If you work downtown, it might take you a while to commute to work. Some of the areas closer to downtown, Grant Hill, Golden Hights are in "transition". While I personnaly never had a problem there, (former Marine with two big dogs in the yard), it might be "uncomfortable" for someone with kids. Coronado is very expensive, as is Del Mar and La Jolla. Carmel Mountain and Carmel Valley areas are very nice too. Escondido is another area that you could consider, although it is further away from the beach...
Hope this helps some...
If I may answer any questions for you about our wonderful city, it's neighborhoods and what is offered, please let me know!
If you go to http://www.sandicor.com/statistics , you can see the average and median list and sale prices for all of San Diego County. It is broken down by detached and attached homes. It should give you an idea of prices. You should get pre-qualified/approved for a loan, so you will know how much home you can afford. I would also ask for an interest rate buydown from the seller to make your payments/qualifying easier. I recently wrote an article called The Art of Contrarian Investing and you can read it here... http://www.chicagotitlesd.com/january08/011508.html#1 I also recommend our site shown below for more information on buying and the Real Estate Market.
There are many beautiful and safe areas within San Diego county with excellent schools. The best place for you to buy will be dependent upon your price range and the size/type of property you require. Also, you will want to understand traffic patterns so that you are sure to choose an area that provides for an easy commute, if any. A few of these options (but only the tip of the iceberg) would be La Jolla, Carmel Valley, some areas of Clairmont, Mission Hills, Point Loma, Kensington and Talmage. Many of these options are fairly centrally located. Ofcourse, the north county beach communities are wonderful as well (Solana Beach, Encinitas, etc.).
My team has buyer specialists in all areas of San Diego. Feel free to contact us if you would like further information about your neighborhoods of interest. We can also send you information and statistics on San Diego schools. Good luck in your search... its a great time to be a buyer!!