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7 Most Affordable San Diego Neighborhoods
Real Estate

7 Most Affordable San Diego Neighborhoods

Living in San Diego doesn’t need to break the bank. Here are 7 of the most affordable neighborhoods in San Diego.

Palig Dzadourian


5 min read

May 21, 2022

The city of San Diego is regarded as an ideal destination for many people looking to settle down and plant their roots. Bustling nightlife, delicious cuisine, sun-kissed landscapes, gorgeous beaches, and stunning views, San Diego is definitely somewhere you would want to move to.

Being a hotspot filled with world-class attractions and services, it is understandable that San Diego is on the more expensive side, including neighborhoods where young professionals reside and seek out many opportunities. Even so, San Diego is more affordable than other high-class cities, having reasonably priced neighborhoods you can consider. If you want to find your dream neighborhood, consider having a look at our list of most affordable housing in San Diego, as you might find something worthwhile.

1. Gaslamp Quarter

The boisterous Gaslamp Quarter is full of fun, history, and lively events.

Gaslamp Quarter is an example of one of those San Diego neighborhoods. This historic neighborhood gets its name after the gas lamp streets that were left as is to keep the Victorian feel of the area. What’s so great about this neighborhood is that it has the same spirit and atmosphere as the most popular and lively parts of the city, think Downtown San Diego, but without the soaring price tags. You would be close to the action that happens in the city, like the Gaslamp Promenade and weekly street dances like Silent Revival: A Gaslamp Disco. The cherry on top is that it is very commutable, you can both walk and access the Metropolitan Transit System pretty easily. It is also among the safest neighborhoods in San Diego.

Culturally diverse, vibrant with life, safe, and convenient, Gaslamp Quarter is definitely worth checking out, however, if you are not a big fan of busy boisterous neighborhoods, you might want to take a further dive into our other options.

2. Chula Vista

Take a minute to yourself and enjoy a walk down the Bayfront park of the lovely neighborhood of Chula Vista.

There are many advantages to living in Chula Vista; it is affordable, ethnically diverse, and safe. Chula Vista is the 7th biggest city in SoCal and has been ranked number 16 among the best affordable San Diego suburbs. It has a Hispanic heritage and is home to other ethnic groups such as Asians, African-Americans, and non-Hispanic whites.

Another great asset of this community is the great schools that can be found in the area if you are thinking about moving with your family. Higher education is unfortunately not an option inside the area. For people who enjoy outdoor activities, Chula Vista is an amazing neighborhood, with ideal weather throughout most of the year, and has a lot of natural attractions for you to explore.

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Lastly, this neighborhood is considered to be a smart community, which means it follows the smart city movement and makes use of state-of-the-art technology and data analytics to boost the quality of life. Some inconveniences that come with living in the Chula Vista neighborhood are the long commutes, usually taking up to 30 minutes, and a lack of public transportation.

3. National City

Take in the beauty of the National City scenery, a beautiful city to be able to live in.

One of the cheapest neighborhoods to live in, National City is quite a unique area. Home to the Miles of Cars, National City celebrates California’s car heritage with annual car shows. The people living in National City will have access to many conveniences, be close to multiple fun areas, and have an easy time commuting, as they will be a few minutes away from two major highways, including the Interstate 5 and Interstate 805.

4. Normal Heights

With a community as welcoming as the one in Normal Heights, you will never be left feeling lonely (Visitor7/Wikimedia Commons)..

While there is a big percentage of the younger generation that decides to settle here, this neighborhood is also quite family-friendly. It is a friendly community with an eclectic vibe, low crime rates, and good education to be found at the schools. For those of you looking for cheap places to live in San Diego, but also aesthetically-pleasing architecture and a fun atmosphere, Normal Heights is the way to go. You will be able to find the most affordable houses in San Diego here. The only con is that there are already so many people looking to move here, so it might be a bit difficult to find the house of your dreams. But once you do, you will not come to regret your decision to move to Normal Heights!

5. El Cajon, East San Diego

Get active and go on a journey of exploration in El Cajon.

Known for being one of the most diverse cities in California, El Cajon has a more suburban feel than most neighborhoods in San Diego. It is a very convenient place to live in, as it even has its own airport. El Cajon is named The Box due to the way the mountains surround the valley of the city, with a plethora of outdoor activities to do. There are a number of great public schools to choose from for your kids.

While it is a little bit more pricey than the other neighborhoods listed in this article, it is still a good place to consider given all the pros that come with moving to this welcoming neighborhood.

6. Rancho Penasquitos

Rancho Penasquitos will have you spoiled for choice when it comes to finding things to do (Wikimedia Commons).

Among the cheapest places to live in San Diego, Rancho Penasquitos is a quiet one, keeping the suburban feel. The main attraction of this neighborhood is the gorgeous landscape, with the main feature being the Black Mountain. Rancho Penasquitos is ideal for families; other than being quite affordable, it has low crime rates, large beautiful parks, and great schools for your kids to attend. There is always something to do in Rancho Penasquitos including hiking, carnivals, and enjoying live music at the Fiesta de Los Penasquitos and Parade. 

7. Scripps Ranch

The Miramar Reservoir will be right next door if you decide to move to Scripps Ranch.

Scripps Ranch is the type of neighborhood that has something to offer for everyone; in the affordable housing San Diego list, it’s packed with a plethora of things to do!

It is home to the stunning Miramar Reservoir, where you can go kayaking and hiking; with scenic parks and many trails for you to walk through everywhere. You just have to step out of your house and find so many nooks and corners that will attract your adventurous spirit. There are a large number of bars and restaurants within the vicinity, and opportunities for higher education at the National University Scripps Ranch and the Alliant International University. With so many beautiful sites, things to discover in the outdoors, and delicious food you can eat at the many restaurants available within walking distance, Scripps Ranch is among the best affordable San Diego suburbs to live in.

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