The 10 Best Neighborhoods In San Diego For 2022

We used science and data to determine which neighborhoods in San Diego are the best of the best.

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What do 1.5 million San Diegan residents know that the rest of the country does not? Well, for one, this city has some of the best neighborhoods to establish some Southern California roots. And, trusty HomeSnacks readers, today is your lucky day because we've created a list of the best neighborhoods in San Diego for 2022.

But, before you head down to our coveted list of the best neighborhoods in San Diego, you need to know how we calculated our list. First, we looked at the latest FBI data, Census report, and BLS for San Diego's 85 neighborhoods. We then created our own index based on factors that most people find important when looking for their forever neighborhood: low crime, affordable housing, educated neighbors, convenience, and amenities.

Our super scientific formula led us to a bunch of fun San Diego neighborhood facts. For one, if you want to live in most of San Diego's best neighborhoods, you're going to have to make at least $69,683/year. And while this is a pretty sizable requirement, it does usually mean that your neighbors are educated and that they value safety and cleanliness. If top notch schools for your kiddos is a requirement, San Diego's neighborhood, Torrey Pines has that market cornered. And if you're looking to get the most bang for your buck with average home prices around $500,000 than you should definitely give Carmel Mountain a second glance.

However, if you want to see our list of the best neighborhoods in San Diego, you're going to have to keep reading.

We were not at all surprised to find that San Diego is one of the better cities in America. The 85 neighborhoods that make up America's Finest City could be the poster neighborhoods for the rest of the country. In layman's terms, if you want that beach life with five star restaurants and posh shopping, La Jolla should be at the top of your list. And if you're looking for a neighborhood close to an airport, Wooded Area is it.

So, what's the best neighborhood in San Diego? Well, according to the latest data and our SnackAbility index, that would be Del Mar Heights.

If you want to see a list of the rest of the latest and greatest neighborhoods in San Diego, take a look below. And if you don't find what you're looking for there, head on down to the bottom of the page.

For more California reading, check out:

Best Neighborhoods In San Diego

The 10 Best Neighborhoods To Live In San Diego

The words "del mar" mean "from sea." Here, you have the heights overlooking the ocean. You can certainly smell the salt air wafting in "from sea" when you buy a place in Del Mar Heights.

If the ocean isn't your thing...well, maybe it's time to start looking for a place in Omaha. But even if you're looking for a little change of pace, you can find other outdoor activities around the neighborhood at Crest Canyon Park.

All this natural beauty and easy beach access come at a cost, of course. A home around here will run you more than a million dollars. Still, it helps when the median income reaches $125,086.

Population: 6,860
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $1,102,320 (Third best)
Median Income: $125,086 (Third best)
More on Del Mar Heights: Homes For Sale | Data

Yes, North City is north of downtown. No surprises there. But that isn't the main geographical asset.

Jump on the I-5 and you'll reach the heart of the city in about a half hour (traffic allowing, of course). Want to get to the beach? Much shorter drive. You can hit the sand in about 10 minutes.

So, North City has the crucial real estate function covered: location, location, location. No wonder the homes here tend to reach seven-figure prices. But the area has the economy to support these high-priced abodes. The local median income totals nearly $150,000.

Population: 12,743
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $1,111,200 (Second best)
Median Income: $146,445 (best)
More on North City: Homes For Sale | Data

San Diego's main draw comes from its magnificent shorelines. No wonder La Jolla ranks as the number 3 neighborhood in San Diego for 2022. Few areas offer better access to the region's natural beauty.

Bounded on one side by the I-5 and on the other by the Pacific Ocean, you'll find plenty of outdoor adventures in this part of town. Besides the coastline, you can hike in the Torrey Pines State Reserve. However, there is more to the neighborhood than spotting dolphins and sea lions. This district also houses the University of California San Diego and well as the famed Torrey Pines Golf Course.

