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Best Neighborhoods in San Diego [2021] | 8 Best Places to Live in San Diego 🏡

One of the hardest parts about moving to a new city is choosing the right neighborhood for your lifestyle and needs. Fortunately, San Diego has something for everyone and it’s hard to go wrong. Do you envision living in an urban neighborhood packed with amenities and a walkable layout? Do you want more open space and a large yard? Or do you prefer a convenient location close to everything you love? Here’s a look at the eight best places to live in San Diego that should be on your list.

Hillcrest – Best LGBT-Friendly Neighborhood in San Diego

San Diego is a famously LGBT-friendly city. Hillcrest, just a few miles north of downtown, is known as the LGBT hub of San Diego with gender diversity, trend stores and clubs, and a large gay, bisexual, transgender and polyamorous population. It’s bounded by Bankers Hill, Balboa Park, Mission Hills, North Park, and University Heights with beautiful tree-lined streets, Mid-Century condo buildings, and an exciting hub where something’s always happening.

The major drawback of Hillcrest is its lack of parking, but it’s incredibly walkable with restaurants, cafes, and shops at every turn. While living in this exciting San Diego neighborhood, you’ll enjoy visiting the Hillcrest Brewing Company, America’s only openly gay brewery, stops at San Diego’s largest farmer’s market, and walks to Balboa Park.

 

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Average rent in Hillcrest is about $1,880, lower than average for San Diego. Planning to buy? The median list price in Hillcrest, San Diego is $653,000.

Gaslamp Quarter – Great San Diego Neighborhood for Nightlife

The historic Gaslamp Quarter, or Gaslamp District, is one of San Diego’s most exciting neighborhoods if you love great food and a fun nightlife. Spread over 16 square blocks in downtown San Diego, the Gaslamp District is where skyscrapers and historic Victorian-era homes stand together just southwest of Balboa Park. The Gaslamp District is the entertainment and dining district of downtown and popular with singles, millennials, and young professionals.

 

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What is there to see and do while living in the Gaslamp District? The neighborhood is home to concert venues, art galleries, a symphony hall, theaters, and museums. Petco Park in nearby East Village isn’t far and you’re close to the fun of Balboa Park. At night, the Gaslamp District is a cosmopolitan hangout with craft cocktails, live music, dancing, and upscale dining.

The Gaslamp District is one of the more expensive neighborhoods of San Diego with an average rent of $2,475. Considering buying? The average home price in the Gaslamp District is $395,000 or $514/square foot. Most properties in the Gaslamp neighborhood are condos or apartments.

Bankers Hill – Best San Diego Neighborhood for Nearby Amenities

The uptown San Diego neighborhood of Bankers Hill, bordered by Balboa Park, Mission Hills, Little Italy, and Downtown, is one of San Diego’s most established neighborhoods. Known for its panoramic downtown views, high-rise condos, and central location, Bankers Hill got its name for its reputation for affluent residents. Bankers Hill is one of San Diego’s most expensive neighborhoods with average rent of $2,400 but it has so much value to offer.

 

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Sitting on the hill overlooking the bay and the airport, Bankers Hill offers fast and convenient access to both via I-5. You’ll find many historic homes dating to the 1880s as well as new luxury condos and apartments. It’s definitely one of the most scenic communities in San Diego and right next to the gardens and museums of Balboa Park.

East Village – San Diego Neighborhood Home to Petco Park

East Village is the largest neighborhood in downtown San Diego and home to everything from boutiques, rooftop bars, and high-end hotels to art galleries and amazing restaurants. The highlight of East Village is Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres and a popular venue for concerts and other sports. It was the introduction of Petco Park that transformed East Village from a bleak neighborhood of abandoned warehouses then an artists’ community into a residential area. Today, the East Village has more than 40,000 residents, most living in luxury condos and apartments as well as warehouses converted into mixed-use developments.

 

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East Village is surprisingly affordable with apartments ranging from the high $200s to the upper $300s. While living in the East Village, you’ll be just half a mile from the Gaslamp Quarter, one of San Diego’s best neighborhoods for nightlife and a popular tourist destination.

