Home > Moving > City Guides > Safe, Affordable Neighborhoods in San Diego in 2024
San Diego, CA

Safe, Affordable Neighborhoods in San Diego in 2024

Thinking about moving to San Diego? Not only is America’s Finest City one of the best places for veterans and retired military, but it also has plenty to offer all residents—including 70 miles of stunning beaches and some of the best schools in California! Check out our list of the top five safe, affordable neighborhoods in San Diego!

Carmel Valley

A post shared by @instagram

  • Home Price: $800,133 median purchase price; $2,041 mediant rent price
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 92% of San Diego neighborhoods
  • Perfect For: Families

Looking for a neighborhood close to Torrey Pines State Beach? Consider living in Carmel Valley! Less than 20 minutes from the beach, San Diego residents have access to things to do, including visiting Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. Families can send their children to highly-rated middle schools and high schools in the San Dieguito Union High School District, such as Carmel Valley Middle School, Canyon Crest Academy, or Torrey Pines High School. Those wanting to settle in Carmel Valley will find homes and apartments with gorgeous views of the San Diego coastline.

Things to Do in Carmel Valley

Inspired by the Los Penasquitos Canyon, spend the day playing golf at The Grand Golf Club. Show off your skateboarding skills when grinding on the rails and performing 180s in the bowl at Carmel Valley Skate Park. Take the little ones to story time, attend bridge club, or check out a book from Carmel Valley Branch Library. Play a game of Badminton, basketball, and more at Carmel Valley Recreation Center. Find top brunch in San Diego and enjoy a Vanilla Yogurt Parfait, Butter n’ Jelly Bagel, or Breakfast Burrito from Cafe Pascale. Order the Spicy Seafood Ramen and Korean B.B.Q Short Ribs or sushi rolls like the Dragon Roll or Spider Roll from Mizukiyama Sushi. Try traditional Indian dishes like Tandoori Chicken, Mango Pineapple Curry, or the Fish Tikka Kabab from Royal Indian. Or satisfy your sweet tooth with a Rol-e-ol-e-o Cupcake or Brown Butter Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookie, or treat the family with a Cookies & Cream Cake from PURE Cupcakes.

Search Form Find an Extra Space Storage facility near you

Rancho Bernardo

A post shared by @instagram

  • Home Price: $553,456 median purchase; $1,732 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 94% of San Diego neighborhoods
  • Perfect For: Singles, young professionals, families, retirees

Nestled in the northern hills of San Diego with Lake Hodges to the north, is the beautiful master-planned community of Rancho Bernardo. This safe, affordable neighborhood is a fantastic place to live and work in San Diego! Here, you can find a variety of homes ranging from Spanish Revival to Mission-style placed along well-maintained streets. Residents living here can find jobs with major employers in San Diego, like Sony Electronics and Hewlett-Packard, or those looking to work in the medical field can find jobs at nearby Palomar Medical Center Poway. And the presence of high-quality schools like Westward Elementary School and Rancho Bernardo High School makes this San Diego neighborhood ideal for families, too!

Things to Do in Rancho Bernardo

Pamper yourself with a spa treatment at the relaxing Rancho Bernardo Inn. Tee off at the gorgeous 27-hole Oaks North Golf Course. Spend the day playing a game of pickleball or basketball and attend community events like Movies in the Park at Rancho Bernardo-Glassman Recreation Center. Spend a day outdoors fishing or canoeing on Lake Hodges, have a family BBQ, and more at the Hodges Reservoir. Split a charcuterie board or try dishes like Chicken Parmesan, Short Rib Pappardelle, and others at The Barrel Room. Enjoy upscale dishes like Seared Scallops, New York Strip, or Bolognese Rigatoni from Veranda Fireside Lounge and Restaurant. Dig in to American staples like a Drive Thru Burger, Famous Hot Wings, or Brisket Dip paired with craft beers like West Coast IPA or POP! at URGE American Gastropub. Or reserve a tasting room and sip glasses of 2022 Chablis, 2019 Merlot, 2022 Tramonto, and other wines at the Bernardo Winery.

Rancho Penasquitos

A post shared by @instagram

  • Home Price: $602,482 median purchase; $1,678 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 91% of San Diego neighborhoods
  • Perfect For: Families, retirees

Rancho Penasquitos is a safe and quiet San Diego neighborhood with a suburban feel. The beautiful landscape of this area is best represented by its most notable geographic feature, Black Mountain. In fact, the outdoor recreation and community events are some of the main draws of the neighborhood! At the annual Fiesta de Los Penasquitos, you can spend all day going on carnival rides, eating street food, and enjoying live music. To top it off, families in San Diego will love this safe San Diego neighborhood’s large parks and great local schools like Sunset Hills Elementary School, Black Mountain Middle School, and Mt. Carmel High School.

