General Area in San Diego>Question Details

Alexaajewele…, Home Buyer in San Diego, CA

I live in Mass and I'm looking to buy a home in San Diego close to the beach. What are the 3 best places close to the beach, good to raise a?

Asked by Alexaajewelers, San Diego, CA Sat Mar 27, 2010

family, and close to shopping malls?

Help the community by answering this question:


Mission Beach is not an area to raise a family. Neither is Pacific Beach or Ocean Beach. Most of the other agents haven't mentioned those areas but just make sure you don't spend too much time online looking in those areas. When looking at a map, the higher value property is west of Interstate 5 (out here we just call our freeways "the 5"). San Diego is a freeway city so no matter where you are you are never far from shopping and malls. That said, communities like La Jolla, Bird Rock and Pacific Beach are very difficult to get in and out of from the freeway making all transit times a little bit longer and traffic a bigger issue.

Those who suggested Oceanside are looking out for your financial interests . . . but not more. That city has a history of high crime and still harbors gang activity (rare for a beach town).

Once you venture north of La Jolla you are getting into what is called North County (even though it is still San Diego County). As you move further into North County the "city" of San Diego becomes less accessible. This would include th arts and culture of downtown San Diego, the Padres & Chargers games, etc. North County is considered a little higher end but doesn't have much of an urban feel to it. Also, "the 5" is a traffic issue if anyone in your family will be commuting into downtown for work.

Does that help?

Continued success,
Jeff Larabee
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 27, 2010
I'm not an agent, but I've lived in this area my whole life and am a native. Oceanside will give you the most bang for your buck. Yes, there are gangs here, but they pretty much $h!t in thier own backyard. Don't move to the valley and you'll be just fine. Rancho Del Oro is quiet and nice. The weather here (especially further inland from the beach-about 5 - 8 minutes east) is incredible. When it's cloudy and cold at the beach, it is nice a bit inland with a perfect breeze. The Rancho Del Oro area is mostly new and clean with nice neighborhoods and plenty of convenient shopping near by. Some agents are suggesting Coronado, La Jolla and Del Mar which are gorgeous, but pretentious areas. Give Oceanside a look. The Rancho Del Oro area also has great schools, like Empresa Elementary and El Camino High...Tri City Hospital is also near by.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 28, 2010
Jeff and Justin, I'm giving you guys both Kudos! Great input.
Yes, Alex, great answers here and I'm sure you are getting some valuable info here and some basic for you home search.
Location is the King. As other agents mentioned earlier west of 5 is considered more high end since it's closer to the water and more expansive there for. Either way, we need to know the price range so we can send you the areas that are matching your criteria.
From what you described, La Jolla, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Encinitas and Cardiff by the Sea could all work great for you.
I recommend starting your communication with an Buyer's Represantative directly.

Khrystyna Chorna
Prudential California Realty
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 27, 2010
Hello Alexa,

There are already some nice answers here, but I would like to throw in my two cents. First, congrats on your big move! San Diego is a great place to live (We moved here from AZ several years ago, and we're so glad we did). Secondly, although your question is a good question, you're only going to get so far asking something like that on a website like this. Here's my experience with San Diego:

(1) There are more than 10 beach communities in San Diego, and each one is totally different from the others (they're all so cool, too!).

(2) Going inland from the beach, there are many other areas that all very different from each other. I personally wish I could own about 15 homes in San Diego. I would use them all, because there are so many neat areas of town. I've found that there are families in many areas of San Diego who all swear that their area is the best area to live in. Which one is right for you? That depends on a lot of things.

That being said, here are my two recommendations for you:

(1) Don't buy when you first move to San Diego. Take a year and rent. This will give you time to get to know the different areas yourself, so you can make an informed decision when you do buy.


(2) If you must buy now, then hire an exclusive buyer agent to help you. This is going to take a lot of hard work and time, so make sure you choose your agent wisely. A good buyer agent will know how to help you narrow down your search criteria and help match you to the area that is the best fit for your family (and an exclusive buyer agent will not work for a company that has any listings to sell you). One thing I do with my relocating clients is be their "tour guide" to learn about the different areas before we actually go look at homes for sale.

To learn more about exclusive buyer agency, go to If you'd like to learn about me and my company (I own Globella Buyers Realty in San Diego), go to (I would send you to my website,, but we are currently re-designing it). Check back there in a week for so...


Justin Gramm
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 27, 2010
I love all the beach communities. Each one has a unique flavor and great amenities. Much is dependent upon your price range and type of home you want. Getting to know the communties and what they each offer is a first step. Shopping is nearby or in each community. As beach communities run from one to the next, there is not much physical separation. I would guess that from the south beach areas to Oceanside, the northern most, is about a 45 minute drive with no traffic.

Carmel Valley is considered a beach community and is located just east of Del Mar. A family oriented community. Great schools, shopping, movie theatres, restaurants, Medical facilities, minutes to the beach and freeways.

