Revealed: San Diego’s Best 10 Places to Live in 2021 | 2022 (Updated)

San Diego’s Ten Best Places to Live

San Diego County is much more than the city of San Diego. The metropolitan area has many towns and cities that are great places to live. You can find a home in one of the suburbs that not only fills your needs but will also meet your expectations.

Here’s a quick rundown of our list:

We want to show you some of these places. Each is unique, but they are all a part of the San Diego vibe. They make southern California one of the best places to live in the world. These are in alphabetical order, and all statistics are as of this writing.

Carlsbad

San Diego’s Ten Best Places to Live - Carlsbad

Population: 114,523. Median Household Income: $110,478.

Top Five Employers: Legoland California, Viasat Inc., Life Technologies Corporation, Omni La Costa Resort and Spa, Genoptix

We have mentioned this as one of the best beach towns in San Diego County, and Carlsbad is a lot more than that. This is a center for the golf industry. Cobra Golf, Titleist, Odyssey Golf, Callaway Golf Company, TaylorMade-Adidas Golf Company are all located in this city. The close relationship with golf has earned Carlsbad the nickname “Titanium City.”

Parents will be pleased to know that Carlsbad is ranked #4 in Cities with the Best Public Schools in America. It is also ranked in the top 20 in Best Cities to Raise a Family and Healthiest Cities in America. Housing is a bit pricey, and the Median Sale Price hovers around $1,210,000, which is a 27.3% increase from 2020. The Median Days on the Market for a house in Carlsbad is 12 days.

Redfin.com rates the Carlsbad housing market as Very Competitive.

Chula Vista

San Diego’s Ten Best Places to Live - Chula Vista

Population: 268,920. Median Household Income: Median Household Income: $81,272. Median Rent (Monthly) $1,622.

Top 5 Employers: Sweetwater Union High School District, Chula Vista Elementary School District, Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, Rohr Inc./Goodrich Aerospace, Southwestern College.

Only a few American cities have a year-round Olympic Training center, and Chula Vista is one. The U.S. rugby team practices here, and the Chula Vista FC soccer club is highly competitive. Little league baseball is very successful in Chula Vista. The Parkway Little League won the 2008 Little League World Series, and in 2013 the Eastlake Little League won the American Championship at the Little League World Series.

Tourism is important in Chula Vista, and some primary attractions are the Chula Vista Nature Center, Otay Valley Regional Park, the Chula Vista Marina, and Aquatica San Diego.

The Median Sale Price for a home in Chula Vista is reasonable at $690,000. The Median Days on the Market for a home is 12 days. 

Redfin.com rates the Chula Vista housing market as Very Competitive.

Del Mar

San Diego’s Ten Best Places to Live - Del Mar

Population: 4, 331. Median Household Income: $129,063. Median Rent (Monthly): $2,320.

It is primarily a residential community for the affluent crowd, and there are no major employers.

This beachfront town is ranked #1 in Best Suburbs to Raise a Family in the San Diego Area, and the accolades do not stop there. Del Mar is also ranked #3 in Places with the Best Public Schools in California, #3 in Suburbs with the Best Public Schools in California, and #5 in Best Places to Retire in California.

You might think that a county fair would only be held in a farming community, but Del Mar hosts the San Diego County Fair each year. Torrey Pines State Beach is located here. The Del Mar Antique Show & Sale is a long-running indoor antiques show (family-owned) and the largest collectible and antiques exhibition in southern California.

The school ranks are not surprising since this little hamlet has some expensive housing, and the property tax amount raised is substantial. The Median Sale Price for homes in Del Mar is $1,925,000. Consequently, the Median Days on the Market is 37 days.

Redfn.com rates the Del Mar housing market as Somewhat Competitive, but if you do not have the money, do not bother looking around here.

El Cajon

San Diego’s Ten Best Places to Live - El Cajon

Population: 103,196. Median Household Income: $55,509. Median Rent (Monthly) $1,339.

The Top 5 Employers are the Cajon Valley Union School District, GKN Aerospace Chem-Tronics, Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District, City of El Cajon, and Grossmont Union High School District.

Known as “The Box,” El Cajon is a diverse and family-friendly community in San Diego County, whose residents come from all over the world. The annual Mother Goose Parade is the largest in San Diego County. In addition, El Cajon is the home of the Water Conservation Garden and Butterfly Garden of Cuyamaca College and the Sycuan Casino.

The Median Sale Price of El Cajon homes is $667,000. Median Days on the Market is 11 days.

Redfin.com rates the EL Cajon housing market as Very Competitive.

Escondido

San Diego’s Ten Best Places to Live - Escondido

Population: 151,300. Median Household Income: $64,038. Median Rent (Monthly) $1,448

The Top 5 Employers in Escondido are the Palomar Medical Center, Escondido Union School District, City of Escondido, Escondido Union High School District, and Bergelectric.

Escondido happens to be one of the oldest cities in San Diego County and was initially incorporated in 1888. Escondido means “hidden” in Spanish, and some say it means “hidden treasure.” You might find that in one of the city’s neighborhoods. 

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is located here and is the sister park of the San Diego Zoo. The California Center for the Arts is here, and so, too, is the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum. The Escondido Arts Partnership actively promotes the art scene.

The Median Sale Price of Escondido homes is $699,500. The Median Days on the Market is 13 days.

Redfin.com rates the Escondido housing market as Very Competitive.  

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La Mesa

San Diego’s Ten Best Places to Live - La Mesa

Population: 59,556. Median Household Income: $66,051. Median Rent (Monthly) $1,547.

