Airport. Bankers Hill is served by Bus, Waterfront Shuttle, Light rail, and Train.
Top Things to Do Nearby
There’s plenty to do in and around Bankers Hill. Visit the nearby San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park–which has many museums, restaurants, gardens, and other attractions. The Spruce Street Suspension Bridge is tucked in a quiet residential stretch, this historic (and somewhat wobbly) bridge lies above Maple Canyon Trail and adds a bit of adventure to the usual neighborhood stroll.
Popular restaurants include the Hob Nob Café, Bertrand at Mr. A’s, Busalacchi’s, Croce’s Park West, and Cucina Urbana.
Mister A’s. Located on the 12th floor of a building on 5th Avenue has earned its title as the “toughest reservation in the city” for fine dining. Throw on your eveningwear and take in the stunning 360-degree panoramic views of Downtown San Diego, the Bay, Coronado, and Balboa Park, all while enjoying some of the finest cuisines the city has to offer.
If you’re looking for some fantastic food in the area but don’t want to break the bank, check out Bankers Hill Bar and Restaurant. Although there is no view here, you can still find fantastic food and cocktails to be enjoyed in a great environment. Another great spot to check out in the area is Azuki Sushi. While there are plenty of sushi options throughout San Diego, Azuki Sushi offers great food and is also affordable.
Bankers Hill finds itself in the flight path near the San Diego International Airport and airplane watching is a fun and common thing to do. The Mystery Cafe Dinner Theatre in San Diego is a lot of fun to check out as well. They feature shows that are theatrical productions that can be enjoyed over a three-course meal. Laughs are guaranteed!
Amenities in Bankers Hill
Bankers Hill is at the center of all the action. You can stroll down to the world-famous Balboa Park or enjoy all the restaurants, cafes, and bars the neighborhood has to offer. West of 5th Ave & south of Laurel is where you’ll find residential areas while Park Boulevard is mostly commercial.
5th Avenue itself is the primary business sector where you’ll find many medical and dental offices (this has led to the area being nicknamed “Pill Hill”. In 2014 Sharp Reese Steely constructed a beautiful new medical facility with urgent care, general practitioners, and even doctors specializing in many areas of medicine.
The community of Bankers Hill offers plenty of amenities and is just a short ride away from Downtown San Diego and Hillcrest.
Schools in the area include:
Montessori School of San Diego, Museum School, Hallway Street Signs, La Jolla Learning Institute, LSI San Diego (Language Studies International), and City Tree Christian School.
Why Banker’s Hill is one of the best neighborhoods to live in San Diego:
- Banker’s Hill and Mission Hills offers the perfect blend of historical homes and modern, luxurious mid-rises.
- Nestled next to the cultural hub of Balboa Park, there are an endless array of outdoor activities to partake in.
- The town has a lot of walking abilities making it one of the best urban centers.
- The city has recently installed new urban bike paths throughout the area, making it even more accessible.
- Ideally located up the hill from Downtown, both communities are centrally located providing an easy route to other parts of the city.
Funny enough, the “Park” attached to North Park is rather ironic. North Park is known for having one big problem – the city’s worst parking. However, North Park is so centrally located that you can easily get to the town from northeast of downtown by mere walking. Moreover, it is next to Balboa Park and you won’t need a car to be there. North Park has several coffee shops, craft breweries, and indie boutiques dotting University Avenue to keep you busy, and a lot of breath-taking experiences for the many millennials who live in the neighborhood.
North Park is a fashionable neighborhood where you can find craft breweries, restaurants, boutique stores, and more. It is a laid-back town where you can walk to a variety of places, restaurants, stores, and places to drink. There are more young professionals and fewer families here. These youngsters always enjoy themselves on their evenings and days off. Living here you will have access to cultural hotspots and many other cool things to do.
If you are looking for a thriving art scene, local breweries, live music, and cool eateries, North Park is the right place. North Park has plenty to offer. This neighborhood offers several job opportunities to its residents. If you want to work at a record store or a hair salon, North Park is the right pick for you. This neighborhood does not take life too seriously, which is why it usually observes an annual music festival tagged ‘North Park Music Thing.
The major downside is that parking in North Park is a chronic problem. Fortunately, North Park is very close to downtown and other convenient regions of the city. Therefore, it is convenient to live here without a car. North Park offers an affordable lifestyle more than other parts of San Diego. The average price of a home is around $650,000 and rent’s median price is about $2500 per month.
You will find a lot of activity near 30th Street and University Avenue, the neighborhood’s main hub, and then up and down 30th Street. With this neighborhood, you will want to experience more of its craft breweries and boutique shops.
The southern part of North Park is South Park. This is where the North Park residents go when they have outgrown the millennial scene. They flock to South Park’s tree-lined streets, beautiful parks, and abundant coffee shops. South Park is also one of the few neighborhoods in San Diego with a lot of single-family homes, making it an ideal destination for young families.
