The 10 Best Neighborhoods In San Diego, CA For 2024

The best San Diego neighborhoods are Wooded Area and Del Mar Heights for 2024 based on Saturday Night Science.

Best Neighborhoods In San Diego
Source: Wikipedia User Visitor7 | CC BY-SA 3.0

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 2024.

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 84 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 $83,640/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.

Table Of Contents: Top Ten | Methodology | Summary | Table

The Best Neighborhoods In San Diego For 2024

  1. Wooded Area
  2. Del Mar Heights
  3. Carmel Valley
  4. Bay Ho
  5. Scripps Ranch
  6. Rancho Penasquitos
  7. Ocean Beach
  8. North City
  9. San Carlos
  10. Mira Mesa

We were not at all surprised to find that San Diego is one of the better cities in America. The 84 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 Wooded Area.

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:

The 10 Best Neighborhoods To Live In San Diego

Population: 4,375
Median Home Value: $1,116,100 (Fourth best)
Median Income: $146,555 (Fourth best)
More on Wooded Area: Data | Real Estate

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 1 top place to live in San Diego for 2024.

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 $146,555 and an unemployment rate of $0.9%. This is offset a bit by high real estate prices, with a median home value of $1,116,100.

Population: 6,613
Median Home Value: $1,328,975 (best)
Median Income: $166,796 (Third best)
More on Del Mar Heights: Data | Real Estate

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 $166,796.

Population: 48,364
Median Home Value: $1,037,794 (Fifth best)
Median Income: $172,093 (Second best)
More on Carmel Valley: Data | Real Estate

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 $1,037,794. Don’t worry about those lofty mortgage payments. With a median income of $172,093, locals can afford it.

Population: 14,621
Median Home Value: $678,042 (24th best)
Median Income: $108,600 (15th best)
More on Bay Ho: Data | Real Estate

Scripps Ranch San Diego, CA

Source: Wikipedia User | CC BY-SA 3.0

Population: 22,537
Median Home Value: $791,708 (12th best)
Median Income: $134,883 (Eighth best)
More on Scripps Ranch: Data | Real Estate

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 $134,883, while the median home value comes in at $791,708.

Population: 52,735
Median Home Value: $770,052 (14th best)
Median Income: $141,794 (Sixth best)
More on Rancho Penasquitos: Data | Real Estate

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 $141,794. Sure, that’s a nice salary, but it does have to stretch in this area. The median home value comes in above $600,000.

Ocean Beach San Diego, CA

Source: Wikipedia User | CC BY-SA 3.0

Population: 11,791
Median Home Value: $938,036 (Seventh best)
Median Income: $88,712 (34th best)
More on Ocean Beach: Data | Real Estate

Population: 8,226
Median Home Value: $1,190,529 (Third best)
Median Income: $181,904 (best)
More on North City: Data | Real Estate

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: 13,423
Median Home Value: $600,367 (30th best)
Median Income: $117,481 (12th best)
More on San Carlos: Data | Real Estate

Population: 75,182
Median Home Value: $544,098 (39th best)
Median Income: $107,972 (17th best)
More on Mira Mesa: Data | Real Estate

Methodology: How We Determined The Best San Diego, CA Neighborhoods In 2024

To rank the best neighborhoods in San Diego, we had to determine what criteria define “best” and then apply Saturday Night Science to it.

Using FBI 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 84 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, Wooded Area.

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.

We updated this article for 2024. This report is our tenth time ranking the best neighborhoods to live in San Diego.

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.

The best neighborhoods in San Diego are Wooded Area, Del Mar Heights, Carmel Valley, Bay Ho, Scripps Ranch, Rancho Penasquitos, Ocean Beach, North City, San Carlos, and Mira Mesa.

As 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.

The worst neighborhoods in San Diego are San Ysidro, Midtown District, Mount Hope, Mission Valley, and Memorial.

