The 10 Best San Diego Suburbs To Live In For 2024

The best San Diego suburbs are Del Mar and Solana Beach for 2024 based on Saturday Night Science.

There’s no doubt about it; San Diego is one of the best places to call home in California. But if you’re not a big-city person, you’d be well advised to consult our list of the best San Diego suburbs before moving to one.

San Diego has some of the nicest weather in the country, so you’d better believe its satellite cities also have their moments in the sun. From any of these suburbs, you can also easily get to one of the best zoos in the world, the San Diego Zoo, for a day of family fun. Beach bums also have a lot to be happy about with La Jolla Cove right in their backyard. And NYC’s Central Park is cute and all, but San Diego’s Balboa Park is nearly twice the size and definitely twice as safe as the Big Apple’s claim to fame.

What qualities did we look at when determining the best San Diego suburbs? Well, we looked at the most recent data from the FBI and the Census to see which of San Diego’s 17 suburbs had low crime, high income levels, low unemployment and poverty rates, and functioning economies.

That left us with the ten best suburbs to call home in the San Diego area. It seems that coastal suburbs, which comprise the top five of our list, enjoyed a significant statistical advantage. Large cities like Oceanside hardly feel like suburbs at all, and might make a good option for someone who doesn’t want to feel the need to head into San Diego every day. Those with deep pockets who want the best of California beach life will be drawn to Coronado, but be warned that the cost of living here is quite steep. Those who don’t mind eschewing the beach will find massive savings in Santee, one of the few places on this list you can snag a home for under $500,000.

So don your Padres cap, order up some of the best Mexican food this side of the border, and get ready for the best weather of your life, because we’re visiting San Diego’s best suburbs.

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

There you have it: the best suburbs San Diego has to offer. If you’re unsure if you’d feel more at home in San Diego than just outside it, check out our list of San Diego’s best neighborhoods. Then you’ll be equipped with all the info you need to make a fully-informed decision.

Any of these suburbs will make an excellent home, but there can only be one gold medal winner. So what’s the best San Diego suburb? According to the data, Del Mar holds the title for 2024.

Were you considering moving to a San Diego suburb that wasn’t featured on our list? Take a look at the comprehensive list of San Diego suburbs below to see how each one ranked.

Feel free to check out some more reading about California:

The 10 Best San Diego Suburbs To Live For 2024

Del Mar, CA

Source: Wikipedia User No machine-readable author provided. Intersofia assumed (based on copyright claims). | GFDL
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Population: 3,956
Median Income: $185,335
Unemployment Rate: 2.0%
Poverty Rate: 1.7%
More on Del Mar: Data | Crime | Real Estate

Del Mar is always mentioned as one of the best suburbs in the San Diego area. We’ll tell you the good about “Awesome Del Mar.”

Everyone here is rich; families average $185,335 a year, which is the highest in the San Diego region. And only 1.98% are out of work. Homes average more than $3,618,018 each.

Solana Beach, CA

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Population: 12,946
Median Income: $137,647
Unemployment Rate: 3.5%
Poverty Rate: 4.8%
More on Solana Beach: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living | Real Estate

Solana Beach is the second best ‘burb we looked at near San Diego for 2024.

It ranks 3rd for incomes in the area and only 4.66% of residents lack insurance, good for 6th best.

Encinitas, CA

Source: Wikipedia User Original uploader was Ohnoitsjamie at en.wikipedia | CC BY 2.0
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Population: 61,942
Median Income: $142,506
Unemployment Rate: 4.6%
Poverty Rate: 7.1%
More on Encinitas: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living | Real Estate

Here in Encinitas, it’s really safe, and residents are just about as rich as you’ll see in the San Diego metro area.

The bad side? Schools are more crowded, and the cost of living puts a large part of the city out of reach for most families.

But price is based on demand and a lot of people want to live in Encinitas.

Coronado, CA

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Population: 18,871
Median Income: $125,558
Unemployment Rate: 5.0%
Poverty Rate: 5.8%
More on Coronado: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living | Real Estate

Coronado ranks as the 4th best suburb of San Diego for 2024.

You won’t find many better places to raise your kids in the region than in Coronado and the schools are some of the best around.

Carlsbad, CA

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Population: 114,745
Median Income: $134,139
Unemployment Rate: 6.0%
Poverty Rate: 6.9%
More on Carlsbad: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living | Real Estate

Coming in as the fifth best is Carlsbad.

Carlsbad gets kudos for having the 5th most expensive homes in the San Diego area, where houses sell for an average of $1,449,918. However, the cost of living here is among the highest in the area.

Poway, CA

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Population: 48,737
Median Income: $135,605
Unemployment Rate: 5.9%
Poverty Rate: 5.9%
More on Poway: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living | Real Estate

Poway is proud of its 6th place finish on this list. And here’s why.

Most residents have great jobs and the unemployment rate sits at 5.91%.

According to online reports, Poway is quickly becoming one of the more affluent suburbs in the San Diego area, meaning you need to get in soon.