As a home for young families looking for idyllic streets and small businesses, South Park is a chill town where you can take a break from the excitement of the urban San Diego scene.
This area is one of the few San Diego neighborhoods with many single-family homes. South Park welcomes pedestrians. It also has a small-town vibe. In South Park, you will find restored buildings, record shops, and classic ice cream parlors. There is also live music and the streets come alive on Saturday nights especially in the months of March, July, October, and December.
In summary, South Park is a warm, close-knit community and an ideal place to raise a family. Median home values hover around $800,000 and monthly rent sits at $2800.
Fun Facts about North Park
- The center of North Park is 30th Street and University Avenue, where its famous sign welcomes people in.
- Its name comes from its original moniker: “Hartley’s North Park.”
- The neighborhood’s first high-rise building was built in 1912. It is now Western Dental & Orthodontics on University Avenue.
- North Park has featured on Forbes magazine’s list of hippest hipster neighborhoods.
- There are over a dozen breweries or tasting rooms in North Park, San Diego. Each one is a little over a one-and-a-half-mile stretch.
North Park is a walking distance in the area and is most favorable if you are having a brewery crawl. If you are driving to North Park, parking is available at the 29th Street Parking Garage. It costs $1 only per hour during the day. More street parking is available if you are fortunate enough. Moreover, it is much easier to park the further away you get from the main junction of 30th Street and University Avenue.
If you want to move around on public transportation, MTS Bus 10 is available. It comes from the Old Town Transit Center and will get you up and down University Avenue. MTS Bus 2 moves up and down 30th Street. You can get all route maps and schedules from the Metropolitan Transit System.
Do you feel like being more active and stretching your legs? North Park is bike-friendly, with more bike lanes being planned as we speak.
Summary of Transportation
Moving from downtown San Diego, take the road leading to Park Avenue north through Balboa Park, and head to the east on University Avenue. Hit 30th Street and you have made it. University Avenue is the primary route into North Park from the west, and also, from Interstate 805 from the east. To reach South Park, move to the southern axis on 30th Street to Juniper Street. Park, alight from the bus, or exit your Uber – you are in for a treat as South Park’s restaurants and shops begin here.
North Park is great for young professionals, while young families adore South Park.
Why North Park/South Park is one of the best neighborhoods to live in San Diego:
Close to both Downtown San Diego and iconic Balboa Park, the neighborhoods of North Park and South Park are the cultural art center of San Diego County. Live music, street fairs, poetry readings, art exhibits, and community theater shows are part of the tapestry of life in these neighborhoods. Filled with blocks of local restaurants, coffee shops, boutiques, breweries, and event spaces, residents are never at a loss for things to do.
- These two communities are bursting with creative energy.
- A variety of housing options for those looking to purchase.
- Both communities are accessible to highways, are very walkable, and offer easy access to public transportation.
- North Park & South Park have been established over the years and invest in the future of their residents.
- Great place for many “things to do”. Both communities offer a plethora of options ranging from craft beer to craft cocktails and many more.
Point Loma is the exact representation of the California lifestyle. It is where nature mixes with residential space and numerous hiking trails weave in and about the area. The town showcases many different regions, most notably Liberty Station, a former Naval Training Center transformed into Point Lomas entertainment hub.
The beautiful terrain of this coastal community allows residents to soak in some of the city’s best natural beauty. Bright and shiny estates dot the hill, overlooking an abundance of parks, nature trails, and top-notch seafood restaurants making this one of the best areas in San Diego.
The monument of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo – the first European who set foot in California in 1542, sits at the periphery of the coast making Point Loma the “starting point of California.” If you are in the market for a beachside pleasant place within easy reach of San Diego’s downtown, you will attest to the fact that there is no better place to live than Point Loma.
The idyllic neighborhood is only 22 minutes away from downtown by car, but the city bustle doesn’t permeate the laid-back surf town feel of Point Loma. Sunset high-mountain provides some of the most expensive seaside estates of Point Loma. Still, other residential spots provide modern houses and Mission Revival homes on offer. On the other hand, Liberty Station has an array of costly condos.
What to Expect
The residential areas of Point Loma are included throughout the peninsula and concentrated in several distinctive neighborhoods. For instance, Point Loma Heights, Loma Portal, historic Roseville, and the new live-eat-play hub of Liberty Station are all part of the residential areas. But no matter where you find yourself, the whole peninsula is distinct and separated from San Diego city proper. More so, the residents are in love with it. The streets are tranquil, the beaches with a little crowd, the surfing is great, and the seafood is enough to go around.
What To Do
Point Loma is the perfect example of Southern California living. In Point Loma, you can easily access every outdoor activity the state has in stock. If you love boating or fishing, then head to the bay side for yacht clubs, sport fishing cruises, and a bunch of small boat marinas, including businesses catering to enthusiasts. Furthermore, you can even catch fresh fish straight off a boat. The bluff-edged sunset cliffs are available to serve those interested to take in a spectacular sunset, catching a wave, or taking a sunbathe.