Population: 29,356
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $1,326,057 (best)
Median Income: $124,573 (Fourth best)
More on La Jolla: Homes For Sale | Data

What could be better than a carmel mountain? A chocolate mountain? An ice cream mountain? Wait...this is Carmel Mountain. Still, even if it isn't a giant mound of sweets, this still counts as the number 4 best place to live in San Diego for 2022.

There really is a Carmel Mountain in the San Diego area. It's actually located a bit west of here. This neighborhood sits closer to Black Mountain.

Beyond the views offered at nearby Black Mountain Open Space Park, you'll find plenty of shopping and restaurants in the area. It's an excellent place for locals to spend their six-figure salaries.

Population: 9,581
Rank Last Year: 4 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $548,400 (19th best)
Median Income: $109,735 (Eighth best)
More on Carmel Mountain: Homes For Sale | Data

Carmel Mountain San Diego, CA

Carmel Mountain makes this list. So does Carmel Valley. The names are a little confusing. The neighborhood of Carmel Mountain sits near Black Mountain. Carmel Valley actually contains Carmel Mountain.

This little bit of confusion aside, Carmel Valley has other key selling points. Located in the northwest part of the city, it lies within easy driving distance to the ocean.

As you'd guess, this prime location comes at a cost. The median home price here hovers at $800,133. Don't worry about those lofty mortgage payments. With a median income of $146,086, locals can afford it.

Population: 39,559
Rank Last Year: 5 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $800,133 (Fifth best)
Median Income: $146,086 (Second best)
More on Carmel Valley: Homes For Sale | Data

Leaving San Diego to the northeast, you can head up I-15, taking a ride toward LA and the rest of California. Or, you can drive east, off into the wilderness, eventually reaching places like Cuyamaca Rancho State Park.

Scripps Ranch offers a gateway in both directions. Situated near the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, it offers a great compromise between city living and a foothold into nature.

Just make sure you have the bank account for this kind of lifestyle. The median income in the area stands at $115,865, while the median home value comes in at $619,742.

Population: 36,364
Rank Last Year: 6 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $619,742 (Ninth best)
Median Income: $115,865 (Sixth best)
More on Scripps Ranch: Homes For Sale | Data

Scripps Ranch San Diego, CA

Here's another top neighborhood located in northeast section of the city, around Black Mountain. Like most of the other locations on this list, strong financial figures underpin its designation as the number 7 best part of San Diego for 2022.

Six-figure median salary? Check. Tiny unemployment rate? Check. Sticker shock when it comes to real estate pricing? Yeah, check there too.

Meanwhile, you can tick off some other items on a neighborhood wish list. Yes, Sabre Springs is a bit of a ride from both downtown and the beach. But you've got other draws, such as the hiking offered in the Black Mountain area.

Population: 14,559
Rank Last Year: 8 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $551,371 (17th best)
Median Income: $112,046 (Seventh best)
More on Sabre Springs: Homes For Sale | Data

Sabre Springs San Diego, CA

Yes, the name here is pretty generic. It sounds like something from an early version of Minecraft. But this Wooded Area doesn't exist as a small collection of trees. Rather, it serves as the number 8 top place to live in San Diego for 2022.

How does Wooded Area earn this distinction? Well, maybe it should change its name to Coastal Area. Sure, you can check out some trees at the Sunset Cliffs Natural Park...but the real selling point is the great ocean views.

Meanwhile, a firm financial footing provides another main draw. Locals enjoy a median income of $109,591 and an unemployment rate of $3.2%. This is offset a bit by high real estate prices, with a median home value of $751,067.

Population: 7,369
Rank Last Year: 7 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $751,067 (Sixth best)
Median Income: $109,591 (Ninth best)
More on Wooded Area: Homes For Sale | Data

The shadow of Black Mountain apparantly offers ideal living conditions. This list already has a few neighborhoods surrounding the landmark, from Sabre Springs to Carmel Mountain, both located just over the I-15 from Rancho Penasquitos.

