Sarah, Home Buyer in San Diego, CA

Where are the best places to live in the San Diego area for diversity, good schools and families?

Asked by Sarah, San Diego, CA Sat Jan 15, 2011

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Kari Shea, Agent, San Diego, CA
Mon Jan 17, 2011
Hi Sarah,

You have received a lot of good advice regarding your question. Please know that this one of the most difficult questions to answer, even for seasoned professionals in the real estate industry. The true answer is based upon a combination of your needs and wants and how those stack up against one another. Here are some of the key criteria when we work with home buyers:

1. Talk with a few national lenders (Wells Fargo, Chase, B of A, etc) to find out what you can afford
2. What kind of property do you want? Single family, town house or condominium. Each type of purchase can be different in terms of financing and the purchase.
3. What are your needs in terms of a school system? Age of your kids, transportation, etc.
4. How close do you want to be to your employment?
5. What kinds of shopping do you need and how close do you want it to be? Grocery, clothing, specialty stores, etc.
6. What kinds of activities are your kids involved in? Sports, dance, music, etc.
7. What kinds of activities do you like? Sports, theater, music, movies, etc.
8. What kind of neighborhood do you want? Subdivision, rural, etc.
9. What kind of area & climate do you want? Coastal, Mountain or desert?
10. What do you consider safe? Street traffic, crime, etc.

San Diego is both broad and diverse in many ways. We hope this helps you with making a decision of where to live.

Best to you,

Mark & Kari Shea
Shea Real Estate
Serving Greater San Diego
1 vote
Leah Greenwo…, Agent, San Diego, CA
Mon Jul 11, 2011
If you are looking for diversity the metro area of San Diego is great. Try this section on our website, go to the map first;…
find the area you want to live, they are broken down by zip code and then enter in your zip code and it will give you the stats for that area;
92101 = Downtwon
92102 = Southpark (so cute, I would live there in a second)
92103 = Hillcrest (very diverse)
92104 = Northpark, Diverse and up and coming
92116 = University Heights/ Kensington: More established but still a diverse great neighborhood
0 votes
Daniel Lehman, , San Diego County, CA
Fri May 20, 2011
Hey Sarah,

Great question... It really starts with a) what you can afford, and b) what the BANK says you can afford.

You want to consider your qualifications per the bank, but also from a personal finance standpoint and that comes from speaking with a good lender that can answer all of your questions...

Once you have a good idea of what you WANT to spend monthly, and know what you qualify for, you will have a price range. Once you have a price range, there are a lot of great agents specializing in different area who would be able to find you a great home with great schools, families, and plenty of diversity.

For any questions, drop me a line. I am here to help in any way that I can.

Hope this helps!

Have a great weekend!

Web Reference:
0 votes
Michael Frie…, , Encinitas, CA
Thu Feb 10, 2011
Hi Sarah,

San Diego County is a great area and place to live, but to answer we really have to know your price, as there is a huge diversity in the county. It would be nice to live in Del Mar or Sunset Cliffs but can you afford a million dollar home?

Michael Friedman
Sea Coast Exclusive Properties
North San Diego County
0 votes
Rina Podolsky, Agent, San Diego, CA
Fri Jan 28, 2011

There is not a one size fits all answer. From what I hear you say by your question, one of the most important factors for you is family and schools.

Top ranking school districts in San Diego are:

-Del Mar Union School District / Solana Beach/ San Dieguito

-Poway Unified School District

-Encinitas Union School District

-La Jolla School District (part of the San Diego Unified School District)

There are also some great charter schools such as high tech high.

Here is a link to the STAR testing web site where you can view the test scores from California standarize testing.

Each area has a very different and unique fel to it, so you will need to speak to an agent that is familiar with San Diego as whole. Make sure they understand what you value and what you expect. Then it will be up to you to visit each area, spend some time there, go to the local supermarkert, starbucks, park because this will give you a clearer picture of the neighborhood.

Particularly in San Diego, there is a big difference in home prices from one area to another, so, I agree that this will be an important first step. You have to know how much house you can afford before you start considering any area and certainly before you start looking at homes.

Best of luck to you. Please feel free to let me know if I can answer any questions for you or if I can be of help in any way.

Rina Podolsky

San Diego Exclusive Properties

0 votes
Derek Rotzin…, , San Diego, CA
Mon Jan 24, 2011
Sarah... I congratulate you on your interest in buying a home in San Diego! I was born and raised here and although I have been to many other cities, San Diego is the only place I want to live.

San Diego itself is diverse and with an exception of a few small areas, you can't really go wrong in picking an area. If you like being inland, there is La Mesa, Kensington, Del Cerro, and Talmadge to name a few. Central areas that is good are Mira Mesa, Tierrasanta, and then down to University Heights and both the North and South Parks. A lot of coast communities are nice but start to get pretty expensive including Point Loma, La Jolla and anything north of that.

There are good schools throughout the county and some would argue that Poway has the best schools.

It comes down to what area you like and how much you are able and willing to spend. With that in mind, there is a good deal of compromising depending on how much you are able to spend. You usually trend is you get more house for your money the more east you go... I hope this helps. Happy searching!
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Bill Hays, Agent, Cardiff, AL
Sat Jan 15, 2011
A huge factor that is missing from your question is how much money are you able to spend on a home. The question becomes academic without that consideration.

In terms of families, what age of children is important to the answer you seek as well, If someone with toddlers, having lots of neighbors with kids in high school doesn't mean much except for babysitting.

As far as diversity, as Anna kindly points out, it gets a little dicey there and agents are best advised to let you decide that one.

Many agents so far are mentioning North San Diego County - Del Mar, Solana Beach, etc. The San Dieguito Union High School District covers Del Mar, Carmel Valley, Solana Beach, Encinitas, and part of Carlsbad for middle school and high school. See .The elementary schools are separate school districts and their boundaries can be confusing - ie. Encinitas Union School District has schools in Carlsbad.

Along the coast you will pay a premium for coastal location. Inland places like Rancho Bernardo, Poway, Scripps Ranch, etc. are all nice as well without the "beach premium."

Mello Roos become something to watch out for in new developments. Michael from Bonita mentions San Elijo Hills...monthly fees there can be more than a car payment. Homes there look cheaper than homes elsewhere based on sales price until you calculate your monthly payment with all the fees included beyond principal and interest.

Bottom line, find a buyers agent with whom you are comfortable and start looking into areas around San Diego. Find the neighborhood first based on criteria that is important to you (including price) and then nail down the house. Know that agents may have some biases toward areas of SD that they prefer or are more familiar with - so pick someone who has similar tastes in a home and/or neighborhood as you do or someone who can at least understand what you are looking for and convert that into the right location. Many agents like me have been around San Diego for a long time and can tell you about the whole county as it relates to what you are looking for as I sell from Oceanside to Chula Vista to Santee.

0 votes
Ruth and Per…, Agent, Los Gatos, CA
Sat Jan 15, 2011
Hi Sarah:

Solana Beach, Del Mar, Carmel Valley are great places.

Good luck.
0 votes
Sher Slavin-…, Agent, Carlsbad, CA
Sat Jan 15, 2011
Best schools are Del Mar school district (and solana beach) Carmel Valley area. Next is Carlsbad and Encinitas schools. Then Poway. I would also want to speak to you about long term goals so your kids don't have to change districts if you are planning to rent first and buy later.

I do a lot of relocations. I always try to fit folks into the area they will be most comfortable in for long term

Carmel valley is more expensive and has more of a diverse population. Carlsbad is less diverse.

Contact me for more specifics

Sher slavin. Masterpiece realty associates. Del Mar, Ca
619 993 5722
0 votes
Philippe Hel…, Other Pro, Ramona, CA
Sat Jan 15, 2011
The San Diego Country Estates is a planned development in Ramona. Most of the houses sit on 1/2 acre, and are all custome. No cookie cutter neighborhood.

I've lived here for seven years and my daughter has gone to elementary, Jr. High, and is now at Ramona High School. We have never had a day of trouble with the schools. Actually, I think they are great, particularly James Dukes and Barnett elementary.

The crime is extremely low, and there are horse trails, stables, and a great golf course. The down side is that it is a bit of a drive for everything. The airport is just under an hour away and Poway or Santee are our destination for most shopping.

The house deals are fantastic. You should at least check it out.
0 votes
Kristina Ley…, , San Diego, CA
Sat Jan 15, 2011
Hi Sarah,
That is a tough questions since there are so many great, diverse, family friendly areas in San Diego!

I agree with Anna. The answer to this question would be different for everyone and inappropriate for an agent to answer specifically.

Research the schools online at for more information. And, you might want to consider other factors such as your proximity to work, activities or climate first and then narrow it down from there.

If you need help in your search, please feel free to contact me or check out my blog for community information specific to North San Diego (Carmel Valley, Del Mar and Solana Beach).

Best of luck finding your dream home!
0 votes
Alisha Sears, , San Diego County, CA
Sat Jan 15, 2011
If your interested in different cities check out when you type a city name , state it gives you stats including crime, median home price, schools and much more ! Good luck ! -alisha sears
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Michael Marr…, , Las Vegas, NV
Sat Jan 15, 2011
My opinion is north county. If you have young children not yet in high school, I would recommend looking into San Elijo Hills. It's technically San Marcos. It is a very small town feel community with very well rated schools.
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Anna M Brocco, Agent, Williston Park, NY
Sat Jan 15, 2011
Since real estate professionals are prohibited from steering, enticing a buyer to purchase, or not, in specific neighborhoods, consider researching areas online and in person, then make your determination--keep in mind that opinions are oftentimes subjective, what may be good for one is not necessarily the case for another--as for the schools, you may wish to consider visiting the district(s) of interest, ask for a tour of the facilities, speak to the superintendent, principal, teachers, etc.--also see link...
0 votes
Melia and Ol…, Agent, Rancho Santa Fe, CA
Sat Jan 15, 2011
Hi Sarah,

What area of San Diego are you most interested in? There are many schools in North County that could meet your needs. I have a blog that lists all the schools in north county and explains about the ratings and statics and a bit about the community that you may find helpful:

If you have any specific questions, I'd be happy to help out.

0 votes
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