Best San Diego Suburbs to Live in

Beautiful San Diego is a beach community straight out of paradise, and even paradise has locals! And what many people don’t realize is that there are many suburbs that offer spectacular living in San Diego. So, where are the best places to live in San Diego? Whether you are a surf bum in need of a walking distance to the beach abode, are more concerned with walking distance to good restaurants and bars, or prefer the traditional neighborhood family home, we bet there’s a perfect SD suburb for you. Let’s take a look at the suburbs of San Diego and see what this coastal community has to offer.

Best San Diego Suburbs in North County SD


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A perfect place to raise a family, Poway offers its residents a little bit of everything. From various neighborhoods, to delicious eateries and great hiking paths too. There are also plenty of parks scattered around this neighborhood, including Old Poway Park, a kitschy western themed park where kids and adults alike can enjoy the charm of days gone by, and see California as the miners once did!

Poway has a plethora of small and starter homes, perfect for small and growing families. But this San Diego suburb isn’t just for the small family, however. While you can find plenty of single story ranch homes in the area, there’s also lavish neighborhoods with almost villa-like estates, housing famous athletes, and anyone who has the means to be there.

It’s no surprise that many families chose to live in Poway, as the Poway Unified School District is one of the best school systems in California, consistently highly rated with education, enrichment, and high graduation rates.

The charm and quiet nature of Poway makes it the perfect place to enjoy your sprawling mansion and pool without any pestering rubberneckers! And for those of us who don’t have our very own pool, no worries, the beach is just a twenty minute drive away.

The median home price for homes in Poway is around $745,000.

Carmel Valley

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On the pricier end of our list (with the median home price being a million dollars) is Carmel Valley. The highly rated school systems and luxury neighborhoods draw many affluent Californians to this beautiful area. Carmel Valley is very centrally located, meaning residents can get to almost anywhere in San Diego quickly, whether that’s the beach, downtown, up north to Carlsbad, or otherwise.

You can also find lovely, manicured shopping areas full of upscale stores, and chic restaurants, making Carmel Valley somewhat of the “Beverly Hills” of San Diego. Or should we say, Beverly Hills, with a beach town spin!

San Marcos

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Snuggled up to the foothills of northern San Diego County lies San Marcos. This growing community has a lot to offer.

If you consider yourself to be a foodie, San Marcos is the place for you. Located in North County San Diego, San Marcos has plenty of dining options to offer food lovers. Many of these establishments can be found up and down Old Restaurant Row, where you can find one of a kind restaurants, some of them family owned for generations.

The area was once just a fruit stand, and through the vision to make it a place where the restaurant business thrived, it grew into what is now one of the most unique dining strips in all of San Diego.

The school systems in San Marcos are exceptional, and employment rates in the area are fantastic as well, with many large corporations located in the San Marcos area, such as Hunter Industries and a UPS hub.  Like much of the suburbs in San Diego, those looking to get out in nature will find Double Peak Park a perfect place for a hike, and if you’re really trying to get active, San Marcos even has an adult sports league, offering everything from volleyball, to basketball, to softball or even soccer. Score!

This area is a great place to live and buy a home for young couples, families and professionals. The median home price for homes in San Marcos is $630,000.


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One of the most well known suburbs of San Diego, Carlsbad is full of classic southern California charm. On the north end of San Diego, Carlsbad is one of the closest suburbs to Orange County, a draw to many who find themselves looking to go north for entertainment or work.

While Carlsbad itself is a spread out community, Carlsbad Village is very walkable, with plenty of great restaurants and shops. The area oozes that traditional, small town vibe you see in classic movies, but with a SoCal twist of palm trees & beautiful views.

For the kids (or just the child at heart) Legoland is located in Carlsbad, and is a mecca for lovers of the iconic stacking blocks. This theme park offers pools, an aquarium, two outstanding hotels, with bunk beds built into each and every room at Legoland. Best of all, you’ll be wearing shoes when you visit, making it very unlikely you will step on a Lego barefoot….the worst pain known to mankind.

The median home price for homes in Carlsbad is $930,000.

Rancho Penasquitos

For the outdoor enthusiast, check out Rancho Penasquitos. The canyon nature preserve provides countless outdoor adventures, and the entire community is full of biking and hiking trails, as well as like minded people who love to get out and get active. There’s nothing better than being around friends and neighbors who share your interests, and also have a garage full of mountain bikes and canoes!

