Edit ModuleShow Tags

San Diego Homebuyer’s Guide 2019

It's possible to find an affordable home in these six up-and-coming enclaves


Published:

The Little Saigon mural on Menlo Avenue next to Wing Lee Farms

City Heights

Entry Point

City Heights is a neighborhood for first-time homebuyers who want a central, urban locale.

What’s Here

Bounded by El Cajon Boulevard in the north and highway 94 to the south, this neighborhood is one of San Diego’s oldest and most diverse. Storefront signs appear in a variety of languages, as immigrants from Vietnam to Somalia and Syria have settled here. The culinary landscape reflects this, too: Restaurants like Pho' HÒa, Minh Ky, and Red Sea Ethiopian have become institutions, and Fair @ 44 is a thriving international food and flea market that convenes every Wednesday. Nearby is the renovated Boulevard Transit Plaza, where commuters can take a Rapid bus downtown or all the way to Rancho Bernardo.

Why Now

The neighborhood is in transition and changing. For example, Little Saigon, which takes up six blocks on El Cajon Boulevard, got its official district designation in 2013 but was still hard for visitors to locate. New signs were installed on the 15 in February to help guide people. Housing costs rose the past year to a median sale price of $455,500. Ami Lewallen, a resident and broker at Red Rhino Realty, says there’s evidence around town of more changes to come. “We’re seeing lots of refurbished buildings on the north side of El Cajon Boulevard, spilling into Little Saigon. The neighborhood is more than likely the next boom.”

What You Can Get

Houses tend to be older and smaller than what you’d find in the ’burbs, but that’s part of the charm. Three-bedroom, one-bath homes clock in at around $490,000 to $540,000, and condos here start in the low-$300,000s. If you love those historic two-bedroom Craftsman bungalows, you can find one priced in the mid-$500,000s.

On the Horizon

Price Philanthropies Foundation and local architect Rob Quigley (who designed the Central Library) have plans to turn the block between Fairmount Avenue and 44th Street into a thriving civic center with affordable housing for families and seniors. And the youngsters haven’t been forgotten either: Ninety-year-old Herbert Hoover High School is getting a major overhaul with a new performing arts center and classroom building.

 

El Cajon

What’s Here

The 92021 ZIP code stretches from portions of the city center on Main Street and Broadway all the way east to the desertscapes of La Cresta and Blossom Valley, and the community of Flinn Springs, with its expansive, stream-filled county park.

Why Now

Home prices jumped nearly 15 percent over the past year, as more young families and first-time buyers are moving to the neighborhood. With a median sale price of $540,000, houses are well below San Diego’s median of $630,000. Parents are also moving to enroll their kids in immersive Mandarin classes at Riverview Academy in Lakeside, one of the few foreign-language academies in the area. There’s lots of new dining options in this side of East County, offering relief from having to drive downtown: Consider Sycuan Casino’s 15 new eateries and Grand Ole BBQ y Asado opening a second location in Flinn Springs.

What You Can Get

Buyers can get more bang for their buck (and find homes with lots of open space). You’ll see big yards, more bedrooms, and even estate homes in rural communities. A 2,398-square-foot three-bedroom house on a third of an acre is priced at $639,900.

On the Horizon

A new community of 139 single-family homes in the northeast corner of El Cajon called Main Ranch just went on the market, starting in the $400,000s. Smaller planned communities are also popping up, like Lincoln Place (15 homes) and Bostonia Residential (11). The city is getting a new hotel complex in 2020, the Hampton Inn by Hilton, and the first phase of the project has food and retail vendors opening this summer, including a new In-N-Out Burger.

 

Mission Valley

Survey Says

69% of San Diegans ages 24–55 rent rather than own.

What’s Here

Although it’s where all the big-box retailers and always-crowded Fashion Valley mall are, the neighborhood is suburban light—you can live in a manicured planned community and still be in a central location minutes from downtown. And as San Diego traffic worsens over time, investing in housing near the trolley isn’t a bad idea.

Why Now

Prices for townhouses and condos dipped slightly from 2018 to 2019, to a median sale price of $357,500. Plus, there’s a lot of new home construction happening, like the 230-acre master-planned community Civita.

Avella townhomes

What You Can Get

In Civita, brand-new homes are for sale in three subcommunities, with three-bedrooms ranging from $700,000 to $900,000. There’s a wide range of existing condos in Mission Valley, and they can cost anywhere from the low-$300,000s to high-$500,000s.

On the Horizon

You can see the construction at the Town and Country from the 8 freeway. It’s part of a $70 million plan to renovate the resort, which will have a 12-acre river park and 840 new residences when complete. Civita will have about 5,000 new houses, a retail center, and an office complex when it’s fully built out.

The Long View

A lot more development could be on the way for Mission Valley. There's still a plan to develop the Riverwalk Golf Club into a residential and commercial area. In the long-term, Mission Valley will also be home to San Diego State University’s West campus, with a stadium, river park, and student housing.

 

Adams North

What’s Here

This residential spot north of Adams Avenue, wedged between the 805 and 15 freeways, is the quieter part of Normal Heights. Many of the typical two-bed, one-bath bungalows were built in the ’20s and ’30s. Pedestrian-friendly Adams Avenue has grown into a hub for good restaurants and nightlife, and its annual street festivals in the spring and fall are huge cultural events that define this part of town.

Why Now

Median home sale prices in Normal Heights have remained pretty steady at $699,500, even though it’s a desirable place to live because of its location and walkability. For comparison, houses in neighboring Kensington are averaging $942,500.