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 2024 Detailed Data

Rank Neighborhood Population Home Value Median Income
1 Wooded Area 4,375 $1,116,100 $146,555
2 Del Mar Heights 6,613 $1,328,975 $166,796
3 Carmel Valley 48,364 $1,037,794 $172,093
4 Bay Ho 14,621 $678,042 $108,600
5 Scripps Ranch 22,537 $791,708 $134,883
6 Rancho Penasquitos 52,735 $770,052 $141,794
7 Ocean Beach 11,791 $938,036 $88,712
8 North City 8,226 $1,190,529 $181,904
9 San Carlos 13,423 $600,367 $117,481
10 Mira Mesa 75,182 $544,098 $107,972
11 Carmel Mountain 11,748 $708,543 $115,289
12 Pacific Beach 30,872 $920,036 $105,991
13 Bay Park 17,860 $707,443 $97,131
14 South Park 5,472 $722,771 $100,660
15 La Jolla 36,662 $1,298,387 $128,665
16 North Clairemont 15,494 $603,617 $98,740
17 Tierrasanta 30,151 $645,145 $108,245
18 Sorrento Valley 5,578 $803,500 $131,900
19 Sabre Springs 10,313 $714,900 $129,605
20 Lake Murray 18,708 $564,464 $100,688
21 Gaslamp Quarter 1,003 $438,200 $136,541
22 Jomacha-Lomita 10,967 $432,617 $75,645
23 Park West 9,147 $723,522 $83,911
24 Loma Portal 6,151 $851,783 $102,321
25 Paradise Hills 17,552 $462,811 $82,009
26 University City 50,294 $651,046 $100,582
27 Talmadge 9,587 $613,912 $78,229
28 Rancho Bernadino 44,185 $553,456 $95,093
29 Roseville 6,705 $737,410 $97,826
30 La Jolla Village 6,108 $385,857 $68,178
31 Horton Plaza 1,280 $976,800 $45,142
32 Allied Gardens 10,485 $560,800 $98,904
33 Del Cerro 7,715 $723,380 $145,915
34 Marina 5,147 $748,733 $101,719
35 Kensington 5,994 $703,300 $115,804
36 Normal Heights 9,939 $489,589 $69,726
37 Little Italy 2,942 $626,017 $90,835
38 Linda Vista 26,535 $560,400 $68,425
39 Clairemont Mesa 38,765 $447,570 $70,301
40 Grantville 9,910 $431,500 $75,187
41 Bay Terrace 22,838 $310,253 $73,018
42 Egger Highlands 9,453 $409,200 $62,691
43 Alta Vista 2,337 $453,600 $88,864
44 Serra Mesa 26,135 $567,185 $84,829
45 Balboa Park 1,538 $586,175 $86,502
46 Midtown 4,144 $776,017 $78,819
47 Nestor 16,535 $321,086 $56,666
48 West University Heights 9,608 $469,970 $66,574
49 Bird Land 4,703 $516,125 $77,436
50 Darnall 9,347 $312,383 $61,064
51 Gateway 2,657 $345,800 $66,000
52 Valencia Park 11,708 $337,850 $57,624
53 Encanto 16,614 $448,042 $76,754
54 North Hills 43,221 $440,667 $63,468
55 Oak Park 16,342 $382,290 $64,099
56 Columbia 1,641 $440,800 $82,797
57 Cortez Hill 2,891 $542,725 $71,568
58 East Village 10,954 $498,650 $62,824
59 Core 3,770 $96,950 $33,240
60 Grant Hill 4,767 $491,800 $47,064
61 College Area 21,712 $432,218 $58,577
62 Lincoln Park 10,187 $311,660 $39,992
63 Webster 10,383 $309,071 $57,071
64 Moreno Mission 9,691 $362,560 $58,425
65 Old Town 1,127 $913,900 $99,922
66 Sky Line 10,572 $301,957 $58,462
67 El Cerritos 6,157 $313,775 $54,388
68 Torrey Pines 951 $563,333 $106,868
69 Rolando 8,058 $573,843 $46,339
70 Mountain View 16,306 $374,325 $43,571
71 Chollas View 5,172 $313,075 $48,414
72 Southcrest 6,539 $353,200 $48,597
73 Bario Logan 10,422 $194,600 $30,625
74 City Heights West 31,588 $256,556 $36,560
75 Kearny Mesa 5,042 $501,450 $103,189
76 Mission Bay 62,292 $383,500 $65,071
77 City Heights East 38,743 $156,600 $32,300
78 Emerald Hills 5,006 $412,950 $59,826
79 Palm City 6,059 $193,100 $69,026
80 Memorial 14,637 $299,864 $30,176
81 Mission Valley 7,490 $279,720 $74,473
82 Mount Hope 8,997 $288,200 $37,060
83 Midtown District 10,962 $274,430 $53,556
84 San Ysidro 27,974 $378,173 $65,404
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.