Santee, CA

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Population: 59,497
Median Income: $101,777
Unemployment Rate: 5.4%
Poverty Rate: 8.4%
More on Santee: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living | Real Estate

The 7th best suburb on our list goes to Santee.

Santee schools are some of the best in the region, and crime is really low. The cost of living makes it a lot more desirable for many families, especially first-time home buyers.

And, it’s only 9.1 miles to downtown, which is a good thing.

San Marcos, CA

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Population: 94,360
Median Income: $99,413
Unemployment Rate: 4.2%
Poverty Rate: 9.7%
More on San Marcos: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living | Real Estate

San Marcos is growing quickly, and for a good reason. Crime is far below average, and most residents are gainfully employed. Even the cost of living is reasonable.

A solid 7.75% of people lack insurance, good for 11th in the area.

La Mesa, CA

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Population: 60,888
Median Income: $83,649
Unemployment Rate: 6.5%
Poverty Rate: 11.7%
More on La Mesa: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living | Real Estate

Is ‘Everything Better In La Mesa?’


It placed 9th on our list thanks to the fact that it’s really expensive to live here, but the schools are great, so you get what you pay for in that regard.

Review Of La Mesa by HomeSnacks User

The crime is relatively low for the region. It is a safe and quiet community.

La Mesa Performing Arts Academy is an excellent school, and has received numerous awards from the state of California. Their music program is excellent.

Helix Charter High School is a college preparatory school, and is the alma mater of football greats Alex Smith and Reggie Bush. Classes are on a block schedule, and students have the ability to cross-enroll at local colleges for graduation credits.

Brew Coffee Spot is a great place to get a cup of coffee. Centifonti’s restaurant has a variety of menu items, including draft beer, sweets, and gelato. These items are made fresh daily.

Housing costs are high, but La Mesa is minutes from the ocean.

Oceanside, CA

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Population: 173,722
Median Income: $86,701
Unemployment Rate: 5.9%
Poverty Rate: 9.2%
More on Oceanside: Data | Crime | Cost Of Living | Real Estate

And rounding out the top ten for 2024 is Oceanside.

This city is far above average in every category, and the best part? It’s far more affordable than the other cities listed above. So, you get a big bang for your buck here.

Methodology: How We Determined The Best Suburbs Around San Diego for 2024

Figuring out the best suburbs around San Diego was simple. We used Saturday Night Science to find things people like about living in the suburbs and then locate the suburbs with those things.

We analyzed the newest American Community Survey data for 2018-2022 to research each suburb. We decided upon the following criteria:

  • Low unemployment rate
  • High median household incomes
  • Population density (lots of things to do)
  • High home values
  • A lot of college-educated people
  • Low poverty
  • High rate of insured families

We defined a suburb as being within 30 miles of San Diego.

Additionally, we limited the analysis to places that have over 3,000 people. This left us with a grand total of 17 suburbs to evaluate around San Diego.

We ranked each place with scores from 1 to 17 in each category, where 1 was the “best.

Next, we averaged the rankings for each place to create a quality-of-life index.

Finally, we crowned the city with the best quality of life index, the “Best Suburb near San Diego.” We’re lookin’ at you, Del Mar.

This result may differ from our state-wide data as we did not include commute times and crime for this analysis to allow for a more extensive selection of suburbs.

We updated the data for 2024. This report is our tenth time ranking the best San Diego suburbs. Skip to the end to see the list of all the suburbs ranked from best to worst.

Summary: Welcome to the Best San Diego ‘Burbs of 2024

We said it once, and we’ll say it again–life in the big city isn’t for everyone. At least not all the time.

The best suburbs of San Diego are .

So if you’re craving the amenities of a larger city like San Diego but don’t want to deal with the drawbacks, one of these suburbs might be for you.

For more California reading, check out:

Table: Best San Diego Suburbs

Rank City Population Median Income Average Home Price
1 Del Mar, CA 3,956 $185,335 $3,618,018
2 Solana Beach, CA 12,946 $137,647 $2,030,109
3 Encinitas, CA 61,942 $142,506 $1,808,679
4 Coronado, CA 18,871 $125,558 $2,474,258
5 Carlsbad, CA 114,745 $134,139 $1,449,918
6 Poway, CA 48,737 $135,605 $1,140,886
7 Santee, CA 59,497 $101,777 $763,333
8 San Marcos, CA 94,360 $99,413 $920,693
9 La Mesa, CA 60,888 $83,649 $851,061
10 Oceanside, CA 173,722 $86,701 $824,796
11 Chula Vista, CA 276,103 $101,984 $809,308
12 Vista, CA 98,392 $88,715 $828,494
13 Lemon Grove, CA 27,482 $77,833 $705,419
14 Imperial Beach, CA 26,157 $75,731 $845,181
15 Escondido, CA 151,114 $77,554 $810,764
16 El Cajon, CA 105,721 $64,128 $773,026
17 Spring Valley, CA 5,518 $60,861 $114,087
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.