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A Guide to the Best Neighborhoods in San Diego to Live In

If you are planning on moving to San Diego, you’re probably already in search of a new home in America’s Finest City. The place you choose could potentially define your whole experience here. That’s why you should take a look at some of the best neighborhoods in San Diego and select the one that fits your needs, requirements, and budget.

America's Finest City awaits you

To help you comb through the best places to live in San Diego and pick the one that’s right up your alley, we’ve decided to put together a list of some of our favorites. But before we dig deeper, let’s take a look at all the criteria you should consider when choosing your new neighborhood.

How to Choose Among the Best Neighborhoods in San Diego

When picking an area where you’re planning to spend the next portion of your life, there are specific criteria you shouldn’t overlook. Some of these things are universal, such as making sure you can afford to live in a particular place or looking for a neighborhood where your commute time would be acceptable. Other things, however, depend largely on your own preferences and your specific situation. For example, if you are moving with dogs, you will likely want to move to a place where there are off-leash parks in the vicinity. Whatever the case is, before you call your San Diego movers, make sure you know exactly what you’re looking for.

Find a San Diego Area You Can Afford

We all know that the cost of living in San Diego, or in California in general, isn’t exactly low compared to the rest of the country. However, that doesn’t mean that all neighborhoods cost the same. Regardless of whether you’re moving on a budget or are prepared to pay whatever price for what you’re looking for, the cost of living isn’t something you should overlook. After all, no one likes overpaying, regardless of their budget.

What Are Your Non-Negotiables

Your non-negotiables are those criteria that are at the very top of the list – things you simply cannot do without. For example, if you don’t have a car, you will want to choose a place with high walkability or good public transport. Otherwise, you won’t have a way of getting around. Likewise, if you are planning to get a job before you move, you will want to pick a place from which commuting wouldn’t be a nightmare. Put together a list of things that you can’t do without. However, try to be realistic – you can probably survive even if there are no breweries in the vicinity. Such criteria belong to the next category – your preferences.

Compile a List of Preferences

This list is where you should put all the things you’d like to have in your vicinity, but won’t necessarily consider deal-breakers. Some ideas on what you can include here are the overall vibe of the community, the quality of nightlife, vicinity of some of the best restaurants in San Diego, and so on. Keep in mind that you probably won’t be able to find a community that covers all your preferences, so try to aim for realistic goals.

Now that you know exactly what you’re searching for, let us take a look at what some good options for you are.

Compile a list of all the things you'd like to have close to your future home

Hillcrest – A Diverse Suburb

The history of Hillcrest dates back to the 19th century. Today, it is a gentrified suburban community with numerous locally-owned small businesses. The current population of Hillcrest is diverse and quite young, and it is known for being LGBT-friendly. If you enjoy long walks, this is definitely the right place for you. The neighborhood has a high walkability score, and its scenic, tree-lined streets will make your walks even more enjoyable.

On the other hand, if you’re planning on shipping your car with you, perhaps you should avoid this area. Parking spots are quite scarce all around this suburban community. Besides, with such enjoyable weather and pedestrian-friendly environment, you won’t need your car anyway.

A Neighborhood of Culture, Festivals, and Fabulousness

One thing is sure in Hillcrest – you will never be bored. The place is known as the epicenter of fun. Events such as the annual Mardi Gras, classic car shows, CityFest Street Fair, and the Pride Parade make sure that the residents of Hillcrest always have something fun to do on a day off.

Hillcrest is one of the most popular LGBT-friendly neighborhoods

Little Italy – The Life of the Downtown

Even the name Little Italy can tell you a lot about what this neighborhood is all about – great restaurants, delicious coffee, and a close-knit community. The community is located in the northwest part of Downtown and is a walk away from all the amenities you’ll need. This comes at a considerable price. For example, the median rent exceeds $1,300.

Although everyone is welcome in this neighborhood, the population is predominantly of Italian origin. Needless to say, most of the events and annual festivals revolve around the Italian culture and heritage. One such event is the Little Italian Carnevale, which is an homage to the original Carnival held every year in Venice, Italy.

Where to Eat and Drink in Little Italy

One of the main perks of living in Little Italy is the vast choice of restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and other eateries in your vicinity. Here are some restaurants you will love as a resident of Little Italy:

  • Pesto Italian Craft Kitchen – This place serves some of the most delicious Italian food in Sandi. It also has vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options.
  • Barbusa – If you are a fan of seafood, this Sicilian restaurant is bound to become your favorite dining spot.
  • Cucina Urbana – Here you will be able to find the perfect combo of good food and some of the most appetizing Italian wines your palate has ever tasted.
Little Italy is known for its delicious cuisine

North Park – A Mecca for Young Professionals and Students

If you are moving for school or because you want to jump-start your career, North Park is definitely an option you should consider. Most residents here are highly educated, and the average household income is almost $70,000. The population is fairly young and hipsterish. This place was once named by Forbes magazine as one of the top hipster neighborhoods in the country.

