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Best Neighborhoods in San Diego

When you think of San Diego, there are certain images that come to mind: sun, surf, and laidback living to name a few. But did you know the city is also home to charming historic districts, wide-open green spaces, high-rated schools, and some of the biggest biotech industries in the country?

It's no wonder that San Diego is one of the fastest-growing cities in California. And if you're looking for a change in pace, scenery, or environment, it might be just the city for you!

With over 100 unique neighborhoods to choose from, though, how do you decide what part of the city is right for you and your family?

We've taken the guesswork out of moving to San Diego. Whether you're looking for nightlife or a quiet place to start a family, we've got you covered with a list of the best neighborhoods in San Diego.

Downtown Drama

Unlike many U.S. cities, San Diego's downtown is underpopulated compared to the rest of the city. This is a major advantage for homebuyers looking to break into an affordable market.

As the heart of the city, downtown also offers a great snapshot of San Diego culture with lots of businesses, arts, and entertainment to pursue.

Little Italy

With some of the best food in the city, this close-knit community is the cultural powerhouse of San Diego. Quaint and walkable, Little Italy is a prime destination for those looking for the excitement of downtown living without constant bar crawls outside their windows.

While Little Italy boasts a beautiful mix of affordable historic and new houses, real estate in this part of the city sells fast. So be sure to get in touch with a realtor early into the moving process.

East Village

East Village is prized for its educational focus and walkability. With a community college sprawling across much of the neighborhood, you'll never be at a loss for public events and local San Diego attractions. 

Since the building of Petco Park, however, the area has gotten more crowded around game days. So, if occasional tourists aren't your jam, this may not be the neighborhood for you.

Central Living

Looking for San Diego areas that embrace the beach lifestyle without a coastal price tag? Central San Diego offers all the wonders of sun-soaked architecture without the cost. 

And, being only a short commute from both the beach and downtown, these community-focused neighborhoods offer the perfect retreat for young families and professionals alike.


San Diego's very own LGBTQ-friendly area has a lot more than good bars and pride flags.

This neighborhood is located equal distance from the coast and downtown, making it a great spot for new residents looking to explore what San Diego has to offer. Additionally, local attractions like the weekly farmer's market make the neighborhood feel welcoming and accessible.

Normal Heights

The ideal spot for young families, Normal Heights is anything but normal. The neighborhood radiates local San Diego charm while remaining a safe and affordable place to find a single-family home. 

This neighborhood is especially great for young folks who want to buy a home but may not be ready to part with urban living yet.

Coastal Hills

If you're looking for ocean charm and sweeping views, there's no better place to live than San Diego's coastal neighborhoods.

Though these vistas usually come with a hefty price tag, these neighborhoods more than makeup for their cost in culture and convenience. And, since San Diego real estate prices are on the rise, you're sure to get back the investment you in your future home and then some.

La Jolla

If you've seen any photos of San Diego's coastline, they were probably taken here. La Jolla boasts a breathtaking seascape with dramatic cliffs and easy beach access. 

The views aren't the only thing astounding about this neighborhood, though. As the home of the University of California San Diego, La Jolla provides access to a large number of research companies and businesses. It also has one of the best public school systems in San Diego, which is great news for students and parents alike.

Pacific Beach

Lovingly called "PB" by local residents, Pacific Beach offers a more adventurous escape from city life. 

This neighborhood is known for its chill atmosphere, enhanced by an even mix of retirees, surfers, and students. After the sun sets, though, watch out. This spot is popular with both vacationers and weekend partiers.

Northern Bound

North San Diego earned the city its reputation as the Silicon Beach. If you're looking to break into the city's vibrant biotech scene, the northern part of the city is where you need to be.

Even for the technically challenged, though, the North Dan Diego is a great place to live.

Most notably, this area has some of San Diego's more suburban neighborhoods. This makes it ideal for families seeking kid-friendly homes without sacrificing city convenience.


In 2017, Carlsbad was named one of the "happiest places" in the U.S. by National Geographic.

And, looking at the neighborhood, it's not hard to see why.

This historic hideaway hosts some of the best San Diego attractions around with golf courses, museums, and unique mineral spas. It also has fantastic schools and is adding new jobs all the time.

So, if you're searching for a change in mood, Carlsbad isn't a bad choice.


Encinitas encompasses everything we love about classic San Diego. 

This beautiful destination has top-rated schools and a community focus on outdoor living that you'd be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.

And, as an added bonus, it's only a half-an-hour north of downtown San Diego, which makes commuting downtown easy.

Best Neighborhoods in San Diego

Moving is a big decision. But, with this list of the best neighborhoods in San Diego and the expert advice of the team at Steele San Diego Homes, you'll be ready to make your moving dreams a reality!

With a commitment to integrity, service, and, above all, fun, John and Melissa Steele are here to make buying and selling your home breezier than San Diego's coastline.

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