In southern California, the beach is everything.  A little sand in your shoes is insignificant; it simply indicates that you live near some breathtaking natural beauty.  San Diego County has 70 miles of beaches, and they’re all outstanding.

Thus, San Diego is one of the most expensive places to live in the United States.  The cost of living has been steadily increasing over the past few years, and it doesn’t look like it will be slowing down anytime soon.  

As we start off the year 2022, the median selling price of a home in San Diego, California was $850,000, climbing almost 20% year-over-year.  The median listing price per square foot was $625 and the median sales price was just over $803,000.

The neighborhoods along the coastline such as La Jolla, Solana Beach, Del Mar, and Coronado have homes worth well over 1 million.

However, if you are looking for an affordable place to live in San Diego, you are not alone!  There are a few neighborhoods that are still relatively affordable.  

You’d be surprised that out of 100 neighborhoods in San Diego County, we found some with the median home price of just under $600,000.  

We will discuss some of the most affordable housing options in San Diego and why they are so appealing to budget-minded home buyers.

So, if you are in the market to buy, we highly suggest you look at these neighborhoods below if you are interested in buying a home here.  Otherwise, it is a popular option to rent in one of these neighborhoods to get a feel of the city first before purchasing a home.

City Heights

  • Median Monthly Rent: $1,210
  • Median Home Value: $383,000
  • Median Household Income: $42,100
  • Population: 75,695
  • Area Feel: Urban Suburban Mix

City Heights in San Diego is known for its diversity and affordability.  The neighborhood is located northeast of downtown San Diego and is bounded by State Route 52 to the north, Interstate 15 to the east, El Cajon Boulevard to the south, and Hillcrest to the west.  City Heights has a population of over 75,000 people.

The neighborhoods in City Heights are among the most affordable in all of San Diego.  A one-bedroom apartment can be rented for as little as $600 per month, while a three-bedroom home can be purchased for less than $200,000.  The area offers residents easy access to major employment centers, shopping areas, schools, and transportation corridors.

The cost of living in City Heights is about 26% lower than the national average.  The median home value in this neighborhood is just $383,000, and you can find plenty of apartments and condos that are within your budget.

However, 80% of the population here tends to rent compared to owning a house since the average rent per month is at a great price tag.

Nearby Schools

  • Preuss School UCSD
  • City Heights Preparatory Charter District
  • Old Town Academy K-8 Charter School
  • High Tech High School
  • Barnard Elementary School

North Park

  • Median Monthly Rent: $1,536
  • Median Home Value: $544,200
  • Median Household Income: $76,720
  • Population: 52,610
  • Area Feel: Urban Suburban Mix

North Park in San Diego is one of the most affordable neighborhoods in San Diego.  It is a great place to live if you are looking for a neighborhood that has a lot to offer.  Located northeast of Balboa Park, this community has an assortment of trendy restaurants, bars, and shops.

The median home value is almost $545,000, making it one of the most affordable neighborhoods in San Diego County.

Park Diplomat and Asana at North Park have some great options ranging from studios to 3 bedrooms.  Most of these apartment complexes have unique features such as a fitness center, swimming pool, pet play areas, or a sundeck.

There are also parks located in the heart of the neighborhood which makes it perfect for walks or runs.

Nearby Schools

  • McKinley Elementary School
  • The Charter School of San Diego
  • Saint Augustine High School
  • North Park Christian School
  • Jefferson Elementary School
  • Roosevelt Middle School

National City

  • Median Monthly Rent: $1,165
  • Median Home Value: $402,000
  • Median Household Income: $47,120
  • Population: 61,121
  • Area Feel: Urban Suburban Mix

Another affordable neighborhood is National City, located just south of downtown San Diego.  

It’s conveniently located near I-5 and I-805, as well as Highway 54, so getting around is a breeze. There is also public transportation available.

This is San Diego’s second-oldest city that has a rich Mexican and Spanish history, making this a diverse area.  The history behind this neighborhood mixes historical architecture and modern attractions.

The median home value there is $402,000.  Neighborhoods in Chula Vista and El Cajon are also affordable, located near National City, with median home values right around the same ballpark.

The cost of living is much lower than in other areas, and you can find a variety of housing options within your budget.  National City also has a strong community spirit, with plenty of local businesses and events to get involved in.

About 65% of the population here rents compared to the other population of 35% own a home.

Nearby Schools

  • Central School
  • El Toyon School
  • Lincoln Acres School
  • Olivewood School
  • Palmer Way School
  • Ira Harbison School
  • John Otis School
  • Kimball School
  • Rancho de la Nacion School
  • Las Palmas School

Mission Valley

  • Median Monthly Rent: $2,121
  • Median Home Value: $518,370
  • Median Household Income: $90,195
  • Population: 31,915
  • Area Feel: Urban

Mission Valley in San Diego is known for its affordability and its central location.  The neighborhood is situated between Balboa Park and Qualcomm Stadium, making it a convenient spot for commuters.  It’s also just a 15-minute drive from San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld San Diego, and Downtown Gaslamp.  Mission Valley also offers a variety of shopping and dining options.

Some of the most affordable apartments or townhomes in San Diego are in Mission Valley.  These include Circa 37, West Park, Purl, or Marquee, which feature a contemporary lifestyle with several floor plans to suit your preference.  

Depending on the home you are looking to buy and the features that it offers, some condos or apartments currently on the market with one bedroom and one bath can run as little as $300,000.

If you’re looking for an affordable place to live that’s centrally located, Mission Valley is worth considering, especially because of the convenient location.  You’ll enjoy all that this vibrant culture has to offer!

Nearby Schools

  • Warren-Walker Middle School
  • Audeo Charter School
  • Mission Valley Academy
  • Nazareth School

Otay Mesa

  • Median Monthly Rent: $1,995
  • Median Home Value: $525,000
  • Median Household Income: $76,780
  • Population: 22,680
  • Area Feel: Dense Suburban

Otay Mesa is located in the southern part of San Diego County, just above the United States and Mexican border. 

Otay Mesa houses a detention center and holds one of two border crossings in San Diego.

If you’re looking for an affordable neighborhood that still offers plenty of amenities and opportunities for recreation, Otay Mesa is a great choice.  

The homes here are priced below the San Diego average, and there are plenty of shopping and dining options available within walking distance or a short drive away.

Otay Mesa is also close to the Mexican border, so you can enjoy all the cultural attractions that Tijuana has to offer.

More residents own a home in Otay Mesa than they do rent.

Nearby Schools

  • Olympian High School
  • Wolf Canyon Elementary School
  • Chula Vista Learning Community Charter School
  • Juarez-Lincoln Elementary School
  • San Ysidro High School
  • Montgomery Middle School

Conclusion for San Diego’s Most Affordable Neighborhoods

If you’re looking for an affordable place to live in San Diego, there are a few neighborhoods that stand out from the rest.  The neighborhoods of City Heights, North Park, Mission Valley, National City, and Otay Mesa all offer plenty of affordable housing options, as well as access to schools, jobs, and other amenities.  So, if you’re on a tight budget, be sure to check out these neighborhoods!

And don’t forget: There are plenty of other great neighborhoods in San Diego that offer affordable housing options.  So be sure to explore all your options before deciding.

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