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The Most Affordable Places To Live In San Diego
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The Most Affordable Places To Live In San Diego

America's finest city is all about the California sun, West Coast vibes, and most importantly affordable places to live in San Diego Team


5 min read

July 27, 2021

Out of all the affordable places to live in the Golden State, San Diego is the place to dwell well. America’s Finest City is all about the California sun, iconic West Coast vibes, and an eye-catching blend of all things luxurious and budget-friendly. This means whatever your finances may be, you’ll always have plenty of options to choose from rather than moving to one designated suburb. And, lucky for you, we’ve compiled a list of the most affordable places to live in San Diego—read on to find your new forever home.

Affordable Cities Near San Diego

With a prime location, stunning views, and family-friendly attractions, Chula Vista is an excellent place to call home.

Chula Vista 

Median home price: $704,000

The name Chula Vista simply translates to “beautiful view” and we must agree! With affordable housing options, it’s the go-to for newly founded families to settle down and for more established individuals to invest in a California vacation home. Located near San Diego Bay’s beaches, the suburb provides great ocean views and a calming retreat. 

The city’s school district includes 52 public schools and 16 private schools—  a perfect locale for families with children. Chula Vista also has a large Hispanic community and is booming with shops and restaurants. Only 11 minutes (by car) from Balboa Park, the friendly atmosphere in Chula Vista highlights the city’s best attribute. Annual events such as the CiclaVista open up the streets to everything but vehicles. Joggers, roller skaters, bikers, and skateboarders, can all travel along the streets of this beautiful city and later enjoy a picnic at Bayside Park

El Cajon earned its title as "the box" thanks to it being completely surrounded by mountains.

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El Cajon

Median home price: $686,000

El Cajon houses are fairly priced to accommodate all income brackets, including a handful of the most affordable neighborhoods in San Diego. The name El Cajon means “the box” in Spanish; a fitting name considering that the town is enveloped by mountains. Though the city is small at 14.4 square miles, it’s full of history and modern-day amenities.

El Cajon boasts great schools, including 21 public elementary schools, 6 public middle schools, and 7 seven public high schools. The city is a hub for diverse cuisine, offering locals and tourists multiple dining options. For breakfast, many residents make their way to Perry’s Cafe on Magnolia Avenue to indulge in all-American dishes and an old-fashioned, rustic ambiance. 

Strap on your sturdy boots, grab your water bottles, and head to the close-by Mission Trails Regional Park to trek along the Cowles Mountain Trail. El Cajon also offers plenty of outdoor spaces including Wells Park, Mount Helix Park, and Harry Griffen Park. Aside from its environmentally friendly activities, the city provides family entertainment and events throughout the year. The annual St. Patrick’s Day Half Marathon is sure to get everyone up and running every March. In November, the city welcomes the cold season and the holidays with the annual Mother Goose Parade. The city of El Cajon is also home to other family-friendly attractions including the Water Conservation Garden and Butterfly Garden, Summers Past Farms, and Parkway Plaza Mall

Affordable Cities near San Diego

While Mira Mesa is close to the city of San Diego, its wide-open spaces allow you to enjoy the natural beauty of the region.

Mira Mesa

Median home price: $818,000

With 72,759 residents, Mira Mesa is a highly cheap place to live north of San Diego that’s packed with natural wonders and city amenities. Families can enjoy hiking among waterfalls and forested areas in the Los Penasquitos Preserve. More than 175 species of birds call this park home, so make sure to bring a camera to capture their beauty. The Loan Penasquitos Canyon Trail is another great option; the 7.2-mile loop trail is suitable for all levels and the waterfall on the trail is an added bonus. This is the best path for the entire family to get some good exercise—and since it’s dog-friendly, nobody has to be separated from their pup.

The suburban vibe of Mira Mesa attracts families from all around. Residents get all the benefits of a big city—including plenty of shopping locations, large festivals, and local events—without the hustle and bustle of an urban environment. The town is known for its annual San Diego Tết Festival, which celebrates Vietnamese New Year. Guests enjoy carnival rides, lion dancing, singing competitions, and plenty of entertainment.

Lemon Grove was once popular for-you guessed it-its lemon groves. Even though the groves are no more, the name reminds residents of its glorious past.

Lemon Grove 

Median home price: $634,000

One of the cheapest places to live near San Diego, Lemon Grove boasts a population of more than 27,000. This suburb is also an ideal place to access quality education since many renowned institutions are scattered all around. Lemon Grove is roughly 12 miles from San Diego city, with easy biking and other vehicle access.

A major reason why families are moving here is the sheer abundance of community activities. Berry Street Park hosts musical events and movie nights throughout the summer, and Lemon Grove Skate Park provides plenty of sports programs, day camps, and other reasons to spend the day out in San Diego's alluring climate. Despite the fact that the suburban feel is strong, Lemon Grove manages to keep residents active and happy. 

Affordable Neighborhoods in San Diego

It's not an exaggeration when we say that Hillcrest is one of the most tolerant and accepting neighborhoods in all of California.


Median Home Price: $713,451

Only a few miles north of San Diego's buzzing downtown, the vibrant Hillcrest stands proud as San Diego's LGBTQ+ central hub. With welcoming vibes, walkable streets, and sidewalk patios, the area is pedestrian heaven. Hillcrest's east end is marked by a towering rainbow Pride flag (at the corner of Normal Street) and serves as a starting point for San Diego's annual mile-long Pride Parade held each July.

Hillcrest is sprinkled with ethnically diverse restaurants, acclaimed home decor shops, and quirky, distinctive boutiques. Living here will feel like an endless window-shopping adventure spanning across a dozen blocks.

And if you're a fan of freshly grown produce, you're in luck—again. Hillcrest hosts one of the largest farmers markets in San Diego every Sunday; don’t miss it.

Gaslamp Quarter is not just the historic heart of San Diego, it's its beating heart as well.

Gaslamp Quarter

Median home price: $474,000

If you see yourself living in an area that doesn’t sleep, then the Gaslamp Quarter is the choice to consider. Deemed one of the cheapest areas to live in San Diego, the Gaslamp Quarter holds to the traditional living designs as opposed to most modernized neighborhoods. With a range of restaurants, bars, and commercial stalls, foodies will have a blast living in this neighborhood. 

For families and singles who enjoy the outdoorsy and sporty kind of lifestyle, Petco Park—located on the edge of downtown—is a great place to watch a baseball game. Here, you'll be able to enjoy the sport in a trendy style like no other from the Western Metal Building lounges. Alternatively, you can take in the innings from The Park in the Park with your kids; there will also be a handful of food trucks to choose from.

San Diego combines the charm of a small country town with the entertainment of a big city, but if you’re looking to move up north, the Bay Area also has affordable places to live. 

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