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Living in National City | 🏆 Is National City a Good Place to Move to?

National City is a city in San Diego County, nestled along the South Bay area. National City is known for its waterfront marina, diverse restaurants, excellent shopping, plethora of cultural events, and for being the second oldest city in San Diego County. The city’s motto is “In The Center Of It All”.

Initially known as “El Rancho del Rey”, or “The Ranch of the King”, by the Spanish, who first settled the area in the early 19th century. The land changed hands with the independence of Mexico from Spain, and then again changed hands in 1868 when it was purchased by a pair of land developers from San Francisco. During its time as a Mexican rancho, it had the name “Rancho de la Nación”, or “The National Ranch” – maintaining that name, the new developers named the city they would build “National City”.

National City is among the most beautiful, interesting, and exciting communities along the San Diego coastal area. Many are moving to National City for the decent housing prices, as well as the wealth of attractions, which really make this community unique. Living in National City will be a fantastic experience!

Where is National City, CA?

National City is in San Diego County, situated right on the coastal area of the San Diego Bay, and is part of the South Bay region. It is also within the San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad metropolitan area. With a waterfront position, National City naturally lends itself to a diverse array of seaborne activity, business and recreational. Generally speaking, living anywhere in National City will mean you’ll be able to access the rest of the San Diego area in little time and with relative ease.

Want to know where National City is in relation to other nearby cities? National City borders San Diego itself to the north, and borders the larger city of Chula Vista to the south. Some of its easterly reaches also border Bonita The distance from National City, CA to San Diego, CA is a short 6 miles.

National City Information

  • County: San Diego County
  • Area: 9.12 miles
  • Zip code: 91950
  • Area code: 619
  • Elevation: 66’
  • Time zone: PST
  • Closest airport: San Diego International Airport, PRM4+GM San Diego, California, 8 miles from National City

National City, CA Population & Demographics

The population of National City is 61,121 distributed over 7.3 miles at a population density of about 8,000 people per square mile. Its population has shrunk by 0.6% since 2010. National City is located in the San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad metro area, which has a population of 3,323,970 people. The median age here is 33.9. The median household income in National City is $49,176, with 16% of the population making $100k annually or more.

16% of National City’s population has attained a bachelor’s degree or higher.

The major ethnic majority in National City demographically is Hispanic, at 62%, with Asians coming second at 18%, as well as a small White and Black demographic. 37% of National City’s population are foreign-born, with 63% of the foreign-born population coming from Latin America. National City’s gender ratio is skewed towards men, at 51%.

Notable people from National City include musician Tom Waits, former MLB pitcher Joe Orrell, and congressional representative Juan Vargas.

National City, CA Transportation

National City has easy road access to Interstate 5, Interstate 805, and California State Route 54. National City also has rail access via the Blue Line of the San Diego Trolley. Something notable about National City is that it is very walkable – it was honored as the most walkable city in San Diego County in 2012, and little has changed since then. Being more or less a part of San Diego itself, expect to find many San Diego public transportation lines running through the area as well. The most substantial airport near the city is the San Diego International Airport (code: PRM4+GM San Diego, California).

Cost of Living in National City, CA

The cost of living index in the San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad CA Metro is 47% higher on average than other places in America. Being both in California and in one of the more expensive metropolitan areas of California means that the general cost of living will be high here.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, a family of four will need a yearly income of $110,158 to live in National City.

According to the MIT living wage calculator, the living wage of a typical family of 4 in the area is $46.67 per hour.

Basic everyday costs like housing, utilities, and groceries will generally be higher or at the average, thanks to the general high cost of California. The average utility bill in National City is $206.28 per month.

National City, CA Typical Living Expenses

Here are some common items you might buy, and their prices according to Numbeo:

  1. Milk – $3.88
  2. Loaf of Bread – $3.51
  3. 12 Regular Eggs – $5.29
  4. 1 lb. Chicken Filet – $7.66
  5. 1 lb. Apples – $2.34
  6. 1 lb. Tomatoes – $3.21
  7. Gasoline, 1 Gallon – $5.90
  8. Meal at an Inexpensive Restaurant – $24.00
  9. Monthly Internet Cost – $88.57

National City has a sales tax of 8.75%, an income tax of 9.3%, and a property tax of 1.14%.

National City, CA Real Estate

National City gets a 82 on Redfin’s competitiveness scale, with home sale prices on the rise and a majority of homes being sold slightly over list price. National City has a housing market with high but reasonable prices but great value property, which makes it a no-brainer as to why the market is so competitive!

The median sale price for National City homes is $672,500, which is priced somewhat higher than the average home price for the San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad metropolitan area ($595,600) and the entire state of California ($538,500). The number of houses sold yearly has depressed by a small amount, by 22% year over year, with 14 homes being sold this year. The median days on the market in this area is 17 days, a number that has been increasing yearly.