Normal Heights – Hip San Diego Neighborhood

Normal Heights was one of the first “streetcar suburbs” of San Diego. Today, Normal Heights is the best example of San Diego’s ethnic diversity and popular with millennials. Normal Heights offers plenty of family-friendly resources and great schools as well as a convenient central location close to all of San Diego’s best attractions.

You’ll find a little bit of everything in Normal Heights. Along Adams Avenue, or “Antiques Row,” you’ll find vintage clothing stores, record stores, and coffee shops. There’s also local venues for artists like The Adams Avenue Street Fair, the largest free music festival in Southern California held every year in the neighborhood. The community’s Ward Canyon Park even hosts fun outdoor moving screenings.

 

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Normal Heights isn’t just culturally diverse: it also offers diverse real estate. You’ll find small two-bed, one-bath homes from the 1920s to 4-bedroom modern homes priced at more than $1 million. You’ll find this fun San Diego neighborhood is easily explored on foot with restaurants and shops within walking distance. You can even walk to University Heights, North Park, or the canyon past Adams.

Rancho Bernardo – Best Neighborhood in San Diego for Families

Rancho Bernardo or RD is one of San Diego’s most unique neighborhoods. Located 20 miles northeast of downtown and south of Escondido, Rancho Bernardo is home to more than 41,000 people with a diverse population and family-friendly amenities.

 

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Rancho Bernardo is one of the best places to live in San Diego with kids thanks to its very highly rated Rancho Bernardo High School, very low crime rates, and amazing amenities. This massive neighborhood covers over 6,500 acres with several master-planned subdivisions, each with their own parks and clubs. You’ll find spacious yards and parks within walking distance plus swimming and resort-style living. Rancho Bernardo is also home to Lake Hodges, a beautiful reservoir with fishing and boating.

Rancho Bernardo isn’t cheap, but it’s not the most expensive place to live in San Diego. You can expect to pay $1,800 to $2,500 for rent, around average for the city, with an average home price of $640,000.

Read our complete guide to living in Rancho Bernardo to see if it’s the right neighborhood for you!

North Park – Trendy San Diego Neighborhood for Young Professionals

North Park is one of the most livable and walkable neighborhoods in San Diego. Stretching across the north of Balboa Park, this gridded and tightly packed enclave is home to beautiful 1920s Craftsman homes and it’s one of San Diego’s oldest neighborhoods. It’s bordered by I-8 to the north, I-805 and City Heights to the east, Juniper Canyon and South Park to the south, and Hillcrest and University Heights to the north and west.

The walkability and nightlife of North Park makes it popular with young professionals. It’s been called one of the best hipster neighborhoods in the U.S. by Forbes with amazing cultural diversity. North Park seemingly has it all: fun night clubs and bars, small independent coffee shops and boutiques, art galleries, and breweries. It’s even home to Observatory North Park, a music venue, and the North Park Music Thing festival every year.

If North Park sounds like the place for you, there’s good news: it’s one of the more affordable San Diego neighborhoods with average rent of $1,550.

Carmel Valley – Most Affluent San Diego Neighborhood

Carmel Valley is one of the richest neighborhoods in San Diego with a median household income of $334,000. This master-planned coastal community is next to La Jolla and Del Mar and began development in the 1980s. Most homes in the community were built in the early 1990s with home prices ranging from the $450s to more than $1 million.

 

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While living in Carmel Valley, you’ll enjoy convenient access to downtown San Diego, Del Mar, and La Jolla with plenty of subdivisions to choose from. The real highlight of Carmel Valley is the region’s natural beauty. Development has been confined to the mesas to leave the canyon untouched. Explore the extensive trail system and neighborhood parks with beautiful beaches close by.

Map of the Best San Diego Neighborhoods

Have you chosen a San Diego neighborhood that’s calling to you? Whether you want the nightlife of the Gaslamp District, the family-friendly amenities of Rancho Bernardo, or the diverse scene in Hillcrest, you’ll find the neighborhood of your dreams in San Diego. As you get ready for moving day, don’t forget to call the San Diego movers at Republic Moving & Storage to request your free moving estimate!

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