Top 5 Employers in La Mesa are Qualcomm, University of California San Diego, Illumina, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Navy

“Jewell of the Hills” is La Mesa’s official motto, and the community works hard to uphold it. La Mesa is ranked #11 in Best Suburbs to Live in the San Diego Area, and the bougainvillea is the official flower. If you think Hispanic culture is all you will find in southern California, you need to go to Oktoberfest in La Mesa. This is the biggest annual event in the city, and attendance is in the six figures. Sundays at Six is a free concert series offered in June and July, and La Mesa Village has a farmer’s market every Friday afternoon. Community volunteers are honored on the “Walkway of the Stars” pedestrian walkway.

The Median Sale Price of El Mesa homes is $725,000. Median Days on the Market is 12 days.

Redfin.com rates the La Mesa housing market as Very Competitive.

Oceanside

San Diego’s Ten Best Places to Live - Oceanside

Population: 175,622. Median Household Income: $72,697. Median Rent (Monthly) $1,753.

The Top 5 Employers in Oceanside are the Oceanside Unified School District, The Tri-City Hospital District, Mira Costa College, and the City of Oceanside.

This is not a sleepy little bedroom community by the ocean. Oceanside is the third-largest city in San Diego County and, with nearby Carlsbad and Vista, forms a tri-city area. It is rated #5 in Most Diverse Suburbs in the San Diego Area.

Downtown Oceanside is where you will find the California Surf Museum, and the Oceanside Pier is one of the longest wooden piers on the American Pacific Coast. Do you want to see the ladies battle the waves in a surfing contest? The Supergirl Pro Jam, the largest women’s surfing competition on Earth, is held in Oceanside.

The price of buying a home is very reasonable by San Diego standards. The Median Sale Price of Oceanside houses is $715,000. The Median Days on the Market is 11 days.

Redfin.com rates the Oceanside housing market as Very Competitive.

Rancho Santa Fe

San Diego’s Ten Best Places to Live - Rancho Santa Fe

Population: 2,510. Median Household Income: $137,083. Median Rent (Monthly): $3,025.

Primarily a residential area, there is no major employer in what is essentially a bedroom community.

Rancho Santa Fe has several superlatives. It is ranked #3 in Best Suburbs to Raise a Family in the San Diego Area, #1 in Places with the Best Public Schools in California, and #1 in Suburbs with the Best Public Schools in California. Rancho Santa Fe is considered a census-designated place (CDP) within the San Diego Metropolitan Area.

This is an expensive housing market. The Median Sale Price for a Rancho Santa Fe house is $3,673,000. The Median Days on the Market is 30 days, which is not surprising given the high sales price.

Redfin.com rates the Rancho Santa Fe housing market as Somewhat Competitive. But, again, the high price of homes means that only those who can afford the cost are actively looking in Rancho Santa Fe.

San Marcos

San Diego’s Ten Best Places to Live - San Marcos

Population: 95,355. Median Household Income: $78,797 Median Rent (Monthly) $1,704

The top 5 Employers in San Marcos are Hunter Industries, United Parcel Service, Southern California Permanente Med Group, Wal-Mart, and Costco Wholesale.

San Marcos is where you will find California State University San Marcos. You will also find Palomar College in this city. The San Marcos Unified School District is one of the largest school districts in San Diego County, and there are several charter schools in San Marcos. Lake San Marcos is a resort community surrounded by San Marcos. It is a CDP near a body of water created by a reservoir.

The homes for sale are reasonably priced. The Median Sale Price of San Marcos homes is $751,500. The Median Days on the Market is 10 days.

Redfin.com rates the San Marcos housing market as Very Competitive.

Solana Beach

San Diego’s Ten Best Places to Live - Solana Beach

Population: 13,356. Median Household Income: $108,118. Median Rent (Monthly) $2,232.

It is rated #1 in Best Suburbs to Live in the San Diego Area. It also gets favorable recognition for being #4 in Places with the Best Public Schools in California and #4 in Suburbs with the Best Public Schools in California. Solana Beach is the first city in the continental United States to ban smoking on its public beaches.

Solana Beach is a town of art galleries, cafes, and boutiques. The primary employer is Nisus Software. The oldest residential area is La Colonia de Eden Gardens.

The Median Sale Price of Solana Beach Homes is $1,500,000. Median Days on the Market is 25 days.

Redfin.com rates the Solana Beach housing market as Somewhat Competitive.

You probably noticed that not all the best places are not the haunts of millionaires. Several have reasonably priced homes by southern California standards. No one should be resigned to renting an apartment for the rest of their days. Even those who want to rent should not think they will have to sell blood or vital organs to afford an apartment.

There are many opportunities to live in one of the best places in San Diego County. However, a person can easily be overwhelmed by so much property in so many beautiful places. It is not easy to decide, but we can make it easy for you.

We are a real estate agency that has done business in San Diego County for years. We can assist you in creating a strategy that:

1. Identifies the town best suited to your needs.

2. Locates the neighborhood that is ideal for you and your family.

3. Pinpoints all the amenities you want. (e.g., schools, churches, libraries, etc.).

4. Targets the right house for you.

We also can help you arrange the right financing for your purchase. We pride ourselves on being able to provide maximum benefit for the realtor commission you pay. We helped many people save thousands of dollars on their house purchases.

We hope you are more than interested in these towns and that moving to one might be your next big life event. But this cannot be an impulsive step. If you noticed, the median house price in any of the towns is pretty steep. Even the rent is relatively high. The real estate market in San Diego continues to be volatile, and anyone who plans carefully for the move will do better. We are here to help you.

Are you interested in us? Please feel free to contact us at your earliest convenience. We welcome the chance to talk with you about buying a home in one of the best places in this area. You will not be disappointed with the services we offer.

Leave me a comment below – or, contact me here

I will be happy to help. 

Your San Diego Insider, 

Scott

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