With its coastal views of the Pacific Ocean, San Diego, CA, is one of many destinations people are moving to in Southern California. The city is known for its mild climate, natural deep-water harbor, extensive beaches, and regional cuisine like fish tacos and California burritos.
Even with everything San Diego has to offer, every city has its flaws. While people may relocate to San Diego, the city’s hustle and bustle may deter others. And if that’s you, we can help you find the right city near San Diego to live in instead.
The following 10 cities near San Diego are organized by proximity to the city, each with its own quaint charm that may just fit your wish list a little better.
#1: Chula Vista, CA
Miles from San Diego: 10
Median home sale price: $755,000
Average 1-bed rent: $2,587
Walk Score: 46
Bike Score: 41
Transit Score: 35
Homes for sale in Chula Vista, CA
Apartments for rent in Chula Vista, CA
Chula Vista is located in the South Bay region of San Diego County and is known for its beautiful beaches. The city is also home to several major employers, including Southwestern College.
There are many things to do in Chula Vista, such as visiting the Living Coast Discovery Center, fishing or picnicking at Bayside Park, exploring the Proctor Valley Natural Resource Area, or learning about the city’s history at the Bonita Museum & Cultural Center. You can also enjoy the city’s many restaurants, shops, and parks.
#2: National City, CA
Miles from San Diego: 7
Median home sale price: $710,000
Average 1-bed rent: $1,805
Walk Score: 69
Bike Score: 49
Transit Score: 47
Homes for sale in National City, CA
Apartments for rent in National City, CA
National City is also located in the South Bay region of the San Diego metropolitan area, bordered by Chula Vista to the east and Bonita to the south.
There are a number of things to do in National City. You can visit the The Stein Family Farm, the San Diego Electric Railway museum, or Kimball Park. You can also take a harbor cruise, go fishing, or visit Pepper Park.
#3: La Mesa, CA
Miles from San Diego: 13
Median home sale price: $790,000
Average 1-bed rent: $2,210
Walk Score: 60
Bike Score: 35
Transit Score: 42
Homes for sale in La Mesa, CA
Apartments for rent in La Mesa, CA
La Mesa is known for its mild climate and many parks and recreation areas. The city is also home to many major businesses and industries. La Mesa is a great place to live with many activities, like watching the sunset at one of the parks or enjoying a meal at a favorite restaurant.
The city is also known for its museums, such as the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum. Get some fresh air at one of the parks, like the Mission Trails Regional Park at Lake Murray, Mount Helix Park and La Mesita Park, or take your furry friend to Harry Griffen Dog Park. Be sure to try some of the local restaurants, like Brigantine Seafood Restaurants, Casa de Pico, and Arigato Japanese Restaurant.
#4: El Cajon, CA
Miles from San Diego: 16
Median home sale price: $747,000
Average 1-bed rent: $2,145
Walk Score: 61
Bike Score: 45
Transit Score: 37
Homes for sale in El Cajon, CA
Apartments for rent in El Cajon, CA
El Cajon, Spanish for “the box,” gets its name from its box-shaped valley and the surrounding mountains. There are many activities to do in El Cajon, from exploring the local art scene, and dining at some of the best restaurants in town, to spending time at one of the many parks.
The San Diego Aero-Space Museum, Olaf Wieghorst Museum, and Heritage of the Americas Museum are just three of the 10 museums you can explore. There are lots of green spaces in El Cajon, like Hilton Head County Park, Kennedy Park & Community Center, and Wells Park. There are a variety of delicious eateries and restaurants that appeal to every palette. Don’t miss out on local favorites like Nicolosi’s Italian Restaurant, Por Favor Mexican Restaurant & Cantina, and Pancho’s Mexican Restaurant.
#5: Escondido, CA
Miles from San Diego: 31
Median home sale price: $767,000
Average 1-bed rent: $1,937
Walk Score: 45
Bike Score: 40
Transit Score: 30
Homes for sale in Escondido, CA
Apartments for rent in Escondido, CA
Escondido is located about 30 miles northeast of downtown San Diego and is the oldest city in San Diego County. There are many wonderful ways to spend your time in Escondido, like enjoying the local art, dining at some of the best restaurants, or spending time at a park.
Home to 10 museums, you can visit the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum, Queen Califia’s Magical Circle at Kit Carson Park, and Deer Park Monastery. You can also enjoy the performing arts venues such as California Center for the Arts. Spend the afternoon outside at one of the local parks like Felicita County Park or Grape Day Park.
#6: Carlsbad, CA
Miles from San Diego: 35
Median home sale price: $1,502,000
Average 1-bed rent: $3,232
Walk Score: 31
Bike Score: 29
Transit Score: 23
Homes for sale in Carlsbad, CA
Apartments for rent in Carlsbad, CA
Carlsbad is a seaside resort community located along the Pacific Coast. Some of the many attractions throughout the city include LEGOLAND California, the SEA LIFE Aquarium, and the Carlsbad Premium Outlets. Carlsbad also offers a variety of outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, and golfing.
There is no shortage of things to do in Carlsbad. Make sure to check out the Museum of Making Music, Agua Hedionda Lagoon Discovery Center, and Craftsmanship Museum. You’ll also find plenty of green spaces to enjoy throughout the city. For example, you can enjoy a picnic or walk through Flower Fields, Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park, or Alga Norte Community Park. And be sure to try some of the city’s must-try restaurants and eateries, including Senior Grubby’s Mexican Restaurant or Islands Restaurant Carlsbad.
#7: San Marcos, CA
San Marcos was founded in 1887 as San Marcos Farm and named after the San Marcos Creek, which flowed through the area. The city is home to a number of parks and recreation facilities, including Lake San Marcos, Double Peak Park, and Walnut Grove Park.
If you’re living in San Marcos, make sure to shop at the San Marcos Premium Outlets, visit the San Marcos Creek, and the Palomar College Observatory. Make sure to have a picnic at San Marcos Community Park or the Discovery Lake Community Park.
#8: Santee, CA
Santee is just 18 miles from the Pacific Ocean and bisected by the San Diego River, a linear greenbelt that includes parks, trails, and natural riparian habitat. There are many things to do in Santee, from dining at delicious restaurants to visiting one of the many parks.
The city is also home to museums like the Edgemoor Barn, which is popular with tourists and locals alike. Santee’s arts and culture scene are also vibrant, with performing arts venues such as Off-Broadway Live and the Santee Town Center Amphitheater and Fountain. And if you’re looking for some green space, there are plenty of parks to choose from, including Mast Park, Town Center Community Park, and Big Rock Park. And when it comes to food, Santee has plenty of top-rated restaurants, such as Oishii Japanese Thai Restaurant, Jimmy’s Family Restaurant, and Ranch House Restaurant.
#9: Oceanside, CA
Miles from San Diego: 38
Oceanside is a coastal city known for its 3.5-mile-long pier, the longest pier in California, and is a great place to enjoy local art, dine at some of the best restaurants, or spend time at a park.
Check out the California Surf Museum, Oceanside Museum of Art, and North County Model Railroad Society. For performing arts venues, visit Star Theatre and Oceanside Pier Amphitheatre. You’ll find plenty of restaurants throughout the city, such as San Luis Rey Bakery & Restaurant, Mary’s Family Restaurant, and Anita’s Restaurant.
#10: Vista, CA
Miles from San Diego: 42
Median home sale price: $760,000
Average 1-bed rent: $2,956
Walk Score: 46
Bike Score: 30
Transit Score: 33
Homes for sale in Vista, CA
Apartments for rent in Vista, CA
Vista is located just north of San Diego, in the northwestern corner of San Diego County. Vista is home to several notable attractions, including the Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum, Alta Vista Botanical Gardens, and the Wave Waterpark.
There’s a lot to do in Vista, including exploring parks and trails and visiting several museums and historical sites. The city also offers a variety of shopping, dining, and entertainment options.
All cities must have a population of more than 50,000 and be less than 50 miles away from San Diego. Median home sale price data from the Redfin Data Center during August 2022. Average rental data from Rent.com during August 2022. Walk Score, Bike Score, and Transit Score from Walkscore.com during August 2022. Population data sourced from United States Census Bureau.