Things to Do in Rancho Penasquitos

Hike to the Black Mountain summit or bike the trails at Black Mountain Open Space Park. Find a new book, attend Pajama Storytime with the kids, or sit down with the RB Chess Club at Rancho Penasquitos Library. Show off your skate skills at the Rancho Penasquitos Skate Park, featuring banked ramps, grind ledges, and more. Play a game of doubles, watch the little ones romp in the park, and more at the Canyonside Recreation Center. Fill up on pub fare like Fried Pickles, a French Dip Sandwich, or Meat Loaf at Knotty Barrel. Try different chicken entrees like Original Fried Chicken, Marinated Roasted Chicken, or Honey Garlic Chicken from Rice Chicken. Go to Yenchim Garden Restaurant for classic Chinese dishes like Mongolian Beef, Mu-Shu Chicken, or Kung Pao Eggplant. Or choose from the large sushi menu with options like the High Crab Roll, California Roll, and more at Wonderful Sushi.

Sabre Springs

A post shared by @instagram

  • Home Price: $551,371 median purchase price; $2,233 mediant rent price
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 90% of San Diego neighborhoods
  • Perfect For: Singles, young professionals, families, retirees

North of Scripps Ranch and Carmel Mountain Ranch is the quiet San Diego County neighborhood of Sabre Springs. For housing options, this area offers apartments and condos that are perfect for families and young professionals! Convenient access to nearby parks and trails makes this the ideal location for those who love the great outdoors. Need to commute to other areas in San Diego? You can take I-15 or the bus at Sabre Springs/Penasquitos Transit Station.

Things to Do in Sabre Springs

Sign your teenagers up for classes like Babysitters Training Class or Learning to Draw Cartoons, play a game of volleyball, and more at Carmel Mountain Ranch / Sabre Springs Recreation Center. Enjoy the San Diego weather and hike along the Van Dam Peak Trail. Have a family fun day and picnic outside at South Creek Park. Start your day with a Nutmeg Scramble, Amazing Burrito, or Stuffed French Toast from Nutmeg Bakery and Cafe. Sample Greek and Italian plates like Spanakopita, a Corfu Sandwich, and Linguine Salmon from Yanni’s Bar and Grill—one of the best Greek Restaurants in San Diego! Get the Crispy Tofu, Shredded Pork Noodle Soup, or Kimchi Fried Rice from Zen Modern Asian Bistro. Devour Grilled Artichoke, a Quinoa Bowl, or the Pulled Pork Burger paired with a 131 Cadillac Margarita from Public House 131. Stop by Senor Taquero #2 for Mexican food in San Diego like a Carnitas Burrito, Chicken Torta, Cheese Quesadilla, and more.

Scripps Ranch

A post shared by @instagram

  • Home Price: $619,742 median purchase; $1,666 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 95% of San Diego neighborhoods
  • Perfect For: Students, singles, young professionals, families, retirees

If you’re looking for a safe San Diego neighborhood that offers a little something for everyone, Scripps Ranch is the place to be! With scenic parks, walking trails, and the beautiful Miramar Reservoir, it’s easy to get out and explore the neighborhood. Plus, there are tons of trendy bars, restaurants, and shops right in the neighborhood that you can enjoy without having to leave! College students can find higher education opportunities nearby with National University Scripps Ranch and Alliant International University. And with Marine Corps Air Station Miramar nearby, Scripps Ranch is also popular among active military personnel.

Things to Do in Scripps Ranch

Get fresh produce, artisan goods, and more every Thursday at Scripps Ranch Farmers Market. Read a book in the outdoor courtyard, attend events like Sketch Night and Fun & Games for Seniors, or bring your kids to Storytime at the Children’s Amphitheater at Scripps Miramar Ranch Library. Go kayaking on the calm waters of Lake Miramar through Rocky Mountain Recreation. Shop local boutiques and nationwide brands at Scripps Ranch Marketplace. Pick up a fresh loaf of Sourdough Olives bread and sweets like a Chocolate Twist and Beignets for the whole family from The French Oven. Chow down on burgers like Lazy Lucy or a RomBomb DUB at RomBomb Burger. Try entrees like Vegetable Pho, Summer Rolls, or Phad Thai at 40N Pho and Grille. Or sample house brews like India Pale Whale or Hazy IPA in the tasting room at Harland Brewing Co.

Frequently Asked Questions About San Diego

Is San Diego a safe place to live?

Yes, San Diego is 39% safer than cities in California and 27% safer than other U.S. cities.

Is San Diego an expensive place to live?

San Diego could be considered an expensive place to live for anyone moving to California from outside of the state. The cost of living in San Diego is 10% higher than the California average and 50% higher than the national average. However, there are plenty of neighborhoods and suburbs in San Diego that offer a lower cost of living than the city as a whole.

What makes San Diego such a great place to live?

San Diego is one of the best places to live on the West Coast and best places for military retirement. This California city is particularly well-known for incredible year-round weather, and if you’re a dog person, it’s one of the best U.S. cities for dogs!


Moving to San Diego soon? Extra Space Storage has several storage facilities throughout the San Diego area that can help with your transition. Find affordable self storage near you!

Neighborhood statistics from AreaVibes

About Mike Beutler

Mike Beutler is a writer and digital content specialist who transitioned to self storage in 2020 after several years in the airline industry. His travels cultivated a passion for exploring cities across the U.S. and abroad and inspired him to learn more about practical insights for urban living. With 14 moves under his belt, both locally and cross-country, he also has a passion for minimalism and organization, and sharing tips to help others make any space feel like home while staying organized.