The national park at the southwestern top tip of the peninsula has a lot to offer for some of the city’s most strikingly great trails especially if you like hiking and history. When you want another kind of escape, the airport is minutes away, as is all the action downtown.
The Real Estate Market
Point Loma’s properties vary from moderate bungalows to multi-million dollar properties. It also includes dotting of historic homes in styles peppered with California craftsman, mid-century modern, and Spanish and Mission Revival. Some of the most expensive and established estates can be found in or close to Sunset Cliffs. It is the best with incredible oceanfront sightlines and La Playa, where some estates include private boat docking or marina access. More modern residential properties include new Liberty Station condos and apartments.
You can find stand-alone, single-family apartments in Point Loma at a price slightly above $1 Million. Most of the houses that are in the lower price range for Point Loma seem to be relatively small. They are often near the flight path for Lindbergh Field.
Condos in Point Loma have a wide pricing range. The starting cost for condos start sits roughly below $1 million and can go higher than $2 million in the more desirable locations such as La Playa. Condos in the lower end of the price range tend to be found in some of the older developments, most of which are in the vicinity of the flight path. Condos and townhomes are more plentiful in the lower portion of Roseville, closer to Rosecrans.
From the standpoint of access to stores, restaurants, and services, Point Loma’s walkability is easy to define: the closer you live to either Point Loma Village (centered at Rosecrans and Canon) or Liberty Station, the more walkable things are for you. However, there’s much more to walkability than just proximity to services.
You can also take hikes through the neighborhood. If you are sporty enough for climbing and descending some pretty steep hills, almost all of Point Loma’s areas can be a joy to hike in. From admiring the beautiful homes and architecture to taking in breathtaking views of the ocean, bay, downtown, and Coronado, walking in Point Loma is rarely dull.
Being on a peninsula has both advantages and disadvantages when it comes to traveling by car. On the plus side, because the southern end of Point Loma doesn’t connect with anything other than the ocean, “through traffic” doesn’t exist. If you happen to pick a home on or close to one of these major thoroughfares, expect to see quite a bit of traffic. For those not connected to the major thoroughfares, much of Point Loma has minimal vehicle traffic.
Liberty Station has become more and more of a destination for locals as well as those visiting from outside Point Loma. Its development led to the addition of several traffic signals on Rosecrans. From a more positive perspective, many stores and services that weren’t available pre-Liberty Station are now readily available in Point Loma, reducing the need to leave the Point for most errands.
Commute times to and from Point Loma of course vary depending on the time of day. For anyone seeking easy access to downtown, without actually living downtown, Point Loma is ideal.
A total of nine public schools serve the Point Loma and Ocean Beach communities, all part of the Point Loma Cluster. Many residents have chosen Point Loma in part due to the reputation of many of its public schools. The public schools in Point Loma include Cabrillo Elementary, Dewey Elementary, Loma Portal Elementary, Ocean Beach Elementary, Silvergate Elementary, Sunset View Elementary, Correia Middle, Dana Middle, and Point Loma High.
Cabrillo National Monument is part of the National Park System. If you are a resident in the area, a park-specific annual pass is a bargain that will let you enjoy the park for a full year. The park features some of the most stunning views of the ocean, Coronado, and San Diego Bay.
Down a short windy road, you will find some of the best Tidepooling in the area as well. It is a fun place to take kids to explore. Another favorite walk is the Bayside Trail. It departs near the lighthouse and winds its way along the cliffs facing the channel in and out of San Diego Bay, with views directly out to Coronado and beyond.
San Diego used to be the tuna fishing capital of the world. Visit a few of the local seafood eateries and you will see historic photos of hearty men armed with little more than a pole, line, and hook flinging giant tuna weighing hundreds of pounds over their shoulders. While those days may be gone, it’s not uncommon to see some impressive catches coming in off the sportfishing docks in Point Loma.
You can book a fishing trip for a half day in local coastal waters, to multiple overnights aboard a charter that will take you fishing in Mexican waters. Even if you’re not looking to fish, the sportfishing docks can be a fun place to stroll or grab a bite to eat.
With numerous yacht clubs based in Point Loma, it should come as no surprise that boating is a big part of Point Loma. Southwestern, Silver Gate, and San Diego Yacht Club all find themselves clustered around the scenic waterfront encircled partly by Shelter Island. Motorboats and sailboats bob lazily in a row after row of docks. Both boating enthusiasts and spectators can enjoy the boating paradise created by San Diego’s consistent afternoon breezes, beautiful bay, and easy access to the Pacific Ocean.
Stand Up Paddle Boarding
Stand Up Paddle Boarding has caught on wildly in Point Loma. The protected waters of the various marinas and sheltered coves make an ideal playground for those looking to explore and play on the bay. Rental and retail stores for Stand Up Paddleboards (SUPs) can be found in the village of Point Loma, Shelter Island, by the sportfishing docks and over by the channel that runs the length of Liberty Station.