Another great, safe place to raise a family, Rancho Penasquitos is affordable, and very centrally located, making it a quick trip to anywhere in the San Diego area, including the beach, which is less than fifteen minutes away.

The median home price for homes in Rancho Penasquitos is $840,000.

Scripps Ranch

Scripps Ranch reservoir, best San Diego suburbs, Living in San Diego real estate (5)

East of the well known marine base, Miramar (any Top Gun fans in the house?!) is a relatively new suburb to San Diego known as Scripps Ranch. This neighborhood has really popped up mostly in the last twenty to thirty years, meaning most of the homes and infrastructure are pretty new. With its proximity to the military base, Scripps Ranch is a great option for military families who will be living off base.

Downtown San Diego is just about fifteen minutes from Scripps Ranch, and for those not even wanting to leave the neighborhood for shopping and dining, a new shopping center is being built, bringing an array of exciting amenities to the area.

The median home price for homes in Scripps Ranch is $850,000.

Best San Diego Suburbs in Central, East & South County SD

Chula Vista

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The second largest city in San Diego Country (second only to San Diego itself!) is Chula Vista. Chula Vista is a vibrant community just nine miles south of Downtown San Diego. At a population of about the size of Cincinnati and Orlando, Chula Vista is its own “little big town.”

On the southern border of the San Diego area, Chula Vista is very near the Mexican border, making travel to Mexico a breeze for work or pleasure (as if there weren’t enough amazing street tacos to keep you content in San Diego?!) When it comes to entertainment, Chula Vista has so much to offer, from outdoor activities, to some splashin’ summer fun at the Aquatica water park, to checking out a concert at the Amphitheatre (the name & ownership of this amphitheatre has changed quite frequently, so locals call it sole The Amphitheatre).

With the median home price being about $550,000 this also puts Chula Vista on the more affordable end of the suburbs we’re looking at on this list.


Santee lake, best San Diego suburbs, Living in San Diego real estate (7)

Another outdoor-centric suburb is Santee. Santee is located in east county San Diego. While Santee is one of the furthest east suburbs in San Diego, making it the longest commute to downtown, it makes up for it in great schools and outdoor activities. 

The school system in Santee is extremely well rated, making this another very family friendly suburb of San Diego. The area is also well known for having a wonderful selection of local, family owned restaurants, as opposed to chains.

Another downside to living in Santee is that it’s further inland, meaning it gets about ten degrees hotter than the rest of San Diego during the summer season.

The median home price for homes in Santee is $570,000.

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La Mesa

Another suburb on our list with a small town vibe is La Mesa. Coined “The Jewel of the Hills,” La Mesa is family friendly and safe. While not as outdoorcentric as some of the San Diego suburbs, you can still find plenty of places to take the kids for a nice long stroll, or break out the mountain bikes.

Grossmont Shopping Center offers many shopping opportunities, and the downtown area of La Mesa has some great restaurants to choose from. You can find plenty of cute coffee shops and other hangouts as well, making La Mesa consistently highly rated among the millennial generation, and as the population of La Mesa grows, they continue to be the largest demographic. Community oriented, one of La Mesa’s most delightful attributes is the “Community Conversations” forum, where residents can submit input on municipal needs such as roads that need better pavement or sidewalks, parks that need upkeep, or even just festivals or community gatherings that residents would enjoy.

The median home price for homes in La Mesa is $620,000.

Thinking of moving to San Diego, California?

This list only touches on some of the wonderful suburbs in the San Diego area. And let’s face it, San Diego is huge, meaning there are other suburbs that aren’t on this list that could be just right for you. If you’re thinking about relocating to one of these areas, hop in the car and take a drive around. See if you like the vibe in one place more than another, but of a perhaps biased opinion, you can’t go wrong with any of them! One thing is clear, San Diego is a perfect place to raise a family, enjoy the great outdoors, soak up the sun right off the Pacific waves, and dive into some great food.

We specialize in helping people who are looking to move here. Our experience and vast number of connections in the Southern California real estate market are hard to beat.

If you’re thinking about moving to San Diego, we can help you find your perfect home in the right neighborhood or suburb for you. If you have questions about moving here call or email us.