29% of National City residents rent their homes, according to RentCafe, which speaks to a high rate of property ownership. The average rent in National City is $1,585 monthly, which is typical of the area, if not a little more affordable.

If you want to make yourself a part of any of these communities, you should check out the latest listings for homes for sale in National City, CA.

National City, CA Neighborhoods | Where to Live in National City, CA

Despite being a relatively large city, National City does not actually have much in the way of unique neighborhoods – although, the status of neighborhoods in National City is a bit complicated. Some say that there are unique neighborhoods, others say the opposite, so we’ll show you what sort of communities have formed in National City, and throw in some real estate data for good measure! Check out some of the best neighborhoods in National City below:

A good candidate for a neighborhood of National City is the unincorporated community of Lincoln Acres, wholly surrounded by National City and sharing a zip code. Another is the “Old Town”, which has some of the older constructions in National City, and is located along major streets in the city. The residents near Las Palmas and El Toyon Park have an impromptu neighborhood council.

It is also worth mentioning that National City has a neighborhood council system officially, although no neighborhoods have been defined by this system.

In terms of real estate, one can expect to find the lowest cost properties on the western side of the city, near the port. Just inland of that, the central portion of National City is the most expensive part, having some of the most costly property in the city. The aforementioned Lincoln Acres provides a middle ground between them.

National City, CA Climate & Weather

Like the rest of the San Diego area, National City is classified as having a Mediterranean climate, according to the Koppen scale. The fantastic climate around this place is one of the main reasons people move to National City! You can expect lows of 39 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter months, and highs of 76 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer months. National City experiences much less than the average amount of rainfall when compared with the rest of the United States, with only 10 inches per year. Generally speaking, National City does not experience snow. The best times to visit National City, in terms of comfort rating, are June and September. The coldest month is December.

Being sheltered by urban sprawl from wildfires, there are very few dangerous weather patterns one has to worry about while living in National City. Be aware that California in general is subject to earthquakes, although this area has relatively tame ones.


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Things to Do in National City, CA

National City is well known for its wealth of attractions, fantastic shopping, and having just about everything to do you could think of! You should check out some of the best things to do in National City, CA below:

Top National City Attractions:

  • The Stein Family Farm – Find out how National City citizens of the past lived! This living history museum maintains a genuine 1880 farmhouse, preserving all the interesting tidbits about what life was like in California back then.
  • Steal & Escape – Escape rooms are all the rage nowadays, and that trend has not left National City unscathed, to be certain! Steal & Escape is a wonderful activity with friends or with family!
  • Petco Park – While not in National City, Petco Park, only a few miles away, is the premier pro sports outing in the entire area. If you’re a sports lover, particularly of baseball and the Padres, you’ll no doubt be making your pilgrimage here sooner or later.
  • San Diego Zoo – Again, not in National City, but so close it may as well be! This zoo and the range of interesting animals contained within are a true treat for any San Diego area resident, and they even have a sky tram for viewing them from above!

National City Museums

  • USS Midway Museum – Moored just north of National City is this WW2-era relic that served faithfully on the Pacific Front, now converted into a floating museum of that time and place. There’s no other museum quite like it!
  • Maritime Museum of San Diego – Within walking distance of the USS Midway is the Maritime Museum of San Diego, housing plenty of old but restored ships, most notably the world’s oldest extant sailing ship, the Star of India.

National City Parks & Outdoors

  • Kimball Park – This multifaceted park offers a wide variety of outdoor activities, from playgrounds for the young ones, to skate parks for the ever-so-slightly older ones, as well as plenty of space for picnicking and relaxing.
  • Pepper Park – Alongside the typical array of park activities, such as playgrounds, picnicking, open space, etc., Pepper Park also has a rather unique addition of a fishing pier.
  • El Toyon Park – If Pepper Park or Kimball Park aren’t suiting your fancy, El Toyon Park is another excellent choice. All the typical amenities are here.
  • Balboa Park – We know – Balboa Park is in San Diego, not National City, but considering it is only 5 miles away, we’d be loath to not include this fantastic park in our list. Balboa Park has museums, a zoo, events, and is widely considered one of the finest attractions in the San Diego area!


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Shopping in National City

  • National City Swap Meet – No doubt a unique thing to put in the shopping section, but the National City Swap Meet is a place to find interesting second-hand goods, with plenty of cash-only discounts.
  • Westfield Plaza Bonita – Don’t let the name fool you, this shopping center is National City local! Westfield is known for delivering high-end shopping plazas with excellent specialty stores and great restaurants – they’ve succeeded here!
  • Grove Plaza – If Westfield is a bit too high-end for what you’re looking for, Grove Plaza is another excellent choice for finding whatever store you need.

Map of National City Things to Do

Places to Eat in National City, CA

In National City, the choice of great food is overwhelming! Check out some of the best restaurants in National City, CA below:

Family House of Pancakes

This no-frills, family restaurant is a National City favorite for serving a fantastic array of breakfast dishes. Obviously, pancakes make an appearance, but so do burgers and sandwiches, all fantastic.

Family House of Pancakes, 1900 E Plaza Blvd, National City, CA 91950, (619) 477-3197

Cafe La Maze

The name might trick you into thinking this is one among many of National City’s Mexican restaurants – do not be fooled! This restaurant, staged in a 1940s diner environment, serves some of the finest steak and seafood in the city!

Cafe La Maze, 1441 Highland Ave, National City, CA 91950, (619) 474-3222

Aunt Emma’s Pancakes

What can we say – National City loves her pancakes! This breakfast joint serves both the typical American as well as Mexican dishes, providing for a varied palate! Don’t miss out on this one.

Aunt Emma’s Pancakes, 214 National City Blvd, National City, CA 91950, (619) 477-6900


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Sports in National City, CA

If you’re somebody who loves professional sports and wants to attend the next big game in person, you’ll unfortunately be out of luck within National City’s limits. However, don’t forget the city of San Diego just a ten minute or so drive away! Petco Park is only a few miles from National City’s center, and is the home arena for the San Diego Padres. Thus, pro baseball lovers will be well served here, as well as any other sort of sporty type!

National City, CA Crime

Thinking about moving to this community, but wondering if National City, California is safe? Generally speaking, National City is a safe community, although that comes with some caveats. National City’s overall crime rate is 2.9% lower than the national average, with the property crime rate being 13.9% lower than the national average and the violent crime rate being 60.6% higher – that number sounds bad, but keep in mind that National City has a very low murder rate, with the city not experiencing a single murder in 2019.

Here’s how National City compares in crime to three cities of similar size:

  • Cary, NC – 67.5% higher
  • Longmont, CO – 25.4% lower
  • Norwalk, CA – 20.1% higher

While the crime rate here certainly isn’t the best in the nation, National City is still a very safe community. Its violent crime rate isn’t stellar, but its murder rate is near non-existent. For the most part, simple best practices will ensure that you’ll never be the victim of a crime in National City. National City is served in law enforcement matters by the National City Police Department, staffed by 84 police officers.

Economy & Jobs in National City, CA

National City is a city whose main industries pertain to healthcare, retail, and education, according to city reports. According to Payscale, the most popular positions of employment are Human Resources Manager, Administrative Manager, and Staff Accountant. The most popular employers in National City are Paradise Valley Hospital, National School District, and Sweetwater School District. The average salary for a worker in National City is $63k a year, while the average hourly wage is $18.41.

The economic report for National City might seem a little eyebrow-raising at first, but remember that the boundless economic opportunity of San Diego is only a short 5 mile commute away! Check out the latest listings for jobs in National City, CA here.

National City Healthcare

In terms of your health, you’ll be well covered in National City! The most substantial hospital in the area is the Paradise Valley Hospital, containing all the typical services you’d expect from a well-rounded facility. Surgery centers (including same day surgery), emergency services, radiology, and rehabilitation – if you need it, you’ll likely find it here. For less pressing or serious healthcare needs, there is also a local branch of the Family Health Center.

National City, CA Schools

Living in National City gives one access to a wide array of schools, with plenty of options for all sorts of families and locations. Primarily, National City is served by the National School District, although other school districts also intersect here and there. Some of the best schools you’ll find in and around National City include John A. Otis Elementary, Grange Junior High School, and Sweetwater High School – all ready to make your child’s education a great experience!

It is also worth noting that National City has three private K-12 or PreK-12 schools, all of which are of a Christian sect.

If you or a family member are looking to get into higher education, you’ll unfortunately be out of luck within National City – however, don’t despair! San Diego, only a few miles away, has no less than 18 colleges, some of which regularly top rating charts in the U.S.. The most notable of these is the nearby San Diego State University.

National City’s students and avid readers are served by the National City Public Library.

National City, CA Utilities & DMV Change of Address

Moving to National City, and need to get your address and utilities in order? While we can’t do that for you ourselves, we can certainly help you find what you need to do it yourself! Check out a list of a few National City utility providers below:

Need to get a California state license, or change your address? You’ll need to go through the ever-dreaded DMV – but don’t worry! Many of these things can be done online, or in just a few minutes in person! Check out this list of National City DMV locations to get started. In National City, you can do much of these registrations online!

Want to start a new chapter living in National City, California? Moving to National City is sure to be one the best decisions you’ve made! If you need a top-rated crew to help you out with your big moving day, give Republic a call at 619-000-0000! With our group of trained and top-notch National City movers, we’ve got all the tools and knowledge to make the whole thing a simple affair! Call now or fill out our online form for a free quote!


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