Humphrey’s is a favorite concert venue for both locals and music lovers from far and wide. World-class musicians put on intimate concerts in the open-air space provided at Humphreys. More adventurous yet thrifty local concertgoers will often take a kayak or small dinghy up close and catch the concert for free, directly from the water.
December through April is the main whale watching season here in San Diego, and Point Loma and Ocean Beach are great vantage points. Gray whales make their migration south to Baja consistently this time of year. Most serious whale watchers take to the sea with a local charter or whale watching outfit. Blue whales are also found in the waters off Point Loma, typically more during the summer months after the gray whale season has passed.
Why Point Loma is one of the best neighborhoods to live in San Diego:
Picturesque Point Loma is a neighborhood steeped in San Diego’s rich history. Point Loma’s history and culture have been shaped by the generations of people who have lived there, from early Spanish sailors to the U.S. military and finally, the homeowners of today. Point Loma sits at the end of a rugged peninsula that curves around San Diego Bay. It’s this natural land formation that helped establish San Diego, creating a safe harbor for boats to anchor and trade.
- Point Loma has a competitive real estate market that is highly valued.
- A wonderful place to raise a family.
- Presence of a well-established sense of community and a strong sense of community pride.
- The only area that has unique San Diego history to its credit.
- You can surf and engage in boating, plus other sunshine activities that will keep you busy all through the day.
Your dreams of living in the Pacific can come true if only you can pay the price. Almost every neighborhood in San Diego is a short walk from the beach. Little wonder, these coastal communities put the beach in your backyard. But keep in mind that beachfront living is not affordable most times.
Pacific Beach is a coastal town that offers elegant beach views. It is sandwiched between Mission Bay and the Pacific. This San Diego neighborhood is the carrier of cool vibes and enjoys patronage from frequent local surfers and students from nearby universities. These students often live in affordable close-to-beachfront houses. If you want to move to Pacific Beach, understand that the quiet oasis of the neighborhood may not be experienced during weekends. The weekends and holiday seasons are always busy with bar activities and parties.
Ocean Beach is lying on the opposite side of Mission Bay from Pacific Beach. It is a cheap and more relaxed alternative to plenty of other beachside neighborhoods. As a surfer’s haven, this San Diego coastal town offers elegant ocean views and wonderful fishing. This all makes for a surprisingly relaxed attitude considering how close Ocean Beach is to the center of San Diego. If you want to visit any of the San Diego beaches, but can’t afford the sky-high prices of La Jolla or spring break attitudes of Pacific Beach, then go for Ocean Beach as the cost is hugely affordable and pocket-friendly.
Beautifully nestled on the cliffs overlooking the ocean, Solana Beach is the heart of San Diego. Relate Solana Beach to just opening your windows in the morning and hearing the sound of falling waves. You can even perceive the salty ocean breeze oozing from the beach. Solana Beach has a lot of bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and parks. It combines suburban vibes with an urban feel and with high-quality schools to boot. The price tag for a Solana Beach home is almost at par with La Jolla. However, the median rent is marginally lower than in La Jolla.
The artistic beach community of Oceanside offers some of the most affordable coastal living in all of Southern California. It is the third-largest city in San Diego County and forms the tri-city area with Carlsbad and Vista.
But residents of Oceanside are not just there for the endless sunny days and ideal beach weather. They are there because Oceanside provides a massive array of fun and special things to do. Oceanside Harbor Village is one of the famous scenes to spend enough time in Oceanside. You can do all sorts of things, from shopping, fishing, swimming, surfing, and eating, to enjoying the view of the harbor and the elegant local beaches.
Oceanside is famous for its creative arts and culture scene, the cornerstone of this community’s unique spirit. It is one of California’s first chosen cultural areas. In Oceanside, its residents are proud of their diversity and artistry. This beachfront is perfectly situated at a coastal part of the age-long Pacific Coast Highway. More so, Oceanside is a very popular landmark city with a quickly-growing foodie arena. It also features weekly artisan markets, vibrant public art, and world-class museums.
The cost of living in Oceanside is cheaper than in other neighborhoods in San Diego. The median cost to own a home is $700,000 and the average cost to rent a one-bedroom apartment is $1400.
All the San Diego coastal towns offer a unique lifestyle, and Coronado is no different. Technically, it is an island. On the other hand, Coronado is a one-mile-long piece of beach and polished estates are linked almost directly to San Diego’s downtown area through the Coronado Bridge.
It was originally planned as a resort town. Coronado is a Spanish word that means “crowned,” and dates back to 1890. The Coronado Hotel was built in 1888, just a few years earlier, and immediately affirmed this as one of the best neighborhoods to live in in San Diego.
The island town is made up of three different communities that provide unique benefits to its residents.
- The Village is a residential area located in the northern part of the island. It features California Bungalow-style apartments on tree-lined streets. Residents can easily access the shops, financial institutions, and eateries through Orange Avenue.