Here's yet another spot around Black Mountain that offers a stellar place to put down roots. The name of the neighborhood, located in northeast San Diego, refers to its mountainous setting. The word "penasquitos" translates to "little cliffs."

Like the other spots in this section of town, a strong financial base provides the central attraction. The median income around here totals $119,880. Sure, that's a nice salary, but it does have to stretch in this area. The median home value comes in above $600,000.

Population: 63,341
Rank Last Year: 9 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $602,482 (12th best)
Median Income: $119,880 (Fifth best)
More on Rancho Penasquitos: Homes For Sale | Data

Continuing a trend present in a lot of areas on this list, Rancho Bernadino sits on the northeast part of town, near Black Mountain. I-15 runs through the neighborhood, providing a path into the rest of California.

Far from the center of town, Rancho Bernadino still attracts high-earning professionals. The median income comes in at $95,093. As you've probably guessed, home prices run high in this part of town. The median home value sits at $553,456.

Need a wilderness escape? You can head out to Lake Hodges. Or drive a little further to reach the Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve.

Population: 44,185
Rank Last Year: 10 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $553,456 (16th best)
Median Income: $95,093 (14th best)
More on Rancho Bernadino: Homes For Sale | Data

Methodology: How We Determined The Best San Diego, CA Neighborhoods In 2022

In order to rank the best neighborhoods in San Diego, we had to determine what criteria defines a "best".

Using crime, census, and extrapolated BLS data, we arrived at the following set of criteria:

  • High incomes
  • Low unemployment rates
  • Low crime
  • High home prices
  • High population densities (A proxy for things to do)

We then ranked each neighborhood with scores from 1 to 85 in each category, where 1 was the best.

Next, we averaged the rankings for each neighborhood to create a best neighborhood index.

And finally, we crowned the neighborhood with the lowest best neighborhood index the "Best City Neighborhood In San Diego." We're lookin' at you, Del Mar Heights.

Read on below to learn more about what it's like to live in the best places San Diego, California has to offer. Or skip to the end to see the list of all the neighborhoods in the city from best to worst.

Summary: Putting A Bow On Our Analysis Of The Best Neighborhoods In San Diego

If you're measuring the neighborhoods in San Diego where crime is low and everyone wants to live, this is an accurate list.

As we mentioned earlier, the neighborhoods in San Diego aren't all good. San Ysidro takes the title of the worst neighborhood to live in San Diego.

We ranked the neighborhoods from best to worst in the chart below.

For more California reading, check out:

Best Neighborhoods To Live In San Diego For 2022 Detailed Data

Rank Neighborhood Population Home Value Median Income
1 Del Mar Heights 6,860 $1,102,320 $125,086
2 North City 12,743 $1,111,200 $146,445
3 La Jolla 29,356 $1,326,057 $124,573
4 Carmel Mountain 9,581 $548,400 $109,735
5 Carmel Valley 39,559 $800,133 $146,086
6 Scripps Ranch 36,364 $619,742 $115,865
7 Sabre Springs 14,559 $551,371 $112,046
8 Wooded Area 7,369 $751,067 $109,591
9 Rancho Penasquitos 63,341 $602,482 $119,880
10 Rancho Bernadino 44,185 $553,456 $95,093
11 La Jolla Village 6,108 $385,857 $68,178
12 San Carlos 14,460 $542,578 $98,573
13 Roseville 6,705 $737,410 $97,826
14 University City 50,132 $496,437 $79,076
15 Lake Murray 20,476 $448,128 $78,711
16 South Park 4,717 $513,357 $70,529
17 Bay Park 16,187 $561,693 $72,934
18 Pacific Beach 31,770 $612,228 $84,251
19 Clairemont Mesa 38,765 $447,570 $70,301
20 Marina 4,435 $527,383 $81,068
21 Tierrasanta 20,893 $420,812 $92,814
22 Del Cerro 6,238 $576,086 $90,103
23 Ocean Beach 11,549 $671,220 $80,033
24 Sorrento Valley 9,484 $424,675 $101,333
25 Bay Terrace 22,838 $310,253 $73,018
26 Loma Portal 22,946 $537,748 $70,881
27 Alta Vista 9,210 $339,814 $80,027
28 North Clairemont 15,282 $472,486 $67,023
29 Torrey Pines 2,072 $869,850 $107,456
30 Mira Mesa 71,228 $401,867 $92,480
31 Little Italy 3,171 $429,400 $68,278
32 Bay Ho 12,154 $542,400 $76,991
33 Old Town 11,380 $513,255 $82,190
34 West University Heights 9,608 $469,970 $66,574
35 Park West 5,168 $604,117 $48,800
36 Columbia 1,641 $440,800 $82,797
37 Darnall 9,347 $312,383 $61,064
38 Gateway 2,657 $345,800 $66,000
39 Kensington 6,412 $551,271 $82,283
40 North Hills 43,221 $440,667 $63,468
41 Paradise Hills 23,426 $284,980 $61,827
42 Linda Vista 24,344 $384,435 $58,325
43 Serra Mesa 29,095 $358,640 $71,467
44 Midtown 19,847 $462,358 $69,895
45 Talmadge 9,733 $371,944 $55,951
46 Allied Gardens 8,906 $294,836 $72,258
47 College Area 21,712 $432,218 $58,577
48 Chollas View 9,025 $257,280 $43,595
49 Jomacha-Lomita 8,868 $304,180 $63,285
50 Horton Plaza 659 $442,800 $40,484
51 Moreno Mission 9,691 $362,560 $58,425
52 Grant Hill 12,403 $309,392 $35,511
53 Bird Land 5,136 $358,240 $72,367
54 Balboa Park 11,904 $382,159 $63,344
55 Sky Line 10,572 $301,957 $58,462
56 Rolando 8,526 $400,450 $48,682
57 Core 3,770 $96,950 $33,240
58 Webster 10,383 $309,071 $57,071
59 Grantville 14,104 $304,923 $67,889
60 Egger Highlands 9,877 $264,320 $47,002
61 El Cerritos 6,157 $313,775 $54,388
62 Normal Heights 15,186 $353,318 $52,797
63 Cortez Hill 2,825 $205,400 $33,282
64 Encanto 15,111 $329,310 $61,759
65 Tijuana River Valley 3,380 $584,700 $60,506
66 Mission Bay 62,292 $383,500 $65,071
67 City Heights West 31,588 $256,556 $36,560
68 Bario Logan 10,422 $194,600 $30,625
69 Southcrest 9,681 $256,967 $39,730
70 Emerald Hills 7,735 $321,520 $53,032
71 Valencia Park 6,293 $303,550 $53,292
72 Gaslamp Quarter 1,083 $189,600 $46,313
73 Lincoln Park 5,717 $325,633 $31,797
74 Nestor 16,126 $181,400 $57,292
75 City Heights East 38,743 $156,600 $32,300
76 Kearny Mesa 3,664 $328,900 $79,000
77 Mountain View 12,582 $198,900 $30,582
78 East Village 13,053 $370,033 $59,134
79 Mission Valley 7,490 $279,720 $74,473
80 Midtown District 10,962 $274,430 $53,556
81 Mount Hope 8,997 $288,200 $37,060
82 Oak Park 9,873 $244,475 $50,064
83 Memorial 14,637 $299,864 $30,176
84 Palm City 7,132 $216,300 $56,621
85 San Ysidro 28,456 $252,665 $46,562

Editor's Note: We updated this article for 2022. This is our ninth time ranking the best neighborhoods to live in San Diego.

About Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar has been in the real estate business for almost ten years now. He originally worked for Movoto Real Estate as the director of marketing before founding HomeSnacks.

He believes the key to finding the right place to live comes down to looking at the data, reading about things to do, and, most importantly, checking it out yourself before you move.

If you've been looking for a place to live in the past several years, you've probably stumbled upon his writing already.

You can find out more about him on LinkedIn or his website.