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?
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.
Prudential California Realty
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 http://naeba.org. If you'd like to learn about me and my company (I own Globella Buyers Realty in San Diego), go to http://activerain.com/globella. (I would send you to my website, http://globella.com, but we are currently re-designing it). Check back there in a week for so...
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
La Jolla (Westfield mall)
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
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 do...you'll get the insiders straight dope from the crew at trulia and live like a local.
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 http://www.greatschools.org/ is a fabulous webiste.
Please contact our team directly with any other questions:
Good Luck on your home search,
Keller Williams Realty
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!
Willis Allen Real Estate
Accredited Buyer's Representative
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.
Century 21 Awards
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.
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...http://www.coronadochamber.com/
And here is a great site to get a better taste of the city...http://www.ecoronado.com/
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).
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
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.
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, La Jolla
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: http://www.queststarrealty.com/PropertySearch.ubr to search these specific areas.
Happy house hunting!