Below are the 6 best places to live in San Diego, a city of neighborhoods. Finding the best places to live in San Diego really depends on what you’re after, whether that’s walkability, access to amenities, or more space. Let’s take a look at the best neighborhoods in San Diego. We’ll include a few that are outside the city to cover the bases on all of the big things most residents look for in a new home.
It doesn’t get much better than North Park if you’re looking for walkability. Boutique shops, restaurants, cafes, and a variety of craft breweries are all within reach in this vibrant San Diego neighborhood. A quick note on those breweries: the craft beer corridor here is home to more breweries and tasting rooms within walking distance of one another than anywhere else in the city. North Park’s craft beer scene has helped make San Diego as a whole a destination for beer aficionados.
If you want to be in the thick of it all, the corner of 30th Street and University Avenue is North Park’s main commercial area. Expect a mix of Craftsman-style homes and bungalows on the side streets that feed the main thoroughfares.
Nearby University Heights and Normal Heights are also great options if you want slightly less busy versions of North Park. Both offer options for great bars and restaurants with more of a neighborhood vibe. Burlingame in between North Park and South Park is a historic district with larger homes big on character.
South Park is an idyllic San Diego neighborhood adjacent to all of the amenities of the eastern edge of Balboa Park. Its proximity to San Diego’s best urban park makes it very dog-friendly, with easy access to the expansive Grape Street Dog Park.
The focus in South Park is on hyper-local businesses, so even the lone Target store tries to blend in with that aesthetic. It’s easy to become a regular at any of the art galleries, cafes, and boutique shops that have made a home and created a loyal customer base in this San Diego neighborhood.
If you’re seeking historical homes, look no further than the single-family homes of the South Park Historic District. These Craftsman and Spanish Colonial Revival-style homes are a great example of the efforts of local historic preservationists, and many of the homes have intriguing local histories that date back to the early 1900s. South Park’s unique charm, neighborhood feel, and easy walkability have made it one of San Diego’s most desirable and best areas to live in San Diego.
Golden Hill, just south of Balboa Park, is a convenient neighborhood for anyone seeking easy access to downtown on foot or on the nearby freeways. The architecture here is a little more eclectic than in South Park, it’s neighbor to the north. The housing diversity here makes this a great place to explore if you’re just not sure about the right style of home for you.
After some time in decline, the neighborhood today has a growing identity and community spirit that has meant a rise in local businesses. The people who live here are fiercely loyal to Golden Hill but also welcoming to newcomers interested in its colorful history.
If you like to keep busy, San Diego’s Hillcrest neighborhood is one of San Diego’s most bustling areas. It’s close to the north side of Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo and is the center of the city’s LGBTQ+ scene. That’s what makes this San Diego neighborhood one of the city’s most welcoming spaces. Hillcrest is also home to some of San Diego’s best restaurants and a brunch scene that can’t be matched.
This neighborhood is best-explored on your feet, as parking can be a challenge for visitors. For those seeking a move into Hillcrest, expect multi-level condos and townhomes closer to the main streets and single-family homes in the more residential sections. Those single-family homes do come at a premium, as the inventory is low.
Living in Hillcrest, you’ll be within a short drive of downtown neighborhoods like Little Italy and the Gaslamp Quarter and San Diego’s beach communities like Pacific Beach and Mission Beach on Mission Bay.
Del Cerro is a residential neighborhood of San Diego that feels more suburban than neighborhoods closer to downtown. This area has become popular with families and anyone with connections to San Diego State University, as you’ll find the campus and all of its amenities in this neighborhood.
While the architecture here is diverse, many of the homes in Del Cerro are hillside homes. That means a side of scenery and good views with a more quiet way of life, the perfect blend for many professionals and families. Outdoor pursuits include Navajo Canyon and Lake Murray.
The neighborhood is adjacent to the city of La Mesa and San Carlos. Much like Del Cerro, both offer easy access to downtown San Diego and less congestion.
La Mesa is a short drive or trolley ride from the city and is perfect for those seeking a little more space, less congestion, and a somewhat lower cost of living. All of those factors make La Mesa one of the best places to live near San Diego. This city in San Diego County is great for families who want something a little more suburban while retaining an easy commute into San Diego. Central San Diego is just a 15-minute drive from here.
Despite its suburban sensibilities, La Mesa is still spoiled with amenities and community events for its residents. Nearby Lake Murray and Mission Trails Regional Park offer opportunities for outdoor adventuring and taking advantage of the year-round sunshine. The housing here is eclectic, with everything from historic homes to more modern styles. Higher-density buildings are available closer to the city’s downtown area.
If you’re in the market for a new home and interested in exploring some of the best neighborhoods to live in in San Diego, the McT Real Estate Group can help. We can be reached at 619-736-7003.
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