- The Shore is the island’s home to luxury condominiums overlooking the gleaming Pacific Ocean beaches.
- Coronado Cove hosts beautiful seaside estates with personal docks and slips, and also a private yacht club.
You can search for a house from a rich stock of Tudors, Victorians, Dutch Colonials, and Spanish Revival houses. No matter where you settle, the island’s easy access to nearby downtown in less than 20 minutes makes any location on Coronado an ideal place to live.
Why Beach Communities is one of the best neighborhoods to live in San Diego:
If you can’t get enough of the ocean and dream of catching a few waves in the morning before going to work, you’ll love living in one of San Diego’s beach communities. Whether you’re looking for a home with a rooftop view deck or a condo close to the beach, you’ll find it in one of San Diego’s beach cities. Pacific Beach, Mission Beach, and Ocean Beach offer a variety of housing options to fit every price point from beach bungalows to duplexes to oceanfront homes.
- The beach lifestyle in these coastal towns has made California famous
- and brought diversity to every area of the city.
- Each beach community offers its own individual culture, making for an incredibly unique living experience.
- Perfectly suited for outdoor enthusiast and sun worshipers.
- Offers incredible opportunities for real estate investors, especially those who are seeking 2-4 unit investment properties.
- Family fun is guaranteed for all year-round events.
Families seeking a bit more of the San Diego lifestyle will often opt for La Jolla, the seaside neighborhood northwest of downtown. Its stretch of rugged coastline is breathtaking–as are the price tags for the neighborhood’s homes. Per Zillow, the average home price in La Jolla is over $1.6m, making it just a dream for many. If you can afford it, La Jolla’s schools are nationally ranked, the homes and views are beautiful, and safety will rarely be a concern.
La Jolla is one of the nicest areas of San Diego County. It is a great place to move to if you can afford it. With restaurants, bars, beaches, and beautiful real estate, La Jolla is inarguably one of the best neighborhoods in San Diego. Not only does La Jolla have some of the best beaches anywhere, but it is also the home of the University of California, San Diego if you or your child are going to college.
Want to live in a literal paradise? Then the upscale beach neighborhood of La Jolla is the place for you. It’s not difficult to see why La Jolla is one of the most beloved parts of San Diego. This idyllic community is set on a breathtaking stretch of rugged coastland dappled with palm trees swaying in the ocean breeze.
In La Jolla, you will find excellent schools and bustling industries like software, finance, and real estate. In the evenings you’ll enjoy kayaking La Jolla Shores or walking the Coastal Walk Trail. La Jolla also boasts some of the best food and retail in San Diego. Check out the boutique shops at Girard Avenue and Prospect Street and enjoy Oceanside dining at George’s at the Cove.
Of course, paradise doesn’t come cheap. The median price of a home in La Jolla is $1.7 million and the average rent is $5000 a month.
Facts about La Jolla
La Jolla’s nickname is “The Jewel” of San Diego, “The Jewel City” or “the jewel of the sea.” The story is that “La Jolla” is an alternate spelling of “la Joya” which means “the jewel” in Spanish. Scholars have long disputed the idea, but the name persists, and we may never know how it truly got started. Relocating to Sunny San Diego? If you need one of the area’s best moving companies, call today!
This myth about La Jolla has been busted, but it is still one of the area’s most famous points of interest. After filming “The Wizard of Oz” in California, rumors spread that the little people who had starred in the movie gathered to create a small community on the coast. The rumors were supported by the existence of “munchkin houses” in La Jolla, which were so small, that a person of average height could touch their roofs.
Today, there is one “munchkin house” left in La Jolla. However, even that is an illusion. Because of the way the house was built into the hillside, it appears to be small from afar. Since the house was built in the 1930s when the average height for a man was 5’ 8,” the doors may be lower than you’d expect; still, they’re big enough for the average person.
The beaches here are some of the most beautiful in the world, and they’re a great place to enjoy La Jolla outdoor activities! There are 10 public beaches in La Jolla, each a bit different than the next. For example, La Jolla Shores features a public launch for kayaks, while Children’s Beach was constructed with a barrier to create easy waters for kids to swim in.
About 75% of La Jolla residents have received at least a Bachelor’s Degree, with 38% of the population have achieved a Master’s Degree or higher. Suitably, La Jolla also is the home of the University of California at San Diego (USDC), which is counted among the top universities in the world.
La Jolla is home to a proud LGBTQ+ community. The San Diego Pride Parade is one of the biggest events of the year, and one of the largest Pride events in the country, and La Jolla joins right in with their Pride Month Celebrations.
While La Jolla isn’t the most ethnically diverse (83% of residents identify as White), it’s a welcoming spot for people of all ages. If you look at the statistics, folks between 25-64 are evenly distributed. Even those over 65 only accounts for 28% of the residents.
Cost of Living
The average cost of living in La Jolla can vary wildly, with a good portion of both renters and homeowners, and a mix of retirees, singles, and families. One noticeable trend is that the closer you get to the water, the more expensive everything is.