Some of the most exciting things to do in San Diego are located precisely here. Attractions such as a Farmers Market, Ray Street Arts District, the Observatory, and the annual Music Thing and Holiday Parade festivals all call North Park their home. The area is also well-connected by public transport, so you won’t have to worry about getting around.

A Quick Guide to Ray Street Arts District

The Ray Street Arts District is one of the most culturally significant districts not just in Sandi, but in the whole state. There are countless studios and galleries along the street, and many have compared this district to the world-famous SoHo neighborhood in New York City. Every month, the community here hosts an art walk dubbed Ray at Night.

North Park is famous for its Ray Street Arts District

La Jolla – As Good as It Gets

La Jolla is pretty much the epitome of the lifestyle that Sandi has to offer. It is a prosperous community facing the ocean, with long sandy beaches and a mild and enjoyable climate. Those who can afford to live here will tell you it’s worth every penny. That being said, this is one of the most expensive communities in the city. The average rent here will cost you north of $2,400.

Aside from the high cost of living, La Jolla shines in pretty much every other area – the crime rate is low, the community is family-friendly, and the average commute is as good as it gets. Some good San Diego schools are located here, as well, such as the Preuss School, La Jolla High School, and High Tech International.

Live Life to the Fullest

The community offers a handful of activities to its residents. For example, the Torrey Pines Golf Course is located here. It is comprised of two 18-hole courses. This is where the Farmers Insurance Open takes place every year. If you’re a fan of golf, you’ll definitely love it here. Other attractions include the La Jolla Cove, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the KGTV Tower.

Golf fans will love living in La Jolla

Ocean Beach – A SoCal Classic

Ocean Beach is another beachfront neighborhood that has a typical South California vibe. There are a number of small independent businesses, mostly retail, that dominate the economy of the area. In fact, the community has been fighting against the opening of most chain shops and restaurants. OBceans, as the residents of Ocean Beach call themselves, have easy access to two schools, a public library, several churches, and a post office.

Several local events take place here each year. These include, for example, the Ocean Beach Street Fair, a Chilli Cookoff, Christmas Parade, a jazz music festival, the Kite Festival, Canine Carnival, and more.

The Historic Community of Ocean Beach

Usually, when people think of oceanfront communities, they think of huge houses, sandy coastline, tree-lined streets. But there’s more to O.B. than just that. There is a whole Historic District in this community. There are some other historic landmarks as well, such as the Cabrillo lighthouse and Ballast Point.

The Cabrillo Lighthouse is one of many historic landmarks in Ocean Beach

Pacific Highlands Ranch – An Educated Community

A significant portion of the residents of Pacific Highlands Ranch has a master’s degree. This is a relatively young community, for the most part, built in the 2000s. Almost half of the area is considered a natural habitat, which makes Pacific Highlands Ranch the right choice for those who enjoy outdoor activities.

The current population of the neighborhood is around 12,000. Most residents are homeowners, and the overall feel is urban, although the population density isn’t too high. It is the perfect balance between a tight-knit community and personal space.

It Doesn’t Cost Much to Live Here

One of the best perks about Pacific Highlands Ranch is the surprisingly low cost of housing compared to other neighborhoods in the vicinity. For example, the average rent here is less than $1,000. In fact, according to Niche, this is the third-best place in Sandi to buy a home.

Pacific Highlands Ranch is a good choice for those who enjoy outdoor activities

Gaslamp Quarter – An Entertainment Center

Gaslamp Quarter is, hands down, one of the locals’ favorite spots in the city. It is a major entertainment center, with many clubs and entertainment venues. It is also the site of several big annual festivals.

Aside from being the go-to location for partying, Gaslamp Quarter has a considerable history and a handful of landmarks to prove it. The area is officially registered as a historic district in the National Register of Historic Places.

Monthly Expenses in Gaslamp Quarter

The overall cost of living in the Gaslamp Quarter is considerably lower than in the rest of the city. This is particularly true when it comes to housing. The median home value in the area barely exceeds $500,000, making it a perfect choice if you’re planning on buying a place instead of renting.

Gaslamp Quarter is officially registered as a historic district.

Ready to Begin Your Sandi Adventure?

Have you picked your favorite yet? If so, it’s time to pack your bags and think about employing moving services. Begin your new adventure in one of San Diego’s diverse neighborhoods, and wake up every morning to the sound of the ocean.