Best Places to live in San Diego

San Diego is full of wonderful food, gorgeous architecture, stunning beaches and towering ancient pine trees, but what many don’t realize is that this city is also huge. How can one decide where to live in San Diego? There are so many options, and some of them seem pretty similar to the next. Which means there are a lot of decisions to be made before you even move here.

Do you want to live near the beach, or in the hills with really great hiking. Do you want nightlife, or a more laid back coffee shop vibe? We’ve put together a list of six of the best neighborhoods in San Diego to help you find the perfect fit for you. Don’t worry, no matter where you end up, you’re guaranteed to find excellent tacos!

Top Places to live in San Diego

Del Cerro:

Near San Diego State University you’ll find the charming neighborhood of Del Cerro. Built primarily during the 1950’s through the 1970’s, this area is rich in mid-century modern architecture and character. The homes in Del Cerro are well known for having their own personality, you won’t find any “cookie cutter” neighborhoods here.

Along with a bit of their own character, the homes on these lots tend to have good green space and yards, something that can be difficult to find in Southern California. With a plethora of single story homes (also uncommon for SoCal) residents can really get their own little “piece of the pie” as opposed to living in a condominium or apartment complex.

The schools in Del Cerro are great, and because the neighborhood is so close to beautiful natural features like Lake Murray, there’s plenty to do when you want to get out and about. Just remember, perhaps the greatest downfall of the area is the hot summers. Almost anywhere you go inland, you’ll find when you lose that ocean breeze, the mercury really climbs.

neighborhood in San Diego, Best Places to live in San Diego


If you’re a saltwater worshiping beach junkie, look no further than Carlsbad. Known for its manicured beauty, Carlsbad is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in the San Diego Area.  The entire area has plenty of great beaches for sunbathing, walking along the beach, and let’s not forget the incredible surfing.

Unlike most areas in southern California, the parking is actually pretty good in Carlsbad. This means if you can’t afford that oceanfront property, you can drive there easily.  The village has a plethora of fun restaurants and breweries, and it’s extremely walkable.

aerial view of Carlsbad California, Best Places to live in San Diego

The schools in Carlsbad are not only outstanding; Carlsbad has the top rated school district in all of San Diego County.

If you’re looking for family fun, the famed Legoland is in Carlsbad, where kids both young and old can indulge in their imaginations. The flower fields in Carlsbad begin to bloom in March and bloom for about eight weeks, which is another family must.  Unfortunately, because it’s at the northernmost tip of San Diego, it can be a bit of a hike to get down into actual San Diego. But if you commute to Orange County or Los Angeles regularly, it can be the perfect halfway point! Plus, no matter where you live in San Diego, there always tends to be a 20 minute drive to get to your destination.

Solana Beach:

This small but great beach town, known as Solana beach, packs a punch within its limited acreage. The neighborhoods in Solana are charming and clean, though slightly more expensive because of their proximity to the beach.

There are plenty of fun things to do in this little town, whether you want to head to the ocean or find something a bit more landlocked. Fletcher Cove Park is a beautiful man made beach area where you can take the family for a fun day in the sun, and is known by the locals to be one of the best places in town to catch one of those gorgeous coastal sunsets.

The Arts District in Solana Beach is full of fun, eclectic restaurants, small clothing shops, and boutiques. You’ll also find surf shops for the surfer ready to get out on those tasty waves! Best of all, the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner stops in Solana Beach, making transportation up and down the coast easy even if you don’t have a car. The train is not only an eco friendly choice to make when it comes to transportation, it’s one of the best ways to get a front row seat for some of the most breathtaking views on the west coast. The Pacific Surfliner runs 350 miles up the California coast, all the way from Downtown San Diego to San Luis Obispo in the central coast. And surfers, fear not; in true California fashion this train has racks for surfboards!

aerial view of Fletcher cove in Solana Beach, Best Places to live in San Diego

Carmel Valley:

If you’re looking for the perfect sweet spot right in the middle of San Diego County, Carmel Valley is the place to be. Located centrally, this area is right in the middle of north and south county San Diego, making it pretty easy to get just about anywhere you need to go.

Carmel Valley is an excellent place to raise a family. The schools are fantastic, and the neighborhoods are extremely safe. Just five minutes from Del Mar, you can enjoy the great beaches and parks in the area with only a short drive to get there. Just in Carmel Valley alone there are over 22 parks! This neighborhood also has great parking, which is nice when you’re bringing a stroller, the kids, the dog, and any & everything else you may need.

Carmel Valley is constantly under construction at least to some capacity because it’s growing so rapidly. While it might seem like an inconvenience, it’s a reminder that the area is always on the up and up. Because it’s so family oriented, you won’t find a lot of nightlife in Carmel Valley. There are plenty of great restaurants to go out to with the whole family or a date night, but most things shut down by around 10:00pm at the latest.

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Del Sur:

Del Sur comes in as our only master planned community on this list. Master planned communities are areas that are mapped out prior to any construction to allot for amenities and community spaces to be very near the homes that will be built there. Tennis courts, parks, grocery and drugs stores, etc… all of these needs come into account when it comes to creating master planned communities. The result is beautiful, family friendly neighborhoods with everything you could ever need right outside your front door!

Del Sur has beautiful playgrounds and parks, a community pool, paved trails and dog park areas, and plenty of usable space for whatever you want to get out and do.  The Del Sur community hosts events to get the community together, and like many on our lists, the schools here are excellent.

As part of the Poway School District, these are some of the best schools in SoCal. Though it’s a relatively new area, you’ll find plenty of beautiful mature greenery, because the contracting was done in a way that maintained and utilized existing landscape.  But something so beautiful usually comes at a price, so keep in mind if you decide to live in a master planned community like Del Sur, you might be faced with hidden fees left and right, such as HOA’s and other community expenses.

South Park:

If this last neighborhood on our list has you reeling in disbelief, don’t worry, this is not the Comedy Central adult humor animated TV series we are talking about. This South Park is quite different!

architecture in Balboa Park, Best Places to live in San Diego

The South Park neighborhood of San Diego is near all the action, but still remains a laid back and comfortable place to call home. Close to downtown, you’ll easily find plenty to do and see. Very close by is San Diego’s famous Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo. This historic area is not only an architectural beauty fit for the streets of Europe; there are countless things to do and see within the park. With over 17 museums, and beautiful gardens for visitors to explore, you’ll undoubtedly see something new with every visit.

The entire neighborhood of South Park has a bit of a historic flare, with many of the homes dating back to 1920s construction. These old homes have been maintained and upkept, keeping alive the glamour of Southern California’s past.

Though it’s not the busiest part of San Diego, there are still coffee shops and boutiques, and you can always find the perfect place to grab a cappuccino and settle in with a good book or catch up with an old friend. The area is known for having quite a few authentic Italian restaurants, which make for a perfect date night complete with pasta for two and a bottle of vino!

The downside of this beautiful and charismatic part of town is the less than exceptional school systems. There are certainly neighborhoods with better schools if raising a family is high on your list.

Thinking of Moving to San Diego?

These six neighborhoods are only a few of the amazing places you could be calling home in San Diego. If you’re thinking of moving to San Diego, reach out to us! We love to share our wealth of information about this beautiful sun drenched city we call home! Reach out to us today.