The average home in La Jolla is sold for $1.6 million. Apartments start at $1,100 a month for a one-bedroom, though even a studio could be two or three grand a month along the shore. You can also rent a home in La Jolla, they are usually more expensive per foot than apartments.
Schools in La Jolla are known for the academic achievements of their students. La Jolla High School is a California Distinguished School and is the only school on the West Coast to be part of the Cum Laude Society. There are also numerous private schools available, including The Bishop’s School, La Jolla Country Day School, and The Gillispie School. Additionally, USCD offers La Jolla residents easy access to top university programs.
La Jolla’s unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the country at just 2.5%. The majority of people working in La Jolla are in blue-collar work; 30.7% of La Jolla professionals identify their jobs as white-collar. The median average income for men is just above $94,00 per year; women see a lower number here, with a median of around $44,000 per year. The poverty rate is practically non-existent, even when compared to the whole of San Diego, which has a 15% poverty rate.
Places to Live
La Jolla is a neighborhood in San Diego, but that doesn’t stop the area from being broken down into smaller communities. Jewel City has three main parts: Bird Rock, University Towne Center (UTC), and La Jolla Cove.
Local lore says that Bird Rock was indeed named after a rock that looked like a bird. But don’t take that as a test of the neighborhood’s creativity and excitement. Bird Rock is one of the best San Diego neighborhoods. The walkable, peaceful community is known for being family-friendly, which is emphasized by the fact that 66% of its residents are homeowners.
UTC refers to the eastern portion of La Jolla, also commonly called “University City.” UTC is known for having more affordable housing options than Bird Rock or La Jolla Cove, making it a popular location for students and young singles. Though the average home cost is only about $400-$500K (about half the average for La Jolla overall), more than 70% of residents in UTC choose to rent.
La Jolla Cove
Named after and encompassing the cove itself, La Jolla Cove is a beach community perfect for those who love a view of the water. Homes in the cove will tend to be more expensive than those further inland, but the access to the shore is unbeatable.
Like most of Southern California, La Jolla’s weather is mild year-round. Plus, the positioning of the cove created a microclimate, so La Jolla residents enjoy even more stability in the weather. The temperature here averages around 70 degrees but rarely goes above 90 or below 50.
On average, La Jolla receives less than 2 inches of rain per month, with 0 average inches during the summer months. Snow hasn’t stuck to the ground in La Jolla since December 13th, 1967. Even the clouds are known to dissipate before the afternoon, leaving you with sunshine, sunshine, and more sunshine.
Why La Jolla is one of the best neighborhoods to live in San Diego:
La Jolla means “the jewel” in Spanish and there’s certainly no better name for one of San Diego’s most desirable coastal communities. Marked by miles of jagged coastline, wide sandy beaches, and pounding surf, La Jolla real estate is among the most coveted in California. Living in La Jolla represents the pinnacle of modern coastal living. Residents enjoy strolling down the quiet sidewalks, visiting art galleries and shopping for luxurious gifts in one of the Village’s many boutiques.
- La Jolla boasts some of the most magnificent homes and mansions in the country and driving the scenic trail along the coastline is an absolute must.
- Safety is a paramount feature and crime rates are significantly low.
- Homes are meticulously landscaped and maintained, making for an extremely pleasant neighborhood feel. Neighbors give the town an impressive rating because of its good neighborliness.
- La Jolla is home to arguable the most stunning beach in all of San Diego County: Windansea Beach.
- La Jolla offers phenomenal upscale restaurants, boutiques, & coffee shops and possesses a elite coastal ambiance.
- High-tech employment and internet jobs are typical of popular employers in the area.
North County is a San Diego neighborhood that lies about 25 miles north of downtown. San Diego can be likened to a square. The four corners hit Escondido, the La Mesa area, San Diego, and Oceanside, with North County representing the top half of the square.
Here, North County can be thought of as encompassing those neighborhoods north of the 805 and 5 freeway merge. Given this description, both coastal and inland communities comprise North County, making the area an ideal place to hike, lounge beachside, sail, and participate in almost every outdoor activity. This is because the topography of the region is both hilly and sea-facing, depending on where you live.
In general, North County is more family-friendly and a good alternative to the hustle and bustle of downtown. Arguably, North County is regarded as a fairly upper middle class when compared to San Diego regions east and south of the county.
Downtown San Diego sits about 25-30 miles south of most North County neighborhoods and can be reached in less than 45 minutes. Even so, it is a persistent habit of North County locals to avoid downtown in many cases due to traffic, and unbearable parking scenarios. Still, downtown and its environs is a wonderful, if occasional, spot to visit for stand-out destinations like Balboa Park and its museums and world-famous San Diego Zoo, Old Town (the “birthplace” of San Diego), Little Italy, and the Embarcadero.
The primary freeways traversing North County are the 805, 5, 15, 78, 76, and 56. These roadways grow quite congested during prime travel hours, which are 7 to 9 in the morning and 4 to 6 in the evening.
Getting on the 5 during San Diego County Fair morning and late afternoon hours in the early summer is a nightmare. Another notorious highway to avoid during peak hours is the 78. Its merge is an exercise in patience and road rage, and its size prolongs travel time because it doesn’t have many lanes.
Also of note is that traveling south on the weekends can be difficult because freeways are stopped and go. Mostly the former.
If North County locals can at all help it, they avoid the freeways during these prime hours, preferring to take surface roads and shortcuts to their destinations. A few notable shortcuts include:
- Saxony Rd. accessed from Encinitas Blvd. and used to get to La Costa
- Vulcan Rd. used to get from La Costa to Cardiff
If you’re coming from Vista/Oceanside and want to bypass 78, Gopher Canyon Road is a great cut-through to traveling the 15 north.
The truth must be told here. Public transportation can be improved. That said, taking the Coaster (train) can be a great way to travel to and from some North County areas such as Solana Beach (that has a Coaster station) and Oceanside, especially if you are a student or you work or live near a Sprinter or Coaster stop.
The Sprinter takes you from Oceanside to Escondido and is very reasonably priced. The thing to look out for is what you are planning to do after you get off at your stop because things are very spread out and you will need to plan on requesting an Uber or Lyft or checking the bus schedule.
Many North County school districts are among the best in the area, including the popular Poway school district, and the San Dieguito (Encinitas), Carlsbad, and San Marcos school districts.
As far as higher education is concerned, North County is home to a few community colleges, Palomar and MiraCosta. The town is home to the four-year California State University, San Marcos.
There are many things to do in North County. If you have kids, LEGOLAND in Carlsbad is a very simple place to visit and has the popular Sea Life Aquarium next door. If you go often, look into the season passes because they will save you a lot of money.
Another popular attraction is the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, locals still call it the Wild Animal Park. It offers an intimate, up-close look at many animals in a more open-space vibe than the zoo.
The Flower Fields in Carlsbad display stunning blooms during the months of March through early May. The Flower Fields draw many local fans who wait for its opening on March 1 because they only open once a year.
Also plan to visit Escondido’s Lake Hodges, a lake (obviously) and reservoir set among rolling hills, marshes, and walking paths and awash in nature’s bounty.
Arts and Culture
The Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach hosts hundreds of music concerts every year. It features national acts like Buddy Guy and Gavin DeGraw. There’s also the California Center for the Arts Escondido, the North Coast Repertory Theater in Solana Beach, and the Moonlight Theater in Vista that put on several leading plays and musicals (think In the Heights) a year.
North County, once the home of chain restaurants and few alternative dining options, has stepped up its game in the last few years. Several standout restaurants now emerge from the region, including the Flying Pig in Oceanside and Vista, Wrench and Rodent in Oceanside, and Decoy Dining in San Marcos. Many notable and up-and-coming chefs have taken to North County to make their mark. As a result, that movement has resulted in dozens of truly unique dining experiences in the area.
Why North County is one of the best neighborhoods to live in San Diego:
Did you know that San Diego County encompasses over 4,000 square miles and is the second most populated county in the Golden State? With so many different neighborhoods and communities, locals make a distinction between North County, the City of San Diego, East County, and the South Bay. North County is known for its miles of gorgeous coastline, beautiful beaches, excellent public schools, and quiet suburbs.
- Presence of great schools, a lower transient population, and less traffic congestion.
- Miles and miles of endless beaches and jaw-dropping ocean views.
- Quick getaways to Orange County, Temecula, and Palm Springs and easy & convenient.
- High quality schools and family-forward activities are easy to find.
- It has freeways you can use to escape the traffic build-up, especially during rush hours.
Rancho Santa FE is an upscale neighborhood in the heart of San Diego. It is surrounded by golf courses, equestrian arenas, other wealthy communities, and country clubs. Residents of the small and gated community enjoy a cool, urban lifestyle just some minutes from dining, shopping, and other goodies of city amenities. This city is just about 15 minutes from Del Mar Racetrack and approximately 30 minutes from Downtown, San Diego.
So, if you are looking for a great residence you can call your own, fully equipped with good and casual dining, access to local attractions, and loaded with everyday essentials, Rancho Santa Fe might be the perfect neighborhood just for you. The folks living here are welcoming and laid back too.
Located in one of the prestigious ZIP codes in the US, Rancho Santa Fe constantly ranks among the wealthiest and costliest places to live in the entire country. Its average household income is $105,266 with a median household net worth of $1,101,682.
Schools in Rancho Santa FE
Many private schools are serving the wealthy Rancho Santa Fe community ranging from The Bishop’s School, Cathedral Catholic High School, San Diego Jewish Academy, Horizon Prep, Notre Dame Academy, Del Mar Pines School, and many more. On the other hand, public schools are available to cater to the needs of both primary and secondary populations.
There is the Solana Santa Fe Elementary School in the Solana Beach School District and then Earl Warren Middle School in the San Dieguito Union High School District. More so, Torrey Pines High School, San Dieguito Academy, and Canyon Crest Academy in the San Dieguito Union High School District are the high school options available in this area.
Shopping, Restaurants, and Entertainment
Many boutiques, shopping centers, and restaurants are located in the Rancho Santa Fe community. They offer a market, pharmacy, post office, bookstore, florist, gift shops, home goods boutiques, professional offices, and banks. Entertainment will not be complete without eating and some of the eateries in the community include The Inn and Rancho Santa Fe’s Mille Fleurs and Morada, Thyme in the Ranch, Rancho Santa Fe Bistro, Delicias, and many more.
Fairbanks Village Plaza, Del Rayo Plaza, and Piazza Santaluz are smaller shopping centers near Rancho Santa Fe that provide more restaurants, boutiques, offices, salons, and other services. Del Rayo Plaza is still of particular interest to residents since it provides weekly information about Rancho Santa Fe Farmers’ Market.
The community at Pacific Highlands Ranch on Carmel Valley Road is only a few minutes away and provides some everyday essentials including Urban Girls Accessories, Trader Joe’s, Panera Bread, Rite Aid Pharmacy, and Wells Fargo Bank. Rancho Penasquitos Towne Center has increased its offerings to include Kahoots Pet Store, Rite Aid Pharmacy, Black Mountain Road Pet Clinic, Vons, Del Stop Sports Pub, and more.
The most wonderful thing about Rancho Santa Fe’s real estate is there are dozens of housing sites scattered all over this costly paradise. Residents can even maintain 100 percent privacy and enjoy walking trails and the quietness of an urban lifestyle that is near shopping and other services. Moreover, Rancho Santa Fe has a homeowners association that helps to preserve the quality of life and also maintains the common area here.
Parks and Recreation
If you are attracted to the Rancho Santa FE town because of its status as a rich equestrian community, you will likely enjoy many nearby stables and equestrian centers. They are Ridgemar Equestrian Center, South Coast Training Stables, Seabreeze Farms, Kalimar Farms, Canyonside Stables, Belvedere Stables, Clews Horse Ranch, Fairbanks Riding Club, and Cherokee Training Stable.
The Del Mar Horse Park is a few miles away. It is a standard equestrian area with a dressage arena, two jumping stadiums, four show arenas, and four practice arenas, boarding stables, and resident horse trainers.
Torrey Del Mar Neighborhood Park is the closest community park located at 7693 McGonigle Trail. It has a playground, basketball court, picnic areas, and a walking path for visitors to enjoy. Other nearby community parks include Carmel Mountain Ranch Park, Hilltop Community Park, Canyonside Community Park, Adobe Bluffs Park, and San Dieguito County Park.
Recreation in Rancho Santa Fe cannot be forgotten in a hurry. There are, of course, the beaches of Del Mar, Encinitas, and Solana Beach just minutes away and plenty of nearby outdoor recreational facilities providing picnic activities, amazing views, and hiking and riding trails. These include Black Mountain Ranch Open Space Park, Crest Canyon Park, Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve, San Elijo Lagoon, Lake Hodges, Del Dios Highlands Preserve, Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve, and Torrey Pines State Reserve.
Why Rancho Santa FE is one of the best neighborhoods to live in San Diego:
Experience the prestigious and ultra-luxurious community of Rancho Santa Fe. Privacy, prestige, and opulence are three of the reasons people choose to buy a home in Rancho Santa Fe. Most homes are spacious and sprawling, with multiple indoor and outdoor living spaces to amplify the allure of alfresco living. Set behind private gates or inside one of Rancho Santa Fe’s many guard-gated communities, these estate homes boast generous acreage with room for every luxury amenity you could desire.
- The community holds education in high esteem and offers the best public-school education.
- Rancho Santa Fe is a golfer’s paradise and is renowned for its worldclass golf resorts.
- The community is ideally located just 15 minutes’ drive to the ocean.
- Rancho Santa Fe boasts superb upscale restaurants that offer fantastic farm to table cuisine.
- Residents of Rancho Santa Fe hold the community in high regard and their pride in ownership is reflected in their perfectly maintained estates and compounds.
Final Thought About The Best Neighborhoods to Live in San Diego
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Are you convinced yet? San Diego is one of the best places to live in the country. There are very few cons to the city. It isn’t nearly as expensive as Los Angeles or San Francisco. It is a laid-back atmosphere and a relaxed vibe. The weather is wonderful. The location is perfect. There are endless things to do and areas to explore.
Whether you’re looking for great food, beautiful beaches, fun places to drink, amazing activities, great job opportunities, or a diverse local population, San Diego is where you can find it. If you are looking for a less tense environment during or after COVID-19, you simply can’t go wrong with moving to San Diego. Living in San Diego is quite enjoyable. You won’t regret the move. Take the plunge and get started on moving to San Diego today.