Again, they are all great communities with unique personalities....Good luck

Maria Weiss, Coldwell Banker
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Apr 14, 2010
Depends on your price range
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Apr 14, 2010
Practically all of SD's beach communities are great for raising a family. But if you need a CLOSE mall that narrows it to:
La Jolla (Westfield mall)
Carlsbad (Outlets)
Imperial Beach (Outlets)
Encinitas (Encinitas Town Center)
Oceanside (planning a big Westfield mall in North O-side but not sure if approved yet - for now they use Carlsbad mainly)

But the freeway's here are pretty darn good. San Diego is now what L.A. was 20 years ago: about 20 minutes to get anywhere.

Hope that helps! Paul
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 31, 2010
if you absolutely need all three of the parameters filled you should start in

Carlsbad $$. the schools are excellent, beaches are nice and there's plenty of shopping. they have plenty of great parks, a genuine village and homes in about every range of price. they did the best job of any north county town while the developed out. their industrial base is good and there are many employers there. i could easily live there.

if you can afford more (and can do without the shopping) Coronado $$$ is nice, beaches are beautiful but the surf if is crummy. they village atmosphere is rare in california anymore.

If you want to walk to surf and nice beaches (and have a pile of cash) La Jolla shores area $$$$ is killer . good schools too. Bird Rock $$$ is my personal favorite as the beaches are more surfer friendly as reefs are prevalent there.

Del Mar $$$ has some excellent schools, great beaches (including a dog beach) .

i currently live in Encinitas $$ where we have better than average schools, good access to shopping, and beaches and surf as good as anywhere in California. when i speak of Encinitas i include Cardiff and Leucadia...each has it's own vibe. we are generally considered the "safe bet" for folks who want suburban homes and a beachtown flavor. Cardiff and Leucadia are the beachier of the three. our prices seem to be seeing a bottom. we are down about 20-25% off the tops...yikes.

as a beachtown Oceanside $-$$ is a good bet but the schools are a crapshoot. it's beaches are better than most folks know and the surf is actually very good. there are great fire-rings at the harbor for bonfires. as someone mentioned. that said there are some really cool parts like Fire Mountain, Jeffires Ranch and you can get a smi=okin' deal there right now depending on your price range.

mission beach and pacific beach are great for drinking and carousing but i moved away to encinitas to raise my kids. both are sewers. sorry if you live there.

Ocean beach is very well located but you'd have to see for yourself if you can stomach the vagrants and counter-culture there. it has a very old school hippie vibe that is morphing to common dirtbag status. Point Loma is the bright spot there...Iskinder is correct, check it out. it is perhaps the best located 'hood in all of san diego.

Imperial Beach has some very good deals right now but they are so isolated down there that they've always been the forgotten stepchild of california beachtowns. definitely have a look...they are coming around.

if you can handle a bit of a drive to the beach (10 minutes?) there are many options open to you...carmel valley, bay park, clairemont, university city, etc.

if you can flesh out the question we can offer more specifics. will you be working, and where? what grades are the kids in? that sort of stuff.

feel free to call me if you want to pick my brain. On any given day i have a pocket listing or two that are not in the MLS.

when you are on your way out be sure to post a request for things to'll get the insiders straight dope from the crew at trulia and live like a local.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 31, 2010
Without knowing much more I would generalize by trying to stay North of the 56 freeway, South of 78 and with in 4-6 miles from the ocean. This is considered as costal North County. The area has the highest income per capita of San Diego and some of the best schools. If you have a price and type of home in mind I would be happy to narrow it down. I have lived and worked here for 42 years.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 30, 2010
I have lived in Point Loma since 1974 and is a WONDERFUL place to live........Excellent schools; close to everything; shopping, airport, downtown, Sea World, Balboa Park, Shelter Island, Cabrillo Monument....Point Loma is like living in an island.... quiet, and super nice.....Check it out!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 28, 2010
Good Morning Alexaajewelers,

Wow! So many great answers from experts in the industry.

The place where you would like to raise your family is were you feel most at home. My suggestion is to go to your top 3 places that you are familiar with or feel would like to live. Then visit a coffee shop, or diner, store etc. in that area to see if you feel more at home and could see yourself raising your family.
If you are interested in comparing schools is a fabulous webiste.

Please contact our team directly with any other questions:

Good Luck on your home search,
Laura Kelley
Keller Williams Realty
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Mar 28, 2010
It all depends on your budget. Generally in San Diego, the closer to the coast, the higher the price. And along the coast, each beach community has its own distinct character. At the top end, I would recommend Coronado and La Jolla as great places to raise families. Both are known to have excellent schools and have reasonable access to major shopping malls (UTC, Fashion Valley, and Horton Plaza). If you don't have the budget for La Jolla or Coronado, you may want to check out Encinitas and Carlsbad. another option is Carmel Valley, just east of Del Mar. Carmel Valley has excellent schools and is still fairly close to the beach. Point Loma is also a wonderful community for families located just west of downtown, with the ocean on its west and San Diego Bay to the east.

Many people coming from out of state who want to live by the beach have sticker shock when they see what a million dollars can (or cannot) buy here in San Diego. You may find that you have to compromise on something, whether it be proximity to the ocean, square footage, or age of the property. Our homes here tend to be smaller than homes on the east coast, because land is more expensive, and we spend a lot more time outdoors than inside our homes.

A good Realtor can help you understand the character of the the different neighborhoods in your price range and help you make the best decision. With our great weather and year-round outdoor activities, you will find San Diego a great place to live!

Beth Roach
Willis Allen Real Estate
Accredited Buyer's Representative
(619) 300-0389
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 27, 2010
All of the coastal areas of San Diego are terrific. Each one has its own distinct characteristics. Finding the one that matches your personality is the key. Of course, price does matter here. Work with a Realtor (different from a real estate agent)who can provide you with accurate up todate information. Talk with a few and pick one you feel you can trust. When you are in San Diego, visit the various beach towns and get a sense of the culture of each community. Take some time to learn the area. It will be hard to choose just one of our great beach towns....Good luck with your endeavors.

Maria Weiss
Coldwell Banker
Del Mar
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 27, 2010
Hi Alex,
I would suggest solana beach, la jolla or possibly oceanside, Oceanside you can get a lot more house for your money.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 27, 2010
Looks like everybody has weighed in on this. Of course, price matters and stability etc. of your investment. San Diego is kind of a series of small town communities espeicially when it comes to the coast. I'd suggest staying in North County which includes the coastal communities of Carlsbad, Leucadia, Solana Beach, and Encinitas. The analogy I can offer is that these areas are a tad bit more like living in subdivisions of major cities, you are a little farther from downtown, but housing is a little cheaper, schools are by and large great, and very much more family oriented. I really like Carlsbad and Encinitas. Feel free to contact me and i can set up up with an MLS email alert for any areas you like that you can check out from Mass. You will get better information than any sites you might be currently using.
Good luck!!

Mike Fritz
Century 21 Awards
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 27, 2010
You can check out these websites: - It has a public Q&A that you should find useful and since you asked about raising a family you can check out for information regarding private and public schools.

As far as home prices you really do need to have a budget in mind as well as a pre-approval unless you are a cash buyer.
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 27, 2010
You haven't given any idea of the price range you are looking for, however, I am partial to Coronado. I have lived here for 30 years and the schools are exceptional, lots of activities, concerts in the park, biking and running paths, pedestrian/bike ferry to downtown San Diego and an easy 10 minute drive to downtown SD too. The theatre is being refurbished and there is a great municipal golf course, tennis courts, yacht clubs, dining and beach and bay activities. Lots of different types of homes and condos to choose from too.
Here is a link to the chamber of commerce...
And here is a great site to get a better taste of the city...
If you need the names of some excellent agents who specialize in Coronado properties let me know as I am a title representative and work with many of the most professional and experienced ones. BTW, there is a large military presence in Coronado with NAS North Island and the Naval Amphibious base (Navy Seals train there).
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 27, 2010
Hi Alexis,

I live, work, and am raising my family in Coronado Island which is a fantastic beach area to have a family with top-ranked schools. Other wonderful neighborhoods include Del Mar and La Jolla. These are all pretty expensive though!

Other areas, that are more affordable, as others have mentioned, include Encinitas and Carlsbad.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any other questions about coastal family living in San Diego.

Christine Van Tuyl
Prudential California Realty
Coronado, CA 92118
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 27, 2010
I have lived in North Pacific Beach and have lived here with my sons for 10 years. We live where my boys can go to La Jolla Schools. There are other beach communities that are great areas as well. Point Loma has many affordable homes. As well as areas in North County. Carlsbad, Encititas, Cardiff and Solana Beach. I specialize in the Coastal Communities as I live in Pacific Beach and work in La Jolla. Feel free to contact me with any questions regarding the specific communities. Have a great weekend.

Tony Francoeur
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, La Jolla
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 27, 2010

I would look in the North County Coastal area of San Diego for great beach areas to raise a family. Check out Carlsbad, Encinitas, Solana Beach, Del Mar, Carmel Valley and La Jolla.

Go to: to search these specific areas.

Happy house hunting!

Chris Keller
(858) 213-9999

QuestStar Realty
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 27, 2010
Depending on your price point you would likely want to look at Carlsbad, Carmel Valley, and Coronado. These 3 areas have great schools, more family homes than rentals, and are all within 5 minutes of beach break. If you would like to receive some listings send me your email address, I would be happy to get some over to you.

Brian Curry
Broker Associate
Coldwell Banker
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 27, 2010
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