Nestled against the Pacific Coast in Southern California, San Diego is one of the best places to live in the Golden State. You can enjoy it's many white, sandy beaches during every season thanks to pleasant weather throughout the year. The proximity to the Mexican border and a multicultural population has made San Diego one of the most diverse cities in the United States. Living here, you'll find a multi-faceted dining, art and cultural scene.
Throughout the city, residents have plenty of attractions and fun things to do. The 1,200-acre Balboa Park has green spaces, museums and the world-famous San Diego Zoo. San Diego's downtown is chock-full of museums, art galleries, restaurants and stores. Locals live alongside resident sea lions at La Jolla Cove. And, of course, there's always the beach.
San Diego boasts over 100 neighborhoods in its metro area. Each with its own unique character and offerings. The different neighborhoods also offer a wide range of rental prices. That means there's a neighborhood out there for everyone's price point and budget. If you're looking for the top San Diego neighborhoods to call home in the coming year, put these 15 districts in America's Finest City on your radar.
As much as San Diego is an appealing place to live, it's important to know that, in general, it's an expensive city. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $2,953. Renting a two-bedroom unit is even more expensive at $3,755 a month.
That's why it's good to know what options you have for good neighborhoods in San Diego to live in. Rental rates vary throughout this coastal city, so you can find a neighborhood that fits your budget while also offering a good quality of life. That's why these are the best San Diego neighborhoods for renters in 2023.
Situated along San Diego Bay to the south of Downtown and next to National City, the artistic Barrio Logan has strong Mexican roots. It's one of the most vibrant and cultural neighborhoods in San Diego, with warehouses turned into galleries and performance spaces, Mexican restaurants and taquerias, coffee shops, street art on highway underpasses and more.
It's also a great district to explore on foot thanks to the high walk score of 89. This San Diego neighborhood is also one of the closest to Coronado Island with its famous hotels, Orange Avenue and the beaches fronting the Pacific Ocean and Coronado Cove.
Many families make their home here, with 84 percent of residents renting. With an average rent of $1,495 for a one-bedroom apartment, this is one of the most affordable neighborhoods close to downtown.
If you want to live at the heart of it all, look for rental options in Downtown San Diego. With a high walk score of 71, the centrally located downtown neighborhood is overwhelmingly popular with couples and young professionals.
From luxury condos, you can walk to dining, craft breweries, shopping, rooftop bars and entertainment like the Balboa Theater. It also has easy access to urban green spaces in Balboa Park or the Pacific Ocean at the nearby Embarcadero Marine Park. Sports fans can also cheer on the San Diego Padres Major League Baseball team at Petco Park.
For living within walking distance of all these amenities, Downtown San Diego is one of the city's pricier neighborhoods. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $2,827. The area also has smaller, individual Downtown San Diego neighborhoods like the East Village and the Gaslamp Quarter.
Known for its lively nightlife, clubbing and entertainment, the slender Gaslamp Quarter is the life of the party among downtown San Diego neighborhoods. The Balboa and Spreckels theaters offer live shows, surrounded by cocktail lounges, bars, clubs and other places to have a good time. It's also one of the best neighborhoods in San Diego for live music.
Along with modern apartment buildings and condos, the Gaslamp Quarter is one of the rare places to see historic architecture in San Diego's downtown. Seventy-six percent of residents here rent, shelling out an average of $2,800 for a one-bedroom apartment.
However, you can find studio units for around $512, making this one of the most affordable places to live in downtown San Diego for single people. Young professionals and couples also love the vibe here.
Located northwest of Balboa Park and Downtown San Diego, the vibrant and buzzy Hillcrest neighborhood is the city's LGBTQ+ hub. It's one of the city's liveliest districts, with fun bars, great nightlife and endless options for outings and activities.
You can hit up University Avenue for its fantastic dining scene, with restaurants serving everything from Vietnamese to Mexican. Fifth Avenue offers vintage stores, local shops and laid-back coffee shops. Residents can grab a beer at the proudly LGBTQ+-owned and operated Hillcrest Brewing Company or head to the hiking trails in the nearby Cabrillo Canyon Nature Preserve. All this and more are just a short walk from each other thanks to the high walk score of 71.
Some 70 percent of residents here rent, with the majority of locals being couples or young adults. One-bedroom apartments are available for an average of $2,500 a month.
Imperial Beach is technically its own separate city, holding the title of the southernmost city in California. But, it's still situated inside San Diego County. Residents love the miles of pristine beaches, birdwatching at Tijuana River National Estuary and access to both San Diego and Tijuana.
It's not the cheapest neighborhood to live in, though. The average monthly rent in this couple-and-family-dominated district is $2,902 for a one-bedroom apartment.
Although some misinterpret La Jolla as its own city, this breezy beachy neighborhood to the northwest of the city center is a San Diego neighborhood within San Diego County. But, its independent vibe is part of its charm, feeling like one of California's laidback beach towns.
Spending time outdoors is huge here, from hiking in Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve to scuba-diving and watching local marine life at La Jolla Cove. It's also close to Del Mar, a popular SoCal beach town, and the scenic outdoor areas of North County like Carmel Valley.