What You Can Get

Homes here sell in a wide range in price—consider a 60-year-old renovated two-bedroom bungalow priced at $675,000 alongside a sprawling house with six bedrooms for $1.37 million.

On the Horizon

A mixed-use building on Bancroft Street with 11 apartments and Ska Bar and Restaurant—a two-story Asian restaurant with a rooftop garden—is set to open soon.

 

Escondido

Survey Says

61% of San Diegans said prices have been the biggest challenge to owning a home here.

What’s Here

It’s the perfect blend of low-key suburban serenity and a little bit of downtown action. The historic district is a charmer, with vintage buildings, eclectic shops, galleries, and multicultural and family-owned eateries. Lakes, golf courses, wineries, breweries (hello, Stone!), and the California Center for the Arts, Escondido mean plenty of culture and outdoor adventure.

Why Now

You get more for your money, whether you’re a new homeowner or want to upgrade your lifestyle. But beware: Demand is increasing; prices have risen as high as 17 percent in the past year.

Maple Street Plaza in central Escondido

What You Can Get

Young families and millennials can find condos as low as $215,000 and townhomes in the mid-$300,000s. Single-family homes range from $400,000 to $3.4 million, depending if you want an entry-level home or a sprawling 10,000-square-foot estate. Midcentury modern bungalows, Craftsmans, and charming Victorians dot the old Escondido Historic District, ranging from $545,000 to $3.3 million.

On the Horizon

The former site of downtown’s Palomar Hospital is being rezoned for high-density apartments and for-sale condos, and two other modern apartment projects are in the pipeline, all just steps from the main drag that is Grand Avenue. The master-planned community of Harmony Grove continues to build out, offering families a rural feel close to the action downtown. Safari Highlands Ranch—Escondido’s largest development in decades, with 550 estate homes!—will be a sustainable, garden-to-table agri-neighborhood just northwest of San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

Escondido's historic Grand Avenue downtown

 

Oceanside

What’s Here

Oceanside is getting a new reputation for creativity—and cool places to show for it, like Dija Mara, Sea Hive Marketplace, and Oceanside Museum of Art. O’side is a diverse community, anchored by multigenerational residents, plus a wave of young entrepreneurs are setting up businesses and settling down to start families.

Why Now

A recent culinary renaissance has created “flip-flop fine dining”—a local term for high-caliber cuisine enjoyed with casual attitude and style. A significant price drop (almost 10 percent for single-family homes) in the central Oceanside area, from 2018 to 2019, makes the city even more appealing for buyers.

What You Can Get

There's everything from funky mobile homes around $100,000 or $220,000 to opulent oceanfront digs at $4.7 million. You can still find one-story ramblers and fixer-uppers, along with single-family modernized homes from about $600,000 to $1 million.

On the Horizon

Oceanside’s coastal highway corridor is seeing the largest beachfront development in the county in more than 20 years. Two boutique Hyatt hotel brands have broken ground and the iconic “Top Gun house” is being turned into a food vendor. For walkable downtown living, there’s Salt or the stunning 314 Beach Lofts, both on Cleveland Street. For a beachfront address, check out Pierside Apartments.


Neighborhood pricing and sales data are from the Greater San Diego Association of Realtors’ Local Market Updates, February 2019. Sources: Mission Federal Credit Union January 2019 survey, percentages approximate.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More in San Diego Homebuyer’s Guide 2019:

San Diego Homebuyer’s Guide 2019

It's possible to find an affordable home in these six up-and-coming enclaves

What Can You Get?

Here are the homes you can buy in San Diego for three different price points

The 11 Most-Requested Home Design Trends

Designers share what their clients ask for the most

4 Ways to Get Your Short-Term Rental Ready for Guests

Ryan and Claire Danz, a Cardiff couple starring in HGTV's new show, My House is Your House, share their pro tips

How to Survive a Remodel

We asked some local pros for their best tips on getting through a remodel without losing your mind
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

San Diego's Best Restaurants 2019

Nearly 7,500 of our hungriest readers voted in our annual poll—and the results are served

Stunning San Diego Landscapes To Inspire Your Green Space

Consider it your no excuses guide to sprucing up your outside (and inside)

San Diego Neighborhood Guide: Mission Hills

Where to eat, drink, and play in the historic hood turned shopping and dining destination
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Vote Now for San Diego's Best Restaurants 2019
    From pho to fries, you can choose San Diego's best eats and drinks in 99 categories
  2. San Diego's Best Restaurants 2019
    Nearly 7,500 of our hungriest readers voted in our annual poll—and the results are served
  3. First Look: Il Dandy
    Michelin-starred Italian chefs open a stunner in Bankers Hill
  4. Restaurants Are Dying; Here’s the Solution
    It’s simple math, but the state of California refuses to allow it
  5. 21 Ultimate Road Trip Itineraries from San Diego
    These getaways will take you through California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and Mexico
  6. Best of North County 2019
    Our annual roundup of what's up-and-coming and full-on buzzy above the 56
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions

Enter San Diego’s Cutest Pet Contest

Your furry family member could win a pet prize package and be featured in San Diego Magazine

Puesto's Next Top Taco

Submit your best taco recipe for the chance to win a grand prize
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sponsored

Plan a San Diego Staycation with Hilton

Avoid the airport and enjoy local activities from kayaking to visiting Balboa Park

Athena’s Pinnacle Awards Showcases Leaders in Diversity and Inclusion

Here are the winners from the event on May 7
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags