San Diego’s 10 Most Affordable Neighborhoods in 2023 | 2024

House prices and mortgage interest rates in San Diego are rising. It does not look as if this one-two punch to a house buyer’s wallet will change for the better anytime soon. We wanted to give you that unwelcome news upfront because we think there is every reason to remain optimistic about buying a home in San Diego County.

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Yes, there are indeed some very expensive neighborhoods in the county. They can command median prices of $1.5 million or more, which is a lot for any consumer to handle. However, if you are willing to make a few lifestyle adjustments, you may discover that homes are more affordable than you imagined.

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We mean living a few extra miles from the beach or someplace where you will not find trendy restaurants or nightclubs. Parents raising a family will often settle for a very quiet community that does not have a nightlife but does offer solid education for children. There are some very affordable neighborhoods in San Diego if you are willing to make a few trade-offs.

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We want to introduce you to these house buying opportunities, which may be a short distance from where you are currently living. The neighborhoods are in alphabetical order. All statistics quoted in this article are as of this writing.

Here’s a quick rundown of our list:

1) Chula Vista

Chula Vista gets good grades for exceptional public schools and the nightlife of this little community. In addition, there is wide diversity in its population.

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If you are looking for a small-town atmosphere, Chula Vista is the wrong place. It is the second-largest city in the San Diego SMSA (Care to guess the largest city?). Being larger means there is more to do, and you will not be disappointed. The city embraces Mother Nature with a bear hug. The Chula Vista Nature Center, Chula Vista Marina, Aquatica San Diego, and the Otay Valley Regional Park are where you can find all kinds of marine life and perhaps do a little fishing. The population of Chula Vista is 268,778 people. The residents own 60% of the housing units, and the average household income is $105,155.

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2) Linda Vista

It is where the University of San Diego is located, which qualifies Linda Vista as a college town. Niche.com ranks it as #4 in the Most Diverse Neighborhoods in San Diego category. College proximity adds a bit of excitement to the nightlife, and Linda Vista is fun when the sun goes down.

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The population is 9,963, and this is a white-collar town with roughly 90% of employed residents having white-collar occupations. The average household income is $140,388. Housing is about evenly split between those who own their housing units and those who rent. Tecolote Canyon is an urban park where you can chill out, and Linda Vista Skatepark is a great place to relax. K Sandwiches is a must-visit place if you are hungry.

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3) Lemon Grove

This little San Diego community is home to the World’s Biggest Lemon. It is a 3,000 lb. sculpture near the Orange Line Trolley and has been the town’s center piece for decades. An unusual pass time in Lemon Grove is whale watching and tours are available every day.

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Davey’s Locker is the whale watching tour you want to be on. Lemon Grove has 26,739 residents and 52% of the household units are owned by those who live in them. The average household income is $76,011.

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4) Mission Valley

If you are looking for a great neighborhood for families with excellent schools and reasonably priced, then Mission Valley is worth your attention. Niche.com considers it the #7 Best Neighborhoods for Young Professionals in San Diego. It gets excellent reviews from its residents and has a great diversity mix.

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If you are a shopaholic, you will love Mission Valley. Fashion Valley, Hazard Center Mall, and Westfield Mission Valley are all located here. Those who love history will enjoy walking in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, Presidio Park, and the Mission San Diego de Alcala. All three are on the National Register of Historic Places. 

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Mission Valley boasts of being in the middle of it all. The San Diego Zoo is not far away, and Snapdragon Stadium, the football venue of the University of San Diego, is just around the corner (It will open for the 2022 season.). If you want the ride of your life, check out Belmont Park, an ocean-front amusement park. Mission Valley has about 31,911 people with a median household income of $90,192.

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5) National City

A salute to the automobile is the National City Mile of Cars, one of the original auto malls. The National City Automobile Heritage Day Car Show is an event that celebrates classic and muscle autos. The San Diego Pretzel Company offers visitors a class on making your own pretzels, and Pier 32 Marina is a beautiful place to go and just chill. The kids will love the Stein Family Farm.

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National City has 61,3432 inhabitants, and about one-third of the housing units are owner-occupied. Average household income is $64,676

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6) Poway

AKA “The City in the Country.” Poway was unincorporated until December 1, 1980 and takes immense pride in its country roots. The average household income is $147,926, and owners occupy approximately 79% of all housing units. Poway has 49,780 residents

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Niche.com gives this community an overall grade of A- and it is #7 on Niche.com’s Best Suburbs to Live in the San Diego Area. The schools that provide service for this town are the primary reason for Poway’s high ranking. It is a very peaceful and quiet suburb and is about 30 minutes from the nearest beach.

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7) Rancho Bernardo

Niche.com gives this neighborhood high marks for public schools and diversity, and it is a wonderful place to raise a family. Overall, Rancho Bernado is ranked #11 on the Niche.com list of Best Neighborhoods to Live in San Diego.

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Rancho Bernado is a master-planned community in the northern hills. It is the home of the oldest-operating winery in San Diego, the Bernado Winery, and is the corporate headquarters of Sony Electronics, Inc. Some places ought to be on your bucket list for the family in the area. These include the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, the Rancho Bernado Historical Museum, and Double Peak Park. Rancho Bernado is a community of 41,907 people. Residents own two-thirds of the housing units here, and the average household income is 4155,079. It is a well-educated neighborhood, and about 83 % of the residents have at least some college education.

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8) Santee

Santee gets good grades from Niche.com for the public schools that serve the community and the diversity of the residents. It is a good place for kids and has excellent amenities that make it an attractive pace to set down roots. Santee has a fantastic cultural vibe, and the town sponsors a 10-week series of free concerts in the summer. Autumn is the time for the Santee Wine and Bluegrass Festival, and you do not want to miss that!

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Some other family activities include the Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve, the Creation and Earth History Museum, and the Santee Drive-in Theater (Yes, they still have those. The drive-in is open 365 days a year! Santee has 57,407 inhabitants, and the residents own 71% of the housing units. Average household income is $99,223.

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9) Serra Mesa

Named for Saint Junipero Serra, this San Diego community is the Ruffin Canyon Open Space Preserve home, an 84-acre space that runs north and south along Serra Mesa. It has a population of 34,103, and the average household income is about $109,851. This is more of a renter community, and 40 % of all housing units are occupied by the owners.

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There are some neat things to do that are close by. Legoland is a great family place, and the San Diego Zoo is within easy driving distance. Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is a desert location with hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails for you to explore.

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10) Scripps Miramar Ranch

The residents enjoy Scripps Miramar Ranch. It has quick access to the freeway (Very Important in San Diego County!) and is close to everything you could possibly need. The community has good schools and is a fantastic place for families to thrive.

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It is a hiker’s paradise. Mount Woodson Trail is 7.6 miles long and features Potato Chip Rock. Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve is close by, and Lake Miramar has trails around a man-made reservoir. If your throat is parched after hiking, you are in luck! Scripps Miramar Ranch is the home of several craft breweries.

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There are 34,922 citizens of Scripps Miramar Ranch. 78% own their housing units, and the average household income is $168,712. Roughly two-thirds of the people have a baccalaureate or graduate degree.

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Time is of the Essence!

There are affordable homes in San Diego County, but that does come with a cautionary note.

Look again at the median days on the market. That number is 10 days or below, and here is something to think about: the most desirable dwellings can be on the market for only 6 days in some cases. If you want to get a low-cost home in San Diego County, you must be able to move quickly. Do not wonder where the competition is; those people are right behind you, and they are gaining fast!

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We are saying that you must be ready to make an offer within perhaps two or three days. You will need to do the finance shopping before you start looking.

A preapproval letter helps. It is a document that lenders issue that will determine the amount of mortgage loan you could be approved for and what might be your mortgage interest rate. It will require information about your income, credit score, and assets.

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We can help you look for the money.

We are more than just a real estate agency in San Diego. We are also a licensed mortgage loan originator. So, we have the expertise to help you find the right mortgage at the most affordable interest rates.

We know the financial institutions in San Diego County as well as we know the neighborhoods. We will gladly sit down with you and determine an affordable price range and the best interest rates for your budget while working as a team. You can depend on us to identify those lending institutions that are the best to work with and most willing to loan you the needed cash.

We propose that you contact us at your earliest convenience to learn more about our services. It is easy to arrange a conference and we would welcome the opportunity to talk with you. We think you will discover that what we have to offer are the best services in the area and you will enjoy working with us.

I would love to help assist you with your home purchase, home sale, or home loan - please feel free to give me a call, text, or use the form below. 

Your San Diego Insider, 

Scott

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