The area is popular with students thanks to its proximity to the University of California's San Diego campus. With single-family homes and family-friendly outdoor activities like tide-pooling or watching the resident sea lions, young families also enjoy setting down roots here. With a lower walk score of 67, it's a good idea to own a car here.
Living in La Jolla isn't cheap, though. A one-bedroom apartment here has an average monthly rent of $3,462. Two-bedroom apartments are even more expensive at $5,195.
Located along the northwestern edge of downtown, Little Italy is San Diego's hub for Italian-American culture and dining. In this walk-friendly area, residents have no shortage of farm-to-table restaurants, cozy traditional trattorias and markets like the Little Italy Mercato Farmers' Market.
At Waterfront Park, residents can enjoy views of San Diego Bay or visit the local maritime museum. As with most downtown districts, there's also ample shopping and entertainment.
Couples and young folks make up the majority of the local population. Most residents rent, paying an average of $2,550 a month for a one-bedroom apartment.
Situated next to Pacific Beach, Mission Bay keeps up the affluent beach city vibes. Centered around the namesake bay, half the neighborhood is water. Boating, sailing, kitesurfing and watersports are popular here in manmade water sports zones, and residents can also visit SeaWorld or explore Fiesta Park Island.
The waterfront location caters to the district's well-to-do with exclusive clubs like the Mission Bay Yacht Club, a high-end private yacht club. Small families and couples make up the majority of the local population.
Divided by the San Diego River, the prosperous Mission Valley neighborhood is roughly 4 miles north of the downtown area. With giant shopping malls, chain restaurants and outdoor sports like golf at the Riverwalk Golf Club, this upscale district is popular among small families and well-to-do couples. It's also close to the Mission Hills neighborhood, one of the most affluent places to live in San Diego.
Mission Valley is one of the most expensive neighborhoods in San Diego. The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $3,144.
The hip North Park neighborhood is one of the most popular places to live in San Diego for young adults, students and couples. The area is home to a profusion of cafes, breweries, bars, restaurants and fabulous shopping options.
Nightlife here centers around Observatory North Park, a 1920s theater and live music venue. Bordering Balboa Park to the southeast, residents also have easy access to golf, swimming and more at the Morley Field Sports Complex.
The majority of North Park residents are renters, paying an average of $2,600 for a one-bedroom apartment and $3,720 for a two-bedroom unit. North Park also boasts one of central San Diego's highest walk scores at 91.
If you came to San Diego to live just steps from the beach, this seaside neighborhood close to downtown San Diego is the spot. The sunny neighborhoods lined with palm trees feel like their own separate coastal town, all accessible by foot or bike with a walk score of 83 and a bike score of 69.
Miles of SoCal beach rim the western edge of Ocean Beach, drawing swimmers, surfers and sunbathers. The Ocean Beach Pier is a popular fishing spot. Along Sunset Cliffs Boulevard, the bohemian, free-spirited residents of Ocean Beach can find restaurants, cafés and boutiques selling swim and surfwear. The district is also dotted with top-notch seafood restaurants.
Popular with couples and young adults, most residents here rent. The average rent for a one-bedroom in the area is $2,640.
The beachfront San Diego neighborhood of Pacific Beach, known among residents as P.B., is one of the city's best beachy neighborhoods. Residents can swim, sun or surf along Pacific Beach itself on the Pacific Ocean, hang out at Crystal Pier or go boating around the enclosed Mission Bay.
Restaurants, upscale shopping and trendy chains dot the district, appealing to young professionals, couples and three-person families.
With access to Cabrillo National Monument and Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, Point Loma Heights is one of the best neighborhoods in San Diego for Pacific Ocean views. It's also close to Liberty Station, a former naval training center turned popular commercial district with shopping, dining and restaurants.
The quiet neighborhoods, single-family homes and good school districts make this a popular neighborhood among families and couples. As a more spread-out neighborhood with a walk score of 67, residents recommend having a car to get around.
Living in Point Loma Heights, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $2,640.
This easy-going San Diego neighborhood on the southeastern edge of Balboa Park offers a laidback, residential place to live close to all the hype of downtown and the waterfront. The family-friendly district offers schools and daycares, a good mix of dining and shopping and outdoor access to Ivy Canyon. But, couples make up the primary demographic, so it's a good option for a quieter urban district.
South Park is almost evenly split between renters and homeowners. It's also one of the more affordable options in the city center, with one-bedroom apartments going for around $1,695 a month.
Contrary to its name, this trendy neighborhood close to Hillcrest and North Park has no university. But with its many hip eateries, cool bars and fun shops all within walking distance of each other, it's easy to see why this district appeals to young couples, singles and the young crowd. Popular entertainment options here include hanging out in Trolley Barn Park and seeing shows at the LGBTQ+ Diversionary Theatre.
It's also more affordable than its neighboring areas. You can find a one-bedroom apartment for an average of $1,995 a month.
San Diego is an expensive place to live. But, as these 15 neighborhoods show, you can still access the best San Diego has to offer, from beaches to